Tag Archives: gospel

North Vietnam: Under The Cover of Light

Under The Cover of Light was a difficult book for me to read. I mean, Vietnam was my war. Guys from my graduating class of 1969 were signing-up for military service before they finished their senior year!

And yes, I will never forget the funerals that took place in our little town.

Vietnam War POW

Vietnam was up close and personal for me.

Yet as tough a “read” as this story was for me, I am so glad I read this book. There are eternal lessons for all of us in Jerry Curtis’s seven and a half years of horror as a POW in North Vietnam.

The book has lots of military jargon and that really slowed me down, but once I got past all of that, I began to identify with the timeless truths woven throughout this story. The transformation that our prayers bring. The unity forged in the fires of shared suffering.  The inability of anyone or anything to keep us separate from the keeping power of Christ’s love—even in a pit from hell dubbed—Briarpatch.

Jerry Curtis asked all the questions any of us ask when we find ourselves in circumstances beyond our control.

But, in one of his darkest moments a fellow POW reaches out to him and he realizes,

“…the sacrament through the walls led Jerry to understand that wrapped up in any explanation as to why believers might experience horrific circumstances in their lives was OPPORTUNITY—opportunity to fulfill a God-glorifying task, heightened by or as a direct result of the horrific event itself. The tragedy either brought others across a believer’s path who needed to receive God’s light FROM the believer or who needed to see God’s light THROUGH the believer. Then, once engaged, that person perhaps would become a light bearer too.

Jerry realized he had been a conduit for God’s glory to an unknown and unseen prisoner, and an eternal truth surfaced in his mind: the deeper the darkness, the more brilliant the light.”

I am so glad I read this heroic story. We need to be reminded that there are still heroes in this world.

Honestly, the accounts of torture are tough to get through, but the spiritual message from this man’s experience is one we can all grow and benefit from.

My thanks to Tyndale House Publishers for sending this complimentary copy in exchange for my review.

Under The Cover of Light is available on Amazon or at your other fine book retailers.

Heaven Bound, You’ll Want To Watch This One!

I just watched this great Christian Movie on a new DVD release from Fishflix called, HEAVEN BOUND. This flick is loads of fun, and definitely a family friendly film, kids and their parents will love.

I’ll admit I don’t usually watch Christian comedies, but okay I confess, I laughed out loud more than a few times!

Michael Joiner and Nancy Stafford play Ted and Josie Talbott, a down-n-out married couple so desperate for money, they make an ill-conceived plan to rob her wealthy boss. Unfortunately, they picked the wrong mansion. Her boss is a religious man who is equally desperate to “save a soul” before he goes to the Great Beyond. He traps them inside his house, and won’t let them go until they’ve made a decision to follow Jesus!

Heaven Bound spoofs Christians and the silly things we sometimes say and do in trying to bring the unbelieving world our Gospel message. Yeah the movie’s jokes are silly, but it’s all done in hilarious fun, and after some crazy antics this film gets down to the nitty-gritty of delivering an honest-to-goodness salvation message.

Chiefly, that we in the church just need to genuinely love folks, and not be afraid to show them how much we care.

Main cast  characters include Michael Joiner (The Grace Card) and Nancy Stafford (Matlock) and Danny Vinson (Walk The Line) with Victoria Jackson, Bonnie Johnson, and Will Ford also making appearances. Writers Marshal Younger and Torry Martin from (Adventures in Odyssey) deliver on laughs and a message I think parents will heartily approve of.

Movie Heaven Bound

The movie received Five Stars from Irrelevant Magazine as well as BEST COMEDY from ICVM, BEST FEATURE FILM from Delco Film Festival, and was an Official Selection of CHRISTIAN WORLDVIEW and KINGDOMWOOD. You can purchase the Heaven Bound DVD at Fishflix or on Amazon.

This film is rated Family Approved 12+ but I think the movie is also appropriate for families with children ages 4-10. It could set up a whole family dialog about the importance of honesty.

My thanks to Drake Films and Fishflix for sending me a complimentary DVD in exchange for my review.

 

Abandoned Faith: Enlightening & Hopeful!

Abandoned FaithWhen you first look, Abandoned Faith is not a book you expect to be brimming with hopeful strategies. Yet that is exactly what this book delivers! It provides lots of facts with correlating interviews and surveys on millennial’s and the many problems they face.

