Thursday, August 30, 2007

Really…Honest and Truly

I swear to you…honest and truly…I’m not a bad “kitty mom”. Really I’m not. However…my kitty Nathan may beg to differ with me. His assessment may be a little different after Saturday’s “bag incident”.

When I first saw Nathan having difficulty walking I went to investigate…to see if he got his claws stuck on something. A closer look revealed that Nathan…AKA nosy Nate…somehow got a Starbuck's bag slung around his head and neck. Kind of like a backpack.

Now a normal mom…would have rushed to his aid and immediately freed Nathan from the bag. That wasn’t my first reaction. Or let me state…I battled between instincts.

I couldn’t quite control the laughter…and I ran to get the camera. As you can see…little Rudy (whose not so little anymore)…wanted to help his brother. Or is that annoy his brother when the chips were down? Anyway…after posing for a couple of pictures (albeit reluctantly) from the laughing photographer…Nathan was freed, no worse for wear from the Starbuck’s bag.

Now you understand why Nathan has earned the nickname “Nosy Nate”.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Light the Night - Chuck Obremski Finish Strong Team

I’m not a person that normally hits people up for money. I don’t have Tupperware parties or the like. But there is one thing that is starting to be a tradition…and that is participating in the “Chuck Obremski Finish Strong” Team as our members from Kindred Community Church and family and friends join with Light the Night to raise money for cancer research.

If you’ve ever talked to me for five minutes…or read my blog…or been handed a CD album with awesome Bible teaching from my beloved former Pastor Chuck Obremski…you know how God has used him to influence my life for good.

This coming September 18th, it will be two years since Chuck finished strong and went home to be with our Lord. While he is separated physically for a time from those who love him and miss him…he is still very much near and dear to us.

If I may be so bold…to invite you, if you live in the southern California area to join us at Angel’s Stadium…(or is that the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, California? Hey it’s California…we have “issues”…you know what I mean?) on the night of September 15th to celebrate the life of a godly man who showed each of us how to “finish strong”. You can register by going to Light the Night (www.lightthenight.org), click on register and search for the Chuck Obremski Finish Strong team. It will be a lovely night…as we join with cancer survivors and family and friends of those who have been impacted by cancer to raise money for this worthy cause.

To join the Chuck Obremski Finish Strong team…we’ll be located under the “Finish Strong” banner in the parking lot in front of the stadium, near the red hat closest to the “Big A”. I look forward to seeing you all!

Now if I may be bolder…if you can’t join us…how about donating to a worthy cause. Many of you likely know someone who has been impacted by cancer…so you know how important cancer research is in allowing people to live longer lives so they too can achieve that which God has called them to do and “Finish Strong”.

I’ve registered with Light the Night…and have a web page (susanwalkergirl). If you can contribute…I would be most grateful for you kindness. I hope to see you there!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Called



We look to You oh Lord,
For You have a plan,
From before the foundations of our world were laid.

You alone know whom You have called,
A man who loves Your word,
Faithful to preach the truth…uncompromised.


We pray for ears to hear You,
Hearts to obey You,
Willing to follow Your lead.


We ask that You prepare our hearts,
To receive him,
Welcome the one whom you have called…into our fold.


By Susan Bunts
August 26, 2007


As the Pastoral Search Committee gave their report…I found my attention riveted. As Dean got up to speak…lets just say he had my attention. Every few months for close to two years now we’d have a report or update on the status and progress our Pastoral Search Committee. It’s been almost two years since our beloved Pastor Chuck Obremski finished well…and went home to be with our Lord.

During that time…God has prepared our hearts. He gave us time to grieve and mourn. A time to accept. A time to look to the Lord and seek His plan and timing. A time to hunger and thirst for His Word. Now it appears that time may have come to a close. While it remains in the hands of the Lord and we continue to ask for His wisdom and guidance, as we may soon have a Senior Pastor.

