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

Snares, Predators and Spiritual Truths

“Our soul has escaped as a bird out of the snare of the trapper; the snare is broken and we have escaped.” Psalm 124:7 NASB

A snare is a device used to trap animals or birds. As young boys and aspiring Boy Scouts, we built snares to catch rabbits, in my Grandfather’s briar patch. Needless to say there was no fear of us, in the rabbit community.

Fifty-five years later, I finally saw how deadly snares could be. We frequently visit a whitetail deer and exotics ranch, in the Hill Country of central Texas, where they use snares to control the predators (coyotes, foxes, etc.) that kill fawns and young deer.

The snare is four or five foot long cable, small in diameter. There is a loop on one end, which is placed in front of the predator’s access hole, under the high fence. A short lead on the opposite end of the snare, is then securely attached to the fence or the steel post. When the animal sticks his head through the hole, the forward motion of his body causes the noose to tighten around the neck. Since the lead is short, he cannot get enough speed to attempt to tear the end loose from the post or fence. No matter how much the animal fights, it cannot gain its freedom.

The final result is not a pretty site. A desperate struggle takes place in the dust to gain freedom, followed by suffocation or a slow death from starvation and thirst, in the Texas heat.

With this life and death scene in our mind, let us briefly look at spiritual snares that capture Christians.

Paul told Timothy in II Timothy 2: 25-26, concerning people who are in opposition to the gospel, the following:

“…if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the SNARE of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.”

To use the example of the ranch, Carl, the Christian, can stick his head under the fence of godliness to get into the devil’s ranch and be snared. The devil’s snare has a long lead which allows Carl to enjoy the pleasure of sin for awhile, until he hits the end of the lead. Hitting the end of the lead causes me to realize that I cannot get free from what I now realize is evil and is now controlling me. This is the wake up call. In my life, it is now as Paul said in Romans 7:19:

“For the good that I wish, I do not do; but I practice the very evil that I do not wish.

At the end of the lead, Carl can twist, turn, struggle in the dust of my making and bemoan my lack of willpower to overcome the evil practice in my life, but it is too late. Satan’s snare is controlling my suppose-to-be-dead, sinful nature and me. I, a Christian, will be under the control of Satan’s snare until there is true, deep repentance. This will lead to “the knowledge of the truth” and a “coming to their senses” which empowers us to forsake our sin and escape from the devil’s snare.

How do we escape? After repenting, we yield ourselves to God, afresh and anew. This “yielding” comes with a mighty promise:

“Thus, also, as for you, you be constantly counting upon the fact that, on the one hand, you are those who have been separated from the sinful nature, and, on the other, that you are living ones with respect to God in Christ Jesus. Stop therefore allowing the sinful nature to reign as king in your mortal body with a view to obeying it [the body], in its passionate cravings. Moreover, stop putting your members at the disposal of the sinful nature as weapons of unrighteousness, but by a once-for-all act and at once, put yourselves at the disposal of God as those who are actively alive out from among the dead, and put your members as weapons of righteousness at the disposal of God, FOR [THEN] THE SINFUL NATURE WILL NOT EXERCISE LORDSHIP OVER YOU…” (Romans 6: 11-14. Wuest Expanded Translation. Emphasis added)

Unlike the Texas predators, there is hope for repentant saints. If Carl wants to be stubborn, which in God eyes is equivalent to idolatry, Carl will remain snared. On the other hand, if I am repentant, though the devil means it for our destruction, God will teach me something, if I will listen.

The Apostle John tells us in I John 1 that our fellowship is with the Father and Son. In Revelation 3, our Precious Savior says that He is knocking at the heart of the believers and wants to come in and fellowship with us. Maybe you, like me in the past, are fellowshipping with something evil in God’s eyes. You need to experience God’s grace of repentance and restoration, to His fellowship. If you feel the Holy Spirit convicting, don’t take it for granted. Turn now. We are praying for you.

The Pure Creator of the universe longs to fellowship with you, His child. Don’t settle for something evil and base.

May the following be said of us:

“Our soul has escaped as a bird out of the snare of the trapper; the snare is broken and we have escaped. Our help is in the name of the Lord, Who made heaven and earth.” Psalm 124: 7-8 NASB

Carl

“Good Good Father”

The name “Father” for God has been brought to the fore by the very popular song entitled Good Good Father by Chris Tomlin.  It is an inspiring and truthful song. He truly is the perfect Father to those who have received the gospel of Jesus Christ and have been born again.  Sadly, those who have rejected His Son’s sacrifice on the Cross for their sins and His Lordship still have another father, Satan.

If we like this song and are calling God our “Father”, we need to give heed to what the Apostle Peter said about calling God “Father” in I Peter 1: 17-19:

“And if you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each man’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay upon earth; knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.” (Emphasis added)

He says if we address God as “Father”, we need to

“conduct ourselves in fear during the time of your stay upon the earth.”

For us to properly understand his instructions we need to understand what it cost God to justly purchase us out of slavery to the devil and what the word “fear” means in this scripture.  The purpose of this study is to look at the word “fear”.

Vines Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words defines  “fear” as follows:

  • reverential fear of God, as a controlling motive of the life, in matters spiritual and moral,
  • not a mere “fear” of His power and righteous retribution, but a wholesome dread of displeasing Him
  • a “fear” which banishes the terror that shrinks from His presence, Romans 8:15, and which influences the disposition and attitude of one whose circumstances are guided by trust in God, through the indwelling Spirit of God.
  • concerning I Peter 1:17 specifically it says: “the reverential “fear” of God will inspire a constant carefulness in dealing with others in His “fear”.

