by Pastor Ray Thomann, Hope is Alive Ministries
One of the devil's most important strategies is to completely destroy the Biblical foundation of
our nation. Without a moral compass to guide a people, everything becomes subjective. This
deadly and destructive game plan is being waged through a culture war that seeks to redefine
lies as truths.
By falsely claiming a desire for equality, civil rights and love for fellow man (who wouldn't want
this), evil has effectively disguised its true intentions. Through the use of political correctness,
social justice and the rules of radicals; the minions of darkness have launched a relentless
attack on the character, freedom and finances of those who oppose them. They have also
used indoctrination practices within the public school system and the institutes of 'higher
education' to pollute the mind of this generation's children.
What is taking place in our nation is a spiritual battle that has grave consequences. This is a
war for the souls of men.
For many years, I have addressed the American Churches' role in the state of putrification
taking place in our nation. Christians in general, have remained relatively silent over many
decades as the progressive culture launched an all out attack on the infallible word of God.
With that being said, the point of this blog is not to address the state of the church. Rather, it's
to address a question that is of great concern to those whose eyes are open to the truth.
In the past few years, we have witnessed the assault on the Biblical definition of marriage and
the redefining of the basic definitions of what it is to be a man or a woman. Popular opinion
and worldview seem to be aligning with the fallible wisdom of men. This is our Isaiah 5:20
What I've come to understand is that many Christians are confused and overwhelmed by
what is taking place in our country. They seek guidance as to their response to the
destruction of the moral foundation.
“If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” - Psalm 11:3
To respond to this concern, we must first remember what Jesus told us. He said there would
be a time in which lawlessness will abound and that the love of many would grow cold (Matt.
So how are we to move forward in these challenging times; shielding our hearts from growing
• Control our anger. It's easy for one to grow angry with all we are facing. However, we
must remember that anger only leads to coldness.
• Opportunity. Jesus' is calling us to rise and shine. We have been given an opportunity
to share the Good News of Jesus with the lost in fulfillment of His Great Commission.
• Grow our relationship with Jesus. By growing our relationship with Jesus, seeking Him
in all things and at all times, our faith is strengthened and our love for our enemies will
• Prayer. Continue in fervent prayer for one another, the nation and those who are lost.
• Demonstrate the love and compassion of Yeshua. It's hard to love those who seek to
destroy us. But that's exactly what Jesus did. By abiding in His word and focusing
upon Him, He will fill us with His love and compassion for our fellow man.
• Maintaining a healthy, holy fear of God. To love our God more than we fear man.
As I move forward from one day to the next, I wonder about God’s plans and purposes. Don’t you? I ask Him a lot of questions. I already know many of the answers, but still, they are perplexing. I wonder how He figures I should be the one left behind to deal with bills, car repairs, insurance mix-ups and the neighborhood mountain lion. I think my husband, who worked so hard for years, not to mention giving his life in military service, deserved to receive his reward. I don’t begrudge him that, but I can’t help meditating on what lessons I’ve yet to learn in the aftermath of his leaving. Lessons I probably, in truth, do not want to learn.
If you are in a season of grieving, as I am, I want you to be sure to take time every day to stop and really relax and let whatever questions, comments, complaints, etc. that rise up, be expressed.Tell God how you feel. He knows anyway. You can cry, yell, question, journal, or maybe even use your pillow as a punching bag, but you need an outlet for all that pent-up pain. Don’t stuff it down. If you do suppress it, I promise you that at some point it will explode into existence, and it could hit at a time that is not at all convenient.
This thing called grief is like a monster dressed in pretty clothes. Right when you’re having good memories and feeling the peace of acceptance and progress, some painful thoughts hit like a grenade and bang----a stomach punch knocks you down. I’ve learned to cry out to God right at that moment for His strength and love to overtake me. He answers so beautifully.
