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A number of years ago, Dr. Waltke, a seminary professor, & three pastors, one of which was Charles Swindol toured the mother church of the First Church of Christ Scientist in downtown Boston. The four were unknown to the elderly lady who was going to give them a tour. They didnít tell her who they were, at least not at first. She showed them several interesting things on the main floor. When they got to the pipe organ she began to talk about their doctrine & especially their belief about no judgment in the life beyond. Dr. Waltke waited for just the right moment & then very casually asked: "But, Maíam, doesnít it say somewhere in the Bible, íIt is appointed unto man once to die & after that, the judgment?" The scholar could have quoted Hebrews 9:27 in the Greek, but he was so gracious & tactful. Swindol confessed he was thinking, "Go for it Bruce. Now weíve got her where we want her!" Without a pause, the lady simply ask, "Would you like to see the second floor?" Dr. Waltke said, "We surely would, thank you." She smiled, somewhat relieved, & started to lead the men up a flight of stairs. Swindol recalled he couldnít believe it. He was thinking, "No, donít let her get away. Make her answer your question!" He pulled on the scholarís arm & said in a low voice, "Hey, why didnít you nail the lady? Why didnít you press the point & not let her get away until she answered?" Swindol said he replied, "But, Chuck, that wouldnít have been fair. That wouldnít have been very loving, either- now would it?" Swindol said, "Wham, the quiet rebuke left me reeling. I shall never forget that moment. And to complete the story, youíll be interested to know that in less than 20 minutes he was sitting with the woman alone, gently speaking to her about the Lord Jesus Christ. She sat in rapt attention. He, the gracious servant, had won a hearing by being kind.
THE CATERPILLAR JOURNEY
I heard a quote in college that struck me: "The caterpillar is the most confused creature which roams the planet, because undoubtedly stamped in his soul is the call to fly."
Caterpillars must go through four stages before their metamorphosis is complete. They begin as eggs, next they hatch as caterpillars, then they go through a stage where they eat, and eat, and eat some more. Eventually, they become a chrysalis before the transformation is complete and they can finally emerge as a beautiful butterfly.
The Bible tells us in Ecclesiastes 3: 1 "To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven." Often, we want to walk straight into the calling God has for us. We want to do and be everything God wants us to be and not only that, but we want to skip the journey that takes us there and do it NOW! We want to go from being caterpillar eggs to butterflies! However, we all know that there are risks to anything being born prematurely. In order for anything to be birthed, whether it is a vision or a calling, we who are to fulfill it must go on a journey. We must go through stages and seasons of preparation.
For weeks, our class would observe the caterpillars I had ordered. We would begin to notice that each day they would crawl to the top of the aquarium and stand upside down. It was as though they were saying "Is today the day? Is today the day my transformation will begin?" When they realized it wasn't, they would walk back down and eat the day away. Every morning upon returning to the classroom, we would always be amazed at how much the caterpillars had grown.
Sometimes our lives can reach a point where they seem routine and mundane. Like the caterpillars, we are walking up and down, up and down. We may feel bored with where we are, like God has forgotten us, or as though we are not accomplishing much with our lives. We go through the day wondering. Is this the day? If we find it's not, our response should be like the caterpillars. It's not the day, but God has promised it, so I'm going to prepare for it nonetheless! We should eat, and eat, and eat from the Word of God. We should spend daily time in prayer and worship. We should be building, preparing, and strengthening our spirit man to accomplish the things which God has stamped on our souls to do.
After about two weeks, we would usually come to class one morning to find that many of the caterpillars had formed a chrysalis. From the outside of the chrysalis, it always seemed to my students as though nothing were happening. After a while, they would lose interest in the chrysalis. It wasn't fun to watch, and it wasn't spectacular to look at.
I'm convinced that like the caterpillar, God wants to take us on a journey. I'm convinced there is a process. Job said "For He knows the way that I take, and when He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold." Sometimes there is pain in the process. Sometimes the journey is difficult, but God knows and sees exactly where you are. When others look and see an ugly cocoon, He looks inside and sees the beautiful creature that is being transformed. Before David became king of Israel, he was first a shepherd boy. Some of his brothers were more handsome than him and greater in stature, but God did not choose them. In the Bible God spoke in 1 Samuel 16: 7 concerning David "for the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." God chose the young, ruddy shepherd boy who had a heart after Him. All those years David spent alone in the field, God was preparing him. Don't despise the cocoon. God may simply be waiting for your character to catch up with your calling.
