Are you in?

‘Must be the manager who’s taking orders,’ I thought, in response to the rich male voice that confidently thanked me and told me the price of my order. I drove forward to the drive-up window, automatically held out my card and knew I was looking at the owner of the voice as soon as he very pleasantly said, “Hello!”

As I handed him my card, I thought, ‘He can’t be the manager’! I continued to watch him through the window as he took another order, all the while smiling. He was very tall and slightly awkward, as if he wasn’t quite comfortable in the obviously new uniform he was wearing; and he had a huge smile–not at all the sort of person I was expecting. At once, I was ashamed of myself for so quickly passing judgment on the young man, who obviously was manager material even if he didn’t look like it.

A rush of questions entered my mind. Was he still in school? How did he become so well spoken? Was he doing anything with that voice? Did he try out for school plays? Did he get passed over for leading roles? Were his parents proud of him?

I smiled as the window opened and he handed me my card and receipt. And then, picking up the bag as if it held a gourmet dinner, he said in that deep baritone voice, “And here’s your order. I hope you enjoy it!”

His smile was genuine, as he made eye contact, and I saw the boy/man and knew what I should say. “You have a lovely voice and such a nice manner. I just wanted you to know I appreciate it,” I said.

Obviously taken aback, he put his hands to his heart and said, “Oh, thank you. You’ve made my day!” He just stood there smiling as I pulled away, and I thanked God for the opportunity to give him what God knew he needed, affirmation. 

On the way home, I thought about the Great Commission, how Jesus said we were to go into all the world and tell people about Him and teach them to follow Him. The command that Jesus left us with isn’t about saving ourselves for some huge, evangelistic effort in the future but is about going out into our own world and spreading the Love of Jesus Christ to everyone we meet.

It’s about seeing through the eyes of Jesus the man behind the Quik Mart counter,  the teenager corralling the carts at WalMart, the mom with three grumpy kids at the grocery. It’s about acknowledging the silent frustration of the mother whose child won’t be quieted on the plane, the pain of the co-worker who confides his wife has left him, or the courtesy of an awkward young man at the drive-up.

It’s about caring… and connection. It’s about making an effort to just be Jesus to the person who needs you to be kind, or say ‘well done’ or ‘I remember how hard it was to shop with my kids.’ And if we have no words, it’s about lifting harried mothers and broken-hearted husbands to the Father, asking Him to comfort them and meet their needs.

I have a feeling we would just be dumbstruck at the number of opportunities to make a difference for the Kingdom of God that we miss each day. And why? Three reasons immediately come to mind: (1) we’re too self-obsessed with what’s happening in our own lives to recognize an opportunity when we’re given one; (2) we’re too concerned about what someone might think; or, God forbid, (3) we simply don’t care.

If you’re a Christ-follower, you may think it doesn’t matter whether Jesus is coming sooner or later, because you’re good, you’re in! But it does matter, because you have a responsibility to God to fulfill the Great Commission. If you’re too busy, too distracted, too tired, too selfish, or too scared to make waves, you might want to rethink your relationship with Christ, starting with this question, ‘Do I have one?’

Being a good person isn’t going to cut it–for you or your friends and family. Being baptized/confirmed/dedicated or going to church every Sunday isn’t enough; and, likewise, living in a ‘Christian’ nation or being a part of a ‘Christian’ family will not guarantee you eternity in Heaven. The only thing that will is trusting God for your salvation.

If you’ve never made a decision for Christ, here’s a simple prayer you can pray. “Father, I know I’ve sinned against You and deserve punishment, but Jesus took the punishment for me when He died on the cross. I ask You to forgive me, and I put my trust in You for my salvation. Thank you for forgiving me and accepting me as Your Child.” Amen

The Great Commission, as recorded in Matthew 28:18-20, is one of the most recognizable portions of scripture.

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

It’s essentially the marching orders of the true Church, comprised of people who have accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior and have made Him the Lord of their lives. It’s not a suggestion but a commandment that Jesus gave to every person–not just pastors and ministers, priests and missionaries–but everyone who would follow Him.

Just as Jesus revealed God to us, we are to reveal God to others because we have Jesus in us. We are to become more like Christ every day, and the way we do that is by reading His Word and obeying it. We are God’s possession–He created us and He owns us. We are to be His witnesses and the testimony of who He is.

It’s pretty obvious that the Enemy of our souls is working overtime these days. He wants to take as many people with him, because he knows his days on this earth are numbered. Unfortunately, the Enemy pretty much has free rein in society today, even in the Church where the power of the Gospel is being replaced by political correctness.  Not offending anyone’s beliefs for fear they won’t come back has become the unwritten policy of a growing number of churches, who want to be known as inclusive in order to keep the church doors open on Sunday morning.

It is the Truth that sets one free to be the person God created him or her to be. And if we don’t speak the Truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, not only in our places of worship but in our daily lives, who will?

