Posts Tagged With: Christianity

You Also Were Included

“…And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit…” Ephesians 1:13 NIV (read more)

This was the Scripture that greeted me this morning. Thank you Holy Spirit.

Yesterday I came across an old journal entry that I would never want my kids or grand kids to ever find or read. It articulated fairly clearly how messed up my identity crisis had really become. It was real and raw and authentic… but completely wrong. It revealed how thoroughly I had believed the enemies lies.

I spent yesterday wondering how much of my sense of identity is still more inspired out of the pit of hell rather than the heart of God. I didn’t have much hope for the latter.

And then the Scripture. Can we read it again?

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You Are INCLUDED In Christ! I Am Included IN CHRIST!

So what is our identity in Christ?

I’m so glad you asked. That was the first thing I asked as well. Great minds think alike I guess. I looked it up and found this helpful graphic:

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Those last few points were very eye-opening for me.

“You are declared righteous by God.” You are not a sinner. Because God says so.

“Your identity comes from what God has done for you and what God says about you.”

“Your belief about yourself determines your behavior.”

So ask yourself, will I continue to believe the enemies lies? Or will I believe God?

Someone has highly recommended the theologian Dr. C. Baxter Kruger. So yesterday I looked him up for the first time. I watched this very insightful video:

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When Death Takes Me Down

“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.” (Psalm 116:15 KJV)

I had this Scripture rolling around in my mind as I stepped into the Nursing Home yesterday to share some music with the residents. As I came in I was informed by a nurse that there was a resident who was passing away. I asked if I could play a song for her. She asked the family and they invited me in.

As soon as I stepped into the room she took her last breath. Soon, they were listening for a heartbeat… nothing. She was gone.

It is hard to process watching someone pass away before your eyes. As the family sobbed one woman was reading the Beatitudes from the Sermon on the Mount. As she finished, I offered a song. We sang Amazing Grace and then by request How Great Thou Art. I had played this song (her favorite) on so many occasions before for this woman and now it was for her gathered family.

I got the chills as I thought about how she might be observing us hovering in the room. It was a sobering moment. The faith and love of the surrounding family spoke volumes about who this woman was and of the faith and love she had passed down. Jesus has her covered. If she trusted that, then she’s in glory. Simple as that.

Some Thoughts

Do you ever think about how frail life is? We take it all for granted and we think we are so strong and are the masters of our own destiny, don’t we? Truth is, we are all just a few short breaths and heartbeats away from eternity.

Due to a certain vitamin deficiency (magnesium) I would sometimes get heart palpitations. My heart would stutter and flutter. Sometimes I got light-headed. When this first happened to me more than a year ago I was terrified! I thought my heart stopped and I fell to the ground and begged Jesus, “Have mercy on me! I don’t want to die!”

When this has happened since, I calm myself and just take the moment to receive the Lord’s grace, forgiveness and love. I realize he has my days in his hands and I exist for his pleasure, and I die for his pleasure as well. I trust his perfect timing in this and as much as I enjoy life and my family I’d welcome the promotion.

I know I’m going to be with Jesus. I know I’m going to paradise… forever.

This isn’t because of anything I have done to deserve or earn it, but simply because I trust Jesus. He has me covered. My salvation is secure. For me the biggest questions have been answered.

As I was running in the park the other night I wondered if I will hear, “Well done good and faithful servant. Enter the joy of your Master” from the LORD Jesus.

I expect so. Everything we have done for him by his Spirit will be remembered while all our sins are forgiven and forgotten. What a deal.

Of course everything not done by his Spirit but by our own efforts or for ourselves will be burned and we will suffer great loss, but, for the believer, our spirits will still be received into glory (but as through fire). Because of Gods great love he has made it impossible for him to reject the believer because he has made himself one with us and he cannot deny himself. But John makes it clear that the true believer will not continue to make a practice of sin. There is great tension in this and it causes us to examine our own faith and life and areas that we need to repent of.

I thank God for the tension. He never intended us to coddle ourselves in carefully scrutinized and dissected theology. No. We are all on trial every day of our lives until our last breath. Will we embrace and pursue Jesus and his love and let this effect who we are and how we live? Or  will we live for ourselves and pursue the world and it’s passing pleasures?

“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12 ESV)

His word is a constant challenge to our hearts as he intended it to be. My question for you. Are you letting it challenge you? Or are you running?  If your heart stopped right now would you be in terror or have peace? Are you ready to take your last breath?

