Friday, April 28, 2017

A Little Bit of Real News (no fake allowed)


The terrorists are still at work. 

That should be no surprise to anyone, let alone me, but I'd taken a break from the terrorist event count and from most news sources.  The problem of discerning fake news from real has made it more trouble than it's worth to sort it out.

This morning, I remembered the terrorists. 

I was sad to find that the groups that didn't seem too efficient several months ago have improved their killing skills in a devastating way. There are new organizations and wider reaches. 

799 people have died this month as a result of terrorist attacks, in addition to 58 terrorists who've died as a result of their own dastardly deeds. That's an average of 30.6 people every single day.

Afghanistan, Australia, Columbia, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Malia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Russia, Somalia, South Sudan, Sweden, Syria, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, and West Bank. They've all experienced one or more terrorist attacks with loss of life and destruction of property in the last twenty-eight days.

England, France, Greece, and Norway had terrorist attacks but no deaths resulted.

We were spared. Again.

I read through this bleak news and wondered where to find evidence of God at work. 

First, the terrorists are not winning every battle. Twelve of the terrorist attacks ended with no loss of life. The attacks in France, Greece, and Norway ended with no loss of life or injuries. 

Second, the terrorists' attacks are, in general, not as deadly as we might think. With an average of 8 deaths or less per attack, almost half of the attacks resulted in no deaths or only one death. (41 of 93 attacks) 

If someone I love is involved in even one of the terrorist attacks, it will be enormous to me. 

That truth was brought home recently when I spent time praying with a Coptic Christian from Egypt while I was in Jordan. On Palm Sunday, a terrorist attack on a Coptic church in her city left me wondering whether she'd been wounded or killed. Another 24 hours would pass before we knew it had not been her church and she had not been involved.

The wait made the personal devastation of this war with terrorists much more real to me, as if it hasn't been real to thousands upon thousands of people already.

Some attacks are never tallied. They're chalked up to "persecution" because no lives are lost. Property is stolen rather than destroyed. The attackers are acting alone rather than as part of an organization. 

There's more sorrow and grief in this world than we can possibly imagine.

These words come to mind as I ponder this great sorrow:

"I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world." John 16:33 NLT

Those of us who, for the moment, are spared have a a great responsibility toward the rest of the world. I'm personally sorry that I've allowed hundreds of lives to be taken so needlessly without taking note, without calling out, without taking a stand. 

The genocide in Rwanda, in which nearly one million people were slaughtered, happened over a period of 100 days. For the most part, the world was silent as people were slaughtered because of their ethnicity. 

We did nothing, and the killing continued. 

Friends, we may not be able to do any "tangible" thing as individuals, but we can do the one thing that matters most. We can pray that the destruction is limited, that the tactics of terrorists are divinely thwarted, that there will be no loss of life. 

Let's add this plea to our daily prayer: "Stop the terrorists today, Lord. Stop their destruction. Bring them to Jesus if they'll come, but stop the killing." 

"Remember... those who are ill-treated, since you yourselves also are in the body." Hebrews 13:3 nasb
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In case you missed it, here's the link to yesterday's post:When the Trek Through the Wilderness is Too Big To Tackle 

If you feel led to partner with this ministry (US, Jordan, the digital world), here's the link to give your tax-deductible donations: Global Outreach Acct 4841 


Or you can mail your check or money order to: Global Outreach/ PO Box 1, Tupelo MS 38802. Be sure to put Account 4841 in the "for" line.
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Thursday, April 27, 2017

When The Trek Through the Wilderness is Too Big To Tackle


I think of the "wilderness," and envision thick forests and lush green undergrowth. Moses and the children of Israel would laugh at my description. The photo (above) is of their "wilderness." 

As Moses and the Israelites made their way from Egypt across the Negev, the terrain they traveled was, for the most part, barren, rocky desert. The only thing"lush" was dry dirt. 

When we drove through the wilderness enroute to the Bedouin encampment recently, I saw Moses in a new way. If God called me to lead several million people on foot over that terrain, I'd have balked. If I'd had to lead them for forty years, I might have gone back to Egypt, or left them to fend for themselves. 

It's no wonder Moses struck the rock when he should've spoken to it. I'd have wanted to hit something, too.

With all that said, it's clear to me that, of all the people on the earth, Moses was the perfect man for the job. He was right for it, even though the job was impossible and clearly too big for one human to tackle, must less accomplish. 

