Wednesday, December 21, 2011

STEVE JOBS AND GOD

This post is not my own. I found it on Ron Hutchcraft's blog, and am sharing it here because the message really spoke to my heart. 
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STEVE JOBS AND GOD

When you're a kid, you're wet cement. Impressions get written so easily - and so deeply. Then they harden into the beliefs - or unbeliefs - of that kid-become-adult. Apparently, Steve Jobs was no exception.

Apple's communications genius/revolutionary, has been described as "intriguing, yet inscrutable." But as he battled cancer, he opened some windows into his mind and soul to the author writing his life story. According to the new biography that bears his name, Steve Jobs studied Zen Buddhism for years. A recent article in USA Today said, "He never went back to church after he saw a photo of starving children on the cover of Life and asked his Sunday school pastor if God knew what would happen to them. He was 13 at the time."

In a separate article, USA Today includes this near-the-end spiritual observation from Steve Jobs' biography: "The juice goes out of Christianity when it becomes too based on faith rather than on living like Jesus or seeing the world as Jesus saw it."

None of us knows exactly where Steve Jobs finally landed in his spiritual journey. But in his words about Jesus is a glimmer of the bedrock truth that answers so many spiritual questions: It's all about Jesus.

Christianity, the religion, never has been the issue - although many have been unable or unwilling to separate Jesus from the religion that is about Him. But Jesus made it all about Him, and Him alone, in the simple two-word invitation He extended over and over again - "Follow Me." Jesus never said "follow My religion" or "follow My followers." And He didn't say "follow My rules" or "follow My leaders." No, the only reason to turn away from Jesus is if you have a problem with Jesus.

As for "seeing the world as Jesus saw it," He saw it broken because people walk past the wounded, absorbed with themselves - as in His story of the Good Samaritan. He saw it cold and lonely and twisted because every man has chosen to ignore the Manufacturer's instructions and become our own god for our life. And that has brought us a world of bleeding families, greedy hoarding that produces global hungering, and an endless drama of people being used, abused and walked on.

And what about those starving children? Jesus said when we reach for them to help them, "whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me." And, "whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for Me" (Matthew 25:40 , 45/). Jesus is so personally identified with the hurting people of our world that He takes our treatment of them as our treatment of Him. With eternal consequences.

This Jesus that it's all about came here as "a man of sorrows, familiar with suffering...pierced for our transgressions...crushed for our iniquities" (Isaiah 53:3 , 5). This is the God who leaves the Throne to die on the Cross. He's a God you can believe in. A God who stands alone above all the wannabe gods of earth's spiritual pantheon. And ultimately, we find in Jesus the only man of the billions who've lived who has come back from the grave - and promised eternal life to all those who would "follow Me."

Behind all the fog of all the "sophisticated" spiritualities and dueling religions of our world stands one real God. One real Savior. The God who hung on a cross.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

THAT'S MY KING!

From Dr. Shadrach Meshach (S.M.) Lockridge's famous sermon.

Monday, October 24, 2011

HIS GRACE IS SUFFICIENT FOR ME

"...whenever our earthly stream or any other
outer resource has dried up, it has been allowed
so we may learn that our hope and help are in
God, who made heaven and earth." - F. B. Meyer

Several days ago, while making my bed, I found myself thinking of the Scripture verses about Paul's thorn in the flesh (2 Corinthians 12:7-10), and how easily they could also apply to me and my longstanding financial challenges.  Just as Paul prayed for the Lord to remove his thorn in the flesh, I have prayed for a financial miracle, which in my mind, would take the form of a windfall that would put me on Easy Street and in full control of my life.  And just as Paul's request for his thorn to be removed was not granted, neither was my vision of said windfall.

These thoughts surfaced again this morning when I went to church to pick up a very unexpected little card stuffed with $20 bills that an anonymous messenger of the Lord had left in the Sunday collection plate for me.  It was a very beautiful little card with a painting by one of my favorite artists, Thomas Kinkade, on the front of it, and inside, a handwritten message saying, "I have loved you with an everlasting love," and signed, "Love, Father." 

