A few years ago, Tom got a call late in the evening that began with, “Judge, I need to tell you about something that went down tonight.” Seems a State Trooper was returning to Spencer from an evening with his family and he began following a vehicle that was swerving all over the road. He tried to ignore it, as he was off duty, but it got so bad, he just had to pull them over. Once he pulls the vehicle over, the female passenger inside began to be belligerent and totally uncooperative. She would not get out of the vehicle, even planted her feet on the dash and had to be dragged from the vehicle. Somewhere in this process of trying to get her out, she began screaming that she was going to tell her daddy, Judge Evans, what they were doing, and he was going to shut them down.
Just coincidentally, this trooper knew Tom very well and knew this 50-something-year-old was definitely not his daughter. She continues to fight and scream about what her daddy was going to do to them, and once they dragged her out of the truck, she even went so far as to try to beat on the trooper. Long story short, there was an arrest for she and her husband, but the trooper called Tom just to kind of warn him this had gone down the way it did. This lady was the owner of a restaurant in Ripley, and we had eaten in there perhaps two times, but I know Tom wouldn’t have recognized her if he had seen her out somewhere other than the restaurant. What in the world would have possessed her to have claimed he was her father? Especially when she was in a totally inebriated state?
The next day, her husband shows up at Tom’s office to apologize for her behavior, but he couldn’t talk to him, of course, so in the end, we just never went back to that restaurant and haven’t seen the couple since. I was reminded of this story because some friends asked us to meet them there for dinner this week, and we had to kind of tell them why we couldn’t go there. After the incident occurred, the local newspaper wrote an article about it, and in the article, they said that she threatened the troopers that her daddy, Judge Evans, would be removing them of their badges. The article wasn’t written clearly enough to indicate that she was NOT his daughter, only that she threatened them. I had a couple people call me or stop me and say, “Boy, I bet Tom sure is embarrassed about what his daughter did.” As soon as I read the article, I knew it could be misunderstood, but what could I do about it then? After I get these calls, I called the editor of the paper, who had been a friend, and asked him to write a clarification that in fact the person was not his daughter.
He evidently knew the restaurant owner (who had not been identified in the article as a local business owner, and the name of her restaurant is not the name she goes by, so no one would have connected her to her business. When I ask for the clarification, the editor of the paper tells me he wouldn’t want to embarrass her. I’m thinking, “EMBARRASS HER? What about us?” In any event, he wasn’t willing to do a clarification.
As I have thought about this story this week, it has made me think of one of the most depressing scriptures ever written, the one in Matthew 7:21-23 that says 21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
Can you imagine arriving at the gates of heaven, insisting that God is your Father, that you know Jesus Christ personally, and the angels do not believe you, and they won’t let you in, and you insist and insist, and God arrives and says, “I never knew you. I don’t even recognize you.” It reminds me of that joke where the lady is dying and she went to heaven and then God says he’s giving her ten more years and sends her back. She thinks if she’s got ten more years, she’d going to do some updating, so she gets a face lift and a tummy tuck and a few other procedures, and a week later, she gets killed crossing the street. When she gets to heaven, she says to God, “What in the world? You told me I had ten more years!” God looks at her again and says, “Oh, my, that was you? I didn’t recognize you!”
I can remember when I was a teenager, times I was worried about my relationship with the Lord, and I would sometimes fear that I would be killed in a car wreck or something and not make it. I can’t think of anything worse – to NOT KNOW. I would ask you, if you died tonight, do you know where you would go? If you don’t know, you CAN KNOW. All you have to do is ask Jesus to forgive you of your sins and ask him to abide in your heart. It’s a decision that I’ve never known anyone to regret!
I had a conversation this week that just made my day – or my week! Isn’t it amazing how someone else sharing their good news can brighten your life? I have been close with a young man who grew up in our church – from the first week he was born, in church three times a week, parents doing all the right things, loving and disciplining and teaching him right from wrong. But in spite of all this, he ended up hanging with the wrong friends and becoming a drug addict. The last few years have been a nightmare for all involved – drugs, arrests, thefts, broken hearts, strife and turmoil and the end nowhere in sight. He has turned it over to the Lord on multiple occasions, been to rehab on multiple occasions, and the relapse was still just a weak moment away.
