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Archive for the tag “Narrow Road”

One Decision

Experts say there are around seven major life events in every person’s life. Life events are forks in the road, major turning points that alter a person’s life. Not just our immediate plans, but the whole of our lives are different because of that one decision. From that point on, our future is different because of that one decision. And experts say there are seven of them.

Usually those life events have a cost. Sometimes the events are not of our own making; sometimes it’s someone else’s decision which alters our own lives. It could be someone makes a decision to get behind the wheel of a car after having one too many drinks and it cost us something when the drunk hits us. Or like when my parents made the decision to move me from my hometown to the mountains when I was twelve years old.

That decision was my first major life event. It affected me profoundly. I told my sister recently that I thought the move even changed my personality. Maybe I think of the younger me differently than I was, I don’t know. I just know my parent’s decision was huge in my life. It’s made me into the person I am today – good or bad personality traits aside.

Thinking of life events, I realize there is one decision that should be on everyone’s life event chart. It’s the decision to follow Jesus. It should alter our course – not just for now – but for eternity. I heard someone say recently he wanted everyone to have the same relationship with Jesus he had; to know Jesus as Savior. I have been contemplating the statement since I heard it.

Just a couple of years before my parents moved us to the mountains I made the decision to follow Jesus. If you noticed in the writing above, I said my first life event was the move. I did make the decision to receive Jesus as my Savior before we moved, but it didn’t alter my life right then. I do believe I had Jesus right then, but He didn’t have all of me. It took a few years before another life event would change my relationship to not only Jesus as my Savior but Jesus as my Lord.

My ultimate turning point with Jesus was because of another friend’s tragic end. I written about it in the past – my friend died – and it changed me. Maybe some would say I didn’t really belong to Jesus from the age of twelve – it’s not biblical. But I look at the disciples Jesus chose. They were asked to follow Him before they ever believed He was the Messiah. It took them three years and Jesus’ death before they truly believed. It just took me longer than three years to understand who Jesus is.

Peter declared Jesus was the Messiah before Jesus died, but that declaration wasn’t the catalyst for Peter’s transformation. His life event was when he saw Jesus in the upper room after Jesus rose from the grave. Peter’s life was altered in that moment. Peter’s path was totally different from that life event. He went from a fisherman to preacher man.

Everything should change when we receive Jesus as Lord. Savior and Lord – the man speaking should have said Lord, but he didn’t. Did it mean Jesus wasn’t Lord of his life? The speaker is the only one who can answer. However, we need to answer it as well. Is Jesus Lord of our lives? Has the decision to follow Jesus changed our trajectory as it did for Peter? I don’t mean we all give up our professions to become preachers, but Jesus wants to direct our steps just as He directed Peter’s.

Jesus met Peter on the beach one morning after His resurrection. Peter and the guys had been out fishing all night. Peter was at a fork in the road. He could have gone back to the life he knew – fishing – but Jesus intervened. Jesus had other plans for Peter – a plan to begin the church age on Peter’s profession – Jesus is the Messiah.

Jesus asked Peter to feed Jesus’ sheep – His followers. It’s not a literal meaning but a spiritual meaning. Peter had lived with Jesus for three years. Peter heard Him speak, watched the miracles being performed; even saw Jesus transformed on the mountain with Moses and Elijah. Peter was in Jesus’ inner circle and knew Him. Jesus picked Peter to do greater things with his life. Peter left the nets behind and followed Jesus wholeheartedly. There was no turning back. Peter’s decision to follow Jesus changed history. The church age moved forward with Peter’s willingness to go where Jesus led him and make disciples wherever he went.

I don’t think my life events have done the same – they haven’t changed history – or maybe they did. Mine certainly was changed. My decision to follow Jesus today, changes how I live each day. The people I meet each day are affected by my relationship with Jesus because I am a different person with Jesus than without Him.

Each day we are given a choice – live for Jesus; let Him be Lord today or live like the rest of the world and ignore the promptings of our Lord and follow our own path. Our relationship with Jesus makes us different. Other religions follow rules – we are set apart because it’s not rules we follow but Jesus. All roads do not lead to the same place. There is only one life event that leads to an eternal home with Jesus. I know. Jesus said it’s a narrow door and only a few find it, but it’s open to all who want to come in. Jesus and only Jesus can open that door. Savior and Lord. Know Him and follow Him and alter others lives for Jesus!