With state of many churches today…we are most concerned that this man whom God has called be deeply rooted and grounded in the Word of God. That he will be faithful to preach the Word…since it has the power of salvation…for all who believe.

When we look out on our church body…we don’t know who still needs to hear the Gospel message. Yet we all need the Word of God…which is able to divide soul and spirit…to comfort and convict. May we be mindful that there are ravenous wolves which seek to devour the sheep. We pray that God will bring us a shepherd who will tend to us and care for us…like the Good Shepherd.

So we wait…continue to pray for God timing, God’s plan…and the man whom God has called. Will you pray with us?

The Darkness of Despair


Today I was reminded in abundance of a time in my life when I was walking in the darkness of depression. It was such an awful time…and something that lasted for far too long. I desire to never, ever let that kind of feeling rule my life again. That’s not to say…I’m never depressed. But in comparison to before…I’m almost walking on sunshine.

Today I was reminded of that feeling of what the pit of depression feels like and what it’s like to see people and life all around you…going on just like normal. As if they are oblivious to you and your pain and despair. A despair that seems like utter hopelessness. Only after the fact did I discovered that no…it was just for a season.

In a way…life going on around you as normal…makes the place of despair seem all the more darker. Talk about alone…you never feel more alone, small and insignificant as when you are locked in the embrace of despair…and it won’t let go. You feel like you have no voice. If you were to speak out…no one would hear you.

Thankfully it’s a thing of the past. But I see so many brothers and sisters in the body of Christ undergoing severe attack right now. Devastating blows that are almost sinking people. It can be tough to hang onto faith. But hang on we must.

That is precisely the enemy’s tactic and desire. To see us defeated and despairing. To be consumed with our problems so that we are focused on them…and not trusting God. He loves to make us feel forsaken by God.

When I see the attacks so pervasive toward the body of Christ…I am reminded that his time is growing short. He knows he’s loosing and will ultimately go down in defeat. While he may not be able to take away our salvation…or eternal rewards…he desires to make our existence so miserable here that God and eternity seem so far off that we cease caring. For Christians…our hell is here. For the unbeliever…this is as close to heaven as they will ever get. Not because Christians are better…by no means…but because we’ve received the prescribed remedy for sin…Christ Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross.

As a Christian…I’m not suppose to hate anyone…nor wish anyone to go to hell. But I have absolute liberty to tell the enemy that I hate him…with an everlasting hate. I rejoice at the thought of him being tossed into the lake of fire…for eternity. It’s a perfect match…because that is who hell was created for…our enemy…the hater of our souls. One day soon…his rein of terror and hatred will end…I look forward to that day. What a wonderful day that will be…thank you Jesus!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Gleanings


"We can never fully know God’s power in our lives until we are at our weakest."

"Rejection…doesn’t rejection hurt all the more when it comes from one who knows you well?"

God is at work in me right now…not sure exactly to what end…and what will be the result…I feel as though I am under construction as I have embarked on listening to Beth Moore’s “A Woman’s Heart” Bible Study.

When listening to the CD’s I sometimes feel assailed by thoughts and ideas and memories from the past. Sometimes they come so fast I can't even remember them so I can write them down. Other times…I can hardly wait to get to my computer or put pen to paper. I made a mad dash to the computer to jot down the above thoughts.

On Thursday morning…as the water flowed over me during my morning shower and I was waking up…I was surprised when I clearly recalled an episode of painful rejection from last year. Good gracious…where did that come from? The enemy? Yeah…I’ve been feeling some arrows coming my way lately. One of his most effective instruments is to make me feel alone, isolated and rejected…so that I will distrust God and His motives and work in my life.

Today as I continued to listen to the CD’s…memories from my teenage years and early adulthood came to mind. I found myself wishing that I could talk to my mother…just talk as an adult…and deal with left over issues. Things that were never discussed or dealt with during our life. Ask why or what were you thinking? Or what was going on in your life that caused this or that? Unfortunately…that’s a conversation that will have to take place the other side of heaven…since the woman I see each week bears little resemblance to my mother. At times she knows I’m her daughter…but more often…I’m her sister or an old schoolmate that comes to visit.

