Monday, August 29, 2011
Friday, August 26, 2011
~ Rob Chaffart (from Reflecting Reflections: Awake Series, Part 19)~ ...
"As water reflects a face, so a man's heart reflects the man." (Prov 27:19)
Isn't it interesting that none of these elements - Sand, water or snow, can stop themselves from reflecting the sun!
We, too, reflect who we fix our eyes on. If it is worldly pleasure, our reflection will be geared towards the selfish side. If it is the Son of God, we will reflect Him, the source of all life. We can't help but reflect His light! He is our source of happiness as well as our inner peace!
As we contemplate our Master at work, that reflection of Him in our lives will become clearer and clearer. After all, we ARE sons and daughters of God!
Who are you reflecting?
2 Corinthians 3:18 … "And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit."
Hebrews 12:1-3 (The Message) … 1-3Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we'd better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we're in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he's there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!
Hebrews 12:1-3 (NIV) … 1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Saturday, August 20, 2011
A few years ago I visited my parents as they put on the first Carefest in St. Augustine. I wanted to be a part of the work God was doing through them but had no idea the work he would do in me.
As people came and went at the event , there was a group of people ,who were not part of the event, sitting at a picnic table behind the tent and next to the labor ready building. Charlene, another helper, and I decided to offer them donuts, waters and coffee. We had plenty. One gentleman asked if he could have extra for his sick friend who just got out of the hospital and was nearby. (I mis-understood him to say across the street in a truck.) So I began to load him up with donuts and drinks which he accepted. I could tell the load I was giving was more than he could carry so I offered to help walk it to his friend. We began walking and talking. He told me how his friend, Eli, had heart failure and there was nothing the Hospital could do so they brought him "home". We walked across the street where trucks were parked but we did not stop at the trucks. We went into the woods where my eyes were opened to a life style I had never experienced firsthand. We walked into an area of tents were people lived. It was neat and tighty, seven or eight tents were circled around a plastic table with chairs and a clothes line was hung between trees. There were 4 men there and myself. The men helped Eli off his cot and into a chair. They introduced me to him and themselves. We talked for a minute and they told me more about Eli. How he rode his bike everywhere, doing silly tricks and making people laugh, how he was so generous and if he only had the shirt on his back but someone else needed it he would give it and how he worked as hard as he could before he became ill. They showed me his swollen red ankles and how bone skinny he had become. I knelt beside Eli and asked if I could pray. Mind you at this point in my life I was not very comfortable praying aloud with others. With eyes closed I laid my right hand on his bony left shoulder and began to thank God for Eli's life and his friends. I asked that God would send the right people to help Eli and that He would be Eli's comfort. While I was praying I began hearing my name called. I was especially tuned in to my mother's frantic screams for me. I finished the prayer quickly wished them well, told them I would bring lunch when it came and headed towards the calls for me. I remember immediately thinking something must have happened to my Dad and they were looking for me. However, when I reached the three ladies calling after me I realized they were fearful of my where abouts. What was I thinking they asked because they knew what I did not, that homeless men lived back in the woods. I began to tell them about Eli and that I was fine. And I learned that God had already begun answering my prayer. Of the three ladies looking for me were Charlene, director of hospice, my mother, caregiver extraordinaire, and Bev, pastor's wife of Homeport. I asked if they could help him and they began working on it. I enjoyed the rest of the day with mom and dad while Eli was making his way into my heart and Bev and Charlene were trying to help him.
The next day, Dad called and gave me an update on Eli as I was returning home and in the airport. Bev had a fire department go to Eli and transport him to Charlene's hospice where he was cleaned, fed and resting comfortably. That Tuesday Eli passed away. Charlene had learned that Eli was a Veteran and they were able to give him a military burial.
So what if I had not been willing to go, close my eyes and pray? What if Charlene and Bev just let it go and chose to focus on the days events instead of helping Eli? Would Eli have died in the tent without the burial he deserved?
When all was done and I could see how God cared for Eli and answered my prayer. While I was with those men, in the woods, in a homeless camp I had complete peace, no fear at all because the Holy Spirit was in me and working on Eli's behalf. My heart was so moved that I have looked at many aspects of my life very differently since I met Eli.
I look at all people without judgment but love and compassion. I do my best to keep the two greatest commands: Love your God with all your heart, mind and strength and love your neighbor as yourself. Unless we are willing to go when God calls we may miss a great gift He has planned for us. Don't be afraid to go into the woods for Christ who died a horrible death that we may live and love one another the way he loves us.
