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WITNESSING FOR THE LORD: Meet Charlie, the Strongest Man I Ever Met (2)

         I can never forget the testimony of a man who was a very good friend. Long ago, someone took the time to witness to Him, casting personal risk aside.

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         He was probably in his mid-to-late thirties and about a decade and a half older than me. He had a loving wife and a bunch of kids. I had never known him before he was born again but he had been a rough character, a man no one would mess with. He was a solid family man and he worked hard. He was a construction worker, a foreman, and lived in the country some distance away. He had a hard row to hoe to pack up a large family with several little kids and head off to church four times a week, but he was always there. His smile lit up the whole place. He was a great example of how the Lord could melt even the most powerful heart.

         When Charlie met the Lord Jesus, he finally met his match, and then some. Charlie found out that the Lord was a lot stronger than he was, that He was a bigger and better Man, and that He was the greatest man’s Man who ever lived. Charlie surrendered to his Maker.

         I don’t know who witnessed to him but that family’s salvation was one of the great boons to our group. I have worked in construction for many years. I worked in the oil industry a long time as well. I have met hundreds of strong men. There is a culture in these blue collar fields that one had better respect. I am ever thankful to my Dad for teaching me early on how to thrive in the world of real men who do their job, who won’t be denied, and who know there is a job to be done, that must be done, and will get done.

         But among all these guys I have still never met a man who was as physically strong as Charlie. My Dad always taught me when I was a kid to give a strong handshake, and I did. But this man had the strongest handshake I ever felt, and that was decades ago. I know he had to torque it down when he shook hands with other men because, if he wanted to, he could mash your hand to a pulp. I am serious. He could break your hand. The best defense is to squeeze the other guy’s hand harder than he is squeezing yours, or just as hard. But it wouldn’t work with him. He was strong as an ox. Two oxes. There were times when I had him in a good grip and looked him in the eye and told him to go a little more and he would smile and clamped down just about an extra ounce and I knew my hand would be withered in a heartbeat and quickly told him to back off. This has never happened with anyone else. Ever.

         So now I think I know what happened to that guy with the withered hand in the Bible. He met Charlie before Charlie got saved.

         It’s hard to explain to people who have never been filled with the Holy Spirit about the transformation that takes place. Charlie was undoubtedly a very rough character but after he was filled with the Lord’s Spirit his face glowed like an angel. He was God’s middle linebacker, still tough as nails and solid as a rock but with a loving, tender heart. He was always smiling and trying to hold back from laughing in that shy way he had. He could not contain all the joy the Lord filled him with though he tried. Every service he was back there in the back row. He did that because he had so many young kids, about half a dozen, and did not want to disrupt the service. He and his lovely wife, also filled gloriously with the Holy Ghost, were all lined up back there. The kids always stayed in line but were still kids and were also smiling all the time. They made it work. It is not natural to make little kids do that but they managed it very well. They were such happy people. I think Charlie knew even more than I did that he had been hell bound and got rescued. He would be forever grateful and showed it always.

         He told me that before the Lord rescued him he drank a half bottle of hard liquor every day. He smoked two or three packs of cigarettes every day. And he worked very hard every day. This man was tough as nails. Then somebody witnessed to him. Some real Christian answered the call and witnessed to Charlie. Charlie could have done some serious damage.

         We all know how some will go off half-cocked when they get witnessed to. There is sometimes a lot of hate and one must have enough love to overcome it. Only the Lord has that kind of love but He must work through people to show it. This is a hard, tough world, and many people are filled with a lot of pain. They’ve been treated bad and they’re angry. And they don’t like it when told it is somehow their fault. They need our help and understanding.

         When the Lord reached out from heaven through a brave witness, instead of getting angry, Charlie listened. Maybe he knew he was a mess and really wanted to change but wasn’t going to be forced into becoming some fake girly man and succumb to religion. The Lord knew that. So he sent Charlie a real witness to witness about the real thing. The Lord was not going to force Charlie to surrender his manhood but just the opposite. He wanted him to be the real man he wanted to be but with a godly heart.

         The Lord filled Him with His Spirit. He delivered him from his cigarette habit. He took away his desire for alcohol. Charlie stopped cussing and fighting and began smiling and loving. He could still break you in two, though, and you had to be careful—you had to watch out for exuberant hugs. He became a solid witness for His Lord and Savior and though he didn’t talk much he was the very picture of Christian strength.

         I want to close with a funny incident that will give you a tad more insight into the joy we all felt in Charlie’s presence. Before I go on, there was one thing I touched on previously about Charlie but didn’t tell the whole story.

         Charlie was so full of spiritual joy he continued smiling and doing these little laughs even after we all settled into our seats and church got going. It was just part of his good nature that the Lord accentuated with His own. This was an active Spirit-filled congregation of lively people so it was not always possible to contain one’s self. Charlie would often continue expressing his happiness and gratitude throughout the service. He was way in the back but everyone always knew it was just Charlie being Charlie. Some of us may say “Amen!” but he would do a chuckle. It added greatly to a joyful atmosphere.

         One night, a traveling minister came to the church. He was a big guy in a black suit with a commanding presence. He was also blind. He’s up there preaching and we’re down there in the pews, being properly respectful if not more so, and not quite sure what was transpiring before us. It was pretty hushed.

         Well, the preacher must have said something Charlie really liked. Showing his unbound appreciation, Charlie did one of his customary good-natured manly chuckles that just happened to project quite well. The preaching stopped. The combination of church quiet and back bench acoustics made the preacher think he was being laughed at! It was one of the funniest things I had ever seen in church and I could write a book on the subject. The blind preacher rebuked Charlie from the pulpit! He hollered, “You may think this is funny! But I’m preaching up here!”

         We all started stifling laughter at the initial shock and some of us turned around and looked back at poor Charlie who obviously meant no harm and was real embarrassed. He was red as a beet and had a weird grin on his face coming down from a joy high and was not quite sure what to do. But just like his Lord, Charlie took it like a man. And he understood. 

         © 2017 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.

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LIGHT in the Midst of Darkness: From Repentance to Joy

         People blame God for a lot of things though He is never to blame for anything. Some blame Him for everything. But we certainly cannot blame Him for not warning us.

         We are living in a time characterized on many fronts as the quick approach of a point of no return. Correction is no longer merely suggested but demanded. The actions of rebellious sinful humanity on this planet can no longer be sustained. Sinful people have gotten away with so much sin for so long it remains incredible that the Lord has not yet brought great judgment to some.

ABORTION—THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM (IN THE NATION)

         As I’ve said many times before, one can gauge the incredible sin content in America by merely taking a look at abortion statistics. The heart of America as a country has grown so cold and so weak that only a relative handful of folks acknowledge the incredible evil regarding over 50 million innocent lives murdered in cold blood with no refrain and little remorse.

         The vast majority of those in elected or appointed office in Washington DC—the people with all the power—never does anything about ending abortion on demand and haven’t in 42 years. A few talk about it but that’s as far as it gets. And the people who elect them obviously don’t care because they keep electing them.

         The vast majority of “Christians” don’t care either. And rather than get the required number doing the right thing to fix this incredible evil, many Christians spend their quality time instead doing things like wondering if they should vote for pro-abortion candidates who mean business and keep the killing going, or voting for liars—those who merely talk but never do and are just as complicit in the evil.

         The Lord may say at the judgment, “Why did you keep voting for baby killers?”

         Abortion not only kills innocent lives, it panders to the raw lust of people who can’t control themselves and use abortion as their main method of contraception. It creates dark selfish hearts with righteous exteriors, and as such people gain the majority, they exhibit less resistance toward applying the necessary corrective.

         The point here is that any nation who routinely kills its innocents in vast quantities with no remorse is worse—WAY WORSE—than the pure evil of mass murderers like Mao (40 million), Stalin (30 million), and Hitler (untold millions).

         And the people of such a nation will keep not correcting a very clear gigantic obvious wrong because they simply do not see the problem in it, will not do what it takes to fix it, or are benefitting from it.

         Think about that. The babies cannot defend themselves in any way and the babies’ defenders are seen by the majority as deviant idiots. The babies are classified as non-persons and thus have no rights. These multiple murders are NEVER broadcast on the news which results in an “out of sight out of mind” scenario. The majority in America prefers this head-in-the-sand status quo and unless proper change is affected in this society by the comparative few the whole thing will continue on until seconds before going completely off the cliff.

         Many people know better but are emboldened in their sin because there is no current reaction to their illicit action.

         Yet.

         It is always a matter of time for things to get sorted out. Payment will always be made. It is a sad thing, therefore, to see people allowing themselves to be lifted up in pride and taking on a bulletproof attitude. They incorrectly discern that nothing bad will ever happen to them as a result of their sin since nothing bad has happened to them so far. The only reason they appear to be bulletproof, though, is simply because there are no karma blowback bullets heading in their direction.

         Yet.

         History tells us what always happens.

         But beyond that, and much more importantly, God always warns us what will happen if we take the wrong road.

THE ANSWER ACCORDING TO EZEKIEL

         The following passage from the prophet Ezekiel, who lived in the sixth century BC, teaches us that some things never change. The Lord used this man and spoke through him not only to warn His people of what will happen to them because of their wicked actions, but also to differentiate between right and wrong, and reveal that blessings will follow righteousness.

         He warned His people as a way to correct them and get them on the right road. The last thing God wants to do is bring judgment. He is loving, kind, and extremely patient.

         Read the following carefully. It contains much truth and many answers that can be applied to our present situation:

         And the word of the LORD came to me, saying,

         “Son of man, speak to the sons of your people and say to them, ‘If I bring a sword upon a land, and the people of the land take one man from among them and make him their watchman,

         and he sees the sword coming upon the land and blows on the trumpet and warns the people,

         then he who hears the sound of the trumpet and does not take warning, and a sword comes and takes him away, his blood will be on his own head.

         ‘He heard the sound of the trumpet but did not take warning; his blood will be on himself. But had he taken warning, he would have delivered his life.

         ‘But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet and the people are not warned, and a sword comes and takes a person from them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require from the watchman’s hand.’

         “Now as for you, son of man, I have appointed you a watchman for the house of Israel; so you will hear a message from My mouth and give them warning from Me.

         “When I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you will surely die,’ and you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require from your hand.

         “But if you on your part warn a wicked man to turn from his way and he does not turn from his way, he will die in his iniquity, but you have delivered your life.

         “Now as for you, son of man, say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus you have spoken, saying, “Surely our transgressions and our sins are upon us, and we are rotting away in them; how then can we survive?”’

         “Say to them, ‘As I live!’ declares the Lord GOD, ‘I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn back, turn back from your evil ways! Why then will you die, O house of Israel?’

         “And you, son of man, say to your fellow citizens, ‘The righteousness of a righteous man will not deliver him in the day of his transgression, and as for the wickedness of the wicked, he will not stumble because of it in the day when he turns from his wickedness; whereas a righteous man will not be able to live by his righteousness on the day when he commits sin.’

         “When I say to the righteous he will surely live, and he so trusts in his righteousness that he commits iniquity, none of his righteous deeds will be remembered; but in that same iniquity of his which he has committed he will die.

         “But when I say to the wicked, ‘You will surely die,’ and he turns from his sin and practices justice and righteousness,

         if a wicked man restores a pledge, pays back what he has taken by robbery, walks by the statutes which ensure life without committing iniquity, he shall surely live; he shall not die.

         “None of his sins that he has committed will be remembered against him. He has practiced justice and righteousness; he shall surely live.

         “Yet your fellow citizens say, ‘The way of the Lord is not right,’ when it is their own way that is not right.

         “When the righteous turns from his righteousness and commits iniquity, then he shall die in it.

         “But when the wicked turns from his wickedness and practices justice and righteousness, he will live by them.

         “Yet you say, ‘The way of the Lord is not right.’ O house of Israel, I will judge each of you according to his ways.” [Ezekiel 33:1-20]

SEEK, AND YE SHALL FIND

         We are in a sense living in the best of times and the worst of times. Bad things are piling up because of so much sin and rebellion. All of this stuff will have to be paid for. Judgment has come and must continue, and more is certainly on the way.

         But at the same time many millions of real Christians in America are doing the right thing and blessings follow them. They have favor with God. They are blessed with grace. They love the Lord Jesus and obey Him. It does not mean that God spoils them or indulges them, but that He loves them, protects them, and strengthens them

         If you find yourself in a place where you feel you just don’t have the strength or the faith to get beyond not so pleasant circumstances even though you have tried and continue trying, it does not necessarily mean you cannot. It could be a timing issue. It could be that you are making progress but you don’t see it or are not satisfied with the progress you have made.

         Be strong. Seek the Lord. Stand in faith. Continue to pray. You will either successfully climb over the mountain, journey around the mountain, or possibly tunnel right through the mountain. All of this takes much effort and time. It might take a while. But one thing is always true:

         So He told them this parable, saying,

         “What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’

         “I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

         “Or what woman, if she has ten silver coins and loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin which I had lost!’

         “In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” [Luke 15:3-10] [1]

         Notice that finding the lost sheep and the lost coin took effort. It took unending effort until the discovery was made. The operative phrase from the preceding passage is “until he/she finds it.”

         The effort must be extended until the objective is achieved.

         It begins with repentance.

         It ends in great JOY.

         © 2015 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


[1] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.