It is in the difficult process of breaking out of the chrysalis that the butterfly becomes strong. However, if the caterpillar breaks its way out of the cocoon prematurely, he will never survive. His wings will not be developed enough to allow him to properly fly. God does not want us to simply arrive at our calling, He desires for us to be successful in it. You may be a caterpillar with the word 'butterfly' stamped on your forehead wondering "When is it going to happen?" Consider this thought.is it possible that you have yet to visit the cocoon? If you're having trouble waiting for the moment that you break out into your calling, just remember. "He has made everything beautiful in HIS time." (Ecclesiastes 3: 11)
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On Sept 16, 1620 2 ships set sail from Plymouth Englnad, The Speedwell and the Mayflower. The Speedwell encountered much difficulty as they began their journey springing many leaks in the ship. So when the 2 ships went to Port in Plymouth England, the Speedwell decided to go no further and 42 passengers from the Speedwell joined the 60 passengers and 30 crew members aboard the Mayflower..
Of the 102 passengers on board the Mayflower the majority were devout Christians. They were coming to America to shake lose from the bonds of the church of England so they could worship God as they believed scriptures taught.
And with great excitement and expectations that set sail for a new land... It wasnít long before the trip became difficult for several reasons, as noted by William Bradford an historian on the Mayflower, who would later became Governor of the colony for 33 years.. Many of the passengers became sea sick as huge waves would crash over the deck of the ship... The nights were cold, damp and dark... Remember there was no indoor plumbing or electricity. And to make matters worse one of the crew, a very large man would constantly curse and abuse those who were sick... saying he was going to throw them overboard and steal all of their possessions... Bradford records, "BUT IT PLEASED GOD BEFORE THEY CAME HALF SEAS OVER, TO SMITE THE YOUNG MAN WITH A GRIEVOUS DISEASE OF WHICH HE DIED IN A DESPERATE MANNER.. AND SO HE HIMSELF WAS THE FIRST THROWN OVERBOARD. THUS HIS CURSES LIGHT OWN HIS WON HEAD, AND IT WAS AN ASTONISHMENT TO ALL HIS FELLOWS FOR THEY NOTED IT TO BE THE JUST HAND OF GOD UPON HIM.."
But their problems were far from over yet, they encountered many fierce storms which shook the ship with tremendous force. So fierce that many times they could not even keep the sail out and the force of the wind -- eventually cracked and bowed the main beams when they had just went over the half way point across the Atlantic. And although the passengers and crew wanted to turn back, Christopher Jones, the ships Master, assured all the vessel was "strong and firm under water." He ordered the beam to be secured. It was hoisted into place by a great iron screw that, fortunately, the Pilgrims brought out of Holland. AND Upon raising the beam, they "committed themselves to the will of God and resolved to proceed." These 100 people; cold, wet -- on wooden ship in the middle of the ocean -- put their hope, trust and lives into the hands of God. The battered ship finally came within sight of Cape Cod on November 19, 1620. Two had died at sea and two had given birth. The Pilgrims scanned the shoreline just to the west of them and described it as, "a goodly land wooded to the brink of the sea," William Bradford writes, "AFTER LONG BEATINGS AT SEA THEY FELL WITH THAT LAND WHICH IS CALLED CAPE COD; AND THEY WERE NOT A LITTLE JOYFUL..."
Before going ashore they decided to write a document know as the Mayflower Compact.
At the heart of the compact lay an undisputed conviction that God must be at the center of all law and order and the law without a moral base is really no law at all.
The day the Pilgrims signed the May Flower Compact, according to William Bradford, "they came to anchor in the Bay, which was a good harbor...and they blessed the God of Heaven, who brought them over the fast and furious ocean... and a sea of trouble. And they read the following from the Geneva Bible (the Bible the Pilgrims used) "LET THEM, THEREFORE PRAISE THE LORD, BECAUSE HE IS GOOD AND HIS MERCIES ENDURE FOREVER."
