“Oh how much He cared for me”

My good friend, Bobby Awtrey, minister with the Light House Baptist Church in Savannah, Georgia sent out this article.

“It is not difficult to sing when all is going well.  But often God gives a special song to one of his hurting children during the night times of their life.  Believers find new joys in their nights of sorrow and despair, and they discover a greater closeness with their Lord during times of deep need.  The Apostle John wrote  the book of Revelation while on the barren island of Patmos.  John Bunyan completed the classic Pilgrim’s Progress while in the Bedford jail.  Beethoven composed his immortal 9th Symphony while totally deaf.  Fanny Crosby once remarked, “If I had not lost my sight, I could never have written all the hymns God gave me.”

Charles Weigle’s song, “No One Ever Cared for Me Like Jesus,”  was the product of one of the darkest periods of his life.  Weigle spent most of his life as an itinerant evangelist and gospel songwriter. One day after returning home from an evangelistic crusade, he found a note left by his wife of many years.  The note said she had had enough of an evangelist’s life.  She was leaving him.  Weigle later said that he became so despondent during the next several years that there were several times when he contemplated suicide.  There was the terrible despair that no one really cared for him anymore.  Gradually his spiritual faith was restored, and he once again became active in the Christian ministry. Soon he felt compelled to write a song that would be a summary of his past tragic experience.  From a heart that had been broken came these choice words that God gave to Charles Weigle:

“I would love to tell you what I think of Jesus since I found in Him a friend so strong and true;  I would tell you how He changed my life completely -He did something that no other friend could do-All my life was full of sin when Jesus found me; all my heart was full of misery and woe;  Jesus placed His strong and loving arms around me, and He led me in the way I ought to go…Ev’ry day He comes to me with new assurance, more and more I understand His words of love; but I’ll never know just why He came to save me, till some day I see His blessed face above…

No one ever cared for me like Jesus; there’s no other friend so kind as He; no one else could take the sin and darkness from me–O how much He cared for me.”

GOD DID

When our son, Dan, was just a young boy, his mother took him to the store to buy a bathing suit. The suit was purchased and when they got home, Jo noticed a tear in the cloth of the swimming suit. She was upset because she didn’t have time to return the suit nor to mend it.  At the meal time, Jo said, ” that she wished she had noticed the hole before she bought the suit.”  Dan said, “Well mom, you can’t expect to buy everything perfect.”

Jo answered, “No, but you don’t expect to pay the full price for something that isn’t perfect.”   Dan’s face got serious and then he said, “GOD DID.”

Listen to this scripture: “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”   Romans 5:6-8

The PERFECT died for the imperfect.  The GODLY for the ungodly.  The SINLESS for the sinful. God so loved us that He gave His Son for us that we might have abundant and eternal life.

We ought to be thinking, I just can’t believe that. It is too good to be true. It is indeed a wonder. But, that is the GOOD NEWS. God loved His creation so much that He offered His Son to take our place in paying the penalty for our sin which is eternal death, separation from the presence of God. He wants us to be with Him. He is a Father and desires the best for His children. Accept His love and express your love for Him. Be a part of the family of God through accepting and living for Jesus.

FINALLY HOME

This song was sung by our Praise Team Homecoming Sunday at  Lester Road Christian Church.  It thrilled my soul.  So meaningful that I want you to read it.  Every Christian will find this at the end of our journey here in this world.

“Engulfed by the terror of tempestuous sea, unknown waves before you roll;  at the end of doubt and peril is eternity, though fear and conflict seize your soul.

Just think of stepping on shore nd finding it Heaven.   Of touching a hand and finding it God’s. Of breathing new air and finding it celestial.  Of waking up in glory and finding it home.

When surrounded by the blackness of the darkest night.  O how lonely death can be:  at the end of this long tunnel is a shining light, for death is swallowed up in Victory.

Just think of stepping on shore and finding it Heaven.  Of touching a hand and finding it God’s. Of breathing new air and finding it celestial.  Of waking up and finding it home.”

Composed by Don Wyrtzen

My favorite scripture verse to go along with this is found in John 14: 1- 3 as Jesus speaks:

“Do not let your heart be troubled,  Trust in God, trust also in Me.  In My Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you.  I am going there to prepare a place for you.                                         And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with Me that you also may be where I am.”                                                                                                                                                                     New International Version

WHAT DOES LOVE DO?

