I Survived and Lived to Be a Difference – #isalt

Over 80 years ago, there was a movement that would change the course of history.  A charismatic leader began to speak to the public, promising a life filled with happiness and security.  Many times, this leader would speak with children by his side to show his support of the furtherance of securing the children’s future.  The problem was not what was promised, but rather the method by which he felt this security and prosperity would occur.

In 1923, this same leader wrote a book, while in prison, called Mein Kompf (My struggle) where he filled the pages of why he hated Jews so much.  In this horrific text, Adolf Hitler gives his hate-filled explanation that Jews were the reason why Germany was in so much trouble.  Obviously, this was influenced by the Prince of Darkness, Satan, himself.  However, out of this terrible time period of history, influenced by evil, there were countless stories of survivors.

Some had survived mass military style executions.  Some had survived the concentration camps.  Others ran for their lives and hid while their families were gathered for execution.  Regardless of the stories, regardless of the circumstances surrounding their survival, there seems to be a common theme among each of these survivor stories – they survived and wanted to make a positive difference.

Have you gone through something so traumatic, so horrific that you wondered why you survived?  Do you think it may be possible that your survival was meant for something so much more?

These questions came to mind after my experience in 1993.  After I had survived an attack while someone was attempting to steal my car, I began to look at my life and ask myself some questions.  Why did I survive?  What was I supposed to learn from this?  How can this be used to benefit others?  I also began to look back at my life and realized something, God had been (and continues) protecting me all my life.

In 1972, as a young toddler, I pulled a piping hot coffee pot onto me.  I had been burned on most of my chest.  When I was a little bit older, I had a habit of climbing up into trees that swayed freely in the wind on branches that shouldn’t have held me.  As time went on, I had fought every day for 3 straight years because I had been fed up with being bullied.  Right after high school, I had made a trip to Haiti with my church only to find out that within minutes of taking off to leave Haiti, a coup had occurred and our safety would have been in jeopardy, had we stayed or been delayed.  Even after all of this, God allowed me to survive the attack in 1993.  It was because of this, I concluded that God had been saving me for a purpose.

As I began to pray and reach out to God, he graciously began to reveal why I had been allowed to survive.  He showed me the story of Peter drowning but surviving because Jesus Christ had pulled Peter to safety.  He showed me the stories of Paul, who was shipwrecked at sea and stoned for the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Both of these men had once rejected God, rejected the Savior and yet it was the same Jesus who called them into a relationship with him and allowed their survival to have a purpose, to make a positive difference in the lives of others.  It was through these stories that I realized my life was not my own.  In fact, my life was saved for the same reason as Paul and Peter, to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  However, before I could share the Gospel, I also needed to realize that my life was not where God wanted it to be either.  It was then I began to make the commitment to grow in the faith given to me so that I can help in fulfilling the greatest commission ever given to mankind:

“Therefore, go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” – Matthew 28:18-20 (NIV)

It was during this time of learning that I found out how inefficient I was at sharing the message of Jesus Christ.  God allowed me to realize I had preconceived ideas about people groups and philosophies.  He showed me that to neglect those who are considered the lowest of my time is to reject Jesus Christ and His message.  It was revealed to me that my prejudices, my dislikes were not toward a specific action but toward a people who were different than I.  How could I make a positive difference if I held so many sins in my life?

You see, I learned my life was an anger filled, hatred, bigoted and filled with lies.  I was able to convince people of things that never even happened in my life.  The process of learning who I was, was not easy.  It hurt.  It was very painful but it was necessary.  It was necessary for me to allow God to destroy the wickedness inside of me to produce a branch that had good fruit on it.  This good fruit would benefit others in a positive way by leading them back to the Savior.

Through Scripture I learned that I was a new creation in Christ.  The old me had passed away and the new me was birthed.  This then led me to the painful journey of evaluation.  I needed to ask God, what David asked of him, to destroy any wicked way in me.  From there, I needed to realize that those who tried to take my life, did so out of ignorance and blindness.  The book of Romans teaches that all have sinned and we all fall short of the glory of God.  Therefore, the only difference between me and my attackers were that Jesus called to me and I responded.  They have yet to respond to His calling.

After this, I learned that Jesus ate and spent time with people who were thought to be useless in society.  He had healed those who had ailments from birth, sickness for many years, people who were thought to be property and not people.  The leaders of his day asked how he could eat and spend time with such people.  It was then Jesus showed his compassion by saying that the sick need a doctor, so these people need him.

You and I need Jesus in our lives.  We need to rely on His power, His strength and His wisdom to get us through each and every day.  We may struggle with being a survivor, with anxieties and paranoia but we also are called by Jesus to be His because He loves us.  Survivors, like us, are meant for something bigger.

Over the past few years, I have watched as people I know have passed away for various reasons.  Some from cancer or accidents or old age.  I evaluated the lifestyles of each of these and came to the following conclusion….life and death are in the hands of God.  It is not up to us how long we live, it is up to God.

Being a survivor means, God has given us the opportunity to make a positive difference in the lives of others.  Being a survivor means, that we have a purpose greater than ourselves.  Being a survivor means we have been saved to share that experience with others to lead them straight to the cross of Jesus Christ.

