Lately, I find myself thinking more and more about the day when I will come face to face with Christ. I’m fairly sure I won’t be able to say anything! And, although crying is a release mechanism for me, I will have a glorified body, so I’m pretty sure that’s not an option.
It’s not just standing before him though – I’m sure of my salvation and it’s not in question. What I wonder about is if he’ll be pleased with what I’ve done with His gift over these 40 plus years, and if I have represented Him well.
Every time I think about it I remember a scene from the Bruce Willis movie “The Sixth Sense.” Toward the end, the little boy is finally explaining to his mom that he sees and talks to the dead. He tells his mom that his grandmother said her answer was “Yes” to a question the mother had. Asking his mom what the question was, the mother responds, “I asked if I make her proud?”
I only get one day at a time to make God proud. I know He doesn’t expect me to be perfect, but at the end of each day, my hope is that God is proud of something I did to magnify His glory. Daily, the thought of meeting my Savior face-to-face is a welcome desire. Yet, there are other moments when I ask myself if I am truly ready to stand in His presence?
Definitely a reflective moment worth more than just a cursory thought!
1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 (KJV)
16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. 18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.
It is my belief that in mankind’s pursuits lays the desire for a connection to others beyond customary. Hidden beneath society’s downward spiral into moral madness, and disguised as human rights, politics, justice and the rights of the people, lies very basic needs. Every man, woman, and child has a need to be loved, a need to belong, and a need for true intimacy.
Mention the word intimacy and many things may come to mind, so let me clarify what I’m not talking about. I’m not talking about that physical imitator passed off through verbal graphics of bodies intertwined while the heart remains tucked away untouched and unaffected. I’m nottalking about sharing space or pleasantries or moments of time with another. And, I’m not talking about a surface driven state of euphoria that incites our emotions.
Nope — I’m talking about i-n-t-i-m-a-c-y …
I’m talking … a longing for; an ardent (warm, affectionate, passionate) desire
“As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God.” Psalm 42:1
I’m talking … a very eager or urgent or fervent desire for
“O GOD, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land where no water is;” Psalm 63:1
I’m talking … a deep, almost painful craving
My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the Lord: my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God. Psalm 84:2
This desire occurs in the deepest, most remote part of our being. It’s seated in our mind and in our heart. It has been covered, concealed and is often replaced with temporary idols in a vain attempt to escape the pain produced when it is unmet in its most genuine, sincere form.
Who on earth doesn’t crave a kindred relationship that makes your eyes light up, your heart warm over with deep appreciation, and your smile spread big and bright across your face? Who hasn’t searched out the kind of intimacy that causes you to voluntarily and unconditionally open your arms to receive, to embrace, to take comfort in, and to bask under the protective coveringof another!
As much as we crave this intimacy, we’ll continue to fall short of experiencing such depth of heart as long as we skirt entering the portal of God, where true intimacy begins. As long as we are willing to run along the edge or remain on the border of detailed knowledge and close association with God, the mind, heart, and soul will continue to have a great thirst for intimacy.
I love the way “Till I Found You” by Phil Wickham paints a picture worth a thousand heartbeats! DON’T LEAVE WITHOUT LISTENING to the video below. In it you will find two beautiful pictures for all of us:
An intimate relationship with Jesus Christ, the source of Salvation where our hunger to be known is met with the confession of our mouth, and the heart belief of God’s all-knowing, all-seeing sovereignty; and
Never lose sight of the fact that Christ came from his heavenly home specifically to create an opportunity to have intimacy with you by the redemptive power of his blood. The Plan of Salvation is available to YOU!
2: an area in which one fails to exercise judgment or discrimination
Your chest is on fire; your eyes burn with cloudiness; your breathing is labored. Your head hurts as swirls of darkness envelop you like a soft glove. You are rattled to the core and left feeling as if a sledgehammer has pummeled your chest. Surely you must be dying; surely the pain will be to your demise.
Tremors ripple throughout your body leaving you spineless. Your body, in slow motion, crumbles into a heap upon the floor. Using the last bit of strength you can muster, you wrap your arms around your body as you curl into a ball. As tears fall, draining you of any coherent thought, even death becomes a welcome idea.
You have just been blindsided by the blind spots in your life. While you were busy managing the multiplicity of life, you left yourself vulnerable to the attacks that are constant against those in Christ, and that which is common to the flesh. Sometimes, the greatest blind spot is to believe one is exempt from the very temptations and troubles that accumulate into lusts of the flesh, the eyes, and pride, even though God’s Word speaks to the contrary.
In our failure to stay spiritually and mentally alert through God’s Word and an active prayer life,complacencycreeps in like a tiny spider—unseen until its webs are anchored in the dark spaces our eyes did not see — and our lukewarm hearts did not feel. Blind spots take many forms: stubbornness, carelessness, laziness, pride, trust issues, scriptural starvation, spouses, work, multiple endeavors (spiritual & physical), worldly lusts, fear, ministry(ies), bitterness, fatigue, children, weariness, etc., etc., etc. Their development grows as one gets a little toocomfortable in their state of fellowship and worship with the Holy God.
