Being Bold for Christ

It seems appropriate that Billy Graham passed away during the Olympics.  After all he had run a good race, had run with endurance and had fought the good fight!  Now, he could receive the accolades due him, not a gold medal, but a crown of glory and Jesus welcoming him into Heaven with these words, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”

I want to hear those words some day myself.  There are days I forget that we are all just “travellers” in this world, just passing through until we are ushered into eternity.  We will all receive our just reward at the end of our earthly lives.  For those who believe in Jesus through faith, our heavenly reward awaits us, to those who reject Him, eternal separation from God will result.  Billy Graham understood that message and his mission was to ensure that he boldly proclaimed the Gospel so that “none should perish”. (2 Peter 3:9)

Graham wrote concerning Judgment Day, “The Bible says there will be only one question on that day – what did you do with Jesus? You don’t go to hell for drinking liquor, you don’t go to hell for using profanity – you go to hell for rejecting Christ!”

From “The Faithful Christian.”

It is the sin of unbelief that Jesus speaks about in John 8: 21-24.  To reject that Jesus is the Son of God, condemns a person to hell.  We don’t like to talk about the consequences of rejecting Jesus in our overly tolerant, feel good society.  We want to believe that ALL good people will go to Heaven as if they have somehow earned that right.  Graham didn’t mince words.

“Heaven is real and hell is real, and eternity is but a breath away.”

“Why is it that the cross has become the symbol of Christianity? It is because at the cross Jesus purchased our redemption and provided a righteousness which we could not ourselves earn.”

Graham knew that there would come a time of judgment for all of us.

“Hundreds of passages point to a time of judgment for every person who has ever lived—none will escape. If you took all the references to judgment out of the Bible, you would have little Bible left.

God has offered His love and mercy and forgiveness to men. From the cross, God has said to the whole world, “I love you.” However, when that love is deliberately rejected, the only alternative is judgment…

Here is the judgment toward which every person outside of Christ is headed. God has already set the date. All people, of all races and nationalities, both past and present, will be there. You may make and break appointments in this life, but this is one appointment you are going to keep.

In “that day” the books will be opened, the Bible says. Those who have not accepted Christ—whether they were rich or poor, titled or common, old or young, healthy or ill, sound of body or crippled, famous or obscure—will be revealed for all to see. What a terrifying moment for millions when the books are opened at the judgment!

This is the day that Jesus referred to in the Sermon on the Mount: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” (Matthew 7:21-23).

Even people who did the work of the Lord will be included. They were busy in the church. They did many wonderful works. But Jesus Himself will say, “I never knew you.” What a dreadful thing! They thought their own good works would save them. It should sober us to realize that some day Jesus Christ will be Judge. “For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son” (John 5:22).”  (The Justice of God – Billy Graham)

It is an urgent message.  It is a message that people openly criticize and condemn.  Their humanistic sensibilities will not allow them to believe that to reject Jesus Christ, is to ultimately condemn “good” people to hell.  Christians are vilified for saying it.  Many can’t believe that a God of “love” is capable of judging people so harshly.  However, Graham understood he could not withhold the truth from his audiences even if it made them angry or offended.  He asked in every one of his crusades, “Are you prepared to meet God at the judgment? Because, you see, we don’t have very much longer to live.”

He knew time was short.  Those who die in their sin of unbelief are lost for eternity.  It is the harshness of this reality that should drive all Christians to share their faith so that their family, friends and neighbours may hear and accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour.  We don’t want them to be separated from the love of God!

I have been challenged recently to be more bold in sharing my faith online and in person.  James McDonald describes what it means to be Biblically bold for Christ:

“Biblical boldness for Christ is a fountain that bursts forth from a satisfied soul. Even when facing the authorities, Peter overflows with the Gospel, referring to Jesus seven times in Acts 4:10-12 concluding with, “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Boldness springs from something that is happening deep inside. Jesus Christ has changed my life. Everything that I was looking for and longing for, I found in Him. I have the forgiveness of sins and the promise of eternal life. I have a peace that passes understanding. I have a love for people whom I should hate. I have joy and a strength I knew nothing about, so how could I not try to tell others that they can have it, too? That is boldness!”

Dr. Graham had that Biblical boldness for Christ.  His voice is silenced now, but not his legacy.  I pray that we can continue the work Graham spent his entire life devoted to:  boldly proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world.

 

 

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Cleaning Lessons

House a Home

For the past couple of weeks, after our plumbing disaster, we have had our house cleaned from top to bottom.  My husband and I lived in a hotel for ten nights until the air quality in our home was deemed safe enough for us to return.  Great to be back in our home but there is still much cleaning going on around me.  Five very loud “air scrubbers” are still filtering out the soot particulates, and the cleaning team will continue to be on site for as long as it takes wiping down flat surfaces where soot continues to land despite all their best efforts.  Still, the team assures me, they will win the battle and I am so grateful for their hard work.  Really, my house has never been this clean!

The supervisor of the cleaning team met with us the other day and wrote down areas he wanted his workers to concentrate on this week and next.  As we chatted with him, he commented on how the team has grown to know and “love” our home and us through this cleaning process.  I was taken aback by the comment and he explained, “They have learned much about you by the pictures, items and such you have around your house.  They know what you value and place importance on and that’s why they have taken such time and attention to clean and care for this home.”

