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Archive for March, 2014

For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day. 2 Timothy 1:12
How Do You Respond

There are essentially two ways to answer any question regarding Christianity. One is logical and matter-of-fact and the other is compelling and personal. One clearly sheds light on the what of Christianity and the other the Who of our faith. While both are fine and have a place in our witness, the latter is decisively better. I suspect this is likely the reason why the Apostle Paul opts here to share about Who he knows rather than what he knows.

“Whom I Believe”

I’m treading gently here, but nevertheless, our faith has less to do with what we believe and everything to do with Who we believe in, submit to, and rely upon. Therefore, our most effective witness occurs when our focus is kept on Jesus and our relationship. Similarly, if you were telling someone about marriage, the better account would come not from a dictionary, but in the sharing of your personal relationship you enjoy with your spouse. This of course in no way diminishes the importance and vitality and truth of Biblical data.

What vs. Who

Reflect on what you know about the Bible and chances are you fall into one of these two categories: a) You are not very knowledgeable and feel hindered by the fact that you do not know a lot, or b) You study the Bible a lot and have come to the realization that the more you learn the less you know.

Don’t fret…

This is a wonderful position to be in and Paul, the biblical scholar, would agree (although he would never counsel anyone to not study the Bible. That would be ludicrous). The formerly blind man would also agree — he knew very little (if anything) of God‘s word. However, he was more than willing and able to share about his relationship with his Savior Jesus.

Sometimes all you have is all you need.

“One thing I know: that though I was blind, now I see.” John 9:25

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“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.” (Matthew 5:13)

How many sermons on salt have you heard?

Me too.

Frankly, I’m a little salted-out. What really salts my wounds is when the sermon-ator gets all caught up in his saliferous illustration and dismisses all other analogies as savor-less stepchildren.

saltI found a solution! 

Lets call it a “Make-Your-Own-Sermon” kit. From the list below select a singular salty trait and meditate on it. Allow the Holy Spirit to bring to mind the briny, and of course Bible-ly similarities. For example, take the first word from the list below and ponder the ‘preserving’ aspects of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. To complete the exercise, discover (or rediscover) a portion of Scripture using the concordance in the back of your Bible, an online Bible search tool, or Google inquiry that will enhance and support your supposition.

Preserves ~ Purifies ~ Flavors ~ Heals ~ Penetrates ~ Melt Ice ~ Gives Traction  
Trans-cultural ~ Works in All Temperatures ~ Unbiased ~ Stimulates Hunger
Quietly Works ~ Cleanses ~ Lingers ~ Promotes Thirst ~ Provokes Interest
Necessary for Life ~ Readily Available and Usable ~ Inexpensive ~ Valuable
Gives Identity ~ Absorbs Moisture ~ Irritates ~ Does Not Go Bad (ever)
Misunderstood ~ White ~ Pure ~ Set a Part (Holy) ~  Created by God

Let’s remember that individually and corporately, the church is likened to common salt. Since salt does not rot and Christians cannot be plucked from God’s hand, they share eternal qualities. The only way salt (or a saint) can lose its flavor is if it’s polluted; that is to say watered-down. Think about that as you meander the narrow road of faith.  Are you picking up contaminates along the way? Are you keeping your flavor Holy? When you share the Word of God, are you adding to Scripture things that dilute and weaken the message?

I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book. Revelation 22:18-19

We have been entrusted and blessed with a priceless commodity. Let us be mindful to protect it and share it liberally.

“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.” (Matthew 5:13)

 

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Thorns and snares are in the way of the perverse; He who guards his soul will be far from them. Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:5-6

We’ve had this discussion before, at least in bits and pieces, but it’s worth repeating – I let you guys down. I’ll try to explain and keep it short at the same time. Forgive me if I repeat things I have already shared with you.

In 1984 I became a Christian, but not a very good one. I either was not being taught well (at the church I was going to), or I wasn’t listening well (probably the latter), boysand I soon fell away from my faith because of my discouragement. In 1988, when you guys were born, I still considered myself to be a Christian (and maybe I was), but I sure wasn’t acting like one. For the next 12 years, I behaved worse and worse. As a result, for the first 12 years of your lives, I was not raising you boys in the ways of the Lord. Sure, we did other things and had some good times (I don’t think I was a total jerk), but I dropped the ball by not raising you in a solid Christian home; by not being the Christian leader that God desires all men to be. By the time your sister came on the scene in 2000, I had rededicated my life to Jesus. From then to now, I’ve been trying to play catch up with you guys. I started leading you at 12 years old, but I had essentially allowed the world to raise you in its ways for those early years.