I don’t usually enjoy reading a book filled with lots of statistics. Yet as I read this one, I began to see how all that information could help parents and churches by giving them the “how  to” in developing an effective prayer and action strategy to reach these kids .

  • Abandoned Faith brings hope to parents  and churches who are despairing over what to do about their wayward millennial’s.
  • It encourages them to release all shame for past mistakes, surrendering their millennial’s to a God who is able to bring them back home to the Faith.
  • It invites them to stand on the irrevocable promises found in God’s Word because He loves millennial’s and He will be faithful to them.
  • And finally, it provides creative ideas for reaching out with real and tangible ways to provide help for our millennial’s.

I loved that!

It’s obvious the authors have a deep and abiding love for these young adults. I appreciated their frankness, and at times, bold and brutal honesty. The ways they addressed the failures of parents and the Church head on. Perhaps it is time for some much needed “tough love.” Today’s Church needs more effective ways of reaching out to our millennial adults. Ways that are relevant to their unique needs. I think this book provides a good starting point.

When interviewing Mark Hall, someone McFarland considers a front line expert on millennial’s, he asked Hall if he was optimistic that millennial’s will be the generation to bring revival to America. He responded, “[Christian] millennial’s love God and accept that Jesus is the Son of God. But they are not in love with the church. They will not give as cooperatively through the church budget as they will a particular cause. They are online givers for the most part but will give where they see ‘fruit.’ Can millennial’s bring revival back to America? If we continue to embrace the exclusivity of Christ, maintain authentic relationships, confront pluralism, and preach the gospel, then yes, spiritual renewal will come. Don’t expect a breakout event like the old crusades where sporting venues were packed out. Expect it to look more like the church in the book of Acts.”

The book of Acts? Wow! Now that statement gives me REAL hope!

My thanks to Focus on the Family and Tyndale House Publishers for sending me this complimentary copy and requesting my review. Abandoned Faith is available now on Amazon.

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The Warrior

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Who is this coming up from the wilderness, leaning upon her beloved? Song of Solomon 8:5

(verse 1)
Oh, Abba! What words can I write
To sing new songs of sweetest praise?
To tell of victories in the night
And how a victor’s shout is raised?

Who is this? Her brow so bloodied?
Coming out of desert grim?
What has happened to this warrior?
Who will hear her soldier’s hymn?

(chorus)

Soft she sings—as hard she leans
Her Savior only strength and shield
From darkest battle’s she has gleaned
Truth, that Freedom’s sword will yield,

Only when the battle’s over!
Only when the victory’s won!
A warrior never quits, or surrenders,
‘Til Father whispers, “It is done!”

(verse 2)

Not ’til then can sword be rested
Not ’til victory has been found
Not ’til soldiers metal tested
And enemy’s surrendered Holy ground!

She turns and lifts her sword now skyward
To honor her Father’s Holy Word
Remembering day when He first called her
Broken Vessel—so absurd!

(verse 3)
And now scarred lips and heart once broken
Gladly she lays at nail-scarred feet
Here to sing! Her Victor’s token!
Her song declares—enemy’s defeat!

She raises voice in song of praise
To tell of desert battles won!
Her sword surrendered at His feet
A Freedom Fighter she’s become!

 

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The Gift

Some things matter in this life.

Many things don’t.

Figuring out what does, and doesn’t, makes all the difference in how you finish.

Many of us have had a rough start.

We don’t have any control over that.

But it’s how you finish that will tell your real story.

How will you finish?

We each must decide for ourselves.

What matters; what we choose to care about, that will tell our final story.

Where we invest ourselves?

That will be our legacy.

I have seen people choose wisely and I have seen people choose foolishly. But, mostly? I have seen people choose much less than they could have had.

And that is the saddest part.

The closer you get to the finish line it’s not the what of life, or the where, but the Who in your life, that begins gathering great importance. If you don’t get The Who figured out, and by that I mean, your relationship with Jesus Christ? Trust me; the rest doesn’t amount to a worthless hill of beans.

The Bible asks all of us,

What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?
—Mark 8:36 NIV

This life is as uncertain as shifting sand in a hurricane.

Eternity?

That’s a very long time, to get it all wrong, living in the FOREVER of mistaken and dismal choices.

This world only gives you one certainty.

God gives to each person the right to choose where they will spend eternity.

No one makes this choice for you.

Only you get to make this decision.

