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beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
Christians.

‘A woman’s heart should be so hidden in Christ
that a man should have to seek Him first to find her.’

When I say… ‘I am a Christian’ I’m not shouting ‘I’m clean livin”
I’m whispering ‘I was lost, Now I’m found and forgiven.’

When I say… ‘I am a Christian’ I don’t speak of this with pride.
I’m confessing that I stumble and need Christ to be my guide.

When I say… ‘I am a Christian’ I’m not trying to be strong.
I’m professing that I’m weak and need His strength to carry on.

When I say… ‘I am a Christian’ I’m not bragging of success.
I’m admitting I have failed; and need God to clean my mess.

When I say… ‘I am a Christian’ I’m not claiming to be perfect,
My flaws are far too visible but, God believes I am worth it.

When I say… ‘I am a Christian’ I still feel the sting of pain..
I have my share of heartaches, so I call upon His name.

When I say… ‘I am a Christian’ I’m not holier than thou,
I’m just a simple sinner Who received God’s good grace, somehow!

Pretty is as Pretty does… but beautiful is just plain beautiful!
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
Jesus’ Ascension: What Difference Does It Make?


Jesus’ ascension into heaven is a classic text for when we have to say goodbye to somebody we hold dear. What a way for Jesus to say goodbye: to rise straight up into the clouds! No hugs. No choked-up speeches of regret. Before they know it, before they can get one more word in edgewise, before they can grab him and keep him from flying away, Jesus is off the ground and rising into space over the Mount of Olives.

Looking down, Jesus sees the city where he died and rose. To the south, he sees the town where he was born. To the north, he sees the Sea of Galilee. As he rises higher, the landscape fades into a giant globe, and Jesus disappears into another world.

What if Jesus had stayed here? We’ve figured out the options as to where to put someone when they’ve died. Where do we put Someone who has risen from the dead and will never die again? Where’s he supposed to go? Where does he fit in our society? Imagine if Jesus was still on the loose in his resurrected body!

If it’d been in their power to do so, we know what Jesus’ followers would have done. They would have tied Jesus up and they would have kept him somewhere where they knew they could find him, so that they could get hold of him whenever they needed him. They would never be so lucky. Even in those 40 days before he ascends to heaven, the risen Jesus has no address and no cell phone number where he can be reached. No one can control him. No one can pin him down.

But the issue is far deeper than the simple question of where do we put a risen body. Yes, one can try to dismiss the claim as a fairy tale, or as a convenient ending to a hoax that hides the telltale evidence. But that approach creates more problems than it solves. If the risen Jesus did not truly rise into heaven, the implications are enormous.

Andrew Purves calls the Ascension the hinge on which hangs all that we believe. He argues that, “Without the Ascension, the Lordship of Christ is relegated to the past.” Without it, we’ve got a Lord who is not on the throne. Through the Ascension, he says, “the Incarnation continues.” God-in-the-flesh remains alive just as he was when he rose.

In his book Space, Time, and Resurrection, Scottish theologian Thomas Torrance observes that the Ascension is the reverse of the Incarnation. When Jesus is born, God and humankind meet on our turf. In the Ascension, they meet on God’s turf. In the Incarnation, God becomes flesh in space and time without ceasing to be God. In the Ascension, Christ ascends above all space and time without ceasing to be human or diminishing his physical human existence. Through his rising into the clouds, we see that Jesus’ coming in the flesh was not a temporary put-on. God has taken up permanent residence in the body of Jesus of Nazareth.

Torrance says that the Ascension is what shows us that the historical Jesus and our heavenly Lord are one and the same. Although he has risen beyond our world of space and time, we cannot separate him from space and time. To know the mind of God, the Ascension forces us back to the historical Jesus.
Torrance also argues that Christ’s work of reconciliation is not complete without the Ascension. He argues that we cannot go where Christ has not already been, that Christ must redeem every step of human existence, from the womb to beyond the tomb. Jesus paves the way for the arrival of a resurrected human race in heaven. In the Ascension, Jesus takes human nature where it has never gone before.


Jesus also ascends so that he can multiply his mission here. His presence (paradoxically) becomes a barrier to his own Great Commission. If Jesus stays, his presence becomes a distraction. We become too dependent on him. We run to him and try to get him to do our job for us, instead of letting him use us.

Jesus says that we shall do greater works than he has done, “because I ascend to the Father.” (John 14:12) Jesus could only heal as many people as he could personally touch. But through the healing power of God’s Spirit, God can use us to heal hundreds of millions. As much supernatural power as Jesus had at his command, Jesus would have been overwhelmed if he had tried to personally meet the needs of every person on earth. But by the power of God’s Spirit, millions of his followers can do greater works than Jesus ever could do by himself in the flesh. Through his Ascension, Jesus is no longer held back by limitations of space and time.

Jesus tells us that none of this can happen while he is still with them. The Ascension is what makes it possible for Jesus to be more available to us than he ever was or ever could have been on earth.

Jesus says to his followers, “Many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.” (Matthew 13:17) How much we wish we could have seen him with our own eyes! But as much as we might wish to get even the shortest glimpse of the Jesus who walked this earth, the Jesus who has ascended to heaven is worth far more to us than any Jesus who had stayed on earth.

But Jesus will not remain out of sight forever. Jesus’ rise to the throne of God is only a temporary holding pattern. Jesus predicts that his return will be like lightning that flashes all the way across the sky – no one will miss it. And the Person who comes back will be the same person who rose into the sky so many centuries ago.

Unless the risen Jesus actually rose to the throne of God, the implications are enormous. If Jesus left his body behind when returning to God in heaven, then we have been left behind as well, stranded on this side of the great divide. If Jesus did not rise to heaven with the same body with which he walked out of the tomb, then who is sitting on the right hand of God? Is it someone who was once truly human like us, but no longer? Or is he Someone who can still sympathize with our weaknesses, Someone who still shares our human flesh?

God in the flesh has taken up residence in heaven, preparing a place for us. Jesus can do so much more for us there than he ever could on earth. By rising to God’s throne, Jesus shows us that he remains the same Person he always was. By his ascension, he shows us that his earthly Lordship continues until we see him again.
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
Do you look upon me Lord,
with a smile or a frown?
Am I a joy for you?
Or do I let you down?

