Tornado Kills 10 in Mississippi — Acts of God

A monster tornado that was nearly a mile wide ripped through Mississippi killing 10 and injuring more than a dozen more. Homes, businesses, trees, and churches were devastated by the storm that struck to the Northwest of the city of Jackson. (Read more about it in an AP article)

It’s interesting to me that these types of incidents are often called “acts of God.” Not that God couldn’t use a tornado for His purposes if He chose to but…

When the disciples and Jesus were making their way across the sea and a storm broke, they awoke Jesus because they were frightened. The Bible says that Jesus,  “…arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still.” (Mark 4:39) Why would Jesus, the Son of God, rebuke anything that was an act of God? It doesn’t make sense. (see Matthew 12:25) The word Jesus used to rebuke the storm, “be still,” is translated in the Greek to literally mean “be muzzled.” It is the same word that Jesus used to rebuke demons. The storm was initiated, not by God, but by Satan. When storms come our way it’s important to keep in mind that Satan is the prince of this world. (John 12:31)

During storms, it’s also essential to remember the words of Jesus,

In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

John 16:33

For more information visit JonCourson.com and ApplegateFellowship.org

Cat Found — Video

Last summer Robin Alex left town to do some volunteer work for Habitat for Humanity. Alex made arrangements with a cat-sitting friend to take care of her cat, Charles, until she returned. Both Robin Alex and her friend live in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Unfortunately while Robin was gone, Charles the cat disappeared.

As the days, weeks, and months passed, Robin Alex gave up any hope of finding Charles. But then last week she received some good news. Charles the cat was found.

In Chicago.

Charles was on death row, 1300 miles from home in a Chicago animal shelter, when a worker there noticed that Charles had a computer chip implanted under his skin identifying him as belonging to Robin Alex. Robin Alex was contacted and arrangements were made to fly Charles the cat back home to Albuquerque.

Wow, now that gives new meaning to the term ‘stray cat.’

Have you drifted away from your relationship with Jesus? Have you prioritized your time and energy toward other things in life to the neglect of your walk with the Lord? Even as Robin and her cat were reunited, you’ll be reunited with God, no matter how far you may stray. It’s just a matter of time before He makes arrangements for your reunification and reconciliation with Him.

Why fight Him? Return to you first love. Plug into church. Spend time in God’s word. Pray. Reconcile. He desires that you draw close to Him. He desires to draw close to you.

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:38, 39

Teens Find Dead Body During Easter Egg Hunt

In Des Moines, Iowa, a couple of teenagers were participating in an Easter egg hunt in Des Moines park. In their quest for eggs they wandered off a bit from the main group and found something they didn’t expect — a dead body. (see KCCI Des Moines for more)

On the original Easter Jesus’ followers were also surprised but for a different reason. They came expecting a dead body but found none.

Jesus has risen.

Praise God.

After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.

There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.

The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”

So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

Matthew 28:1-10

The Kitchen’s on Fire — How God prepares us

So my son, Gabe, is sitting peacefully on his couch a few nights ago when his wife bursts into the room and hollers something to the effect of, “Honey, the kitchen’s on fire!” He jumps off the couch and runs out to the kitchen to find that a pot of cooking oil is on fire. No problem, he just checked his fire extinguisher less than two months ago — he knows right where it is and that it’s charged and ready to go. So he runs past the stove to the room with the extinguisher.

It only takes a few seconds to grab it but by now the fire is climbing up the wall behind the stove. No problem, Gabe, extinguisher in hand, pulls the pin, aims at the base of the fire, squeezes the handle, and…

Nothing.

Oh the little challenges life throws at us… Here’s Gabe in his 100 year old house (no exaggeration, it really is 100 years old) that’s on fire, with a fire extinguisher in his hand that’s of no use, except perhaps as a boat anchor. As anyone in the fire service knows, 100 year old houses are tinder dry and burn like a pile of kindling. So by now the fire has climbed up the wall and is already starting to roll across the ceiling. Gabe grabs a cutting board and tries to cover the pan with it but it’s too hot. He can’t get close enough to the pot. He presses forward but suffers first degree burns to his forehead and hand in his attempt.

Plan ‘A’ no go, plan ‘B’ not working, hopefully Gabe can put this fire out before he runs out of letters in the alphabet.

He runs out the back door where the garden hose is, quickly he turns on the spigot, runs back into the house and instantly recalls something. As I listened to Gabe tell the story I’m thinking, “Something he learned from his firefighter father perhaps?” But no, of course not. Rather he recalled something he’d recently seen on TV. Some dramatic film footage of what happens when water hits burning cooking oil. It looks something like a miniature atomic explosion.

So very carefully, Gabe aims the garden hose stream at the wall and ceiling, avoiding flowing any water into the pot of burning oil. As the fire on the wall and ceiling are knocked down he’s able to get closer to the stove top. With the garden hose in one hand, and the cutting board in the other, Gabe covers the pot of burning oil with the cutting board.