Old Testament stories highlight this common breach in the life of those on varying levels of relationship with God. Nothing new under the sun, for there are many examples of strong beginnings of faithful servants who later falter and fall. A tour of the internet provides an increasing number of moral failures in our churches for our learning in these modern days. And, it is this faltering that creates the breach in our spiritual fortress. The story found in Nehemiah is a welcome reminder.
In learning thatThe remnant …left of the captivity…in the province… (were)in great affliction and reproach: (1:3), Nehemiah’s response provides us with a picture of one whose heart is towards God and God’s people, much like an uncompromising shepherd in this Laodicean church age. In short, verses3b-11is the hope of a heart for what God loves … his people. Note:
3 … the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire. 4 And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven, … 6 Let thine ear now be attentive, and thine eyes open, that thou mayest hear the prayer of thy servant, which I pray before thee now, day and night, … 11 O Lord, I beseech thee, let now thine ear be attentive to the prayer of thy servant, and to the prayer of thy servants, who desire to fear thy name: … and grant him mercy in the sight of this man…”
We are warned to remember the examples in the Old Testament by1 Corinthians 10:1-12– tonot lust after evil things, be idolaters, commit fornication, tempt Christ, or murmur. Nonetheless, when there are blind spots in our vision, the walls of spiritual protection fall, delivering our moral compasses into the hands of worldly versions of right vs. wrong, causing spiritual weakness and compromise.When I read “There is a generation that are pure in their own eyes, and yet is not washed from their filthiness.” (Proverbs 30:12) or the warning cry of Isaiah 5:21- “Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!” it is like the slap of wet hands upon the face saying, WAKE UP! Ignorant I am not – I have fallen into several pits with scars to show. I suspect there may be more. So there is a great need to minimize more damage by banishing complacency, and opening my eyes and ears. It is as good a place as any to start – at least for me.
The walls are failing, the breaches are widening, and God’s people cannot afford to abandon theirposts#2.
Lord, wipe away the haze from our eyes; open our ears to hear the crumbling of the walls that we may turn our hearts to you again. Though our fortresses are weakened by decay, help us arm ourselves with the building materials of your mighty sword (Hebrew 4:12) and vanquish the enemy of our flesh. Keep us from getting lost in the fabric of a busy life, that we may fortify the kingdom of God and secure the breaches with armed watchmen upon thy walls.
God continues to be gracious and merciful unto me. I live a comfortable life and try to keep it that way. My life revolves around church, work, home, family, and the occasional movies and dinner with friends. I have enough to live on, although there is always room for better stewardship of my resources.
It’s a comfortable life!Unfortunately, getting comfortable has its drawbacks. I recently heard of a person who believed they had learned all they needed to learn from the scriptures and felt all they needed to do at their stage of the Christian walk was maintain what they’ve learned. Of course, at first, some might agree that sounds good. But, with careful consideration, you realize it’s only justifiable if you’re talking about material things.
Speaking truth to myself is a necessary reality[noun, 2.] because I understand that I am opposed by an uncouthroaring lionlooking to wreck my life. I cannot allow myself to get so comfortable in my spiritual life that I leave myself open to becoming a casualty in this spiritual war. Every time I read the bible there are new truths being revealed that I hadn’t grasped before. Comfortability brings about a spiritual laziness that lures one into believing they are giving God their best when, according to the scriptures, even our best is asfilthy rags.
The fear of spiritual complacency is one reason I’m using the52 Weeks of Pursuitbible study byMark Trotterfor this year’s reading through the bible. Every year I look to go deeper into the word to get a better understanding to help me more rightly divide the Word. There is power in the confidence of knowing what you are talking about.
I know fear is not of God, but a healthy reverence for him is a reminder that he is a holy God;there is no other(no matter how many new theories arise — the earth is flat; worship of the created things, I alone am master of my destiny, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera). The thought of missing an opportunity togo ye therefore and teach all nationsleaves me with an unpleasant feeling in the pit of my stomach.
If I were willing to remain in this current, comfortable spiritual state, I have no doubt it would render me ineffective for the kingdom of God in many ways. I don’t want to be lured into forgetting that I will stand before God one day to give an account of what I did with his gifts! This is one of the reasons I jumped at the opportunity to takemy first Mission’s Tripabroad.
Witnessing the increasing sense of entitlement our society (young and old) exhibits is another thing that spurs me toward mission mindedness. I find it both frightening but biblically anticipated, since we are so full of ourselves that we’ve relegated God to the backseat instead of letting him lead. We are the modern reality and future ofRevelation 3:14-22. Prideis the attribute[noun, 2.] that gets us in trouble with God and man, and personally, I don’t need that kind of trouble in my life!
This leads me to the inspiration behind today’s post. When the door was opened in October 2017 for my pastor, Ray Stewart, to embark on an overseas mission trip to Malawi, Africa, I was both excited and scared for him. I prayed earnestly for his safety,Mark Trotterand all who those traveling and working together on this mission trip. Working through the ministry ofThe Passion Center for Children / Passion Center for Pastors, my pastor proclaimed the gospel in the villages and helped to equip local pastors in their study of Scripture to help them “rightly divide the Word of Truth” and, to stand against Islam/witchcraft.
