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Hallelujah!

April 20, 2014

He is risen!

Not only are we redeemed and death conquered but we have new life, new power, new joy, new peace, new love available – NOW!

Jesus won it all for us and gives it to us just for asking.

Now that’s something to celebrate!

Have a glorious celebration!

Shame, Guilt, Regret

April 17, 2014

Why did Peter deny His Friend?

Psalm 1 says, “How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers.”

When Jesus was arrested in the garden Peter did not flee the scene as had the others. He tried to defend Jesus by lashing out at Malchus, the high priest’s servant, cutting off his ear. As Jesus was led away to see Caiaphas, the high priest, Peter followed. (John chapter 18) Was it love and devotion?

My friend, James Robison told me once, “Often when our emotions get involved discernment leaves”. Perhaps this is what happened to Peter. He was walking in the crowd of the wicked. This crowd was easily swayed by mob mentality and emotion. We sometimes have a good intention; our motive is right, but we do it the wrong way and get ourselves in trouble.

At this point Peter could have left the crowd. He could have changed direction. How often our whole life changes on a simple choice. It becomes what I call a “hinge decision”.

But Peter not only walked with them – he stood with them and warmed himself by their fire. He was perhaps more concerned for his own comfort than what was happening to his dear friend. Luke (chapter 22) tells us that Peter sat with them to warm himself. It was there that the servant girl saw him in the fire light and recognized him. She told those around the fire that Peter had been with Jesus.

Peter denied he even knew Jesus. He denied he was “one of them” (disciples). An hour went by – time enough to change his course. A man said that Peter was a Galilean – he must have been with Jesus. Peter vehemently denied it. Before he even finished the denial, the cock crowed. At that point Jesus looked at Peter and Peter remembered that Jesus had predicted Peter would deny him.

At that point Peter left those by the fire. It was too late – the denials had taken place. Peter went out and wept bitterly. I cannot begin to imagine the sorrow and the regret. The “if only…”

I am not sure this compares well, but I have in mind the deep grief expressed and exhibited by the “Blade Runner”, Oscar Pistorius, this week in a South African court. Gut wrenching sobs. Sorrow. Regret. Shame. His life is forever changed.

Peter knew what he had done. Peter, at that point didn’t realize he would ever see Jesus alive again. Seemingly sentenced to a life of total grief and shame and regret.

God had another plan for Peter’s life!

But before we go there…

Let’s take note of where Peter positioned himself. He walked, stood and sat where he had no business being. Where are you walking today? Close to the edge? Flirting with sin? Where are you standing? Are your friends a good, godly influence? Or do they pull you down to their level so much so that you are comfortable with them. Is your spirit trying to get your attention to warn you. Listen. Take heed.

He Knew What Was Coming

April 14, 2014

Jesus rode into Jerusalem amid adoring throngs hailing Him as “one who comes in the name of the Lord; blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David…” He was riding a crest of popularity. He went to the temple and looked around. What did He see? People busy, weary of their busyness. People trying hard to obey all the religious laws. People wanting to please God. People trying to stay out of the religious leaders’ watchful, critical eyes. Women being put upon. The sick, lame, blind being pushed out of the way. The poor were ignored.

He knew what was coming.

He saw a fig tree that was not bearing fruit and cursed it so that it withered. A fig tree puts out leaves and fruit at the same time. To find one with leaves only was unusual. Perhaps an illustration of so many – those that have the leaves of religiosity but no fruit. Those that have all the trappings but no life. He cursed the fig tree. It reminds me of the story Jesus told of those on the Judgment Day who say, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons and in Your name perform many miracles?” But He will say, “I never knew you, depart from me.”

He knew what was coming.

He challenged the temple practices of the money changers. He violently turned their tables over and cast them out – not even allowing people to carry products through the temple. He called for he temple to be a house of prayer. This angered the religious leaders so much that they began to seek a way to kill Him. They challenged Him with trick questions which He met by confronting them with themselves. Angering them further.

He knew what was coming.

I wonder what the disciples were thinking the next day. They probably were saying to themselves, “It’s about time! He is going to set up His kingdom and we’ll have a place in it! I wonder who will sit at His right hand. Oh, boy, we can’t wait to prove to all the naysayers that He was right all along. This is going to be great!”

They did not know what was coming.