On the way home, I pondered what a blessing in disguise my financial challenges have been.  Not only were they instrumental in my rescue from the very dark path I was walking along that I had been deceived into believing would lead me back to God, but they have also kept me totally dependent on the Lord, and enabled me to experience His grace in ways that I could never have experienced otherwise.
 
I never cease to marvel at the creative and unexpected ways He has provided for my needs, and even most of my wants.  I have a whole notebook filled with testimonies ranging from a check not bouncing when, in the natural, it should have, to getting a huge tip on a very small typing job; from receiving an unexpected check in the mail, to finding money in stores, parking lots, or even floating on the water as I walked along a secluded beach.  Once I found a quarter in the middle of a cabbage, and another time, in a puddle, as I stepped out of my car wondering how I was going to feed the meter.

I can't wait to see what happens next!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

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.

Friday, July 22, 2011

MY TESTIMONY: PART V
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)


The Sunday before Easter, our pastor challenged us to do something radical.  I responded by writing a post entitled  Sincerely Wrong.  It was the first time since I became a Christian, almost 20 years ago, that I've spoken openly about having authored a book on numerology.

By the time I finished writing the post, I was convicted that it was time to bring all the other things I didn't talk about into the open too, because, just maybe, there was someone out there who desperately needed to hear it. 

I always believed that the reason I kept certain things hidden, especially from my mother, children, and other family members, was because I was trying to protect them from being hurt, but now I realize that was only partly true.  I did want to keep them from unnecessary upset, but if truth be told, the greater reason was fear of what they might think of me. 

So now I've gone and done something much more radical than write a post.  I've written the full testimony of how I was rescued from the darkness I'd immersed myself in--and I've had it published. 

The book will be available in hard copy and Kindle form a couple of weeks from now.  Until then, I have made it available as a free PDF file you can access by clicking on this link.


Back to the beginning of my testimony.
PART I Journey to the Foot of the Cross

Thursday, April 21, 2011

IN THE PATH OF THE TORNADO

This is another one of Ron Hutchcraft's devotionals that really spoke to my heart.  I read it  this morning and knew it needed to be shared.  Ron has a way of saying things that I could not even come close to paraphrasing, so I've just copied and pasted the whole message here for you to read.  It's entitled IN THE PATH OF THE TORNADO.

When the tornado sirens went off in town, I suddenly found myself huddled in a closet with two of my grandchildren. Oh yeah, and the local radio station on real loud. I'm not particularly thrilled about the style of music they play (which shall remain nameless), but they had the scoop on the storms.

As I'm reassuring the kids, I'm thinking, "I hope this closet will do it." Thankfully, we didn't have to test it. The tornado went north of us. At our own house, we've carefully thought through the safest place to be if we're suddenly on Twister Expressway. Our other children have basements. We're glad.

Of course, even a basement is not a guarantee that you're out of harm's way. I still remember those folks in that Midwestern town who thought they were safe. When the tornado warning sounded, they headed for the basement of a restaurant in a 100-year old stone building. What didn't occur to them was that the building stood on an old sandstone foundation. When that twister came through the middle of town, their place of refuge took a direct hit. The tornado destroyed the building, the foundation - and even the basement. And took the lives of all eight people sheltered there.

It's a sad story. Those folks knew they had to seek safety - and they went to a place that looked like it would save them. They were wrong. Tragically wrong.

According to the Bible, a lot of people are making that same mistake. With their soul. God says, "There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death" (Proverbs 14:12 ). That's troubling. But it's important to know. That you can be thinking you're spiritually safe when actually it's the illusion of safety.

In just about every culture on earth, people seem to instinctively know that we've got trouble with the One who made us. Because we've disobeyed Him. We've done life our way instead of His way, over and over again. And we know that we need to do something to get on God's good side. Thus, religion...rituals...rules to follow. And that "seems right" - a safe place to escape God's judgment for our sins. But it's not. God says so, and He's the final word.

"No one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands...we are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ" (Romans 3:20 , 22- NLB).

