Three Anchor Truths In the Middle of the Storm

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Lately I have found myself repeatedly singing,

In the eye of the storm, You remain in control
In the middle of the war, You guard my soul
You alone are the anchor, when my sails are torn
Your love surrounds me, in the eye of the storm.  (Ryan Stevenson)

The trials and hardships of life, others and mine, at times seem to be so burdensome, numerous, and troubling.

How do we press on in the eye of the storm?  How do we stay afloat?  As I pondered these things, three anchor truths came to mind that can be your stay in the middle of the storm.

#1 Christ suffered, bled and died for me and my sins.

The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many (Matthew 20:28).

Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God (1 Peter 3:18).

When I consider the pain of my trial, I must look to Christ Who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself (Hebrews 12:3) to save me from my greatest crisis.  What is my greatest crisis?  The answer: How do I save myself from going to hell because I am a sinner?  Since Jesus Christ took care of my greatest crisis and the tomb is empty, He will enable me to make it through any other crisis.

#2 Christ’s resurrection gives me blazing hope

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time (1 Peter 1:3-5).

Hope in the New Testament is a…

  • blessed hope (Titus 2:13)
  • joyful hope (1 Thess. 2:19; Rom. 12:12)
  • comforting hope (1Thess. 4:13-18)
  • hope of glory (Col. 1:27)
  • anchoring hope (Heb. 6:19)

“When a Christian truly understands the hope he has in Christ, it results in a steadfast sense of security and stability.” (Gene Getz) 

#3 Being in Christ promises me an awesome future!

For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:15-18)

Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 20:1-4)

Jesus, being God and having been in a boat in the eye of a storm (Mark 4:35-41), is the only true Anchor for life, trouble, sorrow, persecution, misunderstanding, questions, death, pain, sin, etc.

The Message of Good Friday

 

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Golgotha, the Place of the Skull
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.  For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.  More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation (Romans 5:6-11)

It’s About the Cross

When I Survey the Wondrous Cross

Want to know more about Christ’s death for you?

Been There . . . Sustained

 

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Memory flashback.  Aware that the potential was before them, the truth of her passing yesterday afternoon hit my heart with an aching pain of grief for them.

Yesterday, dear friends of ours held their 26-week-old daughter in their arms and watched as she slowly enter Heaven into the presence of the One Who had created her.  She, along with her twin sister, were born at 25 weeks and 2 days.

This family has been down this road before having seen their first son born at 22 weeks.  The only difference, after many, many weeks in the children’s hospital, he came home. Today he is an active, healthy little man . . . a trophy of God’s grace.  His younger brother was full-term and likewise is doing very well.

Why a memory flashback?  July 2, 2017, will mark 30 years that my wife and I held the precious lifeless body of our second daughter in our arms.  She was stillborn.  I so well remember her little rosy cheeks, head of hair, and tender lips.  My, how it hurt that night, just like I’m sure our friends hurt yesterday, and do today.

What sustains you in a time like this?  In spite of the tremendous grief and pain, these truths hold you together.  These were our rock in the midst of our storm.  These held us together as we departed from the hospital with an empty car seat, and then arrived home to see a vacant nursery.

Psalm 91:1-4       He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence. He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.

2 Samuel 12:22-23            And he said, While the child was yet alive, I fasted and wept: for I said, Who can tell whether God will be gracious to me, that the child may live? But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.

2 Corinthians 1:3               Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort.

Psalm 73:22-26, 28           Nevertheless I am continually with thee: thou hast holden me by my right hand. Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee. My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion forever. But it is good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in the Lord God, that I may declare all thy works.

Romans 8:26-31                Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?

Memory flashback?  Yes.  Tears, hurt, grief, and a hurting heart? Yes! Marvelous, unexplainable, sustaining grace?  YES!!!  A grand reunion awaits us and for our dear friends, too? YES!!!

 

Encouraging resources to offer further help:

Grief – Finding Hope in the Darkness

Blessings – Laura Story

I Will Rise

Dying to Self

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For seventeen Monday nights in-a-row which started January 1, men have been gathering at Boones Creek Bible Church for an intensive discipleship study entitled Men With a Mission.  The seventeen lessons are a serious call to commitment, dedication, and sacrifice with the goal of fulfilling 2 Timothy 2:2, And the things which thou hast heard from me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. These lessons, if applied, will develop godly men, build strong leaders, build godly homes, help with the basics of the Christian life, and accomplish Christ’s final command.