He called me this week and left a message that he had a testimony that I might or might not want to hear, but he wanted to share it with me if I was willing. He and I have been around the block on many a sharings of truth and of lies and of new beginnings and of more disappointments, so I wasn’t sure which category this was going to fall into, but I was thrilled he had reached out. I heard he had been in prison and I didn’t even know he was out. So we exchange phone messages a couple days, and eventually we reach each other. He begins by telling me that he had been arrested and put in jail, and it had saved his life. I had felt for a long time that jail would be the only hope for him to stay alive, as he was on a path of self-destruction that was a step away from an overdose or a bad batch or just a gunshot wound while he was in the middle of stealing something. But him recognizing it was great to hear.
He begins to tell me that before he got arrested this last time, he had been so overwrought with the bleakness of his situation that he literally got weak in the legs and fell to his knees before God in his bedroom, and truly, truly surrendered. I didn’t have to ask “What about the other times” as he went on to detail how this was different than the other times – it just was real and it was total surrender to the power of Jesus Christ because he was at the end of the road and there was nothing else to hold back. As he talked and told me about his experiences in prison, him eventually leading the Bible study on different days, my spirit began to leap with excitement – I could FEEL the change, could just FEEL the realness of this conversion and how God was working in this young man’s life. I’ve got to tell you, this has excited me like nothing has in a long time. Because this IS A MIRACLE! This young man had turned to God on multiple occasions, and it lasted until it didn’t last any more.
Tom and I were having a conversation a few weeks ago, and he was telling me about a friend of his from high school he had seen who has been a social worker for 40 years, and she shared with him that she had seen program after program, rehab after rehab, and it is her belief (not a Christian person) that the ONLY thing that truly works and changes someone from the inside out with LASTING benefits is salvation in Jesus Christ. She said she’s seen it time after time, and it is the only lasting rehab program she has seen. I shared that with him, and he went on to say how he just could not believe how the craving left him – that he could see someone getting high and he had no desire for it whatsoever; that God had totally removed the desire that he has been battling for so many years.
And I know what you’re thinking: “We’ll see how long this lasts.” And we will, this is true. But for those of us who KNOW the power of Jesus Christ, how He heals from head to toe, we KNOW that all things are possible! And I wonder how much we’re sharing about that power with those we know to be drug addicts? Are we so mad about their destruction of their own life, their parents’ lives, their grandparents’ lives, their lying and stealing and destroying that we’ve lost our compassion and our desire to show them the way? I have felt for many years the call to work with the drug addicted, and it just had not presented itself as a viable alternative with the situations in my life, but I feel God calling me more and more to the streets, to those who have no hope, who have no belief in anything but that next high. I am praying God will show me how and where and when….but that opportunity could be living right beside of us, or could be sleeping in the bed down the hall, or could be our friend’s child or a kid from our youth group. I pray that you will join me as we look to the REAL miracle maker, the one who can do what no program or rehab can!
I have this laughing problem. I can get started laughing and just can’t quit. Sometimes I will wake up in the middle of the night laughing so hard I am crying. I had to warn Tom about it when we first got married. And then sometimes I’ll get started laughing at an inappropriate time, and it’s awful trying to get stopped. One time I was doing this big trial, and my friend Laurie was helping me edit because it was a medical case and a lot of crazy terms, and she wasn’t really used to my computer or my software, so this was fraught with potential for error. We’re going along good, I’m writing on my steno machine, and she’s editing. Then she taps me on the shoulder and points to the screen, and the letters have gotten smaller. She’s giving me the “What do I do” look, and I just try to quickly hit Escape and it does nothing. I’m still taking down the testimony, so I just turn back to the machine and keep pounding, and I can see her over there studying things, pushing this or that, and I’m trying to ignore the mayhem so I can concentrate.
Then I look over, and she’s done something to make it worse, and the type is now almost miniscule. She has her face up on the monitor trying to see it so she can still edit, and when I see that, I just lose it. The laughter begins to well up, and I’m trying to tamp it down, but she’s squinting and has her nose almost touching the screen, trying so hard to keep going while enduring this adversity, and it just hit me to the point I could not stop laughing. I’m gulping these giggles down, trying to get my face under control, but as she squints and studies this screen, it is almost more than I can take. The trial is continuing on, and these two court reporters are over here trying not to go crazy. It was a terrible moment – very unprofessional, and if anyone saw us, they’d surely be distracted. The harder I tried not to laugh, the more it welled up. It was awful!
