The Setting Sun (and a message of hope!)

09-07-13 (3)

We are finally at the prophets in our Bible Reading Challenge. These are the books that gave me the greatest challenge when I was reading through the Bible last year. So far we have read Jonah, Amos, Hosea, and now we are in Isaiah. Prophets are what God used to speak to His people before Christ came to the earth. I do love seeing where each prophet fits chronologically. Isn’t it helpful to see what was going on in Israel when they prophesied? The hearts of Israel and Judah were turned far, far from God. They had sacrificed their relationship with the living God to prostitute themselves with the gods of the pagans. The books of the Old Testament prophets make so much more sense now.

But the prophets can be very hard to read. There are so many predictions of death and destruction and exile. God had had enough and judgment was coming.

And it did come. The sun was setting–at least temporarily–on God’s special people. They had chosen to worship idols and there were grave consequences for this.

The prophets weren’t a bunch of wild, long-haired guys waving their hands all akimbo as they preached to no one in the wilderness. They were real men with real messages from God. They took a lot of heat (and some even paid with their lives) to present God’s messages to the people.

I find myself wondering what it was really like in Israel when the prophets were giving their messages? Were there a faithful few? A remnant who still worshiped the true God? Or was it like in the days of Noah, when only Noah and his family were found faithful?

Unfortunately, if there was a remnant, those faithful few experienced the same judgment that the unrepentant did. They were exiled, they were attacked, they were in the land when judgment hit.

Isn’t this taking on extra meaning, as we enter the strange, new world that America has become? The faithful are shrinking quickly. Those who stand for the Truth are becoming smaller in number, as most fall away through the deception that is so rampant in this land. And while we don’t have prophets speaking to us, we do have God’s Word to show us what is to come. (By the way, if you have never done it, do a study sometime on the fulfilled prophecies of the Word of God–it will remove any traces of doubt you may have about the Bible).

So the discouraging message is that, if the Lord tarries, we will experience persecution against the church and we will also experience the judgment of the wicked. The sun is setting on America and her days are most likely numbered (barring a miracle–which is possible, of course!)

Many of us have been thinking about this in the back of our minds a lot in these past few years, given what’s been going on in America.

But there is also an encouraging message. If we experience persecution and if we are swept into the coming judgment, we are still God’s people. He will not desert us. I was reading the other day in Foxe’s Book of Martyrs of the horrendous atrocities that the Catholic church committed against true believers during the Spanish Inquisition. Torture that we can’t even fathom. And, yet, people sang during their gruesome deaths. They sang!

You may think why read of such terrible things? I read them because I want to be encouraged by their strong faith during such terrible persecution. I read because it strengthens my faith. God is real. And He will not desert us. If we receive a martyr’s death, we will receive a martyr’s crown.

Be not discouraged. He is faithful and will give His people the right amount of grace at just the right time.

I know this is easy to write, but as things start heating up, it will get harder and harder. Are we ready? How do we get ready?

I was talking with a friend the other day and she expressed her desire to memorize scripture because she just wonders how long we will be able to carry our Bibles freely. This is a great way to prepare for what is coming! Memorizing scripture and some of the great hymns of the faith rich with doctrine is a great place to start.

But even as we try to prepare our hearts and minds for what is coming, we can’t stop living our lives now. We can’t spend our hours in fear and worry of what is to come.

Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:34: Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

We are in the care of the great God of the universe. We need not live in fear. No matter how this thing ends, we have so much to look forward to– like all of eternity!

So live joyfully! Extend love and grace freely! Share the gospel! And never, ever cower in fear! For we are told in 2 Timothy 1:7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

Now let’s go live these words!

 

The Problem with Predictions

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It was 2:30am when my husband got home last night. Snow does that to his schedule. The problem with yesterday is that this one wasn’t really predicted. At least not in the way it turned out.

The predictions started out by calling for 1-3″ and then turning to rain with rising temps. A couple of hours later it was supposed to be less than 1″ before changing over. What ended up happening was over 3″ followed by some freezing rain and sleet with temperatures that never did really rise above the freezing mark.

That changes everything for a snow removal guy.

The night before this snow event, my husband was scanning through all of the weather forecasts — on tv, online, and using apps on his iPhone, trying to discern which one was correct. He usually goes with the one that is most popular. After all, if three or four weather forecasters are saying the same thing, they must be right, right?