“When death takes me down and I breathe here no more
My anthem will sound on that eternal shore
I’ll join with the angels in heaven on high
I’ll sing Praise the Lord, He is the light”
(I Saw The Light Lyrics, David Crowder/ Hank Williams)

Categories: Death | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

Jesus rose from the dead… so what does that mean to you?

Here is a video I did pondering the resurrection of Christ, Lazurus, and ultimately you and I.

empty tomb

What does it mean to you that Jesus rose from the dead?

Please join the conversation. I’d love to hear what the resurrection means to you! Leave a comment

“If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. . . . [and] we are to be pitied more than all men” (1 Corinthians 15:17, 19.)

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My Hitchhiking Adventure With God – The Journey “Home” (Part 4)

As with any story, it is best to start at the beginning:

Here is Part 1 of My Hitchhiking Adventure With God (not to be missed!)

PART 4 – the final chapter:

The YWAM directors (a husband/wife team) just so “happened” to be going on a vacation the following day to Monroe, Louisiana (though I suspect they formed their plans around me). They gave me a ride north to Highway 20 to a rest area on the way to YWAM in Lindale.

While waiting by the ramp at the rest area, a woman walked up to me and propositioned me for a threesome sex with her and her boyfriend. She had such a look of shame on her face and could hardly get the words out that she came to ask me. She told me that her boyfriend had put her up to it.

I talked to her about Jesus and prayed with her and she went back to tell her boyfriend that I was some sort of preacher. A few minutes later I went over to their RV not knowing what exactly I was going to say but wanting to say something to them both that might make some difference in their lives. What came out my mouth surprised me. I said, “Do you know why Jesus was baptized? He came to identify with us as sinners. He came to save us sinners from all our sinful ways. He came for all the sick and broken people like you and me.”

As a side note, I have since come to believe that everything Jesus has done is on our behalf. His was a substitutionary life for all of us. He kept the Father’s law of love on our behalf. His baptism was also on our behalf. For everyone who failed to obey his command of baptism, or couldn’t for whatever reason, do not fear, for he was! His death became our death to sin! His burial became our burial to the old sinful life! And best of all, his resurrection became our resurrection to new life in the Spirit! It’s all about Jesus! Everything he did, and everything he is becomes our salvation. Just as his name “Jesus” means: “I AM salvation”! – I just googled “I Am Salvation” for an image, and the image of my video popped up:

I caught a ride with a truck driver back to the YWAM ranch in Garden Valley. As I walked back into the camp I saw a few of the friends I had met. They were happy to see me and I related to them how the trip went. Maybe an hour passed and then my mom showed up to give me a ride home. Had someone called her? I still don’t know how she knew to meet me there. But I figure that she had told them to call her immediately if her crazy son ever showed up there again.

Everyone had indeed thought I had lost my mind and gone off the deep end. Of course I knew I hadn’t so it didn’t really matter what anyone else thought. I knew I was following Christ. One of the ladies back at GFA was praying for me and received the following Scripture for me:

images-2“Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.” Romans 14:4 NIV

This Scripture has helped me through the years not to judge other servants of God. It isn’t our place to judge and the Lord is able to make them stand. That goes for you and for me.

What I haven’t mentioned thus far is that I had been in a long distance relationship with a young lady named Catherine at the time of this little adventure. We had met about nine months prior and we both knew from the first day that we were destined for each other. Catherine was the daughter of a long time friend of my moms when we had lived in Wisconsin some 18 years earlier.

God had made it clear to the both of us that we had found our perfect God-ordained match. But, at the time, I was resisting this. I wanted to please God (and was afraid of God) so desperately that I wanted to forsake marriage altogether for the sake of service to God. I was convinced that this would please God more. I had to have a life that pleased God to the utmost or I was convinced my life was a waste and that God would just move on to someone else who would be willing to give everything up to follow him.

A month passed after coming back to the Dallas area. I tried teaming up with YWAM in Dallas but it seemed like a mess. They weren’t really doing much of anything except trying to convert the Mormons who would come to visit and try to convert them. I would often go down to Deep Elum or places like that to witness on the streets. I would talk to anyone on the street about Jesus and ask to pray with them. I remember one time at a stoplight getting out of my car and witnessing to the people in the car behind me. At the time I was making plans to go to Mexico on another crazy mission for God, and then later to Sydney Australia to the YWAM base there to evangelize at the upcoming Olympics.

In March I finally got around to obeying what the Lord had told me while walking toward Shreveport. He had told me to buy a one-way bus ticket to Wisconsin. I bought a round trip ticket for two weeks (I never did use the second half of the ticket). The clerk at the Greyhound bus station in Dallas couldn’t spell Manitowoc so I just had them send me to Milwaukee instead. I had never discussed with my mom or anyone else what God had told me about going to Wisconsin.

