Does Ancient Israel Mimic our Present World?

Why are the nations in an uproar and the people devising a vain thing? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers take counsel together against the Lord and against His Anointed…He Who sits in the heavens laughs, the Lord scoffs at them. Psalm 2:1-4

As outlined in Psalm 2, the nation of Israel was fighting a spiritual war. Do any of these same thoughts and beliefs exist in the American nation today? You may be surprised (or not). 

When our nation was founded, the founding members made clear that, in their opinion, the protection of Christian principles must be thoroughly protected; else the nation will tend to crumble. However, even then there were dissenters; Thomas Paine, for example, was very vocal in expressing hostility towards Christianity that has become commonplace today. The difference is that 200 years ago, people rose up against those, like Paine, to ensure that his sentiment remained an exception rather than the rule. 

Benjamin Franklin was very forceful in a response to Thomas Paine, declaring to Paine that “I will not enter into any discussion of your principles though you seem to desire it….consequences of printing [your materials] will be a great deal of hate drawn upon yourself and of no benefit to others…Do you imagine any good that would be done by it?”

Paine published his opinions anyway and was promptly and resoundingly condemned by the nation at that time. He was even chastised by Supreme Court Justice William Paterson. However, as the years went by, public denunciations against attacks against Christian principals of the American nation began to lessen, thereby encouraging the rise of a well organized secularist movement in America. 

In 1877, the National Liberal League, who would be considered a progressive left activist organization supporting the Democratic Party today, published its objectives and public policy positions for America in a piece it called “The Demands of Liberalism“. I will close with nine bullets from that document.

1. We demand that churches and other ecclesiastical property shall no longer be exempt from just taxation.

2. We demand that the employment of chaplains in Congress, in state legislatures, in the navy and militia, and in prisons, asylums, and all other institutions supported by public money, shall be discontinued.

3. We demand that all public appropriations for educational and charitable institutions of a sectarian (religious) character shall cease.

4. We demand that all religious services now sustained by the government shall be abolished; and especially that the use of the Bible in the public schools, whether ostensibly as a textbook or avowedly as a book of religious worship, shall be prohibited.

5. We demand that the appointment, by the president of the United States or by the governors of the various states, of all religious festivals and fasts shall wholly cease. 

6. We demand that the judicial oath “So Help Me God!” in the courts and in all other departments of the government shall be abolished….

7. We demand that all laws directly or indirectly enforcing the observance of Sunday as the Sabbath shall be repealed.

8. We demand that all laws looking to the enforcement of “Christian” morality shall be abrogated (meaning repealed).

9. We demand that not only in the Constitution of the United States and of the several states but also in the practical administration of the same….that our entire political system shall be founded and administered on a purely secular basis….

Do any of these comments match the agenda of the Democratic Party today? Yes, most of them do. In fact, you may have thought that some of these were written last week. The timelessness of these positions truly demonstrate that the conflict being fought really is the spiritual one described thousands of years ago in Psalm 2. 

https://commons.wikimedia.org/…/File:1872_Demands_of_Libera…

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Liberal_League


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How should Christians respond to culture?

As I watch from the cushions of my favorite chair or listen from the seat of my car, I am introduced to new and daily stories that share what I believe, to be representative of moral decay in American culture. If you are like me, these stories leave you shocked sometimes, shaking your head at what is happening around us. You are befuddled and confused as to how it is possible that others cannot see it? However, for those who seek to live by biblical truth, there’s a hidden temptation we must identify and avoid. 

Responding to his accusers, Job reminds us in Job 12:5 that it is easy for some, who think they are above it all, to point fingers and blame others for our problems while simultaneously scorning them. In my own personal experience, I think he is right. 

When we are comfortable in our own beliefs, it is very easy to feel “contempt” for those who do not believe the same way. When we do this, are we not a mimic of those that repudiate and retaliate against Christians for what they call “hate” speech? When we go down this path, we start to blame lost people for being lost and secular people for living by secular morality. That is a pit that I have fallen down myself numerous times. 

When we fall into that trap, we start to view the immorality of our culture through a superior and condemning attitude. We can then tend to forget that we are to grieve for the lost and stand in solidarity with those we are called to serve. 

When Nehemiah heard about the suffering of Jerusalem resulting from the nation’s sin and divine judgment, he turned to God and confessed the sins of Israel, himself, and the house of his fathers (Nehemiah 1:6). There is no evidence in scripture that indicates Nehemiah participated in any of the sinful acts that led to the destruction of Jerusalem, but yet, he counted himself among his Jewish people and made their condition his own. By this example, if we view declining morality from the lens of history, you might see that it was the church that was silent and abdicated from its role in culture, allowing culture to sway – adrift in the winds and seas of the world. Are we surprised by our present condition when the church removed itself from cultural discourse for the last 50-60 years? 

When Jesus Himself drew near to Jerusalem, “He saw the city and wept over it, saying, “If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes.” (Luke 19:41–42). He then rode into the Holy City and called out that if the people had only recognized that day, they would have seen what was good for them, but now it was too late. He then warned, in vv.43-44, of what was about to befall them because they were blind. 

If we are truly the salt and light of the world, we must take responsibility for responding to the decay and darkness of the world, not blaming or condemning others (Matthew 5:13–16). If we condemn and blame, instead of taking responsibility, then are we not in danger of committing the same sins we condemn others for? 

The sixteenth-century theologian Erasmus advised us: “If Satan tempts you toward boasting, double your efforts to be humble in all things. If Satan tempts you to withhold your prayers, increase them. If your inclinations are to be greedy and selfish, increase your donations to charity. This way you can find in temptation renewed provocation to increased piety. 

“This procedure galls Satan the most. It makes him afraid to tempt you because nothing is more hateful to the Evil One than that he should be responsible for some good.”


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Political Forgiveness

One area where forgiveness is often needed, particularly in today’s climate, is in the area of politics. Political campaigns are ugly, bruising, full body contact sports, regularly filled with cutting accusations and scathing claims made by candidates against one another. Just take a surface level view of the 2020 Presidential campaign, it is bloody. However, rough campaigns are not unique to today’s climate, the campaigns of 1800 (between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson) or the 1828 campaign (between John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson) were also just as bloody.

When Jesus was walking the earth, Peter asked Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times? (Matt 18:21). Jesus replied by taking it to the extreme, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.” (Matt 18:22). Jesus took this much further in his parable of the king whose servant was unable to repay a debt. While that servant moved the king, that servant was not so moved be another fellow servant who owed a debt and tossed that one in prison. This made the king angry, whereby, the king turned that servant over to be tortured until the debt could be repaid (vv. 32-34)

Jesus concludes this story by admonishing His disciples:

“My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart” (v. 35)

American Founder Thomas Pickering had a long career in politics, who served as both a general in the American Revolution and Secretary of State for President George Washington. He had received a letter from an associate who was asking for his forgiveness due to the way that he had treated Pickering. Pickering responded:

“Whatever imperfections or faults are in my character, I trust that implacability (hard heartedness) forms no part of it. As a man, it would do me honor – as a Christian, it is my indispensable duty – to forgive those who offend me.

Pickering knew that forgiveness was not a Christian luxury but was a Christian necessity. It was not optional, it was mandatory.

Richard Allen was a man who was raised a slave who had raised enough money to purchase his own freedom. He then became a Gospel minister and the founder of the African Methodist Episcopal Church – America’s first black denomination. He once wrote to other blacks who had been enslaved and mistreated:

“Let no rancor or ill-will lodge in your heart for any bad treatment you may have received from any. If you do, you transgress against God, Who will not hold you guiltless. He would not suffer it even in His beloved people Israel; and do you think He will allow it unto us?….I am sorry to say that too many think more of the evil than of the good they have received.”

The only life giving response to anything is to extend forgiveness, whether asked for or not. Jesus echoed this reality in His teachings, “And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” (Matt 6:12)


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Crime: God Looks At The Heart

Crime is the bane of any civilized society. Every year, governments at all levels across the nation, spend billions in their attempts to prevent crime and punish criminals. But, crime will never be completely prevented by their efforts because government entities only address the outward behavior of criminals; to which Jesus tells is that this is not the source of the crime:

“For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness……All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man” (Mark 7:21-23)

Crime must be dealt with from the inside, therefore, the only sure way to prevent crime is to address the heart – a truth that was clearly understood by the Founding Fathers. Thomas Jefferson wrote:

“The precepts of philosophy and of the Hebrew code laid hold of actions only. He (Jesus) pushed His scrutiny’s into the heart of man, erected His tribunal in the region of his thoughts, and purified the waters at the fountainhead.”

Christian principles go beyond merely attempting to regulate outward behavior by addressing the condition of the heart before a crime is ever committed (while it is still only a thought in the heart). Only the Bible provides effective “rules for the government of the heart” and thus prevents external crimes that originate internally. Evidence validates this effectiveness, according to Wallbuilders, through a comparison of government run and faith based prisons. Government prisons focus on controlling the external behavior of a prisoner while faith based prisons focus on reforming the inside. 

Only 8% of those incarcerated in a faith based prison will return, compared to the 67% of inmates who were incarcerated in government facilities. Addressing the heart clearly makes a difference in outward behavior. 

When the government rejects the assistance the Bible offers, they will utilize extensive manpower and spend massive amounts of money attempting to restrain behavior that is an external manifestation of the heart (internal chaos and disorder). Benjamin Rush, who signed the Declaration of Independence warned that if America ever ceased promoting Biblical principals in the public arena, then we would “waste so much time and money in punishing crimes and take so little pains in preventing them.”

James McHenry declared: “In vain, without the Bible, we increase penal laws and draw entrenchments around our institutions. Bibles are strong entrenchments. Where they abound, men cannot pursue wicked courses.”

The Word of God ought to be the much preferred choice over government coercion and force; the Bible is the best weapon civil authorities have in fighting crime versus the “woke” methodologies being implemented today.


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What do you want people to know about you?

Today is my birthday and here is my wish – What do you want people to know about you?

It can be tempting to develop our online presence with a focus on impressing others: nice meals we’re enjoying, exotic places we’re visiting, popular people we’re spending time with. Those things are fine to share. But Jesus didn’t say He would use our accomplishments to draw people to Himself. He said that it would be our love (John 13:35). 

In transparency, I like to share some of my hobbies online (such as wood working, my book writing, or one of my favorite pastimes of smoking meat of different varieties). In fact, I foresee a very near future endeavor to make bacon for the first time and I will share it all in it’s glory, whether it turns out good or nasty. Why? Because it is fun.