Noah & Hollywood

April 7, 2014

I went to the movie theatre to see God Is Not Dead this weekend but when I got to the ticket counter I was too late! That was good news on one level but bad news on another. I was disappointed. Since I was already at the theatre and had the mind-set to see a movie, I decided to see the Noah movie.

I had heard a lot about it but didn’t know anyone who had seen it. So…

The first thing that comes on the screen is a statement over a bleak, dark, brooding scene: “In the beginning was nothing.” That is a lie. “In the beginning God created…”

It went downhill from there.

I kept hoping it would improve. But there are weird-looking creatures made of lava-like stones with fiery eyes that are meant to be sort of “guardians”. They appeared to be bad versions of “transformers”. They are scary. I wouldn’t want them to be guarding me!

It was reported that the producers/filmmakers wanted to be true to the biblical text. They were not. Certain evangelical leaders endorsed the film and said that the filmmakers did a good job representing the biblical text. Phooey! As my Mother would say, “It is the pig’s eye view of the pearl”. They are not reading the same biblical account I am!

There are too many errors for me to list here…it is sufficient to say, I walked out of the film. I kept thinking it might get better but it didn’t. The movie is horrible. I am nonplussed to understand why any evangelical leader would take this film seriously enough to comment on it!

Let’s stick to the accuracy of the scriptures and honor God’s word as authoritative for life.
(II Timothy 3:16-17)

I am hoping to see God Is Not Dead this week. I understand it is quite good and inspirational. I am excited that the biblical themes and subjects are being talked about – the fact that Hollywood is doing it, makes me suspicious. Unbroken is to be released later this year. I wonder how Angelina Jolie will treat Louis Zampirini’s conversion. We will wait and see. Let’s pray that in spite of Hollywood’s slant, the Gospel will be loud and clear.

2 Year Olds in Prison

March 31, 2014

These past few weeks my prayer group and I have been studying how disciples are to respond to the needs around us. What does God call us in the name of mercy and justice to do? We have had good discussions. Personally, I wondered what it was I could do.

Then I got a phone call this morning.

I could hardly believe my ears when my friend, Chad Hawk told me 2 year olds are in prison in Uganda. Often sold by their own parents! He has a heart for ministry in Africa. He travels there regularly. He asked for my help. needs our help – actually the children need our help. I never ask you all for anything like this because I know each of you have places you give to but I want you to be aware of this particular need. Chad is one of the good guys. A servant’s heart. He is not building a kingdom but The Kingdom. Let’s help him. When you have done it for the least of these…

I will let him speak for himself:

I will be leaving for Uganda in one month. The opportunities for this year’s trip have opened in ways I did not expect for several years. What has happened is that the part of the Ugandan government that is responsible for the children’s prisons has decided to give me clearance to all six of the prisons. This is unprecedented! The Ugandan government has historically only given very limited access to foreigners. The prisons are a black eye for the country and they hate admitting that they exist. The prisons are normally treated with secrecy and miles of red tape to gain access.

However, thanks to the efforts of several NGOs and a wave of new political climate in Uganda, I have been granted the first access to all of the prisons for any outside health related organization. Even the UN has been denied this level of access at once! This is a monumental step for Epik Missions and has received this permission from the Vice President of Uganda.

While I am humbled and in awe of this opportunity, it has one major hurdle that I need help with.

I need to raise nearly $10,000 by April 20.

Each prison requires just over $1,500 in “fees” to be granted access. These fees are various bribes that must be paid to many branches of governmental officials. Everyone from the regional Minister of Health to the local warden has a fee. If you have ever done work in Africa, you understand that this is how everything gets done.

Each prison houses about six hundred children between the ages of two to twelve. Each prison has at least four halfway houses that have a total of 250 children. This means that 850 children will be cared for at each location. Over 5,000 children will be served on this trip plus most of the support staff.

These children live in the most horrific conditions you can imagine. I have been there. I have seen first-hand their struggles. I have held the young girls that are dying from AIDS. The deadly HIV was given to them from guards that rape them. I have cared for young boys who have collapsed skulls where metal clubs have beaten them into submission because they did not move fast enough for a guard. Broken arms, open wounds, keloid scars on their backs from beatings are everywhere.

So how can you help?

The simplest way is to go to the Epik Missions web site, http://www.epikmissions.com and donate online.

Time is short and I really need your help.