Our relationship was not a great one. Sometimes I use to think it was because we were not biologically related and she never really bonded with me or maybe didn’t like me. But in actuality…I think we were just very different. Just like I’m not perfect and a work in progress…she too was that when I was growing up. A mother…not bad…but surely not perfect. One who carried her own scars into motherhood and life.

I do find myself concerned for her salvation. One who didn’t have a close walk with God…nor did she talk much about God, nor know His word. We didn’t go to church, nor read the Bible until after my father died when I was 10. After that we started to attend church. It’s hard for the outside observer to know for sure…but from the evidence throughout her life…I’m left with the thought…I don’t really know if she has ever accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior. Thus you will find me quizzing her or preaching to her every now and again.

I wonder…does her repeating the sinner’s prayer when her mind and will is fading if not gone…does it count? Or is it just me…trying to lead or drag her into the kingdom?

On a recent preaching episode with Gayle…I was explaining the Gospel. When I asked her if she wanted to accept Jesus…she responded, “Well I’m not sure…that sounds too good to be true.” Indeed it is too good…but thankfully it is true. I got her to say the words. Only the Lord knows the results of those words. Did it take…is she saved? I don’t know. Thus…I will likely continue to press the point.

Even though I have a life time of rejection that is blinding at times…I remind myself that I have been accepted by God. That if all else forsake me…that I am accepted in the Beloved. Does that help…yes mostly…and no for pain still remains…and questions…and scars.

There are times when I want to say to God…I believe in You. I am grateful for the sacrifice of Jesus for my sins…and I’ve accepted Him as my Lord and Savior…but I can’t go on. I’ll live a decent life…and won’t get involved in that which is wrong…but I don’t want to do anything more than that. I want to just live my life. He of all people knows the hurt in my heart…and knows that which is deep and invisible to others…but it’s bright as the noon day sun to Him. He knows it…and He has the ability to help heal and end that pain. But for whatever reason…thus far He has chosen not to.

And that’s when I start to get a stinky attitude…and say I love you God…but I don’t want to do anything more than live my life. I can’t give that which I don’t have. For an outpouring of love and service…surely I need to have my tanks filled. But they remain dangerous close to empty. I’m tired of running on empty.

Does having lived this life with pain make me more compassionate and understanding towards those who are hurting? Yes…I know well what it’s like to have a hurting heart. But in some respects…it’s also dulled my feelings. The hurt has caused scars that are tough. Scars which help protect my heart from further injury. At times…I can be rather cold hearted and uncaring. I feel like I’m running on empty…and by my own power and can’t go much further.

I do believe that this will necessitate me trusting God…even when it doesn’t feel safe and when I don’t want to. So does that bring me back to my first point?

"We can never fully know God’s power in our lives until we are at our weakest."

Hum…well…I’m there. Today I feel as though I’m at my weakest…and need a miracle. I don’t only want to know rest, peace and the fullness of love when I get to heaven. I want to know it down here…this side of heaven. I want to give to people…out of the fullness and abundance of my heart…not only from a heart that is running on empty.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Reflections on Worship

Just think…we won’t need to glance at lyrics printed in a hymnal, nor shown on a screen in heaven. They will be in our hearts and on our lips. Even better…we’ll be in harmony. There will be no disagreement on what praise and worship music we sing. Everyday in heaven…will be a day in which we want to…desire to give praise and worship to Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. We won’t be distracted by the events of the day. People will understand, appreciate, agree and join in with our worship…not look at us like we are crazy. Our hands will be lifted high or held in prayerful thanksgiving. We will not be self conscious on our style or what we are doing.

Not a Clue


After last night’s Bible study…I came away thinking that I don’t have clue what true worship of God is. Nor what it will be like when I join all the saints in heaven worshiping, along with the angels and four living creatures who surround the throne of God. As we fall out before the throne…our voices joined in one accord, loudly singing praises to our Father and the Lamb of God who stands before the throne.


