Monthly Archives: April 2009

Failure! Not Me! Not Ever!

“Go and serve God. Make all kinds of mistakes and learn wisdom from your errors,” I advised the young preacher.

“Failure!” the young preacher replied, her eyes connecting with mine. “Not me! Not ever!”

I smiled, hoping to lessen the chill in the air between us. “Nobody wants to make mistakes, but we do. It happens to all of us. It’s one of the ways that God teaches us wisdom,” I said.

“No, I don’t have to ever fail,” she said. “All I have to do is spend time in prayer, do some fasting and study the word. His Spirit will guide me.”

I shrugged. “Who knows, maybe you are the exception. At least, I hope so.”

This conversation actually took place in a students’ union at a large university about fourteen years ago. We were celebrating her nineteenth birthday by shooting pool.

Why are eighteen or nineteen-year old youths the best soldiers? They do not think they can lose. They believe their youth, their strength and their zest for life will be more than enough to defeat their enemies.

But of course, the first battlefield experience quickly shatters their naivete.  Machine gun fire ripping through a soldier standing next to them and bullets ricocheting near their heads open their eyes to reality. They are not immune to death after all. They could die!

What happens to soldiers after their first battlefield experience? If they survive, they are wiser, smarter and better soldiers;  and are labeled veterans. Then, each battle makes them even better.

Battlefield-trained young soldiers win wars. Period.

Now, let’s compare this to spiritual warfare, okay?

Who makes the best Christian soldiers? Young, hungry believers. By the word young, I am not referring to chronological age, but rather, to those Christians who consider themselves as young David’s waging battles with a present-day Goliath.

These hungry Christians – if they do not hang around worn-out, tired, defeated, fearful believers – will win spiritual wars if they never quit fighting. Period!!

I’m a sixty-three year old man who still considers himself to be a David. The Lord has delivered me from the paw of the lion and the bear, so bring on the Goliath’s (1 Sam. 17:36)

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Swimming Upstream: “Need Encouragemnt?”

Bad economic news. Terrorism. Abortions. Same-sex marriages. Illegal aliens. Swine flu. Yuck! Double yuck! Where’s some good news for us Christians?

Order is always proceeded by chaos. Whenever God restores order, something is birthed out of the chaos He allowed in the first place. Everything is part of the whole with God. We look at the chaos and say, “This is not of God.” The Bible, though, points to chaos and disagrees with us. In chaos, God disenfranchises the old order and births the new! (Permission Granted, 2006, by Graham Cooke and Gary Goodell, published by Destiny Image.)

God works His own brand of order in the midst of chaos. (ibid)

The Lord operates from stillness. Whatever boat you are storming through at the moment, He is on that same boat wanting you to grow up enough to call on His peace. God does not create order out of order; He creates order only out of chaos. (ibid)

The Lord is sharpening the Church at this time. He is putting a cutting edge on what we are doing…On the surface, it looks chaotic because God is not a manager; He is a facilitator. Underneath the action, though, there is a calm order that arises out of God’s character and nature. (ibid)

Hey, something good is about to happen and I”m going to hang on until it does. So, what about you?

Swimming Upstream appears at this blog site on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. It’s  a little of this and a little of that, all written  to encourage and exhort believers in their Christian journeys.

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Swimming Upstream: “Eternally Secure…Or Not?”

calvinism_large

A twenty-year old girl stood in front of me at Starbucks wearing the above slogans on a tee-shirt. “That’s funny,” I said to her.

Out of nowhere, a young man appeared in my face. “So, what are you?” he said. His chin readying for a battle.

“I’m probably more Calvinist than Arminian, especially on the grace and eternal security issues,” I said as an off the cuff answer.

“What about in Hebrew 6 where it states that if they fall away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance?” he asked, his face still inches away from my chin.

Honestly, I just wanted a small coffee and then head to work. You know, mind my own business and have a small caffeine high before chopping cotton in the back forty acres. Was that too much to ask?