“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”

Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. Matthew 16:15-18

Hard Truth

All day, I have been avoiding this post. When I woke up this morning, a conversation I had yesterday was on my mind. When I had my quiet time, the conversation was still there – even more so after praying about it. After my quiet time, I went to the gym. I came home for lunch; it was still there. After lunch, I worked out in the yard. The longer I put it off the more it burned in my heart. So I guess I need to convey what was said and what’s troubling me about it.

For the last few weeks (months?), I have been praying for opportunities to talk with a friend about her beliefs. I have had a couple of occasions where I got bits and pieces and the picture is getting a bit clearer. It is as I suspected which makes me pray even more so. However, what I didn’t really pray about was another friend’s beliefs. I thought I knew what she believed and was not as concerned about her.

A couple of weeks ago, the latter friend and I started a conversation about the decision handed down from the governing board of the United Methodist Church. She’s a member of the UMC. I thought I knew her position and didn’t want to debate her about the decision. The decision the board revealed at that time was the decision to stay with the traditional views of the church doctrine. She was upset with their decision. The conversation was interrupted and we never got back to it until yesterday.

She received an email from her local church concerning this traditional plan and their denouncement of the board’s decision. She wanted me to read the email, which I did. Then she wanted my opinion. I told her I disagreed with the principles they were laying out for their church to follow. She was floored by my views, but I knew she would not understand. She started questioning me about what I believed about the Bible. She said she believed that it was not to be taken literally. But the kicker for me was that she said that God had to change with culture. I was floored. Why would God change on the fickleness of human thinking? It made no sense to me.

I don’t know everything about the Bible; there is still room to grow in my knowledge. However, I feel confident that what I know to be true is true – God does not change. The Bible is God’s Word and I believe every word of it. I didn’t know how to respond any further to her. If we can’t agree on the foundation of the Bible, there wasn’t anything more I could say that would change her mind. The conversation has left me with feeling a bit perplexed.

Many years ago, my viewpoint was totally different. I was very liberal, just like my friend. But I was living a lifestyle that was against God’s teaching. I wanted my beliefs to line up with my thinking. I was discounting the verses that didn’t line up with my thinking. The Bible cannot be bent to please my ears. After I left that lifestyle and started listening to sound teaching and reading the Bible daily, I began to see how deceived I had been in those early years.

What I find so disconcerting right now is the spiritual battle being waged in the church body today. I think some of the funk that I have been in for the last few months is the darkness that is being revealed in the church body. I feel the oppression like a weight bearing down on my soul. I don’t know everything about spiritual battles, but I know enough to see how the war is being fought hard for the church to survive in America today.

The Scripture tells us Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14:6). Jesus said that the Way to heaven is narrow and few will find it (Matthew 7:13-14). One other Scripture comes to mind, Jesus said that the one who stands firm to the end will be saved (Matthew 24:13). In the verse before this, He said sin will be rampant everywhere. How true it is today – even in the church. But to the ones who stand firm on His teachings will be saved – it’s His promise. The others? The future isn’t that promising.

I turn to Revelation and see the last church mentioned before the end of the church age – the church in Laodicea. The church is lukewarm – neither hot nor cold. The church thought they were rich; but by Jesus’ standards, they were wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked (Revelation 3:18). Jesus said to be earnest and repent. He stands at the door knocking, waiting on us to open the door and let Him in. In the church. In our hearts. When we give Him access, we change, He doesn’t.

The one who is victorious will have the right to sit with Jesus on His throne. Stand firm on God’s Word. Don’t let culture deceive you into thinking that God’s word is outdated. God’s Word stands forever. God does not change and He will not be mocked. I truly believe this. Do you?

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Galatians 6:7-8

“The grass withers and the flowers fall,
    but the word of our God endures forever.” Isaiah 40:8

Golden Opportunity

Jesus stopped and called them, “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked. This question is found in Matthew 20:32 and Mark 10:51. Jesus was walking out of the city of Jericho when he passed by two blind men who were begging by the side of the road. Mark names one of the men as Bartimaeus (Mark 10:46). The blind men called out to Jesus asking for His mercy. Everyone around the two men rebuked them, but they called out even louder. Then Jesus stopped. He wanted to know what these men really wanted from Him. Was it a few coins? Did they have a pressing need greater than the obvious? They had to verbalize their need to Him. They wanted to see.