“It’s love, it’s love, that makes the world go round.” “What the world needs now, is love.” These were popular songs a few years back. And, how correct they are. The Apostle Paul wrote in the 13th chapter of First Corinthians, “without love you are nothing (zero)”

Since love is absolutely critical in our living, we need to ask, “What does love do?”

First of all, LOVE CARES.
It has been said, “People don’t care how much we know, until they know how much we care.  Generally, the church prides itself on doctrine but the non-Christian could care less. They want to see and feel our love. Love is concerned about what is happening in people’s lives. Love is not judgmental. Love neither approves nor condemns. That is left up to God.

Secondly, LOVE LISTENS.
Listening to another human being as to what they think and how they feel is genuinely loving that person. Love does not dictate to another person as to what they should think. Truth cannot be used as a club to beat people into submission. We need to find out where people are in their thinking and lead them from there to what they can become.

Thirdly, LOVE PLACES PROPER RESPONSIBILITY.
Each person must live their own life. Whose else can they live? More crudely, it can be put, “Every tub has to sit on it’s own bottom.” We must learn to hold people with open palms. Like holding a small bird in your hand. If you leave your hand flat the bird is apt to stay. But, when you commence to close the hand, wrap the fingers around the bird, it will feel trapped and try to fly away. So, it is with people. People must hear the Word of God but whether they accept or reject is up to them. We must allow them their freedom of choice, God does.

Our task is to plant the seed of God which is His Word. We must water and cultivate that truth but it is up to God to give the increase. Our responsibility is not to save souls. Our task is to speak the truth with love and God by His Spirit will do the saving, if man responds. Salvation has to be an individual response. God judges people out of motives, intents, struggles of the heart.
David Rupert wrote, “Christians are to be first responders to a hurting world. Our medicine is mercy. The greatest tool in our bag is compassion.”

LOVE PEOPLE INTO THE KINGDOM OF GOD THROUGH THE TRUTH OF GOD.

Story to tell to the Nations

“We’ve a story to tell to the nations, that shall turn their hearts to the right.
A story of truth and mercy. A story of peace and light. A story of peace and light.
We’ve a message to give to the Nations, that the Lord who reigns up above.
Has sent us His Son to save us and show us that God is love.
And show us that God is love.”

Remember, Alfie? He was a man who could not do any right. Everything he touched, he messed up. One day, he tried to commit suicide and he couldn’t do that right. He ended up in the hospital. A friend visited him and asked, “Alfie, why did you try to kill yourself?” Alfie said, “Because there is no good news, if there was good news, someone would have come running to tell me.”

Now, I want to tell you that there is GOOD NEWS. It is God’s love story. How He went down into the shadow of death; there to labor, suffer, in order to give life to mankind. The Good News is that
God so loved the world that He gave His only Son to save the world of people. The Good News is defined as the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. It is not our subjective experiences but the objective truth of God. The Scripture that we preach/teach/tell is God’s power unto salvation. It is through the foolishness of preaching, not foolish preaching, that saves those who believe.

Our task is to plant the seed of God which is His Word. We must water and cultivate that truth but it is God who gives the increase. Our responsibility is not to save souls. Ours is to speak the truth with love and God by His spirit will do the saving, if man responds. Salvation is an individual response. God judges people out of motives, intents, struggles of the heart.

Understand that the message to the world is not come to us, come to our doctrines, come to our church, come to our Christ. Rather, the message is COME, GO WITH US TO Christ, we too are weak and need strength, we too are ignorant and need truth, we too are sinful and need forgiveness. COME, GO WITH US TO CHRIST. Out of hearts of love, declare and demonstrate God’s love for everyone.

