11/1/11

10/27/11

REBELS WITH A CAUSE

Just wanting to share another one of Ron Hutchcraft's blog posts that gave me much to think about.
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Shades of the '60s. Lots of angry, discontented young people, occupying public places, trying to call attention to their cause. I think we've seen this before.

The '60s demonstrations were about a war, and they turned more violent. The 2011 crowds are occupying high-profile public areas - like Wall Street, for example - around the world. And with a different cause. They claim they're protesting about jobs, corporate greed, concentrated wealth and economic injustice. Only time will tell whether this will be a game-changer or a loud blip on the screen.

While the real goals and agenda of the "Occupy" demonstrators may be debatable, one thing isn't. Once again, the world is watching the power of young people fighting for a cause. We've seen it in passionate revolutions against dictators. And a lot of brokers and traders are seeing it every day on their way to work in the financial epicenters of the world.

But one day the world is going to be rocked by the greatest youth revolution in the history of the planet. But it won't be about bombs or billionaires. It will be about bringing back the King of all kings.

The Jewish prophet Joel said it first, then Simon Peter thought it was worth repeating at Pentecost - the day the Church was born. "'In the last days,' God says, 'I will pour out My Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams'" (Acts 2:17 ).

The most powerful Jesus-movement in history will happen just before He comes back. And apparently, young people will be the point of the spear! Their fervent young passions will be poured into the greatest Cause there is - saturating this planet with the Good News of Jesus Christ. They will help birth and lead a bold vision that will touch "all people." A young army, backed by older people who share the dream, committed to taking back what the enemy has stolen.

That may seem far-fetched if you're used to seeing church kids who are bored, apathetic and unengaged. But that's unnatural for young people. They're instinctively fired up, full of energy, restless to change things. So maybe some - or most - of this counterintuitive complacency is our fault. Maybe they're just rising to the level of our expectations. And we haven't expected much.

Today's Christian young people are overentertained and underchallenged. We give them bread and circuses instead of mobilizing them to make a difference. If you've known me for long, you know what I told my kids every day when they left for school. I challenged them to "Go MAD!" - Go Make A Difference. That's what being salt and light is all about. What do salt and light have in common? Not much - except for one thing. They both change their environment!

That's what our young people can be doing! Not just going to one youth event after another where we try to keep them entertained and interested. Not just parroting the same old four or five "can't go wrong" answers to every spiritual question. Not just more pizza and parties and playdates.

They need a mission. Something to do with all that Christian stuff they know. There are senior citizens whose lives could be illuminated by a teenager who listens to their stories and shows them love. There are kids who struggle in school who could be given a future by a young person who would take time to tutor and nurture them. There's that rescue mission downtown...those homeless people...those children in your own church who look up to a teenager and who need one who will show them Jesus. There's the Christian drama team or band or choir they could put together to move out into the community. Above all, there's a whole generation in your town who will go to hell unless someone figures out a way to attract them to Jesus. Their best hope? People just like them - except with Christ in their heart.

Have you ever seen what happens to a church young person on a missions trip? The guy who never prays is suddenly praying. The ones who never read their Bible are out on a rock every morning with their Bible open. The yawners who seem forever bored are suddenly asking questions. Why? Because they're doing something, not just learning something. Suddenly, they need what they know. Because it's not all about "me" anymore. It's all about some people who need me. Who need my Jesus. So a truly life-changing youth ministry won't just be meetings to go to - it will be a year-round missions trip! To meet needs all around us in our own area.

So before the wake-up call reaches our young people, we have to wake up first. To how we've failed to challenge them, to believe in them, to show them what God sees when He looks at them. "Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith, and in purity" (1 Timothy 4:12 ).

And who knows - we just might be recruiting warriors for that young army who will one day bring back the King.

9/27/11

STORM CLOUDS BREWING



Are they brewing or dispersing?  I'm not sure.  I thought they heralded a storm, but after a few sprinkles the sun came out. Any nephologists out there?


 


9/22/11

SCARY TIMES

Just wanted to share this very timely devotional by Ron Hutchcraft that I received by e-mail.  I hope you'll take the time to read it.

