The Narrow Road – True Story

Running along the trail, his footfalls resound upward and leave a deep resounding thump, thump. thump like a drum beat in a cave. The birds stop their singing and take flight as he lifts his head and screams, “Why God? Why?”

Suddenly dropping to his knees, his fingers dig into the damp soft ground and sobs rip through him from a heart that seems to have shattered into a million pieces. Peering from beneath a nearby bush, a rabbit sits twitching his nose with big brown eyes watching Brian. Brain is unaware as wet leaves soak his jeans.

Feeling exasperation and anger, he flings his arms heavenward with shaking, clenched fists. He yells to God, “How can you love me? You can’t when you let this happen!” Falling face down, Brian sobs into his folded arms. The still of the forest absorbs his cries.

The rabbit has scampered to safety and the birds have taken flight as Brian lies on the cold damp ground confused, frustrated, heartbroken, and doubting how God could ever love him.

 

“This book should be on the New York Best Seller lists.” Robert Filosi

“I have laughed and I have cried. I absolutely love this book!” Nell Dale

All proceeds support Elah Ministries, Inc. 

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“The Narrow Road” Book Review – Greg Holt

 

The Narrow Road is a must read story based on actual events. This is a gripping, passionate, and intense story of a young boy abandoned by his parents – resulting in tremendous heartache. “Brian’s” story is a story of painful trials, many questions and self-doubts. As Brian matures into a man and lives life on his own, he faces many setbacks and challenges – while at the same time meeting supportive and caring people who support and guide him through a sometimes-painful journey. This is a story of love, of meeting a loving God and trusting in Jesus to bring healing and hope.

The Narrow Road is a well-written book that will make you laugh, possibly shed a tear, and it will make you think – as well as rejoice. Regardless of our situation in life, there is always hope; when that hope is placed in Jesus Christ.

In the second half of this book, Sue’s story is a story of courage, of not giving up when the going gets rough as a newly minted Christian after accepting Jesus and being a brand new Christian with many questions is not only a great story, but also a guide for the rest of us. Whether one is a new Christian, or someone who has known Jesus for some time – Sue’s story and insights are a great help and a comfort.

I highly recommend this book; Sue Cass has outdone herself yet again. I read this book in one day. If you are looking for encouragement, a great story, a “God” story – or maybe a true story of love that includes Jesus Christ – you will find it all in this story.

 

Greg Holt
Editor and Publisher of The Olive Branch Report and Inspirational Christian Blogs

 

May be purchased at:

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The Rapture is Only the Beginning

The Church of the Left Behind

Not all humans are going to be spending eternity with the Lord Jesus Christ in heaven. When He comes with the blowing of the trumpet there will be many that are left behind as the true followers of Jesus Christ meet Him in the clouds.

We hear little, if anything, about what life will be like when the believers are gone. Using scripture, the author gives a very clear and thorough picture of the aftermath of the apocalypse, specifically the mortal’s life on earth after the great tribulation and the second coming of Jesus Christ. These are the men and women who have missed the rapture of the church and will live during the thousand-year millennial reign of Jesus.

I recommend that pastors, as well as believers and -especially non-believers- read this. It could change your final destiny.

Available at http://www.amazone.com

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Blessings to you

Does all Creation Observe the Sabbath? Hmmmm

So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation. Gen. 2:3

Getting up early and watching a couple of my favorite T.V. preachers while waking up and eating a bowl of my favorite cereal I start my usual Sunday morning routine. Yawning a final yawn I throw off the nightie and don some clothes for church. It’s hot outside already so a comfortable sundress will do. Don’t forget to take a sweater, the church is always cold is my thought as I grab my Bible and head out the door.

The praise songs are rocking and the worship songs bring tears to my eyes. Pastor has given another sermon that is uplifting and filled with Biblical information that I can chew on in more depth when I get home.

We Christians, as soon as the service is over, there’s a stampede out the double doors for the nearest fast food place or a local restaurant. Like bees to honey we fast track out of the parking lot and let nothing get in our way. Our focus has shifted from the eternal to the present growling within the confines of our stomach. Gluttony is non-existent, at least until we hold our full stomach and groan.

After a good meal some go home and take naps, some turn on a ball game, and some just sit out on their deck with the overhead fan whipping the hot air around and watching other creations of God enjoying the Sabbath. Like me!