If you ever wondered why your life was spared, read the book of Acts.  Read about those who survived many trials and tribulations, yet had the fortitude to proceed with the responsibility that God placed into their hands.

Hopefully, you and I can also live lives that God is not only pleased with but that will make a positive difference in others.  So what do you say?  Are you ready to begin the next phase of your journey?  Are you ready to help others?  Are you ready to share your story?

How has your survivor story positively influenced others?  Share your story in the comments box.

May God continue to use you as He sees fit.  God bless and encourage someone today.

The Northern Frontier Experience (Part 2)

As they followed the caravan of vehicles, the road was not as the dad had hoped it would be.  In the back, his son was laughing, laughing more than he ever imagined.  He hadn’t heard this kind of laughter in such a long time.  Although he enjoyed the laughter, he realized that the road was more important.

Up and down they drove.  Driving at no more than 10 mph, the car was tossed back and forth like a ship on rough seas.  Had he been wrong?  Had the brochure let him down?  This was not what he imagined.  He imagined a resort like complex that had the hint of wilderness.  Concentrating as hard as he could, he focused on the car ahead of him as it also weaved and bobbed.

After about a half hour, he thought to himself, “Where in the world are we?  What have we gotten into?”  It was then that he realized he and the rest of the caravan were on the right track.  He slowly passed a sign that read, “You’re not lost.  You’re almost there.”  That put him at ease for a moment.

Suddenly, the road seemed to get better.  The car was no longer doing the oceanic style rocking it had done before.  As they turned the corner, there seemed to be an opening.  To his right were boys playing.  To his right, trees.  However, straight ahead was another young man with a clipboard.  As he approached, the dad opened the car window and asked, “Is this Northern Frontier?”

The young man smiled and said, “Yes it is.  What is your name please?”

The dad told the young man his name.  The young man responded, “Sir, you and your son are in Cabin 1.  Please drop off your belongings at the mat to your right and park your car at the other end of the camp.  If you don’t know where that is, just make a left and keep on going.”

“Oh no”, the dad thought, “Another road trip.”  Systematically, the dad and his son, placed all their belongings on the blue mat in the small open field.  The dad had remembered the last time this occurred.  It was on an overseas business trip.  When he had arrived, he had asked for the next bus.  The person told him to place his belongings to the right and go with them.  When he returned, his belongings were gone.  Was this going to happen again and in the middle of the woods?

The dad and son complied and headed down to park the car.  After parking the car in the small lot at the other end of the camp, the dad and son walked back to where their belongings were.  The son smiled, and tried to talk with his dad, but his dad was enamored with the belongings they left on the blue mat.

Up and down small hills they walked.  The son was taken back by the beauty of the place, while the dad concentrated on the task at hand.  As they walked passed the big building in the center of the camp, the dad noticed one thing.  All of their belongings were exactly where they left them.  No tampering.  Nothing stolen.  This place was obviously different than what he had experienced before.

They took all of what they unloaded and proceeded to bring it to Cabin 1.  To the dad’s amazement, a tall, slim young man offered to help carry the sleeping bags or luggage.  Reluctantly, the dad said, yes and the young man lifted a couple of items and showed them to Cabin 1.

When they entered Cabin 1, the young man said, “Welcome to Northern Frontier.  My name is Jeff.  After you settle in, go to the office next to the cafeteria.  The office is next to the big building in the center of camp.”  With that, the young man turned and just walked away.  No desire for a tip.  Just a genuine young man that had a heart of gold.

As the dad and son unpacked their stuff, the dad was confounded by the images in his head.  Young men who showed genuine interest.  Young men who didn’t steal or lie.  Young men who showed that they cared about him and his son.  Curious, the dad and son decided this may be the best place they could have chosen.

However, what else did the camp have in store for them?  That will be tomorrow’s tale….

It’s the Truth of the Matter

This is a poll regarding the topic of truth.  Please take some time to look this over and vote.  No matter your view, your input is extremely important!!!!  Pass this along to your friends and family.  The more votes the better the results.  Thank you in advance for participating.

My Life is Jammed Again (Part 3)

It is amazing what happens to us when we go through trials.  Some people cry.  Some nervously laugh.  Some scream.  Yet few rejoice.  Why?  Probably it is because they do not like what they are going through.  In Part 3, we will find out how paper feels when it is copied onto.  Paper?  What does that have to do with life?

Remember, we are comparing a copy machine and its processes, to our own lives.  Well paper has a big part of that process.  Think about it, if you didn’t have paper, then what would the copier print to?  Nothing.  No viable, usable image.  Just a machine running and running producing nothing but noise and wasting toner and electricity.

Recently, I had a discussion with some different types of paper (not really but I imagined I did).  The paper told me that it hated what it had to go through once it was placed in the copy machine.  When I asked what bothered it, the paper told me this story.

“How would you feel if you were warm and cozy with your friends, bundled up and comfortable, when someone took you and your friends and placed you in a cold metal tray?  Then you were forced to leave by yourself, electrocuted and dirt was placed all over you.  Finally, as this was all happening so quickly, you went into a system that was extremely hot and two round object pressed all the air out of you.  How would that make you feel?”