I shrugged. “Okay, I can lay twenty or thirty scriptures on you for every one that you put up against eternal security,” I replied, “but think about this: in 2 Corinthians 5:17,  it states that we are a new creation when we are saved, right?”

He nodded, but his eyes betrayed his lack of trust in me.

“There’s a little more to losing your salvation than just saying,’Adios Jesus’,” I said. “You would have to destroy the new creation in you, reverse all the processes of the cross in your life and kill the treasure which lives in your earthen vessel. How do you do that?”

The young man backed away, shaking his head. “I don’t know.” Then, he walked away and joined his group.

Now, I was worked up. I wanted to continue, but  the discussion was over. So, I headed out the door with my coffee.

Too bad, I thought to myself, my next question was going to be: How do you purchase yourself back from God? Do you offer Him gold or silver? How do you negotiate the deal? After all, in 1 Corinthians 6: 19-20, it states that we believers are not our own, we have been bought and paid for by Jesus. He owns us!

So, why is this important, right?

Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble. (2 Peter 1:10)

Swimming Upstream appears
at this blog site on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. It’s  a little of
this and a little of that, all written  to encourage and exhort
believers in their Christian journeys.

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Swimming Upstream: “The Cross”

cross

Do you like to read? Do you want to be inspired?

Then, I felt the Lord speak, Arthur, you’ve been praying about wanting to carry the cross behind the Iron Curtain and the Berlin Wall. There are no walls! The walls, the iron curtains, are in your mind. I don’t have an iron curtain. (The Cross, pp. 183)

For me, this single quote on page 183 was well-worth the price of the book. It blew away every obstacle I had about San Francisco or Oakland or Compton or wherever.

There are no walls for God and His Son, Jesus!

And Arthur Blessitt’s 38,102-mile  journey over thirty-eight years proves these words are true.

He has carried his wooden cross through Palestine, Israel, Russia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudia Arabia, Iran, North Korea and about three hundred other nations. He has prayed with  Yasser Arafat and President George Bush. He stood before a firing squad. He walked through the Darien Gap…and lived.

Since that Louisiana summer many, many years ago, I have been consumed with asking Jesus what He wants me to do with my life. I have repeatedly asked Him these two questions: Where do You want me to go? What do you want me to do? (The Cross,  pp. 21-22)

Then, there is the story about Blessitt running for U.S. president and carrying the cross throughout his 1976 campaign:

I didn’t want to tell them I was running for president. I would pray: Lord, let me witness to them about You. I don’t mind sharing about the cross, but if I tell them I’m running for president, they’ll think I’m crazy! Why do You humiliate me? You know what they’ll think. No one will vote for a wet, poor, cross-carrying hitchhiker anyway. Why do You make me do this?  (The Cross, pp. 160-161)

Will Rogers stated, “We can’t all be heroes. Some of us have to sit on the curb and applaud as they walk by.”

You know, we curb sitters love heroes; and Arthur Blessitt is one of them. His book absolutely blessed me.

Maybe, it will do the same for you.

The Cross by Arthur Blessitt, published by Authentic Publishing.

221 pages, trade paper back, $17.99. ($12.23 from Amazon)

Swimming Upstream appears at this blog site on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. It’s  a little of this and a little of that, all written  to encourage and exhort believers in their Christian journeys.

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Swimming Upstream: “My Most Unforgettable Christian Character”

Mention a well known Christian preacher and what do you picture? Probably, a dark suit, white shirt, conservative tie and aloofness, right? This is the cookie-cutter mold for most Christian luminaries who are podium-stars on the Christian church circuits.

Then, there’s Arthur Blessitt. A most unconventional evangelist. He has carried the cross around the world and walked a Guinness World Record 38,102 miles through 315 nations.

Honey and I met Blessitt in Fort Smith, Arkansas, when he was speaking at a junior college. What’s funny is that I had to drag Honey to the small auditorium. She had never heard of him and did not want to attend.

