Wednesday, April 28, 2010

When You Think God is Delayed. . .

Yesterday in prayer, I felt as if God dropped a revelation deep within me, and I thought I would share today.

Matthew 25:1-13 says, "God's kingdom is like ten young virgins who took oil lamps and went out to greet the bridegroom. Five were silly and five were smart. The silly virgins took lamps, but no extra oil. The smart virgins took jars of oil to feed their lamps. The bridegroom did not show up when they expected him, and they all fell asleep. "In the middle of the night someone yelled out, 'He's here! The bridegroom's here! Go out and greet him!' "The ten virgins got up and got their lamps ready. The silly virgins said to the smart ones, 'Our lamps are going out; lend us some of your oil.' "They answered, 'There might not be enough to go around; go buy your own.' "They did, but while they were out buying oil, the bridegroom arrived. When everyone who was there to greet him had gone into the wedding feast, the door was locked. "Much later, the other virgins, the silly ones, showed up and knocked on the door, saying, 'Master, we're here. Let us in.' "He answered, 'Do I know you? I don't think I know you.' "So stay alert. You have no idea when he might arrive.”

It’s clear in this scripture as it says in verse 5 that the bridegroom didn’t show up when they expected him to. Often times in your walk with God it will seem as if God doesn’t show up when you think He will or even that He should for that matter. I personally have been having similar thoughts over some issues in my life.

The disciples all thought that Jesus would return not long after he ascended into heaven. No one expected the earth to be here 2000 years later. You’ll find in serving God that God always has His own since of time. Let me just say before I go on that His timing is always perfect and while we may not understand it this side of eternity He does know what He is doing.

So how do the young women respond in this passage? All of them fall asleep. They get tired of waiting. So often, the same thing happens to us in the kingdom. We’re like “God I’m done with this waiting stuff.” and internally in our spirit we kind of fall asleep. We put off things that God has told us to do, because really like he’s coming in the next minute. We continue to take advantage of our life. However, according to the word we must live every day and moment as if it were out last. (Matthew 24:42-44)

What God showed me yesterday was the difference between the two groups was that the ones who were prepared were ready to go the distance. They had prepared and were willing to stick it out until they saw their king coming. Why was it that the five who weren’t prepared . . . I mean why didn’t they realize the bridegroom was delayed, immediately go back into town, and buy the oil they needed? Those five girls thought they had all the time in the world. When they realized they messed up they tried to scramble to get prepared but it was too late. They missed their breakthrough.

You have to be prepared in your walk that even if God told you to do something and it doesn’t happen right away you are ready to wait it out. You are ready to go the distance. You are ready to endure to the end. Too many people start their Christian walk. They get excited, and then when God doesn’t move the way they think He should or in the timing they think He should they get lackadaisical in their walk and relationship with God. You cannot let disappointments, delays and what seem to be failures to affect your relationship with God. You cannot merely choose to go to sleep out of frustration. Matthew 24:13 says, “But he who endures to the end shall be saved.” I don’t want to face God one day and attempt to use the excuse, “I thought you were late and I got bored.” Somehow, I don’t think that’s a legitimate excuse.

We all face things in our lives that we don’t have the reasons for in our own understanding. But when it all boils down, God is good. He is faithful. What He says will come to pass! We have to be prepared that even if the waiting is longer than we expected we’re still going to endure. We are going to be determined to finish our race. We aren’t going to let disappointments cloud our choices. But we must be wise and allow the Holy Spirit to illuminate our path. God has good plans for your life. But you have to trust Him. You have to trust Him even if you feel you’ve been waiting a really long time. You have to trust He sees the whole picture, and He knows what He is doing.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Tower Down

I grew up in a wooded area in rural Northern country. Way behind my parents’ house was a tower. I can only assume at one time it was built for television signals. But as a child it was my marker for home. No matter where we went we knew when we saw that tower with its red lights in the distance we would be home soon. As a little girl my sister and I used to fight over whose tower it was. She’d say it was hers and I’d say it was mine and we’d go back and forth. We’d even hike through the woods on occasion to have a picnic by the tower. My mom called me last week and that tower was torn down. I guess they hadn’t used it for years and so it was decided it would come down.

Change is a part of life. It’s a part of our Christian walk too. 2 Corinthians 3:18 says, “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” We have to allow that we go through changes in life so that we can continue pursuing what God has for us.

