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Post  Admin on Tue 23 Jul 2013, 7:12 pm

Today's Daily Encounter

A Prayer to Transform Your Life  

"This is the confidence that we have in Him [God], that
if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.
And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we
know that we have the petitions that we have asked of
Him."1

From time to time I encourage Daily Encounter
subscribers to start his or her day with the following
prayer: "Dear God, again today I commit and trust my
life and way to you. I am available, please make me
usable, use me to be a witness for Jesus, and help me
to be 'as Jesus' in some way to every life I
touch--today!"

I have prayed this prayer every morning for many years
and, by the grace of God, plan to pray it every day
until the Lord calls me home. The fact is that God uses
ordinary everyday people who are available to do his
work here on earth--often in unusual ways.

Today, for example, I was on our sidewalk talking with
our gardener when a neighbor from over the hill from us
walked by and wanted to talk to me. She was deeply hurt
over a situation that was caused by another neighbor
who, according to her, "badly cussed her out." She
shared with me what happened and was crying. It upset
me too and I ended up crying with her. I then asked if
I could hug and pray for her, to which she readily
agreed, after which, she genuinely thanked me.

Furthermore, our gardener stepped aside a little but
watched the entire event. I'll bet he never witnessed
anything like this before--neither had I. 

Reminds me of the hymn that says: "God moves in a
mysterious way / His wonders to perform / He plants his
footsteps on the seas / And rides upon the storm."

Again I encourage you to pray the following prayer
every morning of your life and see how God will use you
too.

Today's Prayer: "Dear God, again today I commit and
trust my life and way to you. I am available, please
make me usable and use me to be a witness for Jesus,
and help me to be 'as Jesus' in some way to every life
I touch. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer.
Gratefully in Jesus' name, amen."

1. 1 John 5:14-15 (NKJV).

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  NOTE: If you would like to accept God's forgiveness
  for all your sins and His invitation for a full pardon
  Click on: http://www.actsweb.org/invitation.php. Or
  if you would like to re-commit your life to Jesus Christ, 
  please click on http://www.actsweb.org/decision.php to note this.
  
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  "Daily Encounter by Richard (Dick) Innes (c) 2012
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Post  Admin on Mon 22 Jul 2013, 3:33 pm

Today's Daily Encounter
The Declining U.S.A. Church  

Jesus gave specific instructions to his followers when
he said: "Go into all the world, and preach the gospel
to every creature… . Go therefore and teach all
nations, baptizing them … teaching them to observe all
things whatsoever I have commanded you."1

Tragically the church in the U.S.A. today is in sad
decline. "Few have spoken as sharply concerning the
failures within the Church as Wes Moore, Founder of
Evidence America, who wrote: 'We have no strategy to
recruit and train new evangelists within our
congregations. We don't organize our people to
effectively reach the lost. Over 90% of our people have
absolutely no intention of sharing their faith. Our
leaders are often too apathetic to make any worthwhile
changes. All the while, the numbers stare us in the
face: 85% of our churches are declining. When you
measure church growth against population growth, only
about 4% of churches in America are actually growing
(that means 96% of churches are actually declining)…
And, according to the Barna Group, of the more than
350,000 Protestant churches in America, over 60,000
don't have a single convert each year.'"2

I can't help but wonder, too, is another reason why the
church in the U.S. is in decline because we have
substituted entertainment for prayer supposedly to
attract the younger generation? I think that Pastor Jim
Cymbala, pastor of the once struggling Brooklyn
Tabernacle in New  York City (now with 10,000 members),
might agree. In a Sunday morning church sermon he was
stressing the critical importance of prayer if their
church was going to be blessed by God, and shared the
following: 
A minister from Australia (or perhaps New Zealand)
happened to be present that morning--a rare occurrence.
I introduced him and invited him to say a few words. He
walked to the front and made just one comment:

"I heard what your pastor said. Here's something to
think about: You can tell how popular a church is by
who comes on Sunday morning. You can tell how popular
the pastor or evangelist is by who comes on Sunday
night. But you can tell how popular Jesus is by who
comes to the prayer meeting."

And with that, he walked off the platform. That was
all. I never saw him again.3

From my observation the weekly church prayer meeting,
by and large, is a thing of the past. No wonder we are
in decline.  

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please help me to be a
vital part of a praying church that believes--in
obedience to Christ's commission--that the supreme task
of the church is the evangelization of the world. Thank
you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully in
Jesus' name, amen."

1. Mark 16:20; Matthew 28:19-20.
2. Source:
http://evangelicalviewpoint2006.blogspot.com/ May 1,
2012.
3. Cymbala, Jim; Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire, Zondervan, p.
28.  

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  NOTE: If you would like to accept God's forgiveness
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  Click on: http://www.actsweb.org/invitation.php. Or
  if you would like to re-commit your life to Jesus Christ, 
  please click on http://www.actsweb.org/decision.php to note this.
  
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Post  Admin on Fri 19 Jul 2013, 7:19 pm

Today's Daily Encounter
The Power of Tears  

"As he [Jesus] approached Jerusalem and saw the city,
he wept over it and said, 'If you, even you, had only
known on this day what would bring you peace--but now
it is hidden from your eyes.'"1

Walter Wangerin in his book, The Manger Is Empty, "has
a wonderful story, called 'Matthew, Seven, Eight, and
Nine' about how he tried to stop his son Matthew from
stealing comic books. He tried various uses of the law
over several years and continued to fail. Finally, he
resorted to something he rarely used: a spanking. He
did it deliberately, almost ritualistically, and he was
so upset when he finished that he left the room and
wept. After pulling himself back together, he went in
to Matthew and hugged him. 

"A number of years later, Matthew and his mother were
doing some general reminiscing, and Matthew happened to
bring up the time when he kept stealing comic books.
'And you know why I finally stopped?' he asked. 'Sure,'
she said, 'because Dad finally spanked you.' 'No!'
replied Matthew, 'No, because Dad cried.'"2

When Jesus' friend, Lazarus, died, the Bible records
that Jesus wept.3 And, today, when you and I suffer,
and when people reject him, Jesus still cares and
grieves deeply just as he did over the death of
Lazarus, and as he did over the people in Jerusalem in
his day when they rejected his offer of eternal
salvation. 

Frank E. Graeff, the hymn writer, asked, "Does Jesus
care when my heart is pained / Too deeply for mirth and
song / As the burdens press and the cares distress /
And the way grows weary and long? O yes, he cares; I
know He cares / His heart is touched with my grief /
When the days are weary, the long nights dreary / I
know my Savior cares."

Yes, dear reader, Jesus cares about you and longs that
you will come to him with all you heartaches, and
especially that you will come to him for the gift of
forgiveness and eternal life. If you have not received
God's forgiveness and his gift of eternal life, for
help be sure to read the article, "How to Be Sure
You're a Real Christian--without having to be
religious," at: www.actsweb.org/christian. 

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, thank you that you know
and understand me more than anyone else ever could, and
that you care deeply for me. Please help me to grasp
the fullness of your love and concern and learn to
trust in you implicitly no matter what. Thank you for
hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully in Jesus'
name, amen."

1. Luke 19:41-42 (NIV).
2. Walter Wangerin, Jr., The Manger Is Empty, pp.
116-132. Cited on
http://girardianlectionary.net/year_b/lent5b.htm
3. John 11:35.

<Smile)))><    
  
  NOTE: If you would like to accept God's forgiveness
  for all your sins and His invitation for a full pardon
  Click on: http://www.actsweb.org/invitation.php. Or
  if you would like to re-commit your life to Jesus Christ, 
  please click on http://www.actsweb.org/decision.php to note this.
  
