Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Your heritage in not you!

This past Sunday I mentioned how Martha, Lazarus, and Mary may have been related to Judas the betrayer of Jesus. Have you ever read the genealogy of Jesus?

Jesus was of course one half pure DNA from God the father but half of His DNA came from Mary. In the genealogy of Mary are a couple of character flaws that we would consider imperfect.

Rahab was the harlot of Jericho that protected the spies who came to the city to check out its defenses. As a reward for her great faith, she and her whole household were saved. Later she married Salmon and became the great-great grandmother of King David and also then, in the linage of Jesus (Matthew 1:5). Can you imagine a prostitute in the linage of Jesus?

If we step back a couple of verses we see that an illegitimate child is in Jesus linage. Matthew chapter 1:3 tells us that Judah had a son Perez through Tamar. Tamar was Judah’s daughter-in-law. In Jewish custom if a husband died it was then his unmarried brothers responsibility to marry his brother’s widow and have children through her that would be counted to the dead brother, to preserve the brother’s linage. Judah had refused to do this so Tamar tricked him. She acted like a prostitute and Judah went into to her, she became pregnant and gave birth to two boys Perez and Zerah. Perez, the illegitimate son of Judah is in the linage of Jesus. (Read Genesis chapter 38 for the whole story.)

Why is this so important? Two reasons. First, even reading the genealogies is important. Don’t skip over them there are very important items to learn about life and God even in them. Second, all of us have skeletons in our closet; things we wish were not there. These are things in which we have either simply failed God or we failed others and thus ultimately failed God.

These skeletons are not to limit us. In fact, if we choose to let them go and give them to the Lord, He will use them for his glory and honor. Your past has helped create who you are, but it does not need to be a detriment to who you will become. Salmon and Rahab were well aware of her past. Perez was well aware of his birth. Rather than allowing these things to control them, they were able to give them to the Lord and allow the Lord to use them.

How you came into this world does not matter. The failures in your life do not matter to God as long as you give them to Him. He will use everything, good, bad, and ugly, if we will allow Him. He can take the most horrific situations in our lives and use them for His honor and glory. He will also turn them from disaster to blessing if we will allow Him to.

What are you hiding from in your life? What hidden sin do you have that you believe will destroy you or limit you? Nothing is impossible with God. The only limitation God has is our unwillingness to place everything in His hands. Do yourself a favor and blessing today, Let go of your past, put it in His hands and see what he will do with it! Your heritage is not who you need to become. It is part of who you are but instead of a detriment God wants to use it for His glory.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Can God mess with your plans? A Christmas Story!

The answer to that question is of course, yes! Scripture tells us that God’s ways are higher than our ways. Our view of life and our future, is often limited by what we perceive as the best. Some times are best is a very limited view of who God wants us to become and who God really is.

To clarify my point let’s look at the life of Joseph. In Matthew chapter 1 verse 19 we get some very good information about Joseph.

“Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly.”

From this one verse we can tell a lot about Joseph. He was just. This means he was a man who loved the law of God, in a good way. He loved and served God and wanted to be pleasing to Him. Longing to do what was right.

We also see that he did not want to embarrass Mary. He really loved her. He had the right to publically humiliate her and to have her stoned to death. Instead he chose to quietly and secretly have her sent somewhere to have the baby so no one would know. This meant he was willing to cover her expenses to travel and stay away until the baby was born.

Joseph was a carpenter, in a small town, most likely made up of people with whom he was related. He was not a wealthy man. He was a man who loved much. I am sure after many years of waiting, Mary was finally old enough for marriage. He had dreamed and planned for this day for a large portion of his life.

Can you imagine for a moment how he would have felt? His plan was a simple one. Get married, have children, build a nice carpentry business that his sons could take over. God interrupted those plans. God knew Joseph could handle the detour in his life. It seemed for the time that his life was falling apart, that his plans were coming to nothing.

Do you ever feel that way? You may be in that place right now. This is one of the reasons it is so important to know God’s word. One of His many promises to us is that if we trust and seek Him, He will fulfill the desires of our hearts, Psalm 37:4,5. They may not always be fulfilled in the way we expect but are always filled God’s way.