What happens all too often is that many get so comfortable with certain situations that they simply refuse to change. They are trying so hard to hold onto the past their not allowing themselves to let go and trust God. Really, not trusting God is the root of fear of change. It’s a lack of trusting God. We get comfortable and we begin to rely on our circumstances and situations more than we rely on God. Sometimes change can come from God, sometimes it can be circumstances that aren’t from God, but when it’s all boiled away the truth of the matter is that once your God’s child He says Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

The good news is that even though our situations and circumstances may change God does not. (Malachi 3:6) God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He is constant and unchanging. You must put your faith in Him and not in your circumstances. You have to trust Him. He says that in Hebrews 13:5b, “for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” Change is inevitable. He is constant. He is stable. To quote a favorite Lutheran Hymn of mine, “Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand. “

So yes, I was a little sad that such an image of my childhood is no longer there. But it made me realize yet again, that life goes on. My hope and stability is in the Lord Jesus Christ. He is good and faithful! Do you trust Him today? Really trust Him? Know that today I feel God is speaking to you saying, “Remember I am your rock. Remember I am faithful! Remember I am with you always.” Trust Him today, and I promise you won’t be disappointed. He loves you!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

What Are You Making Your gods Out of?

I was reading the Message Bible the other day and came across Isaiah 44:13-20. It rang true and I thought I’d share it today.

Isaiah 44:13-20 says, “The woodworker draws up plans for his no-god, traces it on a block of wood. He shapes it with chisels and planes into human shape—a beautiful woman, a handsome man, ready to be placed in a chapel. He first cuts down a cedar, or maybe picks out a pine or oak, and lets it grow strong in the forest, nourished by the rain. Then it can serve a double purpose: Part he uses as firewood for keeping warm and baking bread; from the other part he makes a god that he worships—carves it into a god shape and prays before it. With half he makes a fire to warm himself and barbecue his supper. He eats his fill and sits back satisfied with his stomach full and his feet warmed by the fire: "Ah, this is the life." And he still has half left for a god, made to his personal design—a handy, convenient no-god to worship whenever so inclined. Whenever the need strikes him he prays to it, "Save me. You're my god." Pretty stupid, wouldn't you say? Don't they have eyes in their heads? Are their brains working at all? Doesn't it occur to them to say, "Half of this tree I used for firewood: I baked bread, roasted meat, and enjoyed a good meal. And now I've used the rest to make an abominable no-god. Here I am praying to a stick of wood!" This lover of emptiness, of nothing, is so out of touch with reality, so far gone, that he can't even look at what he's doing, can't even look at the no-god stick of wood in his hand and say, "This is crazy."

Most people probably don’t make idols out of a tree today. Most of us know that one of the 10 commandments is “Thou Shall Not Have any other gods before me.” (Ex 20:3) But as I was reading this scripture and laughing at the sarcasm of the story it occurred to me that today, thousands of years after the book Isaiah was written, we are still doing this today in our culture.

While we may not be cutting down a tree, how about money? We turn money into our baby gods all the time. We work hard for it. Buy stuff with it, worship it in subtle ways and then wonder why it can’t save us in times of trouble. This very concept is part of the reason America’s financial institutions are in the trouble their in. Because we’ve made money into our god. So many people are still wondering why it’s not saving them. Don’t get me wrong money is an awesome tool, and we need it. But we can’t worship it, or the things that it will buy.

Sometimes we may not be worshipping money but subtly we can be worshipping fear. I’ve talked too many over the years that treat fear just like the woodworker did the wood. They feed that fear and it gets bigger and bigger. It’s like they put that fear on the shelf of their lives and are constantly living as if it was their god. 2 Timothy 1:7 (KJV) says, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”

While many times we’re not purposing in our hearts to put things before God, it’s so easy to do just that. Idols cannot save us. Your life has room for only one god. There is a throne in your heart and unless Jesus Christ is firmly seated there you are off. Nothing can come close to Jesus. He saves us. He delivers us. He heals you. I have news for you. Money can’t save you. Fear is just going to leave you broken and bound. Only Jesus will bring freedom.

I want to leave you all with this thought today. What is truly on the throne of your heart? Is it Jesus or something else? Are you acting like that foolish woodcutter in Isaiah fashioning your god in the image you want, or are you yielding to God the maker of the universe? You can play the part of a Christian. You can pretend that all is well and deep down your worshipping other things. Please check yourself today. Don’t role play with God. Give Him your life. Trust in Him.

