Friday, January 26, 2018

Parting Words

It good for me to be afflicted that I may learn your statutes. Psalm 119:71

Eighteen years ago I was asked to go see a death row inmate nicknamed, “Gus”, who had just received his execution date. A Christian family that knew him before he went to prison asked me to go see him and share the gospel with him. 

So the day came and I met Gus and for an hour and a half I did the best I could to 

share the Gospel with him. 
He conveyed to me that he had already accepted Christ as his Savior and that he was a believer. We had a good, cordial conversation and I said to him, “I’ve done most of the talking in our visit and I just want to ask if there is anything you’d like to convey to me. Seeing as we might never speak to each other again in this life, is there something you’ve learned that you want to share or for me to consider as I leave here?

He paused for a moment perhaps having never been asked this question and then he replied....

“When I was given my execution date, one of the things that happened is I started going through my stuff. Someone in another cell might not have a radio so you give them your radio. Another prisoner might not have a set of colored pencils, so you give them away. Each prisoner has a box of belongings and keepsakes and you start to go through it. 

In the process, I began to see some things I had held onto for 16 years or 14 years....and In light of my coming execution, I began to wonder why I held on to these things. What value did they really have that I held onto them for so long?”

As I said goodbye to Gus and left the prison unit I thought about what he had to say. I’ve never forgotten that meeting and what I had learned from it. 

The scriptures say that these momentary light afflictions we are experiencing are working for us! Sometimes it’s pain that is the very thing that causes us to humble ourselves and accept change. Pause and think about that for a moment. Therefore pain is not working against me but is in fact accomplishing God’s purpose.

...before I was afflicted I went astray But now I keep your word. Psalm 119:67

For further study, consider my podcast; you can stream it here:

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

The Lowest Place

Phillipians 2:5-8
Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 

I don't know how to be a servant. We may think we do but a lot of times even our servanthood has selfish motives. 

The mystery of the gospel is Christ in you.

As the grace of God is working in our heart the end result is,
 that expression of Christ will be seen in us. 

James chapter 3 speaks about circumcising ambition from our hearts. 

We always want to be the leader, at the head of the table instead of at the lowest place. This usually happens through trials that bring us to a place of humiliation. It is there that we learn to appreciate the approval of God more than the need to be noticed.

In John chapter 13, Jesus, knowing who He is and not needing the acceptance of others, laid aside His role as leader and embraced the role of servanthood. He washed the feet of his disciples rather than demanding to be served himself. The greater serving the lesser because his identity was already validated by the Father.

 He didn't need to prove himself to anyone. In the same way God desires to create this same mind in us which is in Christ Jesus. 

The Water Song
Come, oh come! let us away...
Lower, lower every day, 
Oh, what joy it is to race
Down to find the lowest place. 
This the dearest law we know...
"It is happy to go low."
Sweetest urge and sweetest will,
Let us go down lower still.
Hear the summons night and day
Calling us to come away.
From the heights we leap and flow
To the valleys down below.
Always answering to the call,
To the lowest place of all.
Sweetest urge and sweetest pain,
To go low and rise again.
Hannah Hurbard, Hinds feet on high places

For further study, consider our latest podcast, how God comes into our lives as a refiner's fire until all that can be seen is a reflection of Christ. You can stream or download it here:

Friday, January 12, 2018

What is Impossible with Man

Charles Spurgeon once said, "The only way to awake a sleeping church is with a loud shout." It's so easy within Christendom to become desensitized to what's going on around us.

  I recall an old book written years ago, the story of a man called, "Rip Van Winkle." In the story the main character goes up onto a hillside and goes to sleep and sleeps for one hundred years! When he wakes up he begins to climb down the mountain and notices what used to be a picture of King George has been replaced with a picture of George Washington. So many people remember that story because it's amazing that the man would sleep for such a long time. The real power of the story wasn't that he slept for a hundred years but that he slept through a revolution. He fell asleep at a time when he should have been engaged and aware of what was going on around him. I believe that this morning God wants to awaken us, revive us, cause us to come alive once again.

