Having never written out a prayer in my life, I wasn’t necessarily excited about reading another minister’s prayer. But when I found out this minister that I had heard speak in my childhood had written this prayer shortly before his death in an automobile accident, I was at least curious what he wrote. What made it even more intriguing was he was person who had profound hearing loss. His speech was affected by his deafness. Some thought he had a foreign accent. His prayer for his life just may become your prayer for your life!
We’ve all walked out on ice perhaps. Have you ever felt so insecure about the thickness of the ice, that you felt compelled to crawl on it? That’s what the person in this story chose to do. Rather than risk walking on the ice, he chose to sprawl out over it, only to be shocked by a horse drawn wagon full of wood passing his prone body with no difficulty. Could it be a parable for your life and mine? As you watch this Visual Story, could your spiritual journey be described as “creeping on ice” as opposed to “walking in boldness” with the Lord? This is a powerful parable for today!
To be honest, there are a few stories that I tell that get to me, emotionally. This is one of them. Everyone wonders at some time in their life that they wonder, “Does the Lord really and truly forgive me for what I’ve done?” That’s your question. This story answers that question in a powerful way. I wish there was a way I could see you as you watch and listen to this story. If you’re like me, it just may bring a lump to your throat and a tear to your eye!
Letters aren’t what they used to be, but even a text message or email can be a blessing or a curse. You know that from the words you have received; you may know it from what you have sent. This visual story is really a “story about a story”. It will speak to you in a powerful way about how we actually write “letters” every day with every conversation, every verbal exchange with another person. What do your letters say about your heart? The answer may surprise you and me.
One of the most remarkable statements of Jesus is this, “Inasmuch as you have done for the least of these my brothers, you have done it for me.” (Matthew 25:40) If I were to give you a real life example of this truth, it would be this story, told by John Maxwell of the John Maxwell Company. His story of reaching out financially to a complete stranger will speak to you in a powerful way. This story just may prompt you to do something extravagant, not for you, but for someone else!
Nowhere in the Bible does it say that Jesus is all about “improving” our lives. He’s not into changing us by degree. He’s not into taking decent people and making them more decent. He’s not into taking moral, upstanding citizens of a community and making them more moral and more upstanding. He’s into making “new creations” out of all of us! Listen to Letty Kirkpatrick’s story of her journey and you will see exactly what we mean!
Adrian Rodgers was one of my favorite preachers of the gospel. He still is! Listen to this Visual Story called, “Ripples”. It tells about a “chain of witnessing” that happened over decades on two continents. Adrian tells of one person’s story of witnessing and leading a person to Christ; then those people who were won to Christ leading others to Christ. What “ripples” have you and I started for the Kingdom of God? We all start ripples that have no impact on eternality, these do! Before you leave this earth, start a ripple for the Lord!
There is no greater “defender of the faith” that I know of living today than that of Ravi Zacharias. He speaks with a clarity and boldness that both convicts and inspires. World leaders come, world leaders go, which means they die! They have a start date and an end date to their lives and reign. Only One came without a beginning and without an end. His name is Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God. If He is who He claimed to be and what the New Testament claims Him to be, there is nothing in the universe that is more important than knowing Him! Do you? Does your spouse? Do your children?
I like to describe a “defining moment” as being a moment when the course of your life is changed by something you say, something you do, or something you decide. Actually, I believe that we have many such moments in life, we just don’t recognize them! The opposite experience is also true. That’s when the course of our lives is changed by something you don’t say, something you don’t do, or something you don’t decide. We look at the defining moment in the life of Charles Colson who died just a few years ago. All three elements of this statement take place in his conversion to Christ.
Perhaps you have had a DNA test with an organization that focuses on ancestry issues. I recently had the test done; like many others, I was surprised by the results. I wasn’t the person that for years I thought I was! In a sense we have what may be called “spiritual DNA”. They are the markers of spiritual identification with the Christ who saved us from the sin in our lives, and has given us hope that is forever in Him! The number one marker of the Christ like life in us is the capacity to forgive. It’s a gift that comes from the very spirit of God! We don’t have what it takes to forgive; the Lord gives that capacity to us through His spirit. It’s an “inside job” or work of the Holy Spirit.
WHAT MATTERS MOST!
How much do relationships mean to you? Perhaps for some, not much. For others, they mean everything. Max Lucado believes they will mean more as we begin the process of slipping away from this world into the next. He believes that when death extends its hands to us, we will evaluate what really matters in our lives. It won’t be the degrees from a college or university. It won’t be the car or cars in the garage, it won’t be your investments; it will be the people in your life. If that will be true right at the edge of death, why wouldn’t that be true now? Think about that right now!
Dealing with the chemical addiction of a loved one is not an event; it’s a journey that usually goes on for months or even years. There are good days, there are horrible ones! This story written by a school psychologist about her daughter’s addiction will speak to you in a powerful way. She came to the conclusion that her ultimate tool in dealing with her daughter was love. She couldn’t “fix” her, but she could love her. She certainly was right. We tell her story and take it into the next level as a believer in Christ. Her ultimate tool was intercession! She could lift her daughter up in prayer to the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. It’s really not a bad combination for any of us: loving and praying for the person we care for. Does that speak to you at all?