God said we should rest and reflect on Him on the Sabbath. Sitting on my deck I realize as my furry friends show up for their daily dinner of corn kernels that God must not have been talking about just humans when He said it is a day of rest.

I’m sure “Daisy Mae,” “Bonnie,” and the others have had a busy week dodging traffic, staying clear of snakes and out-of-season hunters, foraging for food, and just staying clear of the general population of humans.

Like Christians after church rushing to beat the crowd at the local eatery, my furry friends seem to enjoy Sue’s place. It’s peaceful, the food is good, she’s non-threatening, and unless the neighbor let’s his dogs out, they seem quite comfortable enjoying their Sabbath.

Breakfast for Daisy

A fine lunch of fresh corn kernels

Part of Daisy Mae's family 7-24-16

A  quick nap after lunch

2 of my furry friends

and time to head home and get ready for the hustle and bustle of a new week.

Maybe they aren’t that much different from us,  or……………..wow………… maybe these are Christian deer! 

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Blessings to you.

A Burlap Sack.

burlap-sack-16956900

Picture it – in the early 1800’s a family consisting of a husband, a wife, 6 kids, and a small farm house with a chicken coop out behind the house and ricketty old barn off to the side. The Mr. is out plowing a field with their one sway-back horse plodding along trying his best to pull the small plow hitched to him. The hot sun is beating down on the farmers weathered old hat and dirty shirt. Sweat pours down his spine and covers his face. With an old dirty rag he swipes it across his brow and takes a long swallow of the luke warm water from the mason jar his wife filled.

The Mrs. is sweating over the black wood stove while stirring the vegetables around and around in the big cast iron pot. The pile of chopped chicken parts are set aside to add at just the right time. Glancing out the open door she sees the kids playing in the dirt with the weeds stomped down flat around the old swing with it’s splintered seat, that hangs from the one and only big old Oak tree. She can hear their giggles, and smiles.

Sunday morning comes and dressed in their best the family loads into the flat-bed wagon hitched behind their one and only horse and they head for the church down the road a piece. It will take a couple of hours to get there so they’ve left before the sun is fully up.

Greetings are made to neighbors, that live five and ten miles away. Hands are shaken and the Mrs. hands a small gift of a hand crochetted baby hat to the young Mrs who’s pregnant with her first child. There will be no bake sale after church today. The summer’s heat would melt the cake icing. The church steeple stands boldly and proud on the front of the roof of the little log church. The bell suddenly rings out announcing church is ready to begin and all enter and take their seats on the long wooden pews.

A short sermon is given and prayers are lifted for the health of those who are sick and thanking God for His provisions and that old Elmer’s cow didn’t die after all. The pastor asks that the tithe be taken explaining this is the way we honor the Lord.

Wait a minute! Did He say, “Honor the Lord?” Really? From most pulpits I’ve heard from it’s a “scratch my back and I’ll scratch your’s.” I’ll give you my tithe, God, but I fully expect to get more back. You mean it isn’t a get-rich-quick scheme? The testimonies I’ve heard all sound like, “I started tithing and wow, all of a sudden I got a check in the mail for five thousand dollars.”

Can this old country pastor, who rides 35 miles to preach a 20 minute sermon be correct? Yes, the Lord commanded a tenth and we’re suppose to give it to further the kingdom and spread the gospel but are we honoring God by doing so? Nahhh, that can’t be right. God doesn’t need our money. Maybe we do it because we might get suddenly rich, or because we don’t want to look like cheap skates when the offering plate is set before us, or maybe we only give a little because the bills are due.

The Mr. has a small burlap bag in the back of his wagon. After the offering plate has been passed with him handing it off with nothing to put in it, and the church service is dismissed, he steps outside and motions the pastor to his wagon. With a smile that will lite up a room he proudly reaches in and retrieves the wiggling burlap sack. “Pastor, this is all I have to offer the Lord today,” he states while handing the sack with one chicken inside to the pastor. The pastor thanks him profusely and takes the sack inside.

The wife beams up at her husband with pride and says, “let’s head home,” and the family piles into the wagon and with a song in their heart makes their way across the dry arid land.

Was God honored with one chicken or was the tithes dropped in the offering plate more honorable? You be the judge.

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Blessings to you.

How come Nobody’s Singing?

Why They Don’t Sing on Sunday Anymore

Looking around the church last Sunday I noticed that the majority weren’t singing. And most of those who were singing barely moved their lips. The only voices I actually heard were those on stage with microphones.

