Yolanda, a mother who carries a deep relationship with God, mindfully raised her family in the love and admonition of the Lord. Her faith sustained her through every trial, but nothing could prepare her for the trial that lay ahead.
One day a young man coming from a college party made a decision that changed her world forever. He was experiencing road rage. A car had innocently pulled out in front of him and he hit the rear end of the car; causing a horrible accident. This car carried two of Yolanda’s young sons. Both tragically lost their lives that day.
The authorities brought the proper charges. However, the guilty young man was given mercy by the court and placed on probation. After five years of an excruciating ordeal, Yolanda received a call from her lawyer. A meeting had been arranged for the young offender to come face to face with her and give an account for his actions on that tragic day.
They met in a conference room, facing each other across a table while the attorneys and staff carefully observed. The young man spoke. Holding his head down to avoid eye contact, he tried to give justification for himself. He complained that her sons had pulled out in front of him. He clumsily fumbled out unacceptable excuses for his actions, blaming her sons for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Some of the things he said didn’t even make sense. And he did not ask for forgiveness.
The attorneys, the court recorder, and everyone in the room sat in silence, anticipating what Yolanda would say or do. After five years of suffering, she now sat across from the source of her pain, and her heart cried out to the Lord. Like so many times before, the Lord Jesus spoke gently to her and gave her guidance.
“Yolanda,” He said, “That boy is lost. He needs me. He has no one here. His family let him come here alone. He needs me.”
“But Lord,” she asked, “What do I do?”
“Daughter, I have you. I have always had you, and I’ll never let you go. But he needs me. He has nothing, no one. Forgive him Yolanda, forgive him.”
Scripture rang in her ear. “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:36 NIV).
She asked herself. “How can I forgive him? How can I? Yet I know that Jesus forgave me.”
After a moment of reflection, Yolanda took a deep breath and broke the silence in the room. She looked him square in the face, which was still lowered toward the table, and said, “I love you with the love of the Lord. I forgive you!”
Everyone looked at her. Shocked and stunned, they couldn’t believe what they were hearing. Slowly the young man raised his head and for the first time their suffering eyes met. His confused and bewildered expression displayed the inner turmoil that he was struggling to understand.
With grace, which could only come from the Lord Jesus, Yolanda stood to her feet, spread open her arms and said, “I forgive you!”
With that, the young man bolted around the table and into her arms. He buried his face in her chest and covered her with his tears, crying in convulsions. Yolanda held him tight like one of her own. Mothering him, she patted him tenderly on his head and said, “It’s alright baby. It’s alright baby.” He wept uncontrollably.
Then she prayed, “Jesus, take the anointing for ministry that was upon my sons and place it upon him. Give him a double portion! He came in here as a Saul, let him leave as a Paul!”
As she prayed, his knees buckled. Yet she held him up firmly in her mothering arms of forgiveness. There wasn’t a dry eye in the room as the miraculous love of Christ was displayed in this incredible act of forgiveness. They were both freed to continue their lives in peace.
Our God, who is love, displayed His forgiveness as He sacrificed His only begotten son for us. Through Christ, we receive His incredible forgiveness that frees us from sin and shame. Jesus said, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34 KJV).
Because of Jesus, we too can hold our head up, walk in the love of God, and experience the mothering arms of forgiveness.
Friday, April 22, 2011
Read my latest devotion on cbn.com. It's a powerful true story of forgiveness. Here's the link.
Forgiveness releases the giver into peace. Unforgiveness is a cruel prison.
Forgiveness releases the giver into peace. Unforgiveness is a cruel prison.
Sunday, April 17, 2011
When I think about a spiritual revival, my mind goes back to the days when it meant a traveling Evangelist came to town, set up a large tent, covered the ground in sawdust, and posted flyers on telephone poles. For the most part, that has become an event relegated to a bygone era, uncommon in this day and time.
Revivals moved into church buildings and for a couple of weeks, people received a fresh gospel message and an opportunity to renew their faith and their excitement for God. Eventually two weeks became one until now most church “Revivals” run from Sunday through Wednesday. In some Churches, revivals have become a short burst of life in an otherwise predictable series of routine services.
