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“Everyone must submit to governing authorities.” (Romans 13:1)
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Not every Bible verse we read may give us peace and comfort initially. A good portion of Scripture is instructional, designed for our well-being particularly when we’re unable to see the bigger picture. This was the
ecase for me four years ago. Romans 13:1-5 was not a comforting piece of Scripture to me, but I discovered peace and comfort in God in my obedience to His word. Like it or not (and I did not) Barack Obama was my president and I was going to submit because God said so. To put it another way: I feared not the man, but the Lord. I still do, therefore #Notmypresident was never an option.
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Now (for me) the tide has turned and I have a sense these Godly directives will be a bit easier for me to follow, but for you maybe not so much. Perhaps these last four years for you were smoother, but now you’re faced with submitting to folks you may very well despise. As I’ve previously outlined – I feel your pain and I can relate to what you’re going through. I am here to tell you that if you truly fear God, you would do well to comply with His directives. In so doing there is peace and there is comfort.
“Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God. So anyone who rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and they will be punished. For the authorities do not strike fear in people who are doing right, but in those who are doing wrong. Would you like to live without fear of the authorities? Do what is right, and they will honor you. The authorities are God’s servants, sent for your good. But if you are doing wrong, of course you should be afraid, for they have the power to punish you. They are God’s servants, sent for the very purpose of punishing those who do what is wrong. So you must submit to them, not only to avoid punishment, but also to keep a clear conscience. Pay your taxes, too, for these same reasons. For government workers need to be paid. They are serving God in what they do.” (Romans 13:1-5)
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Now of course this is all grand counsel if you are a Christian. If you are not, the Bible and all of God’s tenets are foolishness to you, which happens to be another position I can relate to. The solution for me was to submit to Jesus Christ and His perfect will for my life. Prior to receiving Jesus as my Lord and Savior, there was no peace or comfort, only temporary solutions to problems that I had absolutely no control over. In Jesus I discovered the solution.
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If you’re still reading and you’re not a Christian, I suspect that perhaps you’re feeling God attempting to draw you closer into a relationship with him. If that is the case, the onus is upon you to respond to Him and I’d encourage you to investigate further.
Please don’t hesitate to comment or ask a question.
Being a Christian not hard, but if you think it is, you are blessed.
 
You’re blessed because the Holy Spirit has revealed to you that you’re operating in your self-centered, self-absorbed, self-indulgent, self-serving, and self-concerned flesh. You’re also blessed because there is a solution, Jesus put it this way: “Deny (yourself), and take up (your) cross and follow Me.”
 
Stop listening to those who are preaching that being a Christian is slhard. They are enablers. Unless they offer a carnal explanation, they’re errantly providing you an excuse to remain stuck in your flesh. They’re also calling Jesus a liar, for He said that His yoke (teaching) was easy and His burden (those things that come with being a follower of Jesus Christ) is light.
 
Remember, Christ’s teachings are easy and carrying the Christian load is light. If this isn’t the case for you, you’re not doing it right. Most likely you’re selfishly looking back to the fleshly desires of your heart, just like Lot’s wife did.
 
Disclaimer
No Christian is exempt from struggling in their flesh, no one. Some just do it more than others and have come to believe it’s the norm. However, when we falsely proclaim that the Christian life is hard, we’re ignoring the root of the problem and justifying Spirit-less behavior, but when we submit ourselves to the sanctification process, we are essentially allowing Jesus to make these ‘flesh-to-Spirit’ changes in us on a daily basis. Fighting the change; wrestling with God to remain in our flesh, is what’s hard.

For Study: 

“Walk in the Spirit” (Rom. 8:4)
 
“Set your minds on the things of the Spirit” (Rom. 8:5-8)
 
“Put to death the deeds of the body by the Spirit” (Rom. 8:13)
 
“Be led by the Spirit” (Rom. 8:14)
 
“Know the Fatherhood of God by the Spirit” (Rom. 8:15-17)
 
“Hope in the Spirit” (Rom 8:22-25)
 
“Pray in the Spirit” (Rom. 8:26-28)


Crass vs Crook

Crass or crook: those are our options come election day, 2016 unless of course you choose to opt out of the process this year.

I understand.

thYou and I wish the choices were rather between ‘class and crook‘ so we could sleep better after the election, but that is not our reality. Lets face it folks, collectively as a nation this is our fault and we have gotten what we deserve.

What should we have expected after decades of moral decline? Are we really surprised that crass shows up on the scene when we have been approvingly inviting adultery, fornication, and lewdness into our living rooms via cable TV for the last however many decades? I am not surprised, but I am guilty.

