Archive for the 'Faith' Category

Particle Physics and God

particle

I recently watched a fascinating documentary called “Particle Fever” that chronicles the search for the Higgs boson, which is sometimes called the “God Particle.”  The nickname is a bit controversial, but it shouldn’t get in the way of the substance of the documentary and the interesting all-or-nothing scenario that it set up.

You see, right now scientists explain the universe mostly by using a theory called the “Standard Model” of theoretical particle physics, which has been very good at predicting much of what experiments in physics have actually found. As described by the various scientists in the documentary, formulation of the Standard Model is the result of roughly 400 years of work, in which scientists have gradually found that the universe is something enormous yet simple, seemingly complex yet incredibly elegant and symmetrical. Indeed, symmetry (in the sense of how parts might integrate into a whole, might remain consistent and or unchanged despite any kind of transformation, and can exist independent of specific dynamics) is the kind of elegant order that begins to hint most strongly toward intelligent design, or God.

In addition, the Standard Model relies on what are called “fundamental constants,” which are numbers that determine the entire structure of the universe. Now these constants get pretty complicated, but for now just realize that everyone – from God-believing scientists to complete and total atheists – understand that these numbers are far too precise to be based on chance in just this universe. In the documentary, one scientist explained that his knowledge of this incredibly precise fine tuning naturally led him to question whether he was wrong about everything he had learned and believed on some fundamental level. What he meant was that it’s hard, if not impossible, to square this incredible precision with a Godless universe. It’s that exact.

Now if you make enough scientists question their worldviews, you’ll end up getting a new scientific theory so that they don’t have to question those worldviews anymore. And the theory that some scientists ultimately came up with to help them explain this incredible fine tuning is called the “multiverse theory.” That theory speculates that our universe is actually only one of multiple possible universes – so many, like millions or billions (the kinds of numbers evolutionists like to use) that those really precise numbers that make up our fundamental constants might still only be random. If you have a billion universes, so the theory goes, one might randomly end up like our universe – which looks so precise that it must have been created by some intelligent being, but which is really created by chance. This can get a bit complex, too, so if you want to see a more detailed write- up about the multiverse theory versus intelligent design, go here: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/multiverse-and-the-design-argument.

But for now, just realize that the Standard Model absolutely predicted something like the Higgs boson as one of its essential particles, and so the documentary that I watched showed scientists using the Large Hadron Collider near Geneva Switzerland to try to detect it. Everyone figured it was out there, but they had different theories about what it would mean to the universe and, indeed, to the future of physics. And all of that depended on not only finding the Higgs, but also learning its mass.

The reason scientists needed to know its mass was because a “light” Higgs boson is the kind of thing that would correspond to the symmetry of the Standard Model, and even helps lend credence to what’s called “supersymmetry,” in which additional particles might likely be discovered to build a complicated but even more elegant way of describing the universe. A “heavy” Higgs, on the other hand, would tend to point to various theories using the concepts of the multiverse. But here’s the rub: if, in fact, the multiverse theory were to be confirmed, it would mean that everything in our universe might be completely random, caused not by intelligence but chaos. And if that were true, then physicists could never be sure that they’d ever find answers to anything else because the answers to any number of questions in a multiverse theory might only be found in other universes, which means that we might never find them at all. In fact, most everybody in the documentary felt like a heavy Higgs might mean the end of physics altogether. Pretty dramatic, huh?

So the movie came down to this. If the Higgs mass was about 115 times the mass of a proton, it would point to supersymmetry. If it was about 140 times the mass of a proton, it would point to multiverse. Order and elegance versus chaos, or, as some people might speculate, God versus no God.

All of this is interesting, but sometimes I think that people miss the forest for the trees, or the universe for the particles in this case. In Paul’s letter to the Romans, he wrote: “For since the creation of the world, God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” (Romans 1:20) We have been without excuse since creation, and now we have even less of an excuse to clearly see and know the existence and glory of God. Back in the day, scientists like Isaac Newton, Robert Boyle, Francis Bacon, Blaise Pascal, Louis Pasteur, and countless others worked within their knowledge and belief of the existence of God and with the notion that their discoveries were guided by God. The famous astronomer and mathematician Johannes Kepler, wrote, “I see how God is, by my endeavors, also glorified in astronomy, for ‘the heavens declare the glory of God.’” (quoting Psalm 19:1).

