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Archive for November, 2007

A Shelter In the Midst Of a Storm – My Testimony Of How I Made It Out Alive – Part 2


Psalm 62

1 My soul finds rest in God alone;
       my salvation comes from him.

2 He alone is my rock and my salvation;
       he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.

3 How long will you assault a man?
       Would all of you throw him down—
       this leaning wall, this tottering fence?

4 They fully intend to topple him
       from his lofty place;
       they take delight in lies.
       With their mouths they bless,
       but in their hearts they curse.
       Selah

I had a pretty good job where I worked. I was in charge of payroll for management for a large Canadian retail chain. The department I worked in consisted of mostly non-Christians. I was very outspoken about my beliefs and many resented it. Being a Christian and working in a non-Christian environment is never easy. The people are always looking for a way to slip you up or prove you are less than what you profess to be. The moment you slip up they are very quick to point it out.  A couple of years earlier I was working late on my own time. They were having a Halloween party downstairs in the cafeteria. A young girl who worked in my department came upstairs and wanted to no why I wouldn’t attend the party. I explained to her that because of my Christian beliefs I didn’t feel comfortable attending something like that. We got into a conversation about God and she seemed to be very moved by the things I was telling her. Finally she asked me point blank; "What will happen to me if I don’t accept Christ? Will I go to Hell?" I told that God doesn’t mean for any of us to go there but it is our sin that sends us there. Without recognizing the sacrifice that Jesus made for us we are lost. She left and returned to the party and I had hoped that some truth had gotten through to her.

The next day my supervisor called me out into the middle of our office where the department staff had gathered. She started yelling at me in front of the others saying, "How dare you scare a young girl in telling her she is going to hell and do it on company property and time!" I told her that it was on my own time and that I had been asked a question by the girl. She said a reprimand would god into my file. I just prayed as I knew I did nothing wrong. Within a week that supervisor was fired and the following month I was awarded employee of the month. Unfortunately many in my department developed a dislike for me because of my stand.

Two years later, just before the events in part 1, Something went wrong with our tax payments to the government. The formula had been tampered with. Only 3 people had access to the program, The department manager, the lead clerk, and myself. The other 2 denied doing anything to the program which left me. Because I was lower ranking the blame was put on me. I had never changed anything in the program and no matter how much I proclaimed my innocence I wasn’t believed. Because it was a serious error I was put on probation and once you were put on probation it took up to 3 years to clear your name and be eligible for any kind of advancement. Many in my department were smug. The Christian had finally been put in his place. Much of my responsibilities were taken away from me and I began to feel that it was time to leave. My wife and I prayed about it and we decided that I would go back to school to get some training in computers. Was it the right thing to do? Should I have stuck it out? I don’t know. I had worked there for 9 years. What kind of an impact my witness had on my fellow employees I may not know until I get to heaven. All I know is that 3 years after I left the head office closed it’s doors in Montreal and moved to Toronto, so I would have been out of a job anyway. 

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There Is Something About That Name


Because of this, God raised Him (Jesus) up to the heights of heaven and gave Him a name that is above every other name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Philippians 2:9-11

"There is salvation in no one else! There is no other name in all of heaven for people to call on to save them." Acts 4:12

Jesus told him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through Me." John 14:6

What is it about this name that offends so many? So many are unwilling to talk about Him. They will talk about God and religion but when you mention His name they get angry. Many times I would be having a pleasant conversation with someone and when I mentioned about Jesus and what He has done in my life, they end the conversation abruptly and leave. They don’t want to talk about Him. They would rather use that name as a swear word. As a curse and not a blessing. They will go out of their way to have His name removed from all public areas. If a teacher dares mention the name of Jesus in the classroom, they risk a lawsuit. Yet mention the name of Mohammed or Buddha and that’s cool. Nobody uses those names as swearwords. Can you imagine someone hitting their finger with a hammer and yelling, "Mohammed!"

1 Peter 2:7- 8 says, "Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient, "The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone," and "A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense."