I’m on my way to Heaven, and I want to take as many people with me as I can. God has commissioned every believer to do just that. Will you? Listen to this paraphrase of the Great Commission from The Message:

Meanwhile, the eleven disciples were on their way to Galilee, headed for the mountain Jesus had set for their reunion. The moment they saw him they worshiped him. Some, though, held back, not sure about worship, about risking themselves totally. Jesus, undeterred, went right ahead and gave his charge: “God authorized and commanded me to commission you: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age.”

 

Are you in?

I was with you…

I was with you in the beginning…
when You flung the stars into the sky, hung the sun and moon,
waved your mighty Hand and the Northern lights were lit.
I was with You that day. You are Light.

I was with You in the beginning…
when You knelt to take a handful of dust to make Adam in Your image,
and breathed the breath of Life into him.
I was with You then. You are Life.

I was with You in the beginning…
when you planted the first garden and gave it to the man,
looked upon him and realized it was not good for him to be alone.
I was with You then. You are Love.

I have been with You down through the ages…
there in your Mind all the time,
yet You waited until almost the very end to fashion me
in a woman I would never know this side of heaven.

Thank you, Father, for holding on to me…
for the Love that fills my heart because of You
for the Life you have given me that I might live for You
for the Light that floods my soul and makes me one with You.

May 27 – You Are That Man!

Convicting as it should be.

THE RIVER WALK

Then Nathan said to David, “You are that man!
You did it secretly, but I will make this happen to you openly in the sight of all Israel.”
(2 Samuel 12:7,12)

Read: 2 Samuel 12:1-31, John 16:1-33, Psalm 119:65-80, Proverbs 16:4-5

Relate: Nathan the prophet comes to David to tell him a story. He shares how there were two neighbors: one was rich and the other poor. The rich man had many animals but the poor man only one sheep that he treated as his own family. Someone came over to visit the rich man and instead of slaughtering one of his own animals to use as a feast for the distinguished guest, he takes his poor neighbors only sheep by force and uses that instead.

When he hears this story, David is outraged. That rich man deserves to die! Really, David? Really? Don’t you think you are overreacting a…

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Praising God for His Mercy…

During the last few weeks, millions have been praying, standing in faith together, offering prayers of agreement for God to protect and strengthen our countrymen in the midst of these storms that have battered much of our southern coastline.

During the last few days, we again have joined our prayers with millions of Christ-followers, both here and around the world, to ask for God’s protection. God has promised in His Word that He will never fail us or forsake us. And He won’t, no matter what we go through when we put our faith in Him, not in ourselves.

As we begin to look back to exactly what happened with Hurricane Irma, which was predicted to cause catastrophic damage the entire length of Florida, we cannot help but see that it was God who stripped it of its deadliest power before it was even halfway up the coast. In the maelstrom, regretfully, lives were lost, people were injured, property was damaged and destroyed. However, an even more powerful thing occurred over the last few days. Millions prayed.

It seems to have begun with Harvey, the worst flooding our country had ever seen, but it really began 16 years ago today, back when thousands of innocent people died at the hands of madmen who, like the Enemy of our souls, sought to steal, kill and destroy us.

We know as a people that God has protected us many times over in unexpected ways and even in unknown instances. And He will continue to if we live out 2 Chronicles 7:14:  If 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.

Millions of Christians are joining together each evening at 9 p.m. (EST) to pray in agreement for the safety of our country. Some refer to it as the National Minute of Prayer, The 9pm Prayer, or just the Evening Prayer; however, regardless of what it is called, the precedent seems to be the same, the Big Ben Silent Minute—one minute of concerted prayer during WWII during which the British people prayed for peace.

Millions praying for one minute made a difference against the enemy in World War II. Millions praying for Texas and Louisiana, as they dealt with the worst flood ever recorded in our country, made a difference that was evident on the faces of the rescuers, as well as the rescued. We’ve been hearing the stories of survival in Texas, the extraordinary acts of ordinary people who reached out to help others simply because it was the right thing to do.

Millions prayed as Florida faced head-on the strongest hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean. And the storm that was predicted to destroy the west coast of the state with Cat 4 winds and a 10-15 ft. surge somehow shifted just enough to rapidly downgrade to a 2 and then a 1. We saw the water of bays on the Gulf sucked out to sea only to come back calmly! Could the results of millions of people praying have been any more obvious?