Each week it is my privilege to attend Kindred’s midweek Bible study as Elder Dave Dunn teaches the book of Revelation. Sometimes this book can be very intimidating to study because it’s hard to know what is symbolic and what will actually be happening in heaven and earth during that time. A time in our future…everyone’s future…both believer and unbeliever. But Dave has a way of making it understandable…but in no way does he remove the mystery nor diminish the majesty and marvelous work of our Lord.


Each week…it seems as if God impresses upon me a certain verse or passage. Last night…the verses were Revelation 7:11-12


“All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God saying:


Amen!

Praise and glory,

And wisdom and thanks and honor

And power and strength

Be to our God for ever and ever.

Amen!”


My eyes were glued to the words fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God”. Fell down and worshiped…worshiped God.


As Dave further explained this passage my mind could hardly wrap around the picture of what this will be like.


Worship…do I really worship God?


I love praise and worship during our church service…and singing worship music any old time. There are times when I could get lost in it. Times when I almost feel the touch of heaven…and have glimpsed of the majesty of God…just a glimpse.


I remind myself that when Moses simply saw the afterglow of the trail of God…he glowed himself for a time. So much so that he had to veil himself when he returned to the Jews after coming down from the mountaintop.


Saul on the road to Damascus fell to the ground when he heard the voice of Jesus…whom he would soon learn was the long awaited Messiah. Saul…who went from rejecting Jesus and persecuting His followers to being the most influential evangelist the world has ever known. The one we now know as Paul.


John…when he saw Jesus in heaven…he fell at His feet as if he was a dead man. John knew Jesus in His earthly carnation. But when he encountered Him in heaven…the risen and ascended Savior…John fell down as if dead. There was no question…he was now before God. Jesus Christ…the Lamb of God…who is worthy of our praise, glory, honor and worship.


When I encounter someone or something good and praiseworthy…I find myself excited and eager to share the “good news”. I can hardly contain myself…and want to tell everyone I know. Now take that feeling and multiple that times infinity and that may give me a glimpse of what it will feel like in heaven to worship Lord Jesus. We will not be able to contain our worship and praise. We will have un-abandoned worship and will not be concerned what those around us think. Our focus will solely be on God.


Part of our worship of Jesus will be for what He’s done in saving us. Forgiving us for our sins and redeeming us from the pit of hell. But more than that…much more than that will be the worship of our Heavenly Father and the Holy Lamb of God…Jesus Christ. Worship and praise for who He is…and what He is.


What could possibly inspire all the saints in heaven, the angels…and the creatures to fall before Him in praise and worship? Well…it is that which makes Him God…those characteristic which elicited endless praise.


"Amen!

Praise and glory

And wisdom and thanks and honor

And power and strength

Be to our God for ever and ever.

Amen!”


Even if Jesus hadn’t saved us…He is still worthy of our praise. Even hadn’t sacrificed Himself upon the cross redeeming us from our sins…He is still worthy of praise.


Even those who reject him now and go to their grave without receiving Him as their Lord and Savior…will one day bow their knee and confess Jesus as Lord. Only then…He will not be their Lord...nor will He be their Savior. They will have chosen to pay the penalty for their own sins…eternal separation from God.


Is part of what makes hell, hell…the fact that it is separated from God? Separated from anything good?


Dave went on to briefly expand upon each of the aspects of God that are praised in the heavenly worship.


Amen…it is so!


Praise…to admire and commend, to pay tribute to and acclaim. – Psalm 71:8


Glory…beautify and magnify, wonder and grandeur. – Psalm 108:5


Wisdom…to judge correctly, to apply knowledge with understanding. – 1 John 3:20


Thanks…appreciation and gratefulness, an attitude of gratitude. – 1 Chronicles 16:34


Honor…Respect and splendor, to hold in high esteem. Psalm 145:5


Power…might and authority, an unfathomable reserve. – Psalm 66:1-3


Strength…the exhibition of potency, the ability to exercise might. – Isaiah 40:28-31


Amen…so be it!


