Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

An Intriguing Question

Last Friday night, our church hosted a singing event at a local auditorium.  The place accommodates over 800 people, and we nearly had a full house.  It was a blessed event.  In addition, I was invited to set up a table as a vendor to sell my books and other products, and the Lord blessed with over $100 in sales for me.  But that wasn't the best part of the evening.  No, the best part took place shortly after the intermission when I was approached by an elderly gentleman who struck up a conversation.

Shortly into our talk, he mentioned that his wife had passed away not long ago.  I replied, "I'm so sorry, but from the way you've described her, I believe she's in a better place."  What he said next caused my jaw to plummet to the floor.  In a truly questioning, non-angry voice, he asked, "Why do people always say that?  How can we know it's a better place since we've never been."  I was shocked.  I've never thought about it, and I've certainly never been asked such a question.  So, I answered with the only words I knew.  "The Bible makes it clear that Heaven is a wonderful place.  It is a place with no more sorrow, no more death, no more pain and no more tears.  That certainly sounds better than where we are currently, doesn't it?"

You wouldn't believe the light that came into his eyes.  It was like nothing I've ever seen before.  He went on to tell me that he had finally read all the way through the Bible and that he wanted to read through it again because he liked what he saw there.  He continued to ask me questions about Heaven and about salvation.  He was confused about the difference between salvation and baptism and was unsure if he was truly saved.  I was able to spend the next several minutes helping him to understand the difference and explaining to him about salvation.  He seemed relieved by what I had to say but also burdened for his family that he didn't believe were saved.  I encouraged him to share the truth of what he had learned with them and to pray that the Lord would draw them to Him.  When we parted ways, he told me that he hoped to visit my church on Wednesday night.  I pray that he will make it!

My dear friends, every day I am reminded that time is drawing to an end.  As the world grows more and more wicked, it is evident that the day of the Lord's return is imminent.  It could be today!  If you are unsure about where you'll be spending eternity, please get it settled today.  Contact me.  Talk to a pastor or saved family member.  But please, don't wait another day before getting things right between you and God.  If you haven't accepted His gift of salvation, please do it right now.  There may not be a later.

For those of you who are saved, there is a multitude dying and going to hell.  It's up to us to reach them, and while it's not possible to reach them all, it is possible for each of us to reach at least one.  I plead with you, take the time, make the effort.  Let's reach out and bring hope to the hopeless before it's too late.  That's truly what the Christian life is all about!

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: - I Peter 3:15

Monday, August 18, 2014

Join the Club

I wonder if the disciples ever had to deal with well-meaning family and friends in regards to their ministry.  After all, they left their "jobs" to follow Jesus, which means they walked away from a paycheck to fulfill God's calling with only the promise that their needs would be met but no explanation of how that meeting of needs would come to pass.  I admit, it's not an easy thing to do.  But even more difficult is trying to explain your position to others.  Here are some typical comments I've received:

"So, you just work from home and write, but you don't make enough to live on?  Why would you do that?"

"I thought that maybe since you don't have a job, you could help me out next week."

"I know of a place that's looking for employees if you want some part-time work to help with the financial side of things.  I could get you the information."

Even this past week, I had someone offer me a job (more than once), and when I turned it down, the woman replied, "I know you're busy, but I just thought I'd ask."

Please understand, I'm not criticizing or complaining.  I understand that these people mean well and are trying to look out for me, and for that, I'm truly thankful.  I'm also not referring to those who ask a favor of me every now and then because my schedule is flexible.  I'm happy to help whenever I can.  What gets me is how many times I have to explain that I'm not just "busy."  I have a job!  No, it doesn't pay great (when it pays at all).  No, it doesn't sound grand to some.  No, it doesn't come with a company car and health benefits.  But on the plus side, I can work in my yoga pants and tee-shirt.  Can you say the same for your job?  LOL

My point is that my writing and speaking ministry is just that--a ministry, but it's also my full-time job.  Just as He did with the disciples, the Lord has called me to be a fisher of men.  He has made His wishes clear and led me to abandon the security of a weekly paycheck with nothing but a promise that He will meet my needs.  And you know what?  He hasn't let me down.  Sure, things have been tight from time to time.  Yes, there have been times when I wondered how in the world we were going to pay our bills.  But God has always seen us through.  I can't explain it.  It's just the way He is.