Why, then, do so many people miss what is so obvious to others? Why do they reject the notion of God so adamantly that they’ll create theory after theory to debunk any idea of intelligent design?  I think the reason is found in two separate scriptures. First, in 2 Peter 3:5, Peter writes that people will “deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water.” And through this deliberate forgetfulness, since they “d[o] not know the righteousness that comes from God [and they seek] to establish their own, they [do] not submit to God’s righteousness.” (Romans 10:3) In short, people forget what is obvious to the rest of the world because they simply don’t want to serve anyone. They want to be their own god. But hey, as Bob Dylan once sang, “It may be the devil or it may be the Lord, but you’re gonna have to serve somebody.”

Anyway, back to the Higgs and the documentary. Now I personally don’t need to know the mass of a particle to convince me that God exists. And I assume that if the Higgs came back light and the multiverse theory was somehow discredited, people who simply don’t want to believe in God would figure out some other theory to cast doubt. But leave it to God Himself to remind us who is in control here. Because when they ultimately found the Higgs – and they did – its mass was exactly dead center between 115 and 140, which left both sides scratching their heads. We thought we had it all figured out. We thought it was all or nothing. But God said it was neither. It was something else entirely. It’s not so much the “God Particle” as it is simply one of God’s particles. Like everything else, God created the Higgs, and its mass is what it is. Now deal with it.

And finally, why in the world would I write about this interesting natural world drama in a blog about the supernatural? Well, because in the middle of the documentary, during one of the trial runs for the Large Hadron Collider as they were counting down toward the test, something truly fascinating happened. During that countdown from five to one, at just around minute 27:51 of the documentary, the camera cut to a young scientist waiting for the test to begin. And as the countdown reached three, she closed her eyes and briefly bowed her head. I think she prayed.

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Measure of Favor

We just talked about walking in favor, but today I was given an additional message. I never discount additional revelation on a topic whatever the source – radio, books, the Word, a message from my pastor, dreams and visions, or speaking with another believer when the topic is brought up and discussed. So I was pleased this morning as I was getting ready for worship to see a church TV pastor, Joel Olsteen, talking about us having “a flash flood….of favor of God profusely abounding in our lives.” This reminded me that in addition to our faith and belief, our measure of favor is limited only by our own level of obedience.

The entwining of obedience and favor should not be unfamiliar to us because it’s depicted in nearly every supernatural event in the Bible. Sometimes, its’ portrayed in negative terms – that is, through disobedience and the removal of favor, such as the sacking of Judah and the delivering of the Jewish people into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon. Nevertheless, our Lord prizes obedience more than any other work we can do to please Him, and he rewards obedience in the same measure. You might recall that Daniel wasn’t eaten by the lions when thrown into the lions’ den. Daniel 6:22 states, “My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight.” Like Daniel, Joseph was also given a flood of favor through his obedience. Recall how Joseph was promoted and treated while a slave in Pharaoh’s house because he continued being obedient to God and didn’t dwell on revenge on his jealous and wicked brothers.

So let’s continue to walk in obedience to God and call forth and walk in the flood of favor our Lord has reserved for us! Think big, ask big, walk big, and receive a big measure!

Walking in Favor

Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the

knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord

2 Peter 1:2

Did you know that, according to the New Testament Greek Lexicon at www.biblestudytools.com , the Greek meaning of grace, or Charis, includes “goodwill, loving-kindness, and favour”?

What this means is that when Peter wrote the words at the top of this page, he was endowing those of us who know God and Jesus with multiplied grace and peace – in other words, multiplied or abundant peace and favor. When we believe and embrace the fact that our Heavenly Father wants us to have abundance in everything in our earthly lives, we can call upon it and activate it in our lives. That’s what it means to “walk in favor.”