Joseph thought he was just going to be a normal guy. God saw a man he could trust with His Son. Joseph became the adoptive Father of Jesus, the son of the living God. Joseph did not have to worry about carrying for Mary. God took care of her. At the cross, Jesus placed Mary in John’s care.

Whenever God messes with our plans, it always turns out better than our plan. He created us each for a purpose. If we trust Him, follow Him and love Him he will fulfill a better plan that what we can imagine. Expect Him to do great things with and through you! Don’t allow messed up plans to be a sign that God is not with you, for you, or using you. They may be the very fulfillment of your hearts desire.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Give me my mountain!!!

Today is my birthday. I really like birthdays, not so much as a party or celebration but as a time of remembering what I have done with my past year, looking around at all of the blessings I have been given, and setting goals and hopes for the new year ahead.

I am a very blessed man. I have a wonderful wife and great marriage. I have two great kids, who love the Lord, each other and my wife and me. I have two jobs where I work with people that desperately love Jesus and want to see the world changed. I have the privilege of serving an amazing congregation of people who want to grow in Christ. I have the honor of using television to impact millions. I have great friends all around the world. This year I have had the privilege of seeing my Dad enter heaven and my Mom come to live with us. I am more blessed than any man should be, but I am not done.

My hearts cry is the same as Caleb in Joshua 14: 7 - 12, “Give me this mountain!”.

I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the Lord sent me from Kadesh Barnea to spy out the land, and I brought back word to him as it was in my heart. 8Nevertheless my brethren who went up with me made the heart of the people melt, but I wholly followed the Lord my God. 9So Moses swore on that day, saying, ‘Surely the land where your foot has trodden shall be your inheritance and your children’s forever, because you have wholly followed the Lord my God.’ 10And now, behold, the Lord has kept me alive, as He said, these forty-five years, ever since the Lord spoke this word to Moses while Israel wandered in the wilderness; and now, here I am this day, eighty-five years old. 11As yet I am as strong this day as on the day that Moses sent me; just as my strength was then, so now is my strength for war, both for going out and for coming in. 12Now therefore, give me this mountain of which the Lord spoke in that day; for you heard in that day how the Anakim were there, and that the cities were great and fortified. It may be that the Lord will be with me, and I shall be able to drive them out as the Lord said.”

Caleb had gone through the desert with the rebellious children of Israel. He watched them die off. He also saw a new generation rise up. God had made him some promises and all along, what kept him going, even to the age of 85, was God had made a promise to him. At 85 years old he was still scrappy enough to want to take on the giants. Before David, Caleb was the one that knew that if God has made a promise, even the giants that stand before us would come down.

Too quickly we give up. Too quickly we make excuses as to why we can’t accomplish something for God. Too quickly we give up on God’s promises. I can’t imagine it was easy for Caleb to put up with all the death around him. He watched friends and family die. He watched everything around him change. The thing about Caleb, was he did not take his eyes off of the prize.

What promises has God made to you? What are the giants in your way? Have you given in to all of the death, suffering, whining, and negativity around you or have you decided you are going to hold onto the promises of God.

Today is my birthday and I am saying, “Give me my mountain! I am choosing to hold onto the promises of God!”

Would you give me a wonderful gift today? Here is the gift I want from you. Would you remember the promises of God for your life and choose again to believe them and hold to them! God has given you your promises so you can impact your part of the world. The Body of Christ needs you to fulfill your call so together we can see the world changed!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

We all have so much to be thankful for!

I am focusing this week on thankfulness. The great American revivalist Charles Finney once said, “A state of mind that sees God in everything is evidence of a growth in grace and a thankful heart.”

Yesterday I focused in on being grateful for the various things of nature and the people the Lord has brought into our lives. Today I am reminded of the many gifts the Lord has given me, and the great gifts that I see in my family and friends around me.

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.” James 1:17

Every gift you have been given has come from God. No good things that you have or see in your life has come from anywhere or anyone but God.