Our study last night, Dying to Self, drew us to the Word of God to discover what it means to die to self and the process of dying to self (Matt. 6:19-33; 8:18-22; 10:32-39; 16:24-28; Luke 9:23-26; 14:25-33; John 13:13-17; Romans 6; 12:1-3; Philippians 2; Colossians 3; Titus 2:14; Hebrews 12:1-2).

Below you will find a pointed, helpful application of what “dying to self” looks like. May I challenge you, in prayer, to look at each point, meditate on it, let the Holy Spirit speak to you, and see where you need, by the grace of God, to die to self. . . minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour, day-by-day. 

Dying to Self

When you are not forgiven,

or neglected,

or purposely set at naught,

and you sting and hurt

with the insult and the oversight,

but your heart is happy

because you count it worthy to suffer for Christ:

that is self-denial.

When your good is evil spoken of,

when your wishes are crossed,

your advice is disregarded,

your opinions are ridiculed,

you refuse to let anger rise in your heart

or even defend yourself,

you take it all in patient, loving silence:

that is dying to self.

When you lovingly and patiently bear any disorder,

any irregularity,

or any annoyance,

when you can stand face to face with waste

and folly

and extravagance

and spiritual insensitivity,

and endure it as Jesus endured it:

that is dying to self.

When you’re content with any food,

any offering,

any clothes,

any climate,

any society,

any solitude,

any interruption by the will of God:

that is dying to self.

When you can never care to refer to yourself in conversation,

or to record your own good works,

or itch after commendation,

when you can love to be unknown:

that is dying to self.

When you see your brother prosper

and have his needs met,

and honestly rejoice with him in spirit

and feel no envy,

nor question God,

while your own needs are far greater and unmet:

that is dying to self.

When you can receive correction and reproof

from one of less stature than yourself,

and humbly submit

inwardly as well as outwardly,

finding no rebellion or resentment rising in your heart:

that is dying to self.

If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself,
and take up his cross daily and follow Me.
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it.
For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world,
and loses or forfeits himself?
– Luke 9:23-25 –

Making Investments

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There she lay.  Her earthly labors were over.  Her bodily tent had been comfortably tucked inside a beautiful, stained wooden casket adorned with a regal spray of flowers.  Her days here were over, but her life in Heaven had only just begun for all eternity on Saturday (John 14:1-6; 2 Corinthians 5:7-8).

As her pastor approached the podium, he read from Proverbs 31 and then described her life by two words, one of which was, investments.

An investment is “an act of devoting time, effort, or energy to a particular undertaking with the expectation of a worthwhile result.”  This dear lady, 83 years old, had spent most of her making investments . . . into people.

She invested . . .

  • The gospel into lost souls of every walk of life not matter who they were, the color of their skin, or their lot in life.
  • Time and energy in prayer crying out to the Lord.
  • Time and effort in prayer crying out to the Lord for the salvation of her husband. God heard and answered her prayer!
  • The Word of God into her children, her grandchildren, and her Sunday School class by her teaching and her example.
  • In “throw aways,” people that others did not want to “touch.”
  • In her pastor by encouraging him and praying for him.

I am quickly reminded of what Jesus said as recorded in Mark 10:42-45, But Jesus called them to Himself and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.

Jesus came, died on the cross, and rose from the tomb to make an eternal, soul-saving investment in any one who would receive Him (John 1:12).  Barbara Chandler, a devout follower of Christ, made investments in others for the cause of Christ to lead others to Christ because Christ lived in her (Colossians 1:27).

I never knew her in this life. No matter, even in death, she made an investment in me.

What are your plans in 2017 to make investments in people, to make a difference other’s lives, to make those eternal investments?  I believe it’s called laying up treasures in heaven (Matthew 6:19-21)!

The Greatest Tragedy

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Almost every day, I scan through the headlines, Latest News and Watch Now sections of foxnews.com. Here are some of what made yesterday afternoon’s news:

  • An Execution: Hunt for criminal after sheriff’s deputy killed
  • At least 2 dead after magnitude-7.8 earthquake hits New Zealand
  • France remembers 130 killed in Paris attacks 1 year ago
  • Georgia prepares to execute man who killed ex-girlfriend 15 years ago
  • Pennsylvania inmate arrested in 2008 murder of New York teenager
  • 18-year-old charged with murder in road-rage beating
  • Father and son die in hiking accident near Northern California lake
  • Rocker Leon Russell dies in Nashville at 74
  • Four Americans killed by suicide bombing in Afghanistan

Wow! Deaths, killings, murders, . . . one tragedy after another.  The Word of God addresses these scenarios and gives us the root cause of them all.