Last night, I was reading this book, and Tom hadn’t come to bed yet, so I am alone, and just burst out laughing. I got so tickled by this exchange (I’ll share it below) that I could not stop laughing. I am laughing and laughing, crying, holding my stomach, and I just knew any minute Tom was going to come running in to see what in the world was wrong with me. One time when I woke up laughing in the night, he thought I was crying, and he was so concerned, then that made me laugh even more. I finally got myself under control, and you guys may read this and not even think it’s funny, but this morning, I was still getting joy out of just the belly laugh that changes the atmosphere in a room, changes your outlook on everything in life.
I hear people say the Christian life is nothing but a bunch of judgment and rules, but I’ve got to tell you, my experience has been just the opposite. There is nothing like a good friend to laugh with, who expresses joy with their very being! I think Christian people are some of the funniest people in the world, and they are so NOT filled with the hate and vitriol that you find in this world, especially lately. I hope you enjoy this segment here, but if you don’t, just mark it up to my craziness. And if you don’t feel much joy in your life, I would encourage you to seek a relationship with Jesus Christ. It puts everything into perspective and reduces the hardships of life to just that, a trial to go through, but not the end of the world. There is a hope and a peace and a joy that arrives the minute you ask Him into your heart!
This exchange occurs in the car after one brother (Carson) picks his brother Will up from the prison where he’s been paroled after serving time for murder. Carson had been in the Army, and it picks up where the criminal brother says, “You don’t have stripes on your shoulders. What happened?”
“My feet. The army nearly ran me to death, and my arches fell flatter than Susie Wilcox’ chest.” Susie was one of Carson’s old flames. After they broke up, she was the target for criticism. “How is Susie,” I said. “She married some old boy out on Barker’s Ridge. Probably met him at the dog track on one of the days she wasn’t running. Heard tell she had a big bunch of kids and got big.”
“How big,” I said, biting at his joke. “Not sure, but they say she’s supersize now. I swear, Will, that girl was so bucktoothed she could eat a cantaloupe through a picket fence. Every time I kissed her, it felt like I was getting a tonsillectomy.”
Nothing like a little redneck West Virginia humor! Enjoy your weekend! And remember, a life with Christ has lots of laughter!
There have been three times in my life where I heard the voice of God – almost audibly, it was so strong. Last Sunday was one of them. I had gotten up, still tired, so emotions came easy. It was September 11th, and I’m sure, like you, you remembered where you were when you heard our world had changed. I was in Beckley, doing the trial of the State of West Virginia versus Fred Zain. Fred Zain was the criminal serologist who lied in his testimony about whether people’s blood type or whatever (this was before DNA) matched the defendant. He falsely testified about so many people, it would be hard to pin down who/what/when. But we were in a trial about what he had done, and it had a few more days to go.
We were starting court late that day for some reason, and I was in a motel getting ready and had the TV on. When the first plane hit, they instantly reported it, and I rushed to the TV. Our son, Tommy, had just completed basic training for the Marines on Friday. This was Tuesday. He was at home for the first time in months, sleeping in, enjoying the break between basic training and his duty assignment. I watched in horror, wondering what in the world, and then the second plane hit. At that time, Robin Hall helped us manage our household, and she was at our house in Ripley. I called and said, “Robin, get Tommy up – we’re going to war!” My heart was in my throat – see, Tommy went to the Marines to keep structure in his life and to earn the G.I. bill to hopefully go to college when he was more mature. Wise decisions. He certainly did not envision the world we had just entered. Nor did any of us.
She gets Tommy up, and I tell him what’s happened. He’s stunned – he can’t believe it. He thinks I’ve woken him up for some random rant and he can’t get his head wrapped around it. I’ve been to the 9-11 Memorial, and it is so moving, so raw and real. All those innocent people. Everyone has a story; everyone had a life. I get off the phone and try to get ahold of Tom. He was in court in Calhoun County, and these were the days before cells phones, of course, or not like today if we had them. I had to get the Circuit Clerk to get a message to him. He couldn’t believe it either. I still had to get ready for court.
