Friday, August 22, 2008

Another Battlefields and Blessings blog

Well I decided to read this again today and it was just were I was in reading scripture. Matthew 6:9-13 and Matthew 7:7-11

Jackson's Hatred of War

On April 17, 1860, a few weeks before Virginia seceded from the Union, a peace conference was held in Washington, D.C, to try to avoid a war. Stonewall Jackson was heard to say:
"If the general government should persist in the measures now threatened, there must be war. It is painful to discover with what unconcern they speak of war, and threaten it. The do not know it's horrors. I have seen enough of it to make me look upon it as the sum of all evils." His Wife Mary Anna writes (However it may surprise those who knew him only as a soldier, yet it is true that I never heard any man express such utter abhorrence of war. I shall never forget how he once exclaimed to me, with all intensity of his nature, "Oh how I deprecate war!"
Jackson went on to say:
Should the step be taken which is now threatened, we shall have no other alternative; we must fight. But do you not think that all the Christian people of the land could be induced to unite in a concert of prayer to avert so great an evil? It seems to me that if they would thus unite in prayer, war might be prevented and peace preserved. (His wife Mary concluded)...In his public prayers after this, his most fervent petition wa that God would preserve the whole land from the evils of war.

It's interesting that the great warrior, Stonewall Jackson, hated war so much. he took no pleasure in the prospect of war, but he was willing to do his duty if called upon to defend his cherished state of Virginia. Jackson's faith in the power of prayer wa his first answer to war's inevitable horrors. he believed that if all
Christians would unite in prayer, was could be avoided. Jackson describes this united effort as "a concert of prayer." There is power in the united effort of praying people.

As a Christian, do you believe in the power of "a concert of prayer"? If Christians all over the world or even here in America were to be a part of "a concert of prayer" concerning the coming election, the coming of Christ or the salvation of People, perhaps we too could change the coming days. Think about it. Prayer is the Key to heaven, Faith unlocks the door. Good song and very true.
I will be off for couple of weeks and will not be blogging. Stay tuned, stay clean, stay pure and know that if Jesus taries His coming, we as Christians need to join in
"a concert of prayer" for our nation.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Battlefields and Blessings

A good friend of mine wrote a book entitled Battlefields and Blessings. This is a daily devotional book with stories of Faith and Courage from people who lived and died during the Civil War. I haven't kept up on a day to day basis but every once in a while I get the signed book down and look at it. Today I just happened to read January 18th. Now I know I'm way behind but I've got so many devotional books and right now I'm sticking to "My utmost for His Highest" but I still love to read about the Civil War. I wanted to share this day with you.

Confederate Soldier Walter Sullivan wrote:
Desertion from the ranks was a major problem for both sides during the war. Fear was only one of the factors that led me to desert. The miserable daily life of the soldier---the lack of food, clothing, shoes, (particularly in the South)---led men to desert the army. The call from the home front might be too great to resist....many mothers and wives wrote letters encouraging their men to desert and come home to feed and to protect them. Many soldiers answered the call....Two confederate deseters had been caught in Floyd County and placed before a firing squad. As the order to "fire" was about to be given, a rider approached. He bore the message, "The War is over! The war is over!"
The two deserters believed their lives had been spared, but the Confederate officer did not believe the news and gave the command, "fire". The two deserters died, but for nothing; the war was over indeed.

The word "finished" is telos in the Greek meaning "to bring to a sense of completion or end." A war has been waged from eternity past between the forces of heaven and of hell. satan's foremost plan was to keep Jesus from implementing God's eternal plan. If Satan could erect some type of roadblock, then he would be thwarting the way of salvation for lost people. But when Jesus was dying, his last words were not of gloom and defeat, but words of victory. He won the battle on the cross and sealed it with his resurrection. Unlike the two Confederate soldiers, Jesus death was not in vain. Therefore, we have no cause to fear death---we can welcome it as a friend.
In John 19:30 Whe n He had received the drink, Jesus said, "it is finished." With that, he bowed his head and gave up the spirit.

It no doubt was a hard time during the Civil War. Many men lost their lives through battle, through starvation, through cold and freezing weather and I'm certain that many wanted to depart the ranks and go home, "desert". What about the soldiers of Christ today, many are also departing the ranks and deserting. Jesus says that when this happens, we can know that His return is soon. Praise God today for the words,that Jesus spoke on the cross, "It is finished". We can stand firm and know that the war has already been won.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Morning Quiet Time

This morning, as I was reading scripture, I just so happened to be reading John 15&16 The first 8 verses of chapter 15 have really eat my lunch for some reason. There is an issue of which my daughters know about that I've been praying through for many years now and this morning seemed to be a revelation to me. Here's how my thought process went.

"I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser" I always imagine grape vines when I read this passage. My grandmother use to have grapevines along the side of her house. These grapevines sometimes would produce many grapes, the real deep purple ones which were so sweet and some years, it seemed like the grapes just were "so-so", not much "punkin" you know what I mean? I don't remember lots and lots of stories about my grandparents, but I do remember my granddaddy who was an itenerate preacher, cutting the grape vines back to almost nothing and I always wondered why he did that. It just did not make sense to me, it appeared that he would kill the grapevine.

"Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit". I remember that the grapevine would run down a clothes line and it seemed much bigger by doing that, but he would cut it back almost back to where the grapevine went down into the ground.

So as I'm thinking about that, I find myself asking God, not to take away branches, but to prune the branches in my life so that fruit can be produced and glory and honor comes to Him. And as I was praying that and just stopped reading and prayed and prayed that God would do a great work in the pruneing of my life, I felt release and peace. Then I read the next verse and it said;

"You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you." I felt like God and I were just having a conversation. You see, I'm visioning either a cutting back a short distance for the pruneing and a cutting all the way back to the trunk of the vine and that part being thrown away to be later picked up and placed on a heap for the fire. But it was if Jesus were saying, "You are mine and I just need to prune you, not dead limbs but just some that need to produce more fruit.
Wow! what a feeling, what a picture that I received. Better still, What releif! Jesus said, that if I confess Him with my mouth and believe in my heart that God has raised Him from the dead, that I would be saved (in other words, HIS) I remember when that happened for real. You see, I did that when I was young, but there was no real change, but on Dec. 3, 1971, at First Baptist Church, Blountville, Tn, I prayed and ask Jesus to come in and do what He needed to do. Then He came in and cut everything back to the trunk. You see, I had no fruit producing limbs on me. Cutting back and throwing the dead part on the heap to be burned was what He had to do, and now all He is doing is just pruning so that more fruit will be produced.

Now the rest of those verses: "Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the Vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. (so that's why He needs to prune) If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.

Wow! Wow! Wow! I've read those verses hundreds of times, but never like this morning. Jesus says that He does the pruning, He is the one who produces fruit through me and I have to abide. I can do nothing without Him. Oh, how many times have I tried to produce certain fruit. I can't produce fruit,Jesus does and all I have to do is abide in Him. So now, I'm questioning, Lord what does abiding mean for me?
Have you ever seen a limb grow that was not attached to the tree? Never! Have you ever seen a tomatoe grow that wasn't attached to the tomatoe vine? Never! So now, it appears that God says to me, OK you made the first decision on Dec 3, 1971 which was necessary to become attached to the vine, but so many times you have tried to grow on your own. You tried so hard that you forgot where your source is! Wow! Wow! Wow! YOu just need to abide (stay in my Word, Trust in the Lord with all your heart, Be all that God intends for you to be, Stay attached to the vine, realize the giver of life is God and God alone,) and so much more, but you get the idea and
God says, I want to grow you, so that the fruit of the Spirit is settled in and through you and when I do that for you, you will be in a position that you will only want what I want and desire what I desire and I will see to it that you get it if that's your desire because you were created to bring God glory and honor.

Hello! All these years, I've wanted a good thing and I believed God for it, but I wanted it for me. Not for God, Not for anybody's sake but mine.

Perhaps you are not feeling the way I am right this minute, and that's OK but let me tell you, this has been a "God moment" or whatever time it was. I love it when this happens. The light comes on and God gives you wisdom from on high. Praise God for His undiscribable gift.
I apologize if I rambled but I'm just a tad excited. God bless each of you who read this today and my prayer is that God give you some of those "God moments" in your life also.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Randomness from the Randumbness

Well, it's been awhile and I've been swamped and I believe I would have to get a ladder to see rock bottom. It really doesn't pay to be away from work and I'm getting ready to do something I haven't done in the eleven years I've been at First woodstock. I'm going on a two week vacation. Now I get four weeks per year and I've always taken one week at a time and have carried over some weeks just because I haven't either had the time or the money to go any where. But I'm going to be gone for two weeks. Now the last time I was gone for one week, I came back and had over 240 emails. Now that takes awhile to read and answer all those. Some, I can just delete but most I have to answer. Did I hear someone ask where I was going? Well, I'm so glad you ask. I'm going to Panama City, Fl. Normally we go to Destin which is about 60-70 miles west of Panama but this year, it's Panama City. I intend to do absolutely nothing unless I just want to. Brenda and I haven't done something like this in many years and we are going to do it. Now Faye is out there trying to raise up some fury but that don't even bother me. I think it would just be terrible ha,ha ha, if I had to just sleep for one solid week and couldn't get out because of weather. I love great sea-food and the Gulf is a great place to get good sea-food. I use to live in South Florida where the very best of sea-food is found, but I will be glad to settle for gulf sea-food. When I come back from Florida, I imagine we will go to E. Tenn. to see family. Beth and Steve and Lisa and Mitch will be so glad to see me coming, no doubt in my mind. Normally, I stay at Beths, because Lisa and Mitch both work and they have strange schedules and it's just easier to stay at Beths and I love aggrevating Steve. He loves his father in law and loves to see me coming.ha I have five grandchildren and normally I get to see four of them. The oldest grandson is at Tenn. Tech, (I think) (maybe) (perhaps) just don't know about that boy. He's very smart as it pertains to books and learning and he's somewhat less smart when it comes to life living. I still love him very much and I believe one day when he has sowed all the oats he can, he will settle down and be something great. The other four I normally get to see. Anna works and goes to E.Tenn. State U. and Zach is a senior in high school. Lake is in second grade and Kaden is like his mom and has it made. Well, this about all I can say at this time since I'm not the random guy.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