This coming thursday we will be celebrating Thanksgiving Day... Many will be busy cooking turkeys, making stuffing, baking pumpkin pies.... and watching football games. And that is fun stuff -- it is important to get together with loved ones... But that is not what thanksgiving is really about -- itís not about food and fun... it is about giving thanks to the Lord God Almighty.
We usually picture the first thanksgiving in America, as the time when the Pilgrims and the Indians got together for a great feast (though I really donít know how they could of eaten pumpkin pie without cool whip). But I tend to look at that time when on the sea battered Mayflower anchored in the bay at Cape Cod, a group of weary and worn men and women were on their knees praising their God in heaven for bringing them safely through the treacherous sea to this new land, as the real first thanksgiving.
AN EASTER PARABLE: EDITH EASTER
Edith Burns was a wonderful Christian who lived in San Antonio, Texas. She was the patient of a doctor by the name of Will Phillips. Dr. Phillips was a gentle doctor who saw patients as people. His favorite patient was Edith Burns. One morning he went to his office with a heavy heart and it was because of Edith Burns.
When he walked into that waiting room, there sat Edith with her big black Bible in her lap earnestly talking to a young mother sitting beside her.
Edith Burns had a habit of introducing herself in this way: "Hello, my name is Edith Burns. Do you believe in Easter?" Then she would explain the meaning of Easter, and many times people would be saved. Dr. Phillips walked into that office and there he saw the head nurse, Beverly. Beverly had first met Edith when she was taking her blood pressure. Edith began by saying, "My name is Edith Burns. Do you believe in Easter?" Beverly said, "Why yes I do." Edith said, "Well, what do you believe about Easter?" Beverly said, "Well, it's all about egg hunts, going to church, and dressing up." Edith kept pressing her about the real meaning of Easter, and finally led her to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
Dr. Phillips said, "Beverly, don't call Edith into the office quite yet. I believe there is another delivery taking place in the waiting room."
After being called back in the doctor's office, Edith sat down and when she took a look at the doctor she said, "Dr. Will, why are you so sad? Are you reading your Bible? Are you praying?" Dr. Phillips said gently, "Edith, I'm the doctor and you're the patient." With a heavy heart he said, "Your lab report came back and it says you have cancer, and Edith, you're not going to live very long." Edith said, "Why Will Phillips, shame on you. Why are you so sad? Do you think God makes mistakes? You have just told me I'm going to see my precious Lord Jesus, my husband, and my friends. You have just told me that I am going to celebrate Easter forever, and here you are having difficulty giving me my ticket!" Dr. Phillips thought to himself, "What a magnificent woman this Edith Burns is!"
Edith continued coming to Dr. Phillips. Christmas came and the office was closed through January 3rd. On the day the office opened, Edith did not show up. Later that afternoon, Edith called Dr. Phillips and said she would have to be moving her story to the hospital and said, "Will, I'm very near home, so would you make sure that they put women in here next to me in my room who need to know about Easter."
Well, they did just that and women began to come in and share that room with Edith. Many women were saved. Everybody on that floor from staff to patients were so excited about Edith, that they started calling her Edith Easter; that is everyone except Phyllis Cross, the head nurse. Phyllis made it plain that she wanted nothing to do with Edith because she was a "religious nut". She had been a nurse in an army hospital. She had seen it all and heard it all. She was the original G.I. Jane. She had been married three times, she was hard, cold, and did everything by the book.
One morning the two nurses who were to attend to Edith were sick. Edith had the flu and Phyllis Cross had to go in and give her a shot. When she walked in, Edith had a big smile on her face and said, "Phyllis, God loves you and I love you, and I have been praying for you." Phyllis Cross said, "Well, you can quit praying for me, it won't work. I'm not interested." Edith said, "Well, I will pray and I have asked God not to let me go home until you come into the family." Phyllis Cross said, "Then you will never die because that will never happen," and curtly walked out of the room.