I sort of stumbled upon activating favor in my life when I realized that if I asked and believed in favorable treatment because of who the Bible says I am – a princess of the Most High God – I would receive it. Remember that we’re told by James, “[y]ou do not have, because you do not ask God.” (James 4:2) What we also know is that when we ask, we must believe; Jesus himself said “If you believe [i.e., have faith and do not doubt], you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” (Matt. 21:22) Our only limitation seems to be that our requests must follow the will of God, for even Jesus asked God in Gethsemane, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” (Matt. 26:39). I am a princess of the most high God, and you are all princes and princesses of the same God. Your inheritance is abundant favor, which is the will of God, but only if you ask for it.

I found that activating favor is as easy as speaking out loud and testifying to others my anticipated and my realized favor. I don’t do it in a manner that seems smug, lording my blessing over others, or bragging – more like just a statement of the blessings of the Lord. It’s not bragging when you give God the glory for everything in your life. After all, He is responsible. If someone says they like my house, I say that God blessed me with my house. If someone praises my work, I say that God gave me the gifts and talents to do my work. I activate favor in everything large or small. If I barely make my bus or find a good parking place, it’s God’s favor and I tell people that. If I am supernaturally healed, it’s God’s favor and I testify to it. Every bit of God’s favor is the same, and it’s all equally and supernaturally amazing! The bottom line is that God wants to be actively involved in EVERY aspect of our life, and He loves to show His hand at work in each of our blessings.

So here’s what I do:

1. I verbally thank the Lord for the blessing I’m about to receive (out loud – the enemy hates this!). I say something like, “Thank you, Lord, that you always give me the perfect parking space.” By the way, don’t laugh, everybody knows I always get great parking spots, and now you know why!

2. I believe and expect the blessing to be given. This isn’t as hard to do as it seems. True believing faith comes from actually seeing God’s hands in little things so that you can begin to expect His hand in the big ones. In my book, I talk quite a bit about faith not necessarily coming from believing in the unseen, but rather in believing in the glorious things that you have actually seen.

3. I thank the Lord for fulfilling my request and I tell others how great He is!

As followers of Jesus Christ, you are all royalty, abundantly blessed. So go and walk in favor. See every good thing you experience as a gift from your Father, who loves you. And when you receive those things, be grateful and testify to the amazing grace/favor or our Lord!

Stand Fast in Times of Trial

My heart has been especially burdened lately with the trials that many of you are experiencing. From lost jobs, to financial difficulties, hospital stays, and even family deaths, there just seems to be a lot of stuff happening that just isn’t fun. But I’m writing this blog to tell you that I have had confirmation from our Lord both from His Word and through several of His servants that He has not left our side. In fact, He’s right here holding out His hand to you so that you stay close to His protection and comfort. God wants you to stand fast in your times of trial.

When we talk about standing fast I always remember that the Bible says in Ephesians 6:11-13 for us to:

Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

This passage means that life is not without difficulties. We will experience them, and we must be prepared for them. We must stand and face them head on. The good news is that with God on our side, there is nothing we can’t face and see through to the end. Sometimes just facing the trial head on is really all God wants. In my opinion, God is constantly looking for examples of people who face the troubles of the world with peace, grace, and a sense of calm knowing that He is ultimately in charge. It’s those people who really make a difference in the natural world.

I still remember a man who I met at a Denver area church who told me he had just lost all of his life’s saving in the Enron debacle. He was so calm! It didn’t seem to bother him one bit, and surely that same problem could easily lead to depression or even suicide with any other person. I’m sure that everyone who meets him and hears his story will be moved, like me, by his faith in God to turn even that great trial into a triumph through standing firm. He told me, “Well, I guess God wanted me to work when I thought it was time to retire. He must have something really great in store for me.” Can you imagine how pleased God is that this man still believes and tells others about His glory?

You should realize, of course, that not all trials are from the devil. That’s because many times we have made improper choices that set certain problems into play. Nevertheless, Satan is going to take whatever problem you initiate and use it to steal from you or destroy you if he can. Really, because of God’s grace, that’s the really exciting choice we have every day. No matter what happens, no matter how difficult we think something in the world is, we can choose to let Satan use that difficulty to really mess us up, or we can choose to let God use the same difficulty for His glory. If you really focus on what’s happening supernaturally, you can even find hope and some joy in even the worst times by simply knowing that what God has in store for you later will be so great.