Wrong.

Because no one really knows.

I often have to laugh about weather forecasts. Doesn’t it sometimes seem as if God is showing us how really out of control we still are? We are busy building our modern day technological Tower of Babel and He keeps knocking it down. We will never reach Him–at least not in that way.

But eventually, if you watch a lot of weather forecasts, you realize that they really are only educated guesses about what a certain weather pattern is going to do.

Because no one really knows.

The same could be said of what happens after we die. Where do we go?

There are a lot of theories about this. Some more popular than others. The most popular — at least here in the states is that we all go to heaven. That is, by far, the most pleasant option, isn’t it?

But the problem with predictions is that–

No one really knows.

And there’s another, much bigger, problem–

Truth is rarely found in the majority.

So how do we know what’s coming? What should we base it on?

As you probably already know, I base my answers on a Book. God’s Book. Sure, I don’t always like everything I read there. I would love to believe in a world where heaven is the final resting place for everyone and love is all that matters. But if that’s not the Truth, then it doesn’t really matter what I believe, does it?

Just because I believe it doesn’t make it true. I have to confess that this view on truth is really one of the strangest phenomenons in today’s world. Well, if you believe it, then it’s true for you. No, it isn’t! Just because you believe 2+2=5 doesn’t make it true. (Sometimes when I listen to people talk about truth I almost feel like I’ve landed in a parallel universe. This surely can’t be the same world I grew up in? It has changed that much.)

Truth isn’t subjective. It never has been and it never will be. What is true is true and what is false is false. You can be surrounded by a whole world telling you it doesn’t matter what you believe, but the fact remains that it absolutely does matter what you believe.

So why the Bible? How do I know that the Bible is true?

I could give you a lot of reasons (and will list a few articles after this post to get you thinking) but at the end of the day, I have chosen to believe that the Bible is God’s Word. Period. And, oh, how it has been confirmed for me in a myriad of ways– from how I see the end times scene coming together to how I’ve seen Him work in my life and in lives around me. It all makes so much sense.

From this, I base my whole belief system with confidence. It doesn’t really matter what other people think or believe, because I am standing on the Word of God. People can ridicule and mock me, but I cling to the Bible. I am standing on a foundation that will not move. As that old, beloved, hymn says–

How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!
What more can He say than to you He hath said,
You, who unto Jesus for refuge have fled?

I will never forget the time I saw four “professionals” being interviewed about the tragedy of 9-11. I think there was a rabbi, a priest, a psychiatrist, and a pastor (sounds like I’m setting up a joke, doesn’t it? But this isn’t a joke…) Everyone was giving their opinion about what had happened. “Well, I think…” was the beginning of almost every sentence. Except for the pastor. He– John MacArthur–would always begin with, “God’s Word says…” My respect for this man went up 100% in that interview. He made it clear that it wasn’t about his opinion but about what God’s Word says.

Because, let’s be honest– in the end, it really just doesn’t matter what you believe or what I believe, does it? It doesn’t matter what has been predicted or what the majority says. The only thing left will be the Truth.

And that changes everything for all of us.

 

 

Here are some helpful and reliable resources–

How Do We Know that the Bible Is True?

How Do You Prove the Bible is True?

What evidence is there that the Bible is in fact God’s Word?

Can You Prove the Bible is True?

What must I do to be saved?

 

 

Entering the Gates

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Our family had the wonderful privilege of visiting Walt Disney World last week. Our family, along with my parents, had gone nine years ago when the kids were just the perfect age and had had a blast. We decided to go one last time all of us together (plus one son-in-law). We did so, realizing that it was probably the last time we would all be there together ever again. I shared a post on my Growing4Life Facebook page last night that I wrote a couple of years ago. The post was a good reminder, coming off of a trip that was so full of reminders of the past. We all enjoyed remembering and reminiscing together. And, as is often the case when I travel, I came away with some fresh inspiration for the blog.

We decided to go to three of the four parks. As we entered the first park, they asked you to tap your ticket (which looked like a credit card with a Disney character on it) on a little machine with mouse ears on it and then to give your fingerprint on a specially designed pad right beside it. When my one daughter asked if she had to give her fingerprint, the lady told her she wouldn’t be allowed in the parks without it. Hmmm. I guess that is how they keep people from switching tickets. What a world we live in now.