Matthew tells us that Jesus had compassion on them. He recognized their faith and touched their eyes. Matthew records the healing as immediately they received their sight. Immediately. Isn’t that one of the best words you could read? Wouldn’t it be great to have an immediate answer? I’m sure the blind men had been begging for years. But the minute that Jesus crossed their path, they saw their opportunity to act on His mercy. And they asked Him for their greatest need to be met. They knew what they wanted from Him. Immediately.

They must have heard stories about Jesus before this day because when He was coming their way, they shouted out “Son of David.” They recognized Jesus for who He was. This wasn’t just any one. This was the Promised One. They may have been physically blind, but they were more able to see than the Pharisees who never recognized Jesus for who He was. Immediately, they were healed because of their faith in the Promised One.

Jesus was on the way to Jerusalem when He came upon these blind beggars. It would be the final time He would travel that way. There would be no more opportunities for these men if they hadn’t acted when they did. Jesus was on the way to the cross. By the end of the week, everything would be different. No more opportunities for Jesus to touch these men or any other. This was it. Did the men know this was their golden opportunity? No. None of the people in the crowd that day knew what waited just a few days away. This was the last week in the life of Jesus – in the flesh.

We just never know when we have that last opportunity or our own golden opportunity; when we should have acted but didn’t. Maybe we don’t know what we really want and failed to see the opportunity when it came along. If Jesus asked us the same question, how would we answer? Do we really understand the implications of not knowing our greatest need? Probably not. It could be the greatest need that could have the greatest impact on this generation for the glory of God.

God often does more than we request – greater than we can imagine – when our hearts are aligned with His. Psalm 37:4 says delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Alignment comes first. If God hasn’t answered our prayers yet, maybe it’s a heart problem that is being corrected before the answer comes. Maybe we have the wrong motivation or the wrong request, or maybe things just haven’t lined up on God’s timetable.

The blind men might have been on that roadside for years, but one day they were at the right place at the right time for a Jesus encounter that changed their lives. They were ready when Jesus came to that place. We need to be ready too. We too will have divine encounters. We need to know what we really want. We need to know it within our souls that this is an encounter we cannot afford to miss. Grab it and let God do something amazing in it. Don’t miss the opportunity. It could be a one shot deal. We may never pass this way again.

Have you heard about this Jesus? Do you know Him for who He really is? The blind men knew Him and received their healing. Once healed, they praised Him; but they also joined Him on the journey. Whatever God is leading you to, don’t waste the opportunity – it could have an immediate effect on you and your world. This is our time to meet Jesus on the road to where He is going. Join Him on the journey. Delight in Him and you will be amazed by what you finally see.

For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins. Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall. 2 Peter 1:8-10a

Reflections

This past weekend was my Mom’s birthday; the day she came into this world. However, she had a greater birthday, the day she was born into the Kingdom of God – her spiritual birth. I don’t know when that day was. I don’t think I ever heard her say. Maybe she didn’t even know it. She grew up in church. Her father was a minister of the Word so she grew up knowing about Jesus. But there has to be one day when we all put our faith and trust in Jesus as Lord and Savior and commit to Him only. I don’t know that day for her, but I know she was committed in her relationship with Him. I know that on her birthday this past weekend, she was celebrating in heaven with Jesus – not because of her birthday but because of Jesus.

In the last days of Mom’s life, she spent them in a hospital room surrounded by her family. There were a few times when I found myself alone with her. Those times were precious. We had good conversations. But there is one conversation I wish I had with her. When she went into the hospital, she was in an emergency situation. We could see she was drifting towards heaven. The doctor would remind her to stay with us, and she would come back. The doctor told us she would be leaving soon to call everyone in that needed to be there. So we did. However, God gave us more time with her.

After she was admitted to the hospital, the next day I was alone with her for a couple of hours. I told her what a close call she had. At that moment she started thanking Jesus. I had never heard her say the things I heard her say in those moments. She was praising Jesus for something but I don’t really know why. I always assumed she was thanking Him for letting her stay here – that she was afraid to die. But I will never know because I didn’t ask her what she meant by her thanks. I never had that conversation.