That's how I feel about two of my current responsibilities. They're completely impossible, and clearly too big for one human to tackle, much less accomplish. 

As I whined to the Lord about the impossibility of putting together a team for our summer camp and orchestrating the burgeoning Untapped Power Grid project, He clarified a few things for me.

It's all too big for one person. That's the point of the body of Christ. Together, God can work through us to accomplish the impossible. He needs one person with a vision, but many people to carry it out.

God delights in accomplishing the impossible with a small band of workers in such a way that only He is glorified. Moses and Gideon are perfect examples, but the eleven disciples make even those two good men pale in comparison.

After Jesus' crucifixion, they huddled in the upper room, praying and afraid. They didn't know if they'd be killed or not, but they knew the authorities were searching for them.

Once the power of the Holy Spirit descended, those frightened followers became fearless warriors. They charged through the known world, sharing the Love of Christ with all who would listen. Their witness was so compelling that one nation after another was transformed by the power of the Word.

The incredible truth is that we, you and me, have that same Spirit available to us. We have the same Word, the same Savior, the same power those first disciples had. 

We, too, can change the world for Christ. 

We, too, can accomplish the impossible... IF we allow the Spirit to work through us.

What impossible dream has God put on your heart? To what way-too-big-task has He called you?

None of us can do it alone, but God can use one willing human to accomplish more than we can even imagine.

Today, why not surrender to God's call? 

Why not take that first step through the wilderness? 

It might not be easy, but it's always worth it. Best of all, we never have to do it alone.

"Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God." 2 Corinthians 3:5 niv
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In case you missed it, here's the link to yesterday's post:When the Main Thing Finally Becomes the Main Thing 

If you feel led to partner with this ministry (US, Jordan, the digital world), here's the link to give your tax-deductible donations: Global Outreach Acct 4841 


Or you can mail your check or money order to: Global Outreach/ PO Box 1, Tupelo MS 38802. Be sure to put Account 4841 in the "for" line.
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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

When the Main Thing Finally Becomes the Main Thing



"This will fit in great with our residents. Church is their main activity." The director explained why she thought the UPG (Untapped Power Grid) project was a good fit.

I've pondered that statement recently and come to a startling conclusion. Church is supposed to be our main activity.

I don't mean going to the building with the church sign on it and hanging out. The church is supposed to leave the building. It's those outside-the-building activities that should be our main emphasis, as well.

Loving our fellow believers, spending time together, sharing meals, loving our neighbors, acts of love and charity, Bible study, and prayer are all parts of the "activity" of church. 

Are those our main activities?

There's quite a difference in how we live when we're younger and how we live when we're older. The closer we come to eternity, the better the lifestyle choices we make. 

Never does a person say, "I'm nearly 90 years old. I'm going to sow some wild oats." 

Of course that might be because, at 90 years old, we may not feel like sowing wild oats, but there might be another reason. At 90 years old, we're more likely to realize how close we are to eternity. When we do, we begin to make choices accordingly. 

For those of us who know Jesus, the closer we get to meeting Him face-to-face, the more we want to live in a way that will please Him. Or we should...

Today, let's take a moment to look at our busy lives. What's our focus? Is it Jesus and the work of His kingdom? 

Are we making the main thing (life in Christ) the main thing? 

If not, let's stop long enough to spend some time in prayer and Bible study, then take what we learn to the world. Let's make Christ the "main thing," and live like eternity is just around the corner. Because, whether we realize it or not, it is.

"It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are willing will also be transformed." 1 Corinthians 15:52 NLT
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If you feel led to partner with this ministry (US, Jordan, the digital world), here's the link to give your tax-deductible donations: Global Outreach Acct 4841 


Or you can mail your check or money order to: Global Outreach/ PO Box 1, Tupelo MS 38802. Be sure to put Account 4841 in the "for" line.
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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

When You Can't Tell if Your Faith is Alive or Not


The book of James is filled with tough words. "What use is it if a man says he has faith, but he has no works?" (James 2:14) He goes on to say that the kind of faith that does not result in works is not a saving faith, but a dead one.

Ponder that a minute. 

His words are tough to swallow in this post-modern culture of ours. There's a tendency to think that being a disciple of Jesus means we "don't cuss, don't chew, and don't run with boys who do..." 

There's some truth in those words, as being a follower of Christ should cause us to abandon our "old" ways and embrace a new life of purity and humility. 

Ours is not primarily a faith of negatives and don'ts, however. It's a faith of being and doing...