When my husband, Tim, went back to Kansas to take care of his sick dad, things could not have seemed lower. No matter what he did, he couldn’t find out what was wrong with his dad, and after a while Tim had to quit his job to act as a 24/7 nurse. A lot of people fretted over the situation and warned Tim that he wouldn’t be able to find work again and that he would go broke, etc. Well, at that time Tim had a choice: (1) let Satan use the situation to cause hopelessness and despair, or (2) let God use it to show His glory. Tim chose number two, constantly telling people that God would surely find him another job, and the money would be no problem because God would surely work everything out. In the end, Tim was able to spend the last year of his dad’s life with him. He talked to many people in Kansas, including his dad, about God’s will and favor. And you know what? We never even really felt any lack of money due to losing his job. There was a sense of peace, even in the middle of a huge trial, by just knowing that God was in charge and that He would use the situation to lead to something even greater.

No matter how your trial originates, you still have the same weapons – namely the grace of Jesus dying on the cross, the Word (Bible) of our Lord, and our community of believers to provide encouragement, enlightenment, and strength. It’s so important to just stand and face that trial, rather than to run away, hide in a comfortable place or hop a boat on the river of denial J . If you try to ignore it, the problem will still be there when you return – in fact, it might have even grown into a bigger issue. And while you’re standing firm, sharpen your sword, which is the Word of God – dig into your Bible to refresh your memory of who you are and the promises our Lord made to you.

When I have things going poorly in my life I try to step back and ask a few questions and quickly move to the resolution.

1. What have I done in the natural world (like sin or un-forgiveness) that may have contributed to or started this difficulty?

If I identify something that has started the problem, then I accept the responsibility for the action or sin and ask for forgiveness. I then look for the resolution – it may mean humbly apologizing to someone, or making amends in the situation, or just standing in there for the natural course of things – like when you break a law and have to go through the court system. Sometimes I’m not sure what the root cause is and I just go to prayer and ask for revelation on what I have done. I ask for forgiveness, blessing, and supernatural help. Once I’ve done this, I try to leave it alone and let God walk with me through the problem however long it takes. That means that I try not to worry about it or continue discussing it. I simply release it so that my heart can remain pure and free.

2. Have I forgotten to pray spiritual coverage  to keep me and my household protected?

Sometimes I realize that I have gotten overly confident in my flesh and that I have not asked, on a daily basis, for God’s supernatural wisdom and perfection. This usually happens when I don’t get in the Word for even one tiny verse and my focus gets off my Lord and His purpose for my life. I immediately ask for forgiveness and ask for supernatural wisdom, revelation, and protection over me, my friends and family, my household and any one that I come into contact with each day.

3. Maybe I am doing the right thing – if so, is the attack from the enemy simply one designed to get me off track from living a Godly life?

If I’m on a Godly track and I think I am doing exactly what God wants me to do, regardless of what the world would say to do, then I just smile and feel fortunate that the enemy is trying to deter me from accomplishing something big. When this happens, I know that it’s some of the strongest demons that are in play, so I try to remember that it’s important now more than ever to press into my Lord through prayer, His Word, and His people. The Bible says that some demons react only to prayer and fasting, and so sometimes I fast.

And so, my beautiful brothers and sisters, stand firm! Be armed with the knowledge that your Heavenly Father is right there with you to help you muscle through your difficult time! In the end, getting through it by standing firm and choosing to side with God will be worth it. Whatever your trial may be, if you choose to walk with God, He will bless you with wisdom, abundant peace, and sharpened tools for life in the natural world.

Miraculous Healing and the Question of Faith

Have you ever prayed for healing and then secretly wondered whether you might not be healed because you didn’t have enough faith?

I had this very “crisis of faith” when I first prayed for a supernatural healing of my hip. You see, I’m one of the unfortunate few who, despite being relatively young, needed to get a hip replaced due to genetic factors. When I learned of my condition, I prayed passionately. My friends laid hands on me. I spoke positively, as if a healing miracle had already taken place. But when I didn’t get any better, I watched myself, almost surreally, scheduling conventional hip surgery. Where was my faith? Should I have given God more time? My fear, of course, was that my lack of faith had hindered the miracle.

