Making Life Meaningful

A good friend recently sent me a copy of To End All Wars by Ernest Gordon. It is Gordon’s account of the true story behind the Academy Award-winning film The Bridge on the River Kwai. During World War II he was a member of the Scottish 93rd Highlanders captured by the Japanese and put in a POW camp in Thailand. They, along with other allied troops and indigenous people, were used as slave labor to build the infamous bridge and railroad for a future Japanese invasion of India.

He describes the horrible living and work conditions and hopelessness that they had to endure daily. Death was everywhere, with many good men dying. Interpersonal relationships were almost non-existent; it was basically every man for himself.

After almost dying of multiple diseases brought on by the non-stop hard work, poor diet and extreme climate, Gordon and some of the other men, at the bottom of the abyss of human existence, stripped of all human comforts and status, began to experience revival. A turning from despair, selfishness, greed and loneliness to serving their fellow prisoners with the love that only God could put into a human heart yielded to Jesus Christ.

Following is a quote from the book that sums up his experience. I strongly recommend this book. Courage to you. Carl

“We had two alternatives: we could choose the way of men, based on the sovereignty of the natural order, closed, sealed and impersonal; or we could choose the way of Jesus Christ, free and personal, based on the sovereignty of God the Father.

The wind of the spirit had blown upon us; we could not prove how or whence it had come. But our experience pointed to a source beyond ourselves. We knew personal fulfillment, love, joy, peace, wholeness, as we committed ourselves to the One who had called us. Only as we responded to this Word did we receive the power to progress towards true humanity. Our life on the horizontal plane was made meaningful at the point where it was met by the vertical. At the point marked by the Cross we found ourselves. “

Ernest Gordon – To End All Wars (emphasis added)

New Orleans Atheist Changes His Mind

Desmond Boudreaux was bitter from past church experiences as a child and eventually became an atheist as a young adult. He helped form a Marxist group in New Orleans which he hoped would help silence Christianity.

He said,

“The group I was with hated churches and Christianity. Once I got into it, I realized there was no peace in what I was pursuing. That’s when I met Justin and found Christ. The whole time I was searching for peace and truth, but could never find it. Whenever I found Christ, that’s when I truly found what I was looking for.”

The person who lead him to Christ was Refuge Church Pastor Justin Haynes. It was Christian love displayed by Pastor Haynes and other members of the church that caused a change of heart in Desmond. On April 8th, he was plunged beneath the baptistery waters to publicly display his newfound faith.

(Condensed from Baptist Message)

Bravo for Brother Desmond! Another soul rescued from the snare of the devil.

Maybe you, like Desmond, are looking for peace and truth; rest for your soul. The Risen Lord makes the following offer to you today:

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.

Take My yoke upon you , and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and YOU SHALL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS.

For my yoke is easy, and My load is light”. (Matthew 11:28-30)

Carl

Desperate People

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” Romans 1:16

God’s good news is powerful to save men’s souls from destruction. I recently ran across this very short story of hungry souls desperate for truth. The author was speaking with acquaintances in Spain about how they came to Christ. The following is their story:

“One man heard the gospel in a cemetery, where they went on holy days to pray to the saints and their ancestors. Knowing this pagan custom, a small group of despised evangelicals had come there to give out literature. Another young man learned the gospel from a tract which a friend had torn up in anger and thrown to the ground. So starved was this religious person for truth that he laboriously pieced the tract back together, read it, and was saved.”

This man was so desperate for Truth, that he took the time to gather up the pieces of torn paper and, like a puzzle, fit them all together. Just so he could see what the tract said. Maybe he saw something in the “despised evangelicals” who gave out the tract, that made him believe they knew God in a different way than he knew Him. The result was he did find the biblical Jesus and he was born again by God’s grace through faith. Jesus welcomed him and began to quench his thirst for Truth.

Every day, though we don’t recognize it, we interact with desperate people that need to meet the true, biblical Jesus. As we have shared, there are many different Jesus’s in the world. Many people are deceived and are hungry for the Truth which satisfies.