I get to the courthouse, and they are shutting it down – everyone is leaving the Raleigh County Courthouse, as well as the Federal Courthouse. Our judge made the decision to plow ahead with the trial. Our jurors had been sequestered in a room since early morning, and they had no idea what had happened. We continued on all day as if the country was not under attack, and at the end of the day, the judge informed the jury of what had taken place. We continued our trial to conclusion, and it resulted in a hung jury. A hung jury! Seems there were several large important trials going on around the country, and three of them ended in a hung jury. I think people were just too shell-shocked to make decisions.
So last Sunday, I was emotional from not enough sleep, am always emotional on September 11th, and was listening to the news of the presidential candidates, and my heart just began to hurt. I prayed, “Lord, please, please, turn America around. Bless us and keep us.” I no more got those words out of my mind when I heard an answer that felt like a slap in the face. “What America? You mean the America that has turned her back on me? That America?” The answer I heard wasn’t a question – it was a stopping point in our conversation, the Lord and I. It felt like a “Get back – get on your knees and then come back and talk to me.” What answer did I have to that question? He didn’t want an answer – He wanted to prove a point.
This country is truly imploding, destroying itself from within more than we are being destroyed from without. The drugs we are ingesting into our bodies; the refusal to work to receive a wage but expecting a handout instead; the way our leaders will lie and deceive and steal and kill, all to line their pockets, not caring who or what is in their way; the lack of respect there is for authority, for people of faith, for anyone who isn’t just like you; the filth that comes out of our mouths and across our airways…..need I go on? Is it any wonder God is slapping back? He showed what he is capable of in the Old Testament – is that what America is going to get? Possibly what she deserves?
I have wondered if those who aren’t Christian have seen all these floods and fires and storms and earthquakes as signs that God is in control and we are not. Every time I see another one, I am reminded that we may think we have it all together and can run our lives and make everything flow just the way we want it to, but in the end, God will show His power; He will show His might, and every knee will bow….may we do it today before God turns his back on us!
2nd Chronicles 7:11-22:
11When Solomon had finished the temple of the Lord and the royal palace, and had succeeded in carrying out all he had in mind to do in the temple of the Lord and in his own palace, 12the Lord appeared to him at night and said:
“I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a temple for sacrifices.
13“When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, 14if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 15Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place. 16I have chosen and consecrated this temple so that my Name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there.
17“As for you, if you walk before me faithfully as David your father did, and do all I command, and observe my decrees and laws, 18I will establish your royal throne, as I covenanted with David your father when I said, ‘You shall never fail to have a successor to rule over Israel.’
19“But if youa turn away and forsake the decrees and commands I have given youb and go off to serve other gods and worship them, 20then I will uproot Israel from my land, which I have given them, and will reject this temple I have consecrated for my Name. I will make it a byword and an object of ridicule among all peoples. 21This temple will become a heap of rubble. Allc who pass by will be appalled and say, ‘Why has the Lord done such a thing to this land and to this temple?’ 22People will answer, ‘Because they have forsaken the Lord, the God of their ancestors, who brought them out of Egypt, and have embraced other gods, worshiping and serving them—that is why he brought all this disaster on them.’ ”
I got to have dinner this week with some old friends, and it was such a blessing. I think friendship is one of the greatest gifts God has given us. We got to talking about all the things we had been through together – divorce, death of a spouse, a child being put in jail, drug and alcohol addictions, spiritual unrest or weakness – and we highlighted how close we all were. At the time we became friends, all of us went to the Nazarene church, and we were all very faithful – Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night. We were all new moms at the time as well, and our nursery was a nightmare! There were six new babies within months of each other, and then those babies grew up a little and were replaced by six more. At any moment in time, there could be 10 or more children under two years old in this nursery.
As we talked, I began to see how friendships then are so different from friendships today. We would get together and spend an entire day just hanging out, visiting and talking, letting our kids play. There were few distractions, and that one day a week or so that we tried to get together was the highlight of the week. This was before cell phones, of course, so we were “all there” in the moment. We shared everything about our lives – marriages, kid issues, family trouble. We also were in each other’s face about spiritual things. I can remember being called out numerous times if my attitude wasn’t right or I was slipping in my walk with the Lord. Thank God for these women! I truly don’t know how any of us would have made it raising children and going through all life has to offer without each other. Those friendships were a balm of healing and like having a therapist on standby at all times.