However, for 2020, I would challenge you to start making it a habit to regularly share His transforming love.  Yes, I suppose it is ok to share headlines of what is happening in the world around us as I don’t believe that Christians ought to bury their heads in the sand.  BUT, and this is a large BUT, we should also flood social media platforms with His good news as well. In fact, I would offer that if you share something negative or fanatical, then you are now responsible to share a minimum of two positive items for every negative or sensationalized item you share. Would that be bad?  

Romans 10:10 (NASB), for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.

Start Small…

Sharing a Bible verse, something historically positive, or a quote that is motivating in social media is easy. You can even share content from devotionals you are reading or from a book that you are thoroughly enjoying.  Some of you seem to find it easy to share a news headline or a popular humorous meme, why is sharing a bible verse so hard?

…Then Build Your Habit.

Once you’ve shared a few times, set a goal to share something positive and uplifting, something motivating, every day for a week (I still say you should share two positives for every negative bit of news you share). It won’t be long before you realize you have turned this into a wonderful habit. In fact, you may even feel some degree of regret if you miss a day.

Perhaps it is simply because I am getting older but I’d like to think that this is on my heart because the world around us is imploding, due in large part to the fakeness and highly addicting negativity that surrounds us (for those that pay attention anyway). We are losing our identity, who we are and who we were meant to be.

People today are confused, misoriented, and not aligned with the true reality of what they were meant to be. The hears of people are falling into an abyss, and it is sad to say that some will never recover.

Some people refuse to share news headlines or political spin meme’s at all. They wont even acknowledge them when they come across their wall, twitter feed, or other social media platform of choice. I suppose there is a healthy attitude to this, as long as they don’t isolate themselves from the world – where are the sinners located after all?

Nonetheless, Stop being so negative…

Too many people focus way too much attention on the negative truths while ignoring the positive truths. Some will even spread negative information without fact checking it. Did you know the world will lie to you? “The Democrats did this blah blah blah. President Trump did this and that blah blah blah.”  People are consumed by it, forgetting the positive stuff or, much worse, being blinded to the positives.  Some people see these present days as a sign that the end times are here, as prophesied in scripture. They shout that we are “closer than ever to the return of Jesus”, just look at what is happening around us in nature, or the hearts of people.

Of course we are closer to His return, every day is closer whether it is next week or the next century.  But this does not mean that we should stop “whispering His love to all that are willing to hear”.

…and start spreading His love. 

We can share “factual” headlines BUT we must balance, or overwhelm, the world with His good news more so.  It comes down to your priorities.  What are your priorities?  To share His truth or to share the latest drama? 

I wonder what would happen if we flood the mind killing social media world with His good news in a ratio of 3:1 as compared to the negative junk.  Or 4:1. How about 5:1?   

Remain situationally aware my brothers and sisters, our nation is at stake and this is true. However, His truth is also at stake and that should be our top priority – to keep His truth moving forward.  This is what I want people to know about me.

 


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The Power of a Label

Throughout the 2019 Calendar Year, I had been struck by how we tend to view people based on the labels we put on them. We then treat that person based on the label we have applied to them (I am guilty of this).  Making this more traumatic is that we don’t care whether the person accepts or rejects the label, in fact, how often do we label someone without even telling them, or talking with them about it?

I wrote an article last year titled “Keep Going, Keep the Faith, Keep Pressing Forward“. In that article, I shared how I may not fit what some Christians may view, in their mind, a typecast perception of a Christian profile.  I am not talking about the profile of love, caring, compassion, or the fruits of the spirit as shared in Galatians 5:22-23.  I am talking about that of a personal bias, an opinion, a “religious” belief that forces a label on someone else because they don’t fit your idea of a model Christian. And then, the person with the “label” is treated according to that label – whether they are aware of the label or not (they just know that they are being treated differently by some people than these same people treat others). And this my friends, is one reason why, men in particular, are walking away from the church.

I recently came across an article by Rebekah Lyons and I thought it was beautiful, it really spoke to my heart. The article below is a paraphrase of what she wrote and is not her full article but I pray that the spirit of what she says below resonates with you just as much as it did me.

 

Excerpted from an article by Rebekah Lyons

 

I’ve been struck by how many conversations revolve around our labels. “I’m ADD, OCD, manic, depressed, disabled, handicapped, diabetic…” The list goes on and on. We throw out labels as if they clarify who we are, maybe even our most defining marks. We use these descriptors as a way of helping people keep their expectations of us in order. The problem is, when we use one of these labels to describe ourselves, they often give us our deepest sense of identity. We believe the lie that the label defines us. We shift from believing a particular label is something we face to believing it’s someone we are.

This sets up expectations of an indefinite future with a predetermined outcome. Labels are powerful things we can misconstrue as our identities. But what if we came to understand that labels don’t define us? That, instead, they are an explanation to help the world understand things we’ve dealt with or come up against? When we don’t view our identity through a label, we’re able to find ways to thrive in spite of whatever label we are living under. This mindset helps us turn from despair to hope in action.

Today, 76 percent of us believe we best “define ourselves” by looking within.1 That is, if we stare deep into our psyches and evaluate our feelings, personalities, passions, desires, and even addictions long enough, we will discover our true selves. But looking only at ourselves can bring disillusionment and lead us to an empty place. Why? Because though our internal realities are true, they don’t define us. They don’t always show us who we really are. After all, isn’t the self always growing?

Isn’t the soul oriented toward God always changing on its journey to eternity? Staring into a mirror might show us what we look like in the moment, but it cannot show us who we are or where we’re going.

So how do we find our true identity, who we are and where we’re going? The Christian faith leads us beyond the trappings of ourselves and into an identity rooted in something more solid, more immovable — God Himself. Identity in Him is trustworthy and unchanging.

When our identity is found in who God says we are rather than in our highs and lows, our successes and failures, or our desires, affections, or shortcomings, we experience the freedom we were meant to enjoy. When I need to be reminded of this, I read this list of phrases that tell me the truth about who God says I am, and it always helps:

I am a child of God. (John 1:12)

I am a new creation. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

I am a friend of Jesus. (John 15:15)

I am created by God to do good. (Ephesians 2:10)

I am free in Christ. (Galatians 5:1)

I am chosen and loved. (1 Thessalonians 1:4)

I am the light of the world. (Matthew 5:14)

I am not ruled by fear. (2 Timothy 1:7)

I am forgiven. (Colossians 2:13)

I am God’s possession. (Titus 2:14)

I am free from the desires of the flesh. (Galatians 5:24)

I am a light in the world. (Matthew 5:14–15)

I am secure in him. (1 Peter 1:3–5)

I am loved by God. (1 John 4:10)

If you have worn your own identity label like a name tag, take a moment to ask God who you are in Him. Root yourself deep in that identity. Then, with an identity rooted in the God who gives wisdom, strength, and love, go out into the world, secure and confident in who you really are.

It’s amazing how much more we find compassion in our hearts when we truly know someone. Are you quick to label others? Are there labels that you’ve been trying to break free from that people have given you your whole life?


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The Revolt Against the Bible and a godly Constitution

Should Politics and Culture be preached from the pulpit?

There is much debate today about whether or not cultural issues or politics should be discussed from the pulpit in our churches. I had lunch with a dear friend a few weeks ago and he and I disagree on this: I believe that culture and politics should be preached on, whereas he does not. However, while we are both adamant about our view, we do not allow our difference of opinion to impact our relationship. Now, let me be specific about one item, I would not agree to any endorsement of a specific candidate for “any” office, but I am talking about policy and political agenda items. 

Here is an example of a preacher that discussed politics and culture in his sermons while not endorsing any specific person for office:

The Reverend Jonathan Mayhew (1720-1766) studied theology at Harvard, and although he pastored a Congregational Church, he pursued an independent course, teaching that the Bible should be the basis of doctrine and theology. He was a staunch defender of civil and religious liberty and published many famous sermons (at that time) related to the preservation of those liberties, including a 1750 sermon against unlimited submission to civil authorities as well as a sermon about a repeal of the Stamp Act in 1766.

Mayhew was highly esteemed by many patriots (including John Adams, who considered him one of the key figures in American independence) as well as by distinguished historians of earlier generations (such as award winning historian Clinton Rossiter (1917-1970), who listed Mayhew as one of the six greatest intellectual leaders shaping American independence). 

One of the complaints from men about church in general today is that they are unable to determine how church fits into their life. They do not understand how to apply the principles and biblical foundation into their work life,

Across the centuries, there have been many different forms of government with widely varying results, some good and some bad. What makes America unique among all the nations of the word, what makes it possible that our form of government has not changed in over two centuries, while operating under the same governing documents, is based on the founding fathers affirmation that the Bible was instrumental in producing our constitutional republic.

Titus 2:5 (NASB), …….the word of God will not be dishonored.

The “Fundamental Orders of Connecticut” was adopted by the settlers of New Haven in 1639 and is often considered the world’s first written constitution. This document was written by the founders, Reverend John Davenport and Theophilus Eaton and reads in part:

“…..where a people are gathered together, the Word of God requires that to maintain the peace and union of such a people, there should be an orderly and decent government established according to God, to order and dispose of the affairs of the people at all seasons as occasion shall require.”

 

Learning History is Scriptural.

Psalm 143:5 is one of the many verses that stipulate the importance of knowing history. David wrote, “I remember the days of old; I meditate on all Your doings; I muse on the work of Your hands.”

Other verses that tell us to study history include Isaiah 46:9, “Remember the former things long past” and Hebrews 10:32, “But remember the former days.”

Unfortunately, history today has evolved into a dreary and too often useless subject. But, the truth is that it is not that people don’t enjoy history, but rather how it is taught. Adding to the dilemma, educators in some states are rewriting, or retelling, history to fit a modern idea rather than the truth of what really happened. 

In the Bible, we learn about how people lived by studying the lives of Daniel, David, and Samuel rather than a boring chronology of dates. God has wired us in such a way that we respond more to stories about people, not just informational data and facts. Additionally, people don’t respond to history when it is taught with no purpose and no unifying theme.

The world is evolving to a degree that it is unable to comprehend the activity of God, unwilling to suggest personal relevance or identifying life lessons for fear of injecting moral values of rights and wrongs into the discussion. But previous generations did and they studied it with the intent of seeing would could be learned and applied today.

Supreme Court Justice James Moore stated, “History is God’s providence in human affairs, and it is a part of it to triumph over error, and to assign to the actors in great events their proper places.” Benjamin Franklin believed that when history is presented accurately, students would reach the inescapable conclusion that God and religion were necessary to success in both personal and national life. 