Take a few moments to, as the old hymn says, count your many blessings. The blessings in your life and around your should remind you how truly blessed you are. They should also remind you of how loved you are by God.

To count your blessing first look at the abilities you have, the things that come easiest to you, and the successes they bring. Then look in you refrigerator, look at the home you live in, notice all of the material possessions you have been given. Just the fact that you are reading this blog on a computer shows how blessed you are, when in many parts of the world even a computer is a luxury that many could not even begin to comprehend.

Count the senses that work, your ability to see, hear, touch, taste, smell. I lost my sense of smell for about a month at one point. What a blessing it became to even begin smelling something bad.

Look around you at all of the stuff you have. The average person in a third world or developing nation lives on less than three dollars a day. In Sudan the people I met there were thrilled to eat one meal every other day. The children in Zimbabwe were happy to play with an empty plastic bottle as a soccer ball. Open your medicine cabinet. Most of my friends in the third world have no access to medical care, not even an aspirin. Turn on your water faucet; clean water is a gift many do not have. This is not to make you feel guilty. God has blessed you appreciate that blessing.

Develop an attitude of gratitude and see what the Lord will do with you. If we take time to give thanks our view of our world changes. We all have so many good gifts in our lives. This Thanksgiving truly give thanks for how blessed you are!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

How great is our God!

I woke this morning with the words,

“O Lord my God, When I in awesome wonder
Consider all the world Thy Hand hath made,”
Those are the words to the first stanza of the hymn, “How great Thou art”

I am amazed by sunsets and sunrises; the stars in the sky, and really all of nature. Also when I think about how the human body works, how a child is born.

In my way of thinking everywhere around us are signs of how amazing and wonderful God is. It is so easy to get caught up in the stuff of life and miss all of the wonder of God around us. David said this about the Lord…

“Therefore You are great, O Lord GOD. For there is none like You, nor is there any God besides You, according to all that we have heard with our ears.” 2 Samuel 7:22

The more I grow to learn the Lord the more I learn how little, I truly know about Him. I am not afraid of true scientific study because it will continue to prove God to be true. True science is initiated in the throne room of God. The clearer the understanding that man has about the world the more God is revealed.

When I see someone really turned onto God and see the change in their life, I am amazed at the love and power of God. Every day I am in a position to see people awaked to who God is and how much He loves them. Every day I get to see “the wheels turning” in someone’s mind as they discover how much God really loves them. It is a wonderful sight to see a life that connects with our heavenly Father.

If you ever wonder about how amazing God is, simply look at the people he has brought into your life. If your life is anything like mine you have an interesting conglomeration of people. People from all kinds of backgrounds, colors, shapes and sizes, all people that are a work in progress but each one in themselves is an amazing miracle. The wonder and awesomeness of God is revealed in the differences in people as well. Think about the creativity that it took to make each one so unique. The way the Lord has woven them into the tapestry that has become your life. Each strand is important to the whole.
Forgive my rambling today but it is easy to overlook the wonder and majesty of God revealed through even the most common things in our lives.

I hope that as we approach Thanksgiving that you are grateful for not only the big things that the Lord has done for you but also the daily miracles he brings into your life.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Are you a person of integrity?

Integrity is one of those old fashioned concepts.

Here is a passage of scripture that is often overlooked.

“Don’t hurt your friend, don’t blame your neighbor;
despise the despicable. “Keep your word even when it costs you,
make an honest living, never take a bribe.
Psalm 15: 3 -4

Jesus put it this way, Matthew 5:37

But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.

Keeping our word is something that has become less important to us in our culture. To God it is still important.

Keeping our word stops us from being a people pleaser and helps us stay as a God-pleaser only. Often we will say things simply to not offend or to please the people we are talking to. We will commit to doing things we have no intention of doing. We have well-meaning intentions of praying for someone when they are asking for prayer but then we don’t do it. If we hold ourselves accountable to what we say we will do, two things will happen. First we will be wiser in committing to anything and focus in on doing what we are called to do. Second, we will take seriously all the request we get from others. It will not just be another request for help, another prayer request, or another scheduled appointment it will be a God requests, a God-seeking moment or a God-appointment.

