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."