Meanwhile back in Manitowoc, Catherine was praying for me and for our relationship.  God told her, “Daniel is coming on April 5th.” She marked her calendar and believed God all the while in spite of all my rejection and resistance (we were not on speaking terms at the time). Her mom tried to tell her not to get her hopes up.

I called up Cindie, Catherine’s mom, a week or so prior to my trip and said, “I know something you don’t know.”

She said, “No you don’t. You are coming on April 5th.”

I had to look at my ticket and sure enough it had me arriving on April 5th. I asked her, “How did you know that?” Then she told me her side of the story.

So I came to Wisconsin on a Greyhound bus with my $100 guitar and some clothes and belongings in some very ugly luggage that my mom was glad to part with. I never did use that second ticket and that is how I came to live in Wisconsin.

God works in mysterious ways.

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Categories: faith adventure, Listening to God | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

My Hitchhiking Adventure With God – Part 1

My new found friend Neal wanted to hear my story. He was interested in a particular story from my past about a hitchhiking adventure to New Orleans during Mardi Gras to share Jesus with people on the street. Neal and I had just met one week before at church and became instant friends. We were out for lunch with some other friends one Sunday and my journey to New Orleans had come up in conversation. A few details of the story intrigued Neal. First, that I had worked at Gospel for Asia, and the other was that one of the places I had stopped along my journey just so happened to be the same place where Neal had found the Lord, found freedom from drugs, and found his wife.

coffee-cup-kittensBefore meeting Neal for coffee, I was nervous about talking about this particular story. It had been awhile since I had even thought about it and I feared that this particular story would give this much younger brother in the Lord a false impression of how faith is fundamentally expressed. (God’s Word tells us that faith expresses itself through love.) And so, after a bit of soul-searching and thoughtful prayer, we met for coffee and I shared the following story:

It was 1998 and I was 21 years old. I had been serving full time on staff at Gospel for Asia’s home office in Carrollton Texas for the past nine months. I ran errands, worked in the mail room, and answered phones. Gospel for Asia is an organization that connects sponsors to native missionaries in India and the surrounding countries.

I was involved with a few other ministries as well. I played bass on the worship team at my church (Calvary Chapel of Dallas), and I had also just started playing bass with a band that played at nursing homes and prisons.

41oeS7FjeEL._SY355_It all started on February 15th, 1998. I was at the end of my rope and feeling the burn around my neck. I felt like there was no one who I could talk to or relate to. I was an outsider, disconnected. It seemed like everyone else knew how to be a Christian but me, and honestly, being a Christian seemed pretty lame.

I was growing desperate, and struggling with my identity as a Christian. I had no one to confide in – and certainly no one to help me through the issues every young man faces. What was the worst, however, was that I felt so disconnected from this God I was trying so hard to serve and to please.

Well, that February night I was heading home after playing a concert at a nursing home and feeling so desperate that I knew I couldn’t go home. So I drove to my church and parked in the empty lot. As I sat there all the anguish and frustration boiled to the surface and I screamed and hit and shook the steering wheel in frustration, “God, please help me!”

Though the lot was empty I decided to walk to the church anyway. I needed to talk to someone. I knocked loudly and waited – not expecting anyone to come, but then someone did come. A man I had met before was staying at the church. I had remembered him from a Bible study and I felt I could trust him.

4b6c508eeab84c264b20954e598777a4He invited me in and we talked. I told him about all the stuff I was feeling and struggling with and about how desperate and depressed I felt. He encouraged me with a Scripture in John 3 about how those who come to the light love the truth, while those who hate the truth avoid the light. He said, “Daniel, you are coming to the light. This is good.” And then, he prayed for me.

Honestly, I didn’t feel any better at the time. I left still feeling depressed.

dcc285366742676e28ac32c0e7d12a61Later that night I was in bed and began praying. I prayed for a neighbor girl and a few others and then something amazing and miraculous started happening. The Lord’s presence come into the room. I can’t express to you how tangibly real this was. God was in my room! All my burdens lifted in a moment and I started praying in a different language. The praying grew more and more intense and it got so loud that I thought for sure I would wake my mom and brothers.

I then felt what I believe now to be the Lord’s presence (Holy Spirit) course through my body starting at the top of my head and moving to my toes and back again. It was in that moment that Jesus then commissioned me and gave me my calling, namely, “to proclaim his name.” With the commission came the understanding of what he meant. This was Jesus calling from Psalm 22:22 “I will proclaim your name to my brothers and sisters – I will praise you among your assembled people.”

