Archive for March, 2013

An open letter to my children, my brothers, my sisters, my nieces, my nephews, my aunts, my uncles, my cousins, and my in-laws:

A few of you know Jesus Christ in a personal way. In other words, you have not merely attained historical faminformation about Jesus, but you walk in His ways. You are in fact followers of Christ. You believe that His word, the Bible, is inerrant, and His testimony is true. Jesus is in actuality your Lord God and your Savior, you are submitted to His will, and your lives are a living testimony to your Creator. You have received His free gift of grace. Please know Michelle and I pray for you daily, and that God will continue to bless and protect you, and grow you in your faith. Our bond is deeper than genetic; it is Holy and eternal, as it has been purchased for a great price through the suffering, the blood, and the crucifixion of Jesus.

I have much joy knowing that you know Jesus, and that when we leave this life for the next, there will be a grand reunion in Heaven. At the same time, I am saddened that not all of us will be there. When I dwell on the notion, that as of today, most of our family will not be with us, my heart aches. They will be living for eternity, but not in Heaven. The rest of this letter is to those of our family that we may never see again.

Dear Family,

What I am about to write, you may have seen or heard before, but my prayer is that you will read it until the end.

First, I love you.

The love I speak of is not the same kind of love that I have for my wife, or my children, or even chocolate ice cream. This kind of love is called ‘agape’ in the Bible, and it’s the kind of love that compelled Christ Jesus to go to the cross. It goes beyond mere affection, although it certainly includes that. It’s a kind of love that is driven by God the Father, and not of emotion, despite the fact that deep emotion is often a part of it. When Jesus Christ came and took-up residence in my heart, He brought this love along with Him. Today, it is the very thing that compels me to do things that I would not have otherwise ever done, such as write this letter. From this point forward, if I am bold in what I write, please recall that it’s written in love. I must risk driving you away in order that you hear this message.

I will be sharing some portions of the Bible (in blue). It’s important to remember that what I’m going to share is not an opinion, but it’s borne out of the Word of God. For those of you who are closest to me [know] that I am not the same person I used to be, to God’s glory. That is to say that I’m no longer a scoundrel, a drunk, a villain, or a worthless fellow. You can plainly see that something has changed for the better. You only see the outside, but I’m here to tell you I’m changed on the inside as well. I’m not perfect and it could best be said that I am a work-in-progress.

If you have witnessed any of these changes in me, please read on.

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23)

This is not where I tell you that you’re a sinner and that you’re going to hell. This is where God does. Please look at the second word in the sentence. ‘All’ means every single person who ever was or ever will be. We all have sinned and it only takes one sin to separate us from God. Don’t let that anger you. It’s been said that God is so perfectly good, He cannot have any sin around Him; darkness (sin) cannot share the same space with light. Based on this portion of Bible scripture (and there are many others), we can know that no person can be good enough to get into Heaven on their own merit. Just one sin will exclude you. In other words, if Mother Teresa did not know Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior, she too would be excluded.

“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)

Everybody dies, but the death spoken of here is often referred to as hell and it is eternal (it’s forever). It’s a place that God did not make for human beings, but for satan and his minions. If a person ends up in hell, God is not responsible because He has given everyone a free-way to avoid it. This might sound a little moronic, but God’s free gift is free. It cannot be earned or worked for by us. It’s just to be received.

“But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

What Christ Jesus did on the cross encompasses the free gift. This sacrifice Jesus made paid the penalty of our sin. Somebody had to pay; that’s the way God laid it all out, and Jesus was sent to earth in the flesh to be a perfect sacrifice.  There was never a perfect sacrifice before Jesus and there will never be another one. Jesus is the only solution to our sin and separation problem. Don’t be angry that God only gave us One way — be grateful that He provided a way.

One problem, one solution — God kept it incredibly simple for us, because He loves us.

“If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9)

What do you have to do to receive the free gift? Accept it! Acknowledge that you are the rightful recipient! Agree with God and say:

“Yes Father, I am a sinner. Jesus Christ is exactly who You have said He is. Jesus is the Only solution to my sin and separation problem. Somehow, in a way I cannot fully understand, Jesus took all my sin upon Himself and paid the penalty in full so I don’t have to. He willingly went to the cross, was crucified, He died, and He rose from the dead, and now lives forever!”