You personally know the Truth (John 14:6), if you are biblically born again. Take the time to share a Christian tract with them or share a short testimony of what God has done in your life. You never know when you will save a soul from eternal destruction or sow a seed that will grow into eternal life.

May the Holy Spirit fill you with His boldness to be a daily witness!

Carl

An Atheist Finds God in A Stove

“…you shall be My witnesses…”     Jesus   Book of Acts 1:8

I recently read Grace and Then Freedom by a World War II Russian paratrooper officer named Nikolai Alexandrenko. It is his story of being born and raised in communist Russia and as a young man fighting the Nazis in WWII.  After being wounded and captured by the German army in southern Russia, he spent four years in post-war Germany as a displaced person.  One day while trying to start a fire in a wood burning stove, he, an atheist, found two pieces of a gospel tract in Russian that someone had torn up and thrown in the stove.

Following is his testimony of what happened to him when he read these two scraps of the gospel tract.  It shows the power of the gospel when it falls into the hands of one whom the Holy Spirit has prepared to receive the good news of Jesus Christ.  He starts by sharing what he found:

 “So these two little leaflets in my native language caught my eye, and I began to read.

One was Revelation 3:20, in which Jesus Christ says “Behold I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him and him with me.”

Then there was Matthew 11:28, in which Jesus says, ” Come to me all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

Following these two verses there was an explanation about the verses that were quoted from the Bible. And I remember particularly this question, saying, “Jesus Christ, the son of God, is standing now at your heart and is knocking. Did you knock to God in your sorrows?”

Those words from the scripture and that question struck me like a sledgehammer. I just stopped and forgot about everything else in the world, and I said to myself, “God—does God exist?”

“After that question an answer came —-yes, there is God. And then a second question —-then why am I so miserable in my life? And a second answer —because I never knocked to God in my sorrow.

Though I was alone in that big cold room I suddenly felt that someone, though invisible, was standing before me and knocking on my heart.  He was talking to me personally.  And I felt an urge to say something to that invisible somebody. So for the first time in  my life, not really being a Christian, I offered my first prayer. I said “God, for 27 years of my life I have been in darkness.” I said “God, if you really are, if you really exist, lift me out of this condition, and explain all things about yourself. If you really are, do you want me to spend the rest of my life in the darkness?”

When I said those words in my prayer, I felt the tears begin to roll down my cheeks and words of repentance about my sins began to come out of my mouth.”

He goes on to explain that, through all the hurt in his life, he had never cried, even when his mother died as a boy. God would later open a door for him to come to the U.S. and eventually was a professor at a Christian college in my hometown.  I met Dr. Nik in 1980 while working in the yard one Saturday and he was visiting the neighborhood to invite people to the church he was attending.  Later he would interpret some letters for me that we had received from Russians we had met while planting churches in Russia after the Iron Curtain came down. He was a very interesting brother in the Lord.

I encourage you to be a witness in your daily life. Tracts are cheap and easy to hand out to people you encounter in your daily business.  Don’t let the devil put the fear of being rejected on you.  If they reject you, they are really rejecting the One who sent you. And remember, there are more Dr. Nik’s out there who the Holy Spirit has prepared to receive the seed of His Word.

Be a witness.

Carl

 

 

 

Divine Appointment

On a recent vacation I had a very interesting divine appointment.

We were on our way back home and I stopped at a random Marriott property for a bathroom break. I had never been to the hotel before. It just happened to be at the exit I had taken. As I was waiting to use the lavatory, there was a young man vigorously scrubbing his hands ahead of me. He greeted me and said he liked my hat. I thanked him and he said he was washing cigarette smoke off his hands and that he needed to give cigarettes up. I agreed with him and mentioned that they were deadly and that my Father had smoked for years.

