Monday, September 12, 2016

Defeating the Lions

Two wild african male lions Stock Photos
Stay Alert! Watch out for your great enemy the devil, he prowls around like a lion looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8 (NLT)

Satan is real, intelligent, cunning, and deceitful. The many names of Satan all picture him as evil. He is deceiving all of us, and we are not claiming the power of Christ to deliver us as we should. Satan is called a powerful lion. Satan and his demons like a pride of lions pounce on us their prey.  Lions hunt down, and claw at the defenseless one on all sides. Grabbing it by the neck and strangling it.

Satan and his demons like that pride of lions batter us unmeasurably on all sides and at our weakest points.  Satan does not just attack us in one area. He inundates our lives with distractions and problems. At other times, Satan even makes temptations look desirable.  We like Eve are tricked into believing wrong is right.

 What does the Bible tell us to do? It says we must not have so great a pride that we think we can resist Satan on our own.  James 4:6-8 says, “God opposes the proud, but favors the humble.” So we must humble ourselves, confess our pride and all our sin, and obey God’s Word.

 At times, our lives are so full of stress, frustrations, and problems that we give in to temptation. In, I Peter 5: 7-10, we learn to cast our anxieties on him, because he cares for us. We are also told that after we suffer a little while, Christ will restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish us. We must have our minds under control and resist Satan by calling on the name of Jesus.  Jesus sent the Holy Spirit, and the scripture, to help us obtain the deliverance we desire.

Do you have those kinds of deep hurts that take away your ability to function? I have been there. I have lost a lot of close loved ones. My brother died this summer from complications from Parkinson’s disease. At present, I feel sad and lonely  Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit will be with us in our sorrow. The Holy Spirit cries out to God for us even for our deepest heartaches even when we do not know what to pray.  “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. “ For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.”  Romans 8:26

So if the devil is bombarding you with temptations to turn your back on the Lord. Please remember God has power over the devil. He is in control, and by using His Word, and rebuking Satan we can have victory.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Suffering Brings Hope

“but we rejoice in our sufferings knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.” Romans 5: 3-4

 I went to my younger brother’s house last weekend and saw maybe thirty butterflies landing on their butterfly bush. I am in awe of their exquisiteness. Butterflies go through a major alteration to become the beautiful creatures that we see floating all around us. As you probably know, butterflies go through four stages of development. First, an egg is laid on a plant which will provide food for the larvae or caterpillars.  Caterpillars will eat furiously until they outgrow their own skin. They shed their skin several times while they are increasing in size. When they are done growing, they form themselves into a pupa or chrysalis. It looks as if they are resting, but a tremendous transfiguration is going on inside.  From this chrysalis a magnificent butterfly emerges. To me this metamorphosis is like our salvation. We change inside and become a whole new person, a new creature in Christ.

 I can see parallels in our lives to a butterfly’s in other ways, too. As the caterpillar sheds its skin and grows, so we can allow God to use adversity to grow us. We gain patience through our trials, and through faith in Christ we can learn endurance. Our endurance will mold our character. Our character will be transformed, and we will have a new hope for the future.

 I have lost a spouse to death, and one to divorce. I was filled with anguish as I saw my mom’s life dwindle as Parkinson’s ravaged her body.  I have grappled with a depression which almost destroyed my life as I knew it.  I have recently been challenged by my older brother’s death. He had also wrestled with Parkinson’s for twenty years.

As each stage of my life unfolds, I have contended with my own doubts and fears. Through faith and God’s guidance, I have endured, and God has developed my character. I have a restored hope for the future. God’s love has poured into my heart through the Holy Spirit. I pray I will continue to be like the adult butterfly which reproduces new life.  I desire to see the conversion of many souls to a new hope in Christ.

Monday, August 1, 2016

True Fellowship with Him/ Poem

No longer a servant,

Now Jesus calls me a friend.

He will be with me till the end.

He shared His plan,

On this I can stand

I''m in the inner circle.

Jesus wants fellowship with me.

Oh, how incredible to be

No longer a servant,

But a true friend.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

The Beauty of God's Presence

A glimmering, golden orb floated in the dark sky over the pulsing waves. A halo of light engulfed its brilliance. In the distance, a lighthouse blinked its lifesaving beacon. The charcoal pier reaching out across the horizon was outlined by lights. The shimmering gold shaft of light on the water reminded me of God's hand of love reaching down to touch my heart.

 While at the beach observing this spectacular display of beauty, I was reminded of how close I always feel to God in these moments. Recently I read John 15:15 "No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you."

 You may wonder how I related this scripture to my view of the full moon reflected on the water, but to me it is all tied together. My life has been characterized by my asking God to bless everyone I know, and show me how to be His servant. But Jesus said I am no longer a servant who only does what the master says. I am called His friend, and I am part of the inner circle of fellowship with God and Jesus. Through the Holy Spirit working in me, I can know what message God wants me to hear and understand. I am being taught that I can speak to Jesus and not only tell Him to bless people, but to have a conversation with Him. A conversation means one person speaks and the other answers. It is a two way street. I am being made acutely aware of my need to draw away from the world and be alone in communion with God. As I gaze on the beauty of the sky and ocean, I am better able to feel His presence and hear His response.

 Through this conversation with God I am brought into the inner circle by Jesus. Only my sin can break the connection. I can learn what God is doing, and what He wants to do with my life. He has a purpose for me. I just have to wait and listen to His Word to find the reason He has me living in this world at this particular time, and with the specific circumstances I find myself facing.