Let’s Look at Porn

Porn is just the tip of this filthy iceberg, but did you know that according to one source, “While few people openly admit to watching porn, 66 percent of all men and 41 percent of American women view pornography at least once a month.”

I’ve watched porn, have you? (that’s a rhetorical question and you are not obliged to answer). Frankly, I am the one who is ashamed and embarrassed of my past behavior and how it has led to our present condition. How can I possibly judge the words that come out of a man’s mouth in a private conversation when my words and deeds over five decades have contributed greatly to the moral decline of this country. I am an accessory to this perversion, having participated in the creation of an environment where illicit behavior is both condoned and encouraged. Sure, I’ve repented and turned away from these heinous activities and turned to Jesus, but that in no way negates the fact that I have been complicit.

Having said that…

I know plenty of crass people (don’t worry, I’m not going to name names). I also know plenty of crooked people, having been in law enforcement for so many years. The thing with criminals is that their former conduct often disqualifies them from holding public office as well as many other jobs. Like it or not, that is the law of our land.

This is not the situation with one of our presidential candidates. Technically speaking, she is not a criminal; she has not been formally charged with any criminal activity, nor has she ever been found guilty of any charge. Having said that, we as a nation cannot help but notice the huge cloud of criminality that hangs over her head. Many of us notice it and talk about it daily, and many others notice and work to sweep it under the rug. Of course the situation is only exasperated when our Attorney General and Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation seem to be working with and for the suspect, rather than the good of our country.

It all just smells oh so foul.

As I said before, I know plenty of crass folks. And so do you. The truth be told most of the people we deal with are or have been crass. This list includes, but is not limited to doctors, lawyers, teachers, policemen, mechanics, and the list goes on and on. I could tell you stories and you could tell me stories. And they could likely tell stories about us. However, there is one thing that many (if not most) of these people have in common: they know their job and they do it well.

So it is with the crass fellow who happens to be running for President of these United States: he knows his job, he does it well, and there is not a raging storm of criminality hovering above his head. He’s crassy, not classy, but he is forgiven.

So there we have it. I’m voting for crass over crooked. I’m not excited about it, but I believe crass has better credentials when it comes to getting this nation economically, Constitutionally, and securely  stabilized.

The Bigger Picture 

I’d be remiss if I left out these pertinent Bible passages:

Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”

Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Romans 6:23, “but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Romans 10:9, “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”

Romans 10:13 “for everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

 

“Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity. For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb.” (Psalm 37:1-2)
 
Christians, satan’s minions are at it again, now striking us here in the NY/NJ area. It is in the midst of these disquieting times that we are called to be Biblical voices of reason. As others panic and search tdesperately for solutions, let us be the calm and fret-less ones that they can turn to. Our hope, our peace, and our joy is in Jesus Christ and we must bring Him into any circumstance as the calming Agent. This is our calling and this is our duty.

We shall not cave in. We will get up, go to work, and function as we normally do. Terrible things will always happen, but we will not be terrorized into silence or dormancy. According to my Bible, these tribulations make the obedient Christian stronger! We have the choice to cower or tower. Let us choose wisely. 

Believers and unbelievers together are negotiating the same troubled waters, but let the faithful continually proclaim the ease of Christ’s yoke and burden. Yes, we face the same pain, grief, and challenges, but Christ’s way is easier and lighter. Let us never be caught saying that being a Christian is difficult, when it is the faithless who are having the most burdensome times of it. In Christ Jesus we have the easier and lighter Way; we must be a reflection of Him in trying times. In the face of death we are fearless for one reason only: we have a hope rooted firmly in Jesus and all His promises. In troubling times it is crucial we share this hope. Share these words if you agree!
 
“But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive [d]and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)

Last night on Pastor’s Perspective the topic of yoga came up again. The question was asked if it was okay for the high school football coach to use yoga as part of the team’s stretching program.

Here’s the problem with incorporating yoga (albeit seemingly innocuous and void of Hinduism), into a training regiment: if and when those boys are introduced to the real thing later in life, they will likely surmise, “Oh yeah, yoga! I remember that – it’s harmless! Coach Smith taught us that.”

Oh yeah, yoga…Coach Smith taught us that.”

Many may initially suspect that this coach’s yoga is of the harmless variety, however I submit that it is not harmless, as he is setting these boys up for a disaster, regardless if he realizes it or not. His intent is (likely) not the issue, but rather that yoga is being portrayed as something harmless to a group of young, impressionable boys and some will inevitably take the bait when it’s reintroduced at a later stage of life.
If this yoga program cannot (or won’t) be removed from the school, then parents need to instruct their children that authentic yoga is satanic and that a sanitized version of these rituals only serve as an introduction to this evil practice. The fact that a coach, teacher, or sports figure is okay with it sends the wrong message to these youths and that memory will remain embedded until yoga is reintroduced to them down the road.

Case in point:

From what I can see, Russell Wilson (QB, Seattle Seahawks) is a Christian and I Russell Wilson Credit: Photograph by Peter Yangsense the yoga he does has been stripped of all it’s Hindu attributes. Based on what the Bible has to say, he should not be doing it. Nevertheless, the problem is that the thousands upon thousands of kids (and adults) who look up to and admire him, don’t necessarily know that fact. All they perceive is that Russell Wilson does yoga, he is a Christian, and therefore yoga is okay. This picture of Russell Wilson screams, “Yoga is cool.” Yoga is not cool, it is evil.

The Bible says, “Abstain from all appearance of evil.” (1 Thessalonians 5:22) and to never “put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.” (Romans 14:13). Therefore, that is what we should do. If yoga, or anything else has an appearance of evil and it poses a risk that someone else might stumble, we are commanded to not do it. It’s really that simple.

*I am not knocking my brothers at Pastor’s Perspective program or Russell Wilson. It is just important that we recognize the seriousness of this issue and do whatever is necessary to correct it. I chose to talk about it in a public forum for the purpose of awareness.

The theme for this year’s National Day of Prayer (May 5, 2016) is ‘Wake Up America.’ The emphasis is upon the need for Christians to “return to the God of our Fathers in reverence for His Holy Name.” The representative verse the NDP committee has chosen is Isaiah 58:1a:

Shout it aloud, do not hold back. Raise your voice like a trumpet.

I like it, but before we all set out to participate in this year’s event, I’d

ndplike to elaborate upon their import, at least as far as it pertains to consequence, as I suspect a certain presidential candidate’s name is going to come up a lot in our prayers today.  If (or when) God pours out His wrath on America it won’t entirely be because of a heathen in the White House, but because there are heathens in His house as well. So before we go around proclaiming, “Surely God’s wrath is coming now!” we should submit to a little self evaluation.

Let us consider the NDP theme Scripture verse from a few years ago:

“If My people, which are called by My name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14, emphasis mine)
Take note that the passage does not begin, “If my people, which are called by My name, shall elect a godly man…”

If you’re a Christian and you’re concerned about the wrath that is coming, focus on the log that might be in your own eye — that person you’re shacked up with, that lifestyle you embrace, that porn you watch, that substance you abuse; you get the picture. Be ye revived! Some would say you aren’t even born again, so if that’s the case, be ye born again!

You say you’re saved and there’s nothing in your eye? Great! Turn your attention to that brother or sister wallowing in their habitual sin and lovingly bring them back into the fold.

It will serve us all well to remember that God’s wrath is not coming solely because your guy at the gas station is a Muslim, your doctor in the hospital is a Hindu, your mechanic at Pep Boys is an atheist, or your man in the White House is bombastic. These are folks we should be sharing the Gospel with,  but remember, when His wrath comes it will be partly because of the filth within the body of Christ, the Church. That should sting a little.
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“Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory. So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world. Because of these sins, the anger (wrath) of God is coming.” (Colossians 3:1-6 NLT)
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That Colossi-warning was written not to the world, but to the saints (Ephesians 5 repeats the warning to the church), and one of the reasons why 2 Chronicles 7:14 is applicable not only to historic Israel, but to our nation today. So perhaps when we pray today, we should focus not on others (so much), but ourselves and in the spirit of revival.
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“Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God…(Praise the Lord, but)…whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” (Romans 5:9; John 3:36b)

“He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” But this He spoke concerning the Spirit… John 7:38-39a

Up until about 2010, I had assisted in youth ministry in two separate denominational churches for about ten years. While I enjoyed the experience, I persistently expressed grief to those over me that youth group needed to be more than a safe place for teens to hang out and play on a Saturday or Sunday evening – we needed to be giving these kids God’s word on a consistent basis.

The response to these numerous suggestions was typically, “If we do that, they’ll stop coming.”

So my role changed. Sure, I participated in the games the others played, but I made it my business to interject scripture and engage these kids spiritually when possible. Slowly but surely, and as it was observed that no one was fleeing, more Jesus-related material was introduced into these gatherings. Nevertheless, it was always a tough to sell the leaders, so in the end, it was still mostly kid’s play.