Monday, April 19, 2010

It Was The Summer of the Squirt Guns

I have a very fun family. It wasn’t an uncommon sight at my house for someone to be in a water fight or get thrown into the pool. It wouldn’t take long for the fight to spill over onto the entire family at gatherings. You would think anywhere indoors would be off limits, but that thought would be wrong. One of my earliest memories was my dad taking the jug of water that was always kept in the refrigerator to my mom in our living room and pouring it over her head.

There was one particular summer there was a water gun war in which I started. I was probably somewhere in my tween years. It started with what was called a “Zap-It” gun. I bought it at our local Meijer store back when the store was so small it was in a plaza. The “Zap-It” gun was this gun that came with ink that would eventually disappear on whatever it would be sprayed on. So for a few weekends I ran around spraying everyone. Then my dad decided he’d go and buy a squirt gun. But my dad doesn’t do anything half way. He goes and finds a battery powered automatic squirt gun. Then my sister couldn’t very well be defenseless. She goes and buys a battery powered automatic squirt gun, but hers had side tanks that you were supposedly able to wear as back up. I’m sure other things happened that summer. But what I remember is water fights breaking out all the time. I remember my aunt dragging the hose for her own defense. I remember the feel of grassy soil under my bare feet as we ran around the house in pursuit of another family member.

Competition isn’t such a bad thing, we had fun that summer. But when in leaks in subtle ways into the church it can get us all out of order. Most of us think that competition in church can just be about physical things. So and so got this car and now I want it and am going to get a better one. But no, it can also happen in spiritual ways too. So and so got something prophetically in prayer so someone else things they need to get something better. So they try to conjure a word or vision. Someone got promoted and you didn’t so you think that you need to get a better position. Someone in the church is getting a blessing where they’ve worked hard for and others are so jealous that they feel the need to run their mouth about the person because deep down they want what the blessing without all the work. It happens all the time in churches.

Paul says in Philippians 1:15 (Message) “It's true that some here preach Christ because with me out of the way, they think they'll step right into the spotlight. But the others do it with the best heart in the world. One group is motivated by pure love, knowing that I am here defending the Message, wanting to help. The others, now that I'm out of the picture, are merely greedy, hoping to get something out of it for themselves. Their motives are bad. They see me as their competition, and so the worse it goes for me, the better—they think—for them.”

It’s sad to say, but many times in the body this is exactly how we see out brothers and sisters in the Lord. We see them as our competition. As if we’re in some cosmic spiritual dodge ball game and it’s our job to be more spiritual than the person beside us.

This is the wrong way of thinking. God sees what motivates us as people. He knows what we’re thinking even if everyone else doesn’t.

The definition of love according to 1 Corinthians 13:3-7 is, “If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don't love, I've gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I'm bankrupt without love.
Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn't want what it doesn't have.
Love doesn't strut,
Doesn't have a swelled head,
Doesn't force itself on others,
Isn't always "me first,"
Doesn't fly off the handle,
Doesn't keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn't revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.”

Jesus instructed us in Luke 10:27 (MSG) “He said, "That you love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and muscle and intelligence—and that you love your neighbor as well as you do yourself."

We cannot say we “love” our neighbor as ourselves if we are so caught up in a competitive “me first” mentality. That is not unity. That is fake unity. That is pretending to play a part. 1 Corinthians 12:25-26 says, “The way God designed our bodies is a model for understanding our lives together as a church: every part dependent on every other part, the parts we mention and the parts we don't, the parts we see and the parts we don't. If one part hurts, every other part is involved in the hurt, and in the healing. If one part flourishes, every other part enters into the exuberance.”

It’s time that everyone checks their motives. Be honest with yourself. There is no sense of pretending because God sees the truth. Are we really walking in love with our neighbors or are we caught up in the spiritual competition? I have news for you, that competition is a never ending cycle. You can’t win.

God doesn’t want us to be in a spiritual competition with each other. We’re all on different paths. We all have different callings and destinies. If you are so caught up in beating out everyone you will miss your destiny. You won’t get to where God needs you to be in this life. You’ll continue to go in circles and wonder why everyone else seems to be getting blessed and your not. Stop the cycle today. Realize your destiny and your walk is as individual as you. You cannot run someone else’s race. You have to focus on your own.

God desires his people to walk in unity. He wants his people genuinely love each other, and encourage one another. He wants ALL his people to thrive. Be encouraged today to run the course that your on. You’ll be glad you did.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Holy Spirit GPS

If you live in the Central Florida area the story I’m about to share is currently plastered all over the news. However, being that this blog goes all around the world now, I thought I’d share a bit of God news today.