Young people are hungry for spiritual awakening, the reality of the gospel, but when they don’t find it they lose interest all together. Some say revivals have died due to a lack of interest. I hope that is not true, for revival is what we need more than anything. We need to recapture our first love, turn back to the God of power and might, the God of love who changes lives and heals broken hearts.
But one question remains. Are we revivable? Are we? If so, then how does it happen? What should we do? First, we must understand that revival begins with us, as individuals. The greatest revivals began with one concerned person who went to their knees and prayed for God to bring revival as a sovereign act.
We have God’s promise in the Bible that says, “Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me” (Psalm 138:7 KJV).
From this and other scriptures we know that the heart of God is to draw us close to Him and to have pure Holy fellowship together. No matter what we have done, or how far we have strayed from Him, His loving arms are outstretched to His children. When our relationship is right, there is so much peace that floods our soul that we must ask ourselves, why? Why do we stray and allow ourselves to become cold and distant from God?
A cold indifferent world of sin will drag us away if we let it, but is it ever worth it? No. A relationship with our Loving Father is priceless and should be our first priority. Yet we take Him for granted because He is always there.
It’s time we turn back to God, repent, and ask for revival, for our families, our Nation, and ourselves. Yet the question remains, are we revivable? The same question is asked in the Bible as the Psalmist wrote, “Will You not revive us again, that Your people may rejoice in You” (Psalm 85:6 KJV)?
Yes we are revivable! God will breathe new life into us when we ask. It’s His will to forgive us, bless us, and welcome us back to our first love. He is so wonderful, and His grace is unfathomable. He will not only bring us back to where we were, but He will take us to new places in Him.
If we humble ourselves in the sight of the Lord He will lift us up.
“For thus says the High and Lofty One Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, with him who has a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones”” (Isaiah 57:15 NKJV).
Pray for revival. History shows that God has sent revival to America in times of national crisis, war and economic stress. His word describes how He will look throughout the earth for those whose heart is toward Him. And to those loyal to Him, He will prove Himself strong on their behalf, and will actually fight their battles.
The Bible is replete with examples and proof that He wants to bless His people because He cares about each one. So since we are revivable, pray for revival as if it all depends on you. It very well may.
Sunday, April 10, 2011
I sit in amazement as I watch a champion golfer win yet another major golf tournament. I have to wonder what it must be like for those other golfers he beat? They are great golfers, the worlds top ranked players, who must know in their hearts, that if the champion is playing, their best hope is to place at number two. Yet they keep competing week after week, doing their best.
I know exactly how they feel, whenever I play golf with my buddies. I’m only assured number four…that is when I’m in a foursome. Ha! Yet I keep coming back. You may ask why keep playing when you know there’s a better guy in the game that will probably win? Well, there’s the love of the game, the thrill of competition, the occasional great shot, and the satisfaction that comes from knowing you’ve done your best.
But, there is a deeper reason. I learned it one day on the golf course as a new golfer. I was paired up with an older, more seasoned golfer who played very well. He was a retired military officer who had played some of the finest golf courses around the world during his military career. He sensed my frustration with being number four in our foursome, and gave me a tip I’ve never forgotten. He said, “Gene, don’t worry about me or anybody else. Play your own game.”
He taught me that I was frustrated because I was trying to play his game and I couldn’t. That frustration was ruining my game. He showed me that it’s OK to play my game along side of his game. Yes his drives were longer, and his shots more accurate than mine, but that had nothing to do with my game. If I play my game, I’ll play better and in time I’ll improve. Since that day my game has improved, but at my own pace. I enjoy my game and challenge myself to succeed.
God has given us our own calling, or game, in life. Sometimes we get caught up trying to compete with others and become frustrated with what we fear is a lack of success. A Pastor with a congregation of 110 members comes home after service and turns on the television to see a young Pastor with a congregation of 10,000! Just like the golf champion's fellow players he thinks, “No matter what I do I’ll never be that good.” Then depression sets in.