We asked her pastor to have the conversation with her about her readiness for heaven to make sure she was okay before God called her home. After that conversation, the pastor reassured us that Mom knew her Savior and Lord and had trusted Him for her salvation. She was ready. My Mom’s sister told us later that Mom told the pastor that God gave her a glimpse of heaven when she was drifting in and out that first day in the hospital. I don’t know if this is true or not, but maybe that’s what she was praising Jesus for. Again, I’ll never know because I didn’t have the conversation with her.

During Mom’s life, she tried to instill in her daughters love – she showed us love in different ways. She modeled Jesus for us. She was not perfect. But she gave us an understanding of what God’s love looked like in human form – because she loved us deeply. I don’t think I returned as much love as she gave out. I asked her during one of those last conversations, if she knew how much I loved her and she said yes. So somehow in my fumbling attempts to love, she knew it. She also wanted to know if I would go back to my old way of life when she was gone (you’ll have to read my story in my book Mirror, Mirror to get the full context of my old life). The answer was no. I told her my faith and my life was in Jesus. There was no going back for me.

When Mom left us in the end, she was at peace. All the conversations were done. We gave her the release to go. And with one final breath, she was gone; at least from this present life. We know where she is right now. And for that fact, we rejoice and celebrate the coming reunion that one day we will have with her and the rest of our loved ones who know Jesus as Lord and Savior.

Jesus said the way is narrow and not everyone will find it. He alone is the only way to find the door to heaven. He is the gate. He is the light. He is the truth. Only Jesus’ death and resurrection, gives us the key to heaven. We are told that when we believe this and receive that key, we will have entry into heaven. One day, every knee will bow to Jesus. Jesus said though, only the ones who know Him as Lord and Savior will be allowed in. That seems a bit narrow, doesn’t it? People scoff at that narrow-mindedness. But the only way to know you are secure in your relationship with God is through Jesus.

My prayer is that you will not wait for your final moments to know if you are secure. Get right today. Know Jesus today as Lord and Savior. Walk with the assurance that Jesus is your Lord and Savior and find peace today. My Mom’s life was a good reflection, and I hope mine will be for someone else to see Jesus in me. That’s the purpose for all of us – to honor and glorify Him every day of our lives. Let it be said of me – and you. Thank you, Jesus! I praise Your Holy Name today! Amen.

“This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him.” John 3:16-18 (MSG)

But God

Recently, I heard a sermon on hell. I haven’t heard a sermon on hell in forever. It wasn’t a “fire and brimstone” sermon as in the days of old. It was just a matter of fact spoken from God’s Word. It was the reality of eternal damnation. The feeling of the eternal ramifications of those who reject God is sorrow and pain in my heart. But also the gratefulness in my heart that is by God’s grace and mercy that I am His child through the blood of Jesus. I took the path of destruction so many years ago, but God turned my heart toward Him. But God – powerful words. God took my hand and led me back to the path of light. He turned me around and wouldn’t let me go any further down that dark wide road. It was my choice. I chose to change and receive His true gift of salvation through Jesus.

I know of others walking on that dark wide road. I don’t know if they will have a “but God” moment when God will turn them around. I know of many who think there is no hell. They don’t consider themselves to be lost and without hope. Even the demons believe in hell. In scripture, they begged Jesus not to cast them into hell, but send them into the pigs instead (see Luke 8:32). I have known a few who have already died and gone to the place where they now know exists. It’s too late for them. They cannot be saved. I am sure there are others who are ready to hear about God and the saving grace of Jesus’ blood.

Am I ready to tell them my testimony of how God changed my heart? When will I have that burden for my neighbors who may not know? When will I have the conversation with my family members who are not assured of salvation? Many are on the road to destruction and only a few will travel the narrow path. My heart longs to tell, but my mouth stays silent. I cannot let it any longer. Time is too short. Tomorrow is not a guarantee. I have today to open my heart and my mouth to those around me. But God will be with me. But God will never leave me nor forsake me. That’s the testimony of one who believes with all my heart that God lives in me and will speak the truth through me. God’s grace is sufficient to meet all my needs even when I open my mouth to tell my story.

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.  But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. Matthew 7:13-14

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