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Posts Tagged ‘Life’

Last Friday as a young man was passing by on Third Street, I handed him a gospel tract and tried to start a conversation with him. He seemed eager to enjoy his evening and not very disposed to stop and talk until I mentioned the name of Jesus. He stopped in his tracks and told me that he was a backslider.  He had been raised in church all his life and had made a genuine profession of faith in Christ as a young man. He had been active in ministry and diligent in the spiritual disciplines. But he had a struggle that he couldn’t talk about with anyone….until it overtook him. Having been molested by a family member when he was a young boy, he found himself struggling with same sex attraction for years.   He prayed and sought freedom from these desires but eventually grew weary of the fight. He told me that all through those years he was active in evangelism and discipleship. In the midst of his own personal struggle he was always going after people for the kingdom….he said ”and I wondered when is somebody going to come after me”. All up in the middle of church and ministry, yet sinking into the seeming hopelessness of a besetting sin….battling alone and being overcome.   He wept, right out there in the middle of Baton Rouge’s party street….longing to be free….missing the Father’s house.

We prayed together and I trust that the Spirit of God will complete the work of restoration. Please pray for D. and so many, many like him who are slipping away from Christ in the midst of the house of God. Make no mistake….this world we live in is a battle zone. As the people of God, we must war with one another and for one another so that we can all say at the end….”I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” 2 Timothy 4:7

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I “met” Rob recently through some friends. In the last week we talked on the phone a couple of times and exchanged a few text messages. Rob had a history of addiction and described himself as an agnostic. I was planning to pick someone up for church this evening that was staying at his house and Rob actually invited himself to come to church with us. He talked a lot and he talked super fast so it was sometimes difficult to get a word in, but I was able to briefly share the gospel with Rob. Several times in the last week Rob let me know he was excited about coming to church and I sent him a text message this morning to let him know what time I would be there to pick them up. A little while later I got a phone call that Rob was dead…very possibly an overdose.

I never got to meet Rob in person, but his death has affected me.

We have recently experienced the deaths of several people in our church and although there was sadness, it was tempered with the joy of knowing they were with Jesus. There is nothing to lessen the sorrow of Rob’s death. There is no joy, there is no hope.

Better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, for that is the end of all men; and the living will take it to heart. Ecclesiastes 7:2

Take it to heart, you who live. For there are many who are dead while they live….dead in sin and separated from God. The gospel is their only hope. It is the only remedy. But the gospel is not good news to the man who dies without it. So preach it often. Preach it boldly. Preach it that all may live.

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Where does love draw the line? At what point is the cost too great? Shall I love this far and no farther? Is my own comfort and safety the boundary of my love? Shall I love just up until the point of someone else’s displeasure or disapproval?

I’m glad Jesus didn’t love me like that…but He loved me all the way to the cross. He didn’t draw the line at thorns and nails. There were no boundaries to His love…none imposed by Himself or by others.

Lord help me be bold enough to love like that.

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(J.R. MacDuff, “Influence!“)

“For when David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep; he was buried with his fathers and his body decayed.” Acts 13:36

In deducing from these words moral and spiritual lessons, I would observe generally, that each individual in this life has some great purpose to fulfill. “David served God’s purpose in his own generation.” He has left his indelible footprints on the sands of time!

Everything in the wide universe has its special mission. The flower fulfills its design by unfolding its colors or scattering its sweet fragrances wherever it blooms. As we see it dropping its decayed and withered leaves one by one, we feel its little destiny in its own little world has been attained. The lark as it mounts in the air, and chants its carol fulfills its mission by these tuneful melodies.

If we take a loftier survey, and ascend amid the glories of the firmament, we see the sun fulfilling his great appointment to give light to the system: coming forth “like a bridegroom from his chamber, and rejoicing as a strong man to run his race.” Or the moon, that faithful sentinel, lavishing her nightly care on the earth — a majestic beacon-light to land and ocean.

Turn to whatever page we may in the vast volume of creation, we shall find in each, the record of some peculiar office and vocation. Mountains and seas, fire and hail, snow and vapor, stormy wind — all fulfill the word and decree and design of God.

And is it different with man? Has he alone no momentous work to perform in the economy in which he is placed? Is our whole earthly destiny to eat and drink, and sleep and die? Are we to fritter away our brief hour on life’s stage; to be ushered in with a few rejoicings at our birth, followed by a few tears at our departure? And when our sun has gone down, when the grass of the grave covers our resting places — shall we be as if we never were?