Many reject Him because of the sin in their lives and yet He is the only one who can bring them hope. Jesus said He came to seek those who were lost. (Luke 19:10) and in Luke 4:18 He said, "The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed." Jesus came and died for everyone. He loves the homosexual, the prostitute, the drug addict. He loves all. The Bible says that whoever calls upon His name will be saved. (Acts 2:21)

Ask yourself, are you offended by the name of Jesus? He loves you. Pray and ask God why. Ask God to show you who Jesus is. Confess your sins to Jesus and then ask Him into your heart. I promise you, you will never be the same.

A Shelter In the Midst of a Storm. My Testimony of How I Made It Out Alive – Part 1


1 Declare me innocent, O Lord,
      for I have acted with integrity;
      I have trusted in the Lord without wavering.
 2 Put me on trial, Lord, and cross-examine me.
      Test my motives and my heart.
 3 For I am always aware of your unfailing love,
      and I have lived according to your truth.
 4 I do not spend time with liars
      or go along with hypocrites.
 5 I hate the gatherings of those who do evil,
      and I refuse to join in with the wicked.
 6 I wash my hands to declare my innocence.
      I come to your altar, O Lord,
 7 singing a song of thanksgiving
      and telling of all your wonders.
 8 I love your sanctuary, Lord,
      the place where your glorious presence dwells.

 9 Don’t let me suffer the fate of sinners.
      Don’t condemn me along with murderers.
 10 Their hands are dirty with evil schemes,
      and they constantly take bribes.
 11 But I am not like that; I live with integrity.
      So redeem me and show me mercy.
 12 Now I stand on solid ground,
      and I will publicly praise the Lord. Psalm 26 (NLT)

It was a hot night and I wound up taking some blankets and sleeping on the front gallery of our flat. As the sun rose early in the morning I kept hearing the number 26 in my dreams. When I was fully awake I knew in my spirit God wanted me to read Psalm 26. In the New King James version verse 1 says; "Vindicate me, O Lord." I immediately asked God why I would need to be vindicated. He was silent and yet it was clear He was telling me something through that Psalm. There was a time of testing coming up.

At that time in my life things were going well for my wife and I, or so it seemed. We had just welcomed our son Gabriel Adam into our family. I was elected to the deacon board at our church and was in charge of music outreach and singing in hospitals and prisons, in charge of the homebuilders (a group for married couples) and on the committee for the new school our church had started. On top of that there was choir practice and leading worship once a month as well various singing engagements at other churches and going to school a few nights a week. Life was good and I felt blessed. Busy, but still blessed.

A few things happened that started events changing in my life. The first was my grandmother who had been a steady force in my life passed away at 90 years old. She had a great impact upon in my coming back to the Lord when I was 25. Her prayers kept the enemy at bay and I didn’t realize just how much so until she  was gone. The second was that our senior pastor resigned. He was my mentor and a father figure to me. I had a peace at his going and knew it was from the Lord. But there was a huge storm coming and that peace I felt was the calm before that storm. A committee had to be formed to search for a new pastor and it needed to be headed by a deacon and because I was the only one available, that task fell to me. This thing scared me to death but there was no way out of it. Just after our pastor resigned I had a dream and in that dream I was attacked and accused by people in the church I believed to be my friends. I also saw in that dream some people in the church were very heavily into witchcraft and voodoo. I put it off to being just a dream, but had this ominous feeling that just wouldn’t leave. The last thing to happen was that my wife began to slip into a post natal depression. Because of business and the fact that I had to handle the looking for a new pastor kept me from seeing what she was going through until it was too late.

I will not go into many of the aspects of what went on during that time in which we were in search a new pastor as I have made peace with and forgiven everyone involved. During that time I had never before felt such pressure. I found out who my real friends were at this time. All my good intentions were misconstrued. I became very disillusioned with the whole process. I loved the church and I had such a great desire to see it move ahead and the majority on the boards really believed God had chosen a young man for the job, but it was blocked by the district superintendent. I’ll admit that I made some mistakes as well. I was inexperienced in many areas and was given some bad advice which led to those mistakes. In the end a man that should not have been chosen was brought in. We were told that unless we elected him we would be without a pastor for a very long time. I began to see that money played a very big part in church politics and this man was brought in for that very reason. To raise money because our giving was down. After he was elected with a small majority by the congregation, I was pulled aside by two elders and accused of having my own agenda and wanting to take over the church. It was like a knife went right into my side. It was then that I remembered Psalm 26.  This was only the beginning of the storm. What was coming would turn out to be a hurricane.