On Friday afternoon, 11 year-old Nadia Bloom got lost in the woods. She disappeared and all they found of her was her bicycle. They assumed she was in a very swampy area, but no one was sure. The area they thought she was in was pure Florida swamp. Gators, snakes, and bugs that are big enough to make grown people squirm. The police started looking for her. K-9 units were released. As the days wore on like sandpaper hope was beginning to fade. I can’t imagine as a parent, the fear her parents continued to fight. There are miles of uncharted swamp in this area and the likelihood this little girl was alive was begging to fade.

Enter James King on the situation. He is a fellow church member and according to his wife the church is big and she doesn’t think they had ever met the Bloom family. James King is a family man with 5 children and one on the way. He grew up in Florida woods and has a military background. When Nadia went missing he felt an extra burden on his heart.

A family friend says that Monday night they all went in the woods and began to pray. They were heavily interceding and praying in tongues. He says that Mr. King began to intercede and he knew he was going to be the one that found her. He began to fast and pray that God would direct Him.

On Tuesday morning he awoke, and prepared for a day in the swamps. He taped up his shoelaces so his laces wouldn’t get caught. He took a cell phone with GPS positioning so when he found her the police could find him. He gathered trail mix and a machete and was facing trying to find a needle in a haystack. He felt God telling him exactly where to get into the woods. According to his testimony on the news, he got to that point and the Holy Spirit told him to start going East. For two hours the voice of God directed him in the swamp. For two hours he was in gator infested waters, and for two hours he listened clearly to where God told him to go.

In the early morning yesterday James King found Nadia Bloom. I don’t always watch the news but I watched the police as the emerged from their journey through the woods as they brought her out. It took them an hour and the only way they could get her out was a machete and a helicopter telling them where to go. I cried to see this little girl alive. King’s first words to the media? “Proverbs says In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. God told me where to go and He led me right to her!” Today King is being labeled as a hero.

So many times God puts things on our heart to do, and so many times we reason within ourselves that we are one person and we cannot make a difference. It would have been easy for James King to shrug off the leading of the Holy Spirit. It would have been easy for him to say, “If the K-9 units couldn’t find her how can I?” It would have been human for him to say, “I have six kids of my own, I can’t be going through a gator filled swamp!” But James King didn’t. He obeyed the Lord and because of his sacrifice a little girl is alive and will probably getting out of the hospital today. While she was dehydrated and has a lot of bug bites, little Nadia will be fine.

Isaiah 30:21 says, “Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” Whenever you turn to the right hand Or whenever you turn to the left.”

What is the cherry on top of this entire story is now even though this ordeal is over the news media is going wild for this story and reporting Mr. King continuing to say, “It was God!” I saw even the chief of police say, “If I didn’t believe in miracles before I do now.” Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” I’m not joking that I hope someone gives Mr. King a book deal out of this.

I rehash this story this morning to encourage all of you. Listen to the voice of God and obey it. Be willing to go out of your way to help people. I’m sure dredging through a swamp wasn’t Mr. King’s idea of fun, but he was an open vessel that God used. Trust when God tells you to listen. It would have been so easy for him to ignore what God was saying.

Nadia prayed out there in those woods, and God sent James King. There is a world out there praying for miracles in their lives. They are stuck in the swamp of life and they need your help. Is God sending them you? Are you obeying? He’ll tell you where to go. He’ll show what to do. You have to be obedient.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

I'm only one person!

Many of you have probably heard me tell this story before, but I felt to repeat it. God called me into ministry when I was in the 6th grade. I struggled with that call for years. The thoughts of my own inadequacy seemed to plague me. It was as if a beacon of questions to God continued to resound in my spirit, and while I tried to run faster than the questions I began avoiding them. I couldn’t figure out why God had called me and what he was thinking. I don’t know if any of you have ever had moments when you felt as if you were wrestling with God but I sure did. I was getting tired of it. Time after time I would bring an excuse of question up to God and time after time He’d answer me. My excuses were becoming like dominoes and they were falling before me. I kept trying to raise them, but I was loosing my struggle and I knew it. I was now a junior in high school and while I still had plans with eventually perusing ministry, internally my questions raged.