I noticed your resentment, even though you never really said anything. I tried to teach gently, but often pushed hard, trying to make up for that lost time. To make matters worse, I’d tell you to do one thing and then do something hypocritical, completely undermining whatever good thing was to be found in the message. For these things I am sorry. I wish there was a way to go back, but there is not. Because of these failures on my part since your birth, you have been scarred. You are who you are, at least in part, because I failed in the role of ‘Christian Dad.’

So why am I telling you this now?

First let me tell you that I’m not beating myself up in an effort to make you feel a little better.

I know what I did (or didn’t do) was wrong and I’ve made my peace with God. I don’t have to hang my head in shame for the rest of my life. Jesus has forgiven me, and I (we) can learn from the experience. No, I’m sharing these things for another reason – you need to move on. By that I mean you need to accept that there is a reason for your personalities and behaviors, and not let those reasons prevent you from being the men that Jesus wants you to be. You must make up the lost ground that I allowed to slip by, regardless if you blame me or not. In other words, you cannot use as an excuse that you had a lousy Christian dad for the first part of your life. This is the hand that you were dealt, and rather than continue to play a bad handful of cards, it’s time to fold and get a new set of cards.

You must make up the lost ground…”

It’s time to put away the old and put on the new.

It’s time for Jesus, full-time.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.  2 Corinthians 5:17

You may be wondering why I am airing dirty laundry. Well don’t worry too much, nobody really reads this blog. I’m a firm believer that experience is the BEST teacher, but it doesn’t have to your experience. Maybe somebody can actually learn from this without having to go through it themselves. As time goes by you need to know what I never knew: the time to prepare for becoming a husband or a dad is before you become one. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a wonderful thing to be able to make up for lost time; and God does honor that, but it’s better to get it right from the beginning.

I love you both and I want nothing but the best for you, and the best for you is Jesus.

Talk to you soon!

Dad

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Look upon me and be merciful to me, As Your custom is toward those who love Your name. Direct my steps by Your word, And let no iniquity have dominion over me. Redeem me from the oppression of man, That I may keep Your precepts. Psalm 119:132-134

When Unforgiveness is a Good Thing

mvLet me be clear about one thing – being an unforgiving person is not a good thing, it’s a bad thing. However, it’s a bad thing from which we can discover a couple or three good things. What redeeming trait can come from evil, you ask? First, the recognition that you might be merciless. Are you a Christian who hates Michael Vick for what he did to animals?

Good.

We can fix that.

“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Matthew 6:14-15

Of course when I say ‘we’ I mean Jesus. Did your read the Bible passage above? Jesus said it and He wasn’t just waxing poetic; He was laying down doctrine for believers to learn and employ. There’s no getting around Christ’s instructions to His church; there’s either obedience or disobedience.

But it’s hard!

If you think the Christian walk is hard, you’re not doing it correctly. More accurately, you’re probably walking out your Christian faith in your flesh rather than the Spirit (click on those terms if you’re not familiar with them). Believe it or not, this is a good thing too! It’s good because you just recognized why you can’t forgive Michael Vick and why your walk with Jesus seems difficult at times! Jesus said that His teachings are easy and that the burdens we are to carry are light. Was He lying to us? Of course not! Jesus set into motion a practical way by which the children of God can easily identify a hitch in their giddy-up.

Still not seeing it?

Good!

Do you know what that means? Your flesh, or more precisely, your fleshy heart, is hindering you.

Consider this truth:

“The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it? I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give every man according to his ways, According to the fruit of his doings.” Jeremiah 17:9-10

The heart, that emotionally driven component of our flesh, is deceptive, but emotions in themselves are not evil. They are the God-given vehicles that bring us to places of decision. Sadness, anger, happiness, they all eventually lead to a choice, but what choice? In the teachings of Jesus, we have been given the right responses for every circumstance, but left to ourselves we have sin. It really is just that simple. The Christian must recognize that only God effectively searches the heart and tests the mind, otherwise our emotional paths will misguide us. Hopefully it’s clear by now: Christian folks who harbor hatred towards Michael Vick are being driven by their emotions rather than Jesus.

But I’m Not a Christian!

Good!