How many there are who, to all appearance, think so! They have never yet awakened to a sense of their high destiny, as having a part to play, and a sphere to occupy. Their inward feeling seems to be that in this great world, with its teeming millions, that it signifies nothing how they live; they soon shall be as though they never existed; when they sink into the tomb — it will be like the vessel going down in mid-ocean. There will be a few plungings and heavings as it momentarily wrestles with the storm; but the tempest sweeps, the sea opens its yawning mouth, the waves close over it — and then resume their usual play! Not a trace or vestige remains; the place that once knew it, knows it no more!

My brethren, that solemn, that momentous reality they call life, is no plaything! It was given as the mightiest of possessions, and loaded with immeasurable responsibilities. The weighty saying, which many a tongue was taught earliest to lisp was this, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God!”

Oh, truly it is a solemn thought that each one of you is exercising some influence — either for good or for evil. If you are not serving your day and generation for the better — then you must be serving it for the worse. There can be no such thing as mere neutral influence. And if so, it well befits us individually to address to ourselves the personal question: “Am I fulfilling the great end and design of my being?”

Happy are those who have been led to regard life as a golden talent — who have realized its momentous requirements and stern responsibilities! Even the lowliest and humblest, can help directly or indirectly to untie the bandages from a sin-stricken, woe-worn world, and send it forth from its fevered couch, walking and leaping, and praising God.

Be it yours not only to serve your God, but so to live that the world may be the better because of you; and that when you die and your hand lies withering in the grave — the seed dropped by that hand, years on years before, may spring up bearing fruit to the glory of God!

 

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Catherine Booth, wife of Salvation Army founder William Booth, travelled much due to their ministry. She heard some of the greatest preachers of her day and yet she still cried out, “Burning words! That’s what I’m looking for. I travel all around and I hear oratory; I hear clever preaching. But what I’m searching for is something that will burn my heart like the men on the road to Emmaus.”

Luke 24:32 And they said to one another, “Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?”

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I came across this picture today and I remembered Catherine Booth’s quote. And I realized that this picture illustrates the reality of what she was looking for….the burning words come from the burning heart of the captive made free.

Really, our hearts are filled with so many things….many things that compete with and quench our love for Jesus. And so our words have no fire because our hearts have no fire. And the cold, dark world around us remains cold and dark.

We need to hear the voice of Jesus just as the men on the road to Emmaus. We need Him to open the Scriptures to us and make these eternal things real to us again. We need to walk with Him and listen to Him and love Him….and burn for Him.

Colossians 2:6 As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him

We began by grace. We must continue by grace. We can burn for Him by grace. He is willing. Are we?

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The unconditional yes

The unconditional yes….is that in your heart towards the Lord? Anything He wants you to do. Anywhere He wants you to go. Or does your yes have conditions….stipulations….exclusions? Is there a “yes Lord” in your heart or a “mostly yes Lord”? The reality of a “mostly yes” means that somewhere there is a “no Lord”. There is a line you will not allow Him to cross….things you will not permit Him to require of you….a point where His Lordship in your life ends.

Beloved, the one who knows and loves us perfectly and who has washed us in His own blood can be trusted with an unconditional yes. We have nothing to fear except the misery of a life not fully surrendered.

May the Lord search our hearts, demolishing every barrier we have erected against His complete Lordship. And may we give to Him a deeper and unconditional yes.

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Moving Forward

I was driving home from work today. It was wet and rainy and there was water standing on the side of the road everywhere. A couple of cars in front of me was an 18 wheeler who was trying to make a right turn and he made it too tight and ended up going off the road a little bit with his back tire. From my vantage point I could tell that he could’ve made it if he had just kept going. But I guess he could sense that something wasn’t quite right so he stopped and got out to look and see what was going on. And because he did that, he lost all his forward momentum. The only option now was to call a tow truck to help. Valuable time would now be lost and whatever he was delivering would be late.

He could’ve made it if he had just kept going. I actually said that out loud as I passed him on my way home.

Believers, we are on a narrow path. Sometimes life takes a turn that we didn’t quite expect. We lose our balance…we feel stuck. Something just doesn’t seem right. So we stop everything to get out and look. All our forward momentum in the Lord comes to a halt as we keep walking around the trouble, the trial, the pain, trying to figure out how we’re gonna get back on the path. Some of us even stop to build a monument to the derailing event, visiting it so often that we never can quite get back on the path. Meanwhile, valuable time is being lost.

No doubt life can be very hard at times. We get blind sided by pain and trouble. But we don’t have to get derailed. If we will just keep moving forward we are going to make it.

Let’s pray for one another and help one another to continue moving forward in the Lord.

 

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