How might I live a life of praise and worship of God…even here, even now today? Everyday?


How irresistible would I prove my Savior to be if I walked in the joy of the Lord…and continually praised Him? In the good times and bad…because my praise is about Who He is…not what He does for me or has given me.


To think that I get the added bonus…something I did not deserve…the additional thing to praise Jesus for…salvation. Salvation for one who is so unworthy. But I need not fear…for He is worthy…and has cleansed me from my sin and clothed me in His righteousness. I need not worry if I am acceptable…because I am accepted in the Beloved.


Do I treat Jesus as my Beloved? If not, why not? If not, when?


Time is a wasting…and if I am able to keep my focus on God…and be used by God to witness to only one lost soul…isn’t that worth it?


Just think of the people we will meet in heaven…who influenced us and encouraged us in our faith. Will I try to do that for others?


Who will be in hell that I was given an opportunity to influence for Christ…but failed to? Failed because I was more interested in me and my interests and pursuits than in their eternal salvation?


Jesus tells us that one day every tear will be wiped away from our eyes. But for a time…when we are in heaven we will be keenly aware of what is happening on earth…and our own failures. Tears will be shed in heaven for a time. May I try to live a life here and now that will not bring tears of sorrow.


Imagine if we could live a life of no regrets? Of doing our best…doing what is right…but trusting God and leaving the results up to Him?


Instead of imagining like John Lennon…I should imagine like the Apostle John...one who actually was there. Not just imagine but know that there is a heaven and there is a hell. That there is peace in Jesus Christ alone. That instead of religion…I have a relationship with God. Know that we are one in Christ…called from every people, tribe, nation and tongue.


We have been called to share that vision of heaven. Called to share the truth with those who have been deceived by the enemy. Share with those who believe a lie. Believe that there is no God…or who following a god of their own making. They may believe there is no heaven…but they will soon know the eternal reality of hell.


Instead of merely hoping that one day the unbeliever will one day join us in heaven…what will I do share the message that salvation and heaven is found in Christ Jesus alone?


God does not want the enemy to deceive one more person into hell. But the enemy does…and will continue to work “like the devil” to take as many people with him into the fiery eternal reality of hell.


It would be bad enough if when an unbeliever died their souls would just be extinguished. But that’s not the case…they continue to exist. It’s just a question of where. In the case of unbelievers…they will exist in hell.


How can I justify withholding the message of the Gospel? We’ve been equipped with the Gospel message, the Word of God and by the power of the Holy Spirit. What am I doing with that that message today?

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

I Desire Rain!


Oh Lord,
I feel so very small indeed.

Only silence,
Fills my days.

You dear Lord,
Seem so very far from me.

Like the dry parched land,
I desire rain.


I search, I seek,
Incline my listening ear towards Thee.

Only You know,
That which my lips I dare not utter.

My heart broken,
Requires Thy healing hand.

Like the waterless thirsty riverbed,
I desire rain.


I turn the pages,
I ask…seek Thy Spirit’s lead.

Like the wind ‘neath the eagles wing,
I pray Thy Spirit will carry me.

A miracle is needed,
Nothing short thereof.

I search the sky, no cloud in sight,
I desire rain.


By Susan Bunts
August 18, 2007

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Guilty!!!

Imagine sending your 13 year old boy off to school…it’s a normal day like any other. He’s kind of gawky…but a good kid. Yeah…some times he makes some goofy decisions…but good golly who didn’t at awkward age.

Who would imagine when you reached out your hand to pick up that ringing phone…your life was about to be changed. Not to mention that your child…your precious 13 year old boy was about to be thrust into a surreal, unimaginable nightmare. Surely it must be that…because you feel as if you’ve fallen into the rabbit’s hole and entered the unreality of Alice in Wonderland.