I noticed that only people with tickets gained entry into the parks.

Some people had Mickey Mouse backpacks or had their feet covered with Mickey shoes, but they were still not allowed in unless they had their ticket and the proper fingerprint to go with it. Some people were covered in Mickey apparel from head to toe or were dressed as Disney princesses or heroes, but they were still not allowed in without that ticket and fingerprint.

Don’t you think that is just awful? Shouldn’t they have allowed entry into the parks for anyone that claimed to be a Disney fan? After all, wouldn’t that be the kind and loving thing to do?

This made me think of the verses in Matthew 7:21-23. These people are described as huge “God fans”. They have given themselves the label of Christian and go around doing good works in the name of the Lord. And yet, in the end, they have no ticket for heaven.

We can look as good and Christian as we can possibly look, we can be baptized in a good church, and we can do many good works “for Jesus”, but none of it will mean anything when we get to the gates of heaven if we haven’t repented of our sins and accepted God’s gift of salvation through His Son’s death and resurrection. All of those good works and professions and baptisms will mean nothing.

We are told so clearly in John 14:6 that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Him. No one.

There was no possible way for me to enter a Disney park without that expensive ticket. Once I tapped that ticket on that little machine and placed my finger on that special pad, I could enter the park and enjoy the day. The same is true for heaven– only our ticket for heaven is free! Jesus paid the price with His very life. We can be reconciled to God but only through Jesus Christ. This is written in His Word.

If you are relying on your good works to get you into heaven, I encourage you to read the gospel of John. If you believe that God will accept anyone into heaven, as long as they have a vague belief in Him or a higher power, I encourage you to read the gospel of John. If you believe that a loving God would never send people to hell, then I encourage you to read the gospel of John.

Because, in the end, it doesn’t really even matter what we think. It only matters what God says, which is what we find in His Word. I challenge you to really read and study it with a heart truly desiring to know the Truth and a willingness to obey it. You will not go away unchanged.

 

Alone in the Store

The actual rainbow I saw as I came out of the store

The actual rainbow I saw as I came out of the store

The sky grew darker and darker. Billows of black clouds rolled above my head. I couldn’t believe it wasn’t raining yet. I nervously drove towards the grocery store, wishing I had just stayed home. (I am pretty sure that the tornado that ripped through the development just down the road almost ten years ago is still affecting my nerves when the sky grows dark!) But I was almost there already, so I wasn’t going back home now.

The leaden sky and heaviness in the air made it very clear that the storm was approaching quickly and I saw people scurrying around as I got out of my car. I asked myself again: What exactly am I doing out in this?

I grabbed a cart and decided that I was probably going to need to wait this out in the store. I really wanted to be at home, but I wasn’t and so I decided I just needed to make the best of it.

Just as I went inside and made my way to the produce aisle, I heard the deluge begin on the roof above me. The fact that the wind and rain could be heard so loudly inside a building with hardly any windows was actually a little scary. But I continued to shop.

The store at this time was abuzz with activity. Lots of people traveling hurriedly among the aisles and cashiers busily checking out customers. But about ten minutes later, I realized something. I was the only customer. Well, maybe not the only one, but I didn’t see another one as I traveled the aisles and the store had grown deadly silent aside from a few excited store employees moving about as they discussed a leak in the back of the store.

What was I missing?

Why had everyone gone out in the pouring rain instead of waiting it out in the store? I have to confess that about that time I started wondering if there was a tornado warning or something that I should know about. I called my daughter and texted my husband. All was okay at home. I breathed a sigh of relief. And then I started imagining the shelves caving in on me when the dreaded tornado blew through (it’s one of the downfalls of being a writer–this vivid imagination!) My eyes started searching the store — where would I be the safest? And then I just laughed at myself. There certainly wasn’t much I could do about it, so I just kept shopping, taking my good old time, because I certainly wasn’t going to venture outside in such weather. (A few days later I found out that there was indeed a tornado warning!)

About the time I was ready to check-out, I heard one of the cashiers exclaim to her co-worker, “It looks like the sun is out!” And then, “there’s a rainbow!”