We take up our cross and follow Christ.

We love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength.

We love our neighbor in the same way we love ourselves.

We study to know what God expects of us.

We demonstrate our love for Christ by good works.

Our relationship with Christ should result in discernible change in our lives, a continuing transformation that makes us more like Him. 

if it doesn't, something is wrong. 

Our abiding in Christ should yield an increase in the fruits of the Spirit, more love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

If it doesn't, something is wrong.

As James tells us, saving faith should result in actions, or works, that demonstrate the love of Christ to others. 

If it doesn't, something is wrong.

Is this the kind of faith we have, or not?

If our faith results only in participation in group activities inside the walls of the church and attendance at church services, but does not result in outward actions toward the lost or those in need, something is wrong. 

It may not mean that we're lost and without Christ. But it may. 

The Jesus-model for His bride is an outward-facing one. Gather to worship and for teaching. Go out to serve. 

Our works were never intended to be done only INSIDE the church walls, but outside them. 

The Great Commission requires that we GO, not that we stay. We may not "go" far away from home, but we must make a move outside our comfort zone if we expect to serve Christ as He intended.

Let's take a close look at our own faith. Judging only by the evidence of the fruit of change and the outward works we do, is there evidence that our faith is alive or not? 

If not, what changes do we need to make?

There's good news. Ephesians tells us that God has already pre-destined good works for us to do. We don't have to concoct a new scheme of doing. We simply need to obey God's plan.

"For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago." Ephesians 2:10

Let's ask God what good fruit He wants us to exhibit and what good things He has for us to do today, then do them. When we do, we'll show the world the evidence of our risen Savior at work in us.
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In case you missed it, here's the link to yesterday's post:The Fish that Called Disciples to Jesus 

If you feel led to partner with this ministry (US, Jordan, the digital world), here's the link to give your tax-deductible donations: Global Outreach Acct 4841 

Or you can mail your check or money order to: Global Outreach/ PO Box 1, Tupelo MS 38802. Be sure to put Account 4841 in the "for" line.
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Monday, April 24, 2017

The Fish That Called Disciples to Jesus


A crowd of people gathered around Jesus as He taught. As they moved in to hear better, they pressed Him ever closer to the shoreline, to the edge of the surf. Some fishermen were there, cleaning their nets, so one of them (Simon) moved his boat back into the water to let Jesus teach the crowds from the deck. 

The fishermen stayed on the shore while He taught. There's no doubt they heard what He said, but His words didn't seize them with amazement. 

After the sermon, though, Jesus did something that rocked their world. 

"Go to the deep water and put out your nets."

Simon disagreed. "We fished all night and caught nothing. That's a waste of effort, but, if you insist..."

In the deep water, they threw out the nets and caught more fish than they thought possible. 

It was the fish that moved them. Not words. Not even the words of Jesus.  

For amazement had seized him and all his companions because of the catch of fish which they had taken; (Luke 5:9 NASB)

When words and the miraculous merged, they understood. The Word became flesh once more, and they beheld the Father through the Son in an utterly new way. 

The net full of fish changed their lives forever. 


Some hearts are moved by a powerful sermon. Some hearts are moved by a friend gently sharing truth over the years.

Some hearts, however, need to see tangible evidence of Christ, whether it's a wet, stinky net full of fish or the powerful evidence of a changed life.  

What evidence of the reality of Christ do people see in us?

Today, let's pray that the miraculous work of God in our lives would be so evident that it will move those around us to utter, life-altering amazement at the power and sovereignty of God. 
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In case you missed yesterday's post, here's the link: How Close Do We Want to Be to Jesus


If you feel led to partner with this ministry (US, Jordan, the digital world), here's the link to give your tax-deductible donations: Global Outreach Acct 4841 

Or you can mail your check or money order to: Global Outreach/ PO Box 1, Tupelo MS 38802. Be sure to put Account 4841 in the "for" line.
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Sunday, April 23, 2017

How Close Do We Want to Be to Jesus?


When you face outward from the Eastern Gate of Old Jerusalem, you see an extensive Jewish burial ground. According to templemount.org, it's the oldest cemetery in continuous use in the world. There are also Muslim and Christian cemeteries in this area.

This isn't merely a convenient place to bury someone. The graves are situated here for one reason. Zechariah tells us that, when the Messiah returns, He will stand on the temple mount facing east. 

According to Paul's letter to the Thessalonians, the dead in Christ will rise first. 