This makes no sense…but finally you realize the police are serious. Your son has been arrested on sexual abuse charges. No…he’s not considered the victim…but he’s been accused!

You race down to the jail and hope to speak with your son. To calm him down and assure him to not worry that everything will okay. It’ll get straightened out in no time. After all who in their right mind would consider childish horseplay sexual abuse?

“Detective…I must see my boy! Please help me…let me see my boy! What do you mean he’s been strip searched and is being interrogated? He's 13 years old for Pete's sake. Are you nuts? Oh my gosh…all he was doing is racing down the hallway and swatting other kids on the butt. Not a good thing to do…but surely it’s not criminal…much less sexual abuse. So where are the other kids that were engaging in this horseplay? Huh? Where? Where are they? There were other kids doing the very same thing…only they weren’t arrested. Can you explain to me…why girls who were slapping boy’s butts were not arrested? How come only my son and another boy were selected for prosecution? I know I live in Oregon…one of the most liberal states…but this is beyond whack job liberal thinking.”

Who in their right mind would consider kids swatting each other on the butt during horseplay at school sexual abuse? Who? Who thinks it’s acceptable to strip search 13 year old boys? Could the real abusers in this instance be the overzealous police and DA?

Talk about checking your brain at the door. Talk about having no common sense. Talk about damaging children to the nth degree…and for what? Childish horseplay? What’s wrong with you?

Cory Mashburn and Ryan Cornelison and their parents are facing that scenario right now today. Only it gets worse. After being arrested for “sexual abuse” these boys spent 5 days in jail. Their parents were not allowed to see them for over a day. Cory and Ryan are facing numerous counts of sexual abuse and harassment. During the course of their imprisonment these boys were strip searched. When taken to court they were shackled and were forced to wear jailhouse garb.

There are at least 7 other kids…both boys and girls who admittedly engaged in the same activity that Cory and Ryan did…and they are not facing any charges. How do you spell selective prosecution?

To make matter worse both families have been sent into financial disaster as they attempt to defend their sons. One family lost their car and had their electricity turned off. The insanity continues because they boys will now be going to trial. Thankfully the parents are fighting this and have received an outpouring of support from many across the county who are outraged. But apparently the judge, DA and prosecutor are not out raged and continue their case, despite the alleged "girl victims" recanting their claims of feeling abused. They said they felt pressured by the Principal and school Police Officer. There is one mother who remains resolute that her "little girl" was a victim because she like other kids, both boys and girls, was swatted on the butt. Just another example of women's liberation making our society worse.

(As a side bar the same women's rights groups that would find these kids actions as sexual abuse...are the sames ones that would fight for the that "little girl" to be able to have sex with whomever she wants, when ever she wants...and have an abortion at will without her parents being notified or approving. Another reason...why women's rights and liberation groups have only served to make our nation worse. I rue the day you ever started.)

Can you imagine what it’s like to be your basic good kid…arrested and strip searched? I remember being a teenage girl and feeling very awkward just changing into my gym cloths in front of other kids. That was somewhat traumatizing…to a teenager who is going through all sorts of unfamiliar changes to their body. Can you imagine having police strip search you?

Now you tell me who the sexual abusers are? I’ll tell you who… Vice Principal Steve Tillery, school Police Officer Marshall Roache, District Attorney Bradley Berry and Prosecutor Debra Markham!

Do I think that kids swatting each other on the butt is okay? No…I think it’s inappropriate and worthy of a chat in the Principals office. I think it’s worthy of detention after school…and perhaps even a brief suspension. I also think that when 9 teenagers participate in this activity…that 9 teenagers should be given the same punishment. I don’t believe in selective prosecution.

Steve, Marshall, Bradley and Debra…what you’ve done is wrong and inexcusable. Each of you should loose your job. Bradley Berry…you need to go the way of Michael Nifong. I hope that one day…both of you will reap the consequences of your actions and face time behind bars. Shame on you…you have abused and misused your powers!

The other thing that you have done…is further muddied the waters in deciphering real sexual abuse cases. So now when people hear that someone engaged in sexual abuse…they won’t know if it’s trumped up ridiculous charges such as you have made up…or genuine sexual abuse that needs to be dealt with ever so severely. We go from one extreme to the other with our courts. Prosecutors that charge 13 old boys with sexual abuse for swatting each other on the butt and another judge lets a man who repeatedly rapes a 5 year old child go…only to have him murder 3 people. We are living in very, very weird and sick society.

I usually reserve my giving to my church or to other Christian organizations which promote the Gospel message and support family values. But this is one time that I will make an exception. I’m sending off a check to help support the families of Cory and Ryan as they have to go to trial and defend themselves.

If Cory and Ryan loose…they will face years in jail and being placed on a registered sexual abusers data base for life. If you feel compassion for these boys and their families…you can send a letter of support and or a check to:

The Cory Mashburn and Ryan Cornelison Defense Fund.

Wells Fargo Bank
1335 NE BAKER ST,
MCMINNVILLE, OR 97128

or

Lawrence Law Firm
235 NE 3rd St. Suite #1
McMinnville, OR 97128

Folks…we have a war on boys in this society. We can not afford to allow these overzealous prosecutors to get away with such outrageous actions without putting up a fight.

I ask you…to please do what you can to help. To read more on this case…please check out Susan Goldsmith’s excellent articles in The Oregonian. Contact the District Attorney’s office and convey your feelings about this case.

I feel like I live in an upside down world. Doesn’t the Bible warn us about such people?

“Woe unto you who call evil good and good evil.” – Isaiah 5:20

"And if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around his neck.”– Mark 9:42

Friday, August 17, 2007

Unbeliever

While there have been many days I’ve lamented the fact that I came to the Lord so late in my life (at the age of 32)…I must say there have been times recently where I have been grateful instead. Grateful because I’m keenly aware of my sinfulness and unrighteousness and that I have been saved solely by the grace of God and not by my own works. That means…my salvation is secure. I didn’t earn it, nor deserve it. It was bought and paid for by the perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross. It’s a done deal. I’ve been bought and paid for by the blood of the lamb. My salvation can never be taken from me.

Now when I’m a bonehead…and acting in my flesh and choosing to walk according to my own will and plan…then I will have a break in my fellowship with Jesus for time. But the relationship is secure…and I will be restored when I repent and turn back to God.

There have been many a time when I was envious of those who have been Christians for as long as they can remember. Or those who had Christian parents…and raised them up in the faith…and led them to the Lord at a young age. Those who didn’t have many years of wandering in the desert…living in the sin…lost in their sin and facing eternal punishment when they died.

To have such peace…and not have to look back at your life and see some ugly scars…now wouldn’t that be lovely? Indeed!

But I must say…I may have a deeper appreciation for just how great a work my salvation is. A deeper understanding of how close I came to hell. If you stand too close to me…I dare say you may still smell the whiff of smoke from the hell fire that licked at my soul. That is until that day…16 years ago last May when I received Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.

While at times…I find the sins that people engage in are repulsive and I want to stand in judgment against them…I still remember all too well what it’s like to live and walk with a mind that is darkened to the things of God. While there is a part of my flesh that wants to take credit or brag that I’m no longer like that…there too many daily reminders that it is but there for the grace of God…there go I.

Self righteousness ought to have no place in this girl’s life…one who not too long ago escaped a destiny in hell…where Satan was looking forward to welcoming me personally.

I started to think back…on what it’s like to have that darkened mind. What were my thoughts…what was my life really like?

  • Discontent…nothing made me happy…or at least not for very long. Everything soon lost its luster.
  • Dissatisfied…with myself and everyone else.
  • Life was just painful…and seemed to have no purpose.
  • I never felt good enough…but that didn’t stop me from trying to be.
  • I wanted to pretty, skinny, smart, nice, popular and have lots of friends. Be rich and be able to do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted.
  • Unloved and unlovable.
  • I always felt that if I wanted something…then I was the one that would have to “make it happen”.
  • Alone…utterly alone.
  • I felt like no one cared…not even my mother.
  • That everyone was out for themselves.
  • Nothing ever satisfied me.
  • I wanted to be cool…and highly esteemed…in order to be loved.
  • I tried to fill my mind with the wisdom of this world, psychology, philosophy, politics…but it was empty, vapid and missed the mark.
  • I found Christians to be the most irritating people in the world…and don’t you know it…God continued to bring many of them across my path.
  • I danced with the dark side of life…as I delved into the occult.
  • Rejected
  • When I chose to follow the ways of the world…there was still that nagging voice in the back of my head that assured me that what I was doing was wrong…a sinner. Thus…there was no enjoyment in the moment that was supposed to bring me pleasure.
  • I can honestly say for many years…probably from shortly after my dad died…until my 30’s a depressed person.
  • I wanted to die…even though I “didn’t believe in God”…I prayed I would die.

But praise God that He had a different plan for me. One that took my darkened mind…and shined the light of His word and brought me to a saving faith in Jesus Christ. Praise to be Jesus…I once was lost but now I’m found.

Frequently I long for, pray for and look forward to the return of my Savior in the Rapture as He comes to take home the church. But even as I pray…I am most grateful that it didn’t happen 17 years ago…otherwise I would likely have been lost in my sins and bound for hell. I’m well aware that there are untold numbers of people that if the Lord returned today…would remain lost in their sins. I pray that one day…they too will know the gratitude that I feel at coming from darkness to light…from death unto life.

Am I not grateful that the Lord is patient…and not willing that any would perish? Indeed I am…more than you know.

Since that darkness is much closer to me than those who have had a lifetime of walking with the Lord…I am passionate about the gospel message. I find I have no tolerance for churches which abdicate their responsibility before God to preach the gospel message. Those that back down from presenting the truth of God’s word…and turn a blind eye to my eternal fate if I die in my sins. All that just so they don’t have to make me feel uncomfortable and see me squirm in the pew if I’m visiting on Sunday morning.

To think that there are Pastors out there that relegate their responsibility of sharing the only life giving Gospel message to home Bible studies or fellowship groups so they can keep their message light hearted so that “seekers” will want to attend church on Sunday morning. That thought makes me want to vomit…I wonder what Jesus thinks?

I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” – Revelation 3:15-16

While I wasn’t in church regularly when I was lost in my sins and facing a future in hell…I was there on occasion. I wonder…would I have come to a saving faith in Christ earlier if I had been presented with the truth? That there is One God…to whom I must give an account for my sins. That I am sinner and bound for hell…but God has provided a way of escape through the atoning death of His Son Jesus Christ at Calvary. If I had heard that message…would I have been spared years spent in sin and darkness?

God tells us how beautiful are the feet of those who share the Gospel.

“And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!" – Romans 10:15

What does Jesus say about those who compromise and soft sell the Gospel?

If I care more about what someone thinks of me…and more concerned that they might reject me…than I do about sharing the Gospel message with someone lost in their sins…than I’ve laid down the Gospel…for what? In doing that I care more about me than the fact they are eternally lost in hell. How might God judge me for such actions?

Will I be grieved when I stand before God as the pages of the Book of Life are opened…and see my works, after coming to Christ, have been recorded? Since that day is coming…ought I not share Gospel message with those who still need to hear it? Share it freely so that they will have the opportunity to hear and receive it?

While some Christians…including me at times…find it easy to look down upon the sinner and their sinful ways…I hope that having escaped hell’s fire not too long ago has given me a compassion I might not otherwise have.

I must ask myself…whom do I need to share the Gospel message with today?

“Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” – Revelation 20:11-15

Picture a Day - Wild Yarrow

The yarrow in our garden is one of my favorite plants.  In the wild, it's just as pretty.