A few days ago, I had a really weird experience: I was locked in in my own barn. I have been locked out my house several times before, but never locked in.
As a teacher, I have taken part of several "Lock In" or "Lock Down" drills in our school. At the sound of the alarm, teachers must turn off the lights, barricade the doors and sit on the floor with the students and out of sight. Hopefully, we will never have to take part of in a real Lock In, when armed intruders invade our campus.
As a youth leader, I also enjoyed a few nights together with the group. It was a lot of fun to be up all night playing games, talking, praying, studying the Word and goofing off a little bit. This is the kind of "Lock In" I love. Being trapped in my shed or barn, however, is not one of my favorite experiences.
I was busy inflating a tire, while all of a sudden, the door closed with a loud bang. I tried to get out, but the latch was firmly attached. I started screaming my wife's name, but no one came to my rescue. The seconds turned into minutes, and the minutes seemed to last like hours. It was a real life horror movie. I started praying and banging on the walls until she finally came (thank God) and opened the latch.
Have you ever felt trapped like this? I think about the people that were trapped in Mexico City during the earthquake a few weeks ago. It must be horrible to be locked in under the rubbles, but it is worse by far to be a prisoner or our own emotions and thoughts.
Elijah felt like this after he was told that Jezebel wanted to kill him. He prayed:
“It is enough! Now, Lord, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!” (1 Kings 19:1-4).
This is the prayer of someone that is locked in, in a "room" of despair and depression. This same kind of prayer was uttered by another prophet.
"Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live!” (Jonah 4:3).
I have been "Locked In" in this manner more times times than I can remember, but God has delivered me from them.
The book of Psalms is compilation of songs and prayers for deliverance. All the psalmists were locked in at one time or another, but the grace of God came to their rescue again and again.
If you are locked in today, call on Jesus. He has promised that if you,
“knock...it will be opened to you. For everyone...who knocks it will be opened." (Matthew 7:7, 8)
I take attendance every single day at school in my Spanish classes. As I call out each name on the roll my students must respond by saying "Aqui" (Here) or "Presente" (Present). It is rare to have a full class on any given day. There are always students that are either absent, skipping, taking some state test, or participating in a myriad of school activities, including games, rallies, class meetings, dramas etc. I am not counting those which are suspended for breaking some of the school rules.
It is very frustrating to teach under these conditions. There are always students lagging behind; needing to make up work in class. It seems sometiems that "students" have time for everything except to actually do their work, which is to study.
Christians act the same way most of the time. We are so engrossed into living our "own" lives, that we rarely have any time left for the Lord. We have time to work, but no time for worship; we have time to play, but no time for praying; we have time watch TV for hours, but we get sleppy every time we go to church or read the Word at home.
Romans 12:1 commands all Christians to be present for the Lord every day.
"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present our bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which isyour reasonable service."
Our Lord is ever present in us and with us all the time. He always has time for you and me. He want to interact with us on a daily, hourly basis. Every moring is a new opportunity for us to present ourselves before our God; ready to follow his will and obey his commands. We might not be the most able believers in terms of spiritual gifts and talents, but God is not looking for talented or able believers; He wans to use available Christians.
Isaiah was not the most able of the would be prophets. He was a foul-mouthed individual and yet, God called him to the prophetic ministry. After he was cleansed and purified by God, he responded positively to God's call by saying:
"Here I am, send me" (Isaiah 6:1-8)
You and I may never have enough gold, myrrh or frankincense to bring as presents to the Lord (Matthew 2:11), but we can present ourselves as presents to our Lord and Savior every day. I pray that our lives bring honor, glory and joy to our God, as we seek to serve Him with love for the rest of our lives.
If I would ask what is celebrated on October 31, nine out of ten Christians would reply: "Halloween." On this day death and the devil are celebrated worldwide and in the last few decades Christian churches have joined in this awful celebration.
Now, before you reply angrily or complain about this statement of fact, I am not saying that all churches do celebrate Halloween like the world does (though many do), but I am declaring that many churches feel the need to provide an "alternative" so that our "poor" Christian children don't miss out on the festivities and feel left out.
As a matter of fact, in most communities, the churches place more emphasis on Halloween activities than the secular society. Who has not heard of such events as "Harvest Festivals" or "Trunk or Treat" or even evangelistic "Haunted Houses" in our cities and towns?
Am I the only one that believes that Halloween is evil? Am I an alarmist or old fashioned when I think that churches should never celebrate Halloween in any form or fashion?
There is a big problem when churches start providing alternatives for sin. The word "alternative" means another option or possibility for people to choose from. Halloween should be irrelevant for believers. There is nothing to celebrate on that day for us...or is there?
Well, since you ask so politely I will reply. God, in his infinite wisdom has provided a reason to celebrate October 31 and it has nothing to do with Halloween, death, Jack-o'-lanterns, costumes, candies or the devil. I am referring to the celebration of Reformation Day.
It was on October 31, 1517, when Martin Luther posted his 95 theses on the door of the church of Wittenberg, Germany; protesting all the abuses and heresies of the Roman Catholic church. This event lead to a revival of the true church of God and a separation from apostate Christianity.
This is what the Christians should celebrate and proclaim for all to hear! Instead of providing alternatives for an evil and pagan feast, we should rejoice that exactly 500 years ago, God used one repentant monk to change (not to imitate) the world.
And one last thing. The devil is the one that has always attempted to bring chaos into the world by providing other "alternatives" to the people of God. He did so with Adam and Eve and the forbidden fruit (Genesis 3) and "disguises himself as an angel of light" (2 Corinthians 11:14) to bring confusion, chaos and destruction in the world.
The church does not need to provide altenatives, but preach the truth. The church does not need disguises or costumes, but to show forth the light of Christ to a dark world. Finally, the church does not need to celebrate death and sin, but rejoice in the life we have in Christ.
A few months ago I almost lost my wallet; well, I lost it but I was blessed to be able to find it again. It happened in the city of Naples, Florida. I went to the market after a morning swim in the beach and not wanting to put my wallet in the pocket of my wet swimming trunk, I placed it on top of the shopping cart...and I forgot about it.
On my way back to the motel, I suddenly realized that my dear wallet was lost and alone in the world. I drove back to the market like a maniac (don't tell the police) and searched everywhere, but the wallet was gone. Finally, I went to Customer Service and the agent told me she had it. It turns out that someone saw it and returned it to the store.
You and I were like this lost wallet. We too, were lost like sheep that "have gone astray" (Isaiah 53:6). My wallet, however, was lost due to my own negligence or forgetfulness, but the human race chose to separate from God and has been lost ever since. In fact, even now most Christians choose to go astray now and then.
You can't imagine the joy I felt when I was reunited with my lonesome wallet. I almost cried tears of joy and praised the Lord of heaven for saving my wallet and for protecting my identity and finances.
A greater joy was felt by the woman that lost, and found her coin (Luke 15:9) and even more by the father of the prodigal son (Luke 15:20-24). He was so overjoyed by his return, that he made a great feast for his "recovered" or redeemed son.
This story is a wonderful illustration of God's love for us. We were lost and rejoiced in our evil ways, but He came to save us. We will never deserve the wonders of his amazing grace and infinite mercy. His heart is filled with eternal joy for the salvation of each one of his elect.
Oh, and one more thing. Now that we are in Christ, we can be assured that we will never be lost again (John 10:28-30). We might go a little astray sometimes, but our God will never lose anything. We might lose our wallets (or other things), but He cannot even lose one soul.