Fire’s out, game over, house saved, thanks to God’s grace, and Gabe’s quick thinking and cool head.

I find it interesting that Gabe happened to see that film footage of what happens when water hits burning oil just a few weeks before he needed that bit of wisdom. God has a way of preparing us for the future He’s laid out for us.

Next time you’re enduring a trial or tribulation take heart. God is more concerned with your eternal condition than he is with your current comfort. He loves us enough to prepare us for what is to come. Consider how God prepared David for his battle with Goliath.

Before David slew Goliath king Saul said,

“You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a boy, and he has been a fighting man from his youth.”

But David said to Saul, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God.

1 Samuel 17:33-36

Applegate Christian Fellowship

Vision

20-20, 20-30, 20-50… Steve Holcomb, the U.S. Olympic bobsled driver had learned to compensate for his deteriorating vision. With the help of powerful prescription contact lenses he continued to lead the U.S. bobsled team to success in a variety of competitions. But his vision continued to gradually deteriorate due to a disease called keratoconus — eventually reaching 20-500. When your vision hits 20-500 it means you’re six inches from the eye chart so you can read the big ‘E’ at the top. Finally, after years of seeking help from a variety of eye doctors, he was ready to retire. Though he had learned to drive his bobsled mostly by feel, he was becoming increasingly concerned for the safety of his teammates.

Just when things looked hopeless his coach found a doctor who was performing an experimental procedure that looked like the answer. One problem — money. The Beverly Hills doctor, Boxer Wachler, identified Holcomb as a candidate for the surgery but Holcomb, who earns his living as a computer technician, couldn’t afford the $15K to get the job done. Fortunately for Steve Holcomb and U.S. bobsled fans the U.S. Bobsled Federation and the U.S. Olympic Committee decided to pay the doctor bill. After the ten minute surgery, Steve Holcomb’s vision was nearly 20-20. (see USA Today)

And the result? An Olympic gold medal for the U.S.A. The first U.S. gold medal in the bobsled in 62 years. (see KansasCity.com)

Your Life:

The Bible states that

Where there is no vision the people perish…

Proverbs 29:18

Are you a mother, a father, a coach, a teacher? Or do you have leadership responsibility in some other area of your life? Pray for vision from the Lord for those He’s placed in your care. After receiving vision from Him, communicate that vision to those who will be impacted. Many don’t realize that communicating God’s vision to your kids, your students, whoever God’s entrusted you with, is one of the most important things you must do as a leader. Prayerfully try it for awhile and watch what God does in your relationships. Consider the following excerpt from Traveler and the Chaplain:

The Chaplain leaned back and said, “Ahhh, casting God’s vision. The most effective leaders I’ve ever known start by talking to as many key people as possible one on one. Jesus did this when he asked the twelve to become his disciples. Then they meet with their leadership team as a group and collaborate on the vision or idea. This enables the leader and his leadership team to finally present his or her vision or idea to the general group with one heart.” (Bill Hybels, Courageous Leadership)
“Leadership team?”
“It has to do with fruit. I’m sure we’ll get to it shortly.” The Chaplain said patiently.
“All those meetings sound like a lot of time and talking…”
“And listening too. Remember that you’re not Jesus,” the Chaplain said smiling. “God will use the people you talk with and listen to, to communicate His will to you and to expand your vision. It’s important to filter everything you hear through the scriptures, but start by patiently listening to what people have to say, and then share the vision God’s given you.”
“Sounds like a lot of work.” Traveler said.
“True, but that’s what it takes to communicate ideas or vision effectively. A leader with a calendar full of one on one appointments is usually one who is an effective communicator of vision.” (Bill Hybels, Courageous Leadership)

From Traveler and the Chaplain.

Helping Haiti — the rewards are great — an insider look

“Any time I’ve done something like this I find that I’m the one who winds up being blessed.”

I wrote that in a previous post, New 9/11 Photos From Helicopter , referring to a trip I made to help out in New York after 9/11. This photo is of a friend, Kellen Knott, (and one of his new found friends). He’s been job hunting and as you know, in this economy, job hunting is quite a challenge. In late January Kellen was fortunate enough to get an interview for a Paramedic position with an ambulance company — he was elated! Then, immediately after his interview, he was contacted by the nonprofit group Medical Teams International and asked to join a team headed for Haiti. Traveling to Haiti would be a once in a lifetime opportunity but what about the job? To complicate matters, Portland Fire Department is accepting applications. If he went to Haiti he’d miss that opportunity as well.

Kellen prayed about it and sought wise counsel from people older and more wise than himself, and, decided to go.

For an inside look at Kellen’s great adventure go to Kellen’s Blogspot.