Nowhere does the Bible say that we need to understand how Jesus did these things, but only by faith that we believe He did. When you do this, your life will change miraculously as you follow His ways, and your life will be a living testimony that Christ Jesus is alive!

Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out” (Acts 3:19)

Repent means to turn away from,’ but in the case of a Christian, it means more. It means that we have agreed to turn our backs on our sinful pasts and turn towards Jesus in order to follow His ways. It may sound difficult, but because you’ve demonstrated your commitment to Jesus, He will (freely) provide you the power to stop any sin you struggle with. As I shared earlier, I was once a drunk and I turned away from drinking many times on my own, but was never able to stop being a drunk, that is until I came to Jesus. When I repented; that is, turned away and turned towards Jesus, He lifted the addiction away entirely in one moment.

My last drunk was in 1997.

Does this mean you will never sin again? No, it does not, but what it means is you’ve rejected the notion of being an habitual sinner; the kind of person who purposely sets out each day to do what is wrong. Repentance in many ways is the sign to the world and to God that your faith is true. You cannot accept the free gift of salvation from God and willfully live in habitual sin, believing that God doesn’t care. God does care. He will accept you in any condition that you come to Him, but He surely does not want you to stay in that condition; God wants to refine you into the best you can be, for His glory and not ours.

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

No one is exempt. God’s free offer is available to everyone. Call on His name by faith and be saved. You have not committed a sin so great (or sins so great), that God will not forgive you.

“We have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:1)

What does ‘justified by faith, mean? Simply put, the word justified means, just-as-if you never sinned. That’s right! If you believe in Jesus and have received His free gift of salvation, God the Father looks at you as if you were spotless and without sin. The Bible tells us this is so because we are robed in Christ’s righteousness; Jesus has essentially given us a clean garment to put on!

Faith is the same as belief, but it’s more than just having knowledge about something. Everyone has the knowledge that a parachute has the capacity to save a person, but it only works if you put it on. So it is with Christ Jesus. I have had conversations with many of you, and most of you have knowledge of who Jesus is and what He has done, but you have not put Him on by faith. Faith says we will also do what Jesus says to do.

Knowledge alone will not save you.

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1)

Plain and simple, if you believe these things and do them, you will not suffer the second death, condemnation.

At this point, you have a decision to make.

If you decide to become a follower of Jesus Christ, God will recognize your sincerity, and there is nothing more you have to do to acquire salvation! Jesus proclaimed on the cross that the work He came to do was finished!

If however you have decided to wait, you need to examine your motives. Is the sin that your holding onto truly that much better than living in Heaven eternally? No one, not even God denies that sin is pleasurable for a season, but that season is always short, especially when compared to eternity. And of course, we have no idea when our lives on earth will end. The youngest person reading this must know that people younger than you die unexpectedly every single day. You are not guaranteed a long life.  And do not be fooled into believing that you can live any kind of life that you desire and then make a last second commitment of faith on your death-bed. Can you possibly guarantee that your death-bed commitment would even be sincere in God’s eyes? Who has guaranteed you that you will even have a death-bed experience?

Dear family, don’t be foolish. If you have read this far, Jesus is knocking at the door of your heart and He wants to rescue you. You might not see it, but He sees that you are drowning and He’s come along side of you to pull you into he lifeboat. No longer reject His free gift. Do you have questions? I know it’s a bit awkward, but please let me know. I’ll answer your questions or can get together and talk more in-depth. Truly, your eternal life depends upon it.

If I didn’t love you, I would have not written to you. Michelle and I pray for you daily.

In Christ’s love,

Dave — your father, your brother, your cousin, your nephew, your uncle, your in-law


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“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh.” (2 Corinthians 10:3)

Sympathy, fervor, passion, or grief, if not inspired of the Holy Spirit, serves only to quench the work of the emoteHoly Spirit. Feelings must not captain our course, as that position (if you are a Christ-follower) has been ceded to Jesus. Emotions must remain those things bared in the wake of obedience to Christ, lest they lead us astray and undermine the truth. Emotions are not bad, they are secondary. For this reason Christians must never go to battle with an effusive guide.

In that light we can more effectively address the following portion of scripture:

“For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (2 Timothy 3:6-7)

We need to back up to the beginning of this chapter to fully grasp what the Apostle Paul is referring to. Starting in verse 1, Paul is issuing a warning to Christian men in particular, but not exclusively, to be on the look out for creeps; that is, those who are not of the Christian faith, who desire nothing more than to destroy the followers of Christ Jesus. Paul then moves forward to describe what these folks typically look like.

Let’s examine their traits:

“For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,  unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power.” (2 Timothy 3:2-5)

What does this have to do with being misled by our emotions?

For that answer we need to go back to the terminology Paul utilized in verse 6 where he declared women to be gullible Don’t be offended. Paul is expressing a reality that men must grasp in order to protect women from those who want to creep in and destroy. In other words Paul is saying women are susceptible because they are emotional, or more accurately, apt to be misguided by their emotions. That’s not to say that men are not [emotional], but that across the board, emotionalism is a common enough characteristic of women that makes them vulnerable to deception by the enemy.

With men, the tendency more often is that we succumb not to our emotionalism, but that of our wives. Rather than lovingly correcting them (so as to turn them away from danger), we acquiesce in order to maintain peace or a selfish motive. Paul would have men know that when this occurs, we are the ones in error, not our wives.  The events within the Garden of Eden bear witness to this actuality.

 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. (1 Timothy 2:14)

The serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness… (2 Corinthians 11:3)

Sin was imputed to Adam because he knew what he was doing, while Eve was tricked into believing that her sin was no sin at all. That’s significant. Eve was guilty of a sin, but mankind’s fallen nature will forever be attributed to Adam because he knew the truth and purposely ignored it. Faced with a choice, he knowingly and selfishly made the wrong decision; he was not deceived. However, this does not mean men cannot be misled by their emotions.

Case in Point:

Official portrait of United States Senator (R-OH).

It has been widely reported that United States Senator, Rob Portman has become a supporter of equal marriage rights for gays and lesbians because he learned that his son is a homosexual. Portman wrote that he, “Wrestled with how to reconcile (his) Christian faith with (his) desire for Will to have the same opportunities to pursue happiness and fulfillment as his brother and sister.”  Previously, as a congressman, Portman had voted in favor of the Defense of Marriage Act.

We need not look too far to see that emotionalism (or selfish conformation) is likely the cause behind Senator Portman’s decision to change his beliefs in regard to Biblical marriage.  Portman loves his son Will and rightfully so, but he has allowed emotions to get the better of him. Worse than that, he has given emotion supremacy over truth. Misguided by sentiment, Portman has pushed aside God, the inerrancy of His word, his constituents, and yes, even his own son Will, because he now feels it’s the proper thing to do. The Senator has exchanged the truth of God for the lie.

This is the very thing the Apostle Paul is warning us to turn away from. Portman is essentially creeping into our households with an emotional, and now government-backed agenda, while trampling God’s truth with each step he takes. Sad to say, but emotionalists will likely rally around his new-found cause.

Sign of the Times

As we draw closer to the end of a prophetic chapter in history, this bold admonition from the Apostle Paul is most relevant. It should cause every faithful follower to pause and examine their relationship with Jesus Christ, continually asking if they’re being led by the Lord’s Holy Spirit or by heart-felt emotions.

Again, emotions are not evil; they are in fact God-given. However, they are not the vehicle by which Christians are to effectuate doctrine — God has already established a doctrine and it is forever true. Emotions are rather to be the catalyst towards the throne room of our Lord. It is there, with emotions laid out, we seek the Lord’s will in all things. We should not dismiss the love that Senator Portman has for his son. Frankly, his love, commitment, and compassion is admirable and his anguish is palpable, but it’s these very things that Jesus wants us to bring to Him. In this way, as we obediently submit to His authority, His will and truth will preside.

Let’s consider 2 Corinthians 7:10

For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.

Godly sorrow is the kind of emotion that has been saturated in God’s truth. It’s the kind of emotion that says, “I love you son, but it serves no good purpose to lie to you; sin is a sin;” these are the actions whereby a person may be eternally saved. Worldly sorrow is not so. It is void of this truth and as the scripture says, it leads to death. Let us heed Paul’s warning.

The Apostle Concludes:

But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (1 Timothy 3:14-17)

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