Lost and Adrift

Man Lost at Sea

After floating adrift at sea for 16 long hours, Glenn Ey of Queensland, Australia, was spotted by an eagle-eyed first officer aboard a low-flying passenger jet.

The Australian yachtsman first got into trouble when he became stranded about 300 miles off the coast of Sydney. Hours later, as the search for the missing sailor started, Australian search and rescue officials radioed international airline pilots flying into Sydney and asked them to assist with the search.

That’s why the crew of an Air Canada 777 dropped to 5,000 feet to look for the missing man—and just as the jumbo jet banked hard to the right to continue on to Sydney, the plane’s co-pilot saw the lost yacht. Not long after he radioed in the location, the search and rescue team was able to rescue the lost seaman.

Similarly, the spiritual “safety” and eternal destiny of pre-Christians—unsaved or lost people—is at stake everywhere around the world. The Bible says it’s our responsibility to go and do whatever we can to find and help rescue lost people from an eternity separated from God.

Are you looking for lost people? When you find them, do you radio for the Holy Spirit’s help—and join in a “spiritual search and rescue” by reaching out and sharing the gospel with them?

God commissioned us to stay on alert, prepared and ready to toss a life-line of hope to others. He called us to look for people who’re adrift and lost in a sea of sin—and then help rescue them by sharing the good news of Jesus Christ, our only Savior.

Luke says of the first-century disciples in Jerusalem, “They never stopped proclaiming the good news …” (Acts 5:42). If Luke observed how you reach out and talk with people around you, could he write the same report about you?

The Bible says, “In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge:  Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season … keep you head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist.” (2 Timothy 4:1-2,5).

Paul charges young Timothy—and every believer—to go and find lost people. Why? Simply put, we’re found; and they’re lost—and need to be rescued. It’s a life and death situation.

Our Savior is coming back soon to “rapture” (catch up) his Church from Planet Earth forever. Time is running out—and anyone who hasn’t come to faith in Jesus will be left behind.

That’s why we must look for lost people and help rescue them before it’s too late. That’s why we must keep our hearts soft and our eyes peeled for lost people.

Know this:  if we stop caring about the people around us, and if we shirk our responsibility to share the good news of Jesus with others, they don’t stand a chance. They may be lost forever.

Will you be a life-long member of God’s “spiritual search and rescue” team?

 

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Stand Boldly and Speak Confidently

Children 2

Nobody likes bullies. They’re mean, ornery and cocky. They threaten and intimidate. They taunt and jeer. They hurt and scar people, inside and out—sometimes for life.

I got bullied by guys twice my size. They stuffed me inside trash cans. Stole my lunch money. Kicked and knocked me down. Bad-mouthed and belittled me. Harassed and hit me.

Fortunately, that brazen bullying was short-lived because Dad taught me to fight and defend myself. He said, “Son, never pick a fight; but if someone starts a fight with you, make sure you finish it.”

So, I ended up fighting a lot—all the way through high school.

I fought often, and enjoyed it—but I hated bullies. That’s why I stepped into tense situations and stood up for friends and strangers who were being pushed around, beat up or bullied.

Today, I’m not proud of my bare-knuckle fighting days, but I’m okay with how I stood up for others. And thankfully, I’m now a much gentler man.

Who or what do you stand up for today?

Long ago, the bold prophet Elijah stood for righteousness and truth on top of Mt. Carmel, as he squared off with wicked King Ahab and 400 false prophets. Anointed and empowered by God, Elijah stood alone against the forces of unrighteousness, idolatry, abuse and false practices.

God expects us to stand for what’s right and true, and speak on behalf of vulnerable and marginalized people who can’t defend themselves. Humbly. Boldly. Persuasively.

Proverbs 31:8-9 says, “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”

But before we stand and speak, we must know who we’re defending. Unborn babies. Elderly folks. Disabled people. Terminally ill. Outcasts. Rejects. And the list goes on. To many, these individuals may be the lost, last and least of people. But not to us.

As I watch Elijah in action on Mt. Carmel (1 Kings 18), I see five principles for us to apply, as we stand and speak for what’s right and true.

With courage and conviction, we must (1) pray for God’s direction, power and blessing, (2) trust God and leave the results with him, (3) be willing to stand alone, (4) speak boldly, and (5) say and do what’s right, regardless of the consequences.

Like Elijah of old, let’s stand boldly and speak confidently—and let’s rely on God to empower us to say and do what’s right, no matter what.