Without vision, the people perish (Prov 29:18). When history lacks purpose, it will be uninteresting. Previous generations believed that to exclude a Providential view of history will deprive students of a truthful portrait of human events.

We should not let the current anti-Biblical approach to teaching history discourage us from the study of what really, what actually, happened in America. We shall always remember that “History is God’s providence in human affairs.”

We are told today that the US Constitution is complicated and only those with legal acumen can interpret it. Yet, for decades after the American founding, the document was taught in elementary schools with annual written tests on its content. But sadly, the only amendment that most US citizens know today is the first amendment while only 1 in 1000 can actually name all five guarantee’s (freedom of religion, press, speech, assembly, and petition).

For 150 years after the American founding, the “uncomplicated” constitution was interpreted via Originalism (meaning original intent, that the constitution means exactly what it says). Very similar to Scripture, right? However, 150 years later, we started teaching about evolution in school, AND, a decade after evolution started being taught, people started interpreting the constitution as a Living Constitution. The result is that our student citizens have become confused as to how we are to read and interpret the Constitution. Ironically, this also coincides with the beginning in a decrease in biblical literacy.

Harvard Law School dean Christopher Langdell applied Darwin’s premise of evolution to jurisprudence. He believed that since man evolves, laws must also evolve, and that judges (not your elected representatives) are charged with guiding the evolution of law AND the US Constitution. Any belief in absolutes in moral or common law are to be dismissed. Students were taught this and now sit as judges in our courts such as state supreme courts and the US Supreme Court. It has become an institutionalized belief rather than the original intent of the American founding.

We are under a US Constitution but the constitution has become whatever the judges say it is. No wonder our citizens are confused today, or, intimidated by the constitution. But, the good news is, we can fix it.

We fix it by being prudent and wise when voting in our elected officials – at all levels. Don’t just focus on federal elections, local elections actually impact you more.

How many countries around the world do you think dream of having a constitution like ours? A faithful Christian is a steward of what God has provided. He has given us a great country and a God inspired Constitution. That’s why we have the largest influx of immigrants than any other nation around the world. We should not take our liberty for granted.


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Unanswered Prayers Led Me to Revelation

Matthew 6:7-13 (MSG), “The world is full of so-called prayer warriors who are prayer-ignorant. They’re full of formulas and programs and advice, peddling techniques for getting what you want from God. Don’t fall for that nonsense. This is your Father you are dealing with, and he knows better than you what you need. 

I like the Message paraphrase of this verse because I tend to be more receptive to very direct statements verses a 20 minute dialogue in hopes that I might get it (clue bird anyone?).  Perhaps my background in being confrontational is one of the reasons for this? More on this in a bit.

This verse ranks in the top 3 of Prayer Principles that is the most difficult for me.  I also believe this to be a challenge for many others.  I still find myself, today, praying for things that I know I have already prayed for before but I have yet to grasp or see the fruit from it.  Sometimes, I forget that I have prayed for something until I am right in the middle of prayer, and then I giggle mid-prayer, give a little spiritual “duh!”, repent, and move on out.

As I meditated on this with the Lord and asked Him about this, “Why do I keep repeating myself in prayer?”, He provided three prevailing statements to me

  1. It is because you (meaning me) do not have faith that He will answer that prayer.
  2. It is because I am holding onto fear, referring to the worldly outcome to me if my prayer is not answered. In others words, I am being “selfish”.
  3. It is because I am holding onto strongholds, blocking the needed Spiritual variables to operate in my life and not allowing them to work through me which would then, in turn, allow the answers to my prayer to manifest.

I dug a tad deeper into this with the Lord because it was really important to me regarding one particular area in particular that I have been praying about for several years now. My first reaction to His first three statements to me was frustration and to lash back and say “Come on, man! This isn’t right.”  And then I would argue, “But what if what I am praying for are for the Spiritual variables to operate? I want them to operate, I have made a choice for them to operate. In my “mind”, I feel that I am allowing them to operate.”

If I am not getting results from my prayers because these variables are not operating, which I am now praying for, then what is wrong?  Am I that jacked up? I then hear this from the Lord:

“Peace brother”. LOL, yep, that is what I heard. Ok? What about peace?

I lived the first 40 years of my life trying to live a life by my own knowledge, wits and cunning, never trusting anyone into my court when it was something near and dear to me “professionally”. As a result, I developed an internal system of being very analytical, applying intellectualism to dominate my thought life. I learned to be very creative, always coming up with “a way” to get past my obstacles or challenges. 

I made an earlier statement above where I stated “in my mind”. “In my mind” I was allowing the necessary spiritual variables to operate, but I was not allowing them to operate in my heart. The Lord was telling me that I was not allowing Galatians 5:22-23 to operate:

“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control…”

I was struggling to allow them to work “in my heart”. My heart gate, while having been freed from it’s hardened state, still required additional areas to be skimmed, allowing more of Him to soak in. My mind was still trying to control most of everything, to manage my conditions and think creatively. I was not allowing my mind to be renewed by my heart and my heart was NOT at peace with my new identity, a battle ensuing between my old man and my new man (see Romans 7-8).

Colossians 3:15 (NLT), And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.

Philippians 4:7 (NLT), Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

My most innermost heart felt prayer to God is not, and has not been, about money, success, or even physical health for that matter. If it were God’s will, I would gladly give up and sacrifice my money and professional success for one thing that I desire above anything, above all else.  As a matter of fact, I am slowly and methodically sacrificing both of these things each and every day. And because I know this, I was allowing it to impact my faith, causing it to wane..

I was not getting an answer to my prayer because I was not at peace within my heart.  Within the binders of His scriptures, He provides us with answers on “how to find peace”.  But, I am a 20 year soldier with a military mindset, and, in the military, there is a common saying:

“This brief’s well, but…….”  [I am using this as a metaphor in respect to what the Bible tells us to do and our ability to follow it].

In the military, at some point we become well versed briefers. When giving a Decision Brief or a Course of Action Brief, we eventually learn all of the keywords, the emotional points, the winning phrases that will get us what we want; yet, executing what you brief is significantly different. Because now you have to put your plan into action while depending on others to follow through.

This is when some well minded Christians will step in and say, “Well brother, the Word tells you what to do and how to do it. If you don’t do it, then I can’t help you.”  Or, even more condemning, some of the more religious and legalistic Christians will say, “If you are truly Born Again, then this would not be a problem for you”, or, “if you have His Spirit in you, then this would not be an issue. If you are struggling with finding peace, then you do not really have His Spirit.” Or, even worse, some Christians will tell you that “You are not really saved then.”. 

My response to them is – “not cool.”  When men, in particular, experience this battle of the heart, it is not a clear cut issue of sin, it is an issue of a believer struggling on the fence between two worlds, the physical world and the spiritual world. You need a heart for life, both the blood pumping muscle in your chest and the spiritual one that is the wellspring of true life. Easton’s illustrated dictionary of biblical terms says, “the heart is that center of spiritual activity and all the operations of human life”.

Will the struggling person get there?  Yes, BUT, not by being condemned with lies that they must not be truly saved, or, that they can’t be helped.  A person in this condition is a person hungry for Jesus while struggling with the concept of heart and spirit.  They need coaching, discipling, and intimacy through another believer living by example.

Jesus makes it clear that it is the heart He is after. For where your treasure is there your heart will be also. (see Matthew 6:21).

So, what to do?  Here is the process He told me, which many Christians are familiar with.

  1. You MUST spend time, every day, in His Word, and, spend time at the cross. Prayer, meditating on Him, look for Him in your heart (no matter how much time it takes)
  2. You MUST build a relationship with Him. He wants your attention and He wants your heart.
  3. You MUST practice your spiritual muscle. Fellowship, community, journaling, sharing with others, lifegroups

 

Now, with that said, it is true that the believer struggling with this concept, who is not experiencing a fruitful prayer life, MUST take personal responsibility. This person MUST fulfill the basics of scripture and fellowship. So, what to do when a believer cant seem to take personal responsibility? There is no magic formula or specific step by step process. Each person’s character and personality must be taken into account. Our goal is to protect the heart of the believer while encouraging him.

In his book, The Three Battlegrounds, Francis Frangipane, points out that it is foolish to assume that our salvation alone eliminated all of our bad attitudes and ideas,  strongholds, as they are still influencing our perceptions and attitudes. While it is true that our old man has passed away and we are a new man, but, until we are walking in the fullness of Christ, it would be dangerous to presume that the process of change is over.

At the individual level, there are areas of uniqueness that affect our continued success in the spiritual war that comes with yielding to the Lord. This process continues as He reveals our own unique strongholds to us and we agree with Him through repentance and pull those strongholds down. Sometimes, these strongholds are so deeply hidden that we do not recognize them or identify them. This is why the salvation and trandformative experiences are different for everyone, as well as the variable of time. Some transform at a faster pace than others, which can discourage the hard headed and heavy hearted man.

We need to get our thought life in agreement with what Christ has placed in our heart. And this my brothers and sisters is where it can cause rifts within christian circles. Why? Because there is significance in the process of deliverance for some men, which often involves longer seasons of inner conflict and turmoil.

Some christians will look at a man that is struggling with this process as a sign that the man is not truly born again. When in fact these signs are positive, signifying that the person has a strong desire to be free. We should expect a time where we exercise our  authority in Christ as we help these individuals resist the devil, not discourage them from the process and demote them to a position in the back row of the pews. I for one, will guide them to the front row. 


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Strength, Courage, Resolve, and a Bridge

1 Cor 10:13 (NLT), The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.

John 14:6 (NLT), Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”

 

Most of us have, and prayerfully others will as well, come to a bridge that we must cross. This bridge will take us across a deadly chasm and, eventually, to the other side where His Kingdom resides, His Promise! As we cross this bridge, we will experience problems, challenges, and chaotic moments that will cause us to pull from our faith, as the bridge is tossed back and forth in the crosswinds of life.  The bridge will be rickety at times and have gaps in it that will possibly create opportunities for doubt.  And yet, you will see people on the other side of that bridge, with the knowledge that they too, dealt with the same winds, the same gaps, the same opportunities for doubt, the same issues of life, and yet they made it across the bridge. The Bridge is The Way, but it is up to you to continue. 