I breathed a sigh of relief and checked out as hurriedly as I could. I had spent enough time in the grocery store for one day!

As I pushed my cart outside, there was indeed a rainbow, vivid in its colors, along with a fainter, second rainbow just above it. It was beautiful!

I can’t help but relate this experience to how I feel as a biblical Christian in the current culture. The storm is upon us and with each new heresy, tons of Christians are jumping ship–

There’s no hell? Yes, I like that idea. And there goes several thousand.

You can be gay and be a Christian, too? Yes, that satisfies my flesh and my thinking just fine. And there goes several thousand more.

Christianity is based more on my experience and how I feel than on what God’s Word says? Oh that feels real good. And off go a great big bunch.

God didn’t create the world in seven literal days? Well, whatever the secular scientists say must be right. And we lose many more.

You only have to say a prayer asking Jesus into your heart and then can continue to live however you want? Heaven and my flesh, too? Perfect. And there goes several hundred thousand.

Until those of us who are adhering and obeying God’s Word in its totality feel completely and utterly alone in the “store” wondering if we are missing something? Of course, many who are jumping ship were never believers in the first place, but what puzzles most of us is why fellow believers are venturing out into such a relentless and severe storm of demoralizing confusion? Is there something we don’t know?

I think what we do know is that, in the end, many will be deceived. Many will lose their love for truth and instead want their ears tickled with pleasing fancies and fables (2 Thessalonians 2:10-12; 2 Timothy 4:3-4; Matthew 24:24).

But I am committed to “staying in the store” no matter what weather blows outside because I am safest there (Psalm 91:1-3). Would you consider staying here with me? Let’s be the ones that stick together until the end — loving God more than we love ourselves, desiring to please, obey, and glorify Him alone.

There is still a precious remnant who wants to honor the Lord and obey His whole Word. There are still some of us who are sticking to the traditional faith, where whole-hearted repentance of sin, faith in Christ alone for salvation, and a transformed life because of this faith are the defining signs of a genuine believer. There are still a few of us who adhere to the Bible as the literal and inerrant Word of God. We are not alone. Let’s weather the storm together, knowing that when it’s over our reward will be far greater than a beautiful rainbow (James 1:12; I Corinthians 2:9; Romans 8:18).

 

The Beauty of Grace

DSC_0140revWe saw the beautiful cathedral from a distance. It was one of the most beautiful buildings I had ever seen. I was delighted when the bus parked and we could disembark for a look at this amazing piece of architecture up close.

As our team poured from the bus, I noticed many people coming and going from the church. As we walked towards the building, our Costa Rican leader, Raymond, told me a little of its history. Apparently, once each year, there would be a huge celebration in honor of the humble beginnings of the church. He told me that people would come from many miles away, always walking the last mile on their knees. This was part of the ritual expected at this celebration.  In fact, that was part of the tradition of this church at all times — you walked the aisles on your knees.

As if to confirm what he was saying, as we went inside the church, I saw a woman and her small daughter, walking on their knees towards the front of the church.

And I was overwhelmed with gratefulness for God’s grace. I didn’t need to do anything to earn God’s favor. Jesus had taken care of all of that for me. Suddenly, I understood in a new way the inestimable value of this gift.

As we continued on our tour, we walked down a circular walkway to the area where holy water dripped from a pipe or a spring. Around this area many were gathered, anxious to fill a small container of this holy water for healing or special blessing.

And, once again, I was overwhelmed with a grateful heart for God’s grace. I didn’t need any special water for blessing or healing. I knew that God’s Word teaches that we can just go to Him in prayer with our requests and that He hears us (Luke 11:9-13). There was no need for special water, candles lit to saints, or useless prayers said to the human mother of God.

I knew that the beautiful building held within its walls a false religion based on works. A religion where people were chained to works-based righteousness, always hoping that they had done enough good works to earn their way to heaven.

And I was thankful. So thankful. God, in His incredible mercy and grace, had made a way for me — for anyone — to be reconciled to Him. I didn’t deserve it. I knew that. I was the worst of all sinners. I AM the worst of all sinners. And yet, God loved me so much that He offered His Son as a sacrifice for me. As a sacrifice for any who would repent and believe. What amazing grace and love!