  * * * * * * * 
  Copyright (c) 2013 by ACTS International. 
  When copying or forwarding include the following: 
  "Daily Encounter by Richard (Dick) Innes (c) 2012
  ACTS International.
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Post  Admin on Thu 18 Jul 2013, 7:22 pm

Today's Daily Encounter
Where Are the Nine?  

Jesus asked, "Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the
other nine?"1

"You probably read about Paddy who was driving down the
street in a sweat because he had an important meeting
and couldn't find a parking place.

"Looking up to heaven he said, 'Lord take pity on me.
If you find me a parking place I will go to Mass every
Sunday for the rest of me life and give up me Irish
whiskey.'

"Miraculously, a parking place appeared.

"Paddy looked up again and said, 'Never mind, I found
one.'"2

While we make jokes about such things, I wonder how
often I pray, God answers, and I forget to say thank
you … or fail to even see that God has answered my
prayer because it wasn't in the way that I expected it
to be.

The fact is, when my prayer is sincere from the heart,
God always hears and answers it. Sometimes the answer
is "Yes," sometimes it is "No," and sometimes it is
"Wait a while." And sometimes it is in a way that is
totally different from what I expected. 

The important thing is that we always thank God for
hearing and answering our prayers regardless of the way
in which they are answered, because God always knows
what is best for us. Let's not be like the ten lepers
whom Jesus healed and only one came back to acknowledge
and thank Jesus for healing him.

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, thank you that you always
hear and answer my prayers in one way or another. May I
always have a grateful heart and learn to thank you
regardless of the way in which you answer my prayer.
Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer.
Gratefully in Jesus' name, amen."

1. Luke 17:17 (NIV).
2. Author unknown.

<Smile)))><    
  
  NOTE: If you would like to accept God's forgiveness
  for all your sins and His invitation for a full pardon
  Click on: http://www.actsweb.org/invitation.php. Or
  if you would like to re-commit your life to Jesus Christ, 
  please click on http://www.actsweb.org/decision.php to note this.
  
  * * * * * * * 
  Copyright (c) 2013 by ACTS International. 
  When copying or forwarding include the following: 
  "Daily Encounter by Richard (Dick) Innes (c) 2012
  ACTS International.
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Post  Admin on Wed 17 Jul 2013, 10:00 pm

Today's Daily Encounter

Discipline vs. Punishment  

God said, "Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline."1

Nine-year-old Al had disobeyed his father who, as a
strict disciplinarian, sent him with a note to a police
station in London. When Al came in late after curfew,
his father met him at the door and handed him a note
and said, "Take it to the jailhouse."

Al was terrified. 

"The officer, a friend of his father, opens the note,
reads it, and nods,. 'Follow me.' He leads the
wide-eyed youngster to a jail cell, opens the door, and
tells him to enter. The officer clangs the door shut.
'This is what we do to naughty boys,' he explains and
walks away…. The jail sentence lasts only five minutes.
But those five minutes felt like five months. Al never
forgot that day. The sound of the clanging door, he
often told people, stayed with him the rest of his
life.

"The fear of losing a father's love exacts a high toll.
Al spent the rest of his life hearing the clanging
door. That early taste of terror contributed to his
lifelong devotion to creating the same in others. For
Al--Alfred Hitchcock--made a career out of scaring
people."2

True, discipline is important, but it always needs to
fit the crime. Some children are impaired for life
because of severe punishment as a child. Others are
left terrified if they were beaten severely or abused.
It is imperative that parents never discipline out of
anger because that is punishment, not discipline.
Discipline always needs to be in love.  

Those whom God loves, he disciplines in love--not
punishes in anger. We need to do the same with our
children.

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, thank you that when you
discipline me it is always out of your love for me and
for my good. Help me to do the same when disciplining
my children. May it always be in love and never out of
anger. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer.
Gratefully in Jesus' name, amen."

1. Revelation 3:19 (NIV).
2. From UpWords from Max Lucado, www.maxlucado.com

<Smile)))><    
  
  NOTE: If you would like to accept God's forgiveness
  for all your sins and His invitation for a full pardon
  Click on: http://www.actsweb.org/invitation.php. Or
  if you would like to re-commit your life to Jesus Christ, 
  please click on http://www.actsweb.org/decision.php to note this.
  
  * * * * * * * 
  
  Copyright (c) 2013 by ACTS International. 
  When copying or forwarding include the following: 
  "Daily Encounter by Richard (Dick) Innes (c) 2012
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Post  Admin on Tue 16 Jul 2013, 3:07 pm

Today's Daily Encounter

A Sermon Walking  

"Be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving
yourselves."1

In 1953 reporters gathered at a Chicago railway station
waiting to meet the 1952 Nobel Peace Prize winner.

He was a big man, six-feet-four tall with bushy hair
and a large mustache.

Reporters were excited to see him and expressed what an
honor it was meet him. Cameras were flashing,
compliments were being expressed--but seeing beyond the
adulation the visitor noticed an elderly Afro-American
woman struggling to carry her two large suitcases.

"Excuse me," he said as he went to the aid of this
woman. Picking up her cases, he escorted her to a bus
and then apologized to the reporters for keeping them
waiting.

The man was Dr. Albert Schweitzer, the famous
missionary-doctor who had invested his life helping
poor and sick people in Africa.

A member of the reception committee remarked to one of
the reporters, "That's the first time I ever saw a
sermon walking."

The measure of any man or woman is not their name,
their fame, nor what they say--but what they do.

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please help me to be a
doer of your Word and not just a hearer. Grant that my
life will also be a sermon walking. Thank you for
hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus'
name, amen." 

1. James 1:22.

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Post  Admin on Sun 14 Jul 2013, 10:12 pm

Today's Daily Encounter
Sometimes Dads Win  
"Do you see a man diligent in his business? He will
stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure
men."1

When singer John Davidson was learning to drive, he
wanted a car of his own. His father, a Baptist
minister, told him he could have a car providing he got
good grades at school, read his Bible more, and got his
hair cut shorter.

"On my next report card," John said, "I got all B's and
told my dad I had been reading the Bible. He said that
was fine, but how about the haircut? 'Well,' I told
him, 'in reading the Bible I found that Jesus had long
hair.'"

"My father agreed and said, 'Yes, but he also walked
everywhere.'"

There seems to be something about human nature in that
many of us want as much as we can get for as little
effort as possible. However, we only truly appreciate
that which we work for. The reality of life is that
there are no free lunches.

I tried to instill in my sons the belief that they can
pretty much do what they want with their life and
accomplish what they desire providing they are willing
to adequately prepare themselves for what they want to
do and work hard enough to achieve it. As Solomon put
it, "The sluggard craves and gets nothing, but the
desires of the diligent are fully satisfied."2

As another has said, "Everybody is self-made. Usually
only the successful will admit it!"

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please help me to become
the person you want me to be and diligently do all that
you would have me to do. Thank you for hearing and
answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."

1. Proverbs 22:29.
2. Proverbs 13:4 (NIV).

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  NOTE: If you would like to accept God's forgiveness
  for all your sins and His invitation for a full pardon
  Click on: http://www.actsweb.org/invitation.php. Or
  if you would like to re-commit your life to Jesus Christ, 
  please click on http://www.actsweb.org/decision.php to note this.
  
  * * * * * * * 
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  When copying or forwarding include the following: 
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Post  Admin on Sat 13 Jul 2013, 1:45 pm

Today's Daily Encounter
Rising Above Discouragement  

"Hope deferred makes the heart sick; but when dreams
come true at last, there is life and joy."1

"These boys won't make it. Go back to Liverpool, Mr.
Epstein, you have a good business there." This is what
a recording company executive told the Beatles' manager
at their first audition! Can you imagine that?

"That kid can't play baseball. He can't pull the ball"
is what the manager of the Brave's Triple-A team said
about Hank Aaron in 1952. Aaron went on to hit 755 home
runs, the most ever in the history of baseball.