"I'm only a bellman"

What does it mean to carry your cross daily? Is it to be humble? a servant? God centered and others-centered? not self centered?
To be a servant is ultimately in our eternal self-interest. Randy Alcorn (my favorite author) wrote in his book "Safely Home" about a man who dies to himself daily. Li Quan is a brilliant scholar, Harvard Summa Cum Laude, serves as a locksmith's assistant because in China, an outspoken Christian can't be a university professor or great writer. He quotes Martin Luther King who said," If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets as Michel Angelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the host of heaven and earth will pause to say, "here lives a great street sweeper who did his job well." In his book, titled "Heaven" Randy tells of meeting a Bellman in Atlanta who was a great Christian who died daily, but was happy to do so. So what does it look like? Here is an excerpt of that description.
He writes; Should we be excited that God will reward us by making us rulers in His kingdom? Absolutely. Jesus said, "Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven." Matt. 5:12 God will choose who reigns as kings, and I'm confident some great surprises are in store for us. Christ gives us clues in Scripture as to the type of person he will choose: "Blessed are the poor in Spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven, Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth, blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" Matt 5:3,5,10. Also God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may life you up in due time" 1 peter 5;5-6
Look around you to see the meek and the humble. they may include street sweepers, locksmith's assistants, bus drivers, and stay-at-home moms who spend their days changing diapers, doing laundry, packing lunches, drying tears, and driving carpools.
Randy says that he gave his book on heaven to a hotel bellman in Atlanta. This man spends his days carring peoples luggage and seving them in countless ways. Randy discovered he was a committed Christian and this bellman told Randy that he had been praying for all the writers who had come to a convention and were staying at his hotel. When Randy gave his book to this man, he seemed stunned and overwhelmed. With tears in his eyes he said, "You didn't need to do that. I'm only a bellman." He said it immediately struck him that this man had spent his entire life serving others and was so happy and humble to do so that it will likely be someone like this whom Randy will be serving in God's kingdom. He was only a bellman who spoke with warmth and love, who served, who quietly prayed in the background for the success of Christian writers conference at his hotel, his appointed place of service. Randy says he saw Jesus in that bellman, and there was no "only" about him.
Who will be the kings of the New Earth? Randy says he thinks that bellman will be one of them and he will consider it an honor to serve and carry his bags.

Our bus driver drove us back to Atlanta and prayed before we left and he was so happy to serve us that way. Bill Stromate may be a ruler in the coming Kingdom of God.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

You can never be separated from the love of Christ

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Do People mistake you for Jesus?

I thought you might enjoy the following. I sure did and conviction set in and makes me really think about my actions.

A few years ago, a group of salesmen went to a regional sales convention in Chicago. The had assured their wives that they would be home in plenty of time for Friday night's dinner.
In their rush, with tickets and briefcases, one of these salesmen inadvertently kicked over a table, which held a display of baskets of apples. Apples flew everywhere. Without stopping or looking back, they all managed to reach the plane in time for their nearly missed boarding, all but one.
He paused, took a deep breath, got in touch with his feelings, and experienced a twinge of compassion for the girl whose apple stand had been overturned. He told his buddies to go on without him, waved good-bye, told one of them to call his wife when they arrived at their home destination and explain his taking a later flight. Then he returned to the terminal where the apples were allover the terminal floor. He was glad he did.
The 16-year old girl was totally blind! She was softly crying, tears running down her cheeks in frustration, and at the same time helplessly groping for her spilled produce as teh crowd swirled about her, no one stopping, and on one to care for her plight. The salesman knelt on the floor with her, gathered up the apples, put them into the baskets, and helped set the display up once more. As he did this, he noticed that many of them had become battered and bruised; these he set aside in another basket. Whe he had finished, he pulled out his wallet and said to the girl, "Here, please take this $20. for damage we did. Are you Okay? She nodded through her tears. He continued on with , "I hope we didn't spoil your day too badly."
As the salesman started to walk away, the bewildered girl called out to hi, "Mister.." He paused and turned to look back into those blind eyes. she continued, "Are you Jesus"?
He stopped in mid stride and he wondered. Then slowly he made his way to catch the later flight with that question burning and bouncing about in his soul: "Are you Jesus?"
Do people mistake you for Jesus?

That's our destiny, is it not? To be so much like Jesus that people cannot tell the difference as we live and interact with a world that is blind to His love, life and grace.
If we claim to know Him, we should live, walk and act as He would. Knowing Him is more than simply quoting scripture and going to church. It's actually living the Word as life unfolds day to day.

You are the apple of His eye even though we, too, have been bruised by a fall. He stopped what He was doing and picked you and me up on a hill called Calvary and paid in full for our damaged fruit.

This should compell each and everyone of us to be more Christ-like in our thoughts and actions. Love is a verb not a noun, put it to work today.