Then I asked him how clean his soul was? As he turned around to dry his hands, he mumbled something and said that he was a good person. I shared that there was none righteous and our good works were as filthy rags. I gave him two tracts I had in my shirt pocket and witnessed to him about how God loved him and sent Jesus to die on the Cross for his sins.

Then I told him that I was not even staying at this hotel and had only stopped to use the bathroom on the way home. I impressed upon him that our meeting was a divine appointment orchestrated by God, for his sake. After encouraging him to read the gospel tracts, he left to meet his friends or family waiting in a black truck.

I got back in my car and headed home, amazed at God’s timing and the opportunity to witness to this young man I will never see again, on this earth.

What if that young man would have thrown the tracts in my face or in the trash can? Of course, I would have been disappointed, but I realized that it was his choice to accept or reject the message. The Lord had at least given him the chance to believe.

As U.S. Christians, we should not take this responsibility to be a witness lightly. In Britain TODAY, witnessing to someone can be considered a HATE CRIME, depending on whether or not the person witnessed to is offended by the witness. In Red China open witnessing is prohibited. Tomorrow it may be the U.S. or Canada.

Therefore, let us be about kingdom business and be a witness. We should not be fearful or cowardly about sharing the gospel. If the witness is rejected, it is actually Jesus they are rejecting.

Let us remember the words of Jesus:

“For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.” Mark 8:38

Let us not be ashamed of Jesus or His message, but be full of Holy Spirit boldness, for the sake of those that are PERISHING.

Grace and peace and boldness be multiplied to you.

Carl

“Travel, Travel, Travel

In 1803 President Thomas Jefferson sent Lewis and Clark and a Corps of men to follow the Missouri River westward hoping to find an overland route to the Pacific Ocean. Their successful two year trip opened the West to trappers and the westward migration of America.

Several years after their trip, seven native Americans (aka Indians) showed up in St. Louis, MO seeking Bibles. They had learned about the Bible from the Christians in the Lewis and Clark expedition. The native Americans attributed the white man’s “power” (technological advances), to this mysterious book.  Clark was able to provide the Indians with Bibles, but unfortunately they all died prior to returning to their tribes.

When word reached the churches in the East about these Indians wanting Bibles, there arose a missionary zeal to evangelize the western Indians. In July, 1836, missionaries Marcus and Narcissa Whitman and Henry and Eliza Spalding attended a trapper’s rendevous on the Green River, where they were paired with western tribes.

Whitman settled in what is now southeastern Washington state among the Cayuse and Nez Perce tribes, six miles from Walla Walla. Years later, Whitman found it necessary to return by horse to the east coast to address mission matters. This was at the same time the wagon trains were beginning to make their way westward to Oregon, California and Washington. While in the east, Whitman was sought out by the wagon train leaders for his experience traversing the wilderness. Of course, the leader’s greatest concern was how to deal with the Indians they would encounter, but Whitman had more important instructions for them.

“Travel, travel, travel; nothing else will take you to the end of your journey; nothing is wise that does not help you along; nothing is good for you that causes a moment delay.” “A day spent enjoying prairie flowers may cost you your life in the snow covered mountains.” Marcus Whitman

There is wisdom here for we Christians.  It is this:

No matter what happens in your life,  keep traveling on toward your new heavenly home. Do not let any trial stop you.

When someone died on the wagon trains, some would bury the dead at night in the wagon path, so the grave would not be noticeable to the ever watching Indians. They did not spend days in mourning or have a proper funeral.

The pioneers had to keep the big picture in mind.  They had a very long way to go by foot, horse, mule and wagon. It was up to them to keep moving and not focus on the loss or they could experienced a far greater loss of life.

In our Christian walk, we may experience the “death” of many things:

  • Maybe the premature death of a career;
  • Maybe the future we envisioned will have to die;
  • Maybe our self-image will die due to revelations from God’s Word;
  • Future plans for our children may have to die, due to unforeseen problems;
  • Maybe we lose a loved one to some seemingly unfair disease or tragedy;
  • We may experience a loss of our health or our spouses health;
  • Our finances may tank and we find ourselves in financial straits;
  • Some may experience the death of friendships they highly value;
  • It may be physical torture, imprisonment or death for our Christian faith.

