How close are you to God?

sam_0851 (2)Have you ever driven across a prairie and note a mountain in the distance?
At first, the mountain seems very small. But as you drive on, and come closer to the mountain, you are astonished to see how rapidly it seems to grow.

Really, the mountain isn’t growing. It is still the same size as when you first saw it. The difference is that you have drawn closer to the mountain.

This is what takes place when God “increases” in our life. He is the same God to all men. But to some, He seems little, shriveled up, impotent, a God who can scarcely be expected to do anything that really matters.

The reason for this is that these people are living too far away from him! This is why we are instructed, “Draw nigh to God.” (James 4:8). (A. A. Allan: “The Price of God’s Miracle Working Power” pp. 93.)

Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” (James 4:8, NIV)

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Missionary road rage

Kilgoris crusade Saturday 001In a red-hot rage, George grabbed an African spear that he kept in his car and flung it towards the window of the minibus. The spear did not hit anybody, but shame filled his heart while he continued his drive home. When he arrived and turned off the engine, his wife said, “I will never sit in this car with you again until you repent!”

George (name changed), a missionary church planter, was in the middle of building a effective church in the Kenyan town. What had happened to him? What caused him to vent his anger on a bus?

Kenyan busses, in George’s opinion, were crazy and often came so close to causing major accidents. Making his blood boil would be an understatement. As the years wore on, his resentment toward the drivers mounted.

On this day, the minibus dangerously overtook him, endangering him and his family. He grabbed the spear thinking he would teach the driver a lesson.
George later shared this experience with us at a missionary meeting. He humbly said, “You know, you take your attitudes with you.”

True. If you are bitter toward people and you don’t deal with the bitterness, that bitterness will follow you, even if you move to the other side of the world.

He said, “I have seen missionaries that got bitter towards the African people and always criticized them. When they got back to America, they began criticizing their own people. They were always unhappy.” He went on to say, “I had to repent and get right with God that day.”

Yes, he admitted, that he still got upset with the minibus drivers, but the change in his attitude allowed him to love them.

“But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.” –Colossians 3:8 (NIV)

What aggravates you? Have you tried to leave problems behind you by moving or changing your environment? Attitudes move with you until you deal with them in the presence of God!

Repent, forgive, and let go.

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The crocodile named Saddam

Yk1rQ2pfdgBouncing on our toes, our little girls looked through the strong metal fence. The huge crocodile lay in his cage. Several scars from battles covered his body.

Our Kenyan guide said, “His name is Saddam.”

Named after Saddam Hussein, the dictator of Iraq at that time. The guide of this park in Mombasa went on to explain they had named this croc after Saddam because he would fight any other crocodile they put him with. He was just plain dangerous, but in the isolation of that cage, he seemed so harmless.

A year or two later Saddam Hussein was taken captive by American forces. He was found alone in hiding. When the entourage and the bodyguards were all gone, when his influence had been stopped, he seemed just like a normal person. He was like the caged crocodile in Kenya.

2 Corinthians 10:4-6 says, “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds… we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete.” (NIV)

When our thoughts are allowed without godly restraint, they become like little dictators in our lives. One thought influences other thoughts. Soon a devilish stronghold is formed. These strongholds can seem invincible. Alcohol or drug abuse, or any other addiction, are protected by lies, deception, and theft. One sin assists and strengthens the other.

But … we have weapons that can demolish strongholds! If you actively take each godless thought captive and put it in confinement, all its dictator power is gone.

Get in the presence of God. In prayer, let the Holy Spirit show you what sins are dictating your life. Take sides with God against yourself and repent.

God has victory for you!

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Commanding rats!

ZUBiR2VfAll the rental houses in our area suffered a common problem—rats. They destroyed everything. Food, clothing, and many other items in our houses were no longer safe. The families on both sides kept their food in big metal drums to keep the rats out. If something wasn’t put in the drum, it was eaten by the rats.

Not suspecting anything, my wife and I moved into one of these rental homes in the middle of Addis Ababa when we were married.
One day my wife found our special piece of cloth to clean our njera (Ethiopian food) oven eaten up and damaged beyond use. We knew one of the rats had gnawed it.

My wife thought for a while and said, “This will never happen again! I command you rats to never eat anything that is ours again. In Jesus name.”
She spoke these words by faith. And to our amazement, the rat problem disappeared. Six years later, still no problems. None of our possessions have been eaten.

Interestingly, our neighbors on both sides still struggle with the rats to this day. Sometimes we see the rats go from one side to the other, but they pass our house without touching anything.