The Bible says, you brought nothing into this world, and you will carry nothing out with you.

I have seen that for myself. Seen people leave as naked and as empty-handed as they arrived. We leave with only what we have sent ahead.

God holds out to you,

  • THE GIFT—of His grace through His Son’s shed blood on a cross for your brokenness and sin.
  • He offers you Heaven and an eternity of joy and purpose with Him.

You can’t have Heaven any other way.

And your choice?

Your choice will stand for all eternity.

Choose wisely caterpillar.

Reach out and take His Gift for you.

 

 

 

 

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My Good News

 

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“O Crier of Good News.” that’s you.

(Yes, it is.)

Nevermind your arguments. Besides, I’ve heard them all, and more than once!

Not today. No excuses. No reasonings. No fears. No.

Let’s just sit down together and for once quietly discuss this.

First, I know your fears—every single one.

Why discuss those again?

And, all your good reasons “why not”? I know those, too. Your so called failures and weaknesses? Yes, yes, we’ve talked about those, or should I say, you talked, I listened.

Good thing patience is the fruit of My Spirit.

Today, I want to talk, and I want you to listen. Come. Let’s reason together.

You are making this way too complicated.

When there’s good news with your friends, with yourself.

Even on The News good news is good news!

You are the “teller” SweetHeart, just the crier. Do you worry so much about what others will say when you share your other stories? And let’s talk about our stories; the things I’ve done for you; the way you’ve changed; your life has changed since I became a part of it.

Isn’t it Good News?

So I tell you, you are My Crier of Good News! This is who you are. Any other definition is making it way too complicated.

Don’t be afraid.

It’s Me. It’s you. I like our story!

 

 

 

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Who Me? Out On A Limb? (gulp!)

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I just finished up a bible study group called, “Open Your Bible.”

Mostly “the basics” but I enjoyed the coffee and fellowship time we had together at our local Starbucks.

(Which was the real point for me.)

I really didn’t think this study could hold many surprises, but I was wrong. The writer positively stunned me with her last “lesson” for us. It was so good I wanted to share her thought with you.

She said and I quote,

“… the truth I have come to believe is this: Sometimes, the very best thing a Christian can do is close her bible and do what it says.”
I spend a lot of time behind a desk reading my Bible, reading books about the Bible, and writing books about the Bible…So much time, in fact, that I missed an entire season of my close friend being so sick from Lyme disease that she couldn’t get out of bed.”
She goes on to say, “You guys, I was too busy reading my Bible to go visit my sick friend.”
She finished with this, “Sometimes I’m more comfortable living IN the pages of Scripture than living them OUT.”  (emphasis mine)

Oh, yeah… out there. In the real and messy world.

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Their bibles are where I think most of the Western Church lives out its spiritual life.

We like “the safety” our nice clean, air-conditioned, padded seats provide us.

I believe most of us are supremely content to “live” in the pages of our Bible, rather than out there, where the world is hostile to our beliefs.

Our fears and insecurities make us impotent.

What was it Jesus said about Salt

And Light?

Yet, we appear to do little but criticize and complain about a world intent on destroying itself.

We shake our heads in sad dismay, as we turn away, running back to the safety of our meetings, singing along with all the ones just like us.

Look, I know no one likes looking foolish. No one likes being ridiculed or rejected. Yet, I can’t help remembering a sermon I heard many years ago, and all the uncomfortable questions the guy delivering it asked me.

  • If not YOU—then, who?
  • If not HERE—then, where?
  • If not NOW—then, when?

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This is not a time for passing the buck! This is OUR time. We are His Church. We are charged with delivering His message. And lest any of us forget, we will give a full account of ourselves to Him someday—face to face.

So, yes, you might blow it.

Yes, you might get it wrong sometimes.

Yes, you will definitely encounter ridicule and rejection.

But, didn’t He tell us?

If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. John 15:18 KJV

Here’s another thought. You might fall flat on your face, but you just might score! You might get it right. And, “Oh my goodness!” you might just make a huge difference in someone else’s broken world!

Out on that breezy limb, that’s where the best fruit is…

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Just think of it! You… bearing fruit; becoming a harvester; for Him.

He’s given you gifts!

It’s time to share them with this big ‘ole muddy, bloody, hurting, mudball!

Yeah—you were born for THIS!

Time to rock out for the Kingdom…

Until the whole world hears!