And I was dismayed. For there were thousands, if not millions, who still didn’t realize that walking on your knees and praying to humans wasn’t at all necessary to reach heaven (Isaiah 64:6). For Jesus had already paid the price. If we repent and accept this free gift, we are guaranteed a spot in heaven (John 3:16).

Of course, this gift, if we truly understand it, changes and transforms us completely. We are no longer the person we were. Some might perceive us as legalistic or caught up in rules, but we genuine believers know that our choices aren’t based on a set of rules but, instead, out of a heart of love for the precious Savior who gave His life for us (I John 2:3-6, John 14:15, Colossians 3:23-24).

And I understood the beauty of God’s grace in a whole new way. Amazing Grace isn’t just a song. It’s the Truth. And what an incredible Truth it is.

Amazing grace
How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost
But now I’m found!
Was blind
But now I see!

 

 

Dodging the Land Mines

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The other night we visited with some friends who had spent many years in a foreign country as missionaries. The husband talked about how dangerous his first few years were when he was there as a single missionary. The nationals had warned him of the deadly land mines and bombs that were still part of their daily existence. They cautioned him to beware of every piece of trash, tiny fragment of plastic, or piece of string on the street, asserting that the smallest thing could be a set-up. He would ride his motorbike trying to avoid anything that lay on the road, knowing that he could be blown to smithereens in a heartbeat.

I believe his experience may be likened to the Christian culture we find ourselves in.

It is like we are on a motorbike and everywhere we turn there is danger. We can never take anything at face value, because there may be something deadly beneath the surface.

For instance, I recently saw a Facebook status of a woman who was asking about “hypnobirthing”.  I knew with a prefix like hypno  it was probably not a good thing, so I did a little investigating. I found out that it is the process of self-hypnosis while giving birth. Imagine my surprise when all of the comments below her status were by women who were praising this method and even talked about how close to God they felt during the experience.

But wait a minute! Anything to do with hypnosis should be a problem for a Christian. Any type of hypnosis means giving up self control and putting control of your mind into the hands of another person or being. This practice is in direct opposition to Christianity. And yet here were well-meaning Christians promoting something that threatens a healthy walk with God.

They had unknowingly stepped on a spiritual land mine. Spiritual land mines do not kill us outright. No, they are instead like an insidious poison that seeps into our minds, doing great damage to our spiritual walks. And since we do not realize that we have been poisoned, we will, with well-meaning motives and enthusiasm, often infect others.

Here are a few other instances of spiritual landmines–

~A “Christian” book that completely and totally dismantles the gospel, piece by piece, that I see in the hands of a Christian friend.

~A suggestion to my daughter that she read a book that destroys the image of God as set forth in scripture, also labeled as a “Christian” book.

~Songs that are on the playlist on my Christian radio station that promote anti-biblical, new age themes.

~Statuses of sincere Christians, quoting mystics and false teachers, unaware that these people they admire have tainted and twisted the gospel beyond repair.

~Revered pastors and teachers using a version of the Bible that changes the meaning of entire passages of scripture.

If you are a genuine believer at this moment in time, then you and I are in this dangerous, deadly field of spiritual land mines together. There is no place that is safe, no place we can run and hide. While there may still be a few churches and ministries unaffected by false teaching they become rarer and rarer each day. We have to take every step carefully, always being aware of what we are reading, who we are listening to, and the preachers and authors we are promoting.

We have to be willing to turn away from something that looks promising or exciting or deeply spiritual, if it goes against what is taught in God’s Word.

Of course, as I have said maybe a million times before on this blog, we can only do so if we know God’s Word. We need to keep ourselves immersed in the Bible, studying and memorizing it.

We are in a spiritual war and the battle is growing more intense by the day. We can put our heads in the sand if we want to, but to do so not only puts our own spiritual health in danger, but also the spiritual lives of our families and friends.

Oh, my dear brothers and sisters in Christ, we are in a very dangerous era. Worldly Christians will tell you otherwise, but don’t you believe them. We are walking through the land of spiritual landmines. We are not friends with this world. We are on a narrow path. And we are hated. But take heart! This world is not our home! The best is yet to come!

Meanwhile, let’s keep our eyes wide open and take our spiritual steps very cautiously. I Thessalonians 5:21 says it best: Test everything. Hold fast what is good. 

