Time and space are two of the most interesting and difficult concepts to grasp as you move through your life journey. We are in time, but God is not. Though some of us may feel that we were born out of time, we have been set in time and place to understand our Creator and what He created us to accomplish.
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Rose Cameron Ferrell, 1915-2011
For many, mother-in-law jokes have a ring of reality. But for me they don’t. I had the perfect mother-in-law—Rose Ferrell who left us this week. In the 38 years I've been her son-in-law, we never had a cross word. It was well known in the family that she always sided with the in-laws if there was ever an argument.
She lived with Joy and me for the past 3-1/2 years. She was always independent and a pleasure to have in the home. She was a godly woman, and I would hear her praying for her six children, nine grandchildren and 18 great-grandchildren.
Now she’s gone. On Monday, at age 96, she breathed her last surrounded by family and friends. I had spent the night with her in the hospital on Friday, helping the nurses care for her. I fed her breakfast and she was doing so well I took off the next morning for the annual booksellers convention in Atlanta. But she had been hospitalized for congestive heart failure and Monday morning it was obvious it was a matter of hours until she died. As soon as I found out, I immediately flew home from Atlanta and arrived at the hospital in Altamonte Springs, Fla., an hour before her heart quit beating.
If you or someone you know is battling sexual temptation, take these five steps toward GRACE.
This week my wife and I ministered to a group of 115 Russian teenagers at a youth camp in Virginia. Part of our job was to separate the guys and the girls and facilitate honest (and sometimes awkward) discussions about sex, dating and guy/girl relationships. They put their anonymous questions in a black box (“How do I know if she’s the one for me?” or “Is it OK to use condoms?”), and we answered while the kids giggled nervously.
I spoke to the guys on the first night about what I call the Porn Monster, using the description of the adulterous woman in Proverbs 7 as my text. In this passage the writer recounts the sad story of a vulnerable young man who wanders into the wrong part of town where a harlot seduces him. The story concludes with these haunting words: “Do not let your heart turn aside to her ways … for many are the victims she has cast down” (Prov. 7:25-26).
It is interesting to me that one of the greatest states in our Union, New York, has recently made legal the marriage of two people of the same sex. There is a lot of sin in the world, and along with God I am against all of it, to include any that may operate within me.
In the aftermath of the devastation of 9-11, coupled with the series of severe and destructive hurricanes, historic Gulf oil spill, wars in the Far East, uprisings in northern Africa and the Middle East, and the devastating earthquake in Japan all happening in just the last few years, one is prone to ask many questions. In times of uncertainty, the “why” question appears in its many forms. But perhaps the question to be asking is not just “Why?” but “How?”
Her “not guilty” verdict made a lot of people mad. But before we vent any more anger we may need an attitude check.
Where were you on July 5 when the Casey Anthony verdict was released? Just before the 2:15 p.m. announcement, I was in a restaurant in Orlando with my family—and our waitress was so anxious to hear the outcome of the trial that she brought up the topic after we ordered our lunch. Not since the 1995 O.J. Simpson trial have Americans invested so much emotional energy in a courtroom drama.
Because I live near Orlando where the trial was held, I’ve grown weary of the never-ending local news coverage, which included stories on how much Casey was allowed to spend on toiletries every week at the Orange County jail and how long out-of-town visitors waited in line to get tickets to the trial. I remember when 2-year-old Caylee Anthony went missing in 2008. I remember when her decomposed remains were found six months later in some woods near her home. I listened to the blur of reports about duct tape, the suspicious odor in the trunk of the car, the chloroform, and her mother’s partying habits.
The key to a life of peace is accepting God’s amazing grace
I spent a lot of years being frustrated about a lot of things. But one of my biggest problems used to be the frustration I had about me. I didn’t like myself.
So I tried very hard to change. I didn’t like my personality. I felt like I was too bold, straightforward, loud and expressive. Along with that, it seemed that every message I heard at church (and we were in church a lot) just pointed out more things that were wrong with me. I remember at times wondering, How can one person have so much wrong with them?
A few years ago a minister in my city went through a divorce, and the messy details of the settlement between the pastor and his wife were reported in our newspaper. But when the divorce was finalized there was no public statement. The man’s wife disappeared from the stage, her photo vanished from the church website and nothing further was said. Zip. Nada. No comment.