I wish to know the truth God,
that only You can bring.
Fill me with these answers,
so I may better serve thee.
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
What Is A Disciple Of Jesus Christ? How Do You Become One?


Jesus’ command was to make disciples of all nations, but what is a disciple? How do you become one?

A Disciple
Jesus commanded the first disciples to make disciples of others (Matt 28:19-20), but what is a disciple? It comes from the Old English discipul which comes from the Latin discipulus, meaning, “pupil, student, follower,” and said to be from discere (“to learn”) from which we get the word “discern.” From that comes from the root word, dek which means “to take, accept.” The word disciple comes from a lost compound word, discipere , which means “to grasp intellectually,” so what is a disciple?

A disciple is someone called to live “in” Christ, be equipped to live “like” Christ, and sent to live “for” Christ. Our calling includes salvation and abiding in Christ (John 8:31–32), but it also includes “equipping” the church for spiritual formation and growth to live like Christ (2 Timothy 3:16–17), and then “sending” the equipped to make disciples of others (Matthew 28:18–20, John 15:8, John 13:34–35), but you cannot make disciples without evangelizing. One pastor told his church, “Evangelize, or fossilize.''

Like His Master
If we are to make disciples of others, then we must follow through on teaching them the very same things Jesus taught and commanded the first disciples (Matt 28:20), and those teachings are found within Scripture and not just in the gospels. For example, Jesus compares doing things for the least of these to doing it unto Him (Matt 25:40). That’s one of His commands.

That includes visiting the sick and those in prison, feeding the hungry and giving water to the thirsty, and even clothing the naked, or providing just a few bare necessities of life (Matt 25:35-36). One man I know drives to a larger city every Sunday afternoon and parks his van in the First Baptist Church’s parking lot. This man brings them water, toiletries, blanks, books, Bibles, and things that we use every day that we take for granted. He is doing it for them but He’s really doing it to Jesus.

God works to help the poor but uses people as a means to do so. God is using this man. He is a disciple that you can know by his fruits (Matt 7:15-20). Jesus ministered to thousands of the poor, and so that is our calling too, because “A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher” (Luke 6:40).

Counting the Cost
Jesus once gave an example about counting the cost in Luke 14 and it was in the context of becoming one of Jesus’ disciples (Luke 14:25-33). He was comparing how radical our love for God must be, compared to that of others. Jesus said, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26).

The cost is high when you become a disciple of Jesus, but payday is off the charts (Rev 21:1-4). To be Jesus’ disciple means you seek Christ and His righteousness, first and foremost (Matt 6:33), thus Jesus concluded, “So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:33). We know who to make disciples of and how to make disciples of others, but they themselves must count the cost. They must ask themselves, “Is Jesus most precious,” or is what’s most precious determined by the time and money we spend on things or people? Is there more Facebook than being in the Book?

What’s most important to us? We do realize that part of the cost will be broken or severed relationships; not on our part perhaps, but when those we used to run with go into places where we do not go anymore, we must separate ourselves from them and the things of the world. The Apostle John, in quoting a voice from heaven, wrote, “Come out of her, my people, lest you take part in her sins, lest you share in her plagues” (Rev 18:4). That’s a quote from Jeremiah which he writes several times in chapter 51 as a warning about keeping one foot in the world and the other in the church.

Discipling
When we seek to be one of Jesus’ disciples, and to do what He commands us to do, this means, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you” (Luke 6:27-38). Remember, Jesus prayed for those who nailed Him to the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34a), and Stephen the deacon did something very similar. As they were stoning him to death, “he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep” (Acts 7:60).

Disciples are to be like their Teacher, and Jesus is our Teacher, but more than that…He is our Master. He is Lord and He is still mentoring me through His Word, by His Spirit, and through the Sacraments, together with the Body of Christ. We can make disciples of others, but only if God calls to choose them (John 6:44), and the truth is, we don’t know who they chosen are, at least until they profess Christ publically, but the point is, we do not save anyone. God alone saves (Eph 2:8-9). We are called to use the Word of God and the Spirit of God, and God Himself makes the children of God by the Spirit of God…but He is pleased to use us as a means to bring them to Christ.

Becoming a Disciple
Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ; become His disciple; learn what Jesus taught; obey what Jesus taught; live what Jesus taught; be equipped to seek out others to become disciples; seek out others to become disciples; they become disciples; disciple them to live as Jesus did; teach them to obey what Jesus taught; equip them to go out and seek others who might become Jesus’ disciples (Matt 28:18-20).

Conclusion
Why don’t we see more discipleship taught in our churches or more members being equipped to make more disciples for Christ? It may be that church leaders are not equipped to do that. They might not know what discipling really is. It’s not really mentoring, but being used by God to bring others to Christ and then teaching them what someone taught us after we believed. It might be members are being resistant to giving up a Saturday afternoon or a Wednesday evening to participate in what God calls pure religion (James 1:27) and may not have counted the cost.

Every member has been sovereignly placed within the Body of Christ to perform a function so that all the members can cooperate with the Head, Who is Jesus Christ, and then do those things unto Him that we are called to do. Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “Christianity without discipleship is always Christianity without Christ,” so discipleship is never done alone or as a solitary Christian. There are nearly 40 “one another’s” in the New Testament, showing we need one another, and they need you! It’s impossible to be discipled in isolation, at least within the context of the imperative command that is the Great Commission (Matt 28:18-20; Acts 1:8).
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
Brownies with a difference.


Many parents are hard pressed to explain to their youth why some music, movies, books, and magazines are not acceptable material for them to bring into the home or to listen to or see. One parent came up with an original idea that is hard to refute.

The father listened to all the reasons his children gave for wanting to see a particular PG-13 movie. It had their favorite actors. Everyone else was seeing it. Even church members said it was great. It was only rated PG-13 because of the suggestion of sex–they never really showed it. The language was pretty good–the Lord’s name was only used in vain three times in the whole movie.

The teens did admit there was a scene where a building and a bunch of people were blown up, but the violence was just the normal stuff. It wasn’t too bad. And, even if there were a few minor things, the special effects were fabulous and the plot was action packed. However, even with all the justifications the teens made for the 13′ rating, the father still wouldn’t give in. He didn’t even give his children a satisfactory explanation for saying, “No.” He just said, “No!”