In my world travels, Americans are famous for saying they will do things and then never following through. We are moved by the moment, genuinely wanting to help or follow through on some need but then the daily-ness of life takes over when we come home and we forget about our promises.

Can you imagine the impact Christians would have if we were known for keeping our word. If people knew what we said would happen, simply because we said it!
We are the light of the world, shining through the darkness, setting the example for all to see. We are the salt, bringing flavor and preserving life.

Be a person of integrity! Change your world!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

How big is your God?

When I make a statement like that, often what comes to mind are thoughts like; do we believe God can bring world peace? Do we believe He can heal cancer? Do we believe God can move the mountains in our lives? Our relationship with Him determines what we believe about Him.

Allow me to give you an example. My Iphone got soaked, which generally means it is now only good as a paperweight. If you know me my phone is a lifeline of communication with thousands of people here and around the world. It is also my schedule and all of my contacts. Still it is just a phone, it is not starving children, people being abused, or people who have not made a commitment to Christ. It is just a phone! The question needed to be asked, “How big is my God?”

Peter wrote,

“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:6-7

All of our cares and concerns means, all of them. The largeness of the impact nor the smallness of the need are not relevant to God. All of our care is what God will concern himself with, if we will give it to Him. Once again, I ask the question, “How big is your God?” Is he big enough to handle all of the concerns of the world and care about the most seemingly insignificant thing you face? Jesus said in Matthew 10:29 - 31, about how God knows when a sparrow falls to the ground

“Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.”

God is big enough to take care of the whole world and your most minute care. We serve a God who loves us. Psalm 139 says that he knows us intimately; He knows everything about us down to the smallest detail. He created all that we are, He is well acquainted with our needs. Our requirement is to bring them to Him. He is not a God who demands robot-like obedience. He wants us, of our own free will, to surrender our desires, needs, fears, concerns, and dreams in turn, He will take care of those needs.

Is your God big enough to handle the large needs of the world and the minutest concern you might have? If He is not, then allow me to challenge you in your understanding of who God is! He is big enough to handle all of this and more. Trust Him and see what He will do for you!

By the way, my Iphone is working perfectly fine. What concern do you have to bring to the Lord today!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The hurry-ier I go the behind-er I get!

I don’t know if you have ever heard the phrase before but that happens to me sometimes. I am doing my best to pastor the body at the Christian Center, do my job at Cornerstone TeleVision, work on the addition at my house for my Mom to move in, and prepare my Mom to empty her house and move. Somewhere in there I need to find time to talk with my wife and kids, eat, and sleep. Don’t get me wrong, while this is a very chaotic time, it is fun too. God seems to send the right people to help at the right time. We get encouragement when we need it and everything comes together.

The demands of the immediate often will take over the necessary, which is where we can get into trouble. What do I mean by that? Let me explain it this way, Martin Luther, the protestant reformer said, “I have so much to do I need to spend twice as much time in prayer.”

There are all kinds of things that need to be done. Always there are demands, things that scream out, “pay attention to me!” We can not allow those things to determine our day, our attitude, nor our reactions. We must maintain our priorities if we are going to lead a successful life not allowing the demands of the immediate to take over what is necessary.

Jesus put it this way as recorded by Matthew in chapter 6 verse 33, 34;

“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

Every day there are going to be things that seem like they are a higher priority but we must remember, we get all that we have need of from time with Him. Always keeping Him first, despite the busy-ness, will order our day and keep us in the fruit of the Spirit. Sometimes I need to seek Him many times a day to keep my head above water. I believe that is what Martin Luther meant.

There will always be people and things demanding your time. If we do not keep our priorities straight then we will be offering them only our best rather than God’s best. Don’t allow the demands of the immediate to override the need of the necessary. Seek Him first, always and He will guide you as to how to handle all of the rest.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Do you have plans? Does God have plans for you?

Many of the questions I am asked are related to the idea of our future. What decisions should I make how do I know how to make them?

Two scripture come to mind immediately when people ask these questions.