Some people will unfortunately be blown off the bridge and perish in the rocks and raging rivers below, allowing the seeds of doubt to take root, allowing the issues of life to take their life; they let go of the rope that was their faith. Their issues blurred them to the truth, His truth, that He is the Way and His Way is strong. It is our job to keep crossing that bridge ourselves while helping others to continue and encouraging others to also take their first step on that bridge, to the Promise! Allow others to borrow your faith if necessary, but not permanently. 

To be blunt for just a second, whatever problem(s) you are dealing with, right now, is nothing special! I know, some problems can feel really harsh, as if it/they are crushing your very life from you. I had been living a very shallow life, thinking that the problems and challenges I was dealing with were something unique to me. That somehow, I needed to create my own solution(s) to get through, or across, whatever it was I was dealing with.  If I am to be honest, I am still challenged with this shallowness from time to time; only now, I recognize it and can apply faith to conquer it.

There are many different kinds of traps people struggle with that span all walks of life. Any type of addiction can be a serious trap. Or how about financial (this is always a good one)? It’s easy to let worries consume your thoughts. That is not God’s will for our life.

1st Corinthians 10:13 gives God’s perspective on all the problems you are facing right now. No matter how overwhelming, suffocating, and insurmountable your issue might seem, it is merely a common human problem that has already been faced and overcome by countless other people and believers in the past.

It is an insidious trick of the devil to plant the false assumptions in your mind that your need is a special case, I myself had fallen victim to this several times. I can also share freely, that If he succeeds in doing this, it will be vastly more difficult for you to overcome your problem, you’ll assume that none of God’s principles apply to your situation because your problem is bigger, unique, and special. And before you know it, you have taken over and are relying on yourself and noone else to help you. And when someone gives you an answer for your situation from God’s word, you’ll just nod and say, “yeah, whatever”. You will agree with what the Bible says, but you will still consider your case to be an exception.

1 Cor 16:13-14 (GNT) “Be alert, stand firm in the faith, be brave, be strong.” The NASB translation commands people to “Act like men” and be strong.

Paul warns us that believers must be alert about competing traditions of worldly wisdom and stand firm. Paul’s command to “Act like men”, is due in large part because faith in Christ will face opposition, where others will try to convince you that God cannot help you, that His Word is nothing but words on paper.

It is imperative that you stop looking at your issue as something that no one else has ever experienced. It is always true that your problem is something that countless others have faced in the past and are facing today. Yes, some of the variables may be different, but the problems are the same.

How you look at the problem will determine how quickly you get out of it! If you look at it like it’s huge, unique, and special, you will have a very hard time getting over it.

“Act like men” is translation from the Greek andrizomai, was a frequent command in the Old Testament and is used to encourage people (i.e., soldiers) to act with courage and strength in obedience to the Lord and with confidence in His power. They must be resolved to remain in their faith with strength and courage. 

Keeping crossing that bridge. Grab the rope and hold on tight. Sometimes, you will have to drop to your knee’s, while this will allow you to sturdy yourself on the bridge, also symbolic to you dropping to your knee’s in prayer to Jesus to give you strength, courage, or whatever you need to continue to cross that bridge. And them stand up and continue across that bridge to His Kingdom. Finish the race across that bridge.

How should you look at your problem? “In the history of mankind, I’m not the first person to face this type of challenge, and I won’t be the last. There are numerous people facing problems far more worse than mine, yet they are able to smile and maintain their joy in the midst of the challenge and end up victorious on the other side! This is just a common problem that many people have conquered before me-and I’m going to be the next to do it!”

When you adopt this attitude, you position yourself to quickly escape the trap your in by reducing the size of your problem in your mind into something manageable and conquerable. God is faithful to make a way of escape for you. He will show you how to get out of any trap you might find yourself in right now. There is a way out, and God has given you his word and his spirit to guide you every step of the way across the bridge, avoiding the rocks below, and keeping you from turning back to your old life.


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Faith, Practice, Mirrors, and Timelines

2 Peter 1:5-10 (NASB), Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins. Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble;

 

In early December, I spent some time with a group of 18-20 men, we were discussing the concept of peace. Are you at peace with who you are, or, do you not like who you are?  When you sleep at night, are you truly getting rest, or do you wake up each morning not feeling rested?  What do you think about yourself when you look at yourself in the mirror?

The discussions revolved around worry, stress, anxiety, and internal conflict; how these things impact our perceptions about ourselves. Do we like the way we look or the way we feel?  Are we satisfied with our thought life, as well as our heart life?

I was reminded about some time that I had spent on this a little over a year ago. If we do not like ourselves when we look at ourselves in the mirror, what are we supposed to do with that information?  The Lord actually took this idea of the mirror one step further with me. If you don’t like who you see in the mirror, ask yourself this, do you like the person you are becoming?
 
Perhaps you don’t like who you see in the mirror today but you believe that you are a better person today than you were yesterday.  Praise God for that, it’s progress!!   If you are happy with who you are becoming, then why is that not a good thing, why suffer anxiety about it today?
 
For some, it is a matter of expectations of time. You may have placed a calendar on yourself and maybe you aren’t living up to that calendar.  Rather than focusing on the timeline, we should probably focus on the process, which of course, we find within scripture, in God’s Word.
 
You are not in trouble, but yet trouble is on your mind. It is messing with your love, messing with your destiny and how you are viewing yourself. But, when you get into the Word, the Word eventually works its way into your spirit. Once it is in your spirit, its thoughts become your thoughts. It allows your mind to go through a metamorphosis.
 

Peter provides us with a list of qualities in 2 Peter 1:5-8 that we are to supplement our faith with:

  • Virtue with knowledge
  • Knowledge with self-control
  • Self control with steadfastness
  • Steadfastness with godliness
  • Godliness with brotherly affection
  • Brotherly affection with love

 

Peter tells us that these qualities are ours for the asking and will increase in us because of our faith. But if we should find any of these qualities lacking, we should practice them (v. 10), continuously.  With practice, he continues, you will be richly rewarded.  Some find this easier than others and that, my friends, is the rub for some men.
 
In Hebrews 5 (v. 11-14), we read about the maturing Christian, who, after first being born again, is like a toddler who requires milk instead of solid food. But, like a child, as we mature in our faith, we start taking in solid food. This is in reference to the degree’s of understanding scripture and the application of what He is teaching us in the Word. The writer in Hebrews tells us that with time, we ought to be matured, [through practice], enough to become teachers of the faith ourselves.  However, while rebuking the believer that they should be teachers of the faith, the writer does not place a timeline on the maturation process, the timeline is completely up to you – the believer.  For some men in particular, this can be frustrating – almost always due to ego and pride, or, lack of repentance and forgiveness, causing them to give up.
 

Too many men feel that they should be faith experts, or, that they should “see” changes within a short period of time. This is because they are comparing their ability to learn and adapt their faith with their ability to learn and adapt with their earthly endeavors – their intellect and their minds. We miss the idea that spiritual endeavors are not the same as physical endeavors. While spiritual endeavors CAN be easier, it is also the most complex – due to bad programming in the mind. Men, we need to recognize that spiritual endeavors are of the heart, not the mind. We can’t see change when we are focusing with our physical eyes, we need to learn to see with the eyes of their hearts (our eye gate).

A man matures in his faith through PRACTICE.  He practices his faith with other men, discipleship, prayer, listening to God’s voice, fellowship with other men, digging into the Word so that our spirit can soak it up. We are  training our spiritual muscle, much like we train the muscles of our bodies. It can be difficult for a man to read the bible for spiritual revelation when he has been trained to read books either for entertainment or for intellectual knowledge. We will, with practice, train our spirits to react with muscle memory, our spirit is acting before we even realize it.

With practice, the Lord will work on the man from the INSIDE and eventually work its way to the OUTSIDE.  If we view ourselves with the eyes of our heart instead of the eyes of our head, we will see that while we may not like who we see, we will like who we are becoming.  Some changes can be subtle but change is nevertheless happening.

One man said that he had to learn to trust God, that he put up a wall between he and God. This is typical for a man that has learned to trust only himself because placing trust in others has usually led to problems.  Over time, he learned to trust God and the wall eventually came down. This wall came down because the man learned, through practice, how to apply his faith to his life.

For the man that has adapted to lack of rest during sleep caused by stress, anxiety, and worry; this too goes away as we practice our faith and allow the Word to sink into our spirit. At night, while we are sleeping, our spirit is still awake – always awake – always guarding our hearts in our sleep.   How many times can you recall quoting scripture, or declaring Jesus, in your dreams?  It is an awesome experience when that happens.

Through practice, we can all learn to have faith like the Apostles Peter and Paul.  Yes, we can!!


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Suicidal Thoughts, The Pit of Despair and the Fear of the Lord

For some reason, this morning the Holy Spirit spoke up in me regarding men, around the world, that are living a life where they truly hate and despise the holidays. SO I am going to obedient and modify my plans for Him.

We see messages all of the time about folks that despise the Christmas Season and that we should look out for them, pray for them, and show compassion and empathy (possibly a little egg shell walking?). Please allow me to share a personal and first hand account why this is truly paramount and critical – it could save someone’s life.

After my son died in the Middle East in February 2011, I began a massive heart decline that nearly tore apart my soul. I was truly a functioning “hate-a-holic”, grasping at straws for a reason to keep moving forward. The issues revolved around what I perceived my relationship to be with my son, that whatever opportunity we had together was now gone – forever.

I told my wife later, that if I had a gun in the house, I might have shot myself. I don’t know if I would have done it, but the pain was deep enough that I considered it. Nonetheless, what I did do, was pray to God for an event, an accident, or some catastrophe that would take me out. I wanted to die.

For a little more than three years after his death, I grew despondent about life, riddled with guilt, remorse, severe depression and every other negative emotion you can probably think of. And I masked it really well. I am not sure if there is a difference between having “suicidal tendencies” or being “suicidal”, but I most definitely had suicidal tendencies.

I never spoke against God, but I sure was angry. I was mad at everything. I was mad at God but I was most angry with myself and I learned, once again, to hate myself. This “mindset” was tearing me apart. So, I self-medicated myself by pursuing a Doctorate Degree, to allow me to focus my mind on different thoughts, to keep me occupied. I was kicking the can down the road as I knew, at some point, I was going to have a collision course with this issue.

My academic pursuits worked a little bit, for a short period of time.  Did nothing for my family though, as I darn near ignored them, spending as little time with them as possible. Just enough to feel comfortable that I was doing my part as a “diligent” dad as we adapted to our new life without our son, a life where my daughter and my youngest son needed to move on without their older brother.

