Sunday, August 18, 2013

Tell me the Old, Old, Story of Jesus and His Love.

The following is an excerpt from the novel Angel Harp by Michael Phillips.  As often happens, we can discover the beliefs of Christian authors through the conversations and thoughts of their characters.  In this case, the main character, Marie, is visiting Scotland.  She finds herself drawn to Scarnose, a seaside village. There she meets the vicar of the small village Presbyterian church.  Although she has been an active church member in her past, she no longer considers herself a "church" person, having become disillusioned by the judgmental "Christians" in her past (after the death of her husband).

It is as though God has brought her to this place so that she would encounter Him without the "church".  The vicar is totally devoid of all judgment of others, and this fascinates her.  After several encounters with other characters, and a sermon on the prodigal son, she finally has a enlightened moment and the following dialogue of her thoughts:

   Suddenly for the first time in my life I wondered what it was Jesus saved us from.  I knew the stock answer ought to be sin.  But now it dawned on me that what I had actually thought down inside, without saying it, was that Jesus saved us from God - from God's wrath and punishment.
   All at once-how could I have never seen it before!-I saw how little sense that made.  How could there be a division between Jesus and God?  How could one save us from the other when they were supposed to be one?
   It was very confusing.  Today's sermon had set my brain to spinning with possibilities that blew my mind.
   Suddenly I heard Jesus' words, Come follow me, being spoken in the midst of the prodigal son parable. Suddenly the picture came into my mind of Jesus going to the prodigal as he sat with the pigs, stooping down and taking his hand, and saying, Come, follow me...I will lead you home.  I will take you back to your father.  He is waiting for you.
   It was completely new image.  It wasn't Jesus as protector from wrath, it was Jesus leading us home!
   It was Jesus leading us to the Father's open arms, to the Father's love.
   He came to lead us home to God...home to his Father!
   All this raced through my brain as I listened to Iain talk about the prodigal, and what it meant to be reconciled to God.  It was a completely new image of what Christianity meant.

I have heard people talk of sermons that "scare the hell out of people" and they surrender because they are brought to understand they are escaping the wrath of an angry God.  But how much more inviting is the loving Father waiting, always watching for Jesus to bring someone else "home" to be loved by and changed through that love.  Although I knew He loved me, I was taught as a young child that God was always watching to punish me if I "messed up", so there has been some fear in our relationship.  But to realize that He cannot wait from me to abide with Him - He even runs to meet me when I "mess up" - so that He can again shower on me His love.  I have no problem obeying one who loves me that much!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Dilemma

Last year when I finished reading the book Radical - Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream by David Platt, I made several decisions.  One of those was to visit a country that reflected how much of the rest of the world lives life.  About the same time, I received an offer from Compassion International to visit the child that we sponsor in Guatemala.

I began to discuss the ramifications of making a decision to travel outside the U.S. with my husband.  It is a costly trip - would it not be better to send that money to Compassion and let them use it to meet the needs of children and families?  It was then that I remembered a statement from Platt's book: "...God chose to bring salvation to you and me, he did not send gold or silver, cash or check.  He sent himself -the Son.  I was convicted for even considering that I should give money instead of actually coming to Sudan.  How will I ever show the gospel to the world if all I send is my money?  Was I really so shallow as to think that my money is the answer to the needs in the world?"  This statement led me to decide that I needed to give of myself if I really wanted to share His love with the world.

As a result, we visited the Ixil mountain area of Guatemala on January 19-26, 2013.  I so clearly saw a truth while there:  "God's blessings have been poured out on America for only one reason - to use us to bless the rest of the world and glorify God in doing so."  Unfortunately, I believe many of us thought it was only for our comfort and for the "stuff" we can buy.  When our nation reaches a point where it hoards more of our riches than we use to bless others, I believe it will be taken from us.  We hear repeated warning of a coming financial collapse.  Will it come because God is no longer being glorified in the blessing of those in need?  I realize there are legitimate organizations who are touching lives in the name of Christ - Compassion International and Samaritan's Purse are a couple with which I am acquainted.  But I believe we may be hanging in the balance as a nation. Which way will the pendulum swing? And will our Lord return before the collapse?  

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Isaiah 37

In reading Isaiah 37, I am impressed to comment on the attitude of much of the world with regard to Israel.  To set the scene, Sennacherib, king of Assyria, has sent his representative to Israel's king, Hezekiah, to make threats against them and blaspheme God.  He uses the age-old weapons of Satan by trying to plant doubts in the King and the hearts of people by questioning the power of their God.

Hezekiah is shaking in his boots, so he sends word to the prophet Isaiah of the threats and asks him to pray. Isaiah's response assures him (verse 6) with an often repeated verse in Scripture: "Do not be afraid...."  Soon a threatening letter arrives to Hezekiah from king of Assyria's servant.  This time, Hezekiah goes to the House of the Lord, spreads out the letter and begins to pray.  He concludes his prayer with these words, "And now, O Lord our God, deliver us from his hand that all kingdoms of the earth may know that Thou alone, Lord, are God."  (I believe God will always answer this prayer because that is His purpose - to display His power so that all men will be drawn to Him.)
Isaiah's response intrigues me with regard to what is happening in America today.  In verse 23, he records God's response:
"Whom have you reproached and blasphemed?
And against whom have you raised your voice,
And haughtily lifted up your eyes?
Against the Holy One of Israel!"
Continuing in verses 28 & 29:
"But I know your sitting down,
And your going out and your coming in,
And your raging against Me.
Because of your raging against Me,
And because your arrogance has come up to my ears,
Therefore I will put My hook in your nose,
And My bridle in your lips,
And I will turn you back by the way which you came."