Let’s fix that! Hatred and sin eat people alive, and ultimately destroy, but thankfully there is a cure: salvation found in Christ Jesus. God the Father is the Mastermind behind absolute forgiveness! Through His Son Jesus He provided a way by which all humanity can be saved.

Are you human?

Good, than you qualify.

The Bible teaches the following: all mankind has sinned (Romans 3:23) and that sin separates us from God.  The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23) but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. God demonstrated His love toward us while we were still sinners, by sending Christ to die and pay the penalty of our sin (Romans 5:8).  If you confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved (Romans 10:9). Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved (Romans 10:13). If you believe by faith, you have been justified through faith, and have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1 ). There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1).

You can pray right now to acknowledge and receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior. The prayer does not save you; Jesus saves you. Believe that by faith.

Pray

“God, I know that I have sinned against you and am deserving of punishment. But Jesus Christ took the punishment that I deserve so that through faith in Him I could be forgiven. With your help, I place my trust in You for salvation. Help me to die to my flesh each day and to walk in Your ways. Thank You for Your wonderful grace and forgiveness – the gift of eternal life! Amen!”

It’s time to let hatred and unforgiveness go. It has been reported that Michael Vick is a Christian. If this is true (and I have no reason to believe otherwise), then Jesus has already forgiven him, so it’s time you did too. Do you want to know something else? It doesn’t matter if Michael Vick is a Christian or not; our Lord’s directive to the church was to forgive all men, not just Christian men.

Let hatred go

“I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. I will take you as My people, and I will be your God.” Exodus 6:6b-7a

Did you pray to receive Jesus today? Please leave a comment below and let me know. I’d like to help you get moving in the right direction.

If you enjoyed the post please like it, share it, subscribe to the blog, or leave a comment below. Have a blessed day in Christ Jesus!

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And Jephthah made a vow to the Lord, and said, “If You will indeed deliver the people of Ammon into my hands, then it will be that whatever comes out of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the people of Ammon, shall surely be the Lord’s, and I will offer it up as a burnt offering.” Judges 11:30-31

I am appalled by World Vision’s president, Rich Stearns decision to recognize (in a 39008positive manner) same-sex marriages as it pertains to their hiring practices and as an amendment to their code of conduct. However in my dismay, it is not their decision I want to discuss – it’s yours.

Are you a World Vision sponsor?

If you made a vow to sponsor a World Vision child until such a time that child would graduate the program, then I implore you to keep that commitment. On the other hand, if you are not a World Vision sponsor, then I would recommend you seek out another ministry, one that maintains a holy and Godly standard, unless of course World Vision decides to rescind their errant directive.

Here’s why…

“This is the thing which the Lord has commanded: If a man makes a vow to the Lord, or swears an oath to bind himself by some agreement, he shall not break his word; he shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth.” Numbers 30:1-2

“When you make a vow to the Lord your God, you shall not delay to pay it; for the Lord your God will surely require it of you, and it would be sin to you But if you abstain from vowing, it shall not be sin to you.” Deuteronomy 23:21-22

For the Sake of Clarity

It’s worth repeating, “I am appalled by World Vision’s decision,” and unless they right the course they have taken, the church proper should respond by not supporting their ministry via new sponsorships. Hopefully when they recognize the decline, they will make a correction. But, if you currently support a child through World Vision, it would be wrong to dishonor that commitment.

I am appalled by World Vision’s decision.”

I will tell you that I have made such commitments (not with World Vision, but with a similar ministry), and when I noticed that they were straying from the narrow path, I was determined to leave. However, I did not abandon the children I vowed to support. Some have since graduated from the program, and others are nearing graduation age, but I am determined to honor the decision I made before God. When that last child leaves, so will I, supporting that ministry no longer.

If you are a current World Vision sponsor, I recommend you do the same. It’s the proper response.

When Jephthah came to his house at Mizpah, there was his daughter, coming out to meet him with timbrels and dancing; and she was his only child. Besides her he had neither son nor daughter. And it came to pass, when he saw her, that he tore his clothes, and said, “Alas, my daughter! You have brought me very low! You are among those who trouble me! For I have given my word to the Lord, and I cannot go back on it.” So she said to him, “My father, if you have given your word to the Lord, do to me according to what has gone out of your mouth, because the Lord has avenged you of your enemies, the people of Ammon.” Judges 11:34-36

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Many of those who had practiced magic brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted up the value of them, and it totaled fifty thousand pieces of silver. So the word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed. Acts 19:19-20

The Look of Repentance

If you were not aware, repentance has a look. That is to say if an ‘affected’ person is observed for a period of time, their ‘repentant condition’ would yield tangible evidence. Since repentance (by definition) is in part, ‘the relinquishment of any practice, from conviction that, offends God,’ it’s safe to say the absence of those practices would be impacting (and obvious) to the onlooker.