This testimony was submitted by Yonas Negate.

“Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” –Mark 11:23,24 (NIV)

Never underestimate the power we have in Jesus Christ. Believe it. Use it.

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The shortcut I wish I hadn’t taken

YUJiQWZacAImagine that you bought a beautiful house complete with beautiful and expensive landscaping. You are proud of this new home.

As you come home from work the first day, you realize the sidewalk to the front door is long, so you take a little shortcut across the lawn. When you reach the door, you look back at the lawn and cannot see any footprints in the grass. It looks just as beautiful as before. Before you know it, you have made it a habit to take the shorter way across the lawn.

A few months later as you pull into the driveway, you see the ugly path across your lawn. The beauty of the landscape has been disfigured by your habit. You hate what you see and soon call the landscapers to fix it. You understand that to solve the problem, you must change your ways.

Most sins are like walking across that beautiful lawn. The first time you peek at pornography, it seems like nothing has been affected. Your married hasn’t suffered. So you do it again. And again. And again. Until the months become years. One day you realize a deep path has been worn in all that you hold dear. Your marriage is falling apart. Your friendships are suffering. You have been living a lie because of your addiction.

Romans 6:22 In the NLT says, “But now you are free from the power of sin and have become slaves of God. Now you do those things that lead to holiness and result in eternal life.”

The work of Jesus on the cross gives you power over sin. Don’t make a path that you will regret.

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Christmas surprise

YkxhRWFdSometimes crazy things happen at Christmas. Leanne Carter was rushed to the hospital with stomach pains one Christmas Day. The 21-year-old didn’t know what caused the discomfort but was shocked when doctors revealed the source of her pain—she was in labor.

According to the story on trend-chaser.com, the baby was born to a surprised but happy mother. She had no inkling she was pregnant and had experienced no symptoms other than the stomach pains. That’s one way of receiving a surprise Christmas present!

God has a way of surprising us with His abundant blessings. I remember the year my mother came up with the ridiculous idea of ”not just focusing on ourselves this Christmas.”. She gathered us together to go caroling to old and lonely people in our town.

I didn’t want to go. I wanted to stay home and celebrate Christmas our usual way. My attitude stunk, and I wasn’t shy about showing it. And I threatened not to go.

Margret, one of the missionary ladies, came over to me and said,” Chris, are you not willing to sacrifice just a little for Jesus at Christmas? Think of all that He has done for you.”

Those words hit me right in the heart. Of course, I was willing to sacrifice for Christ! I quickly got my attitude in check and off we went.

We sang carols and prayed with several elderly folk and had no idea how much it would mean to them. I remember singing at a lonely old couples’ home. They did not know Christ, but when we started singing, the man sang at the top of his voice. He could not hit the notes. When we finished, he and his wife did not want us to leave. They kept asking us to sing one more song. We made their Christmas.

Then it hit me—no longer was it an offering to spend our Christmas this way. It was pure joy. A little offering turned into an unexpected and abundant blessing!

Here is my advice: This Christmas, sacrifice for Jesus. He did for us. We can do for Him as well. It is worth!

1 John 4:10 in the NIV says, “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”

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The words he wished he never said

yknjrgpqdq.jpgAn air of excitement permeated the crowd in southern Germany to witness this grand baptismal service. It was a time of revival where the young church movement was growing fast. Little churches were springing up everywhere, according to early fathers of the Pentecostal movement in southern Germany.

A long line of baptismal candidates stood dressed in white. Among those in the line was a disabled person. He needed help to get in the water. People sang and the presence of God was strong. He professed Jesus as Lord and was immersed in the waters of baptism.

People could not believe what happened next.

When he came out of the water, the joy of God was all over him. He realized every crippling bone in his body had been healed. He jumped up and down, flailed his arms, celebrating God’s goodness.

The miracle reminded those of Naaman the Syrian who had dipped himself in the Jordan seven times and was healed from leprosy.

The man in Germany Naaman climbed out of the water without any assistance and full of joy. When he got to the top of the stairs, his face changed. The joy seemed to have vanished.

“Oh, but what about my disablement pension?” he said, knowing he would have to return to full-time work.

As those words came out of his mouth, his healing disappeared. He was disabled again and needed help off the stage.

I am sure he regretted those words the rest of his life.

Proverbs 18:21 says, “The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences.” (NLT)

Are your words faith building? Do they build people up or tear them down?

You can be killing your family without ever using a weapon. Be a faith builder who brings great glory to God!

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