   Now listen, the first thing we need to do is take heed of the Word of God in Hebrews 6
 which says,

"Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of instruction about washings and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment.  And this we will do, if God permits.  For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit,  and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come,  and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame.  For ground that drinks the rain which often falls on it and brings forth vegetation useful to those for whose sake it is also tilled, receives a blessing from God;  but if it yields thorns and thistles, it is worthless and close to being cursed, and it ends up being burned.
 But, beloved, we are convinced of better things concerning you, and things that accompany salvation, though we are speaking in this way.

This is a challenging word that God is speaking to the church, those once enlightened, those who understood at one time what God was saying. The enemy oftentimes will use the word to bring condemnation and discouragement. In many of your lives, the enemy may have used this passage to say that because you've experienced God and now may have come to a place of darkness, that there is no hope of coming back to God. That there is no hope for the presence of God in your lives.

I once faced such a place where I cried out to God and said "There's no place to run back to....If you don't save me, your my only hope! I began to read the word and read and the word and suddenly all of the pieces started coming together. All of a sudden God began to illuminate my heart and I became aware that the enemy was trying to keep me from the word of God.

 Listen, I want you know that If we continually walk in sin there is a place you can come to where your heart is so hardened that it can no longer be reached by the preaching of man. (see Ezekiel 33:32). Your heart becomes dull of hearing and you exchange passion for Christ for religious rituals and your conscience no longer speaks to you.

There is a difference between falling and falling away. The scriptures say a righteous man falls seven times, but he gets back up. He doesn't make friends with that with the sin that caused him to stumble.
There is going to be struggles, even failures in your walk with God. When I first came to know Christ I was delivered from some things but other things I continued to struggle with. I remember getting down on my knees about one such struggle and crying out, "God save me....please!...change me from the inside!!" As I look back upon my life God could have changed me immediately and some things did change right away. Other things did not change when I wanted them to and I remember asking the Lord, "Why?" He replied, "Andy, you would have never learned to use the shield of Faith and the sword of the Spirit. You would have never learned to take thoughts captive."

Falling away is when we make friends with compromise and hold hands with it. You harden your heart against the counsel of God and you begin to excuse that which is in you and make place for it.

I knew a man who believed God could use him to help others but did not believe that God could forgive him for what he had done. He felt that he had brought shame upon God's name.

I'm here to tell you that God is not threatened by the shame we bring on His name. He has provided a place called, "the sacrifice" and when the Lamb of God was slain before the foundation of the world, he made a place for us.

I shared with that man that he could either be a Peter who weeps bitterly over his transgressions....and yet when he sees Jesus he dives into the water and comes to Him because he knows his only hope is that redemption. Then one day Jesus raises him up at Pentecost to speak the word of God and brings salvation to thousands.

Or he could be a Judas who returns back that which he has done and openly confesses, "I've shed innocent blood!"...But in despair is unwilling to look at the cross and receive forgiveness.

God says, "That which is impossible with man is possible with God."

For further study, consider our latest podcast, you can stream or download it here;

Monday, January 1, 2018

I Hope in thy Word

I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord
In the land of the living. Psalm 27:13

My favorite definition of hope, is, "the expectation of future good." It's looking at my circumstances with the viewpoint that God is working out all things for my good. 

We can look at our situation from this perspective because we love God and we are "called," according to His purpose. 

There are three truths we must reflect upon in our trials that we can bank our lives on.

The first truth is that we know that God is sovereign
therefore he is in control. 

Even chaos and tragedy serve His eternal purpose.

               Secondly we must become convinced of His wisdom . 

The trials He allows are necessary to bring us to the place he desires to lead us to. 

              Lastly we must become convinced of His love

Nothing can come into our lives that has not been first filtered through the hands of a God who loves us.

In this coming New Year, though we may not know what awaits our lives, these three truths are the one constant. 

They are anchors of hope in life’s troubled sea.

This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure 
and steadfast and one which enters within the veil
Hebrews 6:19

For further reflections; consider my podcast from July of 2017, you can stream it here: