Archive for June, 2009

man swimming2If you don’t make a focused, intentional effort to swim against the tide of secularism, you will be swept out to sea with the rest of mankind that finds it easier to go with the flow than to fight the current.  They say, “Since practically everyone is doing it, it must be the way to live, right?”

 

 

drowning

 

If you start to feel lonely or begin to drown in the crashing waves of life, you’ll probably want to climb into a rescue boat.  But be careful which vessel you get into, because the people in the boat will take you where they’re going, either to places that glorify God or mock him.

Do not be deceived.  “Bad company corrupts good morals” (1 Cor. 15:33)

 

 

 fish against the tide2

 

 Enter through the narrow gate.  For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.  But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.  (Matthew 7:13)

 

I dare you to swim against the tide!

 

 

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service_with_smile_heading4

Chapter Six

“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear” 1st John 4:18a. This is the truth that I have been putting into practice since the last time that I wrote to all of you.  I have learned that the love of Jesus is what we all long for in this world.  That perfect love.  The name above all names that will bring the biggest man to his knees in awe and reverance.  This was especially true on that wonderful day when revival broke out at work…………

 

“Are you kidding? We’re out of chicken again?!” I was beyond frustrated.  We had advertised a $4.99 buffet and were not at all prepared.  The entire dining room was full, we were short staffed and a waiting list was growing rapidly at the door. We have a rather “hard” group of people that work at the restaurant and all of them were on staff that day.  The servers were in tears and the kitchen staff decided that it was a good time to start a fight in the kitchen.  Most of the people involved had spent the majority of their adult life behind bars. It had become a very ugly scene and the language was beyond intolerable with my Lord’s name being used in front of and behind every curse word. I flew back to the kitchen with an arm full of plates and walked into a war zone.  All I could do was cry out in my head “Oh Lord Jesus help me!”.  Immediately I opened my mouth and at the top of my voice started singing, “Jesus loves me this I know!” The voice that I heard wasn’t even my own.  It was the voice of an angel and the Spirit of God swept over me like never before.  I slowed the tempo down and slowly set the dishes down singing louder and stronger.  By the time that I sang the last “yes, Jesus loves me” both of my hands were raised and tears were rolling down my cheeks to the point that I couldn’t even finish the song….then…very softly, I heard a man’s voice sing “the Bible tells me so”.  I looked up to see a huge man with a single tear rolling down his face.  The entire kitchen was silent.  Then, a cook started working and singing “Jesus loves me”  the next person sang “this I know” until the whole kitchen had sung a line from that song.  It was an amazing move of God.  The course of the entire day had changed at the hand of the Lord.  After lunch had died down I walked to the back and a server was trying to hide her tears when she saw me.  “Can I do something for you honey?” I asked.  “you can come home and sing me to sleep…you sounded just like my Mama”.  Then she looked up at me and couldnt’ stop the tears, “Miss Karen, does Jesus still love me?” “Oh yes, He loves you so much that He gave His life for you”.  That day she gave her heart to Jesus and has completely changed her life’s direction.  When I came back out front the cashier was crying! “Oh my, honey, what’s wrong!” I questioned, “Miss Karen, could Jesus really love someone like me?” She also gave her heart to Jesus that day.  Praise God!  The entire mood of the restaurant has changed.  The fighting and cursing has all but stopped and I never hear the name of Jesus in a curse word anymore. 

 

Revival doesn’t just happen in a church building.  It SHOULDN’T just happen in a church building.  The name of Jesus, that Name above all Names, should be lifted up high in our voices and our lives wherever we are.  We never know when His light will shine through our lives and bring light to the darkest places and the sweet aroma of the love of Jesus everywhere we go.

 

2 Corinthians 2:14 (New American Standard Bible)

 14But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place.

 

Karen Dunn

 

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When I was young you taught me how
to throw and catch a ball.
Your love for God and His creation
 was contagious to us all.

You and Mom would save a seat
for me in the pew.
And taught me all about the Lord
as He was teaching you.

A teacher by profession
you loved to show the way.
But you also walked the talk-
your life was on display.

Now that you’re there learning
how to worship Him,
save a seat for me next to you
to teach me once again.

 

Happy Father’s Day to you and our Heavenly Father!

your favorite (and only) son

 

 

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touch of God

Here are the ways I’ve heard from the Lord and seen him work in my life so far.  I would also like to hear some of yours as well.

 

Through prayer:
Even when our requests don’t get answered immediately, our spirits are comforted and lifted when we pour out our hearts before the Savior.  I often take for granted that he’s always ready to listen.

The Lord is near to all that call upon him.  (Psalm 145:18)


Through God’s Word:
This is more than just finding something that applies to you from what God said thousands of years ago.  The Holy Spirit is ready to illumine the scriptures and show you specific truths you need to know.  Ask him to guide you before you start reading.  Have you tried contemplative prayer?

The word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword…and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.  (Hebrews 4:12)

 
 
Through worship:
God has a history of showing up when his people praise him.  When the Ark of the Covenant was brought into the temple, all the singers sang their hearts out along with 120 priests blowing trumpets.  Joining them were other musicians crashing cymbals and strumming harps and lyres.  They were “in unison making themselves heard with one voice to praise and glorify the Lord.”  Then the glory of the Lord filled the place with a cloud.  I wish I could have been there!  I have felt his presence during worship at church, at worship concerts, and when I really let loose and worship him when alone. 

I will exalt you, my God, the King; I will praise your name forever and ever.  (Psalm 145:1)
 
 Through being still:
How can we expect to hear from the Lord if we’re too busy doing things our way?  Waiting is hard, and it’s tempting to take matters into our own hands, but God’s timing is always better than ours.  We need to slow down, clear our minds, and try to be receptive and teachable to his leading.

 Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him.  (Psalm 37:7)


 Through listening: 
It’s hard to describe that still, small voice, but as Jesus explained, “My sheep hear my voice and they follow me.”   This is where we have to develop our spiritual senses through ongoing prayer and taking time to be quiet and rest before the Lord.  Eventually we learn to discern when we are connecting with him as opposed to just our thoughts or feelings, although he can use those, too.  His promptings will never contradict scripture, however. 

“Speak, Lord, for Your servant is listening.”  (Samuel 3:10)


Through abiding:
A focused, intentional pursuit of God is unnatural at first, but our success with the Christian life depends on it.  We needed his power to save us and we need it now to overcome sin, not just during our quiet times, but all through the day.  This is hard to practice, especially in the middle of our intense activities, but whenever possible we need to “throw off everything that hinders” and “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.  (John 15:4)


Through community:
As we say in our church, “Together is better!”  We need each other for support and encouragement.  Not only does God use others to speak to us, they can also pray for us and give us counsel.  

Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another.  (Hebrews 10:25)

 

Through spiritual gifts:
It feels great when you see the Lord working through you, accomplishing things you could never do on your own.  I get a real satisfaction when I write down what the Lord has been teaching me and I enjoy engaging in people’s lives as a small group leader.  But sometimes our ministries feel a lot like work, though, don’t they?  I just have to remind myself who I’m ultimately doing it for.

Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you.  (1 Timothy 4:14)

 

Through circumstances:
This one can be tricky to get right sometimes and we have to be careful not to interpret everything that happens to us as a sign from God, but he does open and close doors and uses life’s experiences to teach us important lessons.  We can even learn from the consequences of poor choices.  Time after time, things fall into place and prayers get answered which are way beyond coincidence.

God causes all things to work together for good to those who love Him.  (Romans 8:28)

 

Through his blessings:
The Lord has given me so many good things, from my loved ones to all the pleasures he’s bestowed on me to enjoy in this world.  Even when I have aches and pains or a bad day, I am reminded that there are many who have it much worse than I.  The more that I can cultivate a thankful attitude, the more content I become, which keeps me from chasing after more and more stuff which never satisfies.  Sharon and I try to thank him for everything, even for a refreshing breeze on a hot day.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.  (James 1:17)

 

 

The closer we get to God, the more we understand how Asaph could say to him in Psalm 73: “Earth has nothing I desire besides you.”  Now that’s a treasure worth going after!