Take warning Muslim nations who are threatening Israel; to America and its leadership who are speaking against God Almighty and the people who are His chosen ones!  To the haughty ones who "think" they are in charge, God will not continued to be mocked.

To Christians who are praying - remember it is not for our own comfort that we pray (so we can continue in prosperity and a life of ease), but that God will show Himself mighty so that all kingdoms of the earth may know that He is God!  Remember in this election time, God is our deliverer - never a man who tells you what he can do.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

At a meeting last evening, we discussed the growing population of Muslims in the U.S. cities.  We had recently read a e-mail quoting a European gentlemen warning America to avoid the plight of his countries that are now overrun by the Muslim peoples. At their present growth, they will soon take control of much of Europe.  We then joined hands to pray for our country - and I was asked to lead the prayer.  As I voiced our concerns, God seemed to show me that we have a mission field in our midst.  I was led to pray that we would share the gospel with these hopeless people who are settling all over our nation.

If Satan can keep us viewing them as a threat, and incite fear in our hearts that we will be overrun by them, we will miss the opportunity that He has set before us.  Tolerance and appeasement do not work - we know  to them that is a sign of weakness.  But the gospel will work because God has commanded that we take the gospel to all people.  When we obey, He works.  We have no power to change anyone, but we do have the power to pray for wisdom and the knowledge to obey His command, which then empowers Him to work.

God, I pray for the Muslim people inside the boundaries of this country which was founded on your Word.  I pray that you will raise up strong witnesses to the hope that you give to the hopeless.  I pray for the many women and children who are enslaved within the Muslim communities by the evil one.  Send into their midst missionaries with a heart for these lost people.  May you bring them to you, one at a time as you open doors and penetrate the darkness of their lives.  May you be glorified in all the answers to this prayer.  I ask these things in the precious name of your Son, my Savior.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Romans 12:3 "Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given me."   A reminder this morning by the precious Holy Spirit brought back the memory of a haughty attitude.  Our newspaper delivery has grown very sporadic.  I called to tell them we had not received a paper...again!  Now when they think of the person living at this address, they will not remember a pleasant, courteous voice, but an abrupt and frustrated customer.  My whole purpose changed when I accepted the Savior's offer of His life.  It is now to reflect only HIM...never me, because He paid a high price for me.  Father, please continue to remind me of that truth.  I keep wanting to take the throne that is rightfully yours.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Radical Experiment

I just finished reading one of the most awesome books - Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream by David Platt.  As a result, I am committing myself to the radical experiment that he suggests over the next year:

  1. I will pray for the entire world using as my source.
  2. I will read through the entire Word over next year (beginning today June 11, 2012).
  3. Sacrifice my money for something that is gospel centered to meet a specific tangible need.
  4. I will spend time in another country to give of myself to share the gospel.
  5. I will commit my life to share the gospel and make disciples of those who are part of His body locally.
I am excited to offer my life to glorify God with whatever years remain for me.  Glorifying Him is reflecting Him to all with whom I come in contact so that they, too, may become His chosen.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

With regard to my service on the Search Committee for a new pastor, I was given insight this morning as I studied the lesson from a study of Daniel. Nebuchadnezzar demanded that his “wise” men tell him his dream and then interpret it for him – an impossible feat for mortal man. However, because God’s spirit was so strong in Daniel, He was able to give Daniel the details of the dream and its interpretation. We will know the man that God has prepared for us – not through intellectual thinking – but by His Spirit!
Our committee looks at the outward appearance (photos of the prospective pastors and their families) much as Samuel looked at the outward appearance of the sons of Jesse in search of a King for Israel. God responded to Samuel that he was looking on the outward appearance while God looks upon the heart. We weigh their experience and their educations as though intellectually these things will tell us whom to choose. We rely upon the ideas of the corporate world choosing an employee. I have been in that position, and I know how flawed that tactic can be. My prayer is that we will rely upon our God to choose the servant of our Shepherd to oversee us in His behalf.
So how do we determine the heart of the man we are seeking? First, we ask God for the wisdom and insight to be impressed upon our Spirit. We rely upon God to infill us with His knowledge, and we listen for Him to reveal it to us as a body of believers. Then we pray that as we listen to words spoken by these men, we will hear with our Spirits, not analyzing every word, but waiting for the Spirit of God to reveal the truth. At the end of our search when we have all of the information, if we are truly directed by God’s Spirit, we should be able to do a secret ballot among the seven of us and the man will be chosen. God’s Spirit can bring about that kind of unity.

Update 6/11/12:  Our church voted to call David Henneke with a vote of 93 to 1 on 6/10/12.  As we reviewed the process, we could observe God's hand in this choice all along the journey.  He is an awesome God!  And all praise is His!