A little later on that evening the father asked his teens if they would like some brownies he had baked. He explained that he’d taken the family’s favorite recipe and added a little something new. The children asked what it was. The father calmly replied that he had added dog poop. However, he quickly assured them, it was only a little bit. All other ingredients were gourmet quality and he had taken great care to bake the brownies at the precise temperature for the exact time. He was sure the brownies would be superb.

Even with their father’s promise that the brownies were of almost perfect quality, the teens would not take any. The father acted surprised. After all, it was only one small part that was causing them to be so stubborn. He was certain they would hardly notice it. Still the teens held firm and would not try the brownies. The father then told his children how the movie they wanted to see was just like the brownies.

Our minds trick us into believing that just a little bit of evil won’t matter. But, the truth is even a little bit of poop makes the difference between a great treat and something disgusting and totally unacceptable. The father went on to explain that even though the movie industry would have us believe that most of today’s movies are acceptable fare for adults and youth, they are not. Now, when this father’s children want to see something that is of questionable material, the father merely asks them if they would like some of his special dog poop brownies. That closes the subject.
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
“Thou art my portion, O Lord.”

Psalm 119:57

Look at thy possessions, O believer, and compare thy portion with the lot of thy fellowmen. Some of them have their portion in the field; they are rich, and their harvests yield them a golden increase; but what are harvests compared with thy God, who is the God of harvests? What are bursting granaries compared with him, who is the Husbandman, and feeds thee with the bread of heaven?

Some have their portion in the city; their wealth is abundant, and flows to them in constant streams, until they become a very reservoir of gold; but what is gold compared with thy God? Thou couldst not live on it; thy spiritual life could not be sustained by it. Put it on a troubled conscience, and could it allay its pangs? Apply it to a desponding heart, and see if it could stay a solitary groan, or give one grief the less? But thou hast God, and in him thou hast more than gold or riches ever could buy.

Some have their portion in that which most men love—applause and fame; but ask thyself, is not thy God more to thee than that? What if a myriad clarions should be loud in thine applause, would this prepare thee to pass the Jordan, or cheer thee in prospect of judgment? No, there are griefs in life which wealth cannot alleviate; and there is the deep need of a dying hour, for which no riches can provide. But when thou hast God for thy portion, thou hast more than all else put together.

In him every want is met, whether in life or in death. With God for thy portion thou art rich indeed, for he will supply thy need, comfort thy heart, assuage thy grief, guide thy steps, be with thee in the dark valley, and then take thee home, to enjoy him as thy portion for ever. “I have enough,” said Esau; this is the best thing a worldly man can say, but Jacob replies, “I have all things,” which is a note too high for carnal minds.
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
6 Traditions Handed Down to Us That Need to Be Changed

In Acts 6, Stephen (the first martyr) was on trial for challenging the religious traditions and customs of the day:

They seized Stephen and brought him before the Sanhedrin. They produced false witnesses, who testified, “This fellow never stops speaking against this holy place and against the law. For we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs Moses handed down to us.” Acts 6:12-14

History has a funny way of repeating itself as the church today still struggles with traditions and customs that drag us away from our mission of making disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19-20). So, in honor of Stephen, here are six traditions handed down to us that need to be changed:

1. Agreeing with the Word of God rather than obeying it. Somewhere along the way we began to assume that mental assent was enough. We’re great about agreeing with the Word of God. Americans believe in the Bible! Obedience, however, is a different matter. What’s the problem? Jesus said that it’s the application, not the intention, that matters (Matthew 7:24-27). Even demons believe in God (James 2:19). Agreeing with the Word of God is not enough; we need to start obeying it.

2. Getting discipled rather than making disciples. In the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20), Jesus is explicit in his instructions to his followers: make disciples of all nations. And for centuries that’s exactly what they’ve done. But today American Christians seem like they’d rather get discipled than make disciples. This inward-focused, head-knowledge, navel-gazing brand of religion has the church in a spot where we know more than ever before, yet our churches are dying, not growing. That tradition needs to change!

3. Withdrawing from the messes rather than running toward them. We’re on the wrong side of Luke 15. In the famous parable of the prodigal son, Jesus tells the story of a son who simply makes a mess of his life and then decides to come home. How he’s received is contrasted by the father and the older brother. The father saw the son from a distance and ran towards him (Luke 15:20), indicating our Heavenly Father’s heart towards the world. But how often do we truly (as a church) run toward the messes around us? How active are churches today in our communities? More often we withdraw from the mess, choosing to stay safe inside our sanitary church buildings.


4. Judging the world rather than loving it. The older brother in Luke 15 chose not to embrace his brother but judge him. Are Christians today known for their judgmental attitudes towards those around them? Far too often! Paul said in 1 Corinthians 5:12 “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church?” This was a practical application of Jesus’ overarching command to “love one another” in John 13:34-35. Honestly, for many of us in the church toay we have these commands bass ackwards.

5. Maintaining uncompromising dogma rather than celebrating uncommon fellowship. Not only do we judge the world, we judge other Christians who don’t maintain our narrow stripe of Christian beliefs. Denominations draw boundaries beyond which we dare not venture. This was the point Andy Stanley was recently trying to make when he said that church unity (John 17:23) trumps theological correctness. The overwhelming response? Judge Andy Stanley and double down on the need for uncompromising dogma. Is it any surprise that Christians aren’t united today? A house divided against itself cannot stand.

6. Living in spite of eternity rather than in light of eternity. Let’s be honest: most of us (myself included) live like heaven isn’t really going to happen. How can I say that? Just look at how we spend our time, our energy, our resources. We spend the overwhelming majority of our incomes on ourselves, our pleasures, making ourselves comfortable in this world, as if this world is all that there is. We’ve completely forgotten the command by Jesus to store up for ourselves treasures in heaven, not treasures on earth (Matthew 6:19-20).
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
Falling Tears
My heart beats a song
in your mountain, God
just sitting alone.
Wondering…

what’s Your message?
what’s Your call?
why do You ask of me to give You my all?
On my own, i gaze upon the stars
and envision your face with bruises
and scars…

Blood, deep scarlet
flowing, falling freely
for the wretched soul that’s me
And so i whisper a love song
as the first rays color the sky

To You,
i lift up my head
and part my lips in prayer
once again,
i’ll lay it all down
Lover of my soul…
here is my heart
hear is my soul
here is my will…
My life is not my own
but Yours
forever more.
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
Heart food


“A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” – Luke 6:45.

