Gun Free = Safety Free

I am deeply saddened, yet again, by the sickening tragedy and pain inflicted by the familiar evil of another active shooter.  I join with millions of you in prayer for the families of the beautiful lives lost in Oregon on October 1, 2015.  So begins another investigative journey of law enforcement, government, private industry, and individual citizens into how and why these shootings keep happening and the answers that will make them stop.

I was shocked to see our president indicate that our thoughts and prayers are no longer enough.  Prayer is the uncompromising foundation of faith.  Prayer comforts, prayer heals, prayer moves God.  We live in a fallen world and the absurd belief that disarming citizens should be the answer is no longer enough.  For those who do not wish to yield a weapon, please quit trying to make the rest of us, the good guys, drop ours.

I invite you to consider something Mr. Edmond Burke (1729-1797) said, “It is not what a lawyer tells me I may do; but what humanity, reason, and justice tell me I ought to do.”  Humanity asks of us respect for life.  Reason asks of us logical conclusions based on facts not idealistic, emotional responses.  Justice asks of us reparation for those who are wronged.  And I will add to that, it is what Jesus Christ in God the Father by way of the Holy Spirit implores me to do, should I choose to listen.  What we need, firstly and rightly, is for this once great nation, to prayerfully and repentantly come back to faith in Jesus Christ.  What then does the Lord ask of us?  “…to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God…” Micah 6:8 NIV.  To walk humbly is to walk in step with Him in such a way that you never put yourself before Him, yet you find yourself in Him.  To love mercy is to love the Lord and others with great compassion.  To act justly is to move to take righteous action.  It is no crime to love and protect the life He gives by any reasonable means possible.

In short, we don’t need more gun control.  Clearly, gun control does not work as evidenced by every active shooter event this nation has mourned.  Keeping guns out of the hands of responsible people clears the way for evil to manifest its schemes with minimal fear of returned force.  Let’s take a look at improving mental health laws that would make it easier to deal with those who are showing signs of homicidal behavior.  Let’s consider having those that carry take mandatory advanced weapons training regarding public safety.  Let’s teach citizens who want to learn how to protect themselves to fight back.  Perhaps you are familiar with another one of Mr. Burke’s famous quotes, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”  That is precisely what we citizens have been taught by our government thus far; don’t carry a gun, wait for the police to show up with their guns.  No, thank you very little.  I will not sit down and do nothing.  I will not allow evil to triumph.

This is in no way a negative reflection on those who only had the option to run, hide, or fight bare handed in any of these tragedies.  They did the very best they could to protect themselves and others, in any way they could, when they were attacked.  That is right and honorable.  There are many silent heroes in any active shooter incident.  That is truly living out the love of Christ.  Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”  John 15:13 NIV.  What I’m getting at is that I believe we must be free to defend ourselves with the level of force used against us including having the option to carry a gun to do it.

It is an appalling, moral tragedy to believe that gun control will control evil men with broken minds and empty souls.  Are we going to verbally reprimand the next active shooter, in mid-fire, that he or she is not supposed to have that gun on campus, or in a church, or a hospital?  Evil does not comply with gun control, only law abiding citizens do.

I’m asking you, “Do you want to be trapped in a situation where the only person who has the gun is the one who is coldly, murdering people in mass?  Do you want your children or family in that place?”  The reality is that we are all in that place and it’s commonly known as a gun free zone.  I respect anyone who does not want to carry a gun.  I ask in return that they respect those of us who do carry with the intent to protect all life.  I believe it’s time we let evil know that we are taking a stand.  It’s time to let good men and women carry with them the means to stop it.

1 Chronicles 19:13 “Be strong, and let us fight bravely for our people and the cities of our God. The Lord will do what is good in his sight.” NIV

Copyright 10/02/2015 Jill Anne Smith www.comeboldly.wordpress.com

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photo copyright Jill Smith 2011

photo copyright Jill Smith 2011

I spent several years of my life over focused on my shortcomings and how they could ultimately affect the ministry into which I was called. I couldn’t get beyond my faults, my failures, my past, and everything else on my list that hindered me from accomplishing His will. I believed that people would not hear or see God in my life because of my flaws. I pushed ministry away hoping that I could fix everything. I carefully boxed up my God given gifts like fine china. I told myself that someday I would take them back out for the right occasion; someday I would be good enough to use them.