MALAWI, AFRICA — A place I had never heard of before, and most likely, you either. My pastor shared some of the highlights from his trip with the congregation. We learned of Malawi’s richness, and they are underdeveloped. The statistics were saddening: only 9% of the entire country has electricity and running water; only 20% of children attend secondary school; and, the infant mortality rate is high due to HIV and AIDS. [Read the article on Pastor Ray’s trip byclicking here.]
I was gracefully convicted of my own wasteful and careless spending habits. Becoming a $40 a month donor to the Passion Center for Children was a spiritual no-brainer. Not surprisingly, I haven’t missed a dime of it! In fact, I was blessed instead. As I mentioned in my first post of this year, the excitement and pleasure of meeting and talking with Pastors Mark Trotter and Malawi PastorPilira Chibwanawas a blessing.
It’s confession time. Since making the decision to join the October mission team this year in Malawi, I have been attacked with fear. My consolation, however, is implementing a lesson I learned to push past the fear. I wrestle control of my heart and mind out of the grip of my flesh (our enemy), and reposition myself back under the control of the Holy Spirit. I never forget to expect spiritual attacks the moment my heart service to the Lord increases.
I’m encouraged to enjoy the comfortable interludes in my spiritual walk with God. But, I don’t want to stay there 20, 30 years. God desires fruit, and my knowledge is increasing on how to be a more profitable sower. I want to bear more fruit. Being mission-minded is another part of the process that will help me do that so I don’t become stagnate in my Christian walk. I am honored for the door God has opened for me to participate as part of the Mission Team. Malawi is a spirit-led open invitation to travel outside my box!
Let the preparations begin!
Any Support You Can Give Helps Send Our 7-Person Mission Team to Malawi, Africa.
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Grace & Truth Baptist Church, c/o 4000 SW Kamryn Drive, Lee’s Summit, MO 64082
For all who are reading this – God has graced us with another day of life, and a new year to choose to do something new or better. My new year goals are very simple – I plan to become a better INVESTOR:
Invest more in my relationship with God!
Invest more in the study of God’s Word!
Invest more in the things God cares about!
For a little over three years, I have been investing in quality time alone. It has been an adventure in digging deeper and unearthing the dead things lying beneath the surface. Normally, I end each year with time away from home to prepare for the new year, but that didn’t happen this year. Instead, God provided a ram in the bush that was far better than a trip away from home.
On New Year’s Eve, I had the pleasure of meeting with an African pastor and a stateside mission leader in preparation for my first mission’s trip abroad! Talk about a great ending to 2017! Our mission’s team was able to ask questions, listen to stories of needs, and how those needs are being met by mission efforts. I wanted to cry, both from excitement and of hearing some of the stories. It was definitely the fuel I needed to come into the new year with.
Today, I couldn’t wait to delve into the new year-long bible study I was starting. Titled “52 Weeks of Pursuit,” it is a 5-day, weekly reading through the bible, from Genesis to Revelation, with notes that provide wonderful insights into the bible. I invite you to join me in the reading – it’s an opportunity open to everyone by just clicking on the title above, then scrolling down to click on Week 1-4 and begin.
Already, my investment in reading and studying has paid off. I’d like to share just a few things I have gleaned from God’s Word using the guide of 52 Weeks of Pursuit:
Mankind is foolish! Our attempt to change the interpretation of God’s written Word is insulting to His holiness. One example is the foundation set for marriage which God has never changed: Oneman. Onewoman. Onelifetime. Period! (Genesis 1:27-28; 2:24) [52 Weeks of Pursuit; page 1]. Although I fell short in this area, it makes God’s grace and mercy through salvation all the more precious!
God created man to have a relationship with him. The notes say: God beautifully offered man the opportunity to exercise his will by making his own choice concerning this relationship. [52 Weeks of Pursuit; page 1, last paragraph]. There were two trees and two choices. Just as the first Adam choose the wrong tree, man today chooses the world [Satan’s domain] over a relationship with God [through salvation].
We can run, but we can’t hide. In Genesis 3:8, “…Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden.” Trees are a picture of man. Man’s attempts to hide himself in the world [amongst the trees of the garden] is sad. The substituting of good works while outright rejecting the good news will be exposed at the great white throne.
Satan’s tactics are transparent. It’s important to know how Satan operates. Genesis 3:1 reveals his tactics with these words, “…Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” Satan is transparent–he has always attacked God’s Word, and he always uses three effective traps against man: (1) lust of the flesh, (2) lust of the eyes, and (3) the pride of life. On page 2 of 52 Weeks of Pursuit, in the last two paragraphs, we are provided a great example of one who falls for Satan’s trap versus one who resists Satan’s attack in comparing Genesis 3:13 with Matthew 4:1-11. Our greatest weapon against Satan remains the Word of God hid in our hearts to help us resist his temptations!
Day One of enlarging my investment portfolio has been an amazing day to set the tone for a wonderful 2018 year!
I invite you to stay tuned and join me in the 52 Weeks of Pursuit bible study. As well, I request your prayers and our support in raising funds as I and others prepare for our first mission’s trip.