This is all about glory – representing God in all his glory. Carrying His aura if you will. Living it. Moving in it. Breathing it in and out to the world. His glory.

It’s hard to explain if you haven’t experienced it. I just knew that His name was His presence and that is what my calling is. To share His name – His presence with others.

As I lay there he also told me that the next day I would be going to a certain building to make a delivery. He gave me a vision, a picture in my head, of a man standing outside the building smoking a cigarette. I was to give this man a simple message: “Tell him that I love him”.

Then the sad normal state of my self-conscious crashed back upon me like the Red sea on Pharaohs army and I went to sleep. I wished I could have stayed in His presence, it was so amazing.

The next day I didn’t remember what He had told me about the man and the message I was to deliver until I arrived at the building. I had never been there before but I recognized it from my vision. My heart began to race as it all came back to me. ‘Will he be there?’ I thought. “If he is here, I will do it”, I told myself. I parked the truck and approached the building excited and nervous.

Sure enough, there he stood smoking a cigarette just as the Lord showed me he would be. His name was Jacob and I said to him, “You will probably think I’m crazy, but I am a Christian and last night the Lord told me to tell you that He loves you.” Jacob seemed to take it seriously and I truly do hope it made a difference in his life. I then walked inside feeling a bit silly but also knowing that something quite amazing was happening here.

Later that same day my good friends Rob and Katie McCall invited me to join them for a road trip to New Orleans to share Jesus with people at Mardi Gras. “Wow!” I thought. “Of course I will go!” I was really excited and at worship practice that night I shared the news of my upcoming adventure with an older brother Rich that I served with on the worship team.

(How I started on the worship team: My brother was a talented keyboard player and since he didn’t have his driver’s license yet, I would drive him to worship practices. After a few times of just sitting out in the audience while they practiced, the worship leader finally says to me, “Why don’t you come up here and play bass for us?” So I came up, they hooked up the bass and handed it to me. I just stood there wondering what to do with the thing. I had just started playing guitar a few months before and didn’t know the first thing about bass.)

The next day Rob approached me and informed me that the plans had fallen through for the trip to New Orleans. Just after he told me this I heard the Lord whisper to me, “But I have called you to go.”

I was so excited! I didn’t know how I was getting there but I knew that in a week or so I would be in New Orleans. So help me God.

During that week I had some really wonderful times with the Lord. The day before I was to leave I was back at worship practice again. By this time I had decided that I was going to be hitchhiking. Without explanation I told Sandy, the worship leader, that I wouldn’t be playing that Sunday. Rich, still assuming I would be traveling with my friends to share Jesus took me aside and prayed for me and for God’s anointing on my journey.

And so, instead of participating in the worship practice, I got alone with God. I read the book of Acts and talked with God. It was then that the Lord told me to leave the next morning at 4:00. I told him, “Lord, if you get me up at four in the morning I will go.” I didn’t set an alarm that night.

My mom woke me up the next morning – sun shining through the window. She told me she was going to a bible study at church. Church was across town and would be a much better place to start hitchhiking from so I told her of my plan and that I still felt the Lord wanted me to go and asked for a ride to church. She told me, “No, God has closed that door. You can just pray from here if you feel that strongly about it.”

That took the wind out of my sails. I sat there in my room not knowing what to do next. I looked over at my alarm clock and it was blinking 3:45. Apparently sometime in the night the power had gone out and the clock started over. Oh my goodness, 15 minutes to go.

I looked in the mirror after brushing my teeth and knew I just couldn’t face myself in the mirror again if I did not join the Lord in this adventure. So I picked up my New King James New Testament and flipped through it looking for some encouragement. I finally stumbled on a verse that simply said, “You are Christ’s.” – 1 Corinthians 3:23

That was all I needed. If I belong to Christ – then he has the right to do whatever he pleases with what is his. Even if it means to send them on dangerous missions to dangerous places… all alone. But I wouldn’t be alone would I? Christ was with me! The clock was now blinking 3:55.

kitten-rainI wrote a hurried note to my mom that read, “Where God closes a door, he opens a window.” I then took my bible, a map, an apple, and all my money (all 11 dollars) and to avoid questions from my brothers who were in the living room, I left out the window.

(to be continued…)

If you have enjoyed this story (or the kittens), please share it!

Read next post for Part 2! Be sure to subscribe, and leave a comment below!

Here is the video version of this story:

Categories: faith adventure | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

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