Researchers in New Mexico have discovered while testing students that those with certain chemicals (or higher levels of those chemicals) in their brains scored five to six points higher than other students on IQ tests. It appears that what you eat does matter in terms of brain power. There were five chemicals identified as essential for healthy brains ranging from omega 3 fatty acids to B vitamins. By eating the right diet you would be able to have a healthy brain.

It appears that what is true in the physical is true in the spiritual realm as well. It does matter what we receive as spiritual input. If we put good stuff in than good stuff will come out. If we put bad stuff in than bad stuff will come out. Just as with the physical there are some things we can put into our lives which will improve our spiritual health. Here are some of those spiritual necessities (Not necessarily in the order of importance.):
The Word of God (Matthew 4:4).
Prayer (Luke 18:1).
Church (Hebrews 10:24-25).
Service (Galatians 6:9-10; I Corinthians 15:58).
Right Thinking (Philippians 4:8).
What have you been storing up in your heart?
Proverbs 4:23 tells us: “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.”
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
Dangerous sleep

One morning 4 weeks ago I woke up with a ruptured disc in my back with severe pain down my left leg (The pain is gone and the back is much better. Thank you for your prayers!). Two weeks ago I woke up with a brown recluse spider bite on my left leg (It is still healing but appears it will only leave a small scar. Thank you for your prayers!). I can only conclude that sleeping can sometimes be dangerous!!

Of course Samson could confirm that sleeping is dangerous (Judg 16:19 NIV) Having put him to sleep on her lap, she called a man to shave off the seven braids of his hair, and so began to subdue him. And his strength left him.

Sisera could also confirm that sleeping is dangerous (Judg 4:21 NIV) But Jael, Heber’s wife, picked up a tent peg and a hammer and went quietly to him while he lay fast asleep, exhausted. She drove the peg through his temple into the ground, and he died. and there are several others that could as well in the Bible. Eutychus could confirm that it is dangerous to sleep in church (Acts 20:9)

Seated in a window was a young man named Eutychus, who was sinking into a deep sleep as Paul talked on and on. When he was sound asleep, he fell to the ground from the third story and was picked up dead.. But the most dangerous sleep of all is the spiritual sleep of those who have been blinded by the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4) The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.. They appear to be unconcerned about death.

They appear to have little concern for anything other than the material world. Spiritually you can only describe them as being asleep to the reality of eternity. There seems to be so many of them. It may be that the reason so many are blinded by satan is that there is another category of sleepers. That category is the sleeping Christian. The apostle Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 5:6-8, “Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. For they that sleep, sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. but let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.”
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
“Thou art my servant; I have chosen thee.”

Isaiah 41:9

If we have received the grace of God in our hearts, its practical effect has been to make us God's servants. We may be unfaithful servants, we certainly are unprofitable ones, but yet, blessed be his name, we are his servants, wearing his livery, feeding at his table, and obeying his commands. We were once the servants of sin, but he who made us free has now taken us into his family and taught us obedience to his will. We do not serve our Master perfectly, but we would if we could. As we hear God's voice saying unto us, “Thou art my servant,” we can answer with David, “I am thy servant; thou hast loosed my bonds.”

But the Lord calls us not only his servants, but his chosen ones — “I have chosen thee.” We have not chosen him first, but he hath chosen us. If we be God's servants, we were not always so; to sovereign grace the change must be ascribed. The eye of sovereignty singled us out, and the voice of unchanging grace declared, “I have loved thee with an everlasting love.” Long ere time began or space was created God had written upon his heart the names of his elect people, had predestinated them to be conformed unto the image of his Son, and ordained them heirs of all the fulness of his love, his grace, and his glory. What comfort is here!

Has the Lord loved us so long, and will he yet cast us away? He knew how stiffnecked we should be, he understood that our hearts were evil, and yet he made the choice. Ah! our Saviour is no fickle lover. He doth not feel enchanted for awhile with some gleams of beauty from his church's eye, and then afterwards cast her off because of her unfaithfulness. Nay, he married her in old eternity; and it is written of Jehovah, “He hateth putting away.” The eternal choice is a bond upon our gratitude and upon his faithfulness which neither can disown.
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
Building lives


“Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them I will liken him to a wise man who builds his house on the rock….” – Matthew 7:24.

John Maxwell in his book “Falling Forward” says: “No matter what happens to you, failure is an inside job.” I think we can add to John Maxwell’s statement that “no matter what happens to you success is also an inside job.” With that said it is necessary to define success. The Biblical definition of success is found in I Timothy 6:6: “Now Godliness with contentment is great gain.”

Most of us have heard of the bonfire tragedy at Texas A & M University. 12 students were killed and 27 others were injured some seriously. We wonder how such a thing could happen. The failure appears to have been an inside job. An investigating panel at the University has recently concluded their investigation into the causes of the tragedy. The commission determined: “…the lowest stack, however, had inadequate wiring to hold it together. Steel cables used in recent years were not used in 1999.” In other words the bonfire stack had a poor foundation. What is true of bonfire stacks is also true of the human life. Without a good foundation we are doomed to failure.

What is the right foundation for life? “For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid which is Jesus Christ”
(I Corinthians 3:11).

Once we have the right foundation we must then build with the right materials and in the right way. “But let each one take heed how he builds on it” (I Corinthians 3:10b). Even after a good foundation of a building is laid there can still be problems. You can build a house with shoddy materials and poor workmanship and a strong wind will blow it down. You can build a life with shoddy materials and the storms of life will destroy it. Without God’s building materials, without His resources (Philippians 4:19) being used in our lives, we are doomed to failure before we start.

If your life was a building and the Lord was a building inspector would you pass the inspection?
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
“And he requested for himself that he might die.”

