VIDEO Rev 1:5-8 Song “Behold, He is Coming with Clouds”

Jul 16, 2012

Revelation 1:5-8 (NKJV)

…To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood
and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father
to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Behold, He is coming with clouds and every eye will see Him
even they who pierced Him.
And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen.

I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, says the Lord
who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.

Music Copyrighted by Esther Mui.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission.
Background image purchased from http://www.dreamstime.com © Lilkar | Dreamstime.com

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A Run for His Life

A meth addict finds redemption from the streets on the street.
a_run_for_your life

Up before the sun, he laces his shoes and steps into the misty morning—an hour so early that the quiet city has not yet succumbed to the cadences of daybreak. He stretches, warms his muscles, and when rubber sole meets pavement, pounds out a story years in the making. It’s what he has always done. Steve Cannon runs.

But for nearly two decades, he ran away from God and family, headstrong down a path that nearly destroyed him. A seasoned construction worker, Cannon had an established career, coupled with a crippling addiction to methamphetamines. At the height of his addiction, he was using on a daily basis, both at work and at home. He willfully distanced himself from his children, withdrawing further into the rote life of a gang- and drug-infested world.

Changing Lives Through Exercise

And then, on March 22, 2001, Cannon fell more than 30 feet at a construction site. He landed on his back, cracking four ribs, nearly cutting off an index finger, and sustaining head trauma and nerve damage. He was in and out of the hospital for months. The injuries to the right side of his body suggested he might never walk normally again. His speech was greatly affected, and he’d lost all ability to move his right arm.

After just six months, Cannon was released by his doctors and told he could return to his job in construction; it felt like a second chance at life. He connected with a church and multiple support groups in an effort to keep himself busy—and removed from his old lifestyle. But after four and a half years of clean, drug-free living, the former life beckoned, and drug abuse once again became the norm.

He was running again, and Cannon knew he needed help. Finding himself in court for a $300 fine, he asked to be sent to a short-term facility for men battling chemical addictions.

The Potter’s House in Jefferson, Ga., is one of the many facilities of Atlanta Mission, an organization focused on ending homelessness in metro Atlanta. After staying there for two months, Cannon was transferred to The Shepherd’s Inn, another of the Mission’s facilities, where he would remain until the completion of the program. It was there that he met Jesse Salters—a retired Army drill sargent with a degree in social work. Salters is now a counselor who works with the men at The Shepherd’s Inn. He had not been there long before realizing that true rehabilitation and restoration encompassed even more than meeting a person’s emotional, psychological, and spiritual needs. With the support of the Mission, he began a physical fitness regimen that has since become a mandatory part of the program.

At 4:50 each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning, Salters arrives and begins wake-up calls. By 5 a.m., all of the roughly 60 men are standing outside of the downtown facility, stretching and warming up. Then together, though each at his own pace, they take on the roads of Atlanta, running the same streets where many of them once walked as addicts and dealers.

“The benefit is capturing the whole person . . . so while their mind’s clearing, their body’s healing at the same time,” Salters said. This has proven true for Cannon; running has become a stress reliever, a way to empty his mind of clutter. He often asks for permission to run on his own, even when the group isn’t meeting.

“It takes a lot off my mind—it puts me at ease,” Cannon said. He can’t get enough, if only for the fact that running is something he never dreamed he’d be able to do. But as the prophet Isaiah reminds us, “‘[God’s] thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways [His] ways,’ declares the LORD” (Isa. 55:8). And the strenuous act of running is teaching Cannon just that.

Each time he goes for a run, he prays, asking for the ability to complete what he’s setting out to do. Whether he runs 1 mile or 8—his farthest distance so far—he ends with a prayer of thanksgiving. He hasn’t forgotten where he came from or Who has brought him to this point. The right leg that once barely functioned carries him step by step. He doesn’t have to be the fastest; he just wants to finish. “I like knowing I can do it.”