Jeremiah 29:11

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

Proverbs 16:9

“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.”

First we need to understand that God is in control. He has created you to fulfill to a purpose. He has gifted you with everything you need to begin your journey to complete fulfillment in Him. Jesus tells us that the Father draws us to himself. As we come to the place of trusting in God all of the gifts we have find their place.

Let me stop here for a second. Following the Lord does not mean that you must be a Pastor, Evangelist or some sort of missionary over seas. Following the Lord means that all the gifts the Lord has invested in you are being used for His honor. If you have carpentry skills, as you build know that you are honoring God. If you have administrative skills, as you organize you are honoring God. People are to see our good works, both in ethics and quality and glorify our Father who is in heaven.

Because God has placed these gifts in you, you will naturally have a desire to use them. You will plan things to use your gifts, personality, and all of the blessing you have received from God without really planning necessarily to honor God. Why? That is the way God created you.

Can we mess up God’s great plan for us? I believe the answer is yes. Our rebellion, our rejection of Christ can defuse our fulfillment of what we were created to do. The great and amazing thing about the Lord is Hid grace toward us. I believe even if we do reject Him and go into rebellion, we can always repent and return to fulfill God’s plan for our lives.

I believe we have two responsibilities in fulfilling God’s plan.

First is to stay close to Him. Keep an active prayer life, stay active in a local Body of Believers, and study the Word. These are not to be things done out of ritual or a feeling of obligation instead they should be done out of love. Our relationship with the Lord should be one of love, not fear of repercussions. As we study, prayer, and stay in fellowship we learn that better.

Our second responsibility is to plan. Don’t sit by idly waiting for something to happen. Yes, we are commanded to wait on the Lord but that is part of what point number one is all about. Out of this relationship with Him we begin to plan what we should do to accomplish all the desires the Lord has placed in our hearts.

David wrote:

“Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. Acknowledge Him in all of your ways and He will make your path straight.”
Psalm 37:4,5

God places those desires in our hearts. Our planning is not a threat to His plan it is His plan, which is why He orders our steps.

The answer to the question I started with, “Yes”. As we follow the Lord, he stirs the desires of our heart, so we plan to fulfill those desires, which he placed there in the first place and gifted us with all that we need to begin fulfilling His purpose. His purpose in turn fulfills our lives.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Gambling and the Bible

I have been asked a number of times recently about gambling. There are no direct prohibits to gambling mentioned in the Bible but as I mentioned before it is rooted in the sense of witchcraft. Here is a slightly more direct and thorough explanation.

Studies show that lotteries are the favorite legal gambling game for teenagers. Statistically, one of seven who play will become addicted. But teenagers aren't the only ones affected. One out of 10 adults who gamble will become addicted too. In fact, gambling is the fastest growing addiction in America. Like alcoholism and drug addiction, compulsive gambling is costly to the economy. Families are the ones who suffer the most. Many people feel gambling is only a game that is fun, but the Bible tells us this evil is a terrible sin that will lead to poverty.

"He that hurries to be rich has an evil eye, and does not consider that poverty shall come upon him" (Proverbs 28:22).

Gambling in our nation is spreading as the number of states operating lotteries has more than doubled since 1980, making them the ultimate "get-rich-quick" schemes. As gambling spreads to more and more states, Christians need to have the Bible's instruction about this money robber. The Bible declares that it is wrong to bet money on the possibility of becoming instantly rich.

"He who oppresses the poor to get gain for himself, and he who gives to the rich will surely never be satisfied " (Proverbs 22:16).

States who legalize lotteries and gambling are oppressing the poor for gain. According to a 1988 study of the Michigan lottery, that state sells the greatest number of tickets in low-income and ethnic neighborhoods in urban areas. Lottery tickets made available in grocery marts and drive-in markets make it easy for people to purchase these "chances to win the big hit." Some spend money on the lottery tickets instead of groceries for their families. Many compulsive gamblers wreck their lives and their families as they are encouraged to risk money that they usually cannot afford to lose. An estimated 15 million people are compulsive gamblers.