I hope that by sharing some of my journey through grief, it might help you, since several of you have mentioned your own struggles. It’s ironic. I’ve been a grief counselor and know what to expect, but when my own hits, it still packs a punch. Knowledge is not everything. But God gave us emotions and they have a purpose. How could we love someone deeply and not feel any pain when they’re gone? I know I’ll be with him again for eternity, but frankly, right now it doesn’t help a whole lot to know that. It does matter and I look forward to our reunion, but the aloneness of the moment is still very real.
I thank God that He promises to never leave or forsake us. He is a wonderful father, husband and friend. He gives wisdom, comfort and peace. Without that sweet, gentle Spirit flooding my soul over and over, I’m sure I couldn’t do this. It’s a gift that I give thanks for constantly. I’m going to survive, and I’m going to be okay. So are you---so hold fast to His promises and keep trusting. And, since we know the direction our world is headed is menacing---perhaps God’s gift to my husband was to take him before things get worse. It’s something to think about!
“The righteous perish, and no one ponders it in his heart; devout men are taken away,
and no one understands that the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil.
Those who walk uprightly enter into peace; they find rest as they lie in death.” (Isa 57:1-2)
My heart is so full of gratitude as I look back on the past seven days. No doubt they’ve been the most difficult seven days of my life. The first day I held my precious husband’s hand as our souls disconnected, and he walked into eternity. The days following are a blur, but on this breezy Sunday afternoon I have, in the depths of my being, the peace that surpasses all understanding. That doesn’t mean I don’t get hit by waves of grief that almost knock me off my feet. There is absolutely nothing as jarring to your spirit as looking at the person you love with all your heart lying in a coffin. How does one do that without searing pain? And then, how is it possible that I can have perfect peace in my heart today? Grief will still be, but In the overarching scheme of things, I’m experiencing a beautiful confidence that the Lord is holding me and that He is at the same time fellowshipping with my husband. It’s a wonderful feeling. I am thankful.
Life is both a mystery and a stark reality at the same time; a curious dichotomy. I have been present at births as well as at deaths. Both experiences open one’s eyes to the magnificence of our God. He breathes breath into a body and He stops the beating heart, snuffing out breath. It’s His sovereign decisions that cause us to celebrate one day and another day to mourn. …”all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” Psalm 139:16 The power is all His; the plan His as well.
At times my grief turns into a bit of envy. I realize that my husband is in the Presence of God; he’s enjoying laughter with family and friends he’s missed. He has no more pain, no more worries, stressors or sickness. I’m here missing him, wondering what comes next, dealing with unresolved bills, situations and responsibilities. My humanness bleeds over onto my joy that he is in heaven.
As I seek the Lord, laying all my concerns and questions at His feet, I sense that calming, peaceful Existence taking hold of my mind and body. I know without any doubt that He is with me, loving me, holding me and reassuring me that He will never leave me or forsake me. He knows what is facing me and He’s already there. Each day will find its own resolutions as He sorts things out. All I have to do is trust and obey. And to know Him. Knowing Him means knowing it’s all covered...perfectly.
The day will come when my breath will be snuffed out, my heartbeat stopped. I will have the joy of walking into the arms of Jesus, greeted by family and friends. What I endured on earth will not matter at all. All that will matter is being in the Presence of the One Who controls it all. And experiencing His love and grace. When grief tries to derail me, I am determined to take hold of His promises and hang on tight. The alternative would be pointless and pitiful. “I can do all things through Christ Who gives me strength.” And I am eternally grateful for the strength and hope and courage He is pouring into me.
Thank you for your prayers and love during this season of my life.
Happy to welcome this week's Guest Blogger Samara Ashley!