But then two things happened. First, a friend of mine reminded me that our Lord can heal in many ways, including through surgery. This brought to mind my old seminary professor, who once said he could see God’s hand in literally everything – including a lamp, or a table, or a car driving down the road. Surely God has His hand in the extraordinary event that we now take for granted called surgery.

Second, I heard a pastor emphasize the doctors’ often crucial role in God’s healing process. God has orchestrated a doctor’s life of healing as much as that of any other person in any other role, and a doctor following God’s plan will undoubtedly serve by healing. The fact is that throughout the Bible, God used people – both believers and unbelievers – to accomplish his will. And today it’s the same. The key for me was to recognize that an unexplained, immediate healing (akin to the bleeding woman’s miraculous cure after touching Jesus’ robe) and an empirically sensible yet much slower healing through the hands of a surgeon could be equally miraculous.

I believe it takes great faith to receive a miraculous healing without human intervention, but it takes as much faith to put yourself completely in God’s hands and the hands of his earthly servant chosen to minister to you. It’s not a matter of greater or lesser faith. It’s just an overarching belief that God will heal. Whether it’s through a flash of lightning or a surgeon’s hands, God, not the devil, is in charge of the details.

And, looking back, I can clearly see that the details of my surgery were supernaturally miraculous. After the operation, everyone was amazed at my remarkably fast healing. I was back to work after three weeks and walking a mile every day without pain! I also was blessed to have some special time at home with my mom and my husband unencumbered by my usually overly active (i.e., without crutches) lifestyle.

But God really showed His hand through what He had me do during the healing process. Every person who came across my path, from the surgeons, nurses and physical therapists, to my friends and even some strangers, got to hear me talk about God, what He did in my life, and how He had used them to help heal me. It was so rewarding to see those helpers light up when I thanked them for their great service and told them how they were specially chosen by God, who loves them and gave all of them their amazing gifts, to help me with my “miracle.” I’m not sure I would ever have talked to any of them if the miracle meant for me was the instantaneous, “robe-touching” type.

But I am sure that God will have me minster to more people through my experience, “for it is God who works in [us] to act according to his good purpose” and “through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of Him.” Indeed, God continually gives us opportunities to grow our faith and share our experiences with others. Each opportunity is itself a supernatural miracle in which our creator reaches into our lives to provide a glimpse of His overwhelming glory. A need for healing can be one of those opportunities – an opportunity perhaps causing us to wrestle with our faith, but ultimately to help others come closer to God.

So, how much faith do you need for healing? The Bible says only as much as a tiny mustard seed, so keep your eyes on Him, open yourself to growing the faith that you do have, and watch God work. Your miraculous healing will surely come!

Salvation Seed Planting

Salvation Seed Planting

I apologize for my lengthy absence, but I just emerged from a one-year “valley of grief” in which six of my loved ones left this world to be with the Lord. A couple of times I felt a little nervous when my loved ones passed on, and I realized that I may not have done a good job of sharing the good news of the saving grace of our Lord. But, praise God, in both cases I found out from other people that those who had died had definitely come to the Lord before their journey. I was so relieved to know that each one had their heavenly ticket in hand on the day of their departure! I feel like I really dodged a spiritual bullet, so to speak, because I personally hadn’t made sure that they were ready to go. So I was convicted that I had better step up my game because I can’t live with the idea that someone might miss out on heaven just because of some petty excuses I had not to share. I’ve been thinking about it for a while now, and so here are a few tips that I found helpful for getting past those excuses and sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with other people simply by planting seeds.

Seed planting for the Lord is very easy, and when we do it with love and diligence it’s very effective! There are some who might say that you should just get to the point, lay out the Gospel, and ask for the commitment. But I’ve been in sales for many years and I learned that the first principle of sales is this: people love to buy but hate to be sold. People like to mull information over, make their own decisions, and feel like those decisions are their ideas. That’s why I like seed planting. It might not be as quick for getting overt results, but I feel like it presents information with love, lets God do His work in each person, and lets that person come to God in his or her own time. This method is especially good for friends and family because your credibility with them might not be as sound as with new friends and acquaintances. Remember that friends and family have seen you at your fleshly worst and knew you before you were seriously born again (and remember “a prophet in his own home . . .”).