After three years and some poor decisions, a very tiny spirit hole that I somehow allowed to remain intact in my heart started to allow a small point of light to peak through the darkness I was in.  This small point of light eventually grew and expanded enough to allow me to make a decision that I needed to get back to His business.

Psalm 40:2 (NLT). “He lifted me out of the pit of despair……..”

I started to panic, a sense of fear that I had never experienced before.  I realized that I had completely removed God from my life and it scared the crap out of me.  And I knew, without a doubt, that I was in the current predicament I was in because I had severely backslidden.  Outside of clear instructions from Him telling me to “go back to His house”, I heard absolutely nothing more.

Prov 19:23 “The fear of the Lord leads to life……..”

There was a comfort in simply going back to church, that I did not really need much more, at that point in my “comeback”. I think the family was simply happy that I was going back. Nobody questioned me, no one berated me for my three year absence, they simply acknowledged me and smiled in that knowing way. Marcus was back.

The Lord is the healer that can make all things new.  This allows us to keep Moving Forward.

Once back, the Lord and I were engaged.  And He was assisting me with my comeback.

Psalm 40:2 (NLT). “…….. out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along.”

There are people struggling at this time of year and most of them are embarrassed about it. As you try to comfort them, they will have issues of trust at first, but, with the Lord involved, He can help you work through the “human” consequences both you and the struggler find themselves.

“The fear of the Lord is loving what God loves (wisdom) and hating what God hates (evil)l”. ~Pat Morley

 

Let Him be the guide and do what the Lord tells you to do, your spirit will be reconnected under the grace of our Lord Jesus. Keep the faith and remain consistent and loyal to Him – and then rest.
 

Prov 19:23 ” ………..So that one may sleep satisfied, untouched by evil.”


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The prodigal father

In the Book of Luke, we read Jesus Parable of the prodigal son, but is it also possible that this parable can also apply to a Prodigal father? 

 

Some men come to Christ late in life, and sometimes, their children are grown.  Scripture reminds us that the man is to be the spiritual head of the household, along with principals on how to raise their children amongst others.  As the man in this example digs deeper into the Word of God and he begins to realize that he missed it, the guilt can be strong, particularly if their children are not leading the lives they would want for them, or, when they realize that they had been absent from their children’s lives – giving a sense of “it is too late now. I messed up.”  For a man at this stage of his life, this revelation can cause the man to progress with a broken spirit.

However, what does God have to say that can help the prodigal father with a broken spirit? 

In Psalm 51:17, we read that the God actually desires a broken spirit, because this is when the man, in this case, realizes that he needs help and comes to Him. This is when “help” is something that only the Lord can provide, requiring humility, strength, and courage.

Fathers may have to admit to their families that they did not carry out their God commanded responsibilities to be the spiritual head of the house. The father should ask forgiveness from his family and pray that through this example of reconciliation his adult children will be pointed to Christ. As we see in Psalm 51:17, God honors a broken and contrite heart.

A dad can sit down with each child and explain how he now sees things and admit he should have done things very differently in regard to their upbringing. He should let them know he has confessed this to the Lord and then ask them to forgive him, even if they don’t understand what this means right now.

The prodigal father makes the decision that he is determined to move forward as an example to them of what a good father can be. Then the father needs to spend much time in prayer with his spouse for their children, grandchildren, and the generations to come if necessary. Prayer is the source of our power, according to James 5:16, prayer is highly effective when offered by the one who has confessed his sins – an act that a righteous person does.

But wait, there’s more. For the prodigal father, God has more to say. 

In Hebrews 9:14, we see that the blood of Christ has cleansed our conscience from our [past] acts that were leading us to death. 

There was no timeline placed on this, or a length of time that your past can be forgiven, as if there is some form of cut off point. That is good news, but wait, it doesn’t stop there.

In Rev 2:17, John shares a vision where Jesus is going to give us, meaning believers who have been cleansed by the blood of Christ, a white stone. 

Why did Jesus promise a white stone in Revelation 2:17? What is the significance?

In both ancient Rome and ancient Greece, black and white stones were used when voting. In the case of Roman trials, judges would cast a black stone for guilty or a white stone for not guilty. In Greece, citizens would vote on an issue by casting a black stone against the issue or a white stone in support of the issue.  In both of these examples, we conclude that a white stone is used when in support of something. In Jesus case, His white stone is cast for you. His white stone means that He has reviewed all of the evidence, all of the data, and He has judged in your favor. 

When Christ promised a white stone to the believers who overcame, he was not only announcing freedom, forgiveness, and acquittal from a past sinful life, but he was also telling them, my vote is for you. I am putting my full support behind you.

A white stone in Revelation 2:17 declares that Christ has found us not guilty and that he is putting his full support behind you and me. Christ is voting for us!  Including The Prodigal Father.

Men like me, who came to the Truth a little later in life, that you have been forgiven and washed in the precious blood of Christ, you are forgiven – period. The devil may try to hassle you in your mind and torment you with past memories that God himself doesn’t remember. Since His blood was applied to your life, He has found you completely blameless and free from shame.

If it doesn’t feel at the moment like anyone else is for you, just remember that Christ himself has cast his vote for you. My friend, if Jesus has cast His vote for you – and He has – you can throw off all despair and start rejoicing, because the one vote that really matters has been cast in your favor!


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How My Desires Nearly Destroyed Me

1 Tim 3:1 (NIV), Here is a trustworthy saying: Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task.
 
Phil 3:14 (NASB), I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
 
In 1 Timothy, Paul was instructing Timothy to choose people for church leadership roles who have the specific quality of “desire”. While this verse is in reference to a position in Church leadership, we can have desires for other things, as long as they remain a noble desire in the eyes of God.
 
The word “desire” describes a longing, a craving, an urge, a burning desire, or a yearning ambition to achieve something. A person so fixed on the object of his desire that his whole being is stretched forward to take hold of that goal or object, and he will not be satisfied until he reaches and obtains it.
 
Paul held the qualification of “desire” above everything else in his list of requirements for leaders – and it takes only a few personal experiences with “desireless” people to clearly understand why he did this.
 
We also find in Scripture that we, as believers, need to press on toward the goal of the prize to be found in Jesus Christ. 
 
Whatever our desire, whatever we deem a prize, we are to press on – as long as we know, that we believe, that our desire is good in the eyes of our Father.
 
Before Christ, I was a driven man, in pursuit of success no matter the cost. Pat Morley refers to this as “success sickness”.  My mission, my objectives, were more important to me than anything else, including people. If someone told me “no” when I wanted a “yes”, then I would do whatever it would take to turn that no into a yes. For the most part, I was honorable and followed the rules, but, the rules did not say anything about relationships and people.
 
You too will run into many obstacles in life that no one prepared you to face, possible even people. However, your obstacle may be money, a regulation, or something technical.  No matter what your obstacle may be, if you have the inward desire to achieve your goal:
  • Any obstacle can be overcome
  • Any challenge can be conquered
  • Any mountain can be successfully climbed

 

Paul stressed the importance of “desire” because it is absolutely fundamental to achieving success in any arena of life. If your level of “desire” is strong, it doesn’t matter if you’re ill equipped or uninformed. You will complete your assigned task because your inward determination and resolve will not let you give up!

“Desire” pertains to anyone who desires to reach “….the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil 3:14) for their own lives.  But, be careful, because “a human mad with desire is more fearsome than a demon. Be careful with your desires.

For me, the easiest obstacle to get through were people. I did accomplish my missions and my objectives most of the time, but I destroyed a lot of relationships along the way, and it came “to hurt me back” later in life.  I did not conduct myself with grace nor mercy. I was graceless and merciless.

Each persons calling is different, and you are uniquely gifted to fill a specific role within the great plan of the Father. However, to truly realize your potential, you must possess a strong inner desire – a desire that refuses to quit at all costs and continually presses forward to reach new heights.

Go for it, but don’t do what I did. Ensure that you are acting in a way that honor’s Jesus as you do it.


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Preaching the Walk; Walking the Preach

2 Tim 4:2 (MSG), I can’t impress this on you too strongly. God is looking over your shoulder. Christ himself is the Judge, with the final say on everyone, living and dead. He is about to break into the open with his rule, so proclaim the Message with intensity; keep on your watch. Challenge, warn, and urge your people. Don’t ever quit. Just keep it simple.

2 Tim 4:2 (Amp) Herald and preach the Word! Keep your sense of urgency [stand by, be at hand and ready], whether the opportunity seems to be favorable or unfavorable. [Whether it is convenient or inconvenient, whether it is welcome or unwelcome, you as preacher of the Word are to show people in what way their lives are wrong.] And convince them, rebuking and correcting, warning and urging and encouraging them, being unflagging and inexhaustible in patience and teaching.

You can read the article that follows, or, you can watch my video on this message HERE.  The video is just a tad more spontaneous and natural, lasting about 15 minutes.
 

I read a saying the other day that is apparently shared among some Christians that I have been led to understand is attributed to St. Francis of Assisi: “Preach the gospel at all times. If necessary, use words.” My understanding of this phrase, as interpreted by those Christians familiar with it, is that it means that are to live God’s truth before others without actually having to explain it, and that this, by itself, is sufficient to fulfill God’s command to “preach the gospel.” But, if you have to because people just aren’t getting it, then go ahead and use words to share the Gospel. I have personally listened to others teach or say to other Christians that all we need to do is live Jesus out in our lives and this, in itself, will preach the Gospel, that people will be curious about you enough that they will either wonder among themselves or ask you directly, “What is it about you that makes me want what you have?”.  As I was reading Second Timothy 4:2, this verse seems to contradict that understanding, but at the same time, I want to be very cautious and do not want to neglect or understate the importance of how we live and conduct ourselves, both in private and around others. Of course, our lives should never detract from God’s Word and our message. Indeed, the Christian is called to live in such a way as to make the gospel attractive as we are reminded in Titus 2:10 where we are told “to show that they (meaning we Christians) can be fully trusted, so that in every way they (meaning we Christians) will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive.” (NIV). But, ultimately, if the Word of God is to be proclaimed, we must use His words.

When I was working for the ministry at Wycliffe Associates (love that ministry by the way), there were plenty of people working for the ministry that I would not know were Christian if they were not working in that environment (I can unfortunately include myself in that category). However, there were two men, in particular, that simply projected love – there was something about them that said “I love you”. I wanted what they had and I wanted to be like them. Without even speaking, these two guys just exhibited love – something that is very difficult to explain. I spent as much time as I could around these guys, hanging out with them in their office and talking with them. I wanted to know them and be around them, I wanted to soak in what they were projecting.

