Wednesday, November 28, 2018

The Rescue Begins


     Drowning. Engulfed in flames. Enemies rapidly overtaking. In this type of situation you are consumed by one thought: rescue. And the sooner the better. Dramatic events like these demand a swift, certain, absolute rescue. A hero, a savior, brave, bold, a true knight in shining armor is the only one who will do.

   Flooded by doubt. Burning with guilt. Continual attacks by the enemy. Do these demand a rescue, too? Even more so.
"“I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him."" Luke 12:4-5 NIV
Tales of climatic escapes thrill us. But the greatest one ever began on Christmas night. Every good rescue needs a hero, and the greatest One ever to grace the printed page had a very humble beginning.

 We don't like to admit that we need rescuing at times. We want to prove our self-sufficiency. Earn our way to salvation. But we need a hero. No, we need a Savior.

  And on Christmas we got a brave, bold, humble, honorable, King. No mere knight would do-not even one from the mythical Round Table. No, this one came straight from heaven.

  His mission: to save us. He never wavered from the goal-to give His very life to rescue mine. A fate far worse than a burning building threatened, the very fires of hell cast shadows on my soul. And if that doesn't seem very Christmas-y to you, then you don't really understand what Christmas means.

"Since by the one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive the overflow of grace and the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ." Romans 5:17 CSB

    Death was winning. Sin was overcoming. Hell was literally about to break loose.

But Jesus.


  Christmas is so much more than we have allowed it to be. Christmas is the beginning of the most dramatic rescue ever told-yours! Through the gift of Christ we are SAVED.

"Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!" 2 Corinthians 9:15 CSB 

  Are you on the edge of your seat yet? Are you biting your nails? Is your heart beating out of your chest? Are there tears in your eyes? This is the time-you have heard this story before, but this time do you see it? There He is-center stage, everything is falling in to place.

"Rise up and help us;    rescue us because of your unfailing love." Psalm 44:25 NIV

He came to save...

 "He sent out His [W]ord and healed them; He rescued them from the grave." Psalm 107:20 NIV
Salvation is near...

"...[G]iving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of His holy people in the kingdom of light.
 For He has rescued us
 from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins." Colossians 1:12-14 NIV 
This Christmas don't be distracted. Don't look away. Don't miss it. It's the most important opening to any story, ever.

The Rescue Begins...

for you.


Saturday, November 24, 2018

To Jocelyn, On Your 13th Birthday

Dear Jocelyn,
                  I think you pretty much know my viewpoint on the "teenage years". They aren't magical or exceptional, other than in the sense that they are a continuation on growing and maturing that you've been doing all along. Each year is a milestone, with it's own highlights and challenges. Adding "teen" to your age doesn't change that.

    And it doesn't have to turn you into someone you don't recognize. More than ever the world will demand that you turn your back on what you know is true. It will lie and tell you this is the time to "try new things", code for rebel against, mock and twist the truth. It will tell you that you need to "find yourself". Don't listen, you know the Truth. His name is Jesus. You are *so* faithful to Him, and focusing on Him will never be a bad choice. It will always lead to real, abundant, life. These things have been true all your life and they won't change now. We have always encouraged you to learn all you can about Him, to listen to His leading, to believe that the Holy Spirit teaches you and guides you. Don't follow your heart, or your dreams! Those selfish desires will only lead you astray. Follow Him, follow His vision for you. Follow His heart. 

    You have amazed me your whole life with your passion for Christ. As you become more and more autonomous, gaining new abilities and responsibilities you will be able to do a wider variety of things for the Kingdom. You are already gearing up for some big opportunities, deciding to do hard things, trusting that He will go before and behind you. Keep saying "yes!" to Him.

    Your challenge is the same as it has always been: fighting the fear that everyone seems to think is necessary. That is the biggest lie you will hear. Fear is absolutely in contradiction to everything the Word teaches. Over and over we are told, "DO NOT BE AFRAID!" You do NOT have to fear-He is with you. I am learning this, too, but I am here to encourage you. I am here to remind you. I am here to stand beside you. I can't do if for you, but if I can, I'll go with you. If I can't, I will be waiting to hear your stories of victory through Christ, to cheer you on, and to bring the ice cream. 

    And never, ever forget how much your Dad and I love you. The hard things we make you do are to help you to continue to mature in who Christ wants you to be. Our chief desire for you is to grow in the love of the Lord and walk in His ways. Your education, your extracurricular activities, your free time, those are all tools to reach the goal: loving the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your strength. I have no expectations for you other than to follow His leading. 

   Make the most of Jesus. Leave the things of the world behind. I've said these things to you since you were born. These years ahead, they are just about continuing that journey. My fervent prayer for you is that in every way you will far surpass the faith that I have. I am always here to encourage you in that. I love you, my sweet, bright, lovable, Christ-like girl. That is never going to change.



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