Sometimes, the simplest of holidays can cause unnecessary stress on the children in blended families.In my book, “Broken to Blended: Encouragement for Blended Families,” I have a chapter titled “The Not-So-Hallmark Holidays” which discusses the unwanted tension that comes along with holidays that should be more enjoyable. What most people experience as a fun day to spend with family is not always the case for blended families. Lack of communication and poor planning can be two of the stumbling blocks that can cause even more stress on these special days. I don’t want my kids growing up worrying about upsetting one parent or the other. I want them to be able to freely talk about and show love to each person that has a huge part in their lives. The older my children get, the more I realize how important it is for me to support their relationships with their other parents and grandparents. It wasn’t always easy. There were many times over the years where I let my selfishness get in the way and in return dampened the spirit of the occasion. I wish I could go back and have a do over and change my attitude, but since I can’t I try my best to make up for those times. I want my kids to know that it’s awesome when we show love to others. That’s exactly what Jesus wants us to do. After all, God is love and I want my children to see that Christ lives in me.
So, how do you make it work? First of all, I believe it’s important to encourage your child to celebrate their parent or step-parent. No matter your personal feelings or if there is drama in your family life, don’t let that carry over to your child. Take them to the store. Encourage them to make a card and most of all keep your conversation positive when talking to them about their family.
Last Mother’s Day, I went out of my own comfort zone and sent a personal message to my ex-husband’s wife. I felt the Lord leading me to do this, but it took some time for me to figure out what I wanted to say. After thinking about it for a bit, I got the words together and then something clicked. I live in the same shoes. I am a stepmom. I know how it feels when you put so much effort into parenting and sometimes feel like you go unnoticed or unappreciated. I felt as if I were writing exactly what I would want to hear from someone else. The words “I appreciate you” and “Thank you for all you do for the children.” Isn’t it funny how God reminds us that we are all human and in need of His love?
I wish I could say that I’m a master at this now, but I am human. I mess up daily and have to continually ask for the Lord’s strength, forgiveness, and help. Blended family life is hard, but with God all things are possible and I believe that He is working all things out for the good. My prayer today is that you will do the same. Put your personal feelings aside and for the sake of your children go out of your way to promote a healthier and happier holiday. Not only will this make your own life more enjoyable, but it will make your marriage stronger.
- Samara Ashley
In this world you will have trouble, but take heart! I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)
Into every life, a little rain must fall. Sometimes it’s considerably more than a little. Sometimes it’s a flood. We can always quote happy scripture promises when things are going well, but when the deluge crashes in, it’s a bit harder to let those easy verses roll off our tongues.
This week I’ve had prayer requests from people I love that are seriously painful events:
One’s pastor fell and broke his leg in three places, requiring surgery. One’s husband’s memory problems got extremely worse and he had to be admitted to an Alzheimer’s facility. One’s son was killed in a tragic car crash. One’s daughter rebelled and ran off to marry against the family’s wishes. One who is ready to reconcile a troubled marriage doesn’t have the support of her family. One’s teenage niece is missing for a week now and no one has a trace of an idea where she might be. One suffers a debilitating disease that robs her of fulfilling her calling. I could probably list more, but my point is that many, many folks are struggling right now with issues that are far from easy.
I want to thank all of you who have loved us and prayed for my husband and me these past months. God does truly have a purpose in all things. Sometimes we can’t identify what that purpose is, but it doesn’t negate the fact that He is working behind the scenes. I already can see things in me that have surfaced that are not good. I’ve confessed and repented and realized places where my heart needs cleansing. He is teaching me many things about myself. He is also showing Himself to my husband in different ways.
When your storm is raging, find ways to remind yourself to stop, breathe, and step back. It’s necessary to not react, but to look up, call out to Jesus and let Him take over. I fully realize that several times when I over-reacted in distress, I totally flunked a test---and so yes, I got to take it over till I passed!! This process of refining is a good thing. It doesn’t always feel good, but no discipline ever does.
I talk a lot about resting in God. Resting in Him means you stand firm against panic attacks, despair or hopelessness. It means you trust God to the point that whatever the outcome, you can be at peace. It is possible. It might not be spontaneous, (and we wish it was), but if you allow Him into your situation, and you trust Him completely, you actually can rest and find peace in the midst of the storm. God is in control. We can become angry with Him for not answering our prayers the way we want, but if we truly believe He is sovereign and omniscient and omnipotent, how can we stay stressed?