Sin carries a death penalty that I can't pay, no matter how nice a guy I am. If it weren't for Good Friday, I'd have a horrible eternity. Because only Jesus' death on that cross could erase the long list of my sins. God "took it away, nailing it to the cross" (Colossians 2:14 ). If any religion or right living could do it, there's no way God would have ever put His Son through that awful death. But He did. For me. For you.

No religion is a safe place from the storm of God's judgment. No matter how safe it feels. That's why Jesus came. And that's why I'm hanging onto Him alone as my only hope.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

SMOKE IN THE COCKPIT

This message I just finished reading on Ron Hutchcraft's blog this morning really spoke to my heart.  I so hope you'll read it too.  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."

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

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 for a free download of my book. 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.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

THE FUTILITY OF RUNNING AWAY

Hope you will take the time to read this message by Ron Hutchcraft .  He expresses it so much better than I ever could.

The Futility of Running Away - #6122
Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The party had been going just fine until a doctor who was there got very offended by something another guest said. He was in a rage! He stormed out and slammed the door behind him. Someone said, "At last he's gone." The host corrected him. "No, he's not gone. That's a closet."

There's something inside us humans that wants to avoid facing the God who made us. Maybe it's because we know that He knows everything about us. Maybe we don't want to face our darkness. We know that facing God means surrendering the wheel of our life. Whatever the reason, we walk away, or run away, or in some cases we even storm away from God, only to find that we've only walked into a closet.

We get very good at avoiding God. You can hide behind all those religious hypocrites you've seen. Or you can hide out in those doubts and questions you keep raising to protect you from really facing your Creator's demands on your life. You can stay very busy, running so hard, sedating yourself so much, that you don't have to think about why you're here and where you're going. You can even hide out in your religion, faithfully, maybe fervently, going through all the spiritual motions. That way you can feel like you're spiritually OK without having to really face God Himself.

Guess who invented running from God? The first man and woman God ever created! It's like avoiding God is in our spiritual DNA! In Genesis 3:8-9, Adam and Eve realized that they have disobeyed the one command given to them by the God who had given them so much. Then, in our word for today from the Word of God, it says, "The man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as He was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, 'Where are you?' He answered, 'I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid...so I hid.'"

From the first fugitive from God down to maybe someone who's listening today, here's the reality of God's love. The God you're trying to avoid is pursuing you wherever you go. Why? Because He loves you too much to lose you. In fact, Jesus said He's like a shepherd who cannot be content with the sheep He already has in the fold while even one is lost. He said He would "go after the lost sheep" until He finds him or her (Luke 15:1-7).

His pursuit of you and me took Him all the way to the cross where He died a brutal death. The Bible says His death was "...a sacrifice for our sins" (1 John 4:10). He died in your place to pay for the sins that you would otherwise have to pay for eternally.

And now He's pursued you to wherever you are today. You can walk away or run away again, I suppose, but He'll keep pursuing you to rescue you until the day you run out of time. Someday will be your last day to get ready for God before you meet God. But for now, His arms are open, inviting you to come home to the One you were made for. When you walk away from Him, you walk away from the only possible hope of a life with meaning and an eternity in heaven. Be glad that He's loved you enough to pursue you all the way to a cross.

My prayer is that this might be the day when you run to God and let the battle finally be over. Your personal love relationship with God begins when you say, "Jesus, I'm Yours." You have nothing to fear from coming to Jesus. He loved you enough to die for you. He will never do you wrong.

If you want to open up your life to the One who gave His life for you, I've got some information on our website that I think will help. I hope you'll go there as soon as you can today. Read about how to know you belong to Jesus. Just go to YoursForLife.net. Or if you'd like me to send you my little booklet about it called Yours For Life, you can just call and ask for that. It's a toll free call: 877-741-1200.

Once you experience His love for yourself, you'll have only one regret. You'll just wish that you'd come sooner.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

HAPPY NEW YEAR, 2011

Dear Blog Friends -- May the New Year be a time of peace, joy, good health, and prosperity in every area of your life.  Praying that the Lord would shower you with His blessings and open your eyes to his abundant love and grace. 

I also have a New Years card for you, but couldn't figure out how to embed it in this post, so you'll need to click on this link to see it.