The Greek scholar Vincent, quoting Wardlaw on Proverbs, defines the word “fear” as follows:

  • “This fear is self-distrust; it is tenderness of conscience; it is vigilance against temptation;
  • it is the fear which inspiration opposes to high-mindedness in the admonition, ‘be not high-minded but fear’;
  • it is a constant apprehension of the deceitfulness of the heart, and of the insidiousness and power of inward corruption,
  • it is the caution and circumspection which timidly shrinks from whatever would offend and dishonor God and the Savior.”

As we can see this “fear” or “wholesome dread of displeasing Him” shapes our Christian character and our conduct “in dealing with others”. It is not being terrified of the Lord because Romans 8:15 says

“For you have not received a spirit of slavery, leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!.”

This “spirit of slavery, leading to fear again” is referring to the terror the children of Israel expressed to Moses when God came down on the mountain to talk to them. They shrank away from God’s presence because of it. As born-again people in the New Testament period, we have been adopted into God’s family and He is our Heavenly Father. We can come boldly to His throne of grace to find help in time of need. Yet, we are still exhorted in the New Testament to conduct ourselves in the fear of the Lord.

The quote from Wardlaw throws light on this “fear” and its relation to our old sinful self. Though this is the “old man” that died with Jesus on the Cross in Romans 6:6, we must be on the alert for the old sinful self’s  insidiousness;  how it draws us into disobedience in a way that is gradual or not easily noticed.

In conclusion, if we are calling God our Father, Peter tells us to pay attention to our behavior.  The standard of conduct can not be what we think is right or wrong, but the standard must be what His Word, the Bible,  says is right and wrong.

If we are living in sin and calling Him “Father” and He really is our “Father” because we are born-again, remember He disciplines all His children so they may partake of His holiness. Discipline, maybe severe discipline expressed as “great tribulations” in Rev. 2: 22, may come our way if we are obstinate and persist in our rebellion to His will. Paul told the Corinthians in II Corinthians 12: 21 concerning unrepentant believers:

“I am afraid that when I come again my God may humiliate me before you, and I may mourn over many of those who have sinned in the past and not repented of the impurity, immorality and sensuality which they have practiced.”

Paul’s desire was to come to Corinth and build up the church. If these people did not repent and change their behavior, he would mourn because he would have to “tear down” the sin these people had built into their lifestyle. He would use his apostolic authority from the Lord to bring severe discipline to these believers. In the early church, this could mean dying, being turned over to Satan, or other visible manifestations of God’s anger/displeasure. We find him grieved in Galatians over the believers who forsook grace and returned to legalism, knowing that they would be severely disciplined for this.

God desire is to build us up to be like His Son Jesus. Not to have to tear us down because of our rebellion. But He is the Good Good Father.

I love you in the Lord. I close with my favorite definition of the fear of the Lord.

“And to man He said, ‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.” Job 28:28

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

Clear & Uncomplicated: Gladys Aylward

Her theology was the same, clear and uncomplicated. There was a living God, and she was His servant. There was a loathsome Creature called Satan, and she was his enemy. There was an immortal soul in every human being proceeding to an eternity in either Heaven or Hell.  Her job in life was to convince people that if they would but put their trust in Jesus Christ her Lord, who had died on the cross for them, they would get straight on the road to Heaven. And since Jesus Christ had come to life again, and had promised to be with those who trusted and obeyed Him, however beset with trials and temptations the road to Heaven might prove to be, they need fear nothing, for He would never let them down.”

The Transparent Woman – Phyllis Thompson in Faithful Women & Their Extraordinary God – Noel Piper

The life story of Gladys Aylward  is well worth your time if you have not already read it.  In 1932, at the age of 31, she left London, England with no money to speak of and traveled across Europe and Russia all by herself to be a missionary in China, all because she knew that God had told her to go to China, even though the missionary society ruled that she was not qualified.  It would be seventeen years before she would see her family again.

What a beautiful quote about her theology. All the side issues have fallen away and her beliefs are distilled down to this clear and uncomplicated view of herself in God’s mighty work in the earth.

May she be an example to us. Thank you for your time.

Carl

Root of All Evil

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This tip jar is at a south Louisiana convenience store.  The clerk modified the scriptural message to fit her need. Some people were taking advantage of her offer.

This image reminds me of the apostle Paul’s instructions to Timothy in I Timothy 6:9-10:

“…but they that after giving the matter mature consideration desire to be wealthy, fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and hurtful cravings which are of such a nature as to drown men in destruction and perdition; for a root of all the evils is the fondness for money, which certain ones, bending their every effort to grasp, have been led astray from the Faith and have pierced themselves through with many consuming griefs.  (Wuest Expanded Translation – added emphasis)

May money have the proper place in our lives and not be an idol.

“Let your manner of life be without love of money, being satisfied with your present circumstances. For He himself has said, and the statement is on record, I will not, I will not cease to sustain and uphold you.  I will not, I will not, I will not let you down.”  (Hebrew 13:5 Wuest Expanded Translation)

Bless be God The Father who has redeemed us out of the slave market of sin by the precious blood of Jesus His Holy Son and transferred us into His eternal kingdom in-Christ!

Keep yourself from idols.

Carl