1 Kings 19:4

It was a remarkable thing that the man who was never to die, for whom God had ordained an infinitely better lot, the man who should be carried to heaven in a chariot of fire, and be translated, that he should not see death — should thus pray, “Let me die, I am no better than my fathers.” We have here a memorable proof that God does not always answer prayer in kind, though he always does in effect.

He gave Elias something better than that which he asked for, and thus really heard and answered him. Strange was it that the lion-hearted Elijah should be so depressed by Jezebel's threat as to ask to die, and blessedly kind was it on the part of our heavenly Father that he did not take his desponding servant at his word. There is a limit to the doctrine of the prayer of faith. We are not to expect that God will give us everything we choose to ask for. We know that we sometimes ask, and do not receive, because we ask amiss.

If we ask for that which is not promised — if we run counter to the spirit which the Lord would have us cultivate — if we ask contrary to his will, or to the decrees of his providence — if we ask merely for the gratification of our own ease, and without an eye to his glory, we must not expect that we shall receive. Yet, when we ask in faith, nothing doubting, if we receive not the precise thing asked for, we shall receive an equivalent, and more than an equivalent, for it. As one remarks, “If the Lord does not pay in silver, he will in gold; and if he does not pay in gold, he will in diamonds.”

If he does not give you precisely what you ask for, he will give you that which is tantamount to it, and that which you will greatly rejoice to receive in lieu thereof. Be then, dear reader, much in prayer, and make this evening a season of earnest intercession, but take heed what you ask.
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
High resolve

I’ll hold my candle high, and then
Perhaps I’ll see the hearts of men
Above the sordidness of life,
Beyond misunderstandings, strife.

Though many deeds that others do
Seem foolish, rash and sinful too,
Just who am I to criticize
What I perceive with my dull eyes?
I’ll hold my candle high, and then
Perhaps I’ll see the hearts of men.
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
How I Came To Believe In Jesus’ Resurrection


Resurrection Sunday changed history forever but people are still asking is there any proof of the resurrection?

The Historical Jesus
We know that Resurrection Sunday was part of history, but this epic event also changed history, but people still ask, “Is there any real proof of the resurrection of Jesus Christ?” Could you prove it to anyone that asks you about it? You can talk to people about evidence for the resurrection, but many still won’t believe because they choose not to believe.

They don’t even think about it, but it’s not a matter of physical or historical evidence that makes a person believe. It’s a matter of the heart. Jesus told His disciples, “For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven” (Matt 16:17), and concerning what is to come, the Apostle Paul writes, “God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God” (1 Cor 2:9), so Jesus won’t be known by empirical evidence, because “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor 2:14).

Only God can change the human heart (Prov 21:1), but He may use us as a means to do so, especially when it comes to loving others (John 13:34-35). Christians already know that their hope in Christ is not a hope-so faith, but a know-so faith. God has shown it to them.

The Innocent
The great lineage of Jesus Christ is recorded at the beginning of Luke. The names of all these men are historical facts. Even the census that Joseph and Mary had to travel to Bethlehem for was registered in the king’s census (Luke 2:1-5), and besides that, thousands upon thousands of witnesses not only knew Jesus by sight, but they acknowledged that He was the Messiah and related to King David’s lineage (Luke 1:1-10, 18:35-43).

He was referred to as the Son of David (Matt 15:22, 20:30), and not once in the gospels did the chief priests, the scribes, the Pharisees or the Sadducees ever catch Jesus in a sin or every proved that He ever had sinned or broken the law. Pontius Pilate declared, “I find no guilt in him” (John 19:4), and tragically, many of these religious rulers knew that Jesus was from God, but for fear of losing their authority and positions, or getting put out of the synagogue, most denied Him in the end. The religious leaders all conspired to kill Him, despite the fact that He had not sinned nor broken Jewish or Roman law (Luke 20:20-26, 19:28-40, 20:20-26), and He was hated without cause (Psalm 69:4; John 15:26).

Eye Witnesses
In any court of law, eye witnesses are an invaluable source of finding the truth. In the whole of Judea and Samaria, there were several hundred eye witnesses who saw Jesus before, and more importantly, after His crucifixion, death, and resurrection (Luke 24:15-24, Act 1:3-4, 2:31-32, 9:3, 17, I Cor 15:4-8, 9:1, II Pet 1:16-21, John 3:2, 15:27, I John 1:1-3, 14).

Hundreds others saw the empty tomb of Joseph of Arimathea, which Joseph had given for Jesus’ burial site and Jesus public execution was most certainly known by all, as the Roman’s had a custom of crucifying criminals near major roadways. They did this as a “warning sign” for all who entered or lived under Roman dominion, so the knowledge of Jesus’ crucifixion, death, burial and resurrection was known even into the Roman Empire, and later, beyond.

The Apostle’s Creed
The resurrection was so important to the early church because it is the essence of the gospel. Paul calls the gospel “of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep” (1 Cor 15:3-6).

This was so important that within three to eight years after His death, Apostle’s Creed was created with the intent of protecting these eye witness’s accounts and codifying their testimonies accurately, both for present and future generations. Jude wrote “I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 1: 3), so even in the church’s infancy, they were already contending for the original gospel (1 Cor 15:3-6). Paul told Timothy he must “Fight the good fight of the faith” (1st Tim 6:12), because so many were preaching another gospel and not the one Jesus delivered.

Gnosticism
Within a few years, some churches had already been infiltrated with the Gnostics who felt it was only through knowledge that one could be saved, and it was only for a select few, however the Creed announces to everyone publicly that the only way we can be saved is through Jesus Christ (John 6:44) and the free gift of eternal life (Eph 2:8-9).

The Creed has grown in the last two thousand years, but its basic tenets have not changed much. If it has grown, it has only grown to resist the plethora of unsound doctrines floating around out there. It should act as a hedge against heresy and other (false) gospels. The Creed was not written from a blind-faith perspective or formulated by suppositions. It was created by eye witnesses who had seen Jesus before His death and after His resurrection. Today, He sits at the right hand of the Father directing His church as its Head. The old saying holds true; most people would live for a lie, but few would die for one. Especially one that they knew was not true.

Conclusion
I have faith in God, but I did not come to believe on my own. I was dead in my sins and needed quickening by God’s Spirt, so I came believe, but only because God wanted me to believe. I have faith, but what is this faith I have? God defines faith as “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Heb 11:1).