What these two men had to share with me is in complete alignment with how they carry themselves in their character and behavior; that aura they projected that was easily sensed and felt. It was amazing, but yet, it also caused me to wonder what was wrong with me, laying subtle seeds of doubt. Why can’t I be like them? Why can’t I present myself, in a way, that people can simply feel the love that I have for the body?  I was not jealous or prideful, but I suppose there was envy. Because, I knew, without a doubt, that this is what Christ wants for all of us and I did not feel that I had it. After leaving Wycliffe in 2018, I can honestly say that I really miss these two guys more than others.

I have been around A LOT of people who are very charismatic, people that I trust completely, but this is different. I don’t want to downgrade what other people have as far as their anointing is concerned as we are all different, but I can honestly say that I have never been around other men like these two guys. As I read through 2 Timothy Chapter 4, these two were immediately illumined in my heart and in my mind. These guys did preach the Word as Paul tells us, but they were also living it – at least when I was around anyway. So, in the meantime, what do to? 

I have decided that the path for me is to continue to immerse myself in His Word. I will continue to bear my heart and talk with others. When people engage with me, it is very apparent that I have a lot of passion, that there is a lot in my heart – even if they are perhaps taken a little aback by my very verbose and fast talking. I talk very fast which is why I am very intimidated about doing video or podcasts. But, what I can also say, with complete sincerity, is that I never feel as alive as I do when I am sharing my heart, and Jesus, with others.  I don’t know how I feel about the thought of me “preaching” as the Scriptures discuss as I am not a Pastor, but I am very comfortable with the thought of “sharing” what the Scriptures illumine to me – even if very pointed and directed. As we learn how to share the Gospel, at a minimum, is it ok that we, as His disciples, practice?  Not practicing the action of talking, though that is important; I am talking about practicing to listen – listening for what the Holy Spirit is telling you. Sometimes we may miss it, but over time, we get it and, over more time, the process gets easier.   This is very similar to what they teach regarding the gift of prophecy – we need to practice2 Tim 4:2 (Amp)

We need to practice because the process of preaching and teaching of the Word can have a life changing, yoke destroying effect on peoples lives.  The Word of God breaks down strongholds, releases the supernatural power of God, and transforms minds and lives as it changes external destinies. And perhaps one day, the Word of God will pour out of us, even when we are not speaking, it is simply by our presence.

Which, is a good transition back to 2 Tim 4:2,. As we read this verse, we may tend to believe that this is only applicable to the pulpit. But this is not what Paul says. As I had alluded to earlier, the word “preach”, from the original Greek, means to “publish or proclaim openly.” When Paul tells Timothy to preach the Word, the idea of a formal setting behind a pulpit or in a church service is not present. Nor does it connote a certain style of speech—“preaching” vs. “teaching” vs. “normal conversation.” In the context of 2 Timothy, any presentation of the truth of God’s Word is “preaching.” Therefore, any Christian can and should do this. So, I guess I should take back my original discomfort of with me in the action of “preaching”. Perhaps some of you should as well.

The Word can be proclaimed by books, magazine articles, and email. I am not a fan of bumper sticker meme’s, but the Word can be proclaimed through Facebook posts and Tweets. The Word can be proclaimed through music and the visual arts. The Word can be proclaimed by a get well card to a sick friend.  The Word can be proclaimed by men, women, and children of every age and station in life. And, yes, the Word can and should be proclaimed when the church gathers together for corporate worship (whether the pastor “preaches” from behind a pulpit or sits on a stool and “just talks” to the congregation – fyi, our Pastor does this and has been well received). All of us are responsible to preach, that is, to communicate God’s Word to others in whatever situation we find ourselves in with whatever tools of communication we can muster.

The verse goes on to tell us that we should be ready to do this when it is convenient and when it is not. Perhaps one of the most convenient times is when faithful church members have gathered to hear their pastor “preach.” Perhaps one of the most inconvenient times is when a group of co-workers are gathered around the water cooler. Even when it is inconvenient, we must proclaim the Word with “great patience and careful instruction,” even when the situation calls for rebuke.

Therefore, if I want to be like the two men from Wycliffe, who poured out the Gospel simply by their very presence – then I need to constantly be in the Word, strive to always live it out, and I need to always be ready to “preach” and “communicate”, no matter the time and no matter the obstacles placed before me. Today, that is via the books that I have written and am writing, the articles that I have written and the articles I will write, and via the video’s I have done and the videos I will do. The rest of it, is up the Lord, for as Paul instructed Timothy, I intend to stay put and remain at my post, just as any soldier of Christ should do. Thank you for allowing me to practice sharing Him. For practice is how the Lord is preparing me, and you.

This preaching of the Word is necessary because “the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths” (verses 3–4). People normally tend to be comfortable with falsehood, and Timothy must combat this tendency by being ready at all times to preach the truth, that is, to preach the Word of God.

How this can apply to the everyday Christian who does not have the opportunity to preach in a church service. The answer comes from a proper understanding of the word translated “preach.”

 

One thing is sure: as you determine to remain faithful to your divine call and to the place where God has assigned you, He will empower you with inner strength that enables you to see it through to a glorious conclusion!

 


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Dysfunctional “Bible” Families

Did you know that some of the most prolific characters, and hero’s, of the Bible were part of what many might consider “dysfunctional families”?

The very first family, Adam and Eve, were dysfunctional (Cain killed Abel). King David was part of a dysfunctional family (he had relations with a married woman and had her husband killed). King Ahab married Jezebel (enough said on that one). Even Abraham and Sarah were dysfunctional (he gave his wife away, twice; Sarah gave permission to Abraham to “lay with” another woman).

What about the story of Joseph and his family? His brothers sold him off to slavery because they were jealous. Even Joseph and Mary left a 12 year old Jesus behind, they forgot about Him. You can probably think of more examples yourself.

No matter how dysfunctional you think your family may be, this does not mean that the Lord cannot use you or use your family. In some examples of Some people are tearing themselves down because of their family dysfunction and have given up hope of any glory or blessings in their lives. This is what some in the world want you to believe, but it is not the truth of what God can do or what God expects – the bible is clear about this truth.

While our earthly family may cause us some distress, continue on your race, continue on your path for the Lord is like a candle under your feet. He will guide you, if only you will allow Him and stop allowing your family situations to distract you.


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My Plight with Friendships and Relationships

Proverbs 18:24 (NIV), One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

How many people have asked to be a friend in your life and then, once you commit to being a friend, you never hear from them again? I find that this is a two way street in my own relationships.

Over the last year, I have had some folks ask to be connected with me and be my friend, to which I gleefully accepted – only to never hear from them again. After wishing one guy a happy birthday a month or two ago, he responded to me by asking, “where do we know each other from?”, when he was the one that reached out to me just a few months earlier from a Christian group (LOL, true story). But that’s ok. Simultaneously, in life, we invest time and effort into certain friendships, only to not have that investment returned back. It sucks when that happens but it is also an area that we recognize we just need to let it go and move on.

And then, there are friends who only exist on a “friend list”. They never acknowledge something great happening in your life nor do they reach out with “anything at all” when your life experiences a dramatic turn of events. In this case, my background and experience usually tells me that I am the one that messed that one up. My thought life is flooded with “Somehow, someway, somewhere, I screwed up”. Man that is an uncomfortable feeling, particularly when you have no idea what you did, if anything. I have a niece that has coined this as the “rejection” and “guilt” clause. Love those terms.

However, and even more sadly so, I have reached out to others to become friends and, while I do know who they are unlike my “friend” mentioned above, I have not done anything to foster that relationship, to make it grow, to develop it. I never respond or acknowledge anything, neither via social media, phone call, nor in person. It makes me feel horrible to think that that is me. If you are one of those that I have neglected, then please forgive me.

As humans, as God’s children, we are created to be sociable and relational and, for me anyway, if I feel that I have failed in that regard – it can tear me up. Why? Because of my past. I held to a certain character and conduct ten years ago and earlier that still hold a subtle part of my programming. I simply “did not care”. If I was on a mission and you were in my way, I would shove you out of the way and not bat an eye. Collateral damage, yep, that was me.

If I sense that my old self has surfaced, after working so long and so hard with the Father to make those corrections in my heart, I will experience a deep conviction. That I have somehow let the Lord down. But, this is good news. Why? Because that old self is coming to the surface and identifying itself so that it can be scraped away. Sometimes, I have to scrape it away a dozen times before I finally get it.

Iron sharpens iron (Prov 27:17). Never perfect, but always being perfected (Phil 1:6). This is God’s way and His desire for me, and you.


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The Church Stranger – A Short “Fiction” Story

THE CHURCH STRANGER
 

As the stranger enters the first and outer door, he wants to be hugged, but he is stand offish. He wants someone to say “Welcome”, but he gives an impression of not being approachable – a body language that says “stay away”. He hungers for love but his body language, his patterns of behavior, drive those away that he so wants to be close to.

Those familiar patterns emerge, again, where the people reject him. This is how he feels anyway and what the whispers in his head keep telling him. Nonetheless, the stranger courageously enters the auditorium through the inner door, thirsty for something that will fill his heart and give him a reason to live, a reason to exist. “Please hug me, please tell me that you love me,” he thinks to himself. Only to turn people away via a look or his downcast eyes. And yet, he continues through the struggle to humble himself, fighting the urge to run away, just so that he can hear a message that might explain his existence. He has heard that this is what this place is for. Right?

Time lapses, the message the stranger hears is on par, it tugs at his heart, pulls him in. “Does the man on the stage know me or something”, he ponders. “How does this guy know my story?”. There is an urge to run to the stage, his heart is pumping new blood, it is life giving, but the fear is overwhelming and he rejects the notion. They don’t want him up there because he is ugly, inside and outside. And then, finally, the man on the stage cries out for someone to come forward, sacrifice the fear and end the suffering. “Come and receive life, we love you, we want you, we need you. Come forward NOW!!” In whose name? Who did he say?

“Is he talking to me?”, he wonders. “Nah, nobody likes me, I wasn’t even acknowledged when I walked in”. “Wait, I feel something pulling me in, what is that?” It is then that he feels the tug of war, the whispers, telling him that this is stupid. They are not talking to you, they are talking to someone else. He feels a force trying to pull him forward, but there is another opposing invisible force pushing him back into his seat. He feels like people are staring at him, like he is an idiot or something.

