Three Anchor Truths In the Middle of the Storm

Sub02062.jpg

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 Greatest Tragedy

greatest-tragedy
slideshare.net

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.

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.

Wow!!

Recently, I have posted about the Home-going of pastor friend, Tom Craig, from Oak Ridge, TN.  One of his faithful church members and a former college classmate of mine, Brad Zockoll, has written some excellent posts on his own blog, zockollthoughts, that are a must share.  Today, here’s a post that is a true illustration of Psalm116:15, and as for me, eclipses some of the recent books that have been written.  Thanks, Brad, for sharing your heart and being intimate with all of us about something so precious, yet teaching us so much about the precious side of a believer’s death.

I had a conversation with Kim Craig, Tom’s wife, about the last days of our dear pastor’s life.  She had mentioned that he saw some wonderful things, and I received her permission to write about it and share it with you:

It was the last week of Tom’s life.   He would be gone by Wednesday evening.

The hospital room was quiet.  Tom, alone with his wife Kim, lay quietly gazing at the ceiling, fighting the pain and weakness brought on by the crush of pancreatic cancer.

1dHe was tired.  His energy was gone.  But he was alert… and Kim noticed that his eyes were fixed on a scene…

Tom stared at the ceiling, looking intently at something.

Kim, seated on the bed beside him, stroked his hair, “What is it, Tom? What do you see?”

His voice was weak but audible.  “Angels.”

Kim leaned closer.  Her heart skipped a beat.  “Angels?”

He nodded his head. Yes.

“How many of them are there?”

Tom moved his lips quietly as he lifted his two hands, counting his fingers softly.  He turned and gave a definitive answer:  “Twelve.”

Kim leaned in closer.  “What do they look like?” “Do they look like female angels?”

Tom, unable to talk freely, shook his head no.

“Are they male angels?”

He clearly nodded his head yes, then lay back exhausted, but enthusiastic.  Kim realized his fatigue, but was struck by his determination in what he was witnessing. No doubt about it; Tom knew he was seeing angels.

He lay quiet for a time, perking up upon greeting numerous friends and family as they stopped by, occasionally attempting to converse, but growing frustrated that he did not have the energy to utter more than a few words at a time.  However, he didn’t give up; three words he was able communicate: “I love you.”

Later on, Kim and daughter Allie told me, he grew excited and animated.  When they leaned in to hear, he exclaimed that he saw something new.  Something almost indescribable.  He saw colors.  New colors.   Incredible hues and shades. Colors not realized on this earth.  Possibly the colors of heaven?  Tom was adamant that they were unseen by him before.  Kim and the family pondered this.

He spent his last day with family around him, quietly adding a word here and there as he was able.  But then he’d stop and look at the ceiling.  His eyes were open, gazing above the group.  It was a different kind of look, as if … well, as if he were listening for something.  It became apparent that he was indeed hearing something, and he let them know through gesturing that this was something different …

“Do you hear … music?” Kim asked, drawing near as he nodded his head yes.

“What kind of music, Tom?”

“Beautiful,” he whispered.

“Are you familiar with it?  Do you recognize the song?” Kim asked quietly.

“No,” he replied.

“You’ve never heard it before? Is it a new song?”

“Yes,” he replied firmly.

And then another visit by the angels…

Tom saw the angels, as family members stood about him.  “How many do you see, Tom?”  He was weaker but he was determined to let them know.  Once again he counted with his fingers, One, two, three…

Five, he told them.

This got us all to considering what was occurring to Tom, aligning this with a Biblical account of Heavenly messengers.  When Jesus related the story of Lazarus, He made mention that when the beggar died, he was carried into glory by angels.  Think of it.

Stop and ponder this truth.  It was Tom’s time to have his load carried for him.

Pastor Tom had indeed been carrying a lot of burdens in his ministry, numerous responsibilities that would test the strength of any pastor.  His compassion loaded him with the responsibility of seeing folks who were in physical need.  His desire to show Jesus charged him with preparing messages saturated with Biblical truth.  His oversight of the church weighed on him the financial responsibility of the assembly.  His outreach vision added the burden of making sure missionaries were being supplied with their necessities.  Visiting, counseling, leading, speaking, praying, exhorting … being available 24 hours a day.

Tom carried a load.

Now it was time for the angels to carry him to the Father.

“It was so precious,” said Kim.  “The way he described it, well… I wanted to go myself!”

Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his faithful servants…

I used to get puzzled about that Psalm.   I mean, death is precious?

Yes, it is to the one who is heading to the Heavenly Reception.  The Portals of Real Life.  The Grand Celebration with the Author of Life.

The family told me that, one of the last words they heard escape from his lips was “Wow.”

I get the feeling that’s what we’ll all be saying as the angels come down to escort us to the Heavenly realm.

Wow.

—Written October 11, 2014

A Broken Down Shuttered House

Recently while visiting with a dear saint of God, I listened as she reminisced about her old home place and said, “The last time I was there, the house was run down and the grass had grown up around it.  Why, it didn’t even look like it used to.  Even the church I attended is not as pretty as it used to be, and they only have one or two services a month.”  As I sat there looking at what age and the curse of sin had done to this dear lady, pinching its wrinkles in her face, causing her to use a walker for stability, and making her wish for times of fellowship at church and in town with her friends, this passage of Scripture  came to my mind.