Has your look changed?

Consider the Bible passage above. We see a new group of born-again believers, who having been convicted by the Holy Spirit, destroyed the components of their sinful ways (one cannot easily return to that which he garagedemolished). Take note: there was no garage sale, no giving away, just total destruction. You could say in one sense it was a picture of baptism; the ritual washing whereby a Christian publicly demonstrates their new birth with and in Christ Jesus. The exercise begs the question: “Have you done similarly or are you still clinging to the relics of your illicit past?”

Have you done similarly or are you still clinging to the relics of your illicit past?”

Legalism

At this point some might cry, “Foul,” that this is just another legalistic trip from the fundamental, Christian, right-wing fanatics. To these I would say you probably don’t understand Godly sorrow as it pertains to sin, repentance, and salvation (not to mention the practice of gleaning from wise counsel and/or the concept of iron-sharpening-iron). The Apostle Paul addresses the first issue in 2 Corinthians 7:9-11.

Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing. For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter.

Paul points out the purpose and subsequent byproduct of Godly sorrow: repentance that leads to salvation. If you are a born-again Christian and have never experienced this brokenness, then there is a good chance you have not fully turned away from your sin. There also remains the likelihood that you have adopted excuses, false doctrines, and misguided people to justify the behavior and regalia to which you still hold fast. While I won’t question your salvation (that’s between you and Jesus), as an admonition I question if you are fully submitted to Christ’s will, His plan, and the sanctification process. It could very well be that in your attempt to fool others, you may only be fooling yourself.

Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties;  And see if there is any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23-24  

Sanctification

Sanctification speaks to two things primarily: separation unto God (holiness) and submission to the changes Jesus desires to make in us towards perfection. If you understand sanctification and comprehend ‘Godly sorrow’ through personal experience, then you will not see ‘repentant change’ as legalism, but rather as liberty afforded by God.

Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. 2 Corinthians 3:17-18

The good news is that sanctification is a life-long process; it lasts from the moment we’re saved until the moment we cross over to Heaven. At the time of our rebirth there should have been some sure signs of repentance — if we truly turned towards Jesus to follow Him, we turned away from something sinful. As we continue to walk with Him in submission, daily asking Him to search our hearts for things we’re blind to, He is faithful to reveal them, and like those redeemed magicians in Ephesus, we can heap up those things for destruction.

Are you going to Heaven?

If you’re not sure click HERE

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Very rarely does someone stop in the driveway at Planned Parenthood, roll down the window, and begin a civil conversation. If they do it’s usually to babyshare an expletive, a middle finger, or both.  Today was different.

“I need to explain something to you,” she started, “when you already have five children, and can’t afford to feed them, this (abortion) is your only choice.”

I was polite.

It’s never my intention to shame these mothers because of the poor choice they’re about to make (or have already made), nor do I display pictures of aborted babies in the hopes the gory image will change their minds. I believe if I can reach out with the Gospel message (or at least a small portion of it), the mom might be saved and she will in turn save her own baby.

Her car slowly moved forward as she finished her sentence. No time for the Good News today.

“I’ll adopt your baby,” I said calmly before changing it to a question, “What if I adopted your baby?”

What if I adopted your baby?”

The car stopped abruptly and she looked back through her window. She paused a second, then shook her head and said, “Nope! I don’t want anyone else raising my baby,” as the car inched forward.

I was taken aback that she used the term my baby.

“You’d rather kill it?” I asked, kind of ashamed for calling her baby an it.

Without too much emotion she replied, “Yes, I’d rather have the doctor here kill it then let you have it.”

She pulled into the parking lot and behind the building, completely out of my sight. I couldn’t pursue her because it’s private property and I’m restricted to my little portion of sidewalk out front.

“Jesus loves you,” I called down the driveway. “Jesus has a plan for you and your baby! Please come back and talk to me!”

She didn’t come back.

I left about two hours later and did not see her again.

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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 and Jesus said, Take Heed that No Man Deceive You

For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.

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