I wish I could have miracles to pour out on your situation. I would gladly do it, and quickly. But more importantly, my prayer for you would be that you could trust God so fully that you sigh a deep cleansing sigh, look up and trust that He has it covered and He knows best.
That’s what I’m reminding myself each day. I still flunk some tests, but I’m doing better.
Jesus said He has overcome the world. That’s quite a statement. As for me, I want to be fully attached inside and out to the One Who has overcome the world! I pray that for you too.
Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do
God's will. Then you will receive all that he has promised. Hebrews 10:36
Greetings from Caregiver Land,
I haven’t been posting much because I’ve been so sleep deprived there’s no telling what might come forth. Anybody out there relate? I really appreciate the emails and other messages I’ve received filling me with encouragement and support. And from those who are in the same boat---we need each other! I know people are praying for us, and for me specifically. At times I’m teetering on the brink of despair and suddenly I’m flooded with peace and calm. So….thank you folks, and thank you Lord!
When you’re slogging through the mire of grief and survival, you are tempted toward self-pity; just being honest here. I’ve asked God, “Why is it that you chose this path for my husband, and why did you feel it was a good path for me?” It’s so easy to say that we grow through our trials. It’s common to hear all the cliches about how we learn so much through suffering. And I agree. We do. But, at 3 a.m. when I’m jolted awake for the fourth time since I went to bed at 10, to find him on the floor once again, I frankly don’t care what I’m supposed to be learning. I just wish he could sleep all night occasionally, and oh, how I would love to do that too. I trudge downstairs, wake up my daughter, who comes without complaint, and together we heave him off the floor, clean him up, and eventually all of us get back to bed...at least for a couple of hours, till he wakes again.
Usually, the days I’m feeling sorry for myself, I open up facebook and see a handful (at least) of horrible stories of people who are going through so much worse than I. I repent, and realize I do have more compassion now for those folks than ever before. Don’t get me wrong. I think we (you who are walking through similar circumstances with me) are really normal and okay when we sometimes stop to vent or cry or whine. We are human. We just can’t plant the flag and live there. I know one thing from all this: I have a new and deeper appreciation for sleep and for “normal” daily life.
As we move through this journey, we are blessed to have hospice staff who offer support and insights toward the things to come. As Christians, we know that this world is not our home and the eternal home to come is going to be indescribable. I am excited that my husband soon gets to meet Jesus face to face, be reunited with his loved ones, and begin his eternal life of joy. I’m a bit envious, in fact. I know that my time will come eventually, but I want his crossing over to that other side to be pain-free, peaceful and all that God wants it to be. I don’t want to interfere with that by being selfish, complaining or without loving compassion. I don’t want to have regrets.
We really should celebrate any Christian’s homegoing with joy and excitement for what’s coming for them. We are allowed to grieve as we say our temporary goodbyes, but I’m praying that in the midst of my pain, I can truly rejoice for him. I’m not really all that strong. Most days I wonder how I will ever get through this, much less do it well. The answer is that I know my Lord will carry me, strengthen me and sustain me all the way through, just as He is doing now, day by day. I constantly recite Phil 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ, Who gives me strength.” And I can! One day at a time. One hour at a time.
“For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.” Hebrews 10:36
Are you in a season of testing? Do things seem out of control? Does it seem like time is standing still and life is tackling you from behind? I ask because that’s where I am today. I haven’t slept straight through a night for a couple of weeks, (and that was when I was on a trip out of town). These nights of getting up and down every hour or so seem to stack up to molding me into a statue of perpetual grogginess. This is not about complaIning. I’m simply stating facts.
I can honestly recognize that the trial I’m living through is not as tough as some people’s. I have much to be grateful for, each and every day. It just seems that when I haven’t had enough sleep, everything in front of me looms out of proportion.