Every day Phyllis Cross would walk into the room and Edith would say, "God loves you Phyllis and I love you, and I'm praying for you." One day Phyllis Cross said she was literally drawn to Edith's room like a magnet would draw iron. She sat down on the bed and Edith said, "I'm so glad you have come, because God told me that today is your special day." Phyllis Cross said, "Edith, you have asked everybody here the question, 'Do you believe in Easter?' but you have never asked me." Edith said, "Phyllis, I wanted to many times, but God told me to wait until you asked, and now that you have asked..."
Edith Burns took her Bible and shared with Phyllis Cross the Easter Story of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Edith said, "Phyllis, do you believe in Easter? Do you believe that Jesus Christ is alive and that He wants to live in your heart?" Phyllis Cross said, "Oh I want to believe that with all of my heart, and I do want Jesus in my life." Right there, Phyllis Cross prayed and invited Jesus Christ into her heart. For the first time Phyllis Cross did not walk out of a hospital room, s...
During the Thirty Yearsí War in the 17th century, German pastor Paul Gerhardt and his family were forced to flee from their home. One night as they stayed in a small village inn, homeless and afraid, his wife broke down and cried openly in despair. To comfort her, Gerhardt reminded her of Scripture promises about Godís provision and keeping. Then, going out to the garden to be alone, he too broke down and wept. He felt he had come to his darkest hour. Soon afterward, Gerhardt felt the burden lifted and sensed anew the Lordís presence. Taking his pen, he wrote a hymn that has brought comfort to many. "Give to the winds thy fears; hope, and be undismayed; God hears thy sighs and counts thy tears; God shall lift up thy head. Through waves and clouds and storms He gently clears the way. Wait thou His time, so shall the night soon end in joyous day."
It is often in our darkest times that God makes His presence known most clearly. He uses our sufferings and troubles to show us that He is our only source of strength. And when we see this truth, like Paster Gerhardt, we receive new hope. Are you facing a great trial? Take heart. Put yourself in Godís hands. Wait for His timing. He will give you a "song in the night."
Our Daily Bread, May 7, 1992.
And while they were ministering to the Lord and fasting (they were in touch with God), the Holy Spirit said, ďSet apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.Ē
The Holy Spirit said, ďSeparate for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I (the Spirit) have called them.Ē This opens up something we need to talk about. The Spirit of God calls Christians to places of service, and equips them to fulfill that responsibility for which they have been called to serve. It is called gifts.
Please notice that they didnít hear the call until they were ministering to the Lord. To put it another way, God only hits a moving target. You canít stand still and be led, because people standing still donít move. People sit back and wait for this thunder from heaven to hit them so the Lord can lead them to where they ought to go.
They pray prayers like, ďLead me.Ē No. They were ministering to the Lordóthatís when they heard the Holy Spirit. You cannot be doing nothing and then expect the Spirit to lead you. He only leads you when youíre obeying and ministering to Him. You do not get this jolt from heaven unless youíre first ministering to the Lord. Do what you know you should be doing under God, and the Holy Spirit takes you where you donít know; He takes you to the next step. If youíre not moving at all, donít worry about it. You canít be led.
Itís like causing your brother to stumble. You canít cause someone to stumble who is not moving, because you canít trip if youíre standing still. The idea is to be moving so that you can be led.
It was related that once when the Duke of Wellington remained to take communion at his parish church, a very poor old man went up to the opposite aisle, and reaching the Communion table, knelt down close by the side of the Duke. (Immediately, tension and commotion interrupted the silence of the church.) Someone came and touched the poor man on the shoulder, and whispered to him to move farther away, or to rise and wait until the Duke had received the bread and the wine.
But the eagle eye and the quick ear of the great commander caught the meaning of that touch and that whisper. He clasped the old manís hand and held him to prevent his rising; and in a reverential but distinct undertone, the Duke said, "Do not move; we are equal here." (Pulpit Helps 3/91)
THE MAGIC OF THREE DAYS
It was a beautiful spring day, and a sense of peace stayed with me as I left the cathedral on Easter Monday morning. I paused for a moment on top of the steps leading to the avenue, now crowded with people rushing to their jobs. Sitting in her usual place inside a small archway was the old flower lady. At her feet corsages and boutonnieres were parading on top of a spread-open newspaper.