He hurts, as gloomy thoughts of defeat descend like a shroud that covers his dreams for burial.
Stop it! God has given you your own calling, your own game. So play it. You can never win your game by playing somebody else’s. You can never get your promotion by moaning about somebody else’s. If you have four children in your home daycare business, you can’t focus on the daycare down the street with forty children. Be the best with your four and you’ll grow with satisfaction.
God has you where you are for a purpose…His. He put you there because you are the best choice for your calling, your game. Does God make mistakes? No. Does He want you to succeed? Yes! You see, God knows the end result of your game and if you were going to fail, He would have put you somewhere else.
Bigger isn’t always better, for quality is what counts. I’ll refrain from repeating the old saying, “It’s not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game.” I won’t say that. But know that you only have yourself to compete with in your game. You win your game, so play it! When your game is over, you’ll be able to say, with the Apostle Paul, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith” (II Timothy 4:7-8 KJV).
Sunday, April 3, 2011
On the day my best friend Mike went in for open-heart surgery. I awoke at 6:04 AM and began interceding for him in prayer. There is an experience in prayer, where as you pray, your spiritual eyes are open to a vision in the spirit realm of God.
The Apostle Paul prayed for us to receive such revelations and to see in the Spirit. “I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints” (Ephesians 1:18 NIV).
This was just such an experience. In the Spirit, I sought the Holy Spirit to approach Father, expecting to see Him on the throne. But instead of the throne room, I found myself outside in heaven with Father. With a reassuring smile, He gave me a hug and said, “Hello Gene. I’m glad you’re here. Come with me.” I followed Father from Heaven into Mike’s Hospital.
Arriving at Mike’s room, Jesus was already standing at his bedside with His right hand on Mike’s left shoulder. He looks up and acknowledges Father and me with a slight smile, then lowers His eyes back upon Mike. An overwhelming flood of peace washes over me as I stand with Father and Lord Jesus, who have my brother safely and firmly in their hands. Hallelujah!
The attendants come for Mike. Father is on Mike’s right and Lord Jesus is on his left. Two large angels are present. One is at the foot of his bed and the other is at the head of his bed. They all four walk with Mike as he is wheeled into the operating room. Once inside, the angel that led at the foot of his bed stood posted at the doorway facing out like a sentry.
The other angel moves around the surgical room, and seems to be monitoring all the activity. He watches every move the Doctors, nurses, and staff makes. When the Doctor speaks, the angel verifies that his orders are carried out. The angel surveys all the instruments, then the machines monitoring Mike’s vital signs, etc.
To the casual observer, the angel looks like a surgical supervisor who is making sure that every detail, every action, and every protocol is being performed flawlessly. Meanwhile, Father and Lord Jesus stand by with their eyes fixed on Michael. I am so grateful and privileged to be allowed to be here with them in the Spirit, observing them attending to Michael.
Hours are passing and all is well. In the Spirit, I stand in the corner of the operating room observing the activity. Everything seems normal, routine, and peaceful. Lord Jesus is standing with His hand softly stroking Mike’s shoulder, and Father is on the other side, standing beside the surgeon with His left arm around the surgeon’s shoulder.
Father seems intensely involved in the actual surgery. Every so often, Father turns and whispers something into the surgeon’s ear. When He whispers, the Doctor briefly pauses what he is doing with his hands in Mike’s chest, then he continues. This happened three times.
As they finished, before they closed, Father, with His left arm still around the surgeon, reached out His right hand and placed it directly on Mike’s heart. When he did this, Mike took a deep breath and there was a quick beep on the machine. Everything returned to normal as Father withdrew His hand. The surgeon drew a deep breath and let out a sigh of relief. It is over!
The last thing I saw was Father, the surgeon, and Jesus standing at the operating table looking down at Mike. With that, the vision was over. A few minutes later I received the news from Mike’s son that the operation, a quadruple bypass, was completed successfully. I already knew.
God promised, “I am the LORD, who heals you" (Exodus 15:26 NIV). How many times have we prayed for a loved one in surgery and asked God to direct the surgeon’s hands. Well, He does because He is the healer!