That’s been the case for years now–in churches large and small. What used to be congregational singing has become congregational staring.

Even when the chipper “worship leader” in contemporary churches bounds on stage and predictably beckons everyone to “stand and worship,” the people compliantly obey the stand command, but then they turn into mute mannequins.

What’s behind this phenomenon? What happened to the bygone sounds of sanctuaries overflowing with fervent, harmonizing voices from the pews, singing out with a passion that could be heard down the street? I suspect it’s a number of unfortunate factors.

Spectator set-up. Increasingly, the church has constructed the worship service as a spectator event. Everyone expects the people on stage to perform while the pew-sitters fulfill the expectation of any good audience–file in, be still, be quiet, don’t question, don’t contribute (except to the offering plate), and watch the spotlighted musicians deliver their well-rehearsed concerts.

Professionalism. It seems it’s paramount for church music to be more professional than participatory. The people in the pews know they pale in comparison to the loud voices at the microphones. Quality is worshipped. So the worshippers balk at defiling the quality with their crude crooning. It’s better to just fake it with a little lip syncing.

Blare. The musicians’ volume is cranked up so high that congregants can’t hear their own voices, or the voices of those around them, even if they would sing. So they don’t sing. What would it add? The overwhelming, amplified sound blares from big speakers, obliterating any chance for the sound of robust congregational singing.

Music choice. Sometimes people refrain from singing because the songs are unfamiliar, hard to sing, or just cheesy. Sometimes worship leaders choose a song that may thematically tie into the day’s sermon topic, but it’s unsingable. Sometimes worship leaders choose lame songs written by their favorite songwriters–themselves.

I admit. I’ve joined the majority. I’ve stopped singing. I’m not happy about it. I know I should overcome these barriers and just praise the Lord with my very unprofessional vocalizations. But I long for an environment that evokes my real heartfelt vocal participation.

(See Thom’s follow-up post here: Confessions of a Worship Wars Mercenary.)

(Thom Schultz is the co-author of Why Nobody Wants to Go to Church Anymore, and the director of the film When God Left the Building.)

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Blessings to you.

Ted Cruz shares his Faith Journey

Ted Cruz Shares Intimate Details of His Faith Journey

Ted Cruz
Presidential candidate U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has openly shared his personal testimony with everyone who will listen. He’s campaigning in Iowa, where committed Christians make up at least half the Republican caucus voting bloc. (Reuters photo)

My faith journey began when I was a young child. When I was 3 years old, my father left my mother and me. At the time, we were living in Calgary, Canada, where my parents owned a small business. Neither of them were Christians, and both were drinking far too much.

My dad decided he didn’t want to be married anymore and he didn’t want to be a father to his toddler son. So he got on a plane and flew to Texas. I don’t remember those lonely months without my dad in the home, but surely they were stressful on my mom, as she turned to drinking even more.

Thankfully, after living several months in Houston, a colleague from the oil and gas business invited my dad to come a Bible study. The Bible study met at the home of a local life insurance agent. And for whatever reason my father went to the Bible study and he sat and listened. And what struck him more than anything else was the peace that everyone there had. He said they all had challenges, they all had problems. He remembers one woman in particular who described how her son would beat her to try to get money for drugs, and yet she and the other people at that Bible study had what the Scripture calls “a peace that passes understanding.” And my father couldn’t understand it, couldn’t understand where that came from, but he knew he wanted it.

So he kept asking questions and they said: “You know what, our pastor’s coming tomorrow night to the house. Do you want to come back tomorrow night, and you can ask our pastor these questions?” So my Dad said, “Alright,” and he came back the next night.

Now my father at that time was a young man. He was an atheist. He was a scientist. And he was convinced he knew everything. He spent four hours arguing with the pastor. “What is this religion nonsense?” “Only the weak-minded would believe that.” And he argued over and over and over until 11 that night. Finally my Dad said, “Alright what about the man in Tibet who’s never heard of Jesus?”

Very wisely, the pastor didn’t take the bait. He said, “Rafael, I don’t know about the man in Tibet. But you have heard of Jesus. What’s your excuse?” My Dad said that hit him like a sledgehammer, and he dropped to his knees in that living room and he gave his life to Jesus. He was baptized that next Sunday, and then he went and got in the car and drove to the airport and bought a ticket and flew back to Calgary.

He flew back to my mother and me. You know, a lot of people ask if faith is real. I can tell you, in my life, if it were not for the transformative love of Jesus Christ, I would have been raised by a single mom without my father in the house.

