Tag Archives: decision

I was in the wrong spot!

chick tetelestai

Do you ever get so tired of the battle that you’re ready to throw your hands up in the air and cry uncle, or aunt, I surrender or Calgon take me away! The Lord knows I’m there. Everyday there are decisions. I understand the words of Joel when he said in Joel 3:14

Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision.

Those who had come to fight against God’s people would meet with the Lord’s decision, but in the meantime…the Lord’s people are still caught in the decisions of others and perhaps decisions of their own. Which way to I go?

A friend from church gave me a bracelet yesterday with the Greek word “Telelestai” on it. That is to say “It is Finished!” Christ’s final words on the cross of Calvary. Joy floods my soul to think of the meaning of those three words, a song fills my heart; I strummed it for a while on the guitar last night. I’m not sure if it will be a song for the ears of others, or just from my heart to God’s, but I needed it. I needed to hear those words… for I am in the valley of decision. I need to know, and perhaps today you do as well, that “IT IS FINISHED!”

The decisions that lie before me are old news to God; He knows the end result. What stresses me out is that I am in the valley and the enemy may or may not lie in wait on the other side of the hill. I just don’t know. Because that’s how Satan and his band of warriors work, in the dark shadows of the mountain. We’re not only not promised a rose garden, we may have a few briar patches to fight our way through. When God is about to do something amazing the powers of Hell work to thwart it, God works in the Light and His work is made manifest to all who desire to know. If you can’t see God at work you’re probably not looking in the right spot.

I’ve realized today the valley of decision is not mine. That’s the enemies spot. My spot is just below the crest of the hill, right under the Lord’s wings as He makes way for whatever lies ahead. I’ve read and heard that “valley of decision” verse forever and a considered it a passage for the life of a Christian, for we too have decisions to make, but not from a valley vantage point.

It is finished! The battles that we fight are but sign posts along the route to victory. Stick with the plan… His plan!

John 19:30 ~ When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.

Heaven’s Post Master Has a Message for you Today

CHICK POSTAGEAs I ran along in the sermon of my friend Roger Carter…(I say “ran” because you’ll not likely walk through one. Once he starts preaching it’s like he’s been shot out of a cannon. He’s not stopping until he reaches his destination. He’s fun like that!), but along the way he said this, “Death is a change of address.” He had to run ahead without me for a little while because my mind got stuck on that thought and I couldn’t let it go. When someone we love moves a distance away we may be sad for a little while, but most of us adjust to the idea. We talk to them on the phone, or correspond by other means and plan for the next time we see them again; and we get excited in the planning process. But when someone dies the conversation is lost… and that’s tough. I don’t make light of it.

When I lost my Dad, I missed those conversations; his sense of humor, his love of family and music and most of all, his love of God. But because of his love of God and his personal testimony of a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, I might have moments of sadness but I have I eons of hope! My Dad simply got a new address, and I know that I know that I’ll see him again in glory and that makes this journey bearable. And in the mean time I ask God to tell my dad “Hey,” and go back to planning our reunion.

So what about that address?

Living in rural West Virginia has many advantages, but one advantage is our source of entertainment… each other. As I began this blog, my mind drifted back to the 1980’s when I worked as an ad manager for a local newspaper. The editor of that paper had moved to our area after retiring as an editor for the New York Times. He absolutely fell in love with West Virginia! But he did have days which caused him ponder his decision. One such day was when he went across the street to the local post office to mail a book to a friend in Canada. He was informed by our elderly post master that you couldn’t mail anything out of the country (and he was serious). After a lengthy argument with the old man, the editor returned to our office, half angry and half in hysterical laughter. I’m not sure if he ever convinced the post master that you could mail things out of country, or if he took his book to another post office, but none the less made for a great story and one we laughed about for years to come.

There’s no physical address for that country where God dwells with my friends and loved ones who have died, but there’s a spiritual address and it’s every bit as real as Grantsville, West Virginia. Are you planning for the trip?

RETURN TO SENDER

A child of God will return to sender in the blink of an eye when their day comes to leave this world. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” That speaks of the day that Christ will call His church home. Many of us will go at once and a lost world will be left in turmoil. That day is likely very near. But for those who pass away before that day Paul said in 2 Corinthians 5:8 We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.”

Confident that he would be delivered, postage paid by the blood of Jesus Christ who paid the price for us to be able to dwell in that city not made of hands but by God Himself.

But what about those who haven’t made preparation?