Seed planting for salvation mirrors seed planting in your garden because first you prepare the ground, then you plant the seed, and finally you nurture and water the seed for harvest. Actually planting the seed can be as simple and indirect as saying, “God bless you,” or “I’ll pray for you,” but can be a bit more direct, such as mentioning how God led you in something you have just done. Still, the planting itself will go a lot further when you’ve prepared the person to whom you’re going to speak. In every case, always pray about each word, encounter, and opportunity to share.

1. Preparing the ground. This step is very important and involves developing a bit of a relationship and trust, which can take some time. Mainly, preparing the ground is letting people know who you are and that you stand for the Truth of our Lord. It’s developing a friendly and loving relationship with people. Just think about it – this step might take a lifetime with some people. But if it takes that long to get a person to hear the seed without recoiling, then the time is worth it. People will listen to what you’re doing only when they don’t feel criticized, convicted, or force-fed, so take your time. If you sense resistance or the person closing up, then back off immediately and change the subject.

2. Planting the seeds involve prayer, patience, and love.

Prayer – I always ask the Lord what He would like me to say and when to speak – remember that His timing is always perfect. I try to be mindful of His promptings and act accordingly. Remember to pray to cover the people you talk to from the lies the enemy will try to plant during your time with them.

Patience – Sometimes I find that it’s best to let the other people vent their objections or show me their wounds before I plant any seeds. Remember that Paul gained a common ground with the people he encountered before he presented the good news. There’s no need to refute every word they say at this beginning point. People in the world are naturally skeptical – thinking that you will be pushy and unkind – so you’ll automatically build rapport with them when you are quiet, kind, and listening.

Love – I guard my words and attitude so that I don’t provoke some argument. Honestly, arguing is like putting superglue on the pinhole of opportunity, and one little argument might mean that you won’t get another chance to show God’s love. I try to remember that I might be the only ambassador of our Lord that this person meets. I might be their only hope to hear the Gospel and know Jesus. So I try to be respectful, polite, loving.

Here’s how I plant seeds with different people in my life!

A. Family members and close friends – I like to sprinkle the Word and the work of the Lord in my life into conversations any chance I get. I allow my family to be who they are, and I also try not to shock them by always showing them I’m the Jesus freak that I am. For example, I have one family member who I have been praying about for salvation for quite some time. I try to mention how the Lord is working in my life – especially when there are miracles happening that the world might label as “lucky.” People like my family member usually have a woundedness that you might never even know about. They need to know that the Lord loves them and is interested in their success and wellbeing. So I often pray about difficulties that they might be having and ask the Lord for a result. I tell them that the Lord is going to take care of this problem so that when it gets solved easily, inexpensively, etc they will know that the Lord is at work. This allows me to let them see the hand of God at work in their life.

B. Work people – I don’t hide who I am at work. I do need to be careful because I work for a governmental agency and people get all uptight about the “separation of church and state” (which, by way, is not the interpretation that our forefathers intended – but that’s another blog). But people do know that I am a follower of Jesus. Now the downside to being so transparent is that I KNOW that I am under a magnifying glass and that I have to always be on my best behavior. Once again, I let people know how the Lord is working in my life without trying to convict them or act like I am special or perfect. I offer to pray for them when life is difficult. I listen to them and try to be a friend. Once again, I love to share how God is working in my life. I recently had major surgery and was back at work 22 days afterward. People were amazed that I was back so quickly and working full days, so I let everyone know that I asked God for a supernatural recovery and that is what they are witnessing!

C. Acquaintances – I don’t believe in coincidences; instead, I believe that every human encounter is from God and is purposeful. When it comes to acquaintances, I don’t always know what I am supposed to do, but I at least try to encourage and uplift people. It might be as simple as a kind word, a smile, a few dollars, or a shoulder to cry on and some Godly wisdom. I try to work God into the conversation, even if it’s just a comment that He loves them and wants to bless them. When people have a need, such as hunger, it’s best to try to meet that need first and then share our Lord with them. When I pray for people, I ask the Lord to show His hand at work in their life and then I let the people know what to look for. Once again, sharing out of the blessings in your life and your testimony is always great.