The dictionary defines balance as a “state of equilibrium”. It has to do with the distribution of weight or energy. Spiritually speaking, it has a whole different meaning. Balance has to do more with the “center” than it does with distribution of anything. A balanced life is a Christ centered life. That’s true with parenting; a balanced parent is a Christ centered father or mother. When the center is right, most other things become right. Listen to author Linda Hunter’s piece on balance in a mother’s life in our culture today. It just may change the balance of your life!
PERSON OF COMFORT
This just may be a newsflash for someone: God may use another person in your life to comfort you in a distressful situation. Then, He just may use you to comfort someone else, maybe even utilizing your experience of receiving comfort to bless someone else. Where would I come up with such a wild concept? It’s actually Biblical, coming right from the first chapter of 2nd Corinthians. The Apostle Paul tells us that God comforts us through others, then expects us to comfort others with the comfort of God we have received from Him and others. Author Sue Monk Kidd gives a powerful example of that from her own life. Let her story spill over into yours and someone else’s!
If you were doing research on the subject of death, where would you start? We might look at medical text books, do internet research on articles by the “experts”, or talk to a friend in the medical field. My first response would be to look at what Jesus said about the subject. His claim to be the resurrection and the life (if true) makes Him the ultimate expert on life, death, and eternity! A man who lost three sons in death also has something to say about death and dying. Listen to his powerful accounting as a believer in Jesus Christ as the Son of God! It just may speak to you in a powerful way now, or in the future when you need it!
We see manifestations of power all the time. A running back covers more than 90 yards after being handed a football, knocking potential tacklers off like flies. Someone says, “What power!” A soldier single-handedly attacks a military position as if no one were there. Again, some says, “what power!” The greatest demonstration of power was when Jesus was speaking in a synagogue, and a man possessed by many demons confronts Jesus, “what do you want with us, Son of the Most High!” Jesus expels the demons with His authority and power. He had both! Listen to this story about actor Mel Gibson and discover what we mean when we say “real power”. This story has power in several levels!
The word intervention is big in our culture today. It is most often used with the drug epidemic. Did you know that many city and county morgues around the country have “run out of room” because of drug related deaths in their areas! Drug intervention can be a matter of life and death! The greatest intervention of all took place when Jesus Christ came to this earth to intervene in history, your life, your family, and your marriage! The word intervene means to “come between”. He came between you and your sin, sin that according to scripture is a death sentence. Listen to this story about a car owned by Adolf Hitler, and how it relates to the atoning death of Christ on the cross. Embrace the cross that Jesus died on! It’s a matter of life and death!
Satan is referred to as the “father of all lies” in scripture. That means every lie in a figurative sense can trace its lineage back to the father of lies. Actually, Satan likes to hijack the truth by misleading people to believe an alternative truth, an alternative god, or even an alternative savior! We share a very powerful story of something that happened on the Friday after the horrible events of 9/11/2001. If you flew days after the nightmare we simply call “9/11”, you will be able to relate to what happened in this story told by Allan Dunbar of Canada. It’s a dramatic story that will speak to your heart!
Would you believe that you are becoming what you really are, right now? That may sound strange, but it’s true! When we face the latter days of our lives, our “essence” will shine through. Essence has to do with those little things that make us what we are. Habits, attitudes, biases, resentments and our deepest desires contribute to the picture of who and what we are. Author Ben Patterson wrote a piece about that very issue by looking at two relatives in his family. At the end of their journeys, they simply became who they were, all along. That’s true for you and me. Our essence defines who and what we are. Let Christ determine your ultimate essence. Why? Because He can and will if you let Him!
Most people, when asked how one experiences grace in life, would respond that we experience it when someone forgives us. We experience it when we feel someone has given us a second or third chance in life. We experience it when we feel that perhaps that even God Himself has shown us mercy, grace, and forgiveness. Did you know that answer is just “half” right? Believe it or not, we can also experience grace when we show it to someone else. We experience mercy when we offer it someone else. Listen to this story told by a former POW in a Japanese prison camp during World War II. What he says may change everything you believe about grace, mercy, and forgiveness. It’s that powerful, told by a man by the name of Earnest Gordon. See what his story does in your life!
I don’t know if you remember a made-for- television movie that aired years ago about a couple named Jim and Jenny Stolpa, lost in the snow covered mountains of California. Ray Bennett, an engineer at the Boeing Plant in Seattle, writes about the story and makes some interesting applications to the church. This couple and their baby were totally lost, with little or no hope of even surviving. A rancher and a ranger became the heroes of this story who after more than a week, rescued the couple and their baby. Ray compares the couple to people of today who are lost in the mountains of skepticism, secularism, and narcissism. (I would add the mountains of materialism and hedonism in our culture today.) Ray Bennett’s story about the story will challenge you about the “lost” around you, and how the church is the rescue organization that goes out to the “mountains” to bring back the lost. Let this story stir your thinking as well!
THE FACE OF GOD