Perhaps you feel God calling you in a certain direction, but you fear others won't understand.  Well, join the club!  But you know, it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks or understands.  What matters is that you follow the Lord's leading for your life.  It may not make sense (in fact, it rarely does), but you'll know it's the Lord prodding you to make a change.  Don't be afraid of how you'll meet your needs or what others may think or say.  Just follow God's guidance and bask in the indescribable peace that comes from doing His will.

And if you know some place that's hiring, please don't ask me.  I love my job and wouldn't trade it for anything!

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. - Romans 12:1-2

Friday, August 15, 2014

A Call to Prayer

In the dark they dig through houses, which they had marked for themselves in the daytime: they know not the light. For the morning is to them even as the shadow of death: if one know them, they are in the terrors of the shadow of death.- Job 24:16-17

As I read through these verses this morning, my mind conjured up images of what is currently happening in the Middle East.  The talk of marking houses reminded me that the homes of Christians in Iraq are being marked for slaughter by ISIS.  Women are being enslaved.  Children are being beheaded.  Other Christians are being threatened.  All of this from a people who claim to be involved in a "religion of peace."  The terror.  The shadow death that plagues the land.  It both sickens and angers me.  My heart goes out to these people who are suffering so much for the name of Christ, and at the same time, I commend them for their faithfulness.

Today, rather than posting a devotion, I would like to issue a call to prayer for all those around the world who are suffering for the name of Christ.  I urge you to set aside a few moments today to pray for the needs and strength of those who are being persecuted for their faith.  Your words don't have to be eloquent, nor do they have to be many, but please make them sincere.  James 5:16 promises us that the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.  In other words, prayer works!

So today, may we get our eyes off our own trials and place our focus of prayer on those around the world who may not see tomorrow because they have taken a stand for Christ.  Every prayer makes a difference.  Imagine what a multitude of prayers can do!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

What's the Point?

Jason and I were invited to go hiking yesterday with his parents and some long-time friends of the family.  We met in Easley and drove to Highlands, NC to meet the rest of our hiking party.  The selected hike of the day was Whiteside Mountain, a moderate two-and-a-half-mile loop that ascended and descended the peak.  When I say "moderate," I mean for people who are used to hiking regularly.  While Jason and I still do a decent amount of hiking, our hikes have become shorter, easier and slower due to Tippy's age.  This fact became very evident within the first ten minutes of the climb.

Another thing that became evident in short order was the fact that, within the group, there were two different motives for the hike.  Some were there to hike--nothing more, nothing less.  They set their sights on the trail, put their feet to the path and took off.  They stopped for nothing.  They talked little.  They noticed even less.  They just walked.

Others of us were there for the view and fellowship.  We stopped to admire the busy bees as they worked around the beautiful yellow flowers.  We explored the outcroppings and paused to hear the rippling brooks.  We chatted.  We gushed over the breath-taking views.  We commented on the fresh, cool air.  In short, we took stock of our surroundings.

I'm not saying that either way is right or wrong.  It's a matter of personality how each individual decides to tackle a hike.  In life, however, God intends for us to do more than simply walk the trail.  Yes, He wants us to finish our race, but He also wants us to find joy and peace in the journey.  He wants us to enjoy the hike. 

John 10:10 tells us, The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.  Did you catch that?  Jesus came to this earth so that we could do more than just "hike the path."  He came to give us the gift of the journey.  He desires for us to have not only life, but life more abundantly.  Not just the finish line, but the invigoration of the race.

Too many people today are living their lives simply going through the motions.  They wake up, go to work, come home, watch television, and go to bed.  The next day, the routine begins again.  There is no joy, no excitement.  They're "hiking the trail," but are they taking the time to appreciate their surroundings.  Do they notice the view?  Do they stop and smell the flowers?  Sure, they're enduring life, but are they enjoying it?  Better yet, are you?

This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. - Psalm 118:24