I open my Bible and read--here and there and everywhere--not exactly absorbing it as I hope to. My eyes blur along with my mind, but I find comfort in the scriptures, no matter what they’re about on any given day.This is definitely not my normal mode of operation. But with the assignment I’ve been given at the moment, I’m pretty sure it’s the best I can do.
I know a number of people caring for terminally ill spouses or other loved ones. I now have a whole new perspective and compassion for them. I have no doubt that my Father wants me to understand the needs of those who grieve and must carry on each day as though life was normal, when it is far from it.
One thing He is teaching me is how to find joy in little, seemingly insignificant things. How to give Him praise and thanksgiving for small joys like a frisky puppy making our family laugh together, finally. He’s showing me the benefits of leaning on Him when I’m expected to do something that is so hard for me. Caregiving shows us how to love in ways we’ve never known. It’s difficult and at the same time it’s character building and shows us our own flaws. I’m learning new things about myself each day; some good things, and some not. God knows those areas in me that need refining. He’s a good Abba Who loves me enough to show me how to be a better me. I’m grateful to be growing through this trial.
This morning He led me to this passage. It brought me great comfort. Glory be to God, for all He is and all He does!
16 But as for me, I will sing about your power.
Each morning I will sing with joy about your unfailing love.
For you have been my refuge, a place of safety when I am in distress.
17 O my Strength, to you I sing praises,
for you, O God, are my refuge, the God who shows me unfailing love.
What a wonderfully blessed time we enjoyed this past weekend at the ladies’ retreat in Buena Vista, GA. You Were Made To Shine was such an inspiring theme as we delved deep into places the Lord was compelling us to examine. We hope to continue receiving testimonies as all of us seek even deeper healing in the days to come.
We enjoyed the warm hospitality of Mr. Walker Williams, Innkeeper of Sign of the Dove Bed & Breakfast. Praise and worship time was led by Katie Alexander and our lovely hostess and leader was Jennifer Thomann.
Friday evening and all day Saturday were filled with teaching, prayer, fellowship and worship. Saturday evening we caravanned to the Hope is Alive Church at Mauk. Words can’t really express how beautiful it was. Pastor Ray and the Thomann clan had outlined the church drive with luminaries, glowing against the night sky. Inside this lovely church built in 1910 with it’s original wooden floors, were luminaries burning on both sides of the center aisle (the only aisle), across the altar, kneeling benches, baptistry, and so on; no other light but candles.
A large cross was standing in the left corner of the church. Soft music played. One by one each lady knelt at the altar, wrote on a small paper what she was truly giving up to the Lord, then went over and nailed it to the cross. The sound of the hammer echoing there was so like we imagine the sound of Jesus being nailed to that cross. After everyone took their turn, we laid hands and prayed over each one. The Holy Spirit was so powerful. He spoke to us, gave words of knowledge, healing words for the very broken. We found it difficult to leave the very heavy Presence of the Lord in that place.
Sunday was a true celebration. Pastor Ray conducted the church service at the B&B and cooked and served us lunch. In fact, he did much of the cooking throughout the weekend, which was another treat for us all.
We are continuing to give thanks and praise for all that was accomplished during the retreat weekend. Jennifer is truly gifted in leading and loving. Her little touches to every detail were treasures for us all. I am so grateful to have been a part of this endeavor. The Lord has many plans and purposes for the HIA ministry and we are excited and expectantly looking forward to what comes next.
Book Review by Anne Wilson......
Nancy LaPointe, author of Living in God's Rest... At Peace in A Chaotic World, doesn't believe in
coincidence. She believes that God has a plan. So when the idea of "resting in Him" started
turning up repeatedly in her life‐‐‐on the radio, in emails, in whatever she was reading‐‐‐she
listened. She began to study the concept and felt that God was leading her to share His
revelations with others.
Both our human nature and society drive us to prove our worth through how much we can
handle. We wear our busyness like a badge of success, but at what cost? The price of a culture
of highly focused, highly busy individuals is the absence of peace. We live in a time of
increasing unrest and epidemic hyperactivity. Fear, rebellion, violence, and evil are escalating
all around us.
