Friday, April 22, 2011

The TRUE GOSPEL (Accept No Imitations!)

Since I have already dealt with a biblical examination and explanation of the Gospel on The TRUTH Under FIRE(

"The Simple and Serious Gospel of Salvation, part 1"), and re-posted this series of articles on this vital subject here on FROM the MIND of FIRE, one might rightly ask the question - Why another article?

Its rather simple really; the previous treatment was a series, and it was rather comprehensive; it delved somewhat deeply into the various aspects of the Gospel and Salvation.

This is an abbreviated, 'user friendly' but faithful expression of the Gospel, and I hope to be succinct and sharp in this presentation.

In this day and age, we see many different Gospels - the Social Gospel, the Green Gospel, the Prosperity Gospel, the Kingdom Now Gospel - and so many others!

The same goes for different Christs - the New Age Christ, the Hindu Christ, the Islamic version of Christ, and many Christ impersonators and charlatans across our contemporary landscape.

The Bible warns us about these imitation Gospels in Gal. 1:6-9 and 2 Cor. 11:4; it warns us as well against Jesus imposter's, also in 2 Cor. 11:4 -

2 Cor 11:4 For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.
These other Gospels can be quite complicated with lots of rules, regulations, rites and reason, appealing to the intellect and the flesh, but all of these detract from the simplicity that is in Christ: such simplicity that even a small child can understand and accept the Gospel of Salvation (my grand niece received salvation in Jesus Christ at just 3 years of age! Her hearts desire has been and remains to be a missionary):

2 Cor 11:3 But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.
So what is the Gospel all about? Of course most of us realize that 'Gospel' means "good news" and it most certainly is! The best news one could possibly imagine, but not! I recall in sharing the Gospel last week end among some of our city's homeless, one man ("Eli") grew hot and irate when we tried to bring the Gospel to him when all he wanted was a dollar - he would prefer a dollar to eternal life!

Remember these 'R's: Realize, Repent, Receive, Regenerate, and Righteous:

First, REALIZE: We must first of all realize Who God is, and who we are - God is the Almighty Creator Who has every right to do with His creation what He wants, including you and I.

Isaiah 45:18 For thus saith the LORD that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the LORD; and there is none else

God is also purely holy and cannot as the KING of all creation, and the Judge of all living, tolerate sin. For simplicity's sake, let's just say that sin is disobedience to God's perfect, holy will.

Adam and Eve had only one command from God - don't eat the forbidden fruit, because the day that you do, you will surely die!

Simple, right? But what did they do? They disobeyed God and sinned.
When this happened, our First Parents received a sinful nature that was passed on to their children (Abel, Cain, Seth, etc.) and they likewise passed that same sinful nature onto their children, and so on, until today, we have several billion sinners on this planet.

Any who would doubt their own sinfulness and say, "Oh, I'm not that bad; I haven't murdered any body!" has to ask themselves, "Have I ever hated any one in my life?" According to Jesus Christ, if you ever hated (KJV "angry") anyone, you committed murder in your heart (Matt. 5:21-22)!

Have you ever committed adultery? That's disobedience to the will of God who desires that we all have a monogamous relationship with a singular spouse; but even if you haven't actually committed the act, Jesus said if you look on (someone) with lust, you already committed adultery in your heart (Matt. 5:27-28)!

A careful examination of the Ten Commandments (Exodus ch. 20) all on their own (there are many more commandments besides just these!) will prove that we all have sinned against God, without exception!
See Romans 3:23.

We must REALIZE that God is Holy and that He has no choice but to judge and condemn us to an eternity of hell for our willful rebellion and sin against our Holy and Almighty King - Sin is spiritual treason against the LORD God!

We must also REALIZE that without God, we have no hope of eternal life, as He is the ONLY source of this life! Sin separates souls from the Living God!

Ezekiel 18:4 "Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die." (see also vs. 20)

Isaiah 59:2 But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you, that he will not hear.
Once the Law of God convicts our hearts of sin (Gal. 3:22-24; Romans 7:14), we then must understand that God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).
Once we REALIZE Who God is, and who we are, and what we have done against the Holy God of Creation, we must then REPENT.

What does it mean to "repent"? It means a change of mind or heart or purpose,to reconsider morally; it involves three basic steps:

1) Receiving new knowledge, that is the Holy Law and then, afterwards the Gospel message itself.
2) Regret for previous course, and displeasure with one self, that is the conviction of sin.
3) A change involving action - believing the Gospel and committing oneself and life to the LORD for salvation.

With so many Gospels today, and Gospel messages in our churches, the often overlooked or ignored aspect which is an essential part of the Gospel is repentance.
If we don't acknowledge that our sin is something that would worthily send us to hell for having offended the holy God, and that this is something we must turn away from so that we may have a right attitude in approaching God meekly and in the spirit of remorse and broken-heartedness, we are left with a Gospel where God 'forgives anyway' and sin becomes less dangerous and not something to be avoided as it should be!

The words "repent" and "repentance" occurs sixty nine times in the Bible; the prophets of old preached repentance, John the Baptist preached repentance, our LORD Jesus preached it as well as the apostles, but today's pulpits aren't approaching this needful truth for fear of offending people!Let's not worry about offending God with our sin, we're too busy worrying about offending our congregations! Is it any wonder why our fellowships are filled with false converts and 'half-way Christians'?

Matt 4:17 From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Rev 2:5 Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.

Once we REALIZE our situation, and REPENT we must then RECEIVE the Gospel of our Salvation which God has accomplished for us through the Person of Jesus Christ!

2 Cor 5:21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

1 Cor 15:1 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;
1 Cor 15:2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.
1 Cor 15:3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
1 Cor 15:4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
The Old Testament is very eloquent and precise in the explanation of the Gospel; two primary sources are Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53. Both explain different aspects of the Gospel message at the heart of the work of salvation: the cross!
Psalm 22 portrays in vivid detail the events during the crucifixion of Christ with such clarity, the obvious reference to the LORD Jesus cannot be denied except by the most spiritually blind of this world (2 Cor. 4:4).
Isaiah 53 gets into the spiritual aspects of the cross and the Lamb of God, slain for our iniquities!

Isaiah 53:5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
Isa 53:6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
And also:

Isa 53:10 Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.
Understanding that God's wrath was taken out on His own Son, who paid the penalty for our sins (remember, the soul that sins, it shall surely die - and Christ Jesus is our sin bearer; therefore He became sin for us, He Who knew no sin, and died in our place!) and yet He also rose from the dead!

We will be celebrating the Resurrection of our LORD in just a couple days from now (commonly called Easter, a pagan holiday, but that's another story!) and we have every cause to celebrate! It's because He rose from the dead that He proved He conquered over sin and death, and is now able to bring eternal life to all who will RECEIVE His salvation!

Once you understand that JESUS CHRIST died for your sins, and is able to free you from the penalty of sin, and judgment by the Holy Hand of God; once you turn from your sinful life and surrender your heart to the LORD God as His own, bought by the blood of Jesus, and receive Him (John 1:12), He grants to you the GIFT (read that, "free" as all gifts are free to those who receive them!) of Eternal Life, the Holy Spirit then enters your heart, which has been cleansed of all sin and made a proper place for the Spirit of God; you then become a child of God!

This is what it means to be REGENERATE!

Titus 3:3 For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, [and] hating one another.
Titus 3:4 But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared,
Titus 3:5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;
Titus 3:6 Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour;
Titus 3:7 That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

Rom 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Your life is no longer your own if you belong to Christ Jesus; you are now the temple of the Holy Spirit who dwells in you, who has brought you back to spiritual life!

1 Cor 6:19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
1 Cor 6:20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.

Act 20:28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. (Incidentally, this is an awesome proof text verse to show that Jesus is God, for it states that GOD purchased with HIS OWN blood!)

And finally as a result of REALIZING, REPENTING, RECEIVING and REGENERATING, there is then RIGHTEOUSNESS, that is RIGHT LIVING, approved by God and in a RIGHT relationship with Him as we yield ourselves over to His Spirit and the power of the Cross - to allow ourselves to die to our sinful nature, daily, and thereby 'making room' for the Spirit of God to empower us to live holy, RIGHTEOUS lives, to the Glory of God!

Romans 6:13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.

And why would God go through all this bother for the sake of sinners like us, and not simply destroy this rebel planet and start over?

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
John 3:17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
Also -

Ephesians 2:7 That in the ages to come He might shew the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.

May the LORD bless any who read this, that don't as yet KNOW the LORD Jesus as THE LORD and SAVIOR of all those that call upon the Most Holy Name of JESUS CHRIST!


Saturday, April 16, 2011

My Own Road To Damascus - The Testimony of Timothy Hinze

It gives me a great deal of pleasure and blessing to be able to share with all of you, the personal testimony of Timothy Hinze about how he came to know Jesus Christ as His LORD and SAVIOR!

Tim is a brother that I met and befriended on Facebook and when he shared a bit of his testimony with me there, I thought it would be awesome for him to go over it with a bit more detail on FROM the MIND of FIRE.

And so, without further ado, here is his testimony - My OWN ROAD to DAMASCUS

It was 1:00 pm on a bitter cold January in 1983 that would change my life forever: I just burst out the back door of my home running for my life (literally) with my mothers’ second husband only steps behind me. He was half drunk and wanted to do me harm.

Any second I could be in the grasp of this raging violent drunk. I leaped down 5 cement steps and dove over our backyard fence that bordered our neighbor’s property. With nine years of these violent experiences to draw on, hesitation on my part was unthinkable and my reactions were honed to perfection.

I remember at age 13 once waking up at 3:00am to the sound of my weight lifting bar bell being thrown down on my bedroom floor, over and over, until a solid steel tube was shaped like a wet noodle. It landed just inches from my bed with each hurl. He did that almost 10 times. It was near 100 pounds of weight. I vividly recall even now at age 47 how one slip from his hands and I would have been a goner.

I was an 18 year old drop out, unemployed, unwanted, depressed, with no confidence, no direction, no guidance and no hope.

My life passed before me around 1:00 pm as I crashed safely on our neighbor’s side of the 5ft wooden fence that separated our properties. I survived another attack by 'Joe', my mom’s second husband. There’s no way he could negotiate that fence in his drunken state. I didn't seem to care about the bloody scrapes on my arms, from my skin just deposited on my neighbor’s property, after crashing abruptly on their cement. Nor the fact that it was around 5degrees outside; didn’t have the time to grab my winter jacket, as this half crazed man ran me out of my home once again: almost on a monthly basis.

It’s been 28 years now since that incident which would change my life forever. 'Joe' was drinking heavily the night before, into the early hours of the morning. Which meant the rest of the family was awake also. I was eating some cereal at our kitchen table. 'Joe' stumbled in still half drunk and ugly. He started demanding and threatening my mom like so many times before; that’s when I lost it. I listened to that for about 5 minutes and threw an open gallon of milk at him, hitting him in the neck and face.

This was the first and only time I ever attacked him. Looking back on it, I realized I just snapped. Nine years of verbal evil directed at my mother, triggered a reaction in me that was brewing for sometime. So 'Joe' leapt up off the kitchen chair socking me in the face; I jumped up and darted for the kitchen back door.

. . . To back track a little, my biological father was gone before I even knew him. My childhood pastor that married my biological parents told my mom not to marry him, because in the pastors words "he was evil", yet he married them anyhow! This always bothered me. They divorced 4 years later. Dad was a living nightmare, my only recollection of him was at about 7 years old seeing him lunging toward my mom with a butcher knife, my older sister Lori, 8 years old at the time, threw her body in between and saved my mom’s life.

They had already been divorced by this time, but he wormed his way in the house on the pretense he just wanted to talk to her and see us kids, when we came home from school. My mom survived that incident too by God’s amazing Grace.

The first nine years for us were quite happy and normal, except the first few years with my dad who we really never got to know. We grew up very poor, yet never lacked the essentials of life: food, shelter, clothes, education, friends etc...

We seemed quite content without our dad; you really don’t miss what you never had at that age. Not fully processing emotionally until adulthood, how two parents is the ideal family unit in God’s wisdom and offers the best chance in life for success, happiness and emotional health. We lived in a city of about 50,000. A safe community, secure, with very little crime, a warm city to grow up in. We were raised Lutheran and attended Lutheran grade school.

Most in our city were Lutheran or Catholic. Mom worked a second shift factory job to put a roof over our heads. Grama, on my mom‘s side, was a second mother and surrogate father to us. I give mom an immense amount of credit as a twenty something single mom in the 60’s, working full time to support her brood. She deserves more credit than she ever received. I love my mom very much. She made us feel as though we weren’t missing out on things that normal families had.

Grama filled in the gaps as well. Helping us with school work, prepared our suppers, played games, even whipping us now and again when we smarted off; which wasn’t very often let me tell you. Reflecting back on it now, we needed it, at least I did. She cared for us as we took turns having the flu, the measles, and every other natural side effect of living in a fallen world.

We had no money, yet the LORD always took care of us; as I already said, we were quite happy. This temporary happiness would all come to a grinding halt very soon after mom met and married a friend of my Uncle when I was 9. For privacy sake I’ll call my Uncle “Bob” and my mom’s second husband,“ Joe”. I don’t feel comfortable using their real names if you don’t mind. One reason “Joe” is still alive and is yet unsaved, and still drinks heavily.

My uncle Bob was a heavy drinker too, and he introduced his bar room buddy “Joe” to my mom. My mom regrets jumping into this marriage to this day. She was still a young 32 and had been a single mom to us 4 kids for 11 years.
She was no doubt just lonely.

She was a very attractive single mom. It didn’t take her too long to discover that she repeated another mistake in her selection for a husband. Us kids never took to him, not from day one. It may be we never had respect for the drunken Uncle that arranged the introduction in the first place. Soon the heavy drinking transformed our happy family into a bad dream of biblical proportions.

Every weekend started and ended the same. “Joe” getting violently drunk, and my mom giving her statement to the local police, and all the neighbors outside gawking at our house pretending to have some legitimate reason to be outside. We knew the police officers almost on a first name basis back then. This wasn’t like New York, so we were the main event each weekend. The police would say to mom “You need to divorce him” and “ma’am, we can’t make him leave the house, it’s his house”, or “he pays the bills”; wish I had a dollar for every time I heard that line over the years. Things were different in those days, police couldn’t do much, there wasn’t the gamut of support groups and agencies like there are now, and it was still taboo to be a ‘twice married’ – with 4 kids no less, and soon two more to join the brood.

So the police would leave and we would sift thru the broken furniture, knick knacks, plates, etc… and salvage what we could and try and put our crumbled weekend back together. Joe would head to his bedroom to sleep off yet another drunk. It would all start up again the following weekend. As you may guess weekends were the worst, the Holidays were the worst of the worst. I remember only one or two Holidays with no police presence in over 20 years living at the old house.

It’s only by God’s Grace no one was killed, and mom kept her sanity. This lifestyle took its toll on all of us, as I sadly recall the memories at 221 E. Park Avenue.

The happiest times through all these childhood years were grade school and church. I fondly recall sitting in church feeling safe and out of reach from monsters such as Joe. We were in our safe zone at church or school: this was our link to normalcy and sanity if even just for an hour or two. Grama would often sit with us in the 10:30 church service and give us suck candy to keep us content through the long liturgical service (Grama just passed away last week at age 96, April 5, 2011; one day before my 47th birthday).

Thinking back I believe someone in our local congregation must have been praying for our dysfunctional family on quite a regular basis. My favorite Sunday school teacher, Miss Klusendorf comes to mind; I’d cast my vote that she was the loyal one praying for us. She was a dear old saint who never married. She lived her entire life with her mom, only a few short blocks from us. I sadly lost touch with her during my rebellious, post confirmation years. Later when she died, I recall feeling very empty and sad.

They say children follow the pattern of their parents. Mom was brought up around this same disturbing alcohol abuse, like her mom was. Drunkenness was our family heritage of German ancestry living twenty miles west of Milwaukee, the beer capitol of the world. Beer and booze completely enslaved every uncle, aunt, grandfather, grandmother in my family.

As I grew older I was disillusioned by “organized religion” and everything it stood for. How could Christians, religious people, and church families relate to my family? We were outcasts, the family at school and church, people whispered about. My mom and grama on my mom’s side, were the only ones that were non drinkers. They kept us in Sunday school and church, even if it meant taking a cab when our car died.
Lutheran grade school also engraved the bible in our minds. We had bible instruction 6 out of 7 days a week. Saturday was our only day off. However when we turned 12, Saturday was added too, 9 am to 12 for two years leading up to our confirmation. At 14 I entered the public school system, I drifted from my Lutheran roots. “Once Confirmed” in this religion - that’s the pinnacle, though I didn’t know that then. Which leads me to another topic, the false spiritual security of Lutheran faith; that is a king size can of theological worms. I will crack the lid on that later.

As a Confirmant, in the churches eyes, you’re considered a spiritual adult. Like so many after confirmation, I became disinterested in religion. Looking back it was mostly ritual and ceremony, without a personal touch.
No commitment, no change, no power.

Just memorizing creeds, commandments, articles of faith, hymns, confessions, so on and so forth - never taught that entering God’s family and receiving His eternal blessings are a personal choice. We must make them individually, not just give the correct theological answers to the pastor’s questions; needing to repent of personal sins, turning and making Christ master and Lord of our lives. This can’t be decided by parents or anyone else. Yes we’re taught about sin and the cross, in Sunday school, but for Lutherans that sin was accounted for at our infant baptism. This is the travesty and false security of this faith. This is the lie of the Lutheran’s religion. This may be where most Lutherans lose their faith in religion. Young adults faced with life’s painful problems, not prepared mentally and doctrinally to process life’s pitfalls and temptations. Nor how to combat our flesh, and Satan, our main adversary! Instead we’re taught to confess our sins through creeds each Sunday, and receive absolution of sins twice a month at the Lord’s supper, as if Christ needs to die on the cross each Sunday!

We brush our week’s trials and sins under the carpet until next week, rather than learning victory in Grace, through practical steps outlined in scripture. Such as praying, reading, abstaining from people, places, and things that tempt the flesh. We weren’t taught about the Truths the apostle Paul wrote to the Ephesian church” “To put on the whole amour of God”. We were basically told “you’re in God’s family as a infant, safe and secure”. All we can do is to get through another week, so we can receive another spiritual shower to make us clean another week. That’s the way it is year after year; how wrong is that? What’s so amazing about that type of Grace?

As a teenager I was confused and asked the question, “Why as a child of God, am I no better off than anyone else? I am just as miserable, sinful, confused, insecure, and clueless about how to handle life’s struggles. I’m like the rest of the poor sinners who never had water sprinkled on them at 6 weeks old. I’m no better off; there’s no special protection by God or working power in my life. I stumble, fall, and grope for answers just like everyone else. There’s no peace, victory, or fulfillment.”
This is when I began almost to hate my religion.

My church seemingly had no clue what my family’s was going through. Yet in the midst of all this doubt, God was working on my heart, and my conscience; poking me, trying to get my attention. I resisted Him year after year from age 14 to 18. I didn’t want to hear Him.

This is a marvelous thing you may ask: The God of the universe was speaking to you all this time, the one person who could give comfort, and you said ‘No’ to Him?

Now God’s voice wasn’t audible, but He spoke to my conscience using the scriptures I had learned, as well as just the mustard seed faith that was planted in me over the years. This is why I’m not opposed 100% to the Lutheran religion; it did (through the scriptures) plant the seed that became my salvation. So I reasoned in my heart that God knew what our family was going through, why should I humble myself and talk to Him? He knows I’m in pain, confused, lonely, angry, and bitter. So I closed my ears to God. I reasoned He really doesn’t love me or is powerless to do anything for me.

Otherwise, I concluded, He wouldn’t have allowed this pain in my family. I distinctly remember one afternoon only a few months before God changed my life forever. I was on the run from Joe again, angry, wondering how long I could go on. Never knowing when it was safe to go back home, and then go home to what? Tomorrow will just be the same! God was speaking really loud to me that afternoon as I was walking downtown toward the old Park theatre. I was going nowhere in particular just walking off my anger and scolding God for bringing me into this messed up world.

He said to my conscience “Talk to Me Tim”, I’m right here. Why won’t you talk to Me?” So I blurted out audibly and didn’t care who heard me on the street, “No! I hate you God the Father…I hate you Jesus (pause)…I hate you … (and I was just about to utter Holy Spirit), when my conscience said:

Tim, enough, God gets your point”, so I stopped at that instant. I said to myself, Yes I guess He does; but continued to stoke my anger towards God. I wasn’t quite ready for God; what I didn’t know at the time was God was ready for me, and only weeks away from changing me forever!

So back to January 1983

. . . here I am bloody, angry, cold, and scared as I headed up the street not knowing what lay ahead. I can’t go home and don’t even have a jacket. The temperature was barely above zero as I walked to Cutler Park, wearing only jeans and a tee shirt. I was freezing, and the wind was howling, the cold air cut me to the bone.
I literally desired death.

Cutler Park is my stomping ground. Grama lived a block west of the park; we lived a block east of the park. As I approached this Park like a thousand times before, I was a mental and emotional train wreck. Nine years of anger at God, for allowing Joe to destroy any happiness our family had. Nine years of Joe verbally and physically abusing our family. I was tired of running from my home. Tired of witnessing everything of material value we ever owned damaged or obliterated at the hands of a raging drunken lunatic. Tired of hoping things would get better and never did. Tired of going to bed with my day clothes on, knowing there was a good chance we’d have to leave the house anytime in the am hours. Of watching my mom cry year after year.

I was at rock bottom, with zero hope, and had no ideas how to process these emotions or my immediate future. Nine years of pain, sorrow and frustration welled up to the surface.
Out of nowhere, without even planning it, I screamed out:


Tears streaming down my face, not knowing where those words came from, I was broken. I had no home, no future, no pride, no direction, nothing: not a dime in my pocket, no friends to call, and all on my own. Without any confidence that God would reply or even care I uttered those desperate pleas for help, He was my last hope.

What happened next is what forever changed my life. I get goose bumps even now as I’m writing this. Now immediately in the middle of my last plea, “GOD I NEED YOU”! and not even letting me finish the last line, Heaven opened up literally, on a cloudy day, and the most brilliant light beamed through the overcast winter sky and engulfed my entire body!

It blinded me for what seemed like minutes. In reality it was only seconds. Instantly my body was filled with warmth like it was a hot August day; now it was just a few degrees above zero. I have only a tee shirt on. Immediately I looked up above the trees and could only conclude that it wasn’t the sun I was seeing but GOD’S light, HIS GLORY.

HE didn’t say anything audibly but I knew instantly that moment that GOD had heard my prayer; the words HE was waiting for. HE filled me with HIS presence and secured my name in the book of Life that afternoon in a split second and I understood it!

I didn’t ever know He could speak with such clarity without words. HE penetrated my spirit with HIS, and helped me understand that it’s ok now! “I have heard your pleas, I will take care of you. I finally have your attention and you’re finally My child.”
Then I said out loud, “Wow, this is incredible! GOD is real, He does listen, He does care!”

In one minute my years of pain, suffering and loneliness were over! I understood GOD indeed was with me all those years, preparing me for this moment. I yelled “Thank you LORD!” and didn’t care who heard me.

I was overwhelmed and was on cloud nine for months. I wondered if it was like this for all those that become saved. Later on I discovered it’s not. Now I don’t know why my conversion was so dramatic (?), however the pain I went through was equally as dramatic and maybe that’s why. This experience changed my heart forever.

God planted His Spirit in me and renewed my interest in Him eternally. I soon was baptized and read the Bible three, four hours a day. The Word came alive like never before! I now had a reason to live, real hope, and a living GOD to guide me! No one would ever take this experience and joy away from me. Some 27 years later He’s just as real and alive as that day in Cutler Park and a few times a year I go back to the exact spot where I was saved. I stand by the same tree, and look up and recall the day salvation came to me personally.

This was just the beginning as I learned the mind and heart of GOD. Learning that the Baptist church was closer to my understanding of scripture, I soon changed churches. I was like a sponge as the Word penetrated day after day. A selfish, angry, frustrated 18 year old now became a servant to the LORD. I began to be available for all in need, and GOD has given me a servant’s heart, by HIS Grace.

I was able to forgive Joe, and invite him to church; even helped him repair his cars, and just being respectful and kind to this man. Only GOD’S Spirit could do this! I just praise GOD daily for saving me, and being patient with me. The difficult circumstances HE placed me in were for a reason; eternal blessing was HIS goal.

Now those hard long years made sense to me, much like what Joseph went through as he was betrayed and sold by his own brothers to the Ishmaelites. He languished in pain and loneliness, without a home, much like me. It amazes me how GOD’S Grace works and his immense love and patience. He put up with my harsh words, and waited until the time was right; HE broke me for HIS Glory and has placed me in the Lambs book of Life forever. My own road to Damascus.

By Timothy Allen Hinze

The LORD inspired me to include this song by Kutless, entitled: Promise You at the end of this marvelous message of mercy.

Now that you've heard brother Tim's testimony, have a listen to
Promise You by Kutless.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Another Smoke Signal: HE WALKS and TALKS with ME

Psalm 106:9 He rebuked the Red sea also, and it was dried up: so he led them through the depths, as through the wilderness.

Psalm 77:20 Thou leddest thy people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron. ~

Psalm 95:7 For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. To day if ye will hear his voice,

Psalm 95:8 Harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness:

Jer 31:32 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD:

As most of you know, I do a lot of research and study, looking at current events and trends and examine the world scene, particularly what's happening in our own nation.

Things are looking grim aren't they? Wars around the globe (rumors too); earthquakes, tsunamis and storms; economic as well as nuclear fall out; fuel prices climbing with no promise of slowing down; joblessness creeping ever higher (ten percent unemployment rate, but another 15% of underemployment - those who are working but not making enough to live on).

Like yourselves, I have limited resources on my own, and know too well my vulnerability should I get laid off, or if I incur some enormous financial obligation. Naturally in such storms in life, in the face of uncertainty and signs of impending disaster (and for those who are looking, they are readily observable), one can worry about what's going to happen.

Not to mention how things are going for the church in America; she is getting flooded with heresies, seduced by deceivers, and weakened by the world and its satanic master.

One day a few weeks ago, I was walking about the neighborhood in the morning with my walk man, listening to some music by Chris Tomlin, praying to the LORD about all of these worries and burdens. At one point the song, All the Way My Savior Leads Me (originally written by Fanny Crosby, the well known hymnist who suffered a tragic accient as a baby through a doctor's mishap that resulted in her blindness).

Here is the song from youtube; have a listen, and then come back here, would you?

All The Way My Savior Leads Me

Well, as I was walking and praying, I heard the line - "you lead me, and keep me from falling", and at that exact moment I turned to my right and saw a sight that caused my breath to catch in my throat:

A grandfatherly man was gently, slowly walking with his grandchild securely, safely held by his hands over theirs. The little tyke took a wrong step, but the grandfather was there, and didn't allow him to stumble. The toddler was kept safe.

It was then that the LORD spoke so clearly through this sight before me; it was as though He was saying,

"James, you see how gently and lovingly and carefully that man is walking with his babe? He would never abandon that child and leave it on its own; he isn't impatient with him, but willingly takes such small steps in order to accommodate that little one's own tiny stride.
"Am I not at least as gentle and as loving and as careful in my care for you? Will you not trust Me to care for your every step? Will you doubt My tender mercies for you?"

I must admit that I was ashamed of myself for my doubts and worries over my life before my heavenly Abba; as I continued to walk on, my vision became blurry as my eyes flooded with tears.

I had to repent for not only doubting God and His tender heart towards me, but for hurting His tender heart for all my lack of faith in His loving provision. Yet the LORD in proving His tenderness towards me, orchestrated that event and timed it so precisely that the meaning of that awesome sight was too, too obvious. It was a divinely appointed moment in which the LORD went out of His way to assure my faith.

I think about how the LORD led Israel out of Egypt and gently, patiently led them through the wilderness. Oh, to be sure, there was severe chastening for the people of Israel at the hand of God, but there was provision of grace in the midst of judgment as well. How could Israel have doubted His tender mercies and provision, after they saw such signs and wonders performed by the Almighty in Egypt on their behalf?

The same way that I can doubt Him, though He has performed such miracles in my own life that Israel never saw: namely His holy habitation in my heart as He became my LORD and Savior, and I became the temple of His Holy Spirit.

The same LORD that provided salvation for me, a sinner, and secured an eternal dwelling in the glories of everlasting heaven is the same LORD Who governs this entire universe, yet knows each and every sparrow when it falls, and numbers the hairs on my head (in my case, he counts my eyebrow hairs, ha ha!). As the Fanny Crosby song goes,

"How could I doubt His tender mercies?" The LORD indeed "leads me and keeps me from falling" - He is ever willing to take me by the hand and gently walk with me, and softly talk with me through His Word, by His Spirit. And He knows every bend in the road of my life, sees every provision and how long it will last - and when it dries up, has a plan to supply my needs by other means: but all of them from His divine hand of grace.

Did you know that one of the titles of God is El Shaddai? In English, this title means the "Almighty Provider" or one who is Almighty in their ability to provide - the same God that proved His Almighty abilities in creation; the same God that proved His Almighty abilities in redemption (Jesus did what NO ONE else could have: he bore the sins of the ENTIRE Human race and paid the price for it all!) is the same God that will meet my needs, supply grace for every trial, grant strength to endure any hardships, be ever-present to help in time of need or persecution or illness.

GOD is indeed Almighty so He can do anything at all; nothing is impossible for Him!
GOD is also LOVE, which means He has the motive of our best and greatest good in mind for everything He brings into our lives. Sometimes He brings trouble into our lives, just so that He can prove Himself strong on our behalf as our Deliverer! He indeed delivers us out of our distresses!

What need then for anxiety or worry? What cause can I point to as a legitimate reason for such things? If I trust Him, He can even keep me from falling into sin and rebellion against Him - and this I greatly desire for my 'new man' (that is, that part of me that is born of God and lives by the power of the Divine nature [character] instilled by Jesus Christ) has no inclination to hurt His Holy Heart.

I want to bless Him by showing Him a heart that will rest in His care, and joy in His ability and demonstrations of love and provision!

And I know you want to do the same, for His love and care for you, as for me, is also the same!

Jude 1:24 Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, Jude 1:25 To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen. And AMEN!