I had a strong desire to be in His will but my passion became repairing myself rather than living for Him. Fixing myself became the problem because it became my focus. There was no longer room for ministry within my heart. In my attempt to manufacture what I thought Christ wanted me to become I lost sight of His redeeming love. I began asking that self-centeredness and self-ridicule (even under the guise of self-improvement) would no longer be a hindrance to my life or ministry. I finally realized that what Christ desires is a loving, obedient, and worshipful spirit freely and wholly given over to Him in the form of a true servant’s heart.

He calls us unto himself in spite of our imperfections. He calls us to use our gifts in spite of our failures. We cannot fixate on ourselves rather we must fix our hearts on Him. He will take us where He needs us to be if we’re willing to lay down our fears, our failures, and our inadequacies to follow Him.

Yes, people will always see our limitations. But when we are faithful to Him, they may also see even more clearly that our God is able and our God overcomes. They may see the magnificent works our Father reveals through our glaring imperfections. We must have a joyful brokenness of self in which we are genuinely refined in His timing, according to His purpose, and for His glory.

Copyright January 2013, Jill Anne Smith, all rights reserved.

2 Corinthians 12:9 “But he said to me “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

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Spiritual Life

photo by Stock Xchange

photo by Stock Xchange

Spiritual life is not an idealistic lifestyle that we can create through our personal achievements in a vain attempt to pull God closer. Living a spiritual life is recognizing our emptiness before our holy, loving God who draws us with grace unto Himself. Living a spiritual life is finding His joy within our pain, His love within our hate, His hope within our despair, His forgiveness from our transgressions, His fulfillment in spite of our inadequacies, and the power of His resurrection in our death to self. Spiritual life is finding our true life in and through Jesus Christ allowing ourselves to be pulled closer to Him.

copyright 2012, Jill Anne Smith, all rights reserved

Romans 12: 1-2 1 Corinthians 2: 6-16

Photo Stock Xchange

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What Exactly are We Saying?

I love just about anything with a Bible verse written on it: artwork, bumper stickers, coffee mugs, and t-shirts. I think those are a few great ways to get Scripture to people who otherwise would never pick up a Bible and read it. I put on a Christian t-shirt and wore it to work a couple of weeks ago. It had a beautiful verse scrolling down the back in swirling script. I hoped someone would take notice of it and somehow that would lead to a conversation about the Lord.

However, one of those mornings hit me and I quickly forgot about the shirt. Nothing was going according to my plans. I let my frustrations melt me down emotionally and I pitched an angry, verbal fit. There certainly weren’t any Holy Scriptures coming out of my mouth by that point. A co-worker tried to help and remarked, “Why don’t you try thinking about what’s on the back of your shirt.” I froze inside myself for one dreadful moment as I remembered the verse I wore, “Let love and faithfulness never leave you, bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart” *Proverbs 3: 3. I wanted His best to shine through me, but when things didn’t go my way, I became my worst.

We are living out loud every moment. People read us right through the facades we put up. Although I did apologize I know that I can’t take that day back. But I can choose to accept His forgiveness and learn from the mistake. I can receive His grace and pray for other opportunities to live out His love.

“Today, Lord, I didn’t hold the line for you. I was only thinking of myself. You are faithful to pick me back up when I trip over myself. I pray that people will see your grace and forgiveness in my life that they may praise you and seek you for the same. I ask this in your name Jesus, Amen.”

copyright 07/15/2012 Jill Anne Smith, Light Out of Darkness; All Rights Reserved

Psalm 141:3 “Set a guard over my mouth, LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips”

Photo copyright Stock Xchange

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A Mother’s Day Prayer

My Dear Lord,

You are everything that I long for. The fulfillment of who I am is only found in You. I pray that You will be that same fulfillment for my children. May they have open hearts to receive your great love and salvation. May we always see You for who You are: Savior, Christ, Almighty God. May we always bring our faults openly before you and exchange them for Your freedom of forgiveness and joy. I pray for Your protection around my children and that You will guard their hearts and minds in Christ Jesus; give them a heart to seek You and to do Your will.