A central message of Nancy's book is that we can experience inner peace no matter what is
happening in our lives or in the world. But "resting” is much more than just taking a nap or
stopping our frantic pace of life for a quick breather before running onward. Chasing after the
world's ways of dealing with stress‐‐‐vacations, self‐help books, prescription drugs‐‐may offer
temporary relief, but in the end, will not bring deep or lasting peace. Entering God's rest
requires us to grow spiritually and learn to depend on Him. It means "living so close to God that
we can hear His heartbeat." Neither does resting in God mean that we live without worry or
fear, for we are human after all. It means trusting God in a way that brings peace to the soul,
"understanding that His plans and purposes are always good, regardless of how they appear at
Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.
I lie in bed at night, listening to the nocturnal sounds of my house, like the refrigerator humming, my husband’s bipap machine blowing air, and frequent thumps on the deck outside, that I know to be the arrival of our local raccoon family. The peacefulness that comes just prior to midnight is sometimes the only quiet time of my day. It’s a good time to talk to the Lord. It’s a good time to reflect upon the day’s activities, and to wonder what comes next. When I’m really exhausted, it’s good to soak up the peace. If I’m not careful though, it becomes a time to feed doubts and fears about what’s next.
Sometimes life doesn’t turn out the way we planned it. I planned to continue in the career I loved, pastoral counseling, until I was too old or the Lord told me to quit. I had envisioned my husband and I travelling, serving in some community projects together, writing, and spending our retirement doing ministry and things we hadn’t had time for while working. Then cancer arrived at our door.
This isn’t about the cancer. It’s not about my disappointments. It’s a reminder to you that you might have all kinds of wonderful plans for your future --- and they just might get toppled into the waste basket in a day. How do we get past what ‘ought to be’ and really live in ‘what is’? I want you to consider this question, just in case you may need to know.
We can spend all our lives attending church, quoting scripture and being the nice Christian. The real test is when life turns upside down and nothing makes any sense. Nothing is as you had envisioned. Where do you go from there? It’s so easy to fling out scriptures to others who are facing tough challenges, but what happens when you are the one standing in those shoes?
The reality is that for those who don’t have a firm foundation in Christ, all those memorized verses will just fly right out the window. Despair hangs heavy overhead. You hit the bottom line really hard: you either trust God or you don’t. He understands our disappointments and all the emotions that accompany shattered dreams. He’ll comfort us and redirect our thoughts and plans, if we let Him. But to live in His perfect peace, you will not get there without knowing Him personally, believing His Word and testing Him out in it.
I am still a work in progress. I don’t pretend to have it all together--sometimes I cry and shout at God and say it’s not fair. But...when I’m lying there in the dark, soaking in the quiet of the night, I know that I know that I know, that He still has a purpose for my life. It’s not what I planned at all. It’s not fun, or pleasant, or enjoyable. I’m just being honest. But I understand how He molds us and refines us and then uses us, because, after all, it’s not about me. It’s about Him: Jehovah, Emmanuel, Yahweh, Yeshua, King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Whatever He chooses to do with my life, it’s His to do. It’s mine to surrender to that and find peace and joy, knowing I’m bound for the Promised Land. This world is not my home. What I do and who I am while I’m here is only fruitful, is only valuable at any level, if I am rooted and grounded in Him. He is my salvation. Be sure you know that more than you know anything else. Know who you are...in Christ. Rock solid. Work on it now. You’ll never regret it.
Welcome to my website!
"Living in God's Rest...At Peace in a Chaotic World" "Masked in Deceit," and Faith's Illusions are all available now. Living in God's Rest can be purchased from any of your favorite booksellers online or in stores. Masked in Deceit and Faith's Illusions, Christian novels, are available from Amazon. All books are offered in ebook versions as well. I always appreciate reviews on the seller's sites. Just click the books below and you will find links to purchase.
My newest book:
Have a blessed day!