Remember, no matter what the critics say, in God's
economy everybody has a purpose and everybody has
something of value to offer. Never give up until you
know what your God-given talent is, or talents are,
sharpen them, dedicate them to God, and give them all
you've got. Take courage. Nothing you do for God will
ever be in vain.

If what you are choosing to do is in harmony with God's
will for you, then dream big dreams, work hard, trust
God and in time you will reap what you sow--and will be
richly rewarded. Know your God-given dreams and keep
hope alive. In due time you will be rewarded if you
"faint not."

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please help me to know my
God-given life purpose and dream. Help me to be
faithful to this calling and keep hope alive so that I
will receive the reward that comes from you. Thank you
for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in
Jesus' name, amen."

1. Proverbs 13:12 (TLB)(NLT).

<Smile)))><    
  
  NOTE: If you would like to accept God's forgiveness
  for all your sins and His invitation for a full pardon
  Click on: http://www.actsweb.org/invitation.php. Or
  if you would like to re-commit your life to Jesus Christ, 
  please click on http://www.actsweb.org/decision.php to note this.
  
  * * * * * * *  
  Copyright (c) 2013 by ACTS International. 
  When copying or forwarding include the following: 
  "Daily Encounter by Richard (Dick) Innes (c) 2012
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Post  Admin on Thu 11 Jul 2013, 9:56 pm

Today's Daily Encounter

The Power of Courage  

"Have not I commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do
not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord
your God will be with you wherever you go."1

When she was only nineteen months of age, Helen Keller
suffered an illness that left her blind and deaf. Soon
she was unable to speak. By the age of seven she was
extremely frustrated by her inability to communicate.
Fortunately, her parents were able to hire a
20-year-old teacher to come and live with them.

The teacher, Anne Sullivan, was a very capable and
loving individual and was able to put courage into
Helen by teaching her to communicate with the use of
her fingers. Helen was greatly encouraged, learned to
read by Braille and then read everything she could lay
her hands on.

She desperately wanted to earn a university degree and,
passing the entrance exams to Radcliffe, pleaded with
officials to allow her to attend and bring Anne
Sullivan with her to translate the lectures into her
manual code. The following is part of what she wrote to
the admissions office:

"I realize that the obstacles in the way of my
receiving a college education are very great--to others
they may seem insurmountable; but, dear Sir, a true
soldier does not acknowledge defeat before the battle."

Helen was admitted and graduated with high honors. She
then spent the rest of her life helping to improve the
lot of and put courage into other handicapped people at
home and around the world.

Indeed, "A true soldier does not acknowledge defeat
before the battle!" A good word for today.

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please give me the courage
to face any and all battles that may come my way
knowing that you are with me and will never leave me or
forsake me. Thank you for hearing and answering my
prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."

1. Joshua 1:9 (NIV).

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Post  Admin on Wed 10 Jul 2013, 9:07 pm

Today's Daily Encounter
Three Great Abilities  

"For we must all appear before the judgment seat of
Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for
the things done while in the body, whether good or
bad."1

Three of life's greatest abilities are dependability,
responsibility, and availability. 

First: Dependability, among many things, is keeping
one's word. It's doing what we say we are going to do.
It's keeping the commitments we make. It is being
authentic; for instance, sometimes, instead of saying
what we truly feel and want, we say what we think
others want to hear to be "nice," and then we do the
opposite, which is far from being nice. It's being
dishonest. Such a person cannot be trusted or depended
on. 

Second: Responsibility; that is, realizing that I am
totally responsible for what I say, for what I want,
for what I feel, for what I do or don't do, for getting
my needs met in healthy ways, and for every area of my
life.

Unless I am handicapped, no matter what happened to me
in the past relationally, if it were negative, I am
responsible for what I do about it and for what I
become. As another has wisely said, "I may have been a
victim in the past, but if I remain a victim, I am now
a willing volunteer." As long as I fail to accept
personal responsibility for my life and blame anybody
else for the difficulties I have, I will never overcome
them. That is, if I keep playing the blame-game, I will
B-LAME!

Third: Availability. If I want my life to be fulfilling
and meaningful, I need to be available for my family,
for having a part in worthwhile causes (without being
obsessive), and for being available to participate in
God's work here on earth. As I have shared on a number
of occasions, when it comes to being involved in God's
work, every morning I pray the following prayer of
commitment: "Dear God, again today I'm available,
please make me usable, and use me to be a witness for
Jesus, and, Lord, please help me to be 'as Jesus' in
some way to every life I touch this day." I encourage
you to also pray this prayer at the beginning of every
day.

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please help me to become
the person you want me to be, to always be dependable,
responsible, and available for you to use to have a
part in what you are doing in the world today--all for
your glory. Thank you for hearing and answering my
prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."

1. 2 Corinthians 5:10 (NIV).

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Post  Admin on Tue 09 Jul 2013, 11:00 pm

Today's Daily Encounter
When God Becomes a Drug  

"A man who refuses to admit his mistakes can never be
successful. But if he confesses and forsakes them, he
gets another chance."1

"My name is Leo. I am an alcoholic, a co-dependent, a
religious addict and a religious abuser. I am a
recovering priest." This is how the Rev. Leo Booth, an
Episcopal priest introduces himself.

As a recovering alcoholic he has been sober for over a
decade and a half but also points out that he is
recovering from a very narrow-minded religion.

Author of the book, When God Becomes a Drug, Booth
points out that for some people, religion is as much an
addiction as alcoholism, smoking, problem gambling, and
work addiction. Religious addicts want God or Jesus to
take away their pain and problems without accepting
personal responsibility for them.

"For many years," Booth said, "I was asking God to help
me with my drinking, asking Jesus to give me courage
and strength to resist drinking too much, asking the
Holy Spirit to help me with my alcoholism. But I wasn't
putting the cork in the jug…. The more I drank the more
extreme I became in my religious practices, medicating
my guilt with ritual and dogma."

Religious addiction can be just as destructive to the
family as any other addiction because the addict is in
denial and isn't facing his real problems nor accepting
responsibility for his recovery. 

Like the alcoholic, the only hope he has for recovery
is to quit lying to himself, admit exactly what he is
and say, "I have a problem. I need help." He then needs
to get into an effective recovery program to help him
quit his self-destructive acting out (hiding behind his
religion), and overcome his problem.

The biblical mandate for healing and recovery is simple
but not easy, but it's the only way to recovery:
"Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for
each other so that you may be healed."2 (See footnote
for additional help.)3

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please help me to face
reality, admit to any addictive or destructive
behaviors in my life, confess these to you and to at
least one safe person, and (with your help) accept
responsibility for getting the help I need to overcome
my problem/s. Thank you for hearing and answering my
prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."

1. Proverbs 28:13 (TLB)(NLT).
2. James 5:16 (NIV).
3. For help see "Counseling Resources" including
"Celebrate Recovery" at
http://www.actsweb.org/counseling_resources.php 

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Post  Admin on Mon 08 Jul 2013, 8:17 pm

Today's Daily Encounter

Scary Leap of Faith  

"The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the
everlasting arms."1

Brennan Manning in his book, The Ragamuffin Gospel,
tells about a child caught on the second floor of his
house when it was on fire. The family members were all
running out of the house when the smallest boy panicked
and ran back upstairs.

Terrified, he screamed from a smoke-filled window.
Below, his father could see him and cried out, "Jump,
son, jump! I'll catch you." "But daddy, I can't see
you," the boy cried.

"I know," the father called, "but I can see you."

The father could see the son and that's all that really
mattered.

Many a time in our lives we are in difficult situations
and we panic and long for God to help us. But not being
able to see him, or sense his presence, we don't know
what to do. Let us always remember that God is there
regardless of our feelings. He can see us. And when we
call to him and choose to put our trust in him, he will
help us. He is our refuge. Underneath us are his
everlasting arms. And he loves us with an everlasting
love.