 Each of us can enter in this holy communion with God. As Christians, we are all united with Christ and can have the tremendous joy of knowing God's will for our lives. We can look out at all the beauty of God's creation and know we are friends with Jesus. We are not just servants. We have been placed in the inner sanctum of God's presence. I pray we will all take advantage of this great and awesome privilege.


Monday, June 13, 2016

The Miracle of New Life

We walked down a set of stairs to a small apartment. The room was dark, the walls were brick covered with plaster. Behind us was a shiny blue tarp. It may have covered a hole in the wall. A flat screen TV on a high stand was playing.

We were met with smiling, welcoming faces. Several family members, a young couple and a baby were occupying the room. The young mother took the baby out, but brought her back and let me hold her.

“Do you know this baby is a real miracle?” I asked everyone. “I’d like to tell you about the miracle of Jesus’s love for you.” I described how God is pure and holy. He cannot look on our sin. Our hearts are dark with sin, but God bestowed His love on us by sending His Son to die for us.

 I then went on to explain to them that in the Bible, Jesus told Nicodemus he needed to be born again. I used the pictures on the Evangecube to tell the story. When I showed them the picture of Jesus on the cross, I quoted John 3:16 and continued by relating the story of Jesus’s death, burial and resurrection. Pictured next is the cross spreading out as a bridge to heaven, and I explained to them Jesus provided that bridge.

 Next, I opened the cube to show Jesus reaching down to take our hand.  I clarified how we can be with Him in heaven instead of separated from God forever.

 I asked them if they would like to pray with me to accept Christ as their Savior.  All ten of them prayed with me. We left amazed at how God’s Spirit was touching the hearts and lives of everyone we met. They will now have a new life in Christ. “Thank you, Jesus, for letting me be a part of this miracle.”


Wednesday, June 8, 2016

God's Power Over Spiritualism

We were told Spiritualists lived in the home we were going to visit in Sao Paulo. Spiritualism is a system of belief or religious practice based on supposed communication with the spirits of the dead especially through mediums.  I didn’t really know what to expect. Tom, my teammate, was going to present the evangecube plan of salvation.

The pastor, several members of the church, our interpreter, and Tom and I entered the kitchen. Several birds in cages mounted on the wall began to chirp. As Tom began presenting the gospel to the woman,  her mother, whose gray hair was twisted into a ball on top of her head, stormed up to the door from the hallway outside, and began to holler at us. I guess she was telling us to leave. Her daughter was embarrassed and hung her head and kind of laughed. Just as Tom began showing the cube, her brother came in. Their mother came back to the door and rebuked us loudly and rapidly. You could feel a spirit of darkness in the room. After the mother repeatedly shrieked at us, the pastor moved across the kitchen and gently led the mother out of the entrance way. I was standing behind Tom praying as hard as I could and rebuking Satan from the room. The birds quit twittering, and Tom was able to present the message of salvation. The young man and his sister both prayed to receive Christ as their Savior. We gave them a Portuguese New Testament. The brother said he could use it to show Catholics about Jesus’s love.

The pastor came back into the kitchen. He held the woman’s son and prayed for him, too. Then we all went down the walkway to a basement area, and the pastor prayed with sister and brother again. Our interpreter said he thought the pastor was talking to them about having a meeting at their house. When we left, I saw the mother standing against the wall. She was so quiet, I almost missed seeing her. As we walked back to the church, we talked about how the Holy Spirit had definitely worked at this home.


Sunday, May 29, 2016

The Power of God's Love

The Holy Spirit is definitely at work in Brazil. Catholicism is the dominant religion, but the evangelical population is around 55 million or 25% of the population and is growing every day.

I just returned from a mission trip to Brazil. I am so thankful that I was able to be used by God. I felt like I was in a Spiritual cloud, and was just being an outside observer of the Holy Spirit at work.  My teammate, Tom Boorde, and I worked with two churches for ten days. We were part of the Friends of Good News Missions. Our team of 11 people was made up of Baptists from Greensboro and High Point, North Carolina and Tampa, Florida. It is the 25th year of this ministry. We were given the privilege of aiding the pastors in the work they had started. Pastor Anderson is 35 and has been at his church for 5 months. He has taken over the leadership of an after school program for at risk students also.

Pastor Anderson and many of the young people of the church took us out to visit family and prospective members of the church. One of the families we visited will always have a special place in my heart. We entered the home and as we proceeded to sit down, we saw a person in the bedroom with an oxygen mask on his face. His sister told us he was her brother.  After her husband finished eating, all the family of twelve gathered around. Some were sitting on the couch and others standing in the doorway.  I started showing them the Evangecube. When I revealed the section about the resurrection of Jesus, I told them about my friend’s daughter passing away, and how she placed her ashes at the base of a waterfall. I shared with them how we felt when we came back to take a picture and saw butterflies around the ashes. I conveyed to them that now I always associate butterflies with the resurrection. When I asked them to pray and accept Jesus into their hearts and lives, all of them prayed. Afterwards I asked them to give us their names so we could pray for them. I also asked the sister if it would be alright to talk to her brother.

She took us into the bedroom, we watched her strain her back to pick her brother up and put him in the chair. He could not move or speak, and she said he had been bed ridden for five years.  When she got him in the chair, she pulled him forward to stretch his legs. He began to boohoo like a child. It broke my heart. I began to tell him of God’s love by showing him the cube. I told him one day he could be in heaven where there would be no more pain or sorrow. I asked him to bow his head and to pray after me, I looked to see if he was praying, and he was making a gurgling sound in his throat. I know in my heart he accepted Jesus as his Savior. He started crying again, and my teammate, Tom, told him in heaven there would be no more tears. The sister gave me a big bear hug, and we all left with hearts full with the precious power of God’s love.