I ask this in Your Mighty Name Jesus ~ Amen

Acts 2:28 You have made known to me the paths of life; You fill me with joy in Your presence.
Scripture copyright NIV

Coyright 05/2012 Jill Anne Smith, Light Out of Darkness, All Rights Reserved

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Making Waves


I used to take my boy, Sean, to a small animal farm, the Fritz Park Zoo. The first time we went he was almost three. I fell in love with the simple charm of the zoo instantly. We skipped around the paths and mingled with the goats, we watched the cows chew relentlessly, and we were amazed at the peacock’s deafeningly loud call. It was a sweet, little place to fritter away a lazy Saturday.

I particularly loved the pond. Although it was constructed entirely of concrete the water was spa-like with peaceful clarity, and the landscaping was enviable. We tiptoed over the tiny arched bridge as duckies swam right out from underneath. They glided to the center island and then out to the banks. Unlike the other critters, they were like royalty and waddle about the grounds as they pleased.

As we made our way from pen to pen I discovered a “gi-normous”, hairy, pot-bellied pig. He slumped over (or capsized) onto his side like a half-ton of bacon. I almost took pity on his lack of mobility but this “lil piggy” was no fool. He lay perfectly still enjoying a good scratching from the steady supply of passing kiddos. I reached over the pen and began to rake my fingers through his rough belly hair. I figured this would make my son’s day. I wasn’t exactly watching him though as I encouraged him to pet that porker. Instead, I was keeping an eye on the pig’s snout- just in case. I did my best to assure Sean that this pig wouldn’t bite. On and on I chattered but he wouldn’t reach in that pen. Suddenly, I heard a distant worker yelling out in amazement, “Hey! Look at that kid!”

Instantly, and without even turning my head, I knew she was talking about my boy. The people around me must have assumed I had been talking to the pig because Sean was long gone. I popped up off the pavement like a loaded spring. There he was, across the park, gleefully splashing about in the c’ment pond. He had the biggest grin on his face. He was tickled with utter delight. A young lady hopped the fence and hiked up her pants to wade out to him. Sean, on the other hand, waded back to the opposite shore.

I called out to him amidst the laughter of the other parents, “Sean! Get out of that pond honey! You can’t…” but he didn’t hear a thing. Roars of laughter continued to draw other thrill seekers from around the park to watch his improv performance. He saw me running over and hollered out “Hey Mom! Watch this!”

Now, picture me desperately yelling “nooooooo” as he thrusted himself into a dashing cannon ball leap of extraordinary toddler skill thereby sinking himself into the middle of the shallow pond! Feathered waves of water went flying. The ducks were positively disgusted. I was effectively mortified and had flashbacks of a favorite childhood book, “Put Me In The Zoo”. Suddenly my child and I were destined to become a punch line to a new series of “you might be a red-neck if…” jokes.

Eventually, I coaxed him out of the c’ment pond as the “oohs and ahs” of all the “good” parents faded away. He was soaked to the core. His Osh-Kosh shorts were bursting at the seems from his inflated, soggy pull-up. He was beaming with contentment and unscathed by my embarrassment.
So what is the moral of this story? Is there saintly wisdom to be gleaned from my humiliation? Come on, you know what those other parents were thinking! Like, “keep any eye on your kid and not just an ear”. Or, “never turn your back on a 3 year old “ (or 10 yr old, or a 16 yr old, you follow me). How about this one, “just because you like rubbing hairy hog bellies doesn’t mean your kids want to watch you do it”. I’m sure some of the more experienced moms were smirking because they would have packed a towel and extra clothing for just such an occasion.

But we can find something deeper to draw from in our daily craziness as we seek His direction. When we take our primary focus off of where it needs to be we not only lose sight of Him but we stop hearing his voice; we miss His closeness. We let Him fade off into our background. Perhaps we could say that to follow Christ is to joyfully run after Him with purpose and great passion. Do we dare, in complete trust, make a fool of ourselves and take a running, cannon ball leap into the Water of Life? When was the last time, if ever, that you hollered out to Him, “Hey Lord!” while jumping feet first into his calling? He is watching and waiting for each of us. Go! Run! Make a splash and see how far the ripples reach.

Copyright 05-04-2011 Jill Anne Smith, Light Out of Darkness. All Rights Reserved.

Isaiah 43:2-3 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you…for I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior