Doors of Destiny

I once heard the late Dr. Edwin Louis Cole say that life is a collection of entrances and exits. That really impacted me. He went on to say that life was like a collection of doors. When you go through a door you leave one room and enter another. Or you simply exit one realm and enter another. Ecclesiastes 3: 1 says there is an appointed time for everything. Some versions use the word "season". There is an appointed season for everything under the sun. There are entrances and exists at God's appointed time.

Our lives consist of successive entrances and exits. In order for you to get to work you must exit your home, enter your car, exit your car, and enter your workplace! Wow! Pretty deep huh? In order for you to exit your bedroom, you just may have to enter a hall or some other room in your home! Again, life is a succession of entrances and exits. Why is life like that? It is because we live and operate (for now) in a realm that is governed by time and seasons. The sun rises and the sun sets (while the earth rotates). Seasons come and seasons go (because the earth revolves around the sun). It is the very nature of changing seasons that keeps us moving forward toward our destiny. Here's a simple example. In order for your destiny to be fulfilled you must get from point A to point Z. You'll never get there unless you get to point B first. You'll never completely get to point Z by settling in at point M. With God in control, you must go through every point between A and Z until you arrive at Point Z. Each point is a season in your life. The transition from point to point is simply a series of entrances and exits. But each point and each door is necessary! Each season of change in your life prepares you for an eternity with God in a realm that is no longer governed by time!

If you are leaving a season of your life and you don't know why, it is because it is necessary. If you were comfortable in your current season and everything changed, it is because it was necessary. It is because you are moving forward toward completion of your destiny! God never intended for things to stay the same way every day of your life. I am convinced that many Christ-followers endanger the fulfillment of their awesome destiny because they cannot recognize seasons of change. They don't see the door of opportunity that takes them out of one realm, and launches them into the next God-ordained realm! Don't change just because you think you have to. Simply look for the doors God will place before you. True change never takes place unless you go through the door. Let God open the door for you, but you must see it and go through it. He won't push you though. And remember, there is a season for everything! (See Ecclesiastes Chapter 3).

How Great Is Our God?

No that's not the title of an awesome worship song.  It's a question.  How great is our God?

I'm up a little early on Sunday morning.  I just pulled my head out from between my ear buds.  I'll have to say I'm pumped!  An incredible time in one-on-one worship to Him will do that you know.  God always impacts me in some significant way every time I spend time in His presence.  Today is no exception.  I came away this time wondering "How great is our God?"

Life can be challenging...most all of the time!  Some of the problems it presents cannot be ignored.  However, time in God's presence presents a proper perspective on life and it's challenges.  The perspective I am talking about is God's perspective.  He faithfully shares it with the one who will spend personal time with Him.  What looks so big, mean, and nasty from Steve's perspective doesn't look so big, mean, and nasty from God's perspective.  God, the Creator is incredibly large!  Nothing happens to you and me that He doesn't see.  He knows about every single need we have...even before we ask Him to provide!  But sometimes we just don't see how great He is until we see it from His perspective!  Let me attempt to put that another way.  God is truly incredibly great.  But we don't really, really see that until we see it from His perspective.  The Bible repeatedly states how great He is...but sometimes we still don't see it until His Word is illuminated in our hearts by His presence.

We know how important it is to spend time in the presence of God don't we?  We know it strengthens us in our inner person.  We know it changes us from the inside out.  But let's also know we see more clearly how great our God is when we go to Him and spend time with Him.  When we clearly see how great our God is, we also clearly see how insignificant our challenges are.  So let me ask great is our God?

Stop Working And Be Blessed!

As usual I am up early and hanging out with my Maker.  I love these early times when it's God and me.  I love to read and study His Word and today is no exception.  I've just started studying the book of Romans.  This morning I started with Romans Chapter 4.  However I cannot get past verse 5.  I've been meditating on this verse and getting my bedroom slippers blessed off.  Here's how it reads:  "But to the one who does not work (for his own righteousness), but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness."  (Parenthesis added).  Rom. 4: 5

The rock of truth in this short scripture is God justifies the ungodly.  Not you or me.  We must understand that only God can justify or make us righteous in His eyes.  That's what counts!  When that sinks in, we understand the power of His grace and how He allows us to appropriate it simply by faith.  Let me put it another way.  God is the One...the only One who can justify you and me.  However...we must simply believe in Him (that He has done it) to receive it.  Some struggle to believe.  But believing is very easy compared to working for it.  Believing that one cannot make themselves righteous through works helps us to believe that He has already done it!

I really like the way Paul quotes David to illustrate his point in this passage.  Listen to this.  "Blessed are those whose lawless deeds have been forgiven, and whose sins have been covered."  Wow!  Jesus came and completed the work.  Your lawless deeds have been forgiven.  When you simply believe in Jesus (and what He did) you are forgiven.  You do not have to work for this!  David considers this an incredible state of blessedness!  He goes on to say in Romans 4: 8, "Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does not take into account."  This is great news!  No matter what you've done in the past, not matter how much of a scurvy dog you were, believing in Jesus as Lord and Savior, and what He has done frees you from ALL your sins!

Stop working to be accepted by Him.  He has forgiven you!  I John 1: 9, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from ALL unrighteousness."  What do you think my friend?

A Wonderful Dad

Bill & Ruth Hutto
The very first thing I want to say about my Dad is that he truly loved my Mom.  From as far back as I can remember he demonstrated his love for her every day.  Just this past  August they celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary.  Just like your dad, mine was not perfect, but he truly loved his family.  One of the greatest blessings of my life is to have had a dad who loved us.  We saw him go through thick and thin.  We saw him tried and tested through the years, but he always loved his family.  Even to his last days, he demonstrated his love for Mom and all the rest.  I still have the image of him getting up, walking across the room and giving Mom a big peck on the check.  This was just last month!  Actually this happened several times...every day!

I still have the mental videos of Dad and I fishing.  Even though he was not the world's foremost fisherman, he loved to fish.  To him "just getting out" was the most important part of fishing.  We spent vacations on the Jorden river near Bay St. Louis, MS fishing.  He used to tell us kids that a "Gasper-Goo" would come up out of the river at night to get us.  To tell you the truth...we didn't believe him, but we went along because it was so funny.

Dad was a great artist and drew and painted many pictures.  He would draw caricatures of us kids doing crazy things.  To illustrate my sweet tooth he once drew one of me literally sucking all the candy out of the candy counter in Standard Drugs.  In later years he really, really got in to computers.  He loved to "doctor" up pictures by superimposing funny things on them.  Quite often he would place his own head on a muscle-bound body to make himself look like a body-builder.  We've all been recreated as aliens, superman, superwoman, animals, some infamous scoundrels I'd better not mention, and more!

Dad would throw the football with us.  He took me out in the front yard one cold winter night after dinner.  Along with me he took a small propane torch and a light, clear plastic clothes bag.  He lit the torch and filled the clothes bag with hot air.  I watched in awe as he released the bag and it floated up into the dark sky...out of sight!  Dad liked to spend time with us even though his life was filled with the busyness of owning a small-town pharmacy.

Connie and I had been in the ministry for many years.  We left my stomping grounds in 1976 and had been away ever since.  But about this time last year, God began to speak to both of us to relocate to be closer to her Mom and my parents.  Due to our location and the ministry we could see them only once, maybe twice a year...and then only for a few days.  It was a big decision, but we knew God was directing us.  Last December I resigned from my church in Jefferson, GA, and in January we made the move back to the area of my up-bringing.  I went to work full-time for a major retailer in Meridian, MS.  We relocated to Newton, about 30 miles from my parents.  Little did I know we would have only 8 1/2 months with Dad.  But what a blessing it was!  I constantly thank God for these past few months we had with him.  An even greater blessing is to know how much it blessed his life to have us around!

I could make this really, really long but I won't.  Let me finish by thanking God for the way Dad left us.  He simply left us in his sleep.  There was no pain or suffering.  It took us by surprise, but I find comfort in knowing this, and in knowing where he now is.  Dad knew Jesus as his Savior.  I saw him draw closer and closer to Him in the later years.  Even after he had slipped away there was a peace on his face.  In my opinion, there's no better way to make the transition into glory!  The way he went was a demonstration of God's grace and mercy to we his family.  Again, thank you Jesus for that.

Cherish your family.  If you still have your parents...cherish them.  Spend time with them.  Don't wait until they are gone to wish you had spent more time with them.  No amount of work or ministry is more important that the family God gave to you.  Love them enough to have to trust God to take a big step in their behalf if He directs you to do so (like He did us).  I am so glad He spoke to us, and I so glad we obeyed!

Dad, we miss you...a lot.  But we will see you again.  Thank God for that.

All Roads Lead To Rome

It is often said that "all roads lead to Rome," and in fact, they once did. The road system of the Ancient Roman Empire was one of the greatest engineering feats of its time, with over 50,000 miles of paved road radiating from their center at the miliarius aurem in the Forum in the city of Rome. Although the Roman road system was originally built to facilitate the movement of troops throughout the empire, it was inevitably used for other purposes such as trade, and by civilians then and now.

There are many, many religions in the world today.  All of them proclaim to lead to God (or at least the god (or gods) of their religion.  Wikipedia says...[In religion and theology, "universalism" is a principle that asserts that all people are under the consideration and love of God, and that theological concepts (doctrines) which conform to this concept are in fact more in accord with the divine concepts.]  Simply stated, "all religions lead to God".  As the mindset that man is basically good within himself spreads in these last days, more and more people will be deluded into believing that salvation in Christ is not necessary.  

The Bible makes it very clear about the road to salvation.  The Apostle Paul writes in Colossians 1: 15 - 18, "He (Jesus Christ) is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.  For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities - for all things have been created through Him and for Him.  He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.  He is also the head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything."  In other words, it is all about Jesus!  Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father (Father God) but through me!"  He said in John 11: 25, "I am the resurrection and the life..."  To sum up what Paul said, Jesus is:  the head, the beginning, the firstborn, and first place in everything!  He is the icon of God, the creator of all things, before all things, and He holds all things together.  It is truly All about Jesus.

Today's world is full of religions that seemingly offer many ways to God.  But the only way to the true God, Jehovah God, is through Jesus Christ, the sacrifice for our sins.  Jesus said the way is very broad and the gate extremely wide that leads to destruction.  But the way to eternal life with God is very narrow and the gate is very small.  What Jesus was saying is that there is only ONE way, and the road that leads to the gate into heaven is narrow and small.  All roads may lead to Rome, but only one leads to God, the Father.  That road is Jesus!

The Naysayers

Serving God presents many opportunities to see the supernatural side of God.  Think about it.  The fact that He provided salvation to the human race is a miracle.  There was no way that you and I could save ourselves.  We truly needed a miracle.  God became one of us (human) in the form of His Son Jesus.  Even the way He arrived was a supernatural occurrence.  A baby born of a virgin!  Jesus grew up as a human.  However He was also God in the form of a human.  Thus He performed many miracles while He was on the earth.  He spoke with the authority of God the Father which truly amazed the folks who heard and experienced His words.  To culminate His work on the earth He gave up His life...but three days later He took it back!  He rose from the dead!  I mean God (and following after Him) is all about the supernatural!

But it is truly amazing there were a few people who actually limited the power and ministry of Jesus.  Who were these people?  These were the "naysayers".  These were the ones who simply could not or would not believe in Him.  (See Matthew 13:54-58) The problem was that these naysayers knew Jesus more from a human sense than a supernatural sense.  They knew Him as the son of Joseph or Mary or as one of the brothers of the family.  Their lack of faith in Him was founded on His humanity and not on His supernatural Godhood.  These folks whose mindset was normally "show me a miracle and I'll believe" could not get  past their familiarity with him as a neighbor.  Thus...they were naysayers.  A naysayer says "It can't possibly work because..."  A naysayer says, "You can't do that because..."  Because of what?  Because they have been there and done that doesn't work.  Because they don't do it that way.  Because it simply won't work.  To be truthful, a naysayer has absolutely no faith.  They are comfortable in the negative.  Anything involving faith or risk makes them very, very uncomfortable.

The most dangerous aspect of a naysayer is that they are not content just feeling that way within.  They must spread their conviction.  In a sense they become like police.  And they feel an obligation, even a responsibility to see that others feel the way they do and operate accordingly.  They influence others by trying to keep them from being successful and reaching their potential.  

The truth is, we all have become naysayers at one time or the other.  How does this happen?  We become so familiar with the mechanics of worshipping Him, we tend to believe more in the man-made aspect of it than the supernatural.  We're so familiar with what we're doing our present faith is directed more to what we have done than what He is doing.  When we are challenged by Him to launch forth or step out or move ahead...we can't (or won't) because we are so familiar with the process, anything beyond is impossible!  Those folks hindered Jesus because they were so familiar with Him as a man and as a neighbor they couldn't see Him as God.  It took faith to know Him as God and they didn't have it.

Let's get beyond the point of familiarity.  Let's hunger and thirst for the "more" He has for us so that we're open to anything His Word will substantiate!  His Word reports that He is the miracle maker.  His Word says the things impossible for you and me are possible with Him!  If His very arrival to the earth was an incredible miracle...ponder what He can do for you and me today!  Those naysayers mostly hindered the ministry of Jesus to themselves...not to anyone else.  I don't know about you but I want to be one who says "Yes, He can...and He will!"  Not one who says "No, he won't!"  What about you?