Wow!

I never realized how our personal décor items would have an impact on someone else until I realized he was especially commenting on the pictures of our family we display prominently, the cross stitched pictures that I sewed so many years ago that have scripture embroidered on them; a book case filled with study Bibles and books written by Christian authors.  The team has taken special note of all the ways we honour the Lord in our home and how we showcase our tight-knit family in the portraits that hang on the wall.

As we chatted with the supervisor, the Lord steered the conversation so we were able to share a little about our home church, and we quickly realized we were just watering the seeds that had already been planted by what they had already discovered about us by just cleaning our home!

Today, I have been chatting briefly with the three gals who are busily scrubbing down furniture and floors in what has become their bound and determined pursuit of ridding my home of soot.  They are some of the most pleasant, cheery gals I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting and getting to know.  Can’t say I’ve ever been this enthusiastic when I have had to clean my house on my own, but seeing them hard at work, doing a task that I have never really enjoyed but knowing that they care about my home as much as I do, gives me peace that all is in good hands!

When it is all said and done, our home, whether we purposed it or not, was another way to provide personal testimony and bring Glory to God.

Who knew??

Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.  In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.  And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.”  Ephesians 2:19-22

 

 

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Live and Learn

sooty handA year ago to the day, I wrote a poignant post entitled “Old Doors“.  I suggest you read that first before reading this one as it will add a lot of context to what I write about today.

Done?  Okay, let’s move on…

A week ago, we awakened to the realization that there was no heat in the house.  Having a boiler system, and in floor heating throughout our main floor, my husband quickly checked our boiler and deduced it needed a bit more work than he was capable of fixing.  So we called our plumber who sent a young apprentice to do the job, which involved cleaning out the boiler.  All was going well until this young man started using a compressor to blow out all the years of “goop” that the boiler had accumulated.  Our boiler room is small and is located just below our kitchen nook in what we kindly refer to as “The Pit”.  There’s no ventilation per se, and soon what was blowing out of that pit was all the goop our boiler once contained.  Unfortunately, from there it spread like a sooty cloud throughout the house, settling on the inside and outside of every surface, linen, nik-nak…you name it, it was covered!

After the plumber got the boiler working and then left, my husband, bless his heart, said cheerily to me that the house merely required a “wipe down” and he went off to work leaving me with the clean up.  I took one look at the gargantuan task before me and immediately had a melt down of seismic proportions.  When my hand came away black, just in touching my kitchen counters, I knew that Super Woman herself would not be able to tackle this mess without considerable help.  The cleaning service I called agreed with me saying, they would consider it like a “fire restoration” project that would require EVERY nook and cranny be cleaned and the air “scraped” to get rid of the soot particulates that were contaminating my home.  He didn’t give me a cost for this clean up but suggested I contact our insurance company pronto.

Okay, jump ahead to today.  My husband and I were told by our insurance company that it was probably not a good thing to live in our home, breathing in that sooty air, so we’ve been living in a hotel only five minutes from our house for the past week.  Our meals, hotel and cleaning expenses are all being covered, and for that we are incredibly thankful. My entire home, from top to bottom, is being thoroughly cleaned like it’s never in the 24 years of living there EVER been cleaned before!

I told the team today, when we went to check on how things were progressing, that I will have a hard time living up to this standard of cleaning my home in the future!  They laughed, but I was serious!  They were in the process of shampooing all rugs and upholstery today.  Yesterday all my bedding was carted away to be dry-cleaned, as well as all throw pillows, quilts, doilies, linens and curtains.  All walls, floors and ceilings were in the process of being wiped down.  The air was being “scraped” by two large machines that trap and filter the air.  My daughter’s collector porcelain dolls were being cleaned by hand off site.  All our other “stuff” had been cleaned to rid our home of the black soot that danced about our house in wild abandon when our plumber fixed one problem but without realizing it, created a bigger, more devastating one.

And so, I am sitting here in this hotel room, tapping out this post, not knowing when I can return to my home, and wondering how I should respond to this little “glitch” in my life circumstances.

Inconvenience?

To be sure, I think about how we have been inconvenienced by this, but if we focus on that, we will be complaining and whining about something that is really out of our control.  There is really no point in dwelling on the inconvenience of this.  “Go with the flow”, is one of my husband’s favourite expressions and that’s what we’re doing.

Blame?

Thank goodness for insurance companies, ours and our plumber’s.  It’s a costly “live and learn” lesson for that young apprentice, and the plumbing company he works for. I am hopeful that lessons have been learned and steps will be taken so a soot-containment-field will be in place the next time a boiler is cleaned out.  Not sure what that might entail but I’m sure our plumber is already working on it.

Thankfulness!

You know the quip, “It could have been worse”?  Well, it could have been worse!  I don’t like to think about it much because it’s already tough to sleep here at this hotel without letting my mind run away with those “what if” scenarios running around in my head.  I am concentrating on being thankful, especially for those who are working so hard to get our house back in order and the air safe to breathe again.

Lastly, I am praising God, that no matter what my circumstances, He comforts me with His Word and calms my anxious heart.

…and today, as I was skimming through some Scripture verses this one just jumped off the page at me:

“My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest.”  Isaiah 32:18

One needs to read the entire chapter for the context here, but how precious is God’s Words of comfort to me today!

 

 

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