When I think about young women today, I watch them rushing here and there, trying to do it all and fit it all in, all while staying tied to those phones and Facebook and Instagram and Snapchat and all this craziness. I wonder, do they have good, close friendships, or is it all surface? Because let’s be honest, Facebook can be a very cruel and distant place. I know several people who have just removed themselves because they couldn’t take the “comparisons.” When I asked them what they meant, they said, “You know, seeing the pictures of someone’s house all perfect, and watching them post about how perfect their children are, and blah, blah, blah. I just couldn’t take it – I was constantly comparing myself to their life, and I was unhappy and depressed all the time. I just had to get off.”
I’m getting ready to speak at this Our Sister’s Conference at the end of April, and as I pray about what God would want me to share, He keeps reminding me of how Jesus did his ministry – with friends. Yes, they were disciples, they were followers, they were worshipers, but if we really look at it closely, they were a group of friends who ate together, slept together, sacrificed together and were in this thing as a team. Why did Jesus do that? He could have done this on his own – He was powerful enough to carry this load and just go it with him and God. But he didn’t. He surrounded himself with other men, and they grew close to each other and supported each other and fought and laughed and cried. I truly believe this is what He wants us to do.
I have to admit, I have mourned the distance of my friendships with these women I spent almost 20 years with on a routine basis. Some have moved, some left to go to other churches, we got busy with teenagers instead of babies, and now busy with grandchildren. But I do KNOW that if I ever needed a one of them, they would be there for me in an instant. But it makes me want to make my friendships of today more real, more open, more raw so that I, too, can be a blessing and they can feel that we aren’t just surface friends, all pretending everything is great when sometimes it’s just not. I would ask you – do you have deep, personal friendships, people who you share your ugliness with and who still love you anyway? Do you know that you’ve surrounded yourself with people who will call you out if you need it, who will pull you up when you fall, will pray for you when you can’t pray for yourself? I don’t want fake friendships, those surface kind where there is a lot left unsaid and tucked away because you’re afraid to be real. I want to be the kind of friend who accepts people as they are but encourages them to seek Christ to be better and to be happier.
My daughter Talia has moved to Pomeroy, and she started going to a new church that has a great reputation, and she keeps saying, “I’m only going to survive this move to Ohio if I find new friends.” She’s even gone back to school to become a teacher so she can meet people in her community and “try to find friends.” If I’ve heard her say “I’ve got to find friends” one time, I’ve heard it a thousand in the last six months. She attends this new church for almost six months, signs up to be a greeter, tries her best to reach out and be friendly to those around her, and NO ONE has reached back. She has become so discouraged and depressed over it, I’ve been really worried. She hears they’re having a ladies breakfast, and she thinks, “This will be it – this is where I can make a friend and people will want to get to know a little about me.” She gets up and gets ready with excitement, anxious to see what friend God has for her. She arrives and most of the women are already seated, but she gets seated at the end of the table, and they all talk about people they know, things they know about that she has no clue on, and they make no effort whatsoever to include her. She said she almost cried right there at the table, but she was able to make it to the car before breaking down, and she cried all the way home.
What are we doing, guys? What are we doing? Are we all so busy and distracted that we don’t have room to reach out to another person? Are we just “not in the market” for a new friend? Or do we even care about friendships and instead just want this “I’ve got it all together” mantra for our lives, whether it’s true or not? Lord, help us! I KNOW His plan was for us to mentor each other and pray for each other and be there for each other – He showed us how to do that. I would encourage you to take a few minutes and analyze your friendships and ask God what He would have you do with each of them – dive deeper and make it real. Life is too short…..
I had the best surprise last night – one of the young women who used to be in my youth group (7 years ago) stopped by unannounced with her two-year-old daughter that I’d never met. I hadn’t seen this girl in six years, and really hadn’t even heard much about her. It was such a blessing to hear where all she’d been, what she’d been doing, which had included being a chef at the Greenbrier Sporting Club until she was involved in last summer’s flood and has now created a nonprofit group that she is the administrator of and is in charge of organizing sometimes 800 volunteers at a time, managing the fundraising, writing the grants, you name it. She was beautiful and animated, and we reminisced about old times and talked of the flood and all the devastation. I am so proud of her – what an incredible person she has turned out to be!
