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What Story Will You Tell?

May 22, 2019 Leave a comment

Everyone Has a StoryAll of us have a story. It may be  your parenting story, your pregnancy story, your career story or the story of your life. A story I’ve always enjoyed hearing is the story of someone’s salvation—all the details surrounding how a person came to faith in Christ.

When we lived in Indiana back in the late 1980’s, the editor of our denomination’s weekly state paper, The Indiana Baptist, asked me to do a weekly column on a different individual each week and emphasize the details of their conversion experience. I decided to call the column “A Story To Tell.”

My husband’s job at that time was in Baptist missions, and we traveled to a different church in Indiana every week. We usually arrived at the church at least an hour before he was to preach, so I had time to seek out a friendly man or woman, get their permission to record our conversation, and then ask them to tell me their salvation experience. After the interview, I would write down our conversation in a story format.

While all the stories culminated when the person became a born-again Christian, each convert’s circumstances were unique. However, after several months of writing salvation stories,  the common thread I saw in each person’s experience was the way God used a friend, a neighbor, a relative, or even a stranger to draw the unsaved person to Christ.

An example of this was the young man who had not been brought up in the church, knew nothing of the Lord and was planning on becoming  a professional golfer. One evening, when he was about to enter a nightclub to enjoy several hours of partying, he noticed a group of people carrying picket signs. They were protesting what was going on inside the establishment.  One of the signs read “The wages of sin is death.”

For weeks the young man was haunted by these words, but he had no idea what they meant. However,  after he followed his girlfriend’s suggestion to talk to a pastor, he was led to the Lord, and his life was forever transformed.

I’m sure the man who had picketed the nightclub that night carrying a sign with the words from Romans 6:23 written on it, never realized his small gesture eventually made an eternal difference in someone’s life.

What difference will you make in someone’s salvation story?

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What’s Your Name?

April 22, 2019 2 comments

Hello my name isDeciding what to name a child can be challenging. While I’ve passed the stage of naming babies, today, I’m faced with what to name a character in a book. That too can prove challenging.

When a character enters a scene, the person’s name usually pops in my head at the same time. However, before accepting this moniker as the appropriate tag for the person, I do a little research just to make sure it isn’t the name of a celebrity or a politician or some other famous person.

I also want a villain’s name  to sound . . . well . . . villainous, and a strong character to have a strong sounding name. Think “Rocky” and you get the picture.

The Bible is full of great names for both babies  and characters. These are names that have been around for thousands of years, and have quite literally stood the test of time. But, there are many “one time use” names in the Bible as well.

For instance, in the book of Hosea, God instructs a prophet to name his daughter “No Mercy” (Hosea 1:6). The son who came later was named “Not My People” (Hosea 1:9). Their Hebrew names Lo-ruhama and Lo-ammi never quite caught on as popular names for offspring, but those names portrayed the message God was endeavoring to send His people at that time.

In the book of Ruth, a widow named Naomi, who had lost two sons, decided she wanted to be called Bitter. She wanted this name change because she said, “the Almighty has dealt bitterly with me” (Ruth 1:20).

If you wanted a name to reflect how God has dealt with you, what would you call yourself?

I would call myself Blessed. I pray it would be your name as well. We are all Blessed.

Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God.”
Psalm 146:5

By His Stripes We Are Healed

April 15, 2019 1 comment

Jesus Christ in the holy cross

of black and blue and red
of gashes and slashes and stripes
of hits and harm and hurt

He stumbles and bows and falls
He crumbles and bends and kneels
He gasps and cries and moans

for healing and helping and teaching
for blessing and loving and keeping
for hoping and holding and saving

Isaiah 54:4-5
A Devotional Poem by Luana Ehrlich

Being Afraid of God

January 22, 2019 Leave a comment

fear lordBe afraid. Be very afraid. Being afraid of God seems foreign to those of us who view God as the Lover of our Soul, who sing of His blessings, and who trust Him with our eternal soul.

Yet, one can’t read the Bible without encountering the oft-repeated admonition to “fear the Lord.” Throughout the Old Testament, there are numerous examples of God’s children receiving a blessing because they fear God. Also, because of fearing God, they do what He commands them to do. (Genesis 42:18; Exodus 1:17; Exodus 18:21)

Fear of God  is not just an Old Testament concept, though. Jesus said in Matthew 10:28, “Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”

Nevertheless, there are times in my life when I’ve struggled with the concept of what it means to fear God. That’s why, when I recently came across a definition of fearing God in Drew Dyck’s book, Yawning At Tigers: You Can’t Tame God, So Stop Trying, I spent time meditating on it.

Dyck says, “To fear the Lord is to be grounded in reality, to have an accurate view of God’s holy nature and his awesome power.”