He starts to cry, it is unbearable, but he fights it and, eventually, it stops. He wants to crawl down to the floor, he cannot bear his own weight sitting in the chair. The man is done talking and he is thanking people for coming. The man on stage dismisses all of the people but the stranger remains in his seat. He is in the back of the auditorium and he watches as the people walk past him. Some are at least acknowledging him with their eyes, a smile here and there. But, for the most part, the people congregate with those they are apparently friends with and the stranger is, once again, back to being a nothing, a nobody. Invisible.

He slowly rises and shuffles to the exit door, passing two groups of friends who are having their own private discussion. The stranger is again hoping that someone will recognize him, acknowledge him, give him a hug and tell them that they love him. His shoulders shrink deep into his chest and he leans his head forward and down to look at the ground. He cannot bear the thought of looking at anyone. They might recognize him as someone that does not belong.

“Well, I tried”, he sobs inwardly. “They don’t want me here, but that is what I expected anyway.” The stranger continues to meander, slowly, to the last door before he is outside.

He wants to say out loud “Please”, but he can only beg inwardly to himself. “Somebody”, pause, “Help me!”, pause, “I need someone, anyone”. Nope, his head whispers, figures.

He perceives, no wait, he senses, that he is being stared at. He is one step from the outer door. “Is someone going to stop me?”, he wonders.

No. He must have been mistaken. He is just a few inches from the outer door when he feels that strong tug on his heart again. Still an unfamiliar sensation, his body starts to shake. He doesn’t understand it, what does it mean. He slowly lifts his head and twists it a little to his left. There he is, an older guy, watching me. His eyes are crystal blue, what is that I see in them? The old man smiles at him, just slightly, and nods his head just a little, enough to tell the stranger that he sees him. The eyes of the old man look like they are saying, I recognize you.

“Weirdo”, he thinks. “Leave me alone”. The stranger turns his head back to the door and walks the final inches to enter the parking lot. He hears that whisper again, see, I told you. Nobody likes you, you are pathetic.

The stranger walks faster once he gets outside. Just shy of a jog, that familiar force that he has felt his entire life is pulling him forward. And, just as the stranger is ready to turn a corner, placing the building behind him for the last time, a slight shimmer stops him cold.

Turn around, he hears. “No”, he says to himself. Turn around, what you need is back where you came. “No, that is not true”, the stranger says to himself once more. I love you. “Yeah right! I am hated, nobody likes me, they don’t care about me. Nobody does.”  The man pushes through the shimmer, with the shadow of a cross from the roof of the building striking his back, pleading for him to come back.

Meanwhile, the old man that the stranger had seen at the outer door, cries out to himself. “You fool, you let him go”. “He needed you, the Spirit told you to grab him and hold him tight”, a slight inward pause, “But the stranger looked dirty, and there was a glint in his eyes that said beware. He was scary.” “Lord, forgive me and please place someone in his life that can get to him, lead him to the joy and freedom that he so desperately needs. In Jesus Name.”

The old man is so consumed with his own personal pride and grief about letting the stranger go that he does not hear that still whisper in his heart that says, “Go get him, chase him. Bring him back”.

The stranger allows the familiar force to continue to pull him away while ignoring that new and strange sensation to turn around. The battle fades as he continues walking to never be seen again.
 
***********
 
There are men, throughout the world, who were rejected as children and continuously rejected throughout their adult life, to a degree that they have a difficult time adjusting from that pattern in their lives. After a while, they start to create the conditions where they actually become a cause for that rejection. In their hearts, “once rejected always rejected”. They believe that they have become incapable of feeling the love that they recognize is so essential and critical to living a fruitful and joyful life. This is tormenting to men like this.
 
Some will make an effort, take that leap, to go to the one place where there is not supposed to be rejection. A place that is understood to be overflowing with love. As they enter the doors to this “building”, they are still carrying that rejection on their shoulders, you can see it in their eyes. But yet, their hearts are beating with anticipation, to finally be somewhere where they can feel like they belong, a reason to exist, a purpose for “all of this”. However, strangers will never recognize that this building is filled with many hurting people. Rejected people are people easily hurt and offended. They, more than ever, need someone in the Church to help lead them to Christ.
 
The Church is not the Pastor nor the building; the Church is about God and His people. His people should show Him through their character and their hearts towards people that they are introduced to and encounter – some seeking a new body and a new beginning. It is the people that love and take care of each other, this might be the first physical expression of love that someone has experienced. A family – even if a dysfunctional one. Sometimes, a stranger appears, who wants to enter the family, to get a piece, even if only a portion, of what a church family has. The successful integration of the stranger depends on the people (who God operates through), not the Pastor by himself, and most definitely not the building. If the people are perceived to not care, then the stranger may conclude that God does not care either. And that my friends, may be the end of the stranger. 

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Running the Race

1 Corinthians 9:24, Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.

 

All men are born to die and we know it. We cannot stop it nor should we try. Some men know that they will die and enter heaven in eternity while recognizing that others will enter into an eternity of torment. Some men, unfortunately, believe that death is an entrance into nothingness, darkness, the end.

For all however, it is about how we lived, not how we die. The question then is, what are you living for? I prefer to live knowing that in the end, I died for something, with honor, and with integrity, a life worthy of God. That I ran the race (1 Cor 9:24) and that I finished ahead of where I started and where I was. One step closer to glory. I find it odd that as we all live such short lives, that too many treat the finality of death with outrageous contempt.


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What We Don’t Do Matters

James 4:17 (NASB), “Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.” 

 

Boy, do I have “a few” stories where I have not lived up to this. Thank God for His gracious mercy, I have needed it and I continue to need it.

What a believer “does not do” is commonly referred to as sins of omission. It is not only what people do that matters, the good that they fail to do is equally important to God.

Knowledge of God’s principles, His revelations, implies responsibility to act on them. The sin of omission of knowing God’s will and not doing it is presumptuous sin (should I or shouldn’t I?).

Knowledge of God’s Word without the application of it in our experiences will eventually distort our knowledge of it. It is possible to cauterize the soul by dabbling (i.e., sampling) in divine truth and revelation knowledge, and not benefitting from it because we do not practice it.

Galatians 6:9-10 “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.”

“Good” refers to what is intrinsically good — goodly, fair, beautiful, excellent, surpassing, suitable, honorable, praiseworthy. It can adapt to circumstances, purposes, and whatever it is that you are experiencing right now at this moment.

A Christian life is a marathon race. Doing good is not to be justified by good works, but living as God planned for those who have received his gracious salvation through faith.


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Doing “things” That Honor Jesus

Colossians 3:17 (NASB), Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.

 

This verse is one that should truly convict us – it has really convicted me, multiple times unfortunately. This morning, this verse brought tears to my eyes as I viewed it in respective of my own actions.

Excerpted, paraphrased, and adapted from Sparkling Gems II by Rick Renner.

The Holy Spirit lives inside of you if you have been born again, and your body is His temple here on earth. You should think once, twice, or more about everything you do.

Whatever you say, do, watch, or participate in, you involve Him because He lives inside you. If you can say and do such things, knowing those words and deeds will bless the Holy Spirit and honor the name of Jesus, then go ahead and say and do them, but if you are even a bit concerned that what you say or do will grieve the Spirit or bring dishonor to the name of Jesus, you should refrain from it.

In the KJV, the word “whatsoever” is used in lieu of “whatever”. This tells us that God is concerned about every action in our lives – not only the large ones, but even the smallest.

The word “do” infers any action that one does, which tells us that we must be careful about whatever we say and do, for every little action has an impact on our internal Resident, the Holy Spirit.

“Word” means that our words have an impact on the indwelling Holy Spirit and the manner in which we honor the Lord Jesus.

In Ephesians 4:29-30, we are commanded, “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God…

“Corrupt” communication grieves the Holy Spirit. Corrupt describes anything that is rank, foul, putrid, rotten, corrupt, or worthless. This could include gossipy language or simply putrid talk. “Grieve” means that it deeply pains the Spirit when a believer talks in this fashion.

The word “deed” would include our treatment of others, how we handle our money, what we do with our time, what we look at on TV or on the Internet. “Deed” is all inclusive of everything.

The word “all” refers to everything – nothing is excluded.

If you will listen to the indwelling Holy Spirit, you will know when your actions or deeds grieve Him. When that occurs, simply back off, immediately repent, and resolve not to do it again.

IF ANYTHING YOU WANT TO DO DOESN’T GIVE HONOR TO THE NAME OF JESUS…. THEN DON’T DO IT! Its just that simple.


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Understanding a Culture of Faith

Phil 4:8 (NASB), Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. 

The CSB translation uses the words true, honorable, just [right], pure, lovely and commendable [good repute]. This particular verse is guiding us to fill our minds with things that will inspire worship of God and service to others.

What is true is found in God, in Christ, and in the Holy Spirit. Honorable means noble, “worthy of respect”, believers are advised to meditate on whatever is worthy of awe and adoration. The believer is to think in harmony with God’s divine standard of holiness. What is right [just] refers to giving people what they deserve. Pure is that which is morally clean and undefiled. Lovely means “pleasing” or “amiable”. Of good repute [commendable] refers to that which is praiseworthy and highly regarded or thought well of – some scholars say that this in reference to what is generally considered reputable in the world, such as kindness, courtesy, and respect for others.

Philippians 4, as a Chapter, is full of some of the most glorious promises and practical wisdom for a life that is “well pleasing to God”, applicable to every generation on every continent for all time.

Two very different thoughts for consideration on this passage:

1. Some believers find this passage to be difficult. They have backgrounds that cause them to struggle with focusing on what this part of scripture is telling us, along with the rewards. Issues with varying degrees of abuse, family conflict, or time spent meditating on Him and His Word with no tangible results, etcetera. Yes, this person is allowing the world to consume their attention, they are asking for help, but they do not get it. Christians that find this scripture absolute, simple, and basic may view the believer that struggles to focus on what is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely and commendable to be someone that says they know God but they do not know God; yet, the person going through the struggle is not advised, guided, or assisted in this struggle. Instead, they are viewed as not being in touch with the Holy Ghost and believers think “Oh well, I pray that they get it”. Because we are working to operate in love, some believers may toss subtle hints at them which cause their struggle to deepen until finally, one day, they give up. Love means giving accurate and direct guidance to those that struggle, lift them up, inspire and encourage them. Show them Philippians 4, do not just preach to them. This may require a tad more intimate coaching and mentoring.