TURNED TO CINDER

Jesus told a religious crowd the fate of a rich man who died without knowing God in Luke 16:23 when He said “And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments”. God doesn’t sugar coat Hell, and just because someone doesn’t believe it exists or chooses not to make a choice doesn’t make it an untruth and their choice is made. Hell is eternal separation from everyone. Look at the people in your life that you care about. Are you prepared to never see them again? It’s not only separation it’s also a place of fire, torment and gnashing of teeth and totally unnecessary. That address was never meant to be on the map, but because of sin and our rejection of God’s forgiveness by and through the sacrifice of His Son Jesus, it’s there.

Have you been marked postage paid, or are you lost in transit; having never accepted God’s gift of salvation? It’s the best gift ever! And it’s never undeliverable. No matter where you’ve been in life or what you’ve done, God’s grace is sufficient for all. Don’t spend another second in time without making that decision. Watch the news… and more importantly read the Word of God. Written thousands of years ago and yet they line up together with God’s warning that He’s going to return. Don’t miss the Post Master to Heaven!!!!

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Today’s the day!

Or I guess tonight’s the night – that our church will vote on a new Pastor. For nine months we’ve waited… I find that amount of time ironic, perhaps it’s symbolic of a new birth of new ideas and new direction for my beloved Victory Baptist Church. For me personally it’s been a knot in my stomach that I’ve been waiting to untie. I want this chapter of the unknown closed. We’ve had nine months of leadership that was crème de la crème. As the scripture said in Isaiah 49:10

They shall not hunger nor thirst; neither shall the heat nor sun smite them: for he that hath mercy on them shall lead them, even by the springs of water shall he guide them.

We’ve not thirsted, nor been exhausted; we were led by the sweetest waters of the gospel and guided by the Holy Spirit. But it’s not the same as having a full time, committed man of God to oversee the flock. The visionary of the congregation. One of the wisest men of all times, King Solomon himself said, “Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.” Proverbs 29:18.

A Pastor sets the vision, the goals of the congregation for growth of the Kingdom and the longer we were without someone in that position the further away we became from the previous vision. Although we had great temporary leadership, the uncertainty of what the new leadership would bring always made the direction we were going hesitant.

So what now?

Tonight we vote yay or nay to the new man. If you are a person of prayer, please take the time today to lift our congregation up to the Lord for wisdom and unity. This journey has not been without bridges to cross. There has been more than one side, but the river of life clearly flowed between them both. Wow… I guess I’m speaking very metaphorically. A church the size of ours, and as vocal as we are in a small community gets attention; and it’s not always good. People from the outside look for cracks in the armor of God and it doesn’t usually take them long to find it. We’re not a perfect people, we’re a perfectly loved people. We don’t always agree and sometimes things are said that should have never been said. We’re human and most importantly we’re family. I’d challenge anyone to look me in the eye and say they’ve had a perfect relationship with everyone in their life or that you’ve never stood in need for grace.

Am I saying there is a great division among our people? Nope. I don’t know that there’s any division among our people, but I know that if Satan has his way, there can be.

Here’s my prayer request for you:

  1. Pray for direction
  2. Pray for a unified church
  3. Pray for the Pastor candidate and his family

My prayer for you is that you are a part of the body of Christ and are serving in the congregation of the Lord that He has chosen for you. Being an active part of a local church is vital to your spiritual growth. Choose wisely!

Yes please, Another helping of self doubt

Every time I take a few steps forward in faith, I step back 8 feet. Even as I wrote that sentence, my mind wandered off the page and onto life and Satan began pummeling me with one of those “What were they thinking asking you to do that?” conversations. Another failure in the making… ugh. Does he never stop?

No. Not until eternity and then his power will be locked in the pits of Hell. Glory to God!!! So this morning I have to look at one of my all-time favorite failures for strength. That’s what I love about the Bible, it’s not a book of Sanctified Sam’s and Little Sister Seat Saver’s that stand at the foot of the cross with gold medallions around their necks. No… it’s filled with totally messed up people who have fallen to the foot of the cross. Like Simon Peter. Our favorite failure. Or so the world would have you believe. They’d rather you and I think about the fact that he sank in the water, rather than the time he stepped out of the boat. They’d rather we think about the time he denied Jesus, rather than the time he died on a cross, crucified upside down. It is traditionally held that he was crucified upside down at his own request, since he saw himself unworthy to be crucified in the same manner as Jesus Christ. The world doesn’t want us to focus on Peter’s victory, but rather cause us to doubt the probability that we’ll be victorious.