I always tell people, whoever they are, that I’m happy to pray for and with them and that I’m available to talk with them about Jesus anytime. I might not know all the answers, but I know that the Holy Spirit and the Bible will guide me. I try to be open and available. Just being present is a big deal. I’ve had people tell other people to call me to pray with them not only because they knew I was a follower of Jesus, but also simply because I was around and willing to do it.

3. Nurturing and watering the seeds involves more relationship building and showing more loving proof of the Lord working in your life. Just because someone doesn’t commit to God in the seed planting phase doesn’t mean that I should stop encouraging and loving them, so I keep trying to build our relationship whenever possible. If I see that the person is becoming uncomfortable around me, I back way off and try to talk to them only about what they are interested in for a while. I try not to only meet with people to tell them about God. I’ve found, instead, that if I earn their trust over time, they will slowly be open to hearing more about God on their own terms. The time is coming when we will need to be bold and direct, but the seed planting method is a good place to start fine tuning your evangelism skills and practicing sharing the word.

4. The Harvest is the end goal – the person’s commitment to our Lord. I don’t always assume that I will be the actual harvester, but I am pleased to be used in this capacity when it arises. I know that often seeds that are planted take time to germinate and sprout.

When someone fully commits to Jesus Christ, it is likely due to seeds that were planted by others sometimes many years ago. So when somebody comes into my life, I not only like to look for fertile soil to plant my own seeds, but also for existing seeds that I can water and nurture. One of these days, one of those seeds will take root! In the parable of the sower, Jesus said: “Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop – a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.” That’s the goal – a harvest that produces another follower of Jesus Christ, shining one more glorious light in the world. You can’t get there without a seed, so start sowing and planting today!

-Are you Prepared?

Are you Prepared?

In a 2006 USA Today article, Mimi Hall stated that most Americans have not taken adequate steps to prepare for a natural disaster. Indeed, only one-third of persons have even made a plan for communicating with others during a crisis, she wrote. I believe that now (5 years later) we are still in about the same situation – not only in the natural world, but also spiritually.

When we discuss being spiritually prepared, a few questions come to the minds of many Christians. First, do we really need to be prepared when the Lord is going to come and rapture the Church before the tribulation starts? Second, when we prepare for disasters are we operating out of a lack of faith by not relying on God to take care of us? Finally, what is our responsibility to prepare? As I discuss further below, the answers are: (1) yes, we need to prepare; (2) no, we are not lacking in faith; and (3) our responsibility to prepare is huge.

Regardless of whether you believe in the rapture occurring before, in the middle, or at the end of the tribulation (so-called pre, mid, and post-trib beliefs), we are called to prepare for whatever might come. Let’s face it – we’re already facing natural disasters that require us to be prepared both spiritually and in the world. In the aftermath of something like Katrina, for example, I would hope that someone with a tent would do better with someone without.  Likewise, someone with a firm grounding in God’s word would undoubtedly face whatever disaster with the advantage of the kind of peace that only faith and knowledge of God’s purpose can bring.  So, for those of you who believe in a pre-tribulation rapture – hey, you might be wrong!  Better prepare!  And you mid-trib folks better prepare too!  I mean, if you go early, you can always leave your worldly preparations to someone who didn’t make the trip.  And even if you miss the last half of the tribulation, the first half is a pretty nasty situation that requires a bit of thought to get through.  The fundamental point is that spiritual preparedness requires us to know God’s word, and God’s word consistently tells us to be prepared in the world.

There are several instances in the Bible where God called His people to prepare, and in these notes we will look at three of them.

The first is located in Genesis 6-9 – yeah, you guessed it – the story of Noah. You may recall that Noah was called to build an ark to save his family and himself from an impending flood. He was mocked and ridiculed by his neighbors, but in the end Noah was victorious and pleased God! The story of Noah’s faith and his obedience to prepare is referred to several times in the New Testament as impact of the importance of his actions. Hebrews 11:7 states,

By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith.

Also, see Matthew 24:37, 38; Luke 17:26-27; I Peter 3:20 and 2 Peter 2:5. The first two of these scriptures liken Noah to the second coming of Jesus, warning that many people will be caught unprepared.  Remember, God speaks through his prophets first, and the prophets that I am hearing today are telling us to get ready.

