Almosta Christian

“Then Agrippa said to Paul, “Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?”  (Acts 26:28)

King Agrippa asked a timeless question that echoes through the canyons of the centuries, and the most important of all.

The occasion was Paul’s defense of himself to King Agrippa after being arrested on false charges.  His accusers wanted to put him to death.  For the apostle, it was an opportunity to share his personal testimony of his life changing encounter with Jesus Christ and the timeless answer to the timeless question of King Agrippa.

In his oratory to the King, Paul spoke of who he once was and of who he had become after his experience of meeting Jesus on the road to Damascus.  His story was powerful, like those of all who have been changed from the miserable, lost souls we once were to those who have become children of God, by faith in his Son – the Gift of God.  Paul repeated to the King and those present what Jesus had said to him that day on the road to Damascus.  Like Paul, we are on a road, the road of life.  It is a road that leads to a “dead end” without Jesus.  Paul spoke eloquently, gracefully and powerfully to one of the most powerful men of his time, the most powerful message of all time, “I am sending you to them to open their eyes,” Jesus said, “and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me,” (Acts 26:17-18).   What a message!  My timeless question is – “why would anyone turn down such an offer?”  And yet, Agrippa had to think about it.  He certainly was not easily persuaded, even by such a powerful message from such a powerful force – the Holy Spirit of God speaking through His human servant and mouthpiece – Paul.  Perhaps he had more important things to think about, like running a country or something.  Maybe he thought about what it would cost if he accepted the abundant life and eternal life that the Son of God has to offer.  Or did he simply enjoy his life of sin without the presence of God in his life?  He might have felt embarrassed if he accepted Christ.

So King Agrippa almost became a Christian that day.  Just think, he almost found abundant life in the here and now. He almost received eternal life after the here and now.  He almost got his eyes opened.  He almost came out of the darkness of disgusting sin and shame, into the brilliant light of God.  He was almost turned from the overwhelming, deadly, freedom binding power of Satan to the awesome, freedom giving, joyful power of Almighty God.  He almost got forgiveness of his sins and rotten choices in life by the God who gave him life.  Oh, the choices we make.  I hope King Agrippa thought about Paul’s words later, when he was alone.  Perhaps he changed his mind and realized, like us all, how self-centered he was.  I hope he called out to the Lord to forgive him, save him and  be the Lord of his life.

Two Dot, Montana & The Unsearchable Riches of Christ

Back in the days of homesteading, there were some very large ranches owned and controlled by rugged, hearty, wealthy,  individuals.  The Grant/Kohrs ranch in Montana is one such example, consisting of something along the lines of four million acres.  Another was owned and operated by Two Dot Wilson.  Two Dot, of course was a nickname.  I first learned of him and his fascinating story because of a blizzard in central Montana where I lived.  The highway was closed at Harlowton.  Although we were only a short distance from home at Buffalo, nevertheless my son and I had to rent a motel room for the night.  We made the trip into town to get something to eat.  At the restaurant was a little book on the history of the area and that is where I learned of Two Dot Wilson.  There is a little village in the area named after him.

Mr. Wilson was amazingly wealthy for his time.  He owned thousands of cattle, a large number of sheep and hundreds of horses.  He was good to the Indians who would visit and was known as a generous, gracious man.  In the vernacular of our day we might say, “he had it all.”  Except the one thing he wanted the most – a wife.  Since Two Dot didn’t want to marry a woman from the area, he took a trip back east where he was from to find just the right one.  Because he did not want his future wife to marry him because he was wealthy, it was his practice to not dress as a gentleman of his day.  Instead, he dressed casually as any rancher of his day.  Two Dot did in fact fall in love with someone and they were married.  The story said that while on the stagecoach heading back to the homestead on the prairie of Montana, the new Mrs. Wilson looked at her husband and said something like this; “honey, do you think it’d be alright to get just one ole cow so we can have milk for the table?”  Two Dot had not told her nor had she any idea of the extreme wealth of her new husband.   The ranch had an abundance of cows and far greater riches than she could ever imagine.

This great story illustrates one of my favorite verses in the Bible, found in First Corinthians, chapter two, verse 9; “…No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.”