And that reminds me, once again, what a beautiful gift friendship is. I always say spending the day with a friend is like free therapy – once you’ve laughed and sometimes cried and shared your sorrows and your joys, you ALWAYS feel better! Tom and I have been at the beach for a little over a week renovating a condo we bought, and it was truly a torturous affair. We had about six days to get rid of tons of furniture, get new (used) furniture in, paint and stain the new stuff so it looks better, paint the walls, clean, organize, make custom valances, put stuff on the walls, you name it. We had 12-hour days and fell over at the end of all of them, but all the togetherness was really good. We laughed and laughed over stupid things, like Tom driving around Myrtle Beach making two trips to Sam’s Club for mattress and boxsprings sets and having them on the top of the little box trailer we took because they were too big to fit inside. Tal sends him this pic (below) that cracked us up and we sure were glad no one knew us, the WV Beverly Hillbillies.
One day, the wind was incredible – I mean, the force of it could knock you over. We were taking a load of things from the condo to Goodwill, and one of the things was this huge 5’ by 5’ painting of seagulls or some beachy bird that was over the couch – you know, those old paintings that they used to sell that are just huge. I’m carrying this thing out, and as I reach the main door, the wind catches it and it literally almost lifted me off my feet. I’m trying to turn it so it’s not sideways, and when I put it up over my head, it becomes like a hang gliding thing and is running me down the parking lot. I’m laughing so hard I about peed my pants, and I’m saying, “I sure wish we had a video of this!” Tom’s got his hands full as well, but he wasn’t carrying a huge kite like I was…..we laughed and laughed over that, but it was truly a miracle the thing didn’t just break in two or take me off the ground. It was a sight to see, and after it was over, we talked about how powerful the wind is, and totally unseen. If someone had watched that out the window, they would have thought I was crazy, dancing and prancing around with that picture pulling me every which way. Amazing how just a little laughter can turn a yucky day into a fun one.
As I was thinking this morning about the treat of a visit last night and thinking about it being Easter weekend, Peter’s betrayal came instantly to mind as one of the greatest disappointments in the whole resurrection story. Can you imagine being with Jesus 24/7, seeing all the miracles he performs, knowing that His father is the God of the wind and the sea, and this man having walked on water! And yet, even after being warned that he would do so, he betrays his friend, his Savior. Wow. If you’ve ever been betrayed by a friend, you know that sometimes that hurt is more powerful than being betrayed by your spouse. It’s a hurt that lives with you for a long, long time, and is a divorce of sorts. And yet Jesus showed us that hurt, and how He handled it. I found this article that was just great on why Peter could have done this.
Question: "What was the reason behind Peter's denial of Jesus?"
Answer: The story of Peter’s threefold denial of Christ is found in all four Gospel accounts: Matthew 26:69–74, Mark 14:66–72, Luke 22:55–62, and John 18:15–18, 25–27. But why would the chief of the disciples deny even knowing Him? There were two main reasons why Peter denied Jesus: weakness and fear.
Peter’s denial was based partially on weakness, the weakness born of human frailty. After the Last Supper, Jesus took His disciples to the Garden of Gethsemane to await His arrest. He told them to stay awake and pray while He went off to pray alone. When He returned to them, He found them sleeping. He warned Peter to stay awake and pray because, although his spirit might be willing, his flesh was weak. But he fell asleep again, and, by the time the soldiers had come to arrest Jesus, it was too late to pray for the strength to endure the ordeal to come. No doubt his failure to appropriate the only means to shore up his own weakness—prayer—occurred to him as he was weeping bitterly after his denials. But Peter learned his lesson about being watchful, and he exhorts us in 1 Peter 5:8, “Be on the alert, because your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” Peter’s weakness had caused him to be “devoured” momentarily as he denied his Lord because he hadn’t been prepared through prayer and he underestimated his own weakness.
A second reason for Peter’s failure was fear. To his credit, although all the others had fled (Mark 14:50), Peter still followed Jesus after His arrest, but he kept his distance so as not to be identified with Him (Mark 14:54). There’s no question that fear gripped him. From the courtyard, he watched Jesus being falsely accused, beaten, and insulted (Mark 14:57–66). Peter was afraid Jesus would die, and he was fearful for his own life as well. The world hated Jesus, and Peter found that he was not prepared to face the ridicule and persecution that Jesus was suffering. Earlier, Jesus had warned His disciples as well as us today, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first” (John 16:18; cf. Matthew 24:9). Peter quickly found he wasn’t nearly as bold and courageous as he had proclaimed, and in fear he denied the One who had loved him.