 

 

Baptism ≠ Salvation

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“What?!?” I stared incredulously at my Christian friend. She had just assured another friend of ours that he was definitely going to heaven because he had been baptized. This conversation occurred a very long time ago, by three high school kids trying to sort out life. I didn’t know much, but I did know that you weren’t saved just because you had been baptized.

It’s one of those conversations that sticks in your memory. I remember that we were in gym class during the swim session at the local rec’s pool. I remember the three of us somehow getting around to a conversation about religion, until finally this topic came up. I remember my Christian friend giving this assurance to my other dear friend, even though he didn’t act like a believer, didn’t have any fruit to show he was a believer–why he didn’t even claim to be a believer.

What a lie from Satan to give assurance where there isn’t any.

I was reminded of this incident yesterday, when our pastor gave the perfect analogy. On their wedding day, both the husband and the wife will put a ring on to symbolize their love and fidelity. This ring shows the world that their hearts are taken and unavailable.

But anyone can put on a wedding ring. Nothing stops a lonely, wishful girl from going to the store and buying a wedding ring and putting it on her finger. She can do that and give the appearance that she is married, but does that change the fact that she isn’t?

Nope.

Not at all.

I wish I would have had this analogy all those years ago. It would have helped me explain why baptism is just a symbol of salvation and not an assurance of salvation.

We need to go to God’s Word if we need assurance of our salvation–

Matthew 7

I John 2

James 2

These are just a few chapters and verses (there are many more) of what we will desire if we are truly a believer. Oh, we will mess up and make mistakes often. And, of course, we are all at different stages of growing up in the Lord. But true salvation changes us and our desires. Our hearts will long to please the Savior.  We grieve over our sin. We have a desire to live a holy and righteous life, just as Christ commanded.

Baptism has absolutely nothing to do with it.

Baptism is just an important symbol. It’s a way to tell the world that we have decided to follow Jesus and that we are not ashamed of that decision.

This topic of baptism may not even be part of the modern conversation, anymore. I really don’t know. But, while I do not claim to be a theologian, I do try to align myself with God’s Word in everything I write. And I am quite confident that anyone who studies God’s Word will see the truth about baptism. It’s a symbol, not an assurance.

 

It Will Be Worth It All.

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I derive comfort from these words and thought I would share them with you, as I will find it difficult to write today.  This is a beautiful old hymn that gives hope in the midst of discouragement and darkness.

IT WILL BE WORTH IT ALL

Sometimes the day seems long,
Our trials hard to bear.
We´re tempted to complain,
to murmur and despair.
But Christ will soon appear
to catch his bride away!
All tears forever over
in God’s eternal day!

CHORUS:
It will be worth it all
when we see Jesus!
Life’s trials will seem so small
when we see Christ.
One glimpse of his dear face,
all sorrow will erase.
So, bravely run the race
till we see Christ.

At times the sky seems dark,
with not a ray of light;
We’re tossed and driven on,
no human help in sight.
But there is One in heaven,
Who knows our deepest care;
Let Jesus solve your problems,
just go to Him in prayer.

Life’s day will soon be o’re,
all storms forever past;
We’ll cross the great divide
to Glory, safe at last!
We’ll share the joys of heaven:
a harp, a home, a crown;
The tempter will be banished,
We’ll lay our burdens down.

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Wednesday Wisdom: God, You are Faithful

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There are so many beautiful words that describe God: Loving, Kind, Good, Just, Perfect, Omnipotent, to name a few. But I am not sure any is more comforting than the word FAITHFUL.  Lamentations 3:22-23 tells us about this: Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not.  They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.

About five years ago now, Christian music artist Steven Curtis Chapman found out about God’s faithfulness the hard way. He and his family experienced a tragedy that none of us would wish on our worst enemy. I heard him say in an interview that he had to figure out if all of the stuff he had sung about for so many years was actually true. Through it all, he grew to understand God’s faithfulness in a way that only those who experience anguished and heart-breaking adversity can. I love this song so much. It is honest and raw and oh, so hopeful. God is faithful!  

FAITHFUL by Steven Curtis Chapman
I am broken, I am bleeding,
I’m scared and I’m confused,
but You are faithful.
Yes You are faithful.
I am weary, unbelieving.
God please help my unbelief!
‘Cause You are faithful.
Yes, You are faithful.

