In John 15:5, God tells us that apart from Him, you can do nothing. A lot of people look at that and mock and scoff because the truth is they have accomplished many things without God. Duh—God wasn’t talking about earthly accomplishments. God is saying that apart from Him, you can do nothing of eternal value.
Now, God could have just made us like robots without a free will; with His power just dangling us like puppets to obey Him, but that would negate His purpose for His creation…to be His loving children. Our great God made us to be His sons not His slaves! We are not a bunch of toy soldiers for Him to play with. How much easier for God to have a docile, robotic following, but in that scenario there would be no exchange of love. Because God is perfect love, He could never set up a scenario without it!
No, God’s perfection in everything He is required that He give us a free will; for obedience is the only way to show God that you love Him. Adam had the same principle of free will to obey God or not. His disobedience brought the death and separation from God of which God had warned. Thus, Adam’s disobedience ultimately changed him and we all were born with Adam’s defective nature instead of the perfect nature God had first established.
Thankfully, God’s love does not leave us doomed to death but, through Jesus Christ, has opened the opportunity to have the very Spirit of God dwell within us again, enabling us to possess the level of obedience needed to obey God. So, rely on God and not your own strength. Use the freedom He gave you to choose for Him not against Him and build toward your eternal existence not just your earthly one. Endure the fire...it's producing pure gold!
From The Crucible
You can’t be in two places at once…or can you? As a child of the King of Kings, you must be in two places at once because those in Christ live in two realms simultaneously: our visible world in which we live; and the unseen, spiritual realm of a life in Christ…in which we live and move and have our being.
We are not to be split beings, though, but should be “one” with the Lord. Just as Jesus prayed that His desire was that we would have what He has with the Father, “I in You and You in Me”, we must also remain conscious and totally aware of our great God while we trod the paths of our earthly existence.
This is not spiritual schizophrenia—no split world for us. Being “one” with God means we face the day together with Him. Every pleasure or hardship, every adventure or disappointment is a shared experience. Only in that way can we see His wisdom and know His power in all that happens in our lives. Many a dream is lost in the wasteland of life, but God is able to bring joy out of sorrow and peace out of painful adversity. God is really good at being God…and we are not!
So be in both places at once and let Him give you a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning and the garment of praise instead of despair (Isaiah 61:3). Endure the fire...it's producing pure gold!
Refreshed, revitalized, renewed…sounds like a spa advertisement. Well, it could be, and nothing wrong with some good physical rest and recuperation in this dizzying world of emails, tweets, 24-hour news, information and entertainment. But this “spa” I am talking about is the one you visit when you spend some delightful time in the presence of the Lord. But that “time” thing is a bit elusive lately it seems!
Funny sometimes when you think of it, but I’ve got a house full of time-saving gadgets and appliances—and yet have no time! And I don’t know about you, but it seems like time-sensitive reports, meetings and ministry responsibilities crowd that precious 24 hours that I have each day. I need a hiding place!
The only way to keep sane in this insane world is to seriously take God at His word when He says to come away with Him and enter His rest. Yes, that will be hard at first. A mind and inner spirit spinning full of important, as well as trivial, details has a harder time achieving true inner peace.
Yet, God talks about a peace that surpasses all understanding. Do you “live” there, or just pass through occasionally? God invites you to “move in with Him”; go ahead, don’t wait any longer. Even though the world has become more complex and noisy, you can still sit quietly with the Lord and allow His thoughts to be your thoughts and His ways to be your ways. Tuck away with Him and let Him be your hiding place (Psalm 32:7). When you are snuggled up for that quiet time, try reading one chapter from the Old Testament, one chapter from the New Testament, then one Psalm and the Proverbs of the day’s date each day. And if your time frames don’t allow that all at once, then just spread it out …some in the morning, then at lunch break and finish up before you crash into bed. Not even a beach in Hawaii can top the refreshing you’ll get if you do that. Endure the fire...it's producing pure gold!
“Be still and know that I am God”…boy, that’s a tough one for so many of us. My schedule is often pretty hectic. For instance, within a recent two-week period, I was involved with an all-day prison visit that included seven hours of drive time; pulled out and cleaned up the old trailer and helped someone move furniture; spoke on a Monday evening to a youth group; did some Chaplain work with the cadets at MacDill AFB on two Tuesday evenings; preached two mid-week services and one Sunday service; worked on the current book I am writing; researched and worked on the blog; and spoke in two high schools on my experiences as an Air Force nurse in Vietnam. Add to that all the calls and counsel as well as the personal items of shopping, banking, yard work, etc…and I’m toast! EXCEPT—I wasn’t! Only with God at the helm of my ship, can I do anything required of me—and the same holds for you!