We might well wonder why Jesus allowed Peter to fail so miserably and deny his Lord three times that night. Jesus revealed to Peter that Satan had asked for permission to sift Peter like wheat (Luke 22:31). Jesus could have easily protected Peter and not allowed Satan to sift him, but Jesus had a higher goal. He was equipping Peter to strengthen his brothers (Luke 22:32). Not only did Peter strengthen the other disciples, but he became the pillar of the early church in Jerusalem, exhorting and training others to follow the Lord Jesus (Acts 2). And he continues to this day to strengthen us through his epistles, 1 and 2 Peter. As with all our failures, God used Peter’s many failures, including his three denials of Christ, to turn him from Simon, a common man with a common name, into Peter, the Rock.
Even after reading this article, I still think “Wow.” To live in those days, though, of turmoil and killing and uproar, we have no idea what we would do.
1 Timothy 2:5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus.
This retirement thing has been going very well – I’m liking this! Tom has gotten a lot of honey-do projects done, and we’ve gotten our garage looking less like a Hoarders show and more like a garage. This is working! I have to admit, I was “cautiously apprehensive.” Our entire marriage, Tom and I have spent a lot of time away from each other. We’ve worked fairly serious hours, had five kids going all directions, done a lot of church things, family things, and enjoyed each other when we could. I wasn’t sure how we’d navigate this new road we’re on.
I have been teaching this series on “The Peacemaker – a Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict.” We had done this book once several years ago, and I remember it being very good, and the class was filled with people sharing their stories and other Christians piping in with how they might handle their exact situation. See, people aren’t all the same in how they handle conflict. My husband and I are total opposites when dealing with conflict. I am the “Let’s sit down and talk about it,” and he’s the “No, some things are better left unsaid – let’s ignore it.” Then that gets me all fired up with the “And that’s why we’re here – because no one would talk about it!” The book uses lots of examples of inheritance type fights and how families who had always gotten along now can’t reconcile with each other because of hurts or hidden agendas or the things that can come out when financial issues get involved.
Isn’t it funny that when you are teaching about something, that’s when it hits you where you live? The last two months have been fraught with conflict in my life – and I’m talking the kind of thing that keeps you up not one night or two nights but entire weeks at a time. I feel like I haven’t slept since December. You know the deal – you lie awake analyzing and arguing your side of the situation, praying in between your mind rationalizing your side of it. This study has helped me so much – it truly has. The whole theme of the book is to arrive at ways to deal with conflict that glorifies God. And you think, WHAT? How can God be glorified in conflict? The only way God is glorified is when His people act in ways that He has taught them. And YES, you can act in those ways during conflict.
There is a little graph in the book called “The Slippery Slope of Conflict” which gives several unworkable ways to deal with conflict: Escape responses of denial, flight or suicide; Attack responses of assault, litigation or murder. The peacemaking responses are: Overlook, reconciliation, negotiation, mediation, arbitration and accountability. I was able to meet with a family this week and try to reconcile them one to another. I have to tell you, it went exceptionally well, and I think all of us left this hours-long meeting with hope. At least I did. There was no yelling and screaming, but there was a lot of truth spoken of things that had been done that were going to take a lot of apologizing and amends-making and time of healing before these wounds are truly healed. But without that truth being spoken, I’m not sure that there would have been hope for healing, because the one party wouldn’t have specifically known what they’d done or what was expected to be done to make things right. We made lists of “Amends to make,” lists of expectations, lists of things to watch out for, and those lists became the plan of action. To me, when you have a plan of positive action, you have hope for the future, not just that depressed “don’t know where to turn and don’t think this will ever be better” weight on your head.
I know you’re wondering why I’m going down this road, but as I see drama unfold on Facebook and in the world and hear constantly about feelings being hurt and people being defriended and attacks against each other, I have to think “Where is God in this?” If we are a Christian (I mean a true worshiper of Jesus Christ who has received salvation and is headed to heaven), isn’t our job to love others, to bring others to a relationship with Christ? It is not our job to divide and conquer. It is not our job to point out others’ faults. It is not our job to embark on political rants that do nothing but divide. It is not our job to gossip about who did what. It is our job to try to show the world that our lives may have conflict, and we may have trouble just like everyone else does, but we can deal with it in ways that honor God and do not destroy people.