Scary Times - #6385

You know, I'm just not used to news reporters referencing the Book of Revelation. But, I've heard some of them doing it fairly recently. These aren't ordinary times. These people have been referring to statements in the Bible about things like earthquakes and disasters; references to what the Bible calls "the last days." I mean, you think about what's been going on in our world, and in nature, and in governments, and you can understand why people are starting to think Bible a little bit. You know, the Bible talks about these last days--the last days of human history--the days before the personal return of Jesus Christ who will change things forever.

I mean, within little more than a year, there's been a massive earthquake in Japan, Chile and New Zealand. I just saw on TV a map of the Pacific "Ring of Fire," which is the part of the world where most major quakes erupt. It shows Japan on the northwest corner, New Zealand on the southwest corner, Chile on the southeast corner. And then if you go up the West Coast of the United States, the final corner in the northeast. Well, you can guess what the headline was, "Is California next?"

I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You about "Scary Times."

Now of course, there's an additional concern in the aftermath of a natural disaster. We saw in Japan the specter of possible nuclear meltdowns, and that had people imagining some "apocalyptic" scenarios. The former Speaker of the House even called it "beyond biblical" what we were seeing. And then there's all those revolutions that are popping up on our news, it seems like almost daily sometimes. It seems like the whole world is shaking sometimes.

In our word for today from the Word of God, Jesus said that would happen. In Luke 21:11 He said "...there will be great earthquakes...in various places and fearful events." Of course there have been earthquakes for thousands of years, but apparently they're going to get bigger and more frequent before Jesus comes.

Jesus also said there would be "wars and revolutions" (Luke 21:11) and "nation (and that original word means ethnic groups) will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom...on the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity" (Luke 21:11). I couldn't help but think of that as I watch long-entrenched governments quaking with tidal waves of protests and revolution.

Then the Lord of the future, Jesus, went on to say that "...men will...be apprehensive of what is coming in the world" (Luke 21:11). There'll be upheaval in nature; there'll be upheaval in nations, and unrest in our souls. And then the drum roll! Here we go! "At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory" (Luke 21:11).

As the tsunami was racing across the Pacific, I saw this cable news banner: "People are urged to take urgent action to protect lives." Our potentially "apocalyptic" world seems to be calling us to one of two spiritual responses, or "urgent action." If you belong to Jesus, act urgently to tell people you love about Him - no more excuses, no more stalling. And if you don't have a personal relationship with Jesus, act urgently to give yourself to Him. That's how you'll be forever safe, no matter what shakes you, no matter what swamps you.

He is, after all, the Rescuer who died for your sins. He's the Conqueror who beat death on Easter Morning; He's alive. He can come into your life. And He's the King who will write the final chapter not only of human history, but of your history.

If you don't belong to Him, if there's never been a time you've given yourself to Him, let this be the day. These are urgent times. These are times to make sure you are anchored to the Lord of the future. Just tell Him, "Jesus, I'm done running my own life. I believe You died for my sin. I believe You're alive today and I'm Yours starting today."

Let me encourage you to go to our website and check out there some information we've put there. You can watch it, you can listen to it, and you can read it. But there are several forms where you can find out how to begin a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. It's YoursForLife.net.

Listen to this promise from the Bible, "Therefore we will not fear though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging...the Lord Almighty is with us" (Luke 21:11). You know, as they say in those earthquake drills, "Hold onto something heavy." That's Jesus.

5/26/11

CASE OF THE DISAPPEARING FUDGE



Last night, I went to the store to pick up some snacks for our trip to NJ tomorrow.  While there, my eyes lit upon a display of 100% Pure Pleasure Tradition St-Julie Cream Fudge.  I could not resist purchasing a package.


As soon as I got home, I tasted a piece.  And then, in an act very reminiscent of my very first post to this blog, I tasted another, and then another.  I'm hoping that by posting this confession, I'll feel empowered to keep my hands off the last five pieces.

4/10/11

UPWARD SUN RAYS?




I've never seen the sun's rays flowing upwards before, have you?  I   thought they only flowed downwards and sideways.  