 

 

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Beloved Prodigal… (Part 2 ~ Resume)

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A WOUND DRESSER’S RESUME


Can you believe it?

I actually asked God to make me a Wound Dresser.

Man!

What was I thinking?

My prayer seemed so spiritual at the time.

I smile and shake my head today—remembering. Little did I understand the mountain of “woundings” that would come with God’s “Yes.” And, this roller coaster… this assignment of His!

QUALIFICATIONS AND PREPARATIONS FOR A WOUNDRESSER:

You know that cute little question, “Got milk?”

Yeah, well my question to you goes like this:

  • “Got a painful past?” or maybe,
  • “Got a trail of tears and broken dreams?”
  • Or, “Got so much guilt and shame you hate the mess you see in the mirror?”

Congratulations, you too, have all the qualities and experience required to be called as a woundresser!

My “prep” for this Calling:

  • I asked Jesus into my heart at seven while at a Christian summer camp.
  • That was the year my mother “bailed” on our family, announcing that she would no longer be responsible for being a wife, or mother.
  • For me, childhood was over. At seven I began my job as the female caregiver of the family.
  • Five years earlier My mother had had an affair with the pastor of our church and gotten pregnant by him.
  • Our family put on a good public face, still went to church, but we were very BROKEN from that point on.
  • Mom simply stated to me years later, “No forgiveness ever asked for. No forgiveness was ever given.”
  • Dad regularly reminded all of us, he would also be “bailing” just as soon as the youngest was done with school.
  • Meanwhile, we lived with their daily battles, and constant threats of abandonment, from the only one, doing any parenting.
  • Like I said in an earlier devotional, I have lived with angry people all of my life. Angry was my normal.
  • Grew up in a fire-breathing church, where I heard about hell and the anger of God, but little about His love.
  • God is just like your angry father… okay, check.
  • Shook the hometown dust off my shoes and went down the prodigal road.
  • I believed God was “out there” somewhere—but He sure didn’t care what happened to me.
  • If my father, who I could see didn’t care, why would a God I couldn’t see care? Check.
  • Lived a wild life for ten years doing my own thing and I’ve got the scars to prove it!
  • There were several car crashes I miraculously walked away from.
  • Years of ongoing depression episodes that had me thinking suicide was my only option for relief.
  • (Yes, you’re right. Some drown. Some are rescued. I don’t know why. Two of my cousins took their own lives.)
  • I, too, have had years of prescriptions for tranquilizers and muscle relaxers looking for any relief.
  • More years trying to drown all the pain in alcohol. I felt like I was the one drowning. But the pain? Lived on.
  • I won’t even go into all the “joys” of living as a “liberated” woman. What a lie that was!
  • At twenty-eight, after another night of heavy drinking, I awoke to find I had passed out leaving candles burning and almost set my place on fire.
  • Realized I could have set the building on fire and hurt a lot of innocent people in the process.
  • This is where I hit the bottom.
  • I made a “private plan” to end my life and be “done” because I saw no hope—anywhere.
  • I grew up in “church”; saw the hypocrisy; wanted no part of that again.
  • I simply wanted my pain to end. If it meant ending me—so be it.

God, however, had another plan.

Like the Apostle Paul, I had my own Damascus Road encounter with God. (See Coram Deo)

He showed up.

I believe, He showed up because He saw one beleaguered girl, searching for love in all the wrong places.

He showed up because He knew I didn’t have a clue about who He really was.

And He showed up because He knew I wasn’t going to come to Him.

In short this prodigal had to be—fetched.

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I didn’t come to my senses like in the story of the prodigal son. [Luke 15] Nope.

In my story, I am like that lost sheep.

The one where Jesus tells of leaving the ninety-and-nine “good” sheep, to go out and rescue the one who has wandered away.

God had to come after me because, just like Paul, I was so sure I knew who God was.

And, just like His Apostle I was certain—God didn’t care where I was, or what I did. So He decided to show up that day and introduce Himself. He barged in on all my “certainty” and shook me up so profoundly, I couldn’t ignore Him anymore even though secretly? I think I still wanted to.

ed22d31b128a5597c4b7d22c5a215a34Instead, He tenderly took this battered old heart of mine and began to teach me about His deep and abiding LOVE for me.

And, wonder of wonders, He also began to reveal how He wanted to take all the broken pieces of my life and use them.