On Jan. 25, 2014, thousands of people gathered in Atlanta’s Centennial Olympic Park. It was cold, with temperatures in the low 20s, as the sun peeked above the skyline. A gunshot rang out, and Cannon joined the throngs of people running through city streets. Though from varying walks of life, they ran with a single purpose: to support the Atlanta Mission and its efforts to change lives. He ran for men like himself, whose drug addictions had led them into physical and spiritual bondage. He ran for women and children who were sleeping in the bitter cold—for men and women alike who had lost their jobs, homes, and families.

Around the 30-minute mark, a winded Cannon crossed the finish line of his first official 5K, repeating the word “Awesome!” through a big grin. It mattered little how he had placed; the man who’d stood in front of a judge months before, strung-out, tired, and defeated, was now proud, strong, and accomplished. He had run for himself—to do something challenging, healthy, and positive—and for the first time in ages, he had finished something truly good.

Laughing and singing, the 5K finishers who were clients of the Mission danced in celebration. Even as the festivities began to wind down, the DJ who’d kept everyone lively despite the cold continued to play music. Cannon and his friends congratulated one another on a job well done as some proudly wore the T-shirts they had earned. Like other participants—businessmen, mothers, fathers, pastors, and elite runners—they had finished the race and were no longer merely drug addicts, homeless people, and ex-convicts. They were portraits of grace bestowed freely and lavishly by the God in whose image they were made.

Cannon is still running. For him, each morning spent with Salters and the other men in his program is a new opportunity to fine-tune the man he’s becoming. He once had much to flee, but now he runs with resolve and purpose—pounding the pavement for the glory of God.

a_run_for_me
Written by Erin Chewning
Photography by Ben Rollins

Our Personal Accountability

Romans 14:12

If you are not involved in a personal accountability relationship, then you are missing out on one of life’s greatest gifts. Scripture often gives examples of this relationship: Jesus is accountable to the Father (John 8:28-29), the church is subject to Christ (Eph. 5:24), and Paul felt answerable to the church at Antioch (Acts 14:27). When we have someone with whom we can share our failures, weaknesses, successes, and deep longings, we benefit in several ways.

In our accountability to a Christian brother or sister, we develop a sense of responsibility, which leads to improved performance in all we do. Giving an account of ourselves promotes integrity and protects us from misusing our freedom as believers. What’s more, learning to examine ourselves and evaluate others guards us from unhealthy relationships and, in God’s hand, becomes a tool for our spiritual maturity.

Because an accountability partner can see our blind spots and weaknesses, he or she is in a good position to offer counsel, encouragement, or a loving rebuke. To choose the right person, we must look for a Spirit-filled believer who will offer godly wisdom based on Scripture. Also, we want to be accountable to a person who accepts and loves us just as we are, but who also possesses the courage to confront us when we are wrong. It is important to find someone who will truly be looking out for our best interest.

So where will you find such a person? In the pew at church or among your friends. Begin to pray today for an accountability partner, and ask God to clearly reveal the right one.

Maker and Owner

“I have made the earth, the man and the beast that are upon the ground, by my great power and by my outstretched arm, and have given it unto whom it seemed meet unto me.” (Jeremiah 27:5)

“The earth, the man and the beast” are the three entities which God is said to have “created” (Hebrew bara—note Genesis 1:1, 21, 27) in the Genesis account of creation. However, they are also said in Genesis to have been “made” (Hebrew asah—note Genesis 1:25-26; 2:4), and that is the emphasis in our text above. Of course, both aspects were accomplished in the six days of creation week, after which God “rested from all his work which God created and made” (Genesis 2:3). This statement makes it abundantly plain that the present processes of nature do not “create” (call into existence out of nothing) or “make” (build up into more complex forms) anything, as our modern theistic evolutionists and evangelical uniformitarians allege. God has rested from both of these works, except in occasional miraculous intervention in the present laws and processes of “nature.”

Now, because God did create and make all things, He also “owns” all things. “The earth is the LORD’s, and the fulness thereof” (Psalm 24:1). “Every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills” (Psalm 50:10). “The LORD hath made all things for himself” (Proverbs 16:4).

Therefore, all that we possess—as individuals or as nations—has simply been entrusted to us as God’s stewards, and “every one of us shall give account of himself to God” (Romans 14:12). Without a doubt this accounting will be of our handling of our goods, our minds, and our opportunities, among others. For “it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful” (1 Corinthians 4:2). Let us be thankful—not covetous; and industrious—not slothful; in everything He has entrusted to us. HMM

Self Sins

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. —Galatians 2:20

To be specific, the self-sins are self-righteousness, self-pity, self-confidence, selfsufficiency, self-admiration, self-love and a host of others like them. They dwell too deep within us and are too much a part of our natures to come to our attention till the light of God is focused upon them. The grosser manifestations of these sins—egotism, exhibitionism, self-promotion—are strangely tolerated in Christian leaders, even in circles of impeccable orthodoxy. They are so much in evidence as actually, for many people, to become identified with the gospel. I trust it is not a cynical observation to say that they appear these days to be a requisite for popularity in some sections of the church visible. Promoting self under the guise of promoting Christ is currently so common as to excite little notice….

Self is the opaque veil that hides the face of God from us. It can be removed only in spiritual experience, never by mere instruction. We may as well try to instruct leprosy out of our system. There must be a work of God in destruction before we are free. We must invite the cross to do its deadly work within us. We must bring our self-sins to the cross for judgement.

I pray that the cross would obliterate the self-sins in my life and let me live only for Jesus Christ and His glory. Amen.

We Still Want to Boss Our Own Lives

Quench not the Spirit. 1 Thessalonians 5:19

“Doesn’t everybody desire to be filled with the Holy Spirit?” I have been asked, and the answer is “No.”

I suppose many people desire to be full but not many desire to be filled. I want to responsibly declare that before you can be filled with the Spirit, you must desire to be— and some people do not desire to be filled.

We ought to be very plain in our teaching that Satan has tried to block every effort of Christ’s Church to receive from the Father her divine and blood-bought patrimony that the Holy Spirit should fill His Church and that He should fill individuals who make up His Church.

It is plain in the Scriptures that the gentle and good Holy Spirit wants to fill us and possess us if we are Christians. This Spirit is like Jesus—pure, gentle, sane, wise and loving.

He wants to possess you so that you are no longer in command of the little vessel in which you sail. You may be a passenger on board, or one of the crew, but you definitely are not in charge. The Spirit of God is now in command of the vessel.

The reason we object to it being that way is because we were born of Adam’s corrupted flesh. We want to boss our own lives. That is why we ask: Are you sure that you want to be possessed by the blessed Spirit of the Father and of the Son? Are you ready and willing for your personality to be taken over by someone who is like this?

Answering God’s Call

The LORD… called as at other times, Samuel, Samuel. Then Samuel answered, Speak; for thy servant heareth. 1 SAMUEL 3:10

When will men and women realize that when God calls us out, He is completely faithful to call us into something better?

In his faith Abraham was against idolatry and idol making, but that was not his crusade. Because of his faith, God led him into a promised land, into possessions and into the lineage that brought forth the Messiah. The call of God is always to something better—keep that in mind!

God calls us into the joys and reality of eternal life. He calls us into purity of life and spirit, so that we may acceptably walk with Him. He calls us into a life of service and usefulness that brings glory to Himself as God. He calls us into the sweetest fellowship possible on this earth—the fellowship of the family of God!

If God takes away from us the old, wrinkled, beat-up dollar bill we clutch so desperately, it is only because He wants to exchange it for the whole federal mint, the entire treasury! He is saying, “I have in store for you all the resources of heaven. Help yourself!”

What a wonderful God we serve! You are looking out for our very best. Lord, help me to loosen my hold on the things that are blocking the path of Your blessings.