HOWEVER, I have failed! A couple weeks ago as I was coming out of Wally World and an elderly gentleman was standing at the light with a pink sign that read "Hungry, old and ugly but God loves me anyway". I called him over and gave him a 5 dollar bill that was at the top of my purse, told him I loved his sign and we had a quick laugh. The next day my kids and I were driving to the lake and as we got off the interstate there was a man standing with a sign and at the bottom and said "God Bless". My son asked if that was a HOBO. As we got closer I called him over, gave him the 5 dollars bill sitting at the top of my purse and wished God's blessings on him as well. As we drove off I explained to Will that he is a man in need of help and as Christians it is our job to do what we can to help. Will replied with a yea and said and he is probably a Christian too. Ok, so how did I fail? Tucked further down in my purse and in my wallet was also a 20 and a 50 dollar bill (which we used later to go out to dinner). I questioned myself, Why did I not give those bigger bills. Was it because my husband would not agree, because I did not trust that it would not be spent on alcohol and cigarettes or because I had plans for that money? The crazier thing is that I normally do not have any cash and in both situations I had a choice of what to give. I wonder, what would Christ have done and why did I not do it?
"but just as you excel in everything in faith, in speech and knowledge in complete earnestness and in your love(for us) see that you also excel in the grace of giving"
There are so many opportunities in our days to truly be the hands and feet of Christ. Unfortunately we so often fall short because we do not give until it hurts or we do not even notice the chance to share his love. I am challenging myself to do better and I hope you join me in this challenge! When we cannot give financially we can give the gift of a prayer, a smile or a kind word of encouragement. And of course, we can always give of our time. If you have story to share please send it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
God Bless us ALL!
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Imagine for a moment complete darkness, dark so dark that you cannot even imagine what light is like any more; and complete isolation from everyone and everything. You are suffering the worst physical pain you have ever felt and there is no one to help you and no hope of ever getting better. Worms eat at your flesh constantly and the smell of decomposition of your own body never goes away. As much as the worms eat at you, they never run out of flesh and you have no reprieve, not even through death, for you have already died the physical death. In addition to the stench of decomposition you also smell a combination of vomit and rotten eggs (or burning sulfur). The smells never go away and you have no relief. The smells are so strong that your eyes burn from the vapors. You try to rub your eyes, but the skin on your hands is so mutilated by the worms and maggots, that it only makes the pain in your eyes and on your body worse. You would do anything to stop the pain, but it is relentless and you now know that it will never go away. The word ‘never’ now haunts you and you for the first time understand and comprehend the scope of eternity.
The only thing that outweighs the physical torment is the emotional torture as you constantly replay in your mind (over and over again) how you missed the words of truth in the temporal life and bought into the lies of the devil that brought you to this unimaginably awful place. You thought you were going to be “OK” because you lived a life that was comparatively good by worldly standards, but you never measured yourself by the truth of biblical standards. You were deceived and you fell for it and now the devil laughs at your foolishness for all eternity. The only thing you have that resembles interaction with any being is occasional visits from devils that laugh at you, call you a fool, and then vomit on you and leave again. The vomit burns in your open wounds and acts as an additional food source for the maggots. The pain and torment will never stop… never… ever…
But you still have hope, for you have not passed into your eternal life yet. As long as you have breath in you, you can still make a choice that will change your eternal destiny from the one described above to one of utter and complete joy, peace, and happiness forever! You can make an eternity-transforming decision today that will ensure there is not only hope from the trials of this temporal world but it also ensures a place for you in the eternal Kingdom of God. A Kingdom with a blue sky that is a deeper blue color than anything you ever experienced. The winds that blow are soft warm winds that carry the most beautiful fragrances and every time you breathe you pick up a hint of something else wonderful. If you close your eyes, you can bask in the warmth of the light; not light from the sun like on the old earth that could only be enjoyed for a moment, but rather a light that never ends that emanates from the Son of Man, Jesus Christ; a light that provides a never ending renewal of energy. There is no physical pain and no more tears. Life is perfect in every way and you enjoy the fellowship of others around you in perfect harmony. Love is the blood that now flows through your veins. You cannot imagine a more perfect place; everything is far better than your wildest expectations and you are overcome by the fact that you can spend eternity in this wonderful place.
You see, the devil hates you because you are a son/daughter of God, created in His image and someone who God delights in. God earnestly desires to have you spend eternity with Him in the new heaven and new earth. Christ himself waits anxiously to greet you into this wonderful place and welcome you to your eternal home prepared for you. His heart yearns to be united with you for eternity. But God will not make this eternity-transforming decision for you; this is something only you can do. You have a choice to make in your life now that will affect where you spend eternity. If you choose to confess your sins, ask for forgiveness with a humble and contrite heart, accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior through His sacrificial death on the cross, and resolutely determine to die to your old life of sin and live a new life in Christ, you will be granted eternal life in the wonderful Kingdom of God. If you do not make this conscious and deliberate decision in its completeness, you will spend eternity in hell with the devil and his followers. It is your choice, only you can decide. The decision to give your life fully over to Christ will not make this temporal life easy, but it will offer peace and a confidence that an eternal prize awaits you at the appointed time. A time that is approaching, a time that is closer every day, every hour, every minute (for no one knows the hour of Christ’s return)… what will you decide?