Our second example comes from the story of Joseph being sold into slavery by his brothers. You may recall that Joseph persevered in his trials as a slave and was ultimately asked to interpret a dream of Pharaoh. In that dream Pharaoh saw seven fat cows and seven skinny cows. The Lord revealed to Joseph that the fat cows indicated seven years of abundance and the skinny cows meant seven years of famine. Pharaoh was so pleased with Joseph’s interpretation that he placed him in charge of all of Egypt. During that time, Joseph used the wisdom from God given by the dreams to save all of the surplus grain during the seven abundant years so that there would be food during the seven years of famine. The story of Joseph begins at Genesis 30:24 through chapter 45. Genesis 41:48-49 states,

Joseph collected all the food produced in those seven years of abundance in Egypt and stored it in the cities. In each city he put the food grown in the fields surrounding it. Joseph stored up huge quantities of grain, like the sand of the sea; it was so much that he stopped keeping records because it was beyond measure.

This is a clear example of God guiding his people – through prophetic revelation – to prepare for a disaster.

The final example is the parable of the ten virgins found in Matthew 25:1-13, which states,

At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep. At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’ Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’ ‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’ But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut. Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’ But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’ Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.

This example speaks specifically to the coming of Christ, but the message is clear that God means for us to be prepare for the future.

As I said earlier, as Christians, that means both spiritual and natural world preparation.

The first step is to be prepared spiritually. We must have a solid spiritual grounding, with strong and deep spiritual roots. To accomplish this, it’s important that there be no doubt about our salvation. As a believer in Christ, you will attain the best preparation possible – the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit that will comfort you in times of trouble, who will guide you in detecting right or wrong action, and who will give you prophetic insight. Moreover, as a believer in Christ, you will have assured yourself of an eternity with God – something that I look forward to more and more each day.

If you have ANY doubts about where you will go when you leave this earth, please pray the following prayer from your heart.

Lord, I know that I am a sinner, and I come to you to ask for forgiveness. I believe that you sent your Son, Jesus, to die on the cross as a final sacrifice for my sins. I believe that by this act I am forgiven. I believe in a life after death with you in eternity. Come into my heart and cleanse my soul so that I may forever turn my back on sin and follow Jesus Christ.

It’s okay to re-commit your life to Christ if you aren’t sure of your salvation. God gives us new mercies everyday because He understands the faults and limitations of our flesh.

As part of being prepared spiritually, we must also guard our spirit and keep it fed and strong. We can do this through focused time in prayer (including prayer on our knees), fellowship with other Christians, and time in the Word. It’s critical that we keep growing our roots strong and deep. We’ll need this when the difficult times come so that we will not fall away, and thus we will preserve our status as part of the prophesized church remnant during the last days. The parable of the sower in Luke 8 talks of seeds spread on a rock – illustrating that some people will receive the Word with joy but fall away in the time of testing.  Don’t let that happen to you!

The second step of preparedness is physical preparedness in the natural world. This encompasses two categories: (1) physical health preparation; and (2) the act of preparing goods and supplies for any impending disaster. I will send out a separate set of notes with all of my emergency supply preparedness information. But suffice it to say that no matter how much “stuff” you have to get you through a disaster, it’s important to be healthy, in good physical fitness condition, and have positive mental fitness. If you haven’t started to think about getting fit, NOW is a great time to get out and walk and build up your stamina, cardio and endurance. In the last days, when so many will be panicked and confused by the events unfolding in the world, it will be the followers of Jesus who offer an explanation and a solution to those in need simply by saying, “I am prepared because all that is happening has been foretold in the Bible. Come with me, and find strength in my faith. Follow God and do not fear.”

I close with one of my favorite scriptures that addresses our need to be prepared, Matthew 24:36-44,

But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left. Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.

We act in faith when we know what the Word says about a situation, we listen to what the Lord says, and we obey. Saints, be obedient! The Lord is speaking to us to be prepared. Look at the signs: the economy, the world unrest, the earthquakes and disasters, the persecution of our brethren around the globe, and the unsustainable depletion and pollution of our natural resources. We are just like Joseph.  We have had a time of abundance, and now we must plan for the famine. We must have faith that God will take care of us, but he also wants us to partner with Him and do the work we can here on Earth.


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