4/7/11

SMOKE IN THE COCKPIT

Just finished reading this message on Ron Hutchcraft's blog this morning, and thought it well worth sharing.  It's called SMOKE IN THE COCKPIT: SOULS IN THE CABIN.

"If you've been flying commercially recently, it's probably best if you were too busy to watch the news. Let's see - there's the plane that suddenly had a hole in the roof - and the ones where they've found cracks since then. Oh yeah, and the plane with the bullet hole in it.

Today I heard about a flight where the cockpit began to fill with smoke, followed by a shutdown of the plane's electrical systems. Systems that power critical systems. Uh-oh. They played the cockpit recording of a pilot radioing the emergency to the tower. He sounded amazingly calm and unafraid. And he brought everyone in safely. I couldn't help but notice his description of the people he was carrying. He told the flight controller that "we have 106 souls on board." Not passengers. Souls.

I first heard that perspective when our family was flying across Alaska with a missionary pilot. As we sat on the runway, waiting to be cleared for takeoff, he said, "Six souls aboard." We weren't passengers. We were souls.

You know, after all is said and done, a "soul" is what we are It's wrapped in an "earth suit" that we need for our relatively brief journey on this planet. Like an astronaut with his "moon suit" - needed for a short time to survive in an environment that requires it But it's temporary. The real person's inside - even after they take off that suit they had to wear.

We spend so much time buffing, beautifying or gratifying our earth suit. And, too often, neglecting the real person inside. Our soul. The Bible's Creation account says, "The Lord God formed the man...and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living soul" (Genesis 1:7 ). Jesus revealed how much one soul is worth when He asked that haunting question, "What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his soul?" (Mark 8:36 ). Cruising for a little while. Lost for all eternity. Because you neglect the one part of you that will be around forever. Your soul.

I'm looking through God's glasses when I look at the people around me and see souls. Not just neighbors or coworkers or teammates, family members or friends. I want to look past the superficial "packaging" and see who they really are - they're ever-living, never-dying souls. People who are future inhabitants of eternity in a place God calls heaven or a place God calls hell.

And we have nothing more important to do with these few earth-years than to prepare for eternity. To make sure our soul is right with God. In fact, it's not. The Bible delivers the bad news that "the soul who sins is the one who will die" (Ezekiel 18:5 ). That's "die" as in being separated from God forever. The problem is that "all have sinned and fallen short of God's glory" (Romans 3:23 ). Even us religious folks - our soul is headed for an unthinkable future.

But God gave us good news that's "gooder" than the bad news. Speaking of Jesus, He says, "Everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins through His name" (Acts 10:43 ). Jesus did the dying for my sinning. So at the moment I put all my trust in Him, my soul is, in God's words, "saved." The alternative? As Jesus said, "losing my soul."

When you've turned the controls of your life over to Jesus, you're flying with the Pilot who will always bring you in safely. When Jesus counts the souls on board, I hope you'll be with Him."

3/25/11

MORE CLOUDS




Twice I pulled my car over this morning to take these shots.  I seem to have caught the click and shoot bug, and it's making me late for Bible study, prayer meetings, and all sorts of things.  What's a compulsive picture-taking great-granny like me supposed to do?  Keep driving and make it on time, or miss capturing a moment I might never be able to capture again?  It's becoming more and more of a dilemma.




3/15/11

INTERESTING CLOUDS


The clouds in my neck of the woods have been just amazing lately.   Maybe they always have been and I just never noticed before? Maybe not.  But  this batch, in particular, made me think of a verse in 1 Corinthians 13:12--"For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face.  Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known."


3/11/11

OH TO BE MORE LIKE JESUS...

...who when He was betrayed and Peter tried to defend him by striking the servant of the high priest and cutting off his ear said, "Put your sword in its place.  ...do you think that I cannot now pray to my Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels?  How then could the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must happen thus (Matthew 26:52-54)?"  And so "He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth (Isaiah 53:7)."

The incident that caused me such indignity and outrage today was minor by comparison, and yet if I had had even a fraction of a legion of angels at my disposal, I would surely have called them down and wreaked havoc in that store, whose name I will not mention.  Since I couldn't do that, I threatened to write a letter to the local paper.  I would have done anything in my power to inflict some pain.