The deceased and their families have chosen this cemetery, at least in part, for the potential benefit it offers. The graves are positioned so that those buried there can be as close as possible to the Messiah when he arrives. If the dead rise first, they want to be the risen ones who are closest to our Lord.

Being close to Jesus when He returns is a noble aspiration, but we have the opportunity to have something better now. 

We don't have to wait until death to be close to Jesus.

Because of the Spirit of God's presence in our hearts, we can be close to our Savior here on earth. 

The question, then, becomes one of intentional proximity. Like those buried outside the Eastern Gate, we, too, have a choice. Will we position ourselves as close to Jesus as possible, or not?

If we want to be close to our Lord, we must "abide" in Him, and, to abide, we must obey. 

It's that simple. It's that hard. 

Abide in my love in the same way I've obeyed my Father and abided in His love, Jesus told His followers. If we want to "abide," we obey the way Jesus obeyed. 

Abiding is, simply, the Greatest Commandment in action. Love God with all your being. Love your neighbor in the same way you love yourself.

We can be close to Jesus now, and in eternity, but the question of intentional proximity must be decided. 

How close do we want to be? 

If close, then we will obey by loving God and loving our neighbor. 

If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. John 15:10 esv
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In case you missed yesterday's post, here's the link: The Bible Bug and the Gospel It Contains

If you feel led to partner with this ministry (US, Jordan, the digital world), here's the link to give your tax-deductible donations: Global Outreach Acct 4841 

Or you can mail your check or money order to: Global Outreach/ PO Box 1, Tupelo MS 38802. Be sure to put Account 4841 in the "for" line.
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Saturday, April 22, 2017

The Bible Bug and the Gospel it Contains


At dinner last night, one of my fellow physicians talked about his experiences as a beekeeper. That conversation led to a discussion of another insect, coccus ilicis, also known as "the crimson worm." 

Our worm expert told us that it's mentioned in Psalms and is an example of how nature declares the truth of God. "The gospel worm is prophetic of Jesus."

The Beekeeper chuckled. "Here's another blog topic for Leanna." 

I was a little skeptical, and very hesitant about writing on the gospel bug, so I did an internet search this morning, including Scholar.Google.com. 

Coccus ilicis is an insect mentioned in numerous scientific articles. In ancient times, it was highly prized for its use in dying fabric a rich crimson color. It was so valued that it was used in commerce as a form of money in some early cultures. 

Psalm 22:6 does, indeed, mention the crimson worm in a prophecy of Jesus.

"But I am a worm and not a man, a reproach of men and despised by the people." Psalm 22:6 nasb

The word translated as "worm" is towla and refers to the female coccus ilicis. According to the Blue Letter Bible (follow link for citation), the female permanently attaches herself to the trunk of a tree before laying her eggs. Her body covers the eggs and serves as a protection for them until they hatch. As her body decomposes, it releases a red fluid that stains the tree. 

In a manner of speaking, her death on the tree brings life to her offspring. The red dye that stains the tree is considered by some to be symbolic of the blood of Jesus that brought life to us, His children.

It's one more example of how all creation declares the glory of God. (Psalm 19:1) 

I'm reminded of the words of Jesus on the day of His triumphal entry into Jerusalem. The Pharisees told Him to silence the praises of His followers. "I tell you," He said, "if they keep quiet, the rocks will cry out." Luke 19:40.

As I've thought about the crimson worm this morning, I've realized that this tiny insect declares the truth of Christ with her life. She's a living testimony of the redemption of Jesus' sacrifice on the cross. 

It's what we, His followers, are meant to be. As disciples, our words, our actions, our very lives are supposed to point people to Jesus, but do they?

Today, let's look for testimony to the truth of Christ in our own lives. Is there enough evidence to point people to Jesus? If not, what needs to change? 

The heavens declare the glory of God, and so should we. 

"Ask the animals and they will teach you or the birds in the sky and they will tell you..." Job 12:7
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ps - I know coccus ilicis is an insect and not a bug, but I've taken a little artistic license with the title. 

In case you missed yesterday's post, here's the link: When the Twenty-first Century Church Acts Like the First Century Church 

If you feel led to partner with this ministry (US, Jordan, the digital world), here's the link to give your tax-deductible donations: Global Outreach Acct 4841 

Or you can mail your check or money order to: Global Outreach/ PO Box 1, Tupelo MS 38802. Be sure to put Account 4841 in the "for" line.
#Jesus