“Til the Storm Passes By”

“In the dark of the midnight I have often hid my face
While the storm howls above me, and there’s no hiding place
‘Mid the crash of the thunder, Precious LORD, hear my cry
Keep me safe till the storm passes by

Many times Satan whispered, ‘There’s no need to try
For there’s no end of sorrow, there’s no hope by and by’
But I know You are with me, and tomorrow I’ll rise
Where the storms never again will darken the skies

Till the storm passes over, till the thunder sounds no more
Till the clouds roll forever from the sky
Hold us fast, let us stand, in the hollow of Your hand . .
Keep us safe till the storm passes by.” Written by Mosie Lister

What a meaningful song in keeping with what most of us have just gone through. Erma played havoc with all the land it passed over. Florida got the blunt of the storm. We in Georgia got a hard Tropical storm with rain and wind. The Florida Keys have thousands in desperate needs. Some described the Keys as “Misery in Paradise.” 25% of the Florida Keys have houses destroyed. People are saying, “We have lost everything.” At least 48 people have died as a result of the storm, including at least 13 in the continental United States. All of us have prayed earnestly for the safety of all the folks in the path of the storm.

May I share some thoughts concerning this situation. What was my prayer? I did not ask that God intervene in changing the course of the storm. I believe that the storm is a matter of natural laws. It follows it own weather pattern. As I told someone, don’t pray for the storm to go away, you just get out of its way. People were given a choice to stay or leave, many did evacuate while others rode out the storm. It was a personal decision. I do not believe that God caused the storm. However, I do believe that the storm was a challenge to our faith. We did what we felt best and trusted God to keep us safe or take us home to be with Him. I caution you to not feel that God has blessed you more because you didn’t get the full fury of the storm when others did.

I think of what Jesus said in Luke the 13th chapter verses one through 5. Jesus said, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no. But unless YOU repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them – do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem. I tell you, no. But unless you repent, you too will all perish.” Tragedy and suffering is not from God. We must not think that we are better than anyone else just because they suffer more than we. God is not partial. He loves everyone equally. We must have empathy (feel with) all people in need. This world will have its storms and we will suffer from them but the day is coming when the storms will pass and we will be safely home with our Heavenly Father.

Harvey

What about Irma? Max Lucado wrote about “Harvey”, I wonder what he will have to say about Irma? Our prayers go out for the safety of all the people in the way of the storm. His words are good for any storm.

Just a portion of an article by Max Lucado concerning the terrible storm, “Harvey.”

“The whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time” (Romans 8:19-22 NIV).
The creation is third trimester heavy. Birth pangs must occur before a new birth. During the birth pangs the mother keeps focused on the end result: the moment that she will hold her beautiful baby in her arms. She knows that birth pangs don’t last forever; indeed, the more intense the pangs, the nearer the delivery.

Our world is experiencing a rash of birth pangs these days. It is not to me to declare the day the Lord will return. But we know this much: it’s the beginning of the end and the beginning of new beginnings. Calamities and catastrophes must occur before the birth of the new world. In the meantime- practice what they teach in Lamaze classes- take some deep breaths and hold the hand of the one who loves you.
Jesus made this point in one of his final messages. He referred to the increased frequency of disasters and then said: “See to it that you are not alarmed” (Matthew 24:6 NIV). Jesus chose a stout term for “alarmed” that he used on no other occasion. It means, “to wail, to cry aloud” as if Jesus counseled the disciple: “Don’t freak out when bad stuff happens.”
Jesus promised that bad things would occur. But they won’t occur forever.

What rescuers are doing for Houstonians, God will do for you. He has entered your world. He has dropped a rope into your sin-swamped life. He will rescue, you simply need to do what many stranded people are doing–let him lift you out.

Listen to the lessons of Harvey. Let the storm remind you of the value of relationships, people and, most of all, the promise of heaven. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, I attended a prayer service at a downtown church. A local minister gave a message on this verse: “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord” (Genesis 6:8 NKJV).
The minister helped us see all the things Noah could not find because of the flood. He could not find his neighborhood. He could not find his house. He could not find the comforts of home or the people down the street–there was much he could not find. But what he could find made all the difference. Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.
Noah found grace in the eyes of God. If you have everything and no grace, you have nothing. If you have nothing but grace, you have everything.”

©Max Lucado, August 29, 2017

What Harvey Can Teach Us

SOMEWHERE OVER THE RAINBOW

“Somewhere over the rainbow, way up high there’s a land that I’ve heard of once in a lullaby.
Somewhere over the rainbow, sky’s are blue and the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true.
Someday I’ll wish upon a star and wake where the clouds are far behind me, where troubles melt like lemon drops away above the chimney tops, that’s where you’ll find me.
Somewhere over the rainbow bluebirds fly, birds fly over the rainbow, why, then oh why, can’t I?”

