A TALE OF TWO STORIES

21 01 2020

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You will never hear me say that being a Christian is easy. Following Jesus doesn’t necessarily even make life on earth better for you although I will share that it certainly does add challenges you wouldn’t have if you only decided to go with the flow. When Jesus comes into your heart, it ignites a light to shine from your life and that glare certainly does irritate those that prefer to do their deeds in the darkness. Believers should not take the opposition personally because it’s God working in us that rubs the culture the wrong way.

The day one surrenders their heart to the Lord is the day that he or she becomes a citizen of heaven. Christians are known as sojourners, pilgrims, visitors and strangers in a foreign land. No longer are followers of Jesus at home on this planet. No longer are we the number one to look out for because now that place has been set aside for the Lord. But God is not going to wait until we get to glory to begin the process of making us His saints. That transformation begins the moment you and I put on the uniform informing all those around us that we now play for God. The learning doesn’t happen in the classroom as much as it occurs in the course of everyday living.

God never wastes a teaching opportunity. Scripture informs us that He uses all things to work together for good to those who love Him. He makes messes into masterpieces. He redeems trash into treasure. What was blatantly unfair can be repackaged by the Lord to give us a glimpse of the hope and the future that He promised us. God uses the trials of this world to make us robed and ready for the triumph to come when we move on up to our new address. It is part of God’s providence. It is part of God’s plan. It is part of God’s purpose. It is not evidence that God has forsaken you. Actually, it is clear evidence that God has not forsaken you.

When you enlist or are drafted into the armed forces; the very moment you sign up, you are officially a soldier. But while that may be true on paper, someone is going to be in charge of making it a reality in practice. You may be recognized as a soldier, but as a new recruit, you are a “SINO- A Soldier In Name Only!” The Drill Instructor that you are assigned to in boot camp has one job and that’s to turn you into the real deal! He will not be gentle, meek and mild. You might even assume that he doesn’t like you. He will use many hard times and difficult assignments to get you to live up to your name! Whatever it takes to get you battle ready is fair game.

There are no such people as “Christians In Name Only!” Jesus through the Holy Spirit will make your walk live up to the talk. The evidence that will define you as a follower of Jesus will be the spiritual fruits that are produced because of your holy roots. Our purpose is to bring glory to God in everything we say and do. God provides the equipment that we will need to stay focused on heaven no matter how much hell might be breaking loose in our midst. Earth no longer grades our report card. We have graduated to living by faith through grace and only in that realm does anything make sense.

While some call me crazy for what they have concluded to be me throwing my life away, I am so blessed that God doesn’t let any move or moment go to waste. Even when the hammering is happening via hellish and horrible means, I’ve got heaven protecting my back. The Lord purges and purifies us even as the world pounds us. And when you are tempted to run away from the Lord, that is the very season that you best be running right into His arms. The way to paradise is much more about becoming a warrior than it is just taking another quiet walk in the park.

During World War II, the ten Boom family of Holland harbored Jews in their home until the Gestapo arrested the elderly father and his two grown daughters, Corrie and Betsie.
Months later, after their father died, the sisters faced unimaginable cruelty in a concentration camp. Yet in the face of extreme darkness, Betsie, in her own dying days, felt compelled to continue sharing Christ’s love with others.

She remarked to Corrie that we “must tell them what we have learned here. We must tell them that there is no pit so deep that he is not deeper still. They will listen to us, Corrie, because we have been here.” These words, as recounted in Corrie’s book The Hiding Place are indeed moving and inspirational. But how can we know they are absolutely true? Because as believers in Jesus we have tasted life in the hole where it seemed like we were destined to dwell. When it appeared that we might have been forgotten by God, we experienced His presence and it gave us just what we needed to press on. What the world thought might knock us out as only made us more determined.

In August of 1984, Terri and I were ready to finally share the good news that she was pregnant again. Our first child was miscarried on April 24, 1983. On the very night we finally felt confident to tell people, was the very night that we saw that baby go to glory way earlier than we had ever expected. In the waiting room of Morristown Memorial Hospital, I faced another of what has become many crisis moments in my Christian walk. I wanted to scream and shout and knock somebody out. I begged God for answers and all He gave me was a verse from Deuteronomy 29:29 that let me know the secret things belonged to the Lord but He would let me in on all I would ever need to know. Since that time, Terri and I would have the honor to raise four of our children but we have five in heaven. Without the Lord, I’d be a distant memory. Because of the Lord, He still gets life out of this broken and busted up believer. And it is all because Jesus bore for us the weight of the world’s sin, willing to sink deeper into the pit of separation from God than we’ll ever comprehend, we are going to be raised up! Nothing will stop the momentum of God’s mighty hand!


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