In my Bible study, Pastor Jon led me to this article on youth ministry titled, ‘In Touch With Jesus,’ from an October 2006 Time Magazine article. All I could say is that I wished I had stumbled upon it when it was first released. Check out what the author, Sonja Steptoe had to say on the topic:

Youth ministers have been on a long and frustrating quest of their own over the past two decades or so. Believing that a message wrapped in pop-culture packaging was the way to attract teens to their flocks, pastors watered down the religious content and boosted the entertainment. But in recent years churches have begun offering their young people a style of religious instruction grounded in Bible study and teachings about the doctrines of their denomination. Their conversion has been sparked by the recognition that sugar-coated Christianity, popular in the 1980s and early ’90s, has caused growing numbers of kids to turn away not just from attending youth-fellowship activities but also from practicing their faith at allSome experts point out that young people typically drift from organized religion in early adulthood, but others say the high attrition is a sign that churches need to change the way they try to engage the next generation of the faithful. “This dip should serve as an exhortation for everyone to be about the business of discipleship, missions and a higher calling than popcorn-and-peanuts youth culture,” says Ted Haggard, president of the National Association of Evangelicals.

Scholars who have looked at young Christians say their spiritual drift is in part the result of a lack of knowledge about their faith. “The vast majority of teens who call themselves Christians haven’t been well-educated in religious doctrine and therefore don’t really know what they believe,” says Christian Smith, a University of Notre Dame sociologist and the author of Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers.

“With all the competing demands on their time, religion becomes a low priority, and so they practice their faith in shallow ways.”

With all the competing demands on their time, religion becomes a low priority, and so they practice their faith in shallow ways.”

That last phrase caught my attention. A Christian’s faith is directly proportionate to how deep they choose to go, but as we would expect (and as this article demonstrates) a young Christian is highly unaware of how deep they can go. In these circumstances it is up to the youth leader to guide his commission to these deeper waters. This passage in Ezekiel demonstrates the progression.

And when the man went out to the east with the line in his hand, he measured one thousand cubits, and he brought me through the waters; the water came up to my ankles. Again he measured one thousand and brought me through the waters; the water came up to my knees. Again he measured one thousand and brought me through; the water came up to my waist. Again he measured one thousand, and it was a river that I could not cross; for the water was too deep, water in which one must swim, a river that could not be crossed….Then he said to me: “This water flows toward the eastern region, goes down into the valley, and enters the sea. When it reaches the sea, its waters are healed.

Ezekiel 47:3-5, 8

See the Picture

The man in this story is a picture (or type) of the Holy Spirit taking this person to the places where he could venture more deeply. There is no coercion, intimidation, or duress, just accurate direction and supervision. Is that not the role of the youth leader, parent, or mentor? If it isn’t, it certainly should be.

In Ezekiel’s description we’ve an application for Christian leadership; i.e., a series of faithfully sound events slaked with possibilities. The first act is to guide the child or teen to the water’s edge where they are first drawn in. They don’t have to enter, but many do. At ankle-depth they have succeeded in getting their feet wet.

Subsequently they’re shown a deeper place and it is there they are brought to their knees. In this place they come to appreciate their relationship with Jesus in a more significant way. It’s discovered in this place that they can commune with the living God.

Afterward they’re channeled towards the third depth realizing they are up to their waists now. Initially they’re uncomfortable. The very young don’t yet appreciate it, but the older ones sense this is the place of duplication. It’s here they learn to witness and effectively share their faith with others.

Finally we bring them to the place of total submission where they find themselves completely over their heads. Humbled, they discover that in their inadequacies they are most useable to God. It is also here where they discover they have been healed.

God will never make any of us go any deeper than we want, but by His Spirit He will always show us where we can wade deeper if we desire. It matters not the position, be it youth leader, parent, friend or mentor, for the Christian the role is always the same — to direct those in our care to a place where they can make well-informed decisions.

It’s time to bring Jesus back full-time into the youth group equation. Our kids don’t need more dodgeball and snacks, nor do they need a safe place where they will be coddled in their inappropriate lifestyle choices – they need solid Biblical doctrine, at an age appropriate level, that they can grow in and build upon.

Overcoming The Times

Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

Whosoever Believeth in Him

Whosoever believeth in Him (Jesus Christ) should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Dedicated 2 Jesus Christ

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

Dedicated 2 Jesus-Birth Pangs

America Without Jesus-A Political-Socialist Society

Illuminating Truth

"For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world--to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice." John 18:37

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Addressing Daily Issues From a Biblical Worldview

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