And so it is with our Great God and His kingdom.  We are like Two Dot’s wife so-to-speak.  In Ephesians chapter five, verses 22 and following, the Apostle Paul teaches what God’s will is for marriage.  Then in verse 32 of the same chapter, he writes; “This is a profound mystery – but I am talking about Christ and the church.”  Like Mrs. Wilson who had no idea of the wealth that awaited her, so do we as believers in Jesus Christ have only a little idea of the magnitude of the fantastic, wonderful things God has in store for those who love and seek Him.  In chapter three of his letter to the church at Ephesus, verse 8, Paul refers to this as… “the unsearchable riches of Christ…”

What does this have to do with you and me?  If our desire in life is to want all that God has in store for us, both in this life and the life to come, it is worth pursuing.  If we seek God and desire His will to be accomplished in our lives, He is more than willing to be found of us and to give us the abundant life He promised here in this world and eternal life when our journey in this life is complete.  There is nothing more important in our lives than the relationship we have with our Creator and God and His son Jesus Christ.  May it be the pursuit and goal of the short time we spend in this world, to search for and find, “the unsearchable riches of Christ.”  When we seek Him and are found of Him, we truly become “rich,” like Two Dot’s wife, but incomparably so much more.

 

Terrible Times

Lately, wherever you turn for news, whoever you talk to, everyone is talking about how bad things are.  The airwaves are full of news of terrorist attacks both here and abroad.  Accounts of Rape and murder on our streets have become common place.  Hatred and strife fills the world in which we live.  Many have no respect for life, either the unborn or for those who are living.  Just when we thought we had heard it all, we hear of another even more horrific story.  It is so depressing that many people have simply chosen not to listen to the news.  This is somewhat like the proverbial Ostrich hiding its head in the sand.  The problem here is that the rest of its posterior is still above ground and in plain view.  No matter how hard we try – these problems are not going to go away.  We all wish they would.  So what should we do?  Listen to what the scripture has to say in II Timothy, chapter 3; “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God-having a form of godliness but denying its power.  Have nothing to do with them.”   There is more that follows, but you get the point.  These are tough times.  In response to such out-of-control times, the apostle Paul tells young Timothy, “but as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of…and how from infancy you have know the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus, (vs.14:ff).”

This is the answer to these “terrible times,” to sink the roots of our faith in God and the salvation He has provided to us through his son Christ Jesus, ever deeper.  To grow everyday in the grace and knowledge of the Lord.  Like Timothy, the longer I live, the more I am “convinced” of the truth of God’s Word, the Gospel of Jesus Christ as revealed to us through his written word, the Bible.

I understand how those feel who simply want to turn off the news and hide their head in the sand, so to speak.  Sometimes I feel the same way.  It is good to have balance at such times – to shut off the constant bad news and turn on the good news by opening the Word of God and drinking deeply from the well spring of his Good News – such hope – so refreshing.

Listen to these beautiful prayers and verses from the Bible so full of hope and faith:

“O Lord, be gracious to us; we long for you.  Be our strength every morning, our salvation in time of distress…He will be the sure foundation for your times..,” (Isaiah 33:2&6).

Perfection

“Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”      Matthew 5:48

Every time I read this verse, I become more aware of just how imperfect I am.  Most of us do not want to think about this.  It means we have to face mistakes and poor decisions we have made.  The Lord’s command in this very short, very important verse is just that – a command.  So why would He tell us to do something so difficult, actually insisting on it? Because we are never to stop trying to be the best people we can be, to be pleasing to our creator & Lord. This non-optional command to “be perfect…,” summarizes the Lord’s teaching in the preceding and following chapters and verses regarding how we are to live our lives as believers. He tells us to be “salt and light” and covers such important human matters as marriage, divorce, hatred, anger, revenge, taking oaths, talking too much, prayer, fasting and loving the unlovable, judging others, worrying and more.  Let’s keep trying to be perfect and to be like our Heavenly father who is perfect.

New Year, New Resolutuion

I have decided, made-up my mind, to stop wasting God given time.  My niece Bobbi graciously set-up this blog for me long ago. Her husband Tim provided the beautiful photo.  Until now, I have done nothing with it.  Time to change.  Many things change; seasons, people, technology, leadership, opinions, times and time itself. But there is something, no not something, but someone who never changes – God.  “He will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation, wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure,”  (Isaiah 33:6).  Read everyday, this one Bible verse alone, would change our lives.  I received some wonderful gifts for Christmas, including being together with my family. The greatest gift of all is the time God has given to serve Him.  From now on I want to get to know him more, to unlock the treasure of which Isaiah wrote. It is time. I have decided.