The Greek word used for “assurance” is hypostasis, and means “a setting, a place,” or “that which has a foundation,” and the Greek word (elegchos) used for conviction means, “a proof, that by which something is proven or a tested conviction.” Webster’s definition of faith seems perfectly fitting: Having an allegiance to duty or a person… loyalty, belief and trust in God, confidence in something or someone, so faith involves an act of the will. It is not blind faith, but faith that has assurance, is foundational, has inward and outward evidence, and has been proven by the person having such faith. For those things not seen (God), we have a foundational belief and overwhelming conviction of its truthfulness, so it’s not a hope-so faith, but a know-so faith…but that’s something only you can prove to be true.
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
The Royal Wedding and the Wrong Kind of Fairytale Romance


The romance between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle is just like a fairy tale–if the princess-to-be had starred in a cable television program and a couple of Hallmark movies. Of course, in this fairy tale, the princess-to-be is also divorced. She has already sworn to be faithful to one man until her death, and she has reneged. This makes hers a perfectly modern fairy tale. Where the older fairy tales emphasized chastity and faithfulness, the story Ms. Markle has told emphasizes that, once in a while, a woman’s dreams of trading up do come true.

This is one reason the royal wedding has generated so much interest. To understand why, we must understand a bit of backstory. Ms. Markle divorced her first husband, a film producer, in 2013. Now, she has married an English prince. In doing so, she has incarnated the modern fairy tale.

The modern fairy tale goes something like this: If you have the courage to follow your heart, it will lead you to the one who is right for you. The instruction of your heart trumps all other considerations. If you listen closely to your heart and are sufficiently obedient to its dictates, your relationship with that person will flourish.

Embedded in this myth is an explanation for why so many relationships fail: the people involved simply did not listen closely enough to their hearts, or in some way failed to obey perfectly its directions. The heart is never wrong; therefore the fault must lie elsewhere.

And thus is not only Ms. Markle’s divorce legitimated, but also the dissolution of thousands, perhaps millions, of other marriages.

What makes the most recent royal wedding significant is not that it is the first to proceed on the grounds of this modern myth, but that it is the culmination of a story that so profoundly reinforces it. Ms. Markle’s dumping of her first husband, whom we can assume she married as a result of following her heart, and then marrying an English prince will seem to millions to be proof that, in spite of all evidence to the contrary, the myth of modern romance is true.

In the older understanding of marriage, of course, the heart mattered less. People married for a variety of reasons, and surely some level of affection was often among them. But, marriage was not seen as the ultimate fulfillment of some romantic fantasy. Once in the marriage, of course, getting out was much more difficult. In the older understanding, divorce was rightly stigmatized. In the age of Princess Divorcee, it is celebrated as a sometimes necessary step, if one is to follow one’s heart bravely.

Ms. Markle’s success in landing a literal prince will have devastating consequences for people less beautiful, wealthy, and privileged. Millions of women have watched this story unfold with a mixture of awe and envy. Many of them, no doubt, wish they could trade up from the aging, moody schlub with limited prospects with whom they feel marriage has burdened them to some better man, some less-grand prince of their own.


Watching Ms. Markle trade up with such spectacular success will encourage them to take these impulses more seriously. Watching Ms. Markle follow her heart all the way to a place in the royal family will inspire them to believe that if they too follow their hearts, they will find a place with some other man, some other, better family.

Thoughts of this kind are, of course, just part of human nature. Women have always thought this way. In the past, though, culture put limits on the degree to which they could act on them. Their freedom to trade up was limited in the interests of the rest of society, especially children. In the age of following one’s heart, all such limits have been dismantled.

This change has implications for all relationships, not just for marriage. The legitimization of divorce has been the evisceration of promises. When Western society accepted divorce, it also accepted that promises between people need not be kept. Any society that refuses to enforce the keeping of the most sacred promises will naturally do nothing to enforce more casual ones. The results of this change are everywhere: employers mistreating workers, workers cheating their employers, parents abandoning their children, people living only for fleeting pleasure. In short, following one’s heart has led not to social cohesion but to a low-trust society everyone knows is unraveling.

We are indeed living in a fairy tale, and Ms. Markle’s behavior contributes to its power. But, ours is not the story of true love found. Rather, ours is a tale of bewitchment. We have collectively fallen under an evil spell that causes us to see the world upside down, to imagine divorce is good, fidelity bad. We have been mesmerized into walking a path in a dark woods marked “follow your heart,” at the terminus of which, all clear-minded people know, lies a devouring monster. The question for us is whether any prince will arrive to wake us.
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
“There is corn in Egypt.”

Genesis 42:2

Famine pinched all the nations, and it seemed inevitable that Jacob and his family should suffer great want; but the God of providence, who never forgets the objects of electing love, had stored a granary for his people by giving the Egyptians warning of the scarcity, and leading them to treasure up the grain of the years of plenty. Little did Jacob expect deliverance from Egypt, but there was the corn in store for him. Believer, though all things are apparently against thee, rest assured that God has made a reservation on thy behalf; in the roll of thy griefs there is a saving clause. Somehow he will deliver thee, and somewhere he will provide for thee.

The quarter from which thy rescue shall arise may be a very unexpected one, but help will assuredly come in thine extremity, and thou shalt magnify the name of the Lord. If men do not feed thee, ravens shall; and if earth yield not wheat, heaven shall drop with manna. Therefore be of good courage, and rest quietly in the Lord. God can make the sun rise in the west if he pleases, and make the source of distress the channel of delight. The corn in Egypt was all in the hands of the beloved Joseph; he opened or closed the granaries at will.

And so the riches of providence are all in the absolute power of our Lord Jesus, who will dispense them liberally to his people. Joseph was abundantly ready to succour his own family; and Jesus is unceasing in his faithful care for his brethren. Our business is to go after the help which is provided for us: we must not sit still in despondency, but bestir ourselves. Prayer will bear us soon into the presence of our royal Brother: once before his throne we have only to ask and have: his stores are not exhausted; there is corn still: his heart is not hard, he will give the corn to us. Lord, forgive our unbelief, and this evening constrain us to draw largely from thy fulness and receive grace for grace.
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
Found


Then he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would gladly have filled his stomach with the pods that the swine ate, and no one gave him anything. But when he came to himself, he said, “How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!” – Luke 15:15-17.

Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from the fish’s belly. – Jonah 1:17 – 2:1.

Then Saul arose from the ground, and when his eyes were opened he saw no one. But they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank. – Acts 9:8-9.

A scuba diver has been found in South Africa in the wrong place, at the wrong time. A rescue operation was mounted after a report from a friend of a scuba diver, that his friend was missing. The search was called off, after the mother of the diver, called to say that her son had been located. The diver had called his mother to let her know that he was in jail at a police station. He had been arrested, because he was diving “without a permit in a protected marine environment.” (Orange News 09.16.11)

The scuba diver’s problems began when he chose to dive illegally in a marine environment protected by law. While everyone was searching for him, he found himself locked up in jail. He was safe, but still in uncomfortable circumstances because of the choice that he had made to break the law.

In the Bible, there are several individuals who found themselves in difficult circumstances because of the choices they had made. The Prodigal Son chose to take his inheritance early, and went off to a “far country” to party it away. The Prodigal Son found himself in a condition so terrible that he was ready to eat what the pigs were eating if he could have done so.
We all know that Jonah’s refusal to respond to God’s call resulted in his finding himself in the belly of a great fish. Nothing pleasant about that!
Then, there is Saul, aka the yet to become apostle Paul, who found himself struck blind by the Lord Jesus.

The Prodigal Son, Jonah, and Saul all had decisions to make after finding themselves in these terrible predicaments. They could have chosen to remain as they were, and see things grow even worse. The Prodigal Son could have stayed there and eaten pig food if he could have found some. Jonah could have refused to change his mind, and rotted away in the belly of the big fish.

Saul could have refused to give up his hatred of those who believed in Jesus, and remained blind for the rest of his life. Those would have been terrible decisions, but they could have decided to keep going in the same direction that had brought these terrible situations upon them. I think we all know people, or have heard of people who are just that stubborn, who are just that addicted to their drugs, or their beliefs, or their ideas, or their way of doing things; that refuse to change, even when they know they are wrong.

The thing that we see in the lives of the Prodigal Son, Jonah, and Saul is that people can change the direction of their lives. They may not want to change, but they can turn around anyway. The Prodigal Son surely did not want to go home, and face his father, or his brother. We know Jonah still hated the Ninevites, even after he preached to them. Saul had to turn his back on everything that he had believed, even his friends to change from the direction his life had been headed.

People can change the direction of their lives. You can change the direction of your life. It begins with a decision. A decision has to be made. A decision to be obedient to your Lord Jesus. If that decision needs to be made in your life, there is no better time than now to make it.

Where did God find you today?
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
“I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love.”

Hosea 11:4

Our heavenly Father often draws us with the cords of love; but ah! how backward we are to run towards him! How slowly do we respond to his gentle impulses! He draws us to exercise a more simple faith in him; but we have not yet attained to Abraham's confidence; we do not leave our worldly cares with God, but, like Martha, we cumber ourselves with much serving. Our meagre faith brings leanness into our souls; we do not open our mouths wide, though God has promised to fill them.

Does he not this evening draw us to trust him? Can we not hear him say, “Come, my child, and trust me. The veil is rent; enter into my presence, and approach boldly to the throne of my grace. I am worthy of thy fullest confidence, cast thy cares on me. Shake thyself from the dust of thy cares, and put on thy beautiful garments of joy.” But, alas! though called with tones of love to the blessed exercise of this comforting grace, we will not come.

At another time he draws us to closer communion with himself. We have been sitting on the doorstep of God's house, and he bids us advance into the banqueting hall and sup with him, but we decline the honour. There are secret rooms not yet opened to us; Jesus invites us to enter them, but we hold back. Shame on our cold hearts! We are but poor lovers of our sweet Lord Jesus, not fit to be his servants, much less to be his brides, and yet he hath exalted us to be bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh, married to him by a glorious marriage-covenant.

Herein is love! But it is love which takes no denial. If we obey not the gentle drawings of his love, he will send affliction to drive us into closer intimacy with himself. Have us nearer he will. What foolish children we are to refuse those bands of love, and so bring upon our backs that scourge of small cords, which Jesus knows how to use!
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
Bill had to “bleep” the machine shop conversations he recounted to his wife. Centerfolds taped above a metal lathe caught his eye several times a day. Payday usually found Bill and his buddies eyeing the dancer at the Batman A-Go-Go and having a few rounds too many before getting home in the wee hours.

It was different now. Attending church one Sunday with his wife Joan, Bill had found Christ. But the atmosphere at Bearcat Tool and Die seemed to pull at him. How could he make an impact for Christ at Bearcat instead of being sucked into the temptations?

The Monday after Bill’s conversion was especially tough. Loren and Bill often chatted at breaks, sometimes about religion. Loren’s dad had been active in church before he had run off with a younger woman and divorced Loren’s mom. Loren hated his dad “and his stinking religion.” As they put away their tools that afternoon, Loren asked, “What’s with you today? You seem different.”

No escape now. If Bill told the truth, Loren would nail every inconsistency in his life–and there were many. But if he didn’t speak now, would he ever?

Bill’s mind flashed to the chameleon his son had bought at Baker’s Pet Store. On the front lawn it turned green. That’s how it avoided enemies–blending in with the background. Clever. But Bill knew it wouldn’t work for him.

The preacher’s words from Sunday’s sermon echoed in Bill’s ears: “If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him.” It was now or never. Bill stared at Loren for a long moment, and then quietly said, “Okay, I’ll tell you.”

Sure enough, Loren began to argue even before Bill finished. Suddenly Loren stopped. “The proof of the pudding is in the eating,” he said. “Let’s see if it lasts.”

It almost didn’t. Three weeks later Bill and Joan got into a nasty argument ending when Bill stomped out of the house. He ended up at Batman A-Go-Go, where he drank til closing, then spent the night in his car. It was almost ten in the morning when he finally woke. Head throbbing, unshaven, he rushed to work mumbling some excuse to his foreman. By noon he had ruined three of the precision parts he was machining.

If it hadn’t been for Forester the incident might have gone unnoticed.