Your Life:

If you go to Kellen’s blog you’ll find that while he sacrificed a couple of great job opportunities his rewards in Haiti have more than compensated. I doubt that he has any regrets. These types of trips are often life changing. If you ever have the opportunity to go…

Go.

Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.

Proverbs 11:25

Haiti Earthquake Aftermath – Video

The video from the Miami Herald is the first one I’ve seen that really tells the story of the quake aftermath in Haiti.

Your Life:

1) A good place to donate to the cause in Haiti is Samaritan’s Purse. I worked for these folks in New York City after 9/11. They’re run by Franklin Graham and in my experience have proven to be a solid charity.

“You are to receive the offering for me from each man whose heart prompts him to give.”

Exodus 25:2

2) Go. I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “Go?! Are you crazy?” If you feel led by the Holy Spirit to do it, hook up with a church group, or lead your own church group, buy a plane ticket, and go. It can be done. I’ve seen church groups do it. I’ve done it myself and it always happens that when you go to bless someone else you wind up being blessed beyond what you thought possible yourself. That has been my experience and the experience of anyone I’ve ever spoken with who has taken that plunge. You can do it!

Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

James 2:14-17

3) Pray — as always. Pray for the people of Haiti. Remember that God is in the business of producing beautiful and fruitful things from tragedy.

Pray without ceasing.

1 Thessalonians 5:17

4) It’s good to give however don’t give to the exclusion of your church family or biological family. Most of the scriptures about giving are in the context of helping those in your own faith. Jesus said,

“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.”

John 13:34

and

“By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”

and

“This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.”

John 15:12

and

“These things I command you, that ye love one another.”

John 15:17

Haiti 7.0 Earthquake — Link to Local Missionary Family twitter

The video is from a news broadcast covering the Haiti 7.0 magnitude earthquake. The strength of the quake in combination with building construction practices there have resulted in widespread devastation. 9.7 million people live in Haiti.

Your Life:

For information about how you can help and for updates from a missionary family who lives there go to http://livesayhaiti.blogspot.com/ .

For up to the minute twitter updates from same family go to http://twitter.com/troylivesay .

9.7 million people…   pray.

Parents Arrested for Home Schooling

OK, so these parents, Richard and Mary Cressy of Glen, NY, didn’t follow the law and register their four home schooled children or their curriculum with the local school district. But having them arrested? Really? Check out the CBS story at: http://www.cbs6albany.com/news/district-1269895-school-county.html

Perhaps I’m missing something. Couldn’t the school district send out a representative to educate the Cressys about their responsibility rather than sending out the sheriff to arrest them?

Chilling.

Your Life: This story really irks me. Treating decent people like criminals… And what makes it worse is that our society sometimes treats dangerous criminals like hotel guests. While it may be quite a tough pill to swallow, I believe the answer to how you or I should respond in such a situation is found in Matthew 22:20-22. When the Pharisees attempted to trap Jesus into either breaking the Roman law or going against the sentiment of the people by paying tribute, Jesus handled it this way:

And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? They say unto him, Caesar’s. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s. When they had heard these words, they marvelled, and left him, and went their way.

Unless it would violate God’s law, we need to obey those in authority over us. Even when the authorities are, well, less than charming.

Helping the Poor

Just returned from church, Applegate Christian Fellowship, http://www.applegatefellowship.org/ , where I heard a most profound teaching from Matthew 25. The most intriguing part of Pastor Jon Courson’s, http://joncourson.com/ , teaching came when he reached the section of scripture that addresses the sheep and the goats. Jesus said,

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

“He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

Matthew 25:31-45

Many interpret this passage to mean that we should give to the indigent. However, pastor Jon believes that the idea here is that we should give to each other. Not that we should ignore giving to the indigent. In Mike Yankoski’s excellent book, Under the Overpass, http://www.undertheoverpass.com/uop/home.php , Mike and a friend spend five months on the street, homeless, in six U.S. cities. By the end of his adventure Yankoski is filled with compassion for the people on the street, however, even he says that we should use great discretion in our giving, avoiding cash, and offering food. And where is the emphasis in Jesus’ teachings? Did He not say, “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.” John 13:34 and “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” and “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.” John 15:12 and “These things I command you, that ye love one another.” John 15:17

Leadership Take-away: Lead with love. Upon examination of Jesus’ commandment it seems pretty clear what we are to do. In these difficult economic times some of us are really hurting, and some of us still have some ability to help. No Christian should go without during this trying economic season. If you can help, love your brother by giving what you can. And show some initiative, ask your church leadership who is hurting. Most people in your church family aren’t going to approach you with their hand out. Help them find work if you can, offer to pay a bill, or invite their family over for a meal.

Yes we should, according to the leading of the Holy Spirit and with discernment, help those in need on the street, but let’s heed the commandment of Jesus first, “…love one another.” John 15:17