But the key is that quiet, personal, daily time with Jesus Christ. I don’t mean the going to church, sing lots of songs, passively listen to the sermon and then hit the lunch bucket kind of time. No—this is the shut everything off, steal away to a quiet room or area and just sit in His presence, listening for anything directly from Him to your soul kind of time.
If you don’t, you’ll end up like I have many times when that quiet time with Him starts to vanish in the whirlpool of duties; you’ll be frazzled, confused and exhausted. You don’t want to go there, trust me!
By being refreshed in the presence of the Lord, you’ll be able to think more clearly, prioritize more accurately and have the joy and energy to complete all that God asks of you each day. You’ll be able to stay focused instead of chasing those rabbits of triviality all over town. “For God is not the author of confusion but of peace…” 1 Corinthians 14:33. Endure the fire...it's producing pure gold!
“I just can’t do this anymore—I’m done!” Ever get to that point in some issue, task or relationship? I think we’ve all “been there, done that”. But now what? Do you stay there defeated, incomplete? You have nothing left to draw on, you’re done, finished, toast, dry to the bone!
Well, God reminds us of the glorious adventure it is to depend on Him. I know, I know…easier said than done.
You see, when you really depend on God continually, your whole perspective changes. Instead of thinking of things just being natural occurrences and coincidences, you see them as the true miracles they are. So, instead of you and your abilities (which are sorely limited) being your stronghold, let God be your strength. Begin each day with a sense of happy expectation of good at what God has for you and will do for you. Start viewing your weaknesses as a gift from Him; a place He has you in so He can manifest His loving gifts and strength in and to you.
Most of all keep your plans tentative…what’s the old saying, “If you want God to laugh…tell Him your plans!” Well, He doesn’t really laugh at us, but you get the point. Use your gifts freely and wisely, but whatever you plan, just be open to some changes, especially last minute ones.
You know that gardening, or reading, or the myriad of projects you’ve been trying to get to? Well, you just might have an unexpected call or visitor who needs some godly counsel and prayer. That then becomes your priority.
But be careful now; you can run yourself into the ground meeting everyone’s needs. I know, I’ve done it far too many times (must be a slow learner!). Always remember that someone else’s error or stupidity doesn’t make it your emergency. Let God sort it all out. And even if your “schedule” doesn’t turn out to be what you set it up to be, as long as you’ve given it all to the Lord, you can know you have served Him well. “For in Him we live and move and have our being…” (Acts 17:28) Endure the fire...it's producing pure gold!
We are continuing with the last three suggestions to support the sanctity of life. They are:
3. ACTION–use your right to freedom of speech
I’m going to give a shameless advertisement here…my sister is the director of “Friends of the Unborn” in Quincy, MA (http://www.friendsoftheunborn.org). They exist to provide housing, education and the needs for homeless pregnant women and their newborns. That’s a great place for you to start to support, or volunteer if you are up in that area, or to contact if you are led to start something like that in your own area.
In finishing up, I would like to remind us all that there is no magic bullet in a society where an easy answer (abortion) is overwhelmingly promoted rather than the harder choice of sacrifice to allow the baby to live.
There are many ways you can be involved. Your time, circumstances and available resources, of course, will influence what you can do and when; but we all can do something. Most importantly—do not remain silent as abortion, infanticide and euthanasia are quickly rushing to become the “new normal”.
Life is valuable, at all stages, and we must strive to protect the dignity of human life. And as I ponder these things, I am deeply saddened that we even have to “fight” for the life of a precious, little infant. Saddened or not…we must fight this fight. Endure the fire...it's producing pure gold!
If you are a champion of life, and can clearly understand it is the higher calling to allow an infant to live rather than to be aborted; and if you clearly understand the true “choice” that allowing a fetus to come to term naturally, be born into a family or be available for adoption actually trumps the personal and emotional comfort of the pregnant woman, then you’ll read on. If not, you’ll probably discontinue the blog.
I may be dead wrong, but I don’t think most women have abortions because they are cold-hearted executioners (the people performing the procedure must be!). No, I think it is because these girls and women are often misled, sometimes purposely, so they are unaware of the unique, special life growing within them. It is not a “blob of cells”; it is a human being! If left to develop in the womb, it is a real baby. It amazes me to no end that there is such a hue and cry over the clubbing of a baby seal to death, but no such outcry from those same people on the crushing of an infant’s skull in utero and a sucking out of its brains during a partial birth abortion!
If a woman actually saw pictures or videos of abortions and the resultant buckets of tiny baby bodies sitting in a lab awaiting “disposal”, I dare say they would make a vastly different “choice”. Some call that scare tactics…but when are facts and reality scare tactics?
Right now, this is where you come in. What can you do to assure that abortion remains RARE even if Roe v. Wade remains the law of the land? (Hmm-at 54 million and counting, I dare say it is far from rare! Let me repeat that number…since Roe v. Wade in the early 1970s…over 54 million American citizens have been killed while still in the womb!)