Some people are plain obnoxious. Forester’s cutting sarcasm coupled with his massive frame intimidated everyone. His voice boomed over the lunchroom small talk: “Hey, Bill, I saw you last night at the ‘Batman’. You were feeling no pain.” Bill felt sick. He hardly heard the rest.

Somehow he had to get back to the Lord. A Bible verse came to him: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Wow! How much God must love him!

Thoughts began to take shape in words tumbling out to God. “Please forgive me, Lord, I’m so sorry!” After that a peace seemed to come.

Now he had to face Joan. It wasn’t the first time he’d stayed out all night. “Joan, I blew it. I want God to change me. Please forgive me.” She didn’t say much, but he could see her coldness soften. Then she broke into tears and hugged him tightly. “Oh, I do forgive you and I am praying for you.” That meant a lot.

When Bill ran into the foreman the next morning, Carl looked him straight in the eye. “If it happens again, Bill, you’re gone.” He turned abruptly and disappeared into the office.

That was over. Yet all day long his stomach churned. Everyone in the shop knew he was going to church. Whatever credibility he’d had as a Christian was gone. How can I witness to Loren now? Bill thought. He’d laugh at anything I say. Why not just quit and start new where nobody knows me?

Then an idea began to grow. Towards the end of lunch hour the next day, Bill stood up: “I’ve got to tell you guys something. You all know I got smashed the night before last. The wife and I got into it and before I knew it, there I was at the ‘Batman’.

“And you probably heard, I became a Christian a few weeks ago. This binge makes me a lousy example of a Christian! I’m really sorry. You deserve better.” The buzzer sounded as he finished. The men looked at each other awkwardly, then walked to their machines without a word.

That had been a crossroads. It would have been easy–too easy- -to say nothing and go back to his old way. But now he had come out in the open for Jesus. He had to live it.

Loren motioned to him as Bill started up his lathe. He switched it off. “You know I don’t go along with all this religion stuff,” Loren said. “But I think you believe it. What you said took a lot of guts. At least you’re not a hypocrite like my dad. He never even told us he was sorry.”

Bill touched his arm as he turned back to his lathe. Through the tightness in his throat he mumbled a prayer over the din of the machines, “Jesus, maybe, just maybe, we have a chance, you and me.”

As Bill entered the lunchroom on Tuesday, Forester was in the middle of another graphic story about the traveling salesman and the farmer’s daughter. Bill found himself roaring. Then suddenly his laughter died. Would Jesus laugh?

Bill felt blood rushing to his face, though no one seemed to notice. What should he do? Maybe just a chuckle? After all, it was funny. Sort of. Well, not as funny since he was trying to follow Jesus.

Maybe he ought to make a crack about their crude language. They’d be on him in a minute as “holier-than-thou.” Then they’d pick him apart–every weakness, every slip. He’d never hear the end of it.

In the end, Bill decided to go wash up. He just couldn’t stay in the group and not laugh. But even that was a stand in a quiet sort of way. He lathered his hands while he mulled it over. He couldn’t reform the pagans at Bearcat, and he shouldn’t always be correcting them. But he did need to keep himself on track. Maybe they could see Christ in him, at least.

Thursday afternoon, his resolve was tested again. He glanced up to see “Gap” Weatherman slip a company micrometer into a battered lunch box. Gap had worked at Bearcat longer than anyone. When he grinned, his missing front tooth and furrowed face reminded Bill of a jack-o’-lantern. Gap would give you the shirt off his back, but he was stealing the company blind.

Every month or so expensive drill bits and tools would disappear. The men even joked about it when the foreman wasn’t around.

But this time Bill had seen him do it. Gap had caught Bill’s gaze. “You won’t tell no one, will you, Billy?”

Bill was mad. It’s one thing for someone else to live in darkness, Bill decided, but he’s got no right to make me live there, too.

The boss made it easier. Friday morning, he pulled each of the machinists into his office to ask about the missing tool. “Know anything about this, Bill?” Bill couldn’t–no, he wouldn’t–dodge the question. Gap was fired after 17 years with Bearcat.

Gap made no secret of who had ratted on him. Bill was treated to a day-long parade of obscenities and ugly sneers. “You ____ snitch! You messed up Gap’s life. Who’ll give the old man a job now?”

At break time, when Bill wasn’t around, the men hashed over what he’d said. “I didn’t go squealing to the boss,” Bill had told Loren. “But when he asked me point-blank where that micrometer went, I couldn’t lie to his face. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been lying my way out of things. No more! No matter how hard, I’ve decided to tell the truth.”

Though he hadn’t used Jesus’ name much in his witness so far, people were beginning to see Jesus’ character in sharper focus.

Eventually, the men let up a little. At least they no longer went out of their way to make life miserable for him–except Forester. Forester was determined to get rid of him. Every part Bill ruined, every mistake, got reported to the foreman in the worst possible light.

It was love, though, not righteousness, that eventually changed the man. Forester’s little girl, who had been hit by a car in May, was having her fifth surgery to repair a shattered leg.

As Bill drove home from work one afternoon, the boy at the stoplight shouted through the open window, “Flowers! Flowers, sir?”

Bill turned, then chuckled. “Yea,” he said. “A dozen carnations.”

As he entered the room, Bill could see Forester sitting next to Lora’s hospital bed, holding her hand. Forester looked up when Bill coughed. “I just stopped by for a minute to say ‘Hi’ to Lora,” Bill muttered.

When he handed the bouquet to Lora, Forester stood awkwardly and took hold of his hand. “I … I don’t know what to say.”

After that Forester never walked by Bill’s machine without a wave and a smile. His eyes even glistened a bit when Bill told him the church had been praying for Lora. And when Bill invited Forester, he came on Sunday with his wife and kids.

It seemed worth it all the day Forester and his family were baptized. Just before the ceremony the minister asked Forester to tell how he had come to Christ. Forester’s booming voice reverberated throughout the church, but this time there was no sarcasm:

“It was my friend Bill. He wouldn’t quit. No matter how much I hassled him, he just hung in there.” Bill felt himself turning red, but Forester continued. “I could see he really cared. He’s kind of like a company ‘rep’, you know–God’s man at Bearcat Tool and Die.”
 
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