This morning my friend, Shannon, who lives here in Northern Indiana, shared what she went through just yesterday when it seemed her father was surely lost in the storm: I have to say that prayer reignited my love of Christ yet again this weekend during Hurricane Irma. You see, my 83-year-old father was trapped in his home in Pompano Beach, Florida, two blocks from the Atlantic. He tried to get gas but there was none so he could not evacuate. He went on foot to three shelters and they turned him away because there was no more room. I lost contact with him yesterday morning… I watched helplessly as I got alerts for his area that stated that seven different tornadoes had touched down there, on top of everything else. I had lost all contact with him. Nothing but prayer would do. Then God proved once again that his mercies are new every morning when my father managed to borrow a cell phone and call me and let me know he was OK this morning at 8 am. There’s flooding all around his house but his house is water free and stands firm with no damage. Thank you Jesus for the things that don’t happen to us. And for those that do.

And thank you, Shannon, for reminding me to have a thankful heart even in the midst of the storm.

We’ve seen a coming together the last couple of weeks that has been long overdue, but we need to keep the momentum going. We need to ask the God, who stilled the wind on the Sea of Galilee and sends the former and latter rains, to do the same in the western reaches of our country and Canada to quench the massive fires that have been burning for months.

More than anything, we need to remember this moment in time, when we as a people are doing what we do best, bringing help to the helpless and hope to the hopeless through selfless acts of caring and prayers of healing and comfort. I believe that is the best part of who we are as a nation.

Note: For more information, I encourage you to search online for the Big Ben Minute, The 9 pm Prayer or National Minute of Prayer.

My way or the highway…

“There are two kinds of people: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, ‘All right, then, have it your way.'” C.S. Lewis

I like that quote. I guess because God does give us a choice, even though to some His choice does seem rather harsh. In our vernacular, it would be like the it’s-my-way-or-the-highway philosophy that our parents at some point in our lives made really obvious to us.

It’s hard to ignore your parents when you’re within their physical gaze, but it’s pretty easy to ignore God when your idea of where He actually is might be up there or everywhere or somewhere else or maybe even nowhere.

I find it really remarkable that once we have received Christ, God never loses patience with us, even when years and years go by and we’re still disobeying Him in a particular area of our lives. Oswald Chambers said, “Nothing is a light matter with a child of God. How much longer are we going to keep God trying to teach us one thing?” Good question.

I agree with Chambers’ assertion that you can’t have a moral holiday and remain moral or have a spiritual holiday and remain spiritual.  That’s one truth we Christ-followers need to keep in mind as we do life.  Spiritual holidays may be fun at the time, but just as with moral holidays, there will be consequences.

Psalm 19:7 says, “The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the whole person (mind, body and spirit); the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.”

Remember, it’s impossible to stay in fellowship with God and not repeat the same painful lessons over and over again if you don’t read His Word and incorporate His teachings into your life. It‘s just that simple.

There in that place…

The days rush by, and I think about my grandnephew, whose days are unending, his nights just long enough to remember the tilled fields of spring followed by the green expanse of crops pulsating in summer’s breezes, broken only by the creek winding through our land connecting farm to farm where family wait for his return.

There in that place where even subtle sins are noted, he is lost amidst the many who are watched day and night yet never known beyond surveillance screens that reveal everything yet nothing of the boy he was when he became a man when he was barely more that just a boy.

Like any child who looks for love, he found it in the gentle words of his grandfather, who taught him how to put together and take apart the toys of boyhood one block at a time. And, as he grew older, he watched and learned under the gaze of his almost-dad, who was not there when the judge handed down the ruling that took him away from everything he loved.

He had looked for love so many times in the circle of other wounded children grown up, who saw each other through the glazed eyes of alcohol-induced laughter that hardly hid the pain that roiled deep inside. And the alcohol that took him away from the pain tore the best friend he had ever had from his days and his nights where now the constant glare of prison lights robbed him of the dreams he longed for.

He made himself remember the fresh smell of rain on tilled fields, the familiar aroma of oil and grease in his grandpa’s shop, the joyous atmosphere of family dinners and the sound of his mom’s laughter, the combine’s roar and the sound of the grain swirling up the auger to the bins. He thought of the clicking sounds Grandpa would make as they waited for their plates of BBQ to come at noon and the nudges in greeting from friends and farmers who filled the room from 12 to 1.

He remembered so much and then could take no more and waited in the still dorm as snoring ceased and breaths were held, as the dreaded prospect of one more endless day began.

O, Holy Father, just as Your Son burst forth from the grave, invade that stark place with the reality of Your Presence. Break into hearts and flood them with Your Perfect Love. Shatter the walls that conceal the men you created them to be, and destroy the plans of the enemy to steal, kill and destroy their very lives. Birth hope in jaded hearts this day, and set them aflame for You.

Silence…

Strangely silent
well, maybe not so strange
sometimes the heart has nowhere to go
nothing to say, except to Him
who always hears
but is silent
when silence must have its way.
How could months go by, I wonder,
months of silence recorded doggedly
through scores of mornings
when my sole desire was to sit at His feet
and listen.
Haltingly, I ask for words to flow
from this heart ever changed
by His Words, His Voice
heard best in the silence.