 

Diamonds


"Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. Instead, be very glad – because these trials will make you partners with Christ in His suffering, and afterward you will have the wonderful joy of sharing His glory when it is displayed to all the world." 1Peter 4:12-13

"Dear brothers and sisters, whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy. For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything." James 1:2-4

The Christian walk is not an easy one. You are swimming against the current in this world and you are bound to hit some pretty big waves. Jesus said that because the world hates Him it will hate you as well, (John 15:18-19) because you belong to Him. Jesus never promised to remove our problems but promised He would be there with us through them. They come to make us strong. They come to purify us. They come to make us like Jesus.

The Lord showed me that a process that takes place in nature is what takes place in a Christians life. A lump of coal is one of the dirtiest rocks you can find. If you handle it, it leaves black marks on your hands and clothes. But if you take that lump of coal and apply heat, pressure, and time, a transformation takes place and that lump of coal becomes a diamond. A precious jewel.

When Christ first found us, all of us were like that lump of coal. We were dirty with sin. He picked us up and washed us with His blood and then using the pressures of this world and the cost of serving Him, in time He lovingly created diamonds. People who have counted the cost and say no matter what I will serve Him. Like Job they say; "He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold." Job 23:10.

People are looking for real hope and real joy. They are watching us, seeing if our faith will sustain us. Many souls have been won to the kingdom simply because they saw the joy with which Christians faced trials.

How do you face your trials? Do you do it with groaning and complaining? Or do you count every trial as an opportunity to grow, to draw nearer to our Saviour? Do you persevere? Jesus says this in Revelation 3:10-13; "Because you have obeyed My command to persevere, I will protect you from the time of great testing that will come upon the whole world. Look I am coming quickly. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take away your crown. All who are victorious will become pillars in the Temple of My God, and they will never have to leave it. And I will write God’s name on them, and they will be citizen’s in the city of My God – the new Jerusalem that comes down from heaven from My God." And they will have a new name inscribed upon them." Amen. Lord, we look froward to that day.

Shadow Lands


Sometimes what God is doing in our lives is not always clear. The way is clouded by shadows and deep valleys. Things happen to us that just don’t seem to fit in with what we believe is God’s plan for us. Why would He allow us to go through these times of hurt and indecision seemingly alone?

C.S. Lewis was one of the greatest Christian writers of our time. He was a bachelor until late in his life when he met Joy Davidman. They married and 3 years later she died of cancer. Watching her die was one of the darkest periods of his life. These events were portrayed in the movie "Shadowlands" He wrote afterwards the book "A Grief Observed" in which he talks about the pain of suffering. In this journal, he documents first the overwhelming sensations of his grief, then his rage and confusion at God. As time passes, he chronicles his return to Christ and his acceptance of a new life, forever shadowed by his wife’s death, but still whole.

Satan is frightened by those who go through such pain and suffering and not knowing the reason why, they continue to serve God. In another book written by C S. Lewis called "The Screwtape Letters" He gives a fictional account of a series of letters written between a junior demon (Wormwood) and his superior (Screwtape). The junior demon had been given the assignment of keeping a man from coming to Christ and was experiencing difficulties. In response to a problem this demon was having the superior wrote back to him the following; "Do not be deceived, Wormwood. Our cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending, to do our Enemy’s will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of God seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and yet still obeys."

Sometimes in grief and pain we can’t find our Lord, but that doesn’t mean He isn’t there. He is just saying in times of silence. "Trust me" Psalm 23:4 says "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me." David knew the Lord was there and would guide him no matter what. Proverbs 3:5-6 says; "Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths." God has not forsaken you. He is still there. Trust Him!