What Crosses the Oceans

Claude Houde

In 1942, Navy Signalman 3rd Class Elgin Staples was serving on the USS Astoria as they supported the landings that were being made on Guadalcanal. They fought well into the night. A brilliant beam cut across the water, and a Japanese cruiser’s spotlight illuminated Staples and his crewmates. The fight was on. At approximately 2 a.m. on August 9th, one of Astoria's turrets was hit and exploded, flinging Staples and many others overboard. More than 200 men aboard died. Badly injured by shrapnel in one leg, Staples only managed to stay afloat thanks to his inflatable life belt.

In the early morning, after long hours of treading the Pacific’s dark waters, Staples was rescued. He began examining the life belt that had helped to save his life and realized with surprise that it had been manufactured by the Firestone plant in his hometown of Akron, Ohio. He also noticed an unusual set of numbers stamped on the belt.

He returned home and was telling his mother about the whole incident. She was particularly interested because she worked at the plant. Staples grabbed his belt to show her. In a later interview, he said, “She leaned forward and taking the rubber belt in her hands, she read the label. She had just heard the story and knew that in the darkness of that terrible night, it was this one piece of rubber that had saved my life. When she looked up at me, her mouth and her eyes were open wide with surprise. ‘Son, I’m an inspector at Firestone. This is my inspector number,’ she said, her voice hardly above a whisper. We stared at each other, too stunned to speak.”

Through this beautiful true story, I would like to tell you that whatever ocean shakes your child — mental, physical, emotional or spiritual health disorder, addictions or revolt — God hears your prayers. “In all circumstances take up the shield of faith…and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints” (Ephesians 6:16-18, ESV).

God’s arm will be able to reach your child wherever they are today. Don't stop praying, believing and hoping. Your prayers cross even oceans.

Claude Houde is the lead pastor of Eglise Nouvelle Vie (New Life Church) in Montreal, Canada. Under his leadership New Life Church has grown from a handful of people to more than 3500 in a part of Canada with few successful Protestant churches.

Standing Up to Our Giants

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

Are you facing a crisis? Do you have a menacing giant of a problem at home, at work or in your family? The only way to face a giant is to do as David did: remember the lion and the bear. By remembering God’s faithfulness to him in his past crises, David could go up against Goliath without fear.

When David volunteered to fight Goliath, “Saul said to David, ‘You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him.’ …But David said to Saul, ‘Your servant used to keep his father’s sheep, and when a lion or a bear came and took a lamb out of the flock, I went out after it and struck it, and delivered the lamb from its mouth. …Your servant has killed both lion and bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, seeing he has defied the armies of the living God.’” (1 Samuel 17:33-36, NKJV).

David knew the danger he was facing against Goliath. He wasn’t some novice, a naïve kid full of bravado and looking for a fight. No, David was simply remembering his past deliverances. He boldly stated, “The Lord, who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, he will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine” (1 Samuel 17:37).

Multitudes of God’s people today face giants on all sides, and many cower in fear. Does this describe you? Have you forgotten the time you were so sick that you were close to death, but the Lord raised you up? Do you remember that financial disaster when you thought, “That’s it; I’m finished,” yet the Lord saw you through it and has kept you to this day?

There are many things we don’t understand, and we won’t understand every situation until we are home with Jesus. I absolutely believe that God can heal, and that he has a way out of every situation. The question for us is, “Where do we find the faith, the courage, to stand up and gain victory in him?” It comes only by remembering the lion and the bear. It comes when you’re able to recall the incredible faithfulness of God, and the past victories he has given you. You can’t face a giant until you’re able to understand the majesty and glory of God in your life.

Chosen to Bear Fruit

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

Jesus said, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you” (John 15:16, NKJV). Many sincere Christians think bearing fruit means simply to bring souls to Christ. Bearing fruit, though, means something much larger even than soulwinning.

The fruit Jesus is talking about is Christ-likeness. Simply put, bearing fruit means reflecting the likeness of Jesus. The phrase “much fruit” means “the ever-increasing likeness of Christ.” Growing more and more into Jesus’ likeness is our core purpose in life. It has to be central to all our activities, our lifestyle, our relationships. Indeed, all our gifts, callings, work, ministry and witness must flow out of this core purpose.

If I am not Christlike at heart, if I’m not becoming noticeably more like him, I have missed God’s purpose in my life.

God’s purpose for me can’t be fulfilled by what I do for Christ. It can’t be measured by anything I achieve, even if I heal the sick or cast out demons. No, God’s purpose is fulfilled in me only by what I am becoming in him. Christlikeness isn’t about what I do for the Lord but rather how I’m being transformed into his likeness.