This will take work on your part. (At the mention of work, this is where the crowd leaves in most instances!) Anyway, some have a gift for doing all that is suggested here, others can do just a little part, but together we can make the turnaround needed. I will describe five avenues of action necessary…you take it from there.
1. PRAYER–you better be a “prayer warrior” on this one! It will take God’s wisdom and power to make any changes regarding abortion and other sanctity of life issues.
2. EDUCATION–truly know the issues regarding abortion, infanticide and euthanasia. Don’t listen to the far right or the far left talking heads, or even the ones in the middle. You find out what is going on.
√ Research the Roe v. Wade decision and the history leading up to it
√ Research types of abortion and the statistics associated with it
√ Find out your state’s “version” of what is allowed and when on the abortion spectrum
√ Once educated, you can be a player and educate your friends
√ Have meetings with your neighbors to tell them what you’ve learned
√ Or you can be on the front lines with any of a number of right-to-life organizations
√ Go where your gifts take you
Follow along on tomorrow’s blog for the rest of the avenues you can use to educate people on the value of saving the babies so they can have a shot at life. Forget about trying to close down the abortion clinics…if no one gets an abortion, they will close themselves down! Endure the fire...it's producing pure gold!
Some serious thoughts on the right to life issues were covered a few weeks back. But I didn’t want to leave you hanging without some comments on how you can help to change the landscape of this moral mess.
First off, you need to realize that you can make a difference in our society. You can change the values and laws of our country to more reflect the sanctity of life. My question is…do you want to?
Organizations like Planned Parenthood, which receives millions in tax dollars each year, seem so invincible. Many people just give up saying they can’t fight a giant; maybe they should re-read the account of David and Goliath!
Ah–speaking of Planned Parenthood–seems an odd name for an organization that doesn’t seem much interested in urging women to be a parent!! They only seem to be a big, money making, baby killing machine whose real intent has been whitewashed with soft words and the token distribution of educational materials; all the while deflecting from their morbid and ghastly mission…to convince America, especially our young people, that killing the infant in the womb is an appropriate “choice”.
In our current society, words like right to choose, pro-choice, reproductive rights and the like, don’t tell the truth but mislead and misinform many to take the unnecessary and often physically and emotionally dangerous path to abortion. You may not agree with what I say, but I am still entitled to an informed opinion, at least for now.
So, what can you do when young teenagers have been brainwashed into thinking that “products of conception”, even fully-formed babies in the womb, are just “cells” and not a living entity? How many young girls or women have even seen a picture of the infant in their womb before deciding to have an abortion? Planned Parenthood says that an ultrasound is too “invasive” a procedure for the woman to endure. You’ve got to be kidding. Some of these girls often have pierced their tongues and some even have pierced their genitalia…and putting K-Y Jelly on their bellies is too invasive a procedure! Give me a break!
As much as the abortionists would like to just brush off abortion as a “right”, and even though abortion is legal in America, it is not brushed under the rug in any way. Abortion still remains a hot moral issue in our time.
Like I said, what can you do? Follow the next few blogs for an outline of some of the areas in which you can be effective in restoring the value and sanctity of life to our culture. Endure the fire...it's producing pure gold!
In Matthew 5:13, we are told, “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how will it be made salty again? It is good for nothing any more, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.”
The salt reference is important. We are told that we are the salt of the earth, but if we don’t do the work of salt, we are ineffective and worthy to be thrown out! God is serious…we have received from Him the ability to make a difference by having His Spirit flow through us and change the world.
Let’s look at what salt is and does. Do we match up, also, in the things of the Lord?
Endure the fire…it’s producing pure gold!
Something can look like pure gold, but not until it goes into the fire do you really know if it is truly pure. If it is pure gold, no junk (dross) comes out – and so it is with us. As we encounter various fiery trials, either our fleshy Adam nature comes out or the pure nature of God arises. We get to choose, folks, so no excuses. We let either the purity of God rule or the dross of the flesh. There is no such thing as "almost" pure. Even if something is 99.9% pure, that 0.1% makes it impure. Of what are you made? If any part of the flesh is there, you are not pure.
The Temple, the altar, the candlesticks – the instruments of worship in the Old Testament were overlaid with pure gold. It was a command – It had to be pure. That was the glorious "word picture" of what was to come in Jesus. Jesus was never polluted, not even 0.1%. We were born polluted but, in Christ, we are made acceptable to God ... 100% pure.
Let us strive to put away any defilement of sin (physical and mental, as well as spiritual) – even if it is as small as 0.1%! When we walk in the Spirit, we CANNOT SIN ... ah, PURE GOLD! Endure the fire…it’s producing pure gold!