2. Founding Father William Samuel Johnson, a signer of the Constitution commended school graduates in his day to this very Chapter to inspire them. “Rejoice in the Lord always…Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God…“. Imagine the bewilderment and possible outrage that would consume William Samuel Johnson if a judge or school official today told him that it was against the Constitution for him, a framer and signer of that very Constitution, to deliver this Bible address to school students? The fact that judges and officials would undoubtedly declare this speech to be unconstitutional is a poignant demonstration of just how far modern America has strayed from its original moral and religious foundations.

If we wish to stop the outflow from the Church, we must not forget what this particular verse is telling us: Truth, Honor, Just, Pure, Lovely, and Commendable. It is not just inside the church, it is to help our fellow man fully understand the culture of faith and, if a believer is getting it wrong, help them to understand. Some of God’s children walk through life with a very heavy heart, or, they are hard headed to a point where patience and time are necessary. Do not give up, do not view the struggling believer with contempt, keep moving forward, for the struggle is real my friends – at least for some.

 

Beardsley, Edward E. (1886), Life and Times of William Samuel Johnson, LL.D, Boston Houghton, Mifflin and Company, pp. 141-145


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Refuse To Give Up and Quit!

And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. – Gal 6:9

Refuse to give up and quit!!!

You must stay steady and on track with the assignment the Lord has given to you! Those moments when you’re tired and tempted to quit are the exact times when you need to grab hold of the power of God and determine that you are not going to stray from your course until you’ve finished what God asked you to do!

God commands you and me not to surrender to any temptation to give up. He promises that in “due season”, a harvest will be reaped if we don’t quit – the manifestation of what each of us is believing for will come if we will not cave in and give up.

Each seed has its own set season – a specific, individual time when the seed will produce its harvest. No matter what season our seed is to be reaped in, God promises that if we are consistent – if we steadfastly keep sowing our seed into the ground and refuse to let weariness take us down – a time will come when “we shall reap”.

The most common thing that causes one to loosen his grip is weariness. That’s why Paul urges you not to throw in the towel in times of spiritual, physical, or mental exhaustion. In order to reach that point of reaping, you must hold on tight to what God has told you and remember that your seed has a set season when it will produce if you don’t disrupt the process.

God promises you in Gal 6:9 that if you will remain steadfast, your time of waiting will eventually produce a harvest.


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Freedom and Liberty

Galatians 5:1. Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you.

There is deliverance from the law for the sinner who has been unsuccessfully trying to achieve his own righteousness, it is found in Jesus Christ and the salvation that He brings to the table.

Therefore, we need to stay where we are and stand firm on the truth, maintain your liberty; to be burdened by the law is the essence of religion and slavery. If you had been freed from the law, why would you go back?

Freedom is defined as independence, a license to do what one wants. But it can also be narrowly defined as having the “permission” to do something as you please. Permission is something granted by someone, which means that freedom can then be taken away by that someone. This is why we have liberty.

Liberty is described as something second only to life, a right granted by our Creator. It is part of you, it cannot be revoked. Liberty provides for the protection of rights.

Freedom is something granted; liberty is something we own that cannot be taken away. Freedom requires that you operate in a protective defense posture where you must always wear your “armor” (Ephesians); whereas Christ has liberated you from sin because of His salvation and grace – this is God’s offensive tactic, His gift to you, that can never be taken away from you. You have to voluntarily give away your liberty, why would you want to do that?


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Is Telling the Truth Newsworthy?

Jesus warned:

“For nothing is hidden that will not become evident, nor anything secret that will not be known and come to light” (Luke 8:17 NASB).

If only CNN had listened! Project Veritas recently released a series of secret recordings revealing the private agenda CNN was pursuing while simultaneously claiming to be “the most trusted name in news.” CNN has rejected the traditional media objective of presenting truthful news and has adopted the role of a political change-agent, spinning, twisting, and making up “new stories” to achieve a specific outcome—in this case, the removal of the elected president of the United States.
The new undercover video reveals previously hidden conversations between CNN employees:
“Another staffer identified on the recordings as field production supervisor Gerald Sisnette said CNN won’t change until Trump ‘dies,’ adding ‘hopefully soon.’ Alleged staffers are also heard saying on the secret recording that CNN manufactures drama to increase revenue.”

Whenever propaganda parades as journalism, the people suffer; but its harmful effects are not limited just to people in the United States, for CNN has an additional 384 million international households who believe they are watching American news and not political talking points.

But CNN is not alone in deceiving the public with its personal vendetta against the President.

When President Trump was speaking on Turkey and Syria, saying, “They have a problem at a border — it’s not our border,” NBC changed his phrase “it’s not our border” to “it’s not our problem,” thus making him say something he definitely did not. And ABC deliberately broadcast footage from a gun range in Kentucky while portraying it as Turkish bombings in Syria.

While some stories are corrected when exposed, how much damage is done to our country through the intentional dissemination of false information simply to further politically-charged narratives? If self-proclaimed journalists insist on professing personal political opinions under the guise of reporting news stories, they should openly announce themselves as political commentators, or go to work for political campaigns or PACs. (But maybe that’s what they are doing by working for today’s so-called “news media.”)

Claiming to tell the truth and actually telling the truth can be polar opposites. But as George Washington affirmed, genuine truth will eventually win out: “Truth will ultimately prevail where pains is taken to bring it to light.”

The Bible warns strongly against those who speak lies disguised as truth (1 Timothy 4:2). Hypocrisy of any kind is to be abhorred, and Jesus called out the Pharisees (or was it today’s news media?) for such deception:

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness” (Matthew 23:27-28 NASB).

As people of faith, we need to be “shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16), wary of “the father of lies” (John 8:44), who deploys wolves “in sheep’s clothing” (Matthew 7:15). But at the same time, we should also ask ourselves, “What would the world find out about me if every conversation of mine was secretly taped and later exposed?”

“He who walks in integrity walks securely, But he who perverts his ways will be found out” (Proverbs 10:9 NASB).

 

References:

Flood, B. & Givas, N. (2019, October 17). CNN staffers bash network’s liberal bias, Jeff Zucker goes after Trump in new, secret recordings. Retrieved from https://www.foxnews.com/media/cnn-jeff-zucker-secret-recordings-liberal-bias

CNN worldwide fact sheet. Retrieved from http://cnnpressroom.blogs.cnn.com/cnn-fact-sheet/

PART 1: CNN insider blows whistle on network president Jeff Zucker’s personal vendetta against POTUS. (2019, October 14). Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/embed/m7XZmugtLv4?start=310

NBC news on Twitter. (2019, October 16). Retrieved from https://twitter.com/nbcnews/status/1184533981305417734?s=12

Givas, N. (2019, October 14). ABC apologizes for mistaking Kentucky gun range video for Turkish bombing of Syria. Retrieved from https://www.foxnews.com/media/abc-news-error-gun-video-syria-turkey

Washington, G. (1794, August 10). Letter to Charles M. Thruston. Retrieved from https://www.mountvernon.org/library/digitalhistory/quotes/article/truth-will-ultimately-prevail-where-pains-is-taken-to-bring-it-to-light/


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Lawmaking Lawlessness

Passing burdensome legislation is one of the many things that is not “new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9). Even in Biblical times, this was a common practice for policy-makers:

“The scribes and the Pharisees…tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger. But they do all their deeds to be noticed by men…” (Matthew 23:2, 4 NASB).

Although Congress remains “deadlocked” and not much is moving forward right now at the Federal level, local governments on the other hand are very busy passing legislation that, quite frankly, continue to move the needle forward that infringe on our everyday lives. The NYC Commission on Human Rights published new guidelines on how to refer to undocumented immigrants, announcing “The use of the term ‘illegal alien’… is illegal under the law,” with fines of up to $250,000 if violated.

NYC employers and landlords can also be fined up to $250,000 for “using gender pronouns other than those preferred by employees and tenants.” But even this ridiculous policy is not as onerous as the one in California that imposes up to one year imprisonment for “California health care workers who ‘willfully and repeatedly’ decline to use a senior transgender patient’s ‘preferred name or pronouns.’”

Meanwhile, traditional laws for the protection of all citizens are being set aside. California Governor Gavin Newsom recently reversed a law requiring citizens to assist local law enforcement. And on the other coast: “A Virginia police officer was suspended after allegedly turning over a suspected undocumented immigrant to federal authorities following a traffic accident last month.”

When policy-makers encourages lawlessness, law and order becomes null and void.

James Madison warned of such trigger-happy legislation, writing: “The internal effects of a mutable [ever-changing] policy are…calamitous [disastrous]. It poisons the blessing of liberty itself. It will be of little avail to the people that the laws are made by men of their own choice if the laws be so voluminous [numerous] that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood—if they be repealed or revised before they are promulgated [passed], or undergo such incessant changes that no man who knows what the law is today can guess what it will be tomorrow.”

The Chief Lawmaker of the universe gave Ten Commandments for humanity to follow, so why do fallible lawmakers believe it necessary to impose hundreds of thousands of regulations on local constituents? In the words of Jesus:

“Woe to you…[You] have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others. You blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!” (Matthew 23:23-24 NASB).

And woe to those policy-makers who make government a personal weapon to micro-regulate behavior according to the ever-changing winds of political correctness while ignoring the true purpose of law and government.

 

References:

 

NYC commission on human rights announces new legal enforcement guidance and actions against discrimination based on immigration status and national origin. Retrieved from https://www1.nyc.gov/assets/cchr/downloads/pdf/press-releases/Immigration_Guidance_Press_Release.pdf

Gallagher, T. (2019, October 1). Retrieved from https://www.foxnews.com/transcript/guiliani-i-was-investigating-hillary-clinton-and-the-democrats-cooperating-with-ukrainians

Singman, B. (2017, October 9). New California law allows jail time for using wrong gender pronoun, sponsor denies that would happen. Retrieved from https://www.foxnews.com/politics/new-california-law-allows-jail-time-for-using-wrong-gender-pronoun-sponsor-denies-that-would-happen

DeMarche, E. (2019, September 4). California’s Newsom signs bill allowing citizens to refuse to help a police officer. Retrieved from https://www.foxnews.com/politics/californias-newsom-signs-bill-allowing-citizen-to-refuse-to-help-a-police-officer

Casiano, L. (2019, October 1). Virginia police officer suspended after turning in suspected undocumented immigrant over to ICE. Retrieved from https://www.foxnews.com/us/virginia-police-officer-suspended-after-turning-in-suspected-undocumented-immigrant-over-to-ice

Madison, J. (1788, February 27). The Federalist No. 62. Retrieved from https://www.constitution.org/fed/federa62.htm


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