"And that may be all we need to know!"

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please help me to commit
and trust my life and way to you when darkness
surrounds me and I am lost and do not know the way.
Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer.
Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."

1. Deuteronomy 33:27 (NIV).

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Post  Admin on Fri 05 Jul 2013, 12:43 pm

Today's Daily Encounter
On Logs and Splinters  

"Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your
brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your
own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Brother, let
me take the speck out of your eye,' when you yourself
fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite,
first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will
see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's
eye."1

An issue of Our Daily Bread shares and incident in the
life of English evangelist George Whitefield
(1714-1770). On one occasion Whitefield received a very
critical letter accusing him of doing something wrong.
His reply was brief and to the point: "I thank you
heartily for your letter. As for what you and my other
enemies are saying against me, I know worse things
about myself than you will ever say about me. With love
in Christ, George Whitefield."

Whitefield didn't defend himself. Probably because he
wasn't guilty of doing the thing he was being accused
of. We often get defensive when we are guilty, or if we
are more concerned about our image than we are about
pleasing God, or if we are insecure and need to appear
"perfect" in the eyes of others.

The fact is, we are all sinners and we all have faults
and make our share of mistakes. So, before we try to
take the speck out of another's eye, let us first, as
Jesus suggested, take the log out of our own.

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please deliver me from the
sin of a critical attitude that is constantly looking
for a speck in another's eye as a means of avoiding the
log in my own eye. Please give me the willingness to
see the log in my own eye, and make the changes in my
life that need correction. Thank you for hearing and
answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."

1. Luke 6:41-42 (NIV).

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Post  Admin on Thu 04 Jul 2013, 12:42 pm

Today's Daily Encounter
The Gagging of God  

Jesus said to his followers: "Do you think the work of
harvesting will not begin until the summer ends four
months from now? Look around you! Vast fields are
ripening all around us and are ready now for the
harvest."1

In the last quarter century or more we've spent
millions of dollars on church growth but there has been
little increase in the number of Americans being born
again. Much of what we have seen is church
movement--people moving from one church to another.
Furthermore, according to surveys conducted by research
specialist, George Barna, here in America there is
little or no measurable difference in lifestyle between
average Christians and non-church people. As Vance
Havner put it, "Our doctrine is sound--sound asleep."

In the 1800s many of the great spiritual movements were
coming out of Great Britain. At the beginning of the
nineteenth century fifty percent of the British people
were in church. I have read that, by the end of the
Twentieth Century, it will be less than five percent.
People left the organized church by the multiplied
thousands. According to Gavin Reed (a British minister)
in his book, The Gagging of God, over time in England
the needs of the people changed, but the average church
program remained the same and became irrelevant. Church
people ended up talking mostly to themselves and except
for scattered pockets of revival, the church in Great
Britain lost its impact of bygone years. The same is
true throughout Europe, once the cradle of
Christianity.

Are we doing any better in the U.S. and other Western
nations at communicating effectively to those outside
the church? Aren't most of our efforts in the print
media, Christian radio, music, TV ministries, and now
in Christian web and email ministry talking primarily
to ourselves and "preaching to the choir?" 

What will happen to over-the-seas evangelism if
across-the-street evangelism dies?

And what will happen to this nation of U.S.A., built on
a spiritual foundation with justice and liberty for
all, if the church here becomes irrelevant to the needs
of today's generation and loses its impact. The
consequences for our children and our children's
children are unthinkable. And the sad fact is that the
church in the U.S. is already in decline. 

Perhaps the answer begins in God's word to King
Solomon: "If my people, who are called by my name, will
humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn
from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven
and will forgive their sin and will heal their land."2

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please send a revival and
a spiritual awakening to churches and Christians
everywhere and let your work begin in me. Thank you for
hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus'
name, amen."

1. John 4:35 (NLT).
2. 2 Chronicles 7:14 (NIV).

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Post  Admin on Tue 02 Jul 2013, 10:48 pm

Today's Daily Encounter
Being Authentic  

"But the Lord God called to the man [Adam], 'Where are
you?' He answered, 'I heard you in the garden, and I
was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.'"1

In his book, The Transparent Self, Sydney Jourard
explains, "When I say that self-disclosure is a means
by which one achieves personality health, I mean
something like the following: it is not until I am my
real self and act my real self that my real self is in
a position to grow. One's self grows from the
consequences of being. People's selves stop growing
when they repress them."

The problem of hiding and repressing one's true self,
feelings and motives goes back to the first man, Adam.
When he sinned he felt guilty and exposed, so he hid
himself. When God called, "Adam, where are you?" Adam
replied, "I was afraid so I hid." Fearing God might
condemn and/or reject him if he admitted what he did,
Adam hid to defend himself.

Sin has the same effect on us all. Fearing rejection
for our sins, failures, negative emotions, and false
motives, we hide from God and then from other people.
And, if we do this long enough, eventually we hide from
ourselves until we no longer know who or what we really
are. Personal growth then ceases and death as an
authentic person begins.

To be fully alive and fully functioning, we need to be
very much aware of the masks we hide behind and what we
are hiding. Only when we face our reality; that is, our
secret sins, dark side, and supercharged repressed
negative emotions, and confess these to God and to at
least one other trusted person, can we ever feel
forgiven, free, and become authentic and real. 

As they say in AA, we are as sick as our secrets. Also,
it's not the truth that hurts us but letting go of the
lies; that is, letting go of the masks and defenses we
hide behind.

There are numerous ways we hide to avoid facing our
dark side and to medicate our pain such as the
following: being too busy, becoming a workaholic or
even a religious-aholic, or in other addictive
behaviors. We use chemical dependency, intellectualism,
theological rigidity, legalism, saccharine sweetness,
an austere bearing, control of others, being a
super-personality, codependency, and a score of other
ways. Only when we stop acting out in these
self-defeating ways and face our inner pain can we ever
have a chance of overcoming what we are hiding from. As
Jesus reminded us, it's the truth that sets people
free.2 Hiding from the truth keeps us in bondage.
Furthermore, living in denial can be deadly! It can
destroy relationships and take years off one's life.

The tragedy is that most of us will do absolutely
anything to avoid facing our reality and feeling our
pain. However, to heal it we need to feel it, admit it,
own it, and bring it to Jesus, to a trusted friend and,
if needed, to a qualified counselor for healing and
recovery.

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please help me to be real
and connected to every broken part in my life, every
unresolved issue, every buried emotion, and any block
in me that hurts my relationships and stops my feeling
and experiencing your love and affirmation at the very
core of my being. Thank you for hearing and answering
my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen." 

1. Genesis 3:9-10 (NIV).
2. John 8:32.

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Today's Daily Encounter
The Pilot Who Ignored the Warning  

"When Pharaoh saw that there was relief, he hardened
his heart and would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just
as the LORD had said."1

I have read how, "In the mid-1980s, an Avianca Airlines
jet crashed in the mountains of Spain. Investigators
reviewing the incident made a startling discovery.
Recordings from the black box revealed that several
minutes prior to impact, a computer-synthesized voice
from the plane's automatic warning system told the
flight crew on repeated occasion to 'Pull up!' The
pilot, evidently thinking that the system was not
functioning properly, switched the system off. Minutes
later they plowed into the ground killing passengers as
well as crew."2

It may be true that "all roads lead to Rome" even if
part of the way is via the ocean, but it is not true
that all religions lead to God and Heaven. When we
decide to not listen to what God says about life beyond
death, or deem that his Word is incorrect and make our
own rules or decide for ourselves as to what qualifies
one for entering God's heaven, we place ourselves above
God and become a god unto ourselves--and are on a
direct course for a lost eternity, separated from God
and all that is godly and good, in the place that God's
Word, the Bible, calls hell.