 

God Is Always Approachable

Dog German shepherd

As I pedaled up the hill and got ready to toss another newspaper, I was caught off guard by a big German shepherd that I knew.  Instead of wagging his tail—like he usually did when I neared his yard—he barred his teeth and growled.  Then, he charged me.

I thought to myself, “Well, I can square off with this ornery dog, speed away on my bike, or …”  Rather foolishly, I went for the third option.  I rode straight at the dog.

Grabbing a rolled newspaper from my bag, I got ready to swing it like a club—but never got the chance.  The shepherd sank his teeth into my thigh, and I yelled, “That dumb dog bit me!”  Then suddenly, he turned tail and ran home.

Feeling a stab of pain in my leg, I braked and jumped off my bike—and dropped my Levis to investigate the wound.  I saw four deep puncture marks.

But ignoring the pain, I angrily mounted my stingray bike, finished my route and headed home.  First thing, I showed my early morning “battle scar” to Dad who—to my chagrin—said I needed to get some shots to in case I got rabies.  Those long needled shots hurt more than the dog bite!

That morning, Dad and I knocked on the door of the house where the dog lived—and learned he’d been cruelly beaten by some neighborhood boys riding bicycles, just days before he charged and bit me.

Later on, the doctor called to tell us that the dog didn’t have rabies.  I thought, “Oh man, I got poked repeatedly with a long needle—for nothing!”

For days, I steered clear of that big shepherd, and carried a spray bottle of vinegar so I could nail him if he charged me again.  I avoided him because I was afraid—and hesitant to approach him.

The Bible says God is our heavenly Father.  He’s always approachable and trustworthy.  He’s ready for us to run to him, just like small children who never hesitate to run to their strong Dad.

But rather foolishly, we sometimes try to steer clear of God.  We may see him as a distant father or a big bully.  We may mistrust or fear him.  We may harbor distorted thoughts about him.

Long ago, the confident apostle Paul encouraged his timid friend Timothy.  He wrote, “There is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 2:5), and “through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence” (Eph. 3:12).

Friend—because we have such open access to our heavenly Father, we can run to him—boldly and confidently.  He’s always approachable and receptive.  He’s gracious and reliable.  He nods and motions, inviting us to his side—and he hugs us.

So then, “let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:14-15).

Will you run into our Father’s open arms, enjoy his strong embrace and rely on his grace?

 

 

Confident and Courageous

Marisol Valles Police Chief

Marisol Valles was courageous—or crazy. In 2010, the 20-year-old mother signed on as the new police chief of Praxedis Guadalupe Guerrero, one of Mexico’s most dangerous border towns. Despite the fact that her predecessors were brutally killed, she boldly stepped forward.

She volunteered to lead 13 officers with one patrol car, three automatic rifles and a pistol. She boldly stood against the drug cartels who had murdered a mayor, his son, and numerous citizens of Mexico and the United States. Valles knew they’d probably kill her.

Chief Valles was a very courageous woman—just like the bold women whose stories are told in the Scriptures.

Deborah led the warriors of Israel—and together, they fought valiantly against fierce enemies. Esther approached the king unannounced, risking her own life to rescue her Jewish people.

Hannah prayed for a son. Two years after Samuel was born, she kept her promise and took him to the temple, where he learned to serve God. Mary endured ridicule and rejection from family and neighbors, as a young virgin in whom the Holy Spirit had miraculously conceived Jesus.

All of these women lived confidently and courageously in a world of cowards and compromisers.

Are you bold and courageous—or timid and fearful? Are you more like a lion or a mouse? Proverbs 28:1 says, “The righteous are as bold as a lion.”

God empowers us to live boldly. No matter how fast our heart is pounding. No matter how great the odds. No matter how bleak the circumstances.

Courage is stepping through fear, whether it’s caused by a perceived threat or real danger.

It’s standing and staying strong when we’d rather run and hide. It’s being bold and brave when we’d rather give up and get out. It’s blowing the bugle and charging the hill when we’d rather sound retreat.

We can’t manufacture confidence or muster courage on our own. That’s why we must rely on Almighty God to empower us to be confident and courageous.

God is the one who fuels our courage—as we trust and obey the Scriptures. He says, “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go” (Joshua 1:7-8).

God is the one who fortifies our confidence—as we recognize and rely on his presence. He says, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).

That’s why and how we can live confidently and courageously—as righteous men and women who obey the Scriptures, enjoy God’s presence and rely on his power!