After my dad became a Christian, we all moved together to Houston. And seeing the amazing transformation in her husband, my mom became a Christian within a year as well. Thus, by age 4, I was blessed to be being raised in a Christian home with two strong (but new) believers as parents.

I was raised in the church. Each night, my dad would read with me from our children’s Bible. We’d memorize Bible verses, and compete to see who could do the best. We’d act out scenes from the Old Testament. We attended Clay Road Baptist Church, pastored by the same Brother Gaylon Wiley who had led my father to the Lord.

When I was 8 years old, I went to our church’s summer camp, along (with) my cousin Bibi. At the invitation, tears streaming down my face, Bibi and I both walked down and gave our lives to Jesus.

And it changed my life. To have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, to know that God’s only Son died to pay for my sins, that I was fallen that I am redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, nothing is more important to me. I am a new creature in Christ, and it central to who I am today.

I couldn’t run for president without relying heavily on my faith. When I have doubts, He comforts me. When I am weak, He gives me strength. From the day we launched the campaign, Heidi and I have prayed simply that His will would be done. Each day, we try not to seek His hand (asking for help winning the race), but rather to seek His face (praying that his love and glory would be seen every day in the campaign).

And it is the agape love of God that helps our two little girls (not to mention Heidi and me) endure the extended time with us on the road, away from the two of them. Sometimes Facetime on our iPhones is just not enough, and prayer helps us get through those struggles.

When I fight to defend religious liberty, it’s not purely a constitutional matter; it’s a lifelong passion and personal commitment. When I stand to defend life and marriage, it is a core tenet of my faith. And when I lead the fight for Israel, it both profoundly benefits our national security and also honors God’s promise in Genesis 12:3.

One of the very best aspects about running for president is that you get to travel the country and meet amazing people, thousands of believers who are passionate and hungry to turn our nation around. A few months back, we did a really big rally in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Couple thousand people, it was a wonderful event.

Unbeknownst to me, Brother Gaylon Wiley—the pastor who had led my dad to the Lord and had baptized me as a Christian—was now retired and living in Tennessee. Much to my surprise, he came to our event.

I hadn’t seen Brother Wiley in 34 years. I was 10 years old the last time I saw him. Now, not much rattles me, but I have to tell you, it choked me up something powerful. I had tears in my eyes, to see him after so many years. Afterward, I gave him a really long hug, and said, “Thank you, thank you for that night in 1975 sharing the gospel to my father.” He simply pointed upward and said, “To God be the glory.”

But I continued, trembling as spoke, “If you hadn’t shared the gospel that night, my entire life would have been different. I would have been raised by a single mom. She likely would never have known Christ, which means, in all probability, I wouldn’t either. Living without my father in the house, and without Jesus in my life, I would have been far more likely to make bad decisions, whether turning to drinking or drugs or even worse. And I never would have met my wife, Heidi, a beautiful Christian woman who was the daughter of missionaries, which means we never would have been able to raise our daughters Caroline and Catherine in a Christian home, where they are taught the Word of God each day.”

“All from your sharing the gospel to my father at 11 at night on April 15, 1975. Ripples in a pond, lives changed for three generations. Thank you so very much for heeding the call. For spreading the Good News.”

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) is a Republican Party candidate for president of the United States.

For a limited time, we are extending our celebration of the 40th anniversary of Charisma. As a special offer, you can get 40 issues of Charisma magazine for only $40!

NEW from CHARISMA: Do you want to encounter the Holy Spirit and hear God speak to you? Increase your faith, discover freedom, and draw near to God! Click Here

Love your neighbor…

It may seem odd to some that as a Christian I have often wondered about the verse in Matthew 22:39       that says that we are to “Love your neighbor as yourself.” When I read that for the first time my immediate thought was, “What if you don’t love yourself?”

I know Christ is the perfect example for us since He showed His great love by dying on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins. But does that mean that I have to die on a cross or step in front of a bus to save  someone from being hit?

Those of us that were raised in abusive homes were not given examples of love. Many were not shown what love is or taught how to show love. So as adults why would we not be confused about this loving others as ourselves verse? Many hate themselves!

I asked the Lord about this the other night and He gave me some examples of showing love to others. He did not include dying on a cross or stepping in front of a bus. He brought to mind a few examples from my own life that I would not have connected to “loving others as yourself.”