One of the last doubts I had was the “I’m only one person, what difference can I make?” My little Lutheran youth group traveled up to a conference in a metro inter city area. As part of the youth conference we had to do some mission work by cleaning up a local park. It was early in the afternoon, and only two young girls really played in the park. It was littered with trash and broken bottles everywhere. As the girls swung on the swings gabbing away, my mom got to talking to them. The condition of their park was normal. As I knelt before a pile of broken glass, I watched the green tinted glass in the son. I felt the Lord deep on the inside of me say words that have always stayed with me. I’d been murmuring all day about me being only one person. How could I as one person make a difference in the world? But as I stared at that glass I could almost audibly hear the voice of God say, “That piece of glass won’t end up in that child’s knee.” With the next piece of glass I heard the same thing, and the next and the next. That day I stopped struggling with God about me being called into ministry. I’ve wondered the how’s but I stopped wrestling. Later we went to the mall and I purposely purchased a ball hat, and often I’ll wear that hat and remember that one person can make a difference.

Jesus was only one person. His seed sown has born millions of other seeds. He made a difference.

We have to get to the point where we trust God! Jeremiah 1:5 says, “"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations." God formed you in the womb. That means He knows the giftings on the inside of you. He knows you better than you know yourself.

You have to stop wrestling with God when He’s calling you to do something. You’re frustrating Him and yourself. You have to get past yourself. It doesn’t matter your past. It doesn’t matter the age. It doesn’t matter the family. It doesn’t matter the education. It doesn’t matter what you look like. It matters who God is on the inside of you, and His plans for you are perfect.

In 1 Samuel 16 God instructs Samuel to go to Jesse’s sons and anoint the future king. That among these sons is the king God has chosen. So Samuel goes. Seven sons pass before him and I’m sure at this point Samuel is questioning if he really heard from God. When Samuel asks Jesse again, they’re like “yea there is one more brother. He’s the baby of the family. Earlier even the Lord warned Samuel don’t look on his outside appearance but trust me. Finally David shows up and Samuel knows this is the one chosen. According to culture, the high honor would go most likely to the oldest. That one would have birthrights. But God didn’t choose the likely one. He chose David.

In the early years I struggled with why God called me, God finally revealed to me it wasn’t that he chose me. He created me for the purpose He had for me. I was created for a purpose. So was David. So were you. You were created for plans and purposes and in your life is destiny. Don’t short change yourself today, just start walking it out. Don’t keep wrestling, just do it. Begin today to walk in your destiny through Christ Jesus, and you’ll be glad you did.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

What Is My Motivation?

I finished reading the book “and the Shofar Blew” by Francine Rivers earlier this morning. The story almost brought me to tears and has brought me do a lot of self reflection today and I thought I’d share. The book is about a young family in ministry. Husband, wife and three year old son moving across country to take over pastorship of a small church. The husband is the son of a well known televangelist with years of father son issues leaving a root of rejection in this upcoming pastor. In his mind he becomes a one man show. This man begins to neglect his wife and son for the sake of building this ministry. He becomes so focused on building up his own kingdom. It was a sad thing to read. He begins to compromise. He doesn’t preach on everything because it offends some people. His wife, His friends, and a precious elder of the church continue to try to talk to him, but his pride gets in the way. Everyone who will not help him to build up this ministry he manipulates to try to remove. It’s all about numbers and the building of his kingdom. It becomes subtle but soon he’s manipulating the word of God to fit his needs and wants. In the end he’s finally restored to God, but not until he almost looses his wife, son, and has to walk away from the congregation.

We’ve all in ministry had to take moments at various times in our walk to reflect why it is we’re doing what we’re doing. Let’s face it. Sometimes ministry can be difficult and one needs to constantly reflect on why their doing what they are in life.

Many years ago I worked in a card gift shop in my hometown, and one divine day I got to talking to this woman who came in the store. Today I know she was a divine encounter and I needed to hear what she said. We talked for awhile. She’d worked in the mission field for years. In mid sentence she stopped and said something that will forever stay with me. She said something along the lines of, “I always thought if I would be in ministry my kids would somehow be taken care of, that somehow they’d make it okay. But I put the ministry before them. It wasn’t worth it.” The remorse in her voice immediately changed the conversation, but somehow I’ve thought of her often.

It can be so easy to be so focused on ministry that we loose sight of our priorities. God comes first, our spouse second, our kids third and then ministry or our jobs. It can be so easy to ignore the small pleas to go and play catch and bounce on the trampoline because someone else has called you hurting. It can get so easy to slowly get deceived and think that it’s all about us. Jesus was constantly doing things that people thought of his stature was beneath Him. He made time for the children (Mark 9:36), He hung out with people who didn’t have the best reputation because they need Him. (Matthew 9:12) He didn’t just manipulate people for what they could do for Him. He genuinely loved them.