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; Who can know it? (Jeremiah 17:9)

For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man. (Matthew 15:19-20a)

You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it. (John 8:44)

Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. (James 4:1-4)

The wages of sin is death. (Romans 6:23a)

And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment. (Hebrews 9:27).

How sad to see an innocent life snuffed out because of a selfish, wicked heart.  How painful to see the effects of sin! How awful to watch men and women play out the defilement of their hearts.  And we say, “How tragic!”  My friend, none of things in the aforementioned news headlines rank as the greatest tragedy.  And before I go any further, I am not heartless nor belittling the agony or pain described in those headlines.  Nevertheless, the greatest tragedy occurs every day on earth when a man or woman dies in their sins, rejecting the person of the Lord Jesus Christ Who paid for their sins, and therefore slips into eternity never again having the opportunity to accept the free-pardon of sin through Christ.  In short, the greatest tragedy today is when someone dies and goes to hell . . . and they do so by their own choosing.  Jesus Christ came to earth, was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, died on the cross for our sins as our substitute, and rose from the tomb to prove He is Who He said He was and is, and . . . He did it all for you. No one needs to die in his sins and go to hell, a place reserved for Satan and his demons, because God so loved you, my friend, that He gave His only Son, the only one like Him, to die in your place so you would not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16).

The greatest tragedy . . . an eternity in hell.

The greatest triumph . . . eternity in heaven.

If this post today has piqued your interest, has created within you a desire to know more, would you take 17 minutes to consider just Five Questions and their answers.

17 minutes vs. eternity?  Please take time to watch it now.

Better Be Ready!

A winter storm is coming!  Frigid temps, deep snow and ice are on their way.  Quick, get to the store!!  Gotta buy milk and bread! (Personally, I’ve never eaten a milk and bread sandwich, but when the snow flies, I guess it might be good.)  Nevertheless, I am intrigued at how glued we are to the forecast when we receive a winter storm warning.  That announcement has a controlling affect upon businesses, homes, churches, government, schools, highway crews and many others. Look at Facebook!  Try to shop in the grocery store.

How many times in your life have you heard, “There’s a winter storm warning in effect for . . . ,” or something similar?  And when you do, what is your response to such a predicted event?  What kind of planning begins to take place in your life?  Do you shrug your shoulders, run to the grocery story, look up in the skies, check your phone updates, begin to think of “Plan B,” and/or complain?

Seriously, there are two events that should grab our attention every day of our lives.  We were reminded of these in our “I Love Missions” Conference this past weekend.

1)  The promised return of Christ (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).

2)  The greatest tragedy of this life—a lost soul going to hell (Hebrews 9:27)

This most blessed event and the most tragic event could occur today!!!  What’s your response?  Are you moved more by the prediction of a weather forecast or the promises in God’s Word?  Something more eventful than a winter storm is coming.  Better be ready!

If you have never received Christ as your personal Savior and Lord; if you are not sure that heaven is your home, please go to the following link: The Exchange Message. Scroll down the page and watch the video entitled, “You Can Have a Relationship with God.”

If you are interested in what Scripture says about death and hell, please check out this brief biblical study found here: What Does the Bible Say About Hell

The Making of a Man: Your Obituary

What will be written about you when you die?

Even though I am heavily involved in the use of electronic devices, the internet, and social media, I still like to read the newspaper.  In yesterday’s edition of our local paper, two articles caught my attention.  One was the obituary of a decorated veteran who served in World War II and the Korean Conflict. As I read about his military accomplishments and grit to overcome being severely wounded in combat, my heart swelled with patriotic pride!  And then near the end of this long obituary was this sentence, “He was a member of __________________ Church.”

From there, I turned to the Sports section and read the lengthy article concerning the passing of the legendary basketball coach, Dean Smith. I remember watching him coach the Tar Heels all the way back to the days of Charlie Scott, Mitch Kupchak, Phil Ford, George Karl, Bob McAdoo, and Tommy LeGarde and the famous “Four-Corners Offense.”  There is no doubt that Coach Smith was one of the best to ever coach basketball.  As I read on into the article, I came upon some information that really grieved my heart.  His life was also given to support vocally and financially some causes that are not biblical, even though he was a member of a Baptist church.