I will proclaim it to the world.
I will declare it to my heart
And sing it when the sun is shining.
I will scream it in the dark.

You are faithful!
You are faithful!
When you give and when You take away,
even then still Your name
is faithful!
You are faithful!
And with everything inside of me,
I am choosing to believe
You are faithful.

I am waiting for the rescue
that I know is sure to come,
‘Cause You are faithful.
Yes, You are faithful.
And I’ve dropped anchor in Your promises,
and I am holding on,
‘Cause You are faithful.
God, You are faithful.

I will proclaim it to the world.
I will declare it to my heart
And sing it when the sun is shining.
I will scream it in the dark.

You are faithful!
You are faithful!
When you give and when You take away,
even then still Your name
is faithful!
You are faithful!
And with everything inside of me,
I am choosing to believe You’re faithful.

So faithful…

Though I cannot have the answer
that I’m wanting to demand,
I’ll remember You are God
and everything is in Your hand.
With Your hands You put the sun, the moon,
the stars up in the sky,
for the sake of love, You hung Your own Son
on the cross…to die…

You are faithful…
Yes, You are faithful…
When you give and when You take away,
even then, great is Your faithfulness!
Great is Your faithfulness!

And with everything inside of me,
I am choosing to believe You’re faithful!
Oh, oh, oh…
Oh, oh, oh…
When you give and when You take away,
even then still Your name
is faithful!
You are faithful!
And with everything inside of me,
I am choosing to believe…

…You’re faithful…

**If you are not familiar with the tragedy that beset this family, you can read about it here.

**You can listen to this beautiful song on YouTube here.

Not been there and not done that

Solarium_beax

I was having a conversation with two friends who had decided to go tanning. I didn’t understand why they would want to do this, given some of the health risks. I mean, after all, what does it really matter if they are a little pale? And then one of them said, “You wouldn’t understand.”

Because my complexion  is not fair, I wouldn’t understand.

Hmmm…she had a point. While I am not really dark complected, I am not really fair, either. So I couldn’t understand.

But did that disqualify me from expressing concern?

Should it disqualify me from expressing concern?

What do you think?

This is an important conversation, because this same logic applies to what we do with opportunities to share the gospel with others.  Have you ever shied away from witnessing to a drug addict or a prostitute or a Muslim, because you felt you couldn’t possibly understand?

I know I have. I have this mindset that the Lord couldn’t possibly use me to witness to someone that is so different than me…who has faced things that I have never faced.

But am I automatically disqualified if I haven’t “been there and done that”?

That is why I have always admired those people who have come to Christ and then been radically and forever changed…saved from addictions and false religions and other very dramatic sins.

I find myself thinking that they can be so much more effective for Jesus than I can. After all, I was raised in a Christian home, married a Christian man, and have spent most of my life knowing the One who saved me.  I have changed…oh, my, yes, I have changed from the person I was when I came to Christ, but it has been very gradual…like a gentle, ever-climbing rise on a graph.

Should I even bother trying to witness if I do not have a dramatic testimony?

I think so, and here’s why-

1. It isn’t about me. God draws men to Himself. I am just an instrument in His hands (John 6:44).

2. I am not without resources. God’s Word is a living and powerful tool for this job (Hebrews 4:12).

3. I am called to share the gospel. It is not an option, it is a command (Mark 16:15).

4. And, most importantly, because of love for my fellow man. If I love others, how could I not be compelled to share the amazing and wonderful hope within me (I John 4:7-8)?

And so, yes, I believe God can use me even if I have “not been there and not done that”.

While it is not dramatic by the world’s standards, I can say with absolute confidence that I have been saved from my sins and have been given the peace that passeth understanding while here on earth and a glorious hope for my future! All of this is because Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead all of those years ago. We can be reconciled to God because of this!

All we like sheep have gone astray (Isaiah 53:6).  There is none righteous, no, not one (Romans 3:10).  I guess when it comes right down to it, all of us believers can understand what it means to be rescued from a life dedicated to self and sin, to be given renewed hearts, and to be given the promise of heaven. No matter where we came from, this alone should qualify us to share boldly with others.