Use them? My life. (It still stuns me!) How could a Holy God use such an unholy mess like me? When I looked at my past I saw only a junkyard—full of broken, wrecked, dreams. But when God looked at me… He saw potential for His purposes.

His Love is mercy wrapped in GRACE—and it is SO undeserved.

And, so amazing!

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Three Doors

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There are three doors in this life.

Three ultimate choices. (And here’s the deal.) To not choose is to choose the brown door.

We’ll call that door: REJECT.

You can choose to reject everything the bible teaches. Everything a life given to Jesus Christ is.

(Yep, your choice.)

God gives this choice to each and every person.

You can reject Jesus Christ and all the bible teaches, walk away, take the brown door, and continue on down the road you’re on. (But there are consequences.) BIG brown ones, because the bible says that you will one day stand before a Holy God and give an answer to Him for your life. [Matt. 12:36] The choices are yours. Absolutely. The consequences are not. Those kick in automatically for every person who chooses the door REJECT; consequences carved in stone; eternal and unchangeable.de47479819ea8d1bc9abd0008ac2cbae

You are choosing eternal separation from everything Jesus Christ proclaimed He IS:

  • Jesus said, “…I am the light of the world.” [John 9:5]
  • Reject The Light of the World – you get eternal darkness. [2 Peter 2:4]
  • Jesus said, “Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” [John 7:38]
  • Reject His living water – you get eternal burning thirst. [Luke 16:24]
  • Jesus said, “Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” [John 17:3]
  • Reject God’s only offer of eternal life – and you get hell and all the consequences of eternal death. [Revelation 21:8, Matthew 25:46, Psalm 9:17, 2 Thessalonians 1:9, Matthew 13:50, Matthew 25:41]

The second door, the green door, we’ll call: PRODIGAL.

This door “looks good” in the beginning. This door says you can have it both ways. You can have it all. You can be a Christian, but you can live anyway you want. You get to captain your own boat!

It’s the door of compromise. Living with one foot in the world, playing by the world’s rules, and living with one foot in the Kingdom of God; fire insurance all paid up! This door should be labeled MISERY because that’s where it leads.

(I should know. I once took this door.)

Prodigals are people who think they know more than God does about what will make them happy. They believe they have the right to own their own lives, having it their own way.

And many times?

God obliges. Steps back and says, “Okay. Have it your way.”

He lets them, because He knows they are headed straight for the ditch, or pig pen! (Both lousy outcomes.) Outcomes that take them in a great wide circle, which brings them right back to the red door again.

This door we will call: REPENTANCE.

Good word repentance. It means to change your mind. Change your course. Go in a new direction. To choose a different life! There’s only one way to open this door to a new direction: Jesus Christ.

Jesus said:

 I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. John 10:9 NKJV

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Choose Him? Choose His gift for you? You get ALL He owns, and Heaven, too!

The Caterpillar’s Prayer:

Jesus, I believe You died and shed Your blood on that cross so that Your sacrifice could make me right again in the eyes of God. You are the right door for me. I am asking You, right now, to come into my heart; to rebuild my life. I don’t know much, but I know I need You, and I believe You are the answer I am seeking. Forgive me for all my wrong choices… for the mess I’ve made of my life. I need You LORD. Come into my broken heart and heal me. I’m asking you to. Give me a new beginning. Give this caterpillar wings! No more status quo.

I want Your living water flowing through me!

In Jesus Name I Ask, Amen.

 

The Choice Everyone Must Make

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So we come to a fork in the road.

“Which way from here?” you might ask.

Good question, but my answer to you is another question…

What do you want?

You can stay on the road you’re on. No surprises there. Your ruts are familiar. Comfortable… though perhaps more than a little, ummmmmmm… boring?

No changes required. No truths to confront. Just the same-sameness.

A life that is? Predictable. Tame. Safe?

(Sort of.)

Or, is there another road?

One that leads to the unknown. Nothing but questions. Risky. Lot’s, and lot’s, of changes required. Won’t be easy. (Might be painful.) Difficult—for sure!

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But what waits out there?

  • Challenges?
  • Adventure?
  • Your life’s purpose?
  • Ridiculous-Joy?

Wow… like taking the first leap off the high dive! Scary… but there’s that “something inside” that just has to know if it’s real. Right?

Two roads.

Two different journeys.

Which one will you choose?

I wonder…