Fearing God doesn’t mean we cower in His presence—like a dog who knows he’s displeased his master—nor does it mean we run and hide instead of joyfully approaching Him. Instead, we embrace the fear of God because we recognize His to-be-feared characteristics, such as His all-powerful wrath toward sin, His unending sovereignty, and His unapproachable holiness, are an accurate understanding of who God really is.

The  fearfulness of God is a reality, even if we don’t like it very much.

Having a true picture of God is the beginning of wisdom. Proverbs 9:10: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.”

We should fear God. We should  be in awe of His wrath and His judgment. Yet, at the same time, we should have peace, knowing He is shielding us from wrath, sheltering us in His arms forever.

A Day of Hope

January 1, 2019 Leave a comment

Goodbye, 2018. Hello, 2019.

January 1st is a day of promise. To many, it holds the enticing thought of a brand new start, a day to wipe the slate clean, to begin anew.

January 1st could rightly be renamed The Day of Hope.

  • We hope to lose weight, get more sleep, eat healthy.
  • We hope to be more productive, not procrastinate, get organized.
  • We hope to get a better job, earn more money, buy a new house.

But, so much of what we hope for tomorrow will just be wishful thinking.

There’s a different kind of hope that’s not just wishful thinking. It’s a hope centered on Christ, a confidence that what God has promised He’ll bring to pass.

I like to think of hope as the future tense of faith.

How can we have this hope that’s not just wishful thinking?

Romans 10:17 says, “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.” It’s the Word of God that makes faith and hope possible.

All of your days in 2019 can be A Day of Hope by reading God’s Word.

Check out these Daily Bible Reading Plans for hope-filled days in 2019.

Is it possible to know God?

May 21, 2018 Leave a comment

Know GodI was talking with a young lady who’d been a believer for several years, but who’d recently signed up for a weekly Bible study. She said, “I want to know God. I know that won’t happen if I don’t study my Bible.”

Without realizing it, this young lady had made a profound statement. There’s no way anyone can know God except through the study of Scriptures, the revelation He’s given us about Himself. The best way to learn about God is to read, study, and meditate on the love letter He’s written to us.

Although I met my husband-to-be when I was sixteen years old, we lived a thousand miles away from each other and never had the opportunity to spend any time together. I understood why my friends and family were surprised when I announced that James and I were getting married only a couple of months after my eighteenth birthday. What they failed to grasp was that James and I had been corresponding with each other regularly for almost two years, and because of those letters, we’d come to know each other as well as many couples who’d been dating for several years.

While this illustrates the concept of getting to know God through reading His Word, it fails to portray the real picture of how intimacy with God is possible through the study of His Word.

This truth can only be experienced when a believer spends time in the Word every day. This is the way God has chosen to build a relationship with His children. This is the way God speaks to His children, and this is the way His children learn to recognize the voice of the Father.

Jesus said His followers are able to discern His voice. John 10:27, My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”  

If you truly “want to know God,” become familiar with the sound of His voice through His Word.

Waiting for the Blue Bar

April 23, 2018 Leave a comment

Download imageIf you would have asked me the moment I made my commitment to Christ if I loved the Lord, I would have said yes.

Now though, as I look back on it, it’s hard to measure that kind of love.

That’s because I know more about Him now, so I feel I love Him more. My relationship with Him now, as compared to when I first came into a relationship with Him, makes that initial claim of loving him seem as nothing.

I was thinking about this one day as I sat in front of my computer watching a new program get downloaded. A pop-up box dominated the screen with a line of text assuring me the process of downloading was taking place.  Even though I wasn’t able to see it, I was supposed to believe it was going on in the background.

To help me visualize the progress of the download, a long bar appeared in the pop-up box. The bar was clear with no color showing. Because I’d done this before, I knew  the moment the software elements were added to my hard drive, the bar would begin to fill up with blue. The colorization would begin on the left side and gradually make its way over to the right, culminating in a solid blue bar. Once that happened, the download was complete, and I was encouraged to begin using my new program.

How this blue download bar related to my thoughts about my love for Christ is easy to describe but hard to explain.

Picture the clear bar as the moment I accepted Him as my Savior. Then, picture the bar as completely filled in at some future moment in eternity when I shall know Him fully and love Him perfectly.

In this comparison, what kind of progress can I see on the blue bar right now? Practically none. Perhaps a little sliver of blue on the far left-hand side. Nothing more.

However, like the message on the pop-up box, God’s Word is continually reassuring me my life is  being changed and the elements of my sanctification are being added. Though I may not see any progress, I must believe the message.

One day, Jesus promises His believers they’ll hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.” (Matthew 25:23).

One day, the download will be complete, and we’ll be able to use our new program.

In the meantime, be patient and keep reading His Word, His Message of Hope.

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