So if that imaginary conversation actually happened how would you answer?  Would you sympathize with the paper and gloat in sorrow with it?  Would you say, “But you don’t understand why you need to go through that process.  You’re beautiful!”  Would you ignore the paper’s concerns and complaints and just try to make it smile?  No matter what you thought of there is a real opportunity here to understand that our lives compare fully with the paper’s experience of the copy process.

How many times have we suffered and said, “Why God, why?”  or “Why me and not someone else who deserves it?”  Many times in our lives, we go through a process where hard times meet hard circumstances.  We lose our jobs.  We find out we have cancer.  Someone we love dies suddenly and for no reason.  There is suffering in the world and we can’t escape it.  But there is hope.

“My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life.” – Psalm 119:50 (NIV 1984)

Did you see that?  Did you see what the psalmist said.  He said that he has comfort in suffering.  Why?  Because, he knows that God is preserving his life.  When you read the Psalms you will see many authors share their suffering experiences but in the end the hold to the fact that God will lead them through the dark times.

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” – Psalm 23:4 (NIV 1984)

Here David knew while King Saul was hunting him, David drew near to the realization that God was in control and was leading him through the trials.  We can hold to that as well.  Are we going to be sad?  Yes.  Are we going to be upset with the problems we face?  Absolutely.  Will we lose our patience and temper because of our suffering?  No doubt, but if you are a Christian, you can hold onto what Jesus told his disciples just before He ascended into heaven, “I am with you always, even to the very end of the age”.

Jesus wants to be a part of your suffering.  He understands our suffering.  He was beaten and crucified for our sin.  If you are not a Christian, my hope is that you will see that although our lives may be jammed again, Jesus wants us to come to Him with our messed up lives.  He wants to take part in whatever you are going through.  Come to Jesus and see that your life doesn’t have to be jammed all the time.

My Life is Jammed Again (Part 1)

Sometimes I feel like my life is full of happiness and joy and other times it feels like it is full of grief and strife.  Many times my grief and strife is because of my own pride and sinful behavior.  Sometimes circumstances, that are beyond my control, cause me pain and sadness.

If you have felt this way before, you are not alone.  Everyone goes through times of grief and strife, sadness and pain.  In all this, I want you to know that you are just like a copy machine.  A copy machine?  Yes a copy machine.

There are many aspects of a copy machine that replicate your life and mine.  In this first part, I will show you an aspect that we are not in control of, but is very important to understand, to appreciate the lessons later.  First and foremost, copy machines are manufactured for a specific purpose.

In all my years repairing copiers, I have found that each type of machine is manufactured specifically to achieve some sort of specific purpose.  All copiers are divided into segments.  A segment 1 machine you can typically find in your home.  A segment 6 machine you will most likely find in a professional print shop.  Each machine has its purpose.

Some copiers are meant to produce a small amount of black and white copies while others are meant to produce high quality color prints.  There are copiers that scan to email, while others produce books.  Almost everywhere you see a print, poster or book, most likely it was produced on some sort of print or copier device.

When a manufacturer produces a copier, they go through a lengthy process of asking themselves:

“What can I improve upon from the last copier?”

“What can I remove from the last copier?”

What does the customer wish to see?”

“How can we make this copier more profitable?”

These types of questions, guide the manufacturer in how they produce their specific copy machine.  In fact, did you know you were made that way?

In the Psalms, Kind David expressed, “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.” (Psalm 139:13-14 ESV)

Isn’t that awesome?  You and I have been “knitted” together.  Every strand of DNA has been placed there; every cell has been created, specifically for you.  Think about it for a minute.  The color of your eyes, the color of your hair, how tall (or in my case short) you, all specifically made just for you.  Science has also proven this to be fact.  If you ask a biologist about DNA they can explain that DNA are programmed with a specific function.  Yes, even our DNA is programmed specifically!

God has created us and we should know that we have a specific purpose in His mind.  Proverbs 16:4 states “The LORD has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble.”(ESV)  Even the wicked are made for a purpose.  Everything and everyone has a purpose, a specific purpose.

You and I are made by our Creator with specifics in His mind.  You and I are created by His hands, using His mind for His purpose.  For many years, people thought God was a judge or king sitting on a throne waiting for someone to do wrong so he can zap them with a lightning bolt or flood.  How mislead we are if we think that way.  God is not waiting for someone to mess up.  He is waiting for someone to open the door of their heart.

In Revelation 3:20 we see Jesus saying, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.”  He wants to have a relationship with you and I.  He is not waiting for us to screw up, but He is waiting for us to open our hearts and lives to him.

Just like a manufacturer creates a copy machine to do specific jobs, so you and I were made for a specific purpose in God’s mind and heart.  No matter how we may feel, no matter how our lives may be jammed, we must realize and know that God loves us and wants us to be in a relationship with Him.  Once we accept this, we then react by wanting and desiring to do His will, His purpose in our lives.  Do you feel like your life is jammed?  Look to God and ask Him, what purpose does my life have in your Kingdom?  Then wait, He will answer and remove the jam.