Matthew 14:30-33~ But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased. Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God.

The winds of decision

The wind was likely there before Peter stepped out of the boat, but not until the safety of the boat was gone did it matter. The moment we make the decision to step out for Jesus that’s when the breeze turns into a gale! That’s why so many songs and sermons have the words “Keep your eyes upon Jesus” because a short glance in another direction leads to doubt in the decision that seemed really good just a little while ago.

After the first step

In no time flat the wind can turn a glorious sunshiny day into a gloomy cloud covered sky. Peter was so excited to see the Lord! He didn’t question his decision, but when it was just he and the Lord on the water, the next step wasn’t so clear anymore. How true is it that when you’ve finally made that decision to step out in service and then you hear yourself saying “okay now what? I’m here Lord… confidence level declining… I took the first step, but the second’s not nearly so clear… I’m getting that sinking feeling… Lord are you still there?”

He’s still there! Bidding you come. He didn’t ask you to step out to let you fall, but He didn’t say He’d make the water smooth sailing either. I don’t know about you but I’ve had to fight off the clouds every step of the way in my decision to serve Christ. For the record that’s the equivalency of fighting air and you’ll never win that battle. It would likely go a lot smoother if we’d just stand there and enjoy the breeze.

We don’t have that story from Peter, we only have one where he sinks and Christ saves. Christ not only knows us, He knows our adversary. I find great comfort in knowing that Satan doesn’t have a new plan, he uses the same old tricks of distraction and discouragement to get our eyes off Christ. Christ doesn’t have a new plan either… they’ll sink… I’ll save.

He’s got ya!

It’s All Apart of the Plan

Jonah 1:7 ~ And they said every one to his fellow, Come, and let us cast lots, that we may know for whose cause this evil is upon us. So they cast lots, and the lot fell upon Jonah.

When Jonah refused to go to Ninevah to preach the gospel as the Lord had asked a “whale” of a story followed! But the reality of it was, how many people died outside salvation in Ninevah while Noah was rebelling against God? One was too many…

The practice of casting lots was common of the day; every decision was from the Lord and when the lot was properly used, the answer was not a matter of chance but came from God. Because we now have the Holy Spirit dwelling within us the lots are no longer necessary, however the answer is still not a matter of chance.

Proverbs 16:33 says “The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord.” I have to wonder if this is not where the phrase “It just fell into my lap” came from, when in truth nothing just “falls” into your lap without the divine providence of God either directing it there, or allowing it. It is then our task to determine the direction to go.

My lap is often full of decisions. I sometimes fear a boatload of Tarshish immigrants will pass by the shores of Calhoun County and declare “Throw her overboard. The troubles we’re in are her fault! It’s a habit in my life to assume responsibility for something that was not within my control. Yes… it’s crazy, but it’s my lot.

The point I want to make here is this, “No decision is allowed to come into our lives that God’s not a part of. He either allowed it or created it, either of which was designed to send us in His direction for the answer. There are times I wish the practice of casting lots was still an option, a “yes” or “no” answer would be helpful. But what a decision requires, where it be big or small is prayer and lots of it. Reading the Word of God and allowing the Holy Spirit to minister our soul.

Jonah made a mistake, it wasn’t fatal but it had a nasty repercussion. Imagine being in the belly of that great fish for three days! What would be going through your mind? Just kill me already! I’ll bet he did some serious soul searching then. It was all a part of the plan…

Matthew 12:40

For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

God was not caught off guard by Jonah’s rebellion. He expected it. I’m sure God would have much preferred if upon telling Jonah to go to Ninevah, he replied, “I’ll pack by bags and be out the door in the shake of a dog’s tail.” But being that wasn’t his answer and God used that too. He used Jonah’s act of rebellion as an example of God’s ultimate redemption. He said I’ll show you that way back there in 786-746 BC that I knew you’d mess up in 2013 AD, so 2000 years ago, I died on that cross of Calvary, they placed Me in the tomb and in three days I came forth too! But not as whale puke, like Jonah. No, I came forth victorious. Satan thought he won, until I knocked on his door and said I’ve come for the keys of death, hell and the grave. Revelation 1:18

Decisions are rough. We can’t cast lots, and sometimes we’re not nearly as in tune with God as we should be, but isn’t it great to know that God’s got it all worked into the plan. He can use even our mistakes to bring glory to his name. Amen!