Of course my outburst did nothing except get me all riled up.  The owner told me to go head and write the letter, and even gave me his name to include, which only enraged me further.  And my question as to whether community minded meant you are all gracious and smiley to customers until you get their money, and then you don't give two hoots about how they're going to get the merchandise out of the store didn't seem to phase him at all either.

I stomped out with one final retort. "I hope you sleep well tonight and like what you see when you look at your face in the mirror in the morning."  Then I raged all the way home, promising myself I would never set foot in that store again, and composing a letter in my head to the editor of the local paper, an article exposing them on FaceBook, and a post on our Mayor's wall, all intended to make the community aware of what truly lay in the hearts of  these supposedly civic-minded folks .

Of course, by the time I got home I had cooled down and decided to limit myself to just this one blog post in which I wouldn't mention any names.  I thought of an e-mail our Bible study teacher, Barb, had sent out to us this morning on humility and how Christ gave up the right to his rights as God when He became man and was willing to assume all the indignity, hurt, and rejection of the world.  He was the only man who ever lived who didn't have to die, and yet He did.  Instead of giving up or walking away from us, He willingly chose to suffer death on the cross to pay for our sins.  Then Barb ended her e-mail by asking us to consider this when we are tempted to withdraw from other Christians.

I wonder if that store owner is a Christian.  He surely didn't act like one.  But then, neither did I.  Just saying.

3/7/11

SINCERELY WRONG

"For false christs and false prophets will
rise and show great signs and wonders 
to deceive, if possible, even the elect."
(Matthew 24:24)

Growing up I desperately wanted to be accepted, to be one of the crowd.  I hated feeling 'different,' and as though I was always on the outside looking in.  I hated being made fun of and being picked last for teams.  I hated not having the kind of family everybody else seemed to have.

Later, in my teens, I dreamed of falling in love and getting married to someone I would grow old with.  I dreamed of having a solid, close-knit family that enjoyed each other's company and did things together.  And I did fall in love and get married and have a family, but my husband and I did not grow old together, and the many mistakes I made as a single mom pretty much killed any chance for the strong, bonded family I had yearned for.

After my husband passed away, I went through a time of searching for roots, for something that would make me feel grounded, that would give me a sense of purpose.  Long story short, I discovered New Age and the occult and felt as though I had finally come home. Astrology, metaphysics, the concept of karma and reincarnation,  opened up a whole new world that seemed to provide all the answers that had heretofore eluded me.  I had finally found my roots, and what I sincerely believed to be truth.  My days of searching were over.

I embraced these new ideologies with a passion and eventually became a numerologist.  As such, I started doing readings for folks and was even published, which brought me the acceptance I had so craved in my early years.  Now, all of a sudden, I was seen as an expert.  People were actually seeking me out to tell them what the future had in store.

How I got from there to here is not really what this post is about.  If you are interested in that part, you can check out the My Testimony link on my sidebar or click here.  This post is about how my vulnerability led to my believing a lie, and how that led to my misleading other people and getting them to buy into that lie too.  I was not consciously deceiving anyone, I was just sincerely wrong, and if I can reach even one person through this post who is living under the same kind of deception I was back then and help you see the light, then baring my soul like this will have been worthwhile.

If I were to see you headed towards some imminent danger, such as a gaping hole in the sidewalk ahead of you, it would be unconscionable of me not to warn you of what lay ahead, and I would not hesitate to do so--even yanking you aside if necessary.  So why the hesitation when the danger is spiritual, and therefore invisible?  I guess, in my case, it's fear of rejection, of being judged, all the things I struggled with at the beginning of my life, but I know that I can't let those things stop me any longer.  There's too much at stake.

Don't be deceived, as I was, into thinking that there are many paths to God, or that we get to Heaven by being 'good.'  Although we were created to have fellowship with God, Adam and Eve's sin caused us to be born into a fallen world.   The Bible tells us in Romans 3:23 that "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God," and "The wages of sin is death."  Because of sin there is a great gulf that separates us from God, and there is no way we can cross it through our own efforts.  There is only one path that can lead us to eternal life, and that is Jesus, "the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through [Him]" (John 14:6).