God has opened this door and I am confident of His provision. I know I must take quick and immediate action. Will you help me serve the children?

These children feel abandoned and forgotten. The only touch they know is a hurting touch. Abuse. Beatings. Harshness. What has life done to them? Does God care for them? You know He does.These are the ones Jesus referred to as “the least of these”. If we do it for them He sees it as being done for Him. Picture Jesus as a two-year old sitting in a filthy prison in desperate need of a tender touch.

I plan to help…will you? Ask God about what He would want you to do. This is an opportunity to make an eternal difference for “the least of these”.

God Hope

March 25, 2014

Last week I had the joy of speaking with my daughter, Windsor. We were the guest speakers for The Women’s Resource Center in Mobile, a pro-life organization that is doing a great job being a beacon of hope, love and truth right across the street from Planned Parenthood.

For years I have spoken for such groups because of Windsor’s and my story – she chose life 3 times. Two were unplanned pregnancies when she was in her teens – her baby girl she released for adoption and her baby boy she chose to parent. Her third child was born with significant challenges five years ago.

As you can imagine those were not easy times in our family but God has been so faithful to us. As I watched her stand before 1000 strangers to tell her story I thought back on our journey…the struggle, the anger, the tears… And she stood there looking lovely, poised, confident…all she wasn’t those many years ago.with Windsor in Mobile

We have just started to speak together – it is fun to have her along plus she tells the story from the birth mother’s perspective. We all applaud adoption and are so happy for the adoptive couple. But so often people forget that in the shadows stands a young mother with a broken heart. A woman who made a very courageous decision. Like Windsor did.

Windsor was articulate as she told of the ups and downs in her life with her cute self-deprecating humor. I am so proud of who she has become and the little family she has made. When all of it was happening I could never have imagine all God would do in both of our lives – the healing that has taken place!

It was a rough road. But we both know God in a way we wouldn’t have any other way. We grew in grace and understanding of each others and even strangers. God promises to make the crooked straight and the rough places smooth…He has kept those promises.

We’d like to encourage you – if you are in the thick of a difficulty – hold on, don’t give up. God is at work even if you cannot see Him. He has a plan and it is a good one. He will reveal it in time. Claim His promises. He always does what He promises. We get disappointed because He doesn’t meet our expectations. Our expectations fit our thinking not His. We have to align ourselves with His Word.

It isn’t easy but it is real. There is hope. A good hope – which is not wishful thinking. It is a hope based on the unchanging character of God.

Vanished!

March 9, 2014

I have been so taken with the reports of the Malaysian Airline plane that is missing. Since I first noticed the story on the news “crawl” at the bottom of the screen on Friday. At first I thought it was unbelievable and not a real news story. Planes don’t just disappear! But as the hours passed and the reports grew stronger, I was deeply saddened and intrigued. Secondly, I began to wonder if I knew any missionaries, acquaintances or family that might be traveling such a route. I didn’t.

How can a large jet, in good repair, with good weather just vanish with all 239 passengers on board and not one distress signal or amount of debris? Just vanish. We don’t know yet. There are far more questions than answers. No terror group has claimed responsibility…

I know there are teams of experts headed out to the South China Sea to investigate and eventually we will get an answer.

But there are so many family members grieving…shock, disbelief and the reality has yet to set in that life has been forever altered for them and there is no explanation. No body. No casket. No grave. No closure. Just gone. How does one adjust?

It made me think of the time when many of us will vanish in the Rapture when Jesus comes to claim His own. St. Paul describes it this way: “For the Lord HImself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the lord i the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord.” (I Thessalonians 4:16-17)

Part of me wondered for a minute if that had happened to that airplane! But too many saints I know are still on earth!

When the time comes will non believers hear the trumpet? Will they have a last-minute opportunity? Or will they just wake up to the reality that all the believers are gone? They will have lots of questions, no doubt. (Sort of like the books and movie of the Left Behind series.)

I don’t want to get into an eschatological theology discussion. That’s way above me. But I do know Jesus is going to return and He will call His own to join Him. I am one of His so if I am alive, I’ll hear that trumpet and my name called and I’ll be out of here! How exciting!

If, however, I am dead and buried I’ll be in that group to rise first!

Either way, I get to spend eternity with the Lord!

How ’bout you? Are you sure of eternity? Don’t be left out. Make Jesus your Lord today!

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