Jesus made it very clear when he said: "I am the way
and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father
[God] except through me.3 And God's Word makes it very
clear that "it is by grace you have been saved, through
faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of
God--not by works, so that no one can boast."4

Just as imperative as it is that pilots listen to their
plane's warning system, so is it that we listen to
God's "warning system" as found in his Word, the Bible.

For help to make sure you are following God's
directives for life after death, be sure to read the
article, "How to Know God and be sure you're a real
Christian" at: www.actsweb.org/christian.

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, thank you for the
wonderful 'warning system' you have given to mankind
via your Word, the Bible. Please give me a hunger to
read, learn, and understand what you have to say
therein--and the good sense to always adhere to and
follow your instructions for this life as well as the
life to come. Thank you for hearing and answering my
prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."

1. Exodus 8:15 (NIV).
2. Mike Benson, Oakhill Church of Christ,
http://www.oakhillcoc.org.
3. John 14:6 (NIV).
4. Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV).

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Post  Admin on Mon 01 Jul 2013, 7:07 pm

Today's Daily Encounter
"I Will Come Again"  

"So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man
[Jesus Christ] will come at an hour when you do not
expect him."1

"While on a South Pole expedition, British explorer Sir
Ernest Shackleton left a few men on Elephant  Island,
promising that he would return. Later, when he tried to
go back, huge icebergs blocked the way. But suddenly,
as if by a miracle, an avenue opened in the ice and
Shackleton was able to get through. His men, ready and
waiting, quickly scrambled aboard. No sooner had the
ship cleared the island than the ice crashed together
behind them.

"Contemplating their narrow escape, the explorer said
to his men, 'It was fortunate you were all packed and
ready to go!' They replied, 'We never gave up hope.
Whenever the sea was clear of ice, we rolled up our
sleeping bags and reminded each other that he may come
today.'"2

Jesus Christ's first coming to earth is an indisputable
fact of history. His death, burial, and resurrection
are also facts of history, as all were verified by many
reliable witnesses. At his ascension back into heaven
two angels appeared to Jesus' disciples and followers
saying, "Men of Galilee … why do you stand here looking
into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from
you into heaven, will come back in the same way you
have seen him go into heaven."3

Jesus also had promised that he would come again. In
speaking about heaven he said, "In my Father's house
are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told
you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And
if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back
and take you to be with me that you also may be where I
am."4

And God's Word also assures us that Jesus is coming
back again to take all his true followers to be with
him forever in heaven.5

Jesus is coming again. What if it were today? Would you
be ready? If not you can be. For help be sure to read
the article, "How to Be Sure You're a Real Christian"
at: www.actsweb.org/christian.

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, thank you for the
wonderful promise that Jesus is coming back again to
take all his true followers to be with you in heaven
forever. Help me to be sure that I am always prepared
and ready for his coming. Thank you for hearing and
answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."

1. Matthew 24:44 (NIV).
2. Author unknown. Cited on eSermons.com.
3. Acts 1:11 (NIV).
4. John 14:2-3 (NIV).
5. See 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18.

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Post  Admin on Fri 28 Jun 2013, 10:37 pm

Today's Daily Encounter
No Longer Embarrassed  

"God showed how much he loved us by sending his only
Son into the world so that we might have eternal life
through him. This is real love. It is not that we loved
God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a
sacrifice to take away our sins."1

A young boy asked his mother if she would go with him
to his elementary school's first teacher-parent
conference. To his surprise she said she would go. This
embarrassed the boy because, though his mother was
beautiful, she had a terrible scar right across one
side of her face.

This was the first time his teacher and classmates saw
his mother and because of his embarrassment, he
withdrew from them and tried to hide himself. However,
he overheard his teacher ask how his mother's face was
scarred.

"When my son was a baby," the mother replied, "he was
in a room that caught on fire. Everyone was afraid to
go in because the fire was out of control, so I went
in. As I was running toward his crib, I saw a beam
coming down and I placed myself over him to shield him.
I was knocked unconscious but fortunately, a fireman
came in and saved both of us…the scar is permanent but
to this day, I have never regretted doing what I did."

Hearing what his mother did for him, the boy ran
towards her with tears in his eyes. He hugged her and
felt an overwhelming sense of thanks for the sacrifice
she made to save his life.2

May we, too, feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude
for the sacrifice Jesus Christ made for us in giving
his life to save us from our sins and a lost eternity.

Suggested prayer: "Dear Jesus God, once again I thank
you for all that you did for me in giving your life to
save me from a lost eternity. I offer my life as a
living sacrifice to live for and serve you. Thank you
for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in
Jesus' name, amen."

Note: If you have never thanked God for giving his Son,
Jesus, to die in your place so your sins could be
forgiven, and thanked Jesus for doing this for you, so
you could also be given the gift of eternal life to
live with God in Heaven after this life, then I
encourage you to do this today. For help, please read
the article, "God's Invitation," at:
http://tinyurl.com/gods-invitation; and/or the article,
"How to Be Sure You're a Real Christian--without having
to be religious" at: www.actsweb.org/christian.

1. John 4:9-10 (NLT).
2. Adapted from a story by Lih Yuh Kuo in Chicken Soup
for the Soul.

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Post  Admin on Thu 27 Jun 2013, 10:54 am

Today's Daily Encounter
Worse Than Abortion?  

"Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of
the world, that we should be holy and without blame
before Him in love."1

Jonathon (name changed), a Daily Encounter readers
writes: "In response to views on abortion, I certainly
don't support the irresponsibility and thoughtlessness
of the sex that abortionists support. I will only say
the only thing worse than having an abortion is having
an unwanted child. I know, I am one."

How extremely sad it is to come into the world as an
unwanted child, and if we remain unwanted by our own
parents, this can be very emotionally damaging. If
truth be told, however, who knows how many of us were
unwanted … that is, unwanted (or at least unplanned) by
the ones who brought us into the world?

Carol, a dear friend of ours, shared how when she was
14 her mother told her that when she was pregnant with
her, her doctor told her that she wasn't strong enough
to bear another child and that she should abort. She
did--but it was her fraternal twin--but she held on and
survived. Even now, many years later, she is still
finding it very difficult to overcome this memory of
her lost sibling. 

On the other hand, many years ago when my youngest son
was only about ten or so, he was very angry at
me--about something that I have long since
forgotten--and in his frustration blurted out, "Why did
you have me anyhow?"

I replied, "Because you were a part of God's eternal
plan."

And that is true of Jonathon, Carol, you, and me. We
were born into this world because we are a part of
God's eternal plan, and God knew us long before we were
ever thought of in this world. God wanted us and still
wants us. He loves us devotedly and has a purpose for
each of us. A vital part of living a meaningful life is
finding and fulfilling that purpose. The same is also
true of every aborted child in that they, too, were
known and loved by God before the foundation of the
world. 

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please help me to know and
feel in the very core of my being that I am wanted and
loved by you, my Heavenly Father, and help me to live a
life according to your purpo­­se for my life. Thank you
for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in
Jesus' name, amen."

1. Ephesians 1:4 (NKJV).

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Today's Daily Encounter

According to His/Her Ability  

"The disciples, each according to his ability, decided
to provide help for the brothers living in Judea."1

"There is a story of a 33-year-old truck driver by the
name of Larry Walters who was sitting in his lawn chair
in his backyard one day wishing he could fly. For as
long as he could remember he had wanted to fly but he
had never had the time, money, or the opportunity to be
a pilot. Hang gliding was out because there was no good
place for gliding near his home. So he spent a lot of
summer afternoons sitting in his backyard in his
ordinary old aluminum chair--the kind with the webbing
and the rivets, the kind most of us have. 