This song was sung by Judy Garland who played the part of Dorothy in the movie “The Wizard of Oz.” However, unlike Dorothy, Judy in real life never got over the rainbow.
She went through five husbands and in June of 1969, at the age of forty seven, Judy was found dead in her London home.

The question, we need to ask, is there really a land somewhere over the rainbow that Judy heard of once in a lullaby?

When we think of rainbow, we must remember God’s promise to Noah after the flood.  The flood came because of the wickedness of mankind.  It grieved God that He had ever made man.  God’s heart was filled with pain. So, the terrible flood wiped out mankind from the face of the earth.  This was the judgment of God. Isn’t it wonderful that one man found favor in the eyes of the Lord and that man was Noah?  God had Noah build an ark into which he and his family would enter and ride out the flood.   The waters covered the earth for a hundred and fifty days.  After the water had gone down, Noah and his family came out of the ark along with all of the animals.  The fist thing Noah did was build an altar, worship God.  God was pleased and said, “Never again will I curse the ground because of man, even though every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done.” Never by a flood will mankind be destroyed. Genesis 8:21  The sign of God’s promise is the RAINBOW.

The beautiful rainbow is a reminder to God and to us of God’s mercy and faithfulness.  It gives us hope, peace after the storm.  Some rain may fall into our lives but it need not destroy us.

Paul writes in First Thessalonians 1:10 “…wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead–Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.”  Judgment will come but through faith in Christ, we will be saved, “somewhere over the rainbow.”.

 

 

 

Pressing On

There is no short cut to greatness.  Days and years must be spent in purposeful action.  The renowned pianist, Paderewski, practiced 8 hours each day when on tour. Madame Guiomar Novaes, one of the great living pianists, spent two days before a concert in practice for that one performance.  Baseball’s matchless, Ty Cobb practiced base running and sliding until his hips were raw and his uniform stained with his own blood. Winston Churchill, whose speeches are classics, prepared each address with the utmost care. Someone remarked with truth, “Sir Winston has spent most of his life working on his impromptu speeches.”

Being a Christian is a growth process.  We never become a journeyman, a skilled worker.  Christians remain lifelong apprentices, learners.  This is what Kierkegard meant when he said his vocation was becoming a Christian. He felt that no one ever was a Christian but some were on their way to become such.

This understanding is important because it warns us against the arrogance of thinking we “possess” Christ. We do not possess Christ, Christ “possesses” us. Sometimes, we are tempted to congratulate ourselves on our virtues and on the absence of vices in our character. But, this can only be done by closing our eyes to our own incompleteness. None of us have attained unto Christ nor arrived in our Christian life.  The whole business of living is to grow in our relationship with God.   How are you doing?

Listen to Paul as he wrote in Philippians 3: 13-14:  Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it.  But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

Keep on keeping on becoming a Christian, Christ like.

 

Courage to Speak..

Article by Kay Moll who is a writer and speaker living in Mason, Ohio.

“God still calls people to speak against evil and injustice.  The message is still not popular.  Audiences are still hostile. And it still requires a tremendous amount of courage to speak.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer condemned evil and injustice in Nazi Germany, knowing that he was putting himself in grave danger.  He could have avoided it.  In 1939 he came to America and could have stayed until the war was over.   But Bonhoeffer believed that he had to return to Germany.  He believed that he would not have the right to participate in the reconstruction of Christian life in Germany after the war if he did not share the trials with the people.  He knew that he had to speak out and believed he could not do so from a place of security.

Bonhoeffer returned.  He condemned the actions of Hitler against the Jews, against the poor, against all those who had no voice.  He was arrested on April 5, 1943, and was executed on April 9, 1945 – just two weeks before Americans liberated the camp where ha had been held and one month before Nazi Germany capitulated.

Bonhoeffer wrote:  “Who stands fast?  Only the man whose final standard is not his reason, his principles, his conscience, his freedom, or his virtue, but who is ready to sacrifice all this when he is called to obedient and responsible action in faith and in exclusive allegiance to God — the responsible man, who tries to make his whole life an answer to the question and call of God.”

Evil and injustice are all too evident in the world today.  As he has in the past, God will still work through the efforts of men and women who see the injustice and have the courage to speak and the courage to act.”

Edmund Burke wrote: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”