As I look in the mirror today, I know that one day, if Christ does not return before, I will die and an obituary will be written about me.  I have blemishes in my life.  How thankful I am for 1 John 1:7-9 that reminds me, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. I need the power of the Gospel every day; I am a man in desperate need of grace each day.   But today, I must be living with the finish line in mind, the Bema (2 Corinthians 5:10), and the resolve of Paul who said, For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain (Philippians 1:21).

What will be written in your obituary?  The purpose of this whole post today is wrapped up in the words of missionary statesmen, C.T. Studd:

“Two little lines I heard one day,
Traveling along life’s busy way;
Bringing conviction to my heart,
And from my mind would not depart;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, yes only one,
Soon will its fleeting hours be done;
Then, in ‘that day’ my Lord to meet,
And stand before His Judgment seat;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

 

Heavenly Sunshine!

Two years ago today at 6:30 p.m. my mother took her last earthly breath and entered into the celestial presence of her Savior and Lord!  My heart rejoices as she, my dad, my daughter and many, many other loved ones dwell in the land of heavenly, eternal sunshine!

Mom began playing the piano at the age of six.  She listened to the radio broadcast of the Old Fashioned Revival Hour and learned the style of pianist Rudy Atwood.  As a result, she played with the same gusto and passion as her unseen teacher on the radio until the last time she struck a chord in November 2012.  Many, many Sundays, Dad would open their church services with the chorus, “Heavenly Sunshine.” I can hear it now. Here’s a link of the OFRH Choir and Rudy Atwood playing the piano.   Great memories.  Great parents.  To God be the glory!!

Heavenly Sunshine

Genuine Freedom

My dad had many sayings throughout his lifetime that were oft repeated.  His word-picture definition of freedom was, “I have the freedom to walk down the street and swing my arms all I want, but if I happen to hit someone, my freedom ends where his nose begins.”  Everyone wants freedom.  Toddlers want to be free to whine and cry when then don’t get their way.  Grade-schoolers want their freedom to play rather than complete their school work.  Teens long for the day they will be out from under their parent’s authority, and in their minds, to be free at last!

Truth is, freedom comes by death—death to self.  We think freedom comes when we get our own way.  That is never the case.  A toddler, a grade-schooler, a teen or anyone enjoys freedom when they die to self and come under authority placed over them.

Philippians 2:6-11 describes the ultimate, supreme display of freedom produced by death when Jesus Christ, under His Father’s authority, died for the sins of all men to ransom them for absolute, true freedom.

Who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be used for His own advantage. Instead He emptied Himself by assuming the form of a slave, taking on the likeness of men. And when He had come as a man in His external form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death—even to death on a cross. For this reason God highly exalted Him and gave Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow—of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth—and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (HCS)

Christ left the glories of Heaven to take on the form of man, live a sinless life, respond perfectly to all the sinful acts of man against Him, and then be obedient to God the Father by dying the worst of deaths which included bearing our sins and enduring the forsaking of His Father.  Christ did all this for every man to have the opportunity to be truly, genuinely set free.  He died that we might live.

Today, I am enjoying freedom in the United States of America due to the thousands who have given their lives.  I am enjoying freedom due to all those who set self aside to serve for a greater cause.  For all who have or are currently serving in our military, you have died to self to maintain or give us our freedom.  From my heart, I gladly and with utmost appreciation say, “Thank you!”  And, what thrills my patriotic heart so much is to say, “Thanks, Dad, for you years in the Army, in Japan and Korea, and for serving in the Korean War.  Also, a special thanks to my father-in-law who likewise served in the Army.  Two heroes.”

Being that I have been a born again child of God since the age of five, I understand true freedom because Truth has set me free from sin, death and hell.

John 8:31-36 Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can You say, ‘You will be made free’?”Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.

Romans 3:23-25  For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed.

Therefore, I am most grateful for Christ’s death on the cross.  But His life was not left on the battlefield of sin.  He went into the tomb of death, conquered its grisly hold, led captivity captive and came out victorious!   Now He lives to set men from free from sin, death and hell.  “Thank You, Jesus, for dying so that we could be made eternally free!”

For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.  For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.  (Romans 5:6-11)

For freedom to be maintained in America, soldiers must continue to die to self and life.  Christ died once.  It is finished (John 19:30).  He now lives forever, never to die again, to give every man who receives Him genuine, eternal freedom.