Go into a Christian bookstore and read the titles on the shelves. Most are self-help books on how to overcome loneliness, survive depression, find fulfillment. Why is this? It’s because we have it all wrong. We aren’t called to be successes and be free of all trouble. No, we are missing the one calling that’s meant to be central to our lives, to become fruitful in the likeness of Christ.

Jesus was totally given to the Father. He stated, “I don’t do or say anything except what my Father tells me.”

Does your desire to bear “much fruit” spring forth from wanting to become more like Christ? We fulfill our life’s purpose only as we begin to love others like Christ has loved us. “As the Father loved me, I also have loved you; abide in my love” (John 15:9). His command is clear and simple: “Give to others the unconditional love I have shown you.” We grow more Christlike as our love for others increases. Bearing fruit comes down to how we treat people.

Remembering the Lord’s Work

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

How quickly we forget God’s great deliverances in our lives. How easily we take for granted the miracles he performed in our lives. The Bible tells us over and over, “Remember your deliverances.”

We’re so like the disciples. They didn’t understand Christ’s miracles when he supernaturally fed thousands with just a few loaves and fishes. Jesus performed this miracle twice, feeding 5000 people one time and 4000 the next. A few days later, Jesus was warning the disciples about the leaven of the Pharisees. They thought he said this because they’d forgotten to bring bread for their journey. Christ answered them, “Do you not yet understand, or remember the five loaves of the five thousand and how many baskets you took up? Nor the seven loaves of the four thousand and how many large baskets you took up?” (Matthew 16:9-10, NKJV).

According to Mark, Christ was overwhelmed by how quickly his disciples had forgotten. Jesus said, “Why do you reason because you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive nor understand? Is your heart still hardened? Having eyes, do you not see? And having ears, do you not hear? And do you not remember?” (Mark 8:17-18).

What do these passages tell us? It’s clear that none of the disciples stopped to consider what was happening as those miraculous feedings took place. Try to picture these men walking among the crowds carrying their baskets, passing out loaves and fishes that multiplied miraculously before their eyes. You’d think those disciples would have fallen on their knees crying, “How is this possible? It’s simply awesome. It’s totally beyond human explanation. Oh, Jesus, you truly are Lord.” I imagine them urging the people they served, “Here, feast on miracle food. Jesus has provided it.”

The disciples saw these miracles with their own eyes, but somehow the significance didn’t register with them. Likewise, you and I forget God’s miracles in our lives. Yesterday’s deliverances are quickly forgotten amid the crises of today. However, consider Moses’ exhortation to Israel after the miracle of the Red Sea: “Moses said to the people: ‘Remember this day in which you went out of Egypt…for by strength of hand the Lord brought you out of this place.’” (Exodus 13:3).

May we join the psalmist in saying, “I will remember the works of the Lord; Surely I will remember your wonders of old. I will also meditate on all your work, and talk of your deeds” (Psalm 77:11-12).

A Seat for You in Heaven

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

The parable of the prodigal provides a powerful illustration of the acceptance that comes when we’re given a heavenly position in Christ. You know the story. A young man took his inheritance from his father and squandered it on sinful living. Once the son had became completely bankrupt morally, emotionally and physically, he thought of his father. He was convinced he’d lost all favor with him.

Scripture tells us that this broken young man was full of grief over his sin and cried out, “I’m unworthy. I’ve sinned against heaven.” This represents those who come to repentance through godly sorrow.

The prodigal told himself, “I will arise and go to my father” (Luke 15:18). He was exercising his blessing of access. Are you getting the picture? This young man turned from his sin, left the world behind and accessed the open door his father had promised him. He was walking in repentance.

What happened to the Prodigal Son? “When he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him” (Luke 15:20). What a beautiful scene! The sinful son was forgiven, embraced and loved by his father with no wrath or condemnation whatsoever. When he received his father’s kiss, he knew he was accepted.

A great blessing becomes ours when we’re made to sit in heavenly places. What is this blessing? It’s the privilege of acceptance, as Paul wrote, “He made us accepted in the beloved [Christ]” (Ephesians 1:6, NKJV). The Greek word for “accepted” means highly favored. That’s different from the English usage, which can be interpreted to mean “received as adequate.” This signifies something that can be endured with an attitude of “I can live with it.”

That’s not the case with Paul’s use of the word. His use of “accepted” translates as, “God has highly favored us because of our place in Christ.” Because God accepted Christ’s sacrifice, he now sees only one corporate man: Christ and those who are bound to him by faith. Our flesh has died in God’s eyes. How? Jesus did away with our old nature at the Cross. Now when God looks at us, he sees only Christ. In turn, we need to learn to see ourselves as God does. That means not focusing solely on our sins and weaknesses but on the victory that Christ won for us.