Blessitt appeared in his normal attire: faded jeans and blue chambray work shirt. His short talk consisted of telling about his mission and a few anecdotes from his travels. He ended the meeting with a short prayer.

Afterward, I wanted to shake his hand and thank him for his commitment in obeying Jesus.

As we approached, he pointed at Honey and said, “You really encouraged me today. I looked at your face while I was speaking and just felt encouraged to carry on. Thanks.”

I could have died right there on the spot. Every part of me wanted to scream aloud, “Arthur, she didn’t want to even come here. It was my idea. Me. Me. Me. I’m the Blessitt fan in this family, not Honey.”

Thanks to the Holy Spirit who shushed me, I kept quiet and smiled while he shook Honey’s hand.

Do I remember Blessitt’s speech? No.  Or his prayer? No.

But what I do remember was this: his humility.

The fear of the Lord is the instruction for wisdom, and before honor comes humility. (Proverbs 15:33)

Swimming Upstream appears at this blog site on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. It’s  a little of this and a little of that, all written  to encourage and exhort believers in their Christian journeys.

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Swimming Upstream: “Are You Prepared for Storms?”

The cell phone rang; I flipped it open. “Hello,” I said.

“I have cancer. Will you pray for me?” she said through panic-weighted sobs.

Though shocked, I replied, “Yes, of course I will.”

This just happened, but over my twenty-four years of being a believer, I’ve heard it often. Storms happen, you know. At times, the storms blow across our lives as financial monsoons. Other times, it’s sickness hurricanes. Or divorce cyclones. Whatever, the storms are devastating when they hit. And the wreckage may be severe.

More often than not, the individual is not prepared. They may be active members of a church. They may be generous givers of tithes and offerings. They may be doing some good works in their communities.

But usually, their prayer lives are three-minute dart tosses each day, aimed at heaven, as in “God bless this meal and us today. Amen.”

And their Bible studies consists of thirty-minute per week workouts, done along with their pastors’ sermons on Sunday mornings. Then, after these exhausting exercises, the Bibles rest on tables until next week.

When the storms hit, what do these people usually depend on? The prayer lives and faith of other people.

Now, this is not to say that storms do not happen to all types of believers. They do. And this is not to say that all believers should not ask for prayer from others. They should.

But when the storm rocked the disciples’ boat and they screamed, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing”, what was the Lord’s reply?

He said to them, “Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?…” (Matthew 8:26)

So, are you prepared for the next storm in your life? Will your prayer life and faith calm the storm?

Swimming Upstream appears at this blog site on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. It’s  a little of this and a little of that, all written  to encourage and exhort believers in their Christian journeys.

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Swimming Upstream: “At What Point, Will I Fall Away?”

Anna at Bigger Than Me, has written an article, Spiritual, Supernatural Things (Part 2), which has brought on some interesting comments from truthwalker.

Now I know, it’s easy for us believers, especially me, to point our fingers at truthwalker and say, “You shoulda done this. You shoulda done that. What’s your problem?”

Anna admitted in her article:

And to be quite honest, this scared me. How is it possible that someone who had known the love of Jesus would willingly walk away?…God simply wasn’t there for them when they needed Him. And at this pivotal point, doubt entered in… And what scared me the most is that this could happen to any one of us, even me.

Most of us believers have a little bit of Peter inside us which on the one hand boasts, “Lord, I will never leave you” and on the other hand looks for the next bus out of town when everything falls to pieces.

Of course, maybe you are the rock-solid exception. If you are, God bless you. But for the rest of us, maybe this is a good time to ask, “At what point, will I fall away?”

And if you do not carry your own cross, you cannot be My disciple. But don’t begin until you count the cost…(Luke 14:27-28 New Living Translation)

Swimming Upstream appears at this blog site on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. It’s  a little of this and a little of that, all written  to encourage and exhort believers in their Christian jouneys.

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