The message: It’s none of your business what happened between the pastor and his wife. He’s the anointed messenger of God. Just follow him.
Addressing a congregation with long-held beliefs that it’s shameful for a woman to speak in church isn’t the most comfortable assignment.
That's especially true when it’s in a church that’s more than 120 years old and where most in the audience are near-Centenarians. But that was my task last Saturday afternoon.
I wouldn’t have accepted the invitation to speak in a historic denominational setting that doesn’t approve of women with short hair who wear pants to church and pray in tongues—all three of those characteristics describe me well—but it was my grandfather’s memorial service.
To be sure, if my mother hadn’t asked me to speak after an old gospel hymn and in between two mature male pastors, this big city girl would have never invaded that small country town with the gospel of Christ. I expected weeping, but I hoped against gnashing of teeth as I waited for the hymns to end. In other words, I wasn’t expecting the best. (Read: lion’s den.) I decided to trust God. And the righteous are as bold as a lion. I stood behind that old pulpit and preached to those old pews. And I am glad I did.
If you are reading these words, then you’ve probably already chosen this day whom you will serve. But could it be possible that there are yet things you need to put away in order to truly worship the Lord in spirit and in truth and love Him with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength and with all your mind? I submit to you that it is possible, and for many of us even probable.
So you pray for something for years and then you wake up one day, breathe a big sigh and say to yourself: This is crazy. Nothing is happening. God must not be listening.
Congratulations. If this has been your experience you are not alone. You’ve been enrolled in the School of Persevering Prayer, and it’s not a one-semester class. It’s a lifelong journey designed to stretch your faith, develop your character, purify your motives, test your patience and increase your capacity to know and experience God’s amazing love.
Anyone who reads the paper, listens to the news, watches television or goes to the movies regularly can't help but be aware of the rising tide of anti-Christian sentiment in America. It is apparent in almost every aspect of our culture, including our educational system.
Negative views of Christians and Christianity are particularly blatant in the media. Believers are generally seen as religious fanatics who use their faith as an excuse for being hate-mongers. But the truth is, most believers do not fit this description at all.
A few months ago my friend Linda gave me an artificial bonsai tree. I brought it home and placed it in my office, and from the moment I sat down I sensed the Spirit’s whisper. “Research this tree. I have a message for you.” I was intrigued and excitement rose within as I uncovered the truth I share with you now.
In a nation known for communist oppression, intimidation and religious legalism, the Holy Spirit is sending a fresh wind of freedom.
Pentecost is a national holiday in Romania, and I celebrated it last Monday with members of Bucharest Christian Center, a growing congregation in the Romanian capital. The church was founded by my friend Ioan Ceuta, 54, a brave Christian leader who has served as president of the Assemblies of God since 1996. Like so many Romanian pastors who lived through the communist era, Ceuta has walked through fire and emerged stronger in his faith.
Ministry was not easy for Ceuta and his wife, Emilia, during the dark days of Nicolae Ceau?escu, the Romanian dictator who ruled with an iron fist and built one of the world’s largest buildings (second only to the Pentagon). Covert government informants strictly monitored all pastors during Ceau?escu’s era. The construction of church buildings was forbidden, frequency of meetings was limited, and Bibles were blacklisted as “mystical literature.”
Many people who have experienced a spiritual dream may write off the event as some type of weird result of eating too much pizza before retiring for the night. Some believers even have the attitude, “Well, if God wants to show me something, He can just show me!”
This brings up a good point: Why can’t the Lord just show you what is going to happen without using all the strange symbolism often accompanying a spiritual dream? I believe I have found an answer to that question.
Thirty-one years ago, my paternal grandfather passed away. We called him Paw Paw and my dad loved him very much.
Paw Paw loved to listen to his “45” of Tennessee Ernie Ford on his console record player and walk through the house singing at the top of his lungs. He had a lava lamp on top of the TV and an old fashioned cuckoo clock on the wall. Even with thick coke-bottle glasses he still had to use a magnifying glass to read his Bible, which he did the first thing every morning and the last thing every night. He loved Jesus with all of his heart. In church he would “amen” after almost every sentence.
Paw Paw died suddenly from a massive heart attack while at work. He was 80 years old. I remember my dad hugging me and saying, “I hope I can make it without him. I talked to him so often. I already miss him …”
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