For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven, 3 if indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked. 4 For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life. 5 Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. 6 So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. 7 For we walk by faith, not by sight. 8 We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord. (2 Corinthians 5:1-8)

While listening, I could not help but notice the twinkle in her eye accompanied by the precious smile etched on her face as she recounted days gone by.  Within moments, she said, “So many people are unhappy these days.  Me? I’m happy.  I’m content.  I’m ready to go Home whenever the Lord is ready to call me.”  It did my heart good to listen to the lilt in her voice and to see her God-prepared confidence that someday soon she would exchange the old broken down shuttered house for a glorified habitation not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

Tom & Roger

March 18, 2007, I stood on the parcel of ground where Oak Ridge Baptist Church is now located.  There, Pastor Tom Craig, Pastor Gary Ledbetter and myself gathered in prayer for the future construction of their church building.  As we joined our expectant hearts together before the Throne of Grace, we asked God to do a mighty work for His glory.  God answered our prayers as well as the prayers of a host of others. Not only was the building constructed, but greater still, lives were and continue to be transformed and built for God’s glory.  Tom was sure that would happen.  He discipled, loved, cared, and ministered the Word of God with grace and balance.

Interesting enough, that March 18th morning, another individual who impacted Gary’s and my life through his music, Roger Bennett, passed into the presence of the Lord after a long bout with leukemia.  The connection with Roger and his ministry team, Legacy Five, was the primary purpose for Gary and I being in Oak Ridge that weekend.  I remember walking into the Hampton Inn to meet Gary and his family on that Friday afternoon.  There in the front lounge area was Tom and Bobby cheering on their UT Vols in the college basketball tournament!  How surprised he was to see us.  He thought he had missed some conference in the area.  🙂

Tom and Roger, two men from two completely different ministry orbits, but today in the presence of the Lord! Both involved in a journey with cancer now forever over. How thankful I am for those the Lord brings into our lives to edify, encourage, exhort, and enjoy!  Thank you, Tom, for being such a man.  Gary and I will continue to sing and preach the Word until we join you on the other side.  Until then, My Hope Is Jesus.

A God-Ordained Cancer Journey, Now Over

Last evening, our brother in Christ, fellow-discipler, and faithful servant of Jesus Christ, Tom Craig, left the night here to enter into that eternal day.  He left behind the weeping and entered into morning joy (Psalm 30:5).  He exchanged the crushing pain of cancer for the cheerful presence of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:1,6-8).  And, not too very long from now, we too will join him and the millions in the presence of our Lord (Philippians 1:23; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).  In the meantime, please intercede for his wife, Kim, his daughters, Aimee, Allie and Anna, and the dear folks of Oak Ridge Baptist Church.

Tom, we praise God for you.  Soon, we will once again praise God with you.

Laughter Gone

He made thousands and thousands of people laugh.  His quick wit, ability to play many roles, and stand-up comedy endeared him to the world of entertainment.  Sadly, his humor was often crass and ungodly. Today, the laughter is gone.

Robin Williams broke on the entertainment scene as an alien, Mork, in the 1978 TV series, Mork & Mindy with what became a household phrase of “Nanu-nanu.”  I remember my daughters loving his role as the comedic genie in the famous Disney film, Alladin.  He even appeared in the happy tune by Bobby McFarrin, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.”  As of yesterday, Williams will no longer be making people laugh; he has passed away.  The tragedy of this death is that it is being considered an apparent suicide.  Fox411 reported, “A representative for Williams said in a statement the actor had been battling ‘severe depression of late’.”

No matter what you thought of Robin Williams, death by suicide is oh so sad.  Tragic.  Bewildering.  Selfish. Sinful.  Wrong.

There are many things that I would love to say from a burdened heart, but suffice it to say that we as believers need to realize afresh and anew, we are living in a world of hopeless people!!  For a successful man to take his life when he had everything earthly he would need says that he lacked hope.

Hope is found in the gospel of Jesus Christ! Read the following with an attentive heart:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. —John 3:16

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.— Jeremiah 29:11

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead—1 Peter 1:3

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; 4 and perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. 6 For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. 10 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. 11 And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.—Romans 5:1-11

Hope (assurance, confidence) that is eternal, persevering, faithful, not disappointing, productive, and full of grace is found only in a personal relationship with the risen Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  He is the foundation, giver and sustainer of hope.  He is hope. A man without Jesus Christ is hopeless . . . forever.

For those of us secure in Christ because of the aforementioned truths of Scripture, we must share the good news of hope to a hopeless world!  We have the Truth that liberates (John 8:32).  Christ in us is the hope of glory, and He resides in us giving us hope for all of our earthly days (Colossians 1:27).

For those of you who are searching for hope in a world of empty happiness, I ask that you read the Scripture passages given in this post and turn to Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior.  Today you can repent which means to turn away from all you have been trusting in to get you to Heaven, and receive Jesus Christ as Your Savior today (Romans 3:23; 6:23; John 3:16; Romans 5:8; 10:9-13).  For the believer, no matter what his circumstances may be, each day is getting better because he is closer to his eternal home, Heaven.  Hope gets brighter each day!

Laughter produced by Robin Williams is gone.  Hope is not.

 

For further help in finding and understanding this everlasting hope, watch this 11 minute film: The Gospel