One example was when I was in Walmart during the summer months and a lady stepped up beside me to look at some similar products that I was looking at. She had on a beautiful summer dress and I just couldn’t help myself, “Oh, I love your dress! It looks so good on you and so comfortable.” I exclaimed. Her face lit up. “That’s showing love” the Lord said.

Another example was helping a neighbor find her little dog that got out of the fence and ran off. “That’s love” the Lord said.

When a lady stepped up beside me in the drug store and mentioned her son had just died I could see the anguish in her eyes and tears filled mine. I asked if I could give her a hug and she let me. “That’s love” the Lord said.

The lady in line ahead of me at the grocery store was short a dollar and was going to put something back. I handed her a dollar. “That’s love” the Lord said.

Yesterday a lady was in line behind me to check out and had 2 items and a heavy baby carrier with her infant asleep inside. I had several items in a basket. I told her to go ahead of me. “That’s love” the Lord said.

The examples continue each day as the little things I do pop up here and there. He’s showing me that we show His love throughout our days by the kind, considerate, and “loving” things we do. Berating someone is not love but a smile to a stranger, a kind word, encouraging someone, stepping up to protect someone, sending a card, calling someone to say happy birthday, cheering at their accomplishment, all is showing love. We don’t have to have what I call BIG love events (stepping in front of a bus) to be examples of Christ’s love in a hurting world. All the “little” things we do and say can make or break someone’s day.

Wow, I guess His example of being love and showing love isn’t so hard to understand after all. Now some of us need to learn how to love ourselves like that.

~~~~~

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Blessings to you.

Franklin Graham speaks

To all lesbians, gays, bisexuals, & transgenders—

There are many people who will tell you what you want to hear in this life. I hope you will give me an opportunity to tell you the truth here.

Every person on earth shares one thing in common—we are all sinners according to the God who made us. God created us, and He loves us—even more than we can imagine. But we—all of mankind—have a problem, and the Bible calls it sin. Sin is disobedience to God’s laws, and it has infected the entire human race. It is a disease of the soul. The Bible, which is the Word of God and the standard by which we should live, says “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). The Bible is also very clear that the penalty for sin is death (Romans 6:23). Mankind is under a death sentence because of sin—but because of God’s great love for us, He sent His Son Jesus Christ from Heaven to this earth on a rescue mission to save you, and me, and everyone from sin.

Jesus Christ took our sins to the cross where He shed His blood and died for our sins, took our sins to the grave, was buried, and on the third day God raised him to life. He’s not dead—He is alive, and He can come into your heart and your life today if you will let Him. The Bible tells us, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

Sin includes anything that runs counter to God’s Word—His standard for our lives. This includes pride, dishonesty, lack of love for our neighbors, using God’s Name in vain, and loving anything more than Him.

There is also sin involving the misuse of sex. God created sex and gave it to us to enjoy, but tells us in His Holy Word that it is to be reserved for a marriage relationship between a man and a woman. Any kind of sexual activity or sexual relationship outside of that is sin. The world would like to redefine marriage and other boundaries for sex, but it’s not up to us to define. Almighty God, the Creator, set the standard at the beginning of time. The enemies of God would like for you to be deceived, but God wants the best for your life; He wants us to know the truth. God wants all of us to be with Him in heaven in eternity—but our sins block the way.

I love you enough to tell you the truth. I’m a sinner too, and my sins are not any “cleaner” than anyone else’s—they’re just forgiven. When I was 22 years old, I repented of my sins and asked God to forgive me and save me. That night I asked Jesus Christ to come into my life and take control of my life. I’m so thankful for His salvation and to be able to live my life knowing that God has forgiven me of my sins.

The Bible teaches, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” What a promise! I want people everywhere to know that we can be forgiven, cleansed, and set free from the power of sin’s control by believing on Jesus Christ and trusting Him as our Savior and Lord! “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36).

If you’ve never invited Christ into your heart, you can do it right now by praying this prayer from your heart:

“Dear God I am a sinner, I am sorry for my sins. I want to turn from my sins and I ask for your forgiveness. I believe that Jesus Christ is Your Son who died for me on the cross and that You raised Him to life. I want Him to come into my heart and to take control of my life. I want to trust Him as my Savior and follow Him as my Lord from this day forward. In Jesus’ Name I pray. Amen.”

I hope you prayed that prayer today. God bless you, and remember God loves you and so do I.

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Blessings to you.