"One day Larry hooked 45 helium-filled surplus weather
balloons to his chair, put a CB radio in his lap, tied
a paper bag full of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches
to his leg, and slung a BB-gun over his shoulder to pop
the balloons when he wanted to come down. He lifted off
in his lawn chair expecting to climb a couple of
hundred feet over his neighborhood. Instead he shot up
11,000 feet right through the approach corridor to the
Los  Angeles International  Airport. When asked by the
press why he did it, Larry answered: 'Well, you can't
just sit there.' When asked if he was scared, he
answered, 'Yes … wonderfully so.'"2

Oops! Surprise! Surprise! Admittedly, Larry had no idea
what he was getting himself into. Sure, he would have
been wise to get some practical advice from the folk
who use weather balloons. Crazy? Yes, but at least he
had the courage to give what he wanted to do a try. I'm
not suggesting that we do anything crazy, but at least
let's do something worthwhile with our lives.

As I've said before, just about every Christian I have
ever asked the question, "Do you believe God has a
purpose for your life?" answer, "Yes, I do." But when I
ask them what it is, most don't have the vaguest idea
what it might be. In a sense they just sit there and do
nothing about it. As the old adage puts it, "Better to
have tried and failed than never to have tried at all."

God's instruction to each of us is to give/do/work
"each according to his/her ability." In other words,
whatever abilities we have we need to put them to the
best possible use doing God's work here on earth. The
way we do this is by helping others according to their
need--according to our ability to help. 

Suggested prayer; "Dear God, please help me to get with
your program--what you are doing in the world
today--and not sit around waiting for some kind of a
'special' call, but by putting to use my God-given
abilities in your work for your Kingdom. Thank you for
hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully in Jesus'
name, amen."

1. Acts 11:29 (NIV).
2. Robert Fulghum, Everything I Really Need To Know I
Learned In Kindergarten (New York: Villard Books,
1988), p. 139

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Post  Admin on Tue 25 Jun 2013, 5:50 pm

Today's Daily Encounter
Talk Is Cheap  

"All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads
only to poverty."1

A man bought a parrot at an auction after some heavy
bidding. "I hope this bird talks," he told the
auctioneer.

"Talk?" the auctioneer replied, "Who do you think has
been bidding against you for the past ten minutes?"

Sad to say we seem to be living in a day when a
person's word has less and less value. Once upon a time
a man's word was his bond. Not any more I'm afraid. For
far too many their word doesn't mean a thing. We've
become pretty adept at parroting what we think people
want to hear.

I remember one of my college professors teaching us
that a person's character (among other things) could be
measured by what value he or she puts on his/her word.
People who don't keep their word have a character issue
and cannot be trusted.

Fortunately, however, of one thing we can be certain,
God always keeps his word and always keeps his
promises. To be Christ-like we need to do the same! For
after all, it's what we do, not what we say, that says
the most of all.

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please make me a man/woman
of my word so I can always be trusted to say what I
mean, mean what I say, and do what I say I will do.
Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer.
Gratefully in Jesus' name, amen."

1. Proverbs 14:23 (NIV).

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Post  Admin on Mon 24 Jun 2013, 2:03 pm

Today's Daily Encounter
Wishes vs. Wants  

"Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive
yourselves. Do what it says."1

One of my favorite quotes happens to be from a Buddhist
monk who wisely said, "To know and not to do is not yet
to know."

To translate this into our Christian terminology we
could put it this way: "To believe and not to act is
not yet to believe because we only truly believe that
which motivates us to action."

For instance, many of us say we want to weigh less than
we do. But do we? Really? Very few of us ever eat
anything we don't want to eat. And many of us don't
take the time to exercise enough to keep to our desired
weight. In reality, often what we think we want is just
a wish! We only truly want something when we are
willing to make the commitment and pay the price to
achieve it.

Furthermore, if we say we believe that our friends,
neighbors and people throughout the world are lost
eternally without a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ
and give nothing or do nothing to help take, send or
give the gospel to them, we don't really believe this
either. The fact is that we only truly believe that
which motivates us to action!

And if I say I want to be made whole and don't do what
I need to do to be made whole, I choose by default not
to be made whole. It is true regardless of who said it:
"To know and not to do is not yet to know."

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, in all things worthy and
noble please help me to be a 'doer' and not merely a
'listener, talker, or wisher.' Thank you for hearing
and answering my prayer. Gratefully in Jesus' name,
amen."

1. James 1:22 (NIV).

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Post  Admin on Fri 21 Jun 2013, 7:22 pm

Today's Daily Encounter
Are Our Days on Earth Numbered?  

King David prayed to God: "Show me, O LORD, my life's
end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting
is my life."1

A Daily Encounter reader asks, "As the Bible seems to
indicate that our days are numbered, should we (and can
we) attempt to extend our lives through better diet,
surgery, and medications? And if our days are numbered,
why should we pray for the healing of loved ones, our
military, and others?"

Hi, Mike … When David asked God to show him the number
of his days, I don't believe he was implying that he
(or we) had x number of days to live and that's it. As
David indicated, it really means that life is fleeting
and our days on earth are limited, so we need to do the
best we can with the one life we have been given.

Furthermore, God said to Solomon in a dream, "If you
walk in my ways and obey my statutes and commands as
David your father did, I will give you a long life."2
This indicates that if we live in harmony with God's
Word, will, and ways (which includes healthy living
habits), under normal circumstances we can lengthen our
life. Also the fifth of the Ten Commandments says,
"Honor your father and your mother, so that you may
live long in the land the LORD your God is giving
you."3

On the other hand, there is no doubt that we can
shorten our life by not living in harmony with God's
ways, through an unhealthy diet, lack of exercise,
nursing grudges, an unforgiving spirit, unresolved
super-charged repressed negative emotions, impaired
relational conflicts, too much stress and anxiety,
addictive behaviors and/or substances, and any of a
score or more of other unhealthy habits and ways of
living.

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please help me to so live
in harmony with your will and the principles for
healthy living as found in your Word, that my life on
earth will be healthy, long, and fruitful for the glory
of your Name. Thank you for hearing and answering my
prayer. Gratefully in Jesus' name, amen."

1. Psalm 39:4 (NIV).
2. 1 Kings 3:14 (NIV).
3. Exodus 20:12 (NIV).

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Post  Admin on Thu 20 Jun 2013, 3:36 pm

Today's Daily Encounter
More About Hell? Part I  

Jesus said, "Do not be afraid of those who kill the
body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the
One who can destroy both soul and body in hell."1

Hell. Not a popular topic by any stretch of the
imagination. And these days it isn't a popular or
politically correct topic to preach, write or talk
about as if it were a reality. For many, hell is a
place they hope doesn't exist and, if it does, they
don't expect to go there. For others, hell is a figment
of the imagination from outdated folklore, or a place
to curse people to whom you don't like. Many believe
that death ends all. 

Think of natural disasters such as Hurricane Sandy that
caused devastation over hundreds of miles in the
eastern states of the U.S, or Hurricane Katrina that
caused the city of New  Orleans to be hopelessly
flooded so that thousands were stranded and many lost
their lives. How unthinkable it would have been had the
"powers that be" known about these impending disasters
and not warned the people to evacuate areas that were
in danger zones. And how tragic it was for those who
could have left but failed to heed the repeated
warnings? How much greater the tragedy not to let
people know about the warning that God's Word has
clearly given for all to flee from the wrath of hell to
come. In fact, Jesus talked more about hell than he did
about heaven. C.S. Lewis wrote, "There is no doctrine
which I would more willingly remove from Christianity
than Hell … but it has the full support of Scripture
and specifically of Jesus' very own words." 

The Bible describes hell as a place of utter darkness …
also as a lake of fire that burns day and night
forever. Whether this is literal or figurative I do not
know. What we do know is that Jesus described hell as a
place of eternal torment. It is a place that was
prepared for the devil and his fallen angels/demons--a
place to where those who have never received
forgiveness for their sins will be banned forever. It's
not that God sends us to hell, but that we send
ourselves there when we don't heed God's warning and
receive his forgiveness for all our sins and his gift
of eternal life. Hell is a place where we choose to be
when we choose to leave God out of our lives.