When teaching this class to my young people (ages 18 to 25), we began to talk about these escape responses, and I was not surprised to learn that several in my class had thought of suicide, even attempted it. When the trouble of this world seems to surround you, we MUST be the church – we MUST be the arms of Christ – we MUST be the love that gets around the “I’m right and you’re wrong” attitudes we see so often. I pray that God brings a spirit of healing on our nation, as I believe it’s going to take something supernatural to conquer these divisions across our America. I believe I may have found a calling here as well, to try to be a mediator for people who have division in their homes or their churches or their extended families. So if you would like a free negotiator, sign me up – I’d be glad to try to help! Let’s pray that God heals our land….
My weeks are full of stuff. I mean random stuff. I’m sure yours are also. Sometimes when my husband asks me how my day was, I don’t even remember where I was or what I did. My building in Charleston has an alley that runs beside it with all these dumpsters in it. Many a nefarious act has occurred in, near or hidden by these dumpsters. We’ve had people literally defecate right outside our side door, hidden by a dumpster but not hidden when you step out the door! It’s kind of scary at night, and almost as scary during the day.
We have shared a dumpster with a law firm as we didn’t have that much trash. It ended up getting to the point that one or the other of us would have more than the usual, and the sharing thing was becoming not worth the hassle, so we ordered our own dumpster a month or so ago. Everything went along fine for the first couple of weeks, and then our dumpster is all the sudden overflowing with stuff. Bags were everywhere. That continued, so we called and had a lock put on our dumpster (for a monthy $10.00 fee – can you believe that??) Anyway, after the lock is put on, the problem gets worse. Someone cuts our lock off and piles trash in, over and around the dumpster. We get another lock, it gets cut off as well. Waste Management is telling us we’re going to have to pay extra for all these additional bags and mess.
I’m at the office this week and my office manager is telling me all about this, and I’m saying, “Who in the world would be doing this? I mean, what brought this on all the sudden?” She says she doesn’t know, but she’s now called Waste Management and they’re bringing a lock bar for the dumpster that can’t be cut off. We talk about it some more, and I begin to ponder. I say, “Could this be someone in an apartment around here that’s seen a new dumpster put in?” Then that seems a little weird. Then it hits me. I said, “You know, someone is really working hard to put their trash in this dumpster! It’s almost like they think it’s theirs. Is there a new business on Capitol Street that could think that this is their dumpster?” The girls instantly say, “There is a new bakery over there. Maybe it’s them.” I said, “Well, pop over there and ask them.” They’re like, “Well, you can’t just walk in and ask them if they’re abusing our dumpster!”
I’m thinking, “Well, you sure can!” But we were all busy, so I put it on my list to sort out. Tom and I are driving to Virginia to visit the grandchildren, and I just pop on Facebook and get the number of the bakery. Call them up and launch into my story about “Not sure if you guys got a new dumpster too and ours are mixed up or what.” The lady who answered the phone was nice as can be. She says, “Well, SOMEONE put a lock on our dumpster! We’ve had to cut it off twice!” I start to laugh, and I say, “Well, that someone is Waste Management.” She says they called Waste Management up to come and deal with the fact that someone has put a lock on their dumpster, and Waste Management says they didn’t do it.
Long, long story short, after a very nice conversation with my bakery neighbor and an extremely long phone ordeal with Waste Management, we should be on the road to having a dumpster that isn’t a nightmare. I told the lady on the phone I felt like I was in a reality show called “Dumpster Wars!” We had a good laugh and got the problem solved.
And I wonder: Do any of you have situations in your lives that you’re fretting over, drawing lines in the sand (or putting locks on the situation) and all the while, it could just be a misunderstanding? Are you piling and piling things around the situation, building the case, carrying on about what is unfair and not right and shoving more things at the problem rather than getting to the root of the issue? I have found in my life that almost EVERY time I get all torn up about something, thinking it went down a certain way, getting all bent out of shape, a simple conversation can set things right. I’d encourage you today, back up, take a fresh look at that thing that’s bothering you, start thinking outside the box a bit, and you just may be able to work it out! Jesus tells us that we are to work things out with our brothers, not to get in our corner and hunker down with our righteous indignation. Let’s try it His way and see how much better it goes!
My name is Teresa Evans. I am a wife to Tom, a retired Circuit Judge, and I am a court reporter by trade, a mother by God's grace and a lover of Jesus Christ. I've grown up in a family blessed with many miracles, and have received multiple miracles myself.