Friday, August 12, 2011
As fallen human beings we are all, to various degrees, living in a dream world (i.e. a false reality). Our sin has put us asleep to the reality of eternity. Each one of us has fallen into respective levels of dreams; and like the movie, the deeper we have fallen into the dream world the more the dream world feels like reality. Many of us are so deep that we actually believe that this temporal world, which we can see, is complete reality and the eternal world, which we cannot yet see, does not even exist. The truth is very different – what we see is only a small part of reality and what we cannot yet see is the complete or full reality. Because many of us are so deep into this temporal dream world, unless “The Kick” is applied by someone who is awake we will never wake up until it’s too late and we have passed into the eternal reality.
The whole concept and foundation of the gospel message is one of the eternal reality of heaven and hell. If living in the dream world, we see no need for a Savior – why would we – if this dream world is the complete reality and Jesus only offers eternal security, what’s the point. If this dream world is all there is and there is no other reality, Jesus really just gets in the way and only means we may enjoy our dream reality less. Someone living in the temporal dream world not aware of the eternal reality has no incentive to accept the gospel message – it is a waste of time from their false sense of reality.
Passing into the eternal reality without having made the decision to accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior and living for Him results in an eternal reality of never ending pain and suffering (i.e. hell). Living in the temporal dream world and never waking up to the eternal reality of heaven and hell is literally lethal. This I believe is the devils primary strategy – to keep us asleep in the false reality of the temporal dream world. So long as we do not wake up to the eternal reality and stay in our temporal dream world the devil can be assured we will never see the need or rational for true repentance and acceptance of a Savior. Unlike the common belief that the devil’s desire is to make our life miserable, it is the exactly opposite. The devil is ultimately after our eternal suffering, not our temporal suffering. Trials and suffering in this temporal dream world can be effective in waking us up; comforts and worldly pleasures typically serve to keep us asleep, which is why [I believe] the Bible warns us so sternfully and repeatedly about the dangers of wealth and worldly possessions. Trials and suffering are Kicks in and of themselves as they remind us of the futility of this temporal world and often serve to get us thinking (and even looking forward to) the eternal reality. Luxuries and worldly comforts serve as sleeping aids and the devil uses them extensively to keep us in the temporal dream world. This is why the most effluent countries are often in the deepest levels of temporal dream world – yes, this should serve as an indictment of the Unites States of America. It is a fool that thinks they, despite the repeated stern warnings of scripture, have the ability to overcome the power of the most efficacious sleeping drug ever known – wealth.
So often well-meaning ministry completely ignores the impact of the dream world in people’s lives. More often than not, ministry presents a version of the gospel message that stops short of the eternal reality of heaven and hell, and in doing so, it naively preaches a gospel message that actually serves to keep the person being witnessed to asleep. Rather than wake the person up with “The Kick” of the truth of the gospel message, we try to calm them back down and make them comfortable again – which is effectively singing a gospel lullaby that puts them back to sleep in the dream world with a false sense of comfort. Think about it, what are we inclined to tell lost people who are hurting that come to ministry for help? We typically remind them of God’s love for them and how He loves them just as they are – which is completely untrue. While it is true that God loved us while we were still sinners and sent His Son to die and pay the ransom for our sin, if you stay as you are and do not repent of your sins, die to your old life of sin, and live a new life in Christ, God does not continue to show His love to you. In fact, when Christ sits on His Great White Throne on Judgment Day, He will condemn all those who have not changed (i.e. “just as they are”) to eternal punishment. We may also be inclined to tell them that if they accept Jesus as their Savior that their pain will go away, which is also unbiblical. What we should be telling them is the truth – which is no matter how painful this life may be at times, it pales in comparison to what awaits those who have not confessed their sins and accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior and resolved to live their lives in His service. The very pain and suffering they are experiencing may be the very thing that helps wake them up from the temporal dream world; yet we try to sing them back to sleep with false or partial gospel messages.
One of the most effective “Kicks” is the truth concerning the eternal reality of hell. This is why [I believe] the Bible spends so much time discussing the topic of eternal damnation. If we really understood what awaits those who have never given their life to Christ, we would all be sober, alert, and passionately trying to wake up the lost dreamers. One of the most efficacious Kicks in this regard that I have personally encountered is the audio theatre produced by Messenger International (The ministry of John and Lisa Bevere) entitled, “Rescued”. In this fictional audio drama a senior pastor of a large church, a man by the name of Alan, is on a trip with several of the long-time members of his congregation. While on the trip, Alan and those with him are involved in a boating accident and all of them perish. Alan is brought before the judgment seat of Christ where he witnesses the judgment of several of his congregation members, including Hal and Carrie, before receiving his own judgment. In this audio drama John Bevere very effectively wakes us up to the reality of hell. If you have not yet listened to this audio drama, I highly recommend it – it will wake you up from the temporal dream world (i.e. provide “The Kick” that we all need).