The good news is that "God so loved the world (you and me included) that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16).  In fact, God loves you so much that even if you were the only person on this Earth, He would still have sent Jesus to die for your sins so you could be set free.

This gift of salvation that is being handed to you can only be received by grace, through faith.  It cannot be earned by good works (Ephesians 2:8-9).  And as much as it is not God's will for anyone to perish, He will not impose His will on you or force you to accept it.  The choice is yours.

Jesus stands at the door of your heart, knocking and waiting for you to answer (Revelation 3:20).  I pray that you would open the door before it is too late, and accept His invitation to enter your life, forgive your sins, and make you a new creation.

3/3/11

DO YOU KNOW?





At first I thought these were unusual cloud formations I hadn't noticed before, but then I realized they were not clouds at all. They are long streaks of smoke(?) trailing behind planes that spend hours flying back and forth across the skies in my neck of the woods.

Back in the day when I was young, there were planes called skywriters that used to do that too, but they would write stuff in the sky--not just create thin white lines that start looking like clouds as they start to disperse. 
  
Do any of you know what the purpose of these planes might be today? It must be pretty boring doing nothing but draw line after line all day every day. But then who am I to say?





3/2/11

A CLOUDY FEBRUARY SUNDAY MORN

Thank goodness for digital cameras.  I think I'd be broke and in debt by now if I were still having to buy film.  ☺ 

 

 

 



2/25/11

A REMINDER TO ME (AND TO YOU TOO IF YOU NEED IT)

"I will praise You, for I am fearfully and
wonderfully made... Your eyes saw my
substance, being yet unformed,  And in
your book they all were written, The days
fashioned for me, When as yet there were
none of them." - (Psalm139:14a, 16)

This blog will be celebrating its four-year anniversary in March, and as the date approaches, I find myself wondering why I keep it alive.  This question has led to a steady stream of thoughts, mostly negative, which I know are not from the Lord.

There were several reasons I started blogging.  Some personal, but it was also my hope that in some way I could brighten at least one person's day, or perhaps offer encouragement to another.  Lately, though, there's this little voice in my head that keeps saying, "What's so special about you that makes you feel you have something to offer?  What do you have to say that hasn't already been said by someone else, and said better?"  At the same time, there's a warning light flashing off and on: BEWARE OF FALLING INTO THE TRAP OF COMPARING YOURSELF TO OTHERS.

To confirm above warning, I came upon this very timely devotional during my quiet time this morning.  It happens to be a January devotion, which I would not have seen on this particular February day, except that it's in a book, Streams in the Desert, I just purchased a few days ago and decided to start reading from the beginning.  No such thing as coincidence!

Anyway, this particular devotional tells the story of a king who goes into his garden one morning and finds everything withered and dying.  He starts asking the plants what the problem is. The oak says it doesn't want to live any more because it's not tall and beautiful like the pine tree, the pine tree is upset because it can't bear grapes like the grapevine, the grapevine bemoans the fact that that it doesn't produce fruit as large as the peaches on the peach tree, the geranium is disheartened because it's not tall and fragrant like the lilac, and so on it goes throughout the garden until the king gets to the little violet and and comments on how happy he is to see at least one flower bright and perky.  To which the violet responds, "I know I'm small, yet I thought if you wanted an oak or a pine or a peach tree or even a lilac, you would have planted one.  Since I knew you wanted a violet, I'm determined to be the best little violet I can be."

What a great reminder that God loves me just as I am, and that I'm a Divine original (which you are too) created for a special purpose that no one else can fulfill.  Summed up so beautifully in the little poem at the end of the devotional:

                                                    Others may do a greater work,
                                                         But you have your part to do;
                                                    And no one in all God's family
                                                         Can do it as well as you.

1/27/11

THUNDER SNOWSTORM

Thundersnow, the weatherman called it. Heavy snow falling fast and furious, weighing down the trees. I had never seen or heard anything like this before. Apparently there was lightening too, but since I wasn't looking out my window, I missed it.