Eugene P. Harder shared how, "In his book titled, To
Hell and Back, Cardiologist Maurice Rawlings recounts
the startling near-death experience of a patient taking
a cardio stress test on a treadmill. 

"The patient became breathless and began to sweat
profusely. The monitor showed a dangerous rapid
heartbeat. This was followed by a long pause in the
beat and then by a flat line. Charlie's heart had
stopped, his eyes rolled up in his head and he fell. 

"One of the nurses breathed 'the kiss of life into
Charlie's lungs.' Another nurse started the IV but the
heart would not beat properly. A temporary pacemaker
was needed. Whenever Dr. Rawlings stopped pushing
Charlie's chest to adjust the pacemaker, his heart
would stop. Charlie's eyes would roll up and he would
turn blue. 

"This time when Charlie's heart re-started he was
screaming the words, 'I'm in hell! I'm in hell!'
Hallucinations, Dr. Rawlings thought. Most victims
scream, 'Take your big hands off me, you're breaking my
ribs.' 

"But Charlie was saying the opposite: 'Don't stop!
Don't stop. Every time you let go I'm back in hell!' 

"When conscious, Charlie begged the Doctor to pray for
him. Dr. Rawlings said, 'I felt downright insulted. In
fact, I told him to shut up. I said I was a doctor, not
a minister and not a psychiatrist. The nurses looked at
me as if to say, "Do something!" 

"'So I composed this make-believe prayer to keep
Charlie off my back. "Jesus Christ is the Son of God,
keep me out of hell. If I live, I'm on the hook. I'm
yours." Say it Charlie!' 

"Charlie said the prayer and then a very strange thing
happened that changed both the Doctor's and Charlie's
lives. Dr. Rawlings said, 'A religious conversion
experience took place. I had never witnessed one
before. Charlie was no longer the wild-eyed, screaming,
combative lunatic who had been fighting me for his
life. He was relaxed and calm and cooperative.'

"'It frightened me. I was shaken by the events. Not
only had that make-believe prayer saved Charlie McKaig,
but it got me too. It was a conviction that to this day
I cannot explain. Since then, Charlie has outlived
three permanent pacemakers. It's difficult to believe
that my simple prayer opened the road to both Charlie's
and my own salvation.'"

To be continued ….

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please help me to know for
certain in my heart the facts about heaven and hell …
and help me to make sure that I am prepared for the day
that I meet you face to face and there give an account
of my life.* Thank you for hearing and answering my
prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."

1. Matthew 10:28 (NIV).

* NOTE: To be sure you are prepared for the day you
meet God face to face, read the article, "How to Be
Sure You're a Real Christian" at:
www.actsweb.org/christian. 

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Today's Daily Encounter

More About Hell? Part II  

"If anyone's name was not found written in [God's] book
of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire."1

Yesterday we shared experiences that Dr. Maurice
Rawlings had when working with near-death patients.
"Dr. Rawlings was a specialist in cardiovascular
diseases at the Diagnostic Center and area hospitals of
Chattanooga. He served in both the Army and the Navy
and became chief of cardiology at the 97th General
Hospital in Frankfurt, Germany. He was the personal
physician at the Pentagon for the Joint Chiefs of
Staff, which included Generals Marshall, Bradley,
Patton, and Dwight Eisenhower. In civilian life Dr.
Rawlings was appointed to the National Teaching Faculty
of the American Heart Association, specializing in
teaching methods for the retrieval of patients from
sudden death."2 

A study of near-death cases by Dr. Rawlings was also
reported in Omni magazine. "It is no longer unusual to
hear about people who have almost died who speak of
seeing a bright light, lush green meadows, rows of
smiling relatives and experiencing a deep sense of
peace. However, Dr. Rawlings obtained additional
information from his patients by interviewing them
immediately following resuscitation while they were
very much in touch with their experience.

"Dr. Rawlings says that nearly fifty percent of the 300
people that he has interviewed have reported lakes of
fire, devil-like figures and other sights reflecting
the darkness of hell. Rawlings says that these people
later change their story because they don't want to
admit where they've been, not even to their families.
'Just listening to these patients has changed my whole
life,' claims Dr. Rawlings. 'There is a life after
death, and if I don't know where I'm going, it's not
safe to die.'"3

Of one thing we can be certain and that is that death
happens to us all as nobody gets out of this place
alive. Life can be dreadfully uncertain. A friend's
husband was on his motorbike when a dog ran out at him.
Trying to dodge the dog he fell from his bike and was
killed. Last month another friend's 49-year-old wife
died of cancer. Last week a long-term friend of my
wife's died suddenly of a heart attack. Not so long ago
my oldest sister died. I wrote today to another friend
whose husband died suddenly in his sleep. He was in his
early to mid-40s. 

How foolish it is to make all sorts of preparation for
this life but none for the next. Time and again God has
warned us in his Word, the Bible, that there is a
heaven for all who have accepted God's forgiveness and
a hell for all who haven't. As Jesus said, "This is how
it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come
and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw
them into the fiery furnace, where there will be
weeping and gnashing of teeth."4

As God warned ancient Israel, his Word also applies to
us today: "Prepare to meet your God."5 God's Word also
reminds us that, "It is appointed for men to die once,
but after this the judgment."6 Also, God is "not
willing that any should perish but that all should come
to repentance."7

It's not God's will that anyone should go to hell. He
has given his Son, Jesus, to die on the cross in our
place to pay the penalty for all our sins so we can be
freely forgiven and delivered from hell. So whatever
you do, don't neglect God's warning regarding the
terrible doom of hell for all who have never accepted
Jesus as their Savior, and God's forgiveness and gift
of eternal life. 

Accepting Jesus as your Savior and God's forgiveness is
God's "passport into heaven." Whatever you do don't
leave earth without it. And don't leave it until it's
too late to "apply for it." You can receive it today by
praying a simple prayer such as the following.

"Dear God, I confess that I am a sinner and am sorry
for all the wrongs and sins that I have committed. I
believe that your Son, Jesus Christ, died on the cross
for my sins. Please forgive me and I invite you, Jesus,
to come into my heart and life as Lord and Savior. I
commit and trust my life to you. Please give me the
want to be what you want me to be and the want to do
what you want me to do. Thank you for dying for my
sins, for your free pardon, for your gift of eternal
life, and for hearing and answering my prayer. Amen." 

If you prayed this prayer, please Click on:
http://www.actsweb.org/decision.php to let us know you
have done this and to receive your e-copy of "How to
Grow" and the URL for the "Ten Steps to Christian
Growth" … all without charge. 

For further help be sure to read the article, "Passport
for Heaven," online at:
http://www.actsweb.org/passport.php.

1. Revelation 20:15 (NIV).
2. Eugene P. Harder, "Positive Praying for People in
Danger Pastor," Sermon, April 20, 1996. New Hope 
Community Church.
3. Aaron Burgess. "Winning the Lost," Sermon,
SermonCentral.com, http://tinyurl.com/7n4xn.
4. Matthew 13:49-50 (NIV).
5. Amos 4:12 (NIV).
6. Hebrews 9:27 (NKJV).
7. 2 Peter 3:9 (NKJV).

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Post  Admin on Tue 18 Jun 2013, 10:34 pm

Today's Daily Encounter
Rewarding Irresponsible Behavior  

"For we must all appear before the judgment seat of
Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for
the things done while in the body, whether good or
bad."1

It seems, at least here in the U.S.A., that our society
is plagued by frivolous lawsuits. A man sued
MacDonald's because he spilled hot coffee on
himself--the coffee that he purchased! I have read that
another man sued his company because he backed into his
own car with a company vehicle. In student days in
Chicago for two summers I drove a CTA passenger bus. We
were informed that some passengers would purposely fall
so they could sue the bus company. 