The flower lady was smiling, her wrinkled old face alive with some inner joy. I started down the stairsóthen, on an impulse, turned and picked out a flower.
As I put it in my lapel, I said, ďYou look happy this morning.Ē
ďWhy not? Everything is good.Ē
She was dressed so shabbily and seemed so very old that her reply startled me.
ďYouíve been sitting here for many years now, havenít you? And always smiling. You wear your troubles well.Ē
ďYou canít reach my age and not have troubles,Ē she replied. ďOnly itís like Jesus and Good Friday . . . Ē She paused for a moment.
ďYes?Ē I prompted.
ďWell, when Jesus was crucified on Good Friday, that was the worst day for the whole world. And when I get troubles I remember that, and...
Iím Sarah, Iím sixteen;
Last night I failed.
I prayed for more strength,
So why did I yield?
He said he loved me,
Brought me flowers and all;
Then he took me upstairs
And caused me to fall.
I feel so ashamed,
So dirty inside.
Heís taken my heart;
Now I want to go hide.
I let down my parents,
And they trusted me so.
Can God forgive me?
I need to know.
If I had it to do
All over again,
I think I would run
To a close, loving friend.
The pain hurts so bad;
I want you to know,
So you wonít give in.
Youíll know when to go!
Yes, God can forgive!
It says it right here;
Jesus died for my sins,
So I never need fear.
My past is all cleansed;
Iím whiter than snow.
Yet my sin is still sin;
Consequences donít go.
Today I start over,
My purity new!
Iím Godís little girl,
Straight through and through!
Abstain - yes, I must!
By Godís grace and power,
Iíll stay close to Him,
Hour by hour.
Hiding His Word
Deep in my heart;
When faced with temptation,
Next time Iíll be smart.
I know from now on
Iím determined to wait;
God has a man
Designed as my mate.
When that time comes,
And I know heís the one;
The day Iíll be married -
Now thatíll be fun!
But until then,
To the Lord will I cling;
At just the right time,
My husband, Heíll bring.
Iím trusting Him now
With all of my soul.
The Lord holds my future;
Thatís all I must know!
A. Todd Coget
[Good Won’t Get You There, Feda H. Babinski]
I’m standing there in front of gates like none I’ve ever found
They shine like golden ribbons as they glide across the ground
I see the stairs that never end how brilliantly they glow
I start to climb and realize there’s nothing down below
Then suddenly the two appear yes they must be my guide
They didn’t speak or show their face while they were by my side
We reached the top and I was placed in line with everyone
The two so quickly disappeared I guess their job was done
Such purity was all around so it just had to be
The day that would determine where I’d spend eternity
The line moved very slowly but since I’d been good and kind
I knew where I was going so I really didn’t mind
I watched so many walk away with wings as white as snow
The others were escorted out to where? I didn’t know
My turn had come to face the Lord but much to my surprise
I didn’t feel so confident when I looked in his eyes
I felt His power all around and nothing was the same
He opened up this golden book and asked me for my name
He said, "Where your name should appear there’s just a vacancy"
I said, But God I’ve been so good please look again for me"
God closed the book and tiny angels wiped his tears away
He said, "I hope you’ll understand what I’m about to say
Do you recall that poor old man who asked you for a dime?
You hurried passed and said to him that you did not have time
There also was a little child who wanted you to play
Again you didn’t have the time and pushed the child away
In line while at the grocery store she tried to hurry so
You grumbled as you passed her by because she moved too slow
You see, I came so many times but you turned me away
So now I don’t know who you are I’m sad for you today
If I’m not living in your heart you can’t be free from sin
So being good is not enough you must be Born Again"
The two appeared just like before they stood close by my side
This time I saw their faces and became so terrified
Through tears I was escorted to my final destiny
I had no one to blame at all except for one, just me
Then suddenly a ringing sound completely filled my head
I opened up my eyes and found that I was still in bed
Through sweat and tears I realized how real our dreams could be
And then I wondered just how long that God would wait for me
That night I gave my heart away I’m Born Again through prayer
God proved to me with so much love that "Good Won’t Get You There"