 

Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you as well.  (Matthew 6:33)

 

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chest with coin trail4Along our quest to get to know our Heavenly Father, we catch glimpses of his glory as if looking at dim reflections in a mirror as the apostle Paul described.  They are like coins that spilled out of a treasure chest on its way to be buried.  The copper coins are the trials, the silver ones are the triumphs, and the gold ones are the indescribable moments of joy when we experience his presence.  But they all lead us closer and closer to him, as long as we stay on the trail in hot pursuit of our savior, the greatest treasure of all.

My soul, my spirit, my innermost being is not satisfied with what I have seen and experienced so far in this world, as beautiful and wonderful as it is.  That’s because my spirit is not from this world.  It is an alien and feels out of place here.  It is being held captive, as it were, in this limited physical dimension.  That’s why I know there is something more out there somewhere.

Many are looking to science to find the answers to the origin and meaning of life.  But scientists can only speculate because their tools are limited to what they can replicate in our finite environment.  Science fiction takes a stab at it occasionally.  The TV show Fringe is based on various paranormal phenomenons that are usually violent in nature.  While the show is rather over the top, it’s interesting how the ongoing story line concerns the exploration of another dimension or parallel universe that can be broken into with special contraptions at certain portals, or doorways.

We should be glad that God does not meet us face to face because if he did I don’t think we would survive the encounter.  Whenever he got close, even in a disguised form, such as in a cloud, lightning, or an angel, humans witnessing the event always threw themselves to the ground, trembling in fear.  I think the church today has lost that sense of the mighty power of God and mostly stresses his grace and love, which I feel is unbalanced. 

But God is approachable.  In fact, he desperately wants us to know him.  I grew up in the church and learned all about God and how to pray to him.  Well, now I want to know him and pray with him.

So, how can we humans, who are contained within the constraints of time, space, and matter, communicate with our creator, who is an all powerful spirit without limits?  Can any of our five physical senses help us at all or do we need to develop and train a spiritual sense to connect with the spiritual dimension?  I believe the answer is “yes” to both, and in Part III, coming soon in the next post, I will share ten ways that I hear from the Lord and see him work in my life.

 

We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.  (2 Corinthians 4:7)

 

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treasure-chestThirteenth in the series Get close to God

________________________ 

Where your treasure is,
there your heart will be also.  (Matthew 6:21)

 ________________________

What is your treasure?  What do you value the most?  Your family, job, house, car, hobby, money?  If you’re like me, it’s all of those.  But according to Jesus, those are just the appetizers, not the main course.  They’re like previews of coming attractions, but not the main show.

Most of us stay so content with pre-occupying ourselves with the things of this world that we miss the big picture.  We eat, drink, and be merry, because we think that’s all there is to life.  But can you blame us?  God has been pretty quiet for the last 2000 years.  Or has he?

Just because something can’t be seen, heard, touched, or smelled, doesn’t mean it’s not there.  When people hear about a buried treasure, why do they go to such great lengths to find it?  How do they know for sure that it exists?  They can’t see, hear, touch, or smell it.  All they know is what someone has told them, but they do have a map, so they trust and hope that the treasure is real.

Does that sound familiar?  There is another map, called the Bible, which shows us how to find the source of more love, joy, peace and fulfillment than we can possibly imagine.  Unlike a treasure chest full of gold coins and jewelry, however, God is not an object that can be easily grasped and held.  That’s because he is not like one of us.  He is a spiritual being and is not limited to a physical body, although He has occasionally taken on that form (as he does with Jesus) to relate to us.  But weren’t we made in his image?  Yes, he gave us a soul with personality, emotions, and a conscience, which sets us apart from the rest of the animal world.  Some have argued that he has some sort of glorified body, since he is described in Revelation as sitting on a throne and Moses was allowed to look at his back but not his face.   At any rate, my point is this: our creator is far greater than his creatures so how can we relate to him?

God made himself known in many ways in the Old Testament, but before the crucifixion of Christ only the priest could enter the Holy of Holies inside the inner sanctuary to communicate with him.  So, now that we can boldly enter the throne of grace, how do we do that?  How do we find and what do we do with that kind of treasure?  There’s more to it than just praying and hoping that he hears us.  Wouldn’t you like to hear back from him?  Guess what?  You can!  We will explore that together in Part II.

 

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