Whatever the “death” or hardship may be, we need to keep the big picture in mind. We are just a pilgrims passing through the devil’s kingdom, on the way to the heavenly Jerusalem. Keep trusting in Jesus and His Word.  Keep pressing on in Him, until you arrive in His physical Presence.  He said He would never leave or forsake us. The Comforter is always with us.

In closing, I am reminded of an elderly sister in the Lord, who lived in communist Lithuania. She had a chronic disease that paralyzed her total body except for one finger.   The secret police never searched her home due to her condition.  She used this safe setting to translate Christian books from U.S. and western Europe into her mother tongue, for her fellow countrymen.  She typed them out one letter at a time with that one finger that was not paralyzed.  She had experienced the “death” of her health but she kept pressing on in her Lord and as a result, was a tremendous blessing to her brother and sisters-in-Christ under the yoke of atheistic communism.

Let us keep pressing on in spite of whatever comes our way. We do not know what the future holds, but we do know Who holds the future and has us in His hands.

In addition, let us be sensitive to the needs of our brothers and sisters who are going through trials and the valley of death.  Paul said we should consider others more important than ourselves. Let the words of Hebrews 3:13 direct us:

“…encourage one another day after day as long as it is still called “Today”…”

To “encourage” someone means to “to give courage; the attitude or response of facing and dealing with anything recognized as dangerous, difficult or painful, instead of withdrawing from it”  (Webster). Lovingly give courage to them that are going through trials and the valley of death.

Peace to all,

Carl

High Water, Bridges, Concrete And A Witness

We have a long gravel driveway at our home, with a small wooden bridge about half way down the drive. Having been raised in a small rural town, I like the sound of tires on gravel and the rumble of the bridge decking when a car goes over.   The songbirds appreciate the very small gravel for their crops.

During the recent rainy weather, the high water eroded fill behind the retaining wall under the bridge, creating a void that, if left unattended could render the bridge inoperable. After moving our vehicles to the road side of the bridge, I consulted a former co-worker and a plan was formulated to plug the hole with two yards of concrete. I rented a concrete vibrator to insure the concrete filled all of the crevices we could not see. After the vendor loaded the vibrator in my truck, I gave the two gentlemen a gospel tract and encouraged them to read it.

Last Friday we made the repair as planned and judging from last night’s rain, it is working.  When I returned the concrete vibrator, one of the same gentlemen assisted me. When he gave me my proof-of-return slip, I asked him if he read the tract. He said it was in his truck and he would. I asked him if he was a Christian and he replied he was a Catholic. As it turned out, he had not been to church since he was a young child. I witnessed to him briefly about Jesus and encouraged him again to read the tract.

As I drove around the building to turn in the proof-of-return form, it dawned on me that this was a divine moment orchestrated by God for this man’s sake.  So I drove back around the building to the “Returns” area and gave him a Gospel of John and a different gospel tract.  Realizing what was happening,  I also took the opportunity to give a more in-depth witness about Jesus Christ. I closed by saying that we would pray for him.

As my wife and I drove back around the building again to leave I told her that evidently the bridge had to be damaged so we could witness to this man.

We always want to know “why”. Why this happened and why that happened. The lesson I took away from this small incident, is that God is concerned about people first, not bridges, concrete or high water. So whatever “crisis” is going on in Carl’s life, Carl needs to be redeeming the time by looking for opportunities to be a witness for Christ with the people the “crisis” brings into my path.  The crisis will ultimately be dealt with and solved but we may never have the opportunity again in our lifetime to witness to that person and everyone deserves a chance to believe in Jesus Christ.

The Lord Jesus came to seek and to save those that are lost.  Let us be doing His ministry.

Be a witness….everyday…… somehow.

“…grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.   II Peter 3:18

Carl