I was listening to the news last night and once again I
could hardly believe what I heard. A woman whose
husband was a heavy smoker all his life died so she
sued a well-known tobacco company for three billion
dollars (yes, three billion) and ended up being awarded
$50,000,000.00. Talk about the blame-game! Why judges
and courts reward irresponsible behavior is beyond my
comprehension.

Don't misunderstand me. I am not justifying the tobacco
company in any way, shape or form. They are responsible
too, but this man in question chose to smoke, just as
the alcoholic chooses to drink. Both of these men are
fully responsible for their irresponsible actions.

And when we who are codependents take responsibility
for over-dependent family members and short circuit the
natural consequences of their irresponsible behavior,
we too, are being irresponsible. And when we, as
parents, don't discipline our children for their
irresponsible behavior, we, too are being irresponsible
and are guilty of reinforcing their negative behavior. 

The same is true of societies as with driving on roads
and highways. Irresponsible driving kills people.
Irresponsible living destroys societies. From the
cradle to the grave, responsibility (with consequences
for irresponsible behavior) needs to be taught and
adhered to. Among the richest to the poorest …from the
lowliest positions to the highest offices in the
land--including in the courts and with judges,
ministers, politicians, lawyers and every other
profession--responsibility needs to be taught,
emphasized and enforced, without which we end up with
mayhem and ultimately destroying ourselves. 

True, while I was not responsible for my upbringing, as
an adult I am fully responsible for what I become and
for everything I do. And unless one is mentally
handicapped, we are all fully responsible for what we
allow and what we do that is within our capability.

Furthermore, before God we are also responsible and, in
the end, will have to give an account to him for how we
have lived, what we have done with our life, and
whether or not we have confessed our sinfulness and
accepted God's gift of forgiveness through his Son,
Jesus Christ.* 

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please help me to accept
personal responsibility for every area of my life and
so live that I will not be ashamed or embarrassed (or
grief stricken) when I stand before you to give an
account of my life. Thank you for hearing and answering
my prayer. Gratefully in Jesus' name, amen."

1. 2 Corinthians 5:10 (NIV).

*Note: To ensure that you have received God's
forgiveness for all your sins be sure to read the
article, "How to Be Sure You're a Real Christian" at:
www.actsweb.org/christian.

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Post  Admin on Mon 17 Jun 2013, 4:07 pm

Today's Daily Encounter
Bowls With a Bias  

"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory
[standard] of God."1

In Australia, where I grew up, outdoor lawn bowls was a
very popular sport. I never took an active interest in
it even though my mother and some cousins were avid
players. The idea is totally opposite to that of indoor
bowls where the goal is to make a strike with your
bowling ball so you knock down all the ten pins. Not so
with lawn bowls. Simply put, the idea is to bowl so
your ball gets as close as possible to the jack (the
small white ball at the other end of the bowling green)
without hitting it. There are other rules of course but
basically, as I understand the game, the one whose ball
ends up the closest to the jack, without hitting it,
gains the highest score. 

Sounds simple, but it's a lot harder than it looks
because the lawn bowl ball is more saucer shaped than
the fully round indoor bowling ball, and has a weighted
bias on one side. This bias causes the ball to pull to
one side when bowled for which the bowler has to
compensate. 

In some ways this is similar to people in that we, too,
have a bias that, if we don't acknowledge and
compensate for, will lead us astray. The bias is our
sin nature that we inherited from birth. This is why we
have a bent toward sinning. If you don't believe this,
take a look at all the evil in the world. 

So how can we live so as to compensate for this bias?
First, we need to admit that we have this sin bias (sin
nature), and that we are guilty of sinning which, in
turn, has separated us from a holy God.

Second, we need to confess our sins to God and ask for
his forgiveness based on the fact that he gave his Son,
Jesus, to die in our place on the cross to pay the
penalty for all our sins. 

Third, we need to acknowledge God's great solution for
our sinfulness and accept Jesus Christ as our personal
Lord and Savior. 

Fourth, we need to grow in our Christian life so that
we become whole and mature spiritually, and be filled
with God's Spirit to enable us to overcome our sinful
bias and live a life pleasing to God.

Therefore, if you have never confessed your sins and
sinfulness to God and received Jesus as your Savior, I
encourage you to read the article, "How to Be Sure
You're a Real Christian--without having to be
religious," online at: www.actsweb.org/christian. 

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, thank you that even though
I am a sinner you loved me so much you gave your Son,
Jesus, to die in my place on the cross to pay the
penalty for all my sins. Please help me to grow to
become whole and mature, and fill me with your Holy
Spirit to enable me to live a wholesome life that will
bring glory to your name. Thank you for hearing and
answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."

1. Romans 3:23 (NIV).

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Post  Admin on Sat 15 Jun 2013, 9:12 pm

Today's Daily Encounter
Thursday, June 13, 2013
As You Think

"As a man thinks in his heart, so is he."1

Golfer Arnold Palmer has won hundreds of trophies but he never flaunts these. In his office is only one trophy on display. It is a small cup he received at his first professional win at the Canadian Open in 1955.

On his office wall is this lone framed plaque that reads:

If you think you are beaten, you are. / If you think you dare not, you don't. / If you'd like to win but think you can't, / it's almost certain you won't. Life's battles don't always go to the stronger or faster man, / But sooner or later, the man who wins / is the man who thinks he can.

Life's battles, challenges, successes and/or failures are all fought, won or lost in the mind.

"Keep your heart with all diligence," said Solomon, "for out of it are the issues of life."2 The heart in the Bible refers to the total mind: the intellect, the will, and the emotions. And that's the "mind" we need to guard with all diligence, and daily commit and trust to God.

Be assured, too, that "what the mind dwells on the body acts on." If you don't agree with this, just think how temptation works.

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please help me to guard my heart and mind with all diligence … and keep my thoughts focused on things that are 'true, pure, and of good report.' Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully in Jesus' name, amen."

1. Proverbs 23:7.
2. Proverbs 4:23.

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Copyright (c) 2013 by ACTS International
When copying or forwarding include the following:
"Daily Encounter by Richard (Dick) Innes (c) 2012
ACTS International.

Today's Daily Encounter
Give of Your Best  
"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever
you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine,
you did for me.'"1

I have read how on one occasion when visiting Scotland
Queen Mary "was strolling with a group of children.
Suddenly the sky turned gray and thick, dark clouds
appeared. The queen stopped at a nearby house and asked
if she might borrow an umbrella. She told the lady of
the house, 'I'll send it back to you tomorrow.' The
lady was understandably reluctant about lending a good
umbrella to a total stranger, but she remembered that
she had an old one in the attic. One rib was broken and
there were several ragged holes in it, but she
nevertheless, turned it over to this lady at her front
door with a weak apology.

"The next day there was another knock at the door. This
time, when she opened it, a man in gold braid stood
with a big envelope in hand. 'The queen sent me,' he
said, 'and asked me to thank you for the umbrella.'"2

Can you imagine how this woman must have felt knowing
she gave the Queen a broken umbrella and didn't give
her best. 

For those of us who claim to be Christians I wonder how
we will feel at the end of life's journey when we stand
face to face with Jesus to give account of our
stewardship and realize that we didn't give God our
best--but only our broken "unwanteds." 

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, in my service to you
please help me always to give of my best so that when I
stand before you face to face, I will not be ashamed or
embarrassed. Thank you for hearing and answering my
prayer. Gratefully in Jesus' name, amen."

1. Matthew 25:40 (NIV).
2. Mike Benson, Oakhill Church of Christ,
http://www.oakhillcoc.org/

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  When copying or forwarding include the following: 
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  ACTS International.
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