Archive for the ‘The B-I-B-L-E’ Category

A Traveler in a Far Country

Sunday evening I had an appointment in Huntsville, Texas.  Earlier traffic delays in Dallas had added almost two hours to my trip, and so I was pleased to be exactly on time for my appointment with Harold.  Harold leaped to his feet when I arrived, and greeted me with dignified, gentlemanly courtesy. We exchanged pleasantries about traveling and the weather, before getting to the main reason for our meeting—where he was going to spend eternity.

“What about Jesus?” I inquired. “What does He mean to you?”

“Well, first of all, I sure am bull-headed,” Harold answered. When he asked that I read aloud from his King James Bible, I thought to myself that the King’s English sounded foreign to my ears compared to my familiar NIV. Harold continued his self-analysis, and said, “At least I’m not reprobate.” Next he quoted a King James Bible verse about reprobates which let me know that he was familiar with the language of the King James version. Wanting to make sure that I understood what he meant, he added, “You know, I’m not a bad man.”

While we discussed the meaning of reprobate, Harold urged me take a brand new Styx CD, and some cookies.  He said that he knew God was pouring out blessings on him because he had been given the Bible only a few hours before I had arrived.

I explained that doing things our own way instead of God’s way was sin. From God’s perspective, everyone misses the mark—everyone needs Jesus. Harold agreed that he was stubborn, so stubborn, in fact, that he had lost most of his teeth in a car wreck by doing things his own way. He said sadly, “I don’t know why I won’t completely surrender my life to God, but He’s on my mind a lot.” We bowed our heads, and I prayed that God would help Harold to make Jesus the boss of his life.

Harold asked me to write in his Bible so that he would have something to remember our meeting. I wrote the refrain of the hymn, “Trust and Obey,” and told him that those words had been a great encouragement to me. We shook hands good-bye, and he cordially thanked me for the visit. I assured him that it was the Lord who had arranged the gift of the Bible, and coordinated our meeting at the gas station.

Harold is hitchhiking to meet his father in Florida. Please pray that God will keep this prodigal safe as he travels, and that he will meet his heavenly Father on the road.


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How Sweet the Sound

Thanks for sharing, brother Richard. The video is about eight minutes long, but well worth it.

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One summer day in 1974, my father called me to the kitchen table. He gestured toward pen and note paper, and indicated that he wanted to dictate a letter to President Nixon. I recorded his words of encouragement to the embattled President, and mailed the letter that day.

A short time later, when White House audio tapes were released, implicating Nixon in the Watergate cover-up, I asked Dad if he regretted writing the President. “No,” Dad replied. Without hesitation, he added, “I would do it again.”

After President Ford pardoned Nixon, my reservations about Dad’s encouragement of the disgraced ex-leader faded from memory. Recently, I was prompted to reflect on Dad’s letter when Dr. Ed Young, pastor of Second Baptist, Houston, described his revulsion in response to reading Nixon’s filthy, vulgar, transcripted conversations. Dr. Young recalled the last night that Nixon spent in the White House. All his family and friends had departed, and Nixon asked one man to spend the night with him—Billy Graham.

Dr. Young strongly urged the evangelist to consider that he represented the Christian world, and not to align himself with the vile corruption associated with the President. Billy Graham’s response was in the form of a question. “Does a shepherd run away from a sheep when he gets dark?” Dr. Young says that he has sought to practice what he learned from Graham. As a shepherd, Dr. Young stands with his sheep, publically and privately, especially in the dark, in spite of the possibility of being condemned guilty by association.

Only God can cleanse and forgive sin, but all of us who are “lovers in Christ,” are empowered to love sinners. It tells all about it in that fabulous love chapter—1 Corinthians 13. Dad would have appreciated the story of how “America’s preacher” demonstrated love for a black sheep by showing up for a sleep over.

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See You at the Pole

See You at the Pole 006

Plan for students: meet at the pole.
Plan for non-students: meet at the throne.

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My jeans pocket is bulging with treasure! The back of my closet, a sidewalk, and the garage floor were sources of this unlikely treasure—three precious pennies. Monetarily, they are not enough to buy one Atomic FireBall , but, even so, these pennies pack a punch as powerful as the fiery jawbreakers.

My brother Richard recently shared with his congregation how God interrupted his life using a solitary penny. Over five years ago, while walking across a parking lot, Richard spied a penny, and felt prompted to pick it up and say a prayer. After praying about what came to mind, the Lord impressed upon him to pick up every penny that he saw from then on out, and say a prayer.

As Richard obediently stooped, and sometimes knelt, to pick up pennies and pray, he underwent a “philosophy adjustment.” Previously, he held that abandoned pennies were not worth the energy required to scoop them up. He began to understand that God was using a “small thing” to illustrate a big truth found in 1 Thessalonians 5:17—“pray without ceasing.”

“Penny Prayers,” Richard said, “are prayers in waiting.” He explained that they are a form of communication that can be compared to switching between two telephone calls with the aid of the “call waiting” feature. Call waiting enables one to temporarily suspend a current telephone call in order to quickly handle a second one, and then return to the first caller. Yes, handle the day-to-day activities—waiting in lines, walking across parking lots, standing at street corners—all necessary interruptions or distractions of life, but quickly return to that primary, on-going conversation with God. Pennies are a reminder that God is on the line, waiting to resume the conversation.

Picking up pennies and praying is exercise—an exercise in faith. Richard described finding pennies in disgustingly filthy places, and picking up 30 or more pennies at one time. He figured that pennies plucked out of the worst environments indicated greater prayer needs, while an abundance of pennies showed that our opportunities to pray are endless.

Dick, one of Richard’s friends, incorporated Penny Prayers into his daily routine. Several weeks ago, Dick presented a jar of treasure to Richard, saying, “Many of these pennies represent prayers for you and your family.”

Richard challenged his church family to use small things to keep them in a continual prayer line with God throughout the day. Simple sentence prayers about a job, marriage, or a child, are real and powerful.

Penny Prayers are, indeed, atomic fireballs of power.

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Click to hear Richard’s sermon “Small Things : : Developing Your Prayer Life”

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This prayer has been hanging in my kitchen for about eight years. It’s fallen into a sink of soapy water several times, and I see that I’ve set a cup of coffee on it at least once. I think that I received it in the mail from Dr. David Jeremiah’s radio ministry, Turning Point. The prayer is a an excellent illustration of the theme of this year’s National Day of Prayer: PRAYER…AMERICA’S HOPE. Today is the 58th annual observation of the National Day of Prayer.

Prayer 001

The theme for the 2009 National Day of Prayer is based on this verse:

“May your unfailing love rest upon us,
O Lord, even as we put our hope in you.”
Psalm 33:22

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“What is dross?” Hannah whispered during yesterday’s worship service. She was referring to a stanza of “How Firm a Foundation” that we had just finished singing.

When through fiery trials thy pathways shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply;
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.

I whispered back that dross is the scum on the surface of molten metal, but the sermon that followed illustrated the meaning of dross better than the dictionary definition. Dr. Young talked about the refining process that Job experienced through his suffering: what satan meant for evil, God turned into good. Dr. Young also quoted one of my favorite children’s books, The Velveteen Rabbit, to give us a taste of the transforming power of trials and troubles.

“What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?”

“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”

“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.

“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”

“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”

“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

I’m reluctant to agree with the Skin Horse when he says that you don’t mind being hurt when you’re Real. But I have learned a very important lesson from fiery trials: God is with us when we suffer, dross is removed, and we become Real—really useful to Him, and to others.

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