I’m not saying that if you have kids you can’t do anything until they grow up. What I am saying is there is a balance in the kingdom. We have realize when to shut the computer, phone, or titles aside and simply be a parent.

God did not place us on this earth to build our kingdom. He called us to build His kingdom! I’m saddened today by this book because unfortunately I know similar stories happen every day. It’s made me look at my own life and again reflect where my priorities lay? I want to challenge you to do the same. Are you building God’s kingdom or your own? If people around you are trying to tell you something don’t you think you should listen? Proverbs 12:15 says, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise.” Yes, God’s grace is never failing. And He does have an ability to restore things that you’ve messed up in, but make sure you’re on that right path today. The alternative is too great handle. That alternative whether we realize it or not is like ripples on a pond. It goes past ourselves and affects many more people. Will you affect the people in your lives and bring them to God? Or will you lead them toward destruction?

Monday, April 5, 2010

Your Will Be Done Lord

Louis Zamperini is a man that most people have probably never heard about, but his story is amazing. I stumbled upon his book Devil At My Heels some years ago while doing research for another book of mine, and then last week I remembered a scene in this story and wanted to hear it again for research for the one I’m writing now. I went to youtube and found various short films on him.

For those of you who don’t know about his story it’s amazing. He was born to poor Italian Immigrants in California. His life was heading not too much. He was a punk kid who had run ins with the local police on a regular basis. He discovered a talent for running, and that was what made him begin to do something with himself. At 19 years old he qualified for the historic 1936 Olympics in Berlin. While in Berlin he stole a Nazi flag because he thought it looked cool, and almost spurred an international incident. Met Adolf Hitler before it came known what was really going on in Germany at the time. He missed his chance to really shine at an Olympics due to the outbreak of WWII. When WWII broke out he joined and ended up flying in a bomber crew. He was on a plane that got shot down over the Pacific Ocean. Everyone thought he was dead; He and another soldier survived over a month on a raft in the ocean to catch sharks with their bare hands and eat them raw, and live off rain water. When they hit land, it was only to discover they’d drifted across the ocean in to Japanese territory. He was captured, tortured, and held as a POW. Because of his public appeal the Japanese kept trying to get him to go on the radio and become an anti-American personality. While he had one radio session he refused to do more, and it caused him more hardship in the prison. When the war finally ended and he came home, obviously he wasn’t the same person. He wanted to save up his money go back to Japan and kill his captors. He wanted revenge. He began drinking too much. He married and his marriage was failing. He had nightmares of his time in the POW camps.

His wife out of a divine connection found out about a then starting up evangelist who was having a tent meeting nearby. Few people had ever heard of Billy Graham at the time. Louis Zamperini attended the meeting and gave his life to the Lord. His public appeal and fame is what helped bring publicity to this new and upcoming Billy Graham’s ministry. The press went wild. Billy Graham’s ministry began taking off.

Louis actually got opportunity years later to go back to Japan. But it wasn’t to kill his former captors. He went back to preach to them, and led many of them to the Lord. The interview with him I saw was a promo for 1998 Nagano Japan Olympics where he’d once been a captive. At age 81, he was given the torch to run through the city.

I love this man’s story, and I keep waiting on them to make a movie out of his life. According to him he’s never seen a script he liked. It is a story of redemption. It is a story of extraordinary survival. It’s a story of what God can do.

So many things happen in life. God’s will is never for evil. But God can turn what happens in our lives for good. If you listen to Mr. Zamperini tell his story it’s amazing to hear. He wanted revenge on the people that had tortured him. He wanted freedom from his nightmares, but the very people he wanted revenge from God used him to touch. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” Which means bad things will happen, but God can work it out to His glory.

We have to get to a point in our lives that it’s not about what we want. When we come to the cross we have to lay our lives down. We have to realize that we are called to a higher purpose and God has plans to change us and use us for His kingdom. God takes our success, he takes our failures, he takes what we think is our talents, he takes our shortcomings. We have to lay them down, and according to Luke 9:23 “Then he said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”

It can get very tiring fighting with God. Trust me I’ve done it over various things. It can get tiring when God’s told you to do something and you still insist on your own way. But you have to trust God that He knows you more than you know yourself. He sees your end from your beginning and you have to get to a place just like Jesus did in the Garden “not my will but yours be done.” We have to stop fighting with God, and start yielding to His will. It’s not about us. It’s time today to lay down those things that you’ve been insisting on holding onto. Like Louis Zamperini you might be surprised what God can do. You’ll be glad you did.