The lie that is used to promote this evil in our society is that legalized gambling doesn't promote crime and will lower taxes. Actually just the opposite is true -- gambling promotes other vices which attract the criminal element. This results in higher, not lower taxes as the cost for additional policing must be increased. Indian reservations and the big gambling centers of Las Vegas and Atlantic City are taking in billions of dollars. Casinos rob those who play the games with them as the odds are stacked 80% to 90% in favor of the casino. Even those that do win big on occasion statistics have proven that within two years most winners have totally spent the money they won.

Proverbs 21:20 says, "There is treasure to be desired and oil in the dwelling of the wise; but a foolish man wastes it."

People who gamble give to the pool of money that composes great wealth. This causes them to give to the rich and as Proverbs 22:16 says "...he who gives to the rich will surely come to want." Our states are also reaping a type of "poverty" where gambling exists because it undermines the American work ethic. The result is lowered productivity, use of work time to gamble, absenteeism, high rates of business failure, and repeated non-payment of loans, mortgages and other financial obligations. Gambling is, to many, a scheme to escape labor.

Some Christians argue that gambling does no harm. However, the scripture is clear that this activity is sinful. Anytime someone is enticed to gain money at someone's else's certain loss, this is definitely not practicing the principals taught by Christ. Also, the practice of gambling takes away from the Bible's principals of economics -- working, saving and giving. Discipline and accountability for spending are ignored. Gambling preys on the weakness of others.

Let me mention here that entering free sweepstakes or drawings are not sinful as they are advertising ploys paid for by the sponsors. They use these to advertise their products while giving their customers a chance to win in a drawing. There is no gambling involved as the participants give no money for a chance to win the prize.

However, many Christians are guilty of supporting lotteries, bingo, horse racing, and even playing at the casinos. Video poker has become so popular it is now referred to as "the crack cocaine of gambling." Some do not realize the gravity of their sin. They justify gambling simply because they have needs that cannot be met through their present earned income. The Lord desires to meet those needs for them and will give them a plan for becoming debt free if they seek him and His economic principles in the Bible.
The Lord can bring deliverance to those caught in this web of compulsive gambling. Through admission of this sin and repentance God will break the bondage of it in those who desire to be set free. Gamblers need love and acceptance but they must repent in order to be free. The Lord loves those who are addicted to gambling and will help all that call upon Him for deliverance.

This is taken from an article by Betty Miller in Overcoming Digest

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

You have a choice today

Everyday we live our lives in the heat of the battle. Everyday we are making decisions to follow Christ (be Christ-like) or not.

Paul puts it this way in Romans 6: 13, 14

Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God. Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, you live under the freedom of God’s grace.

He is encouraging everyone to make a decision, everyday not to allow evil to overcome us. Reminding us that we are no longer bound to sin, as we were before we came to Christ but because of Christ he now live under the freedom that grace brings.

When a sinner sins, they are only doing what comes naturally. When a Christian sins, we have made a choice to neglect the freedom we have been given in Christ. The good thing in both cases is that God’s grace if applied, can be sufficient for both.

As you read on in this chapter, Paul presents the argument that we are all slaves to something either God, leading to righteousness, joy, peace, love, and freedom or our sin leading to bondage and death.

The point today is that we need to realize, unlike Flip Wilson’s character from the early 1970’s, “the devil didn’t make us do it” we choose every day how we will live. We have been empowered by the Holy Spirit to be overcomers not victims.

We all have areas of weakness. We all have areas of temptation and areas we struggle; however the empowering of the Holy Spirit enables us to be overcomers in all things. We have been set free from sin, as Paul mentions in verse 22 of the same chapter.

Do you feel condemned? I hope not, I hope that you feel empowered. I hope you realize you have a choice everyday to give into sin or not. You no longer have to be in bondage to anything. The Holy Spirit can and is more than willing to give you the power to overcome you weaknesses.

As you realize you are free, you realize you are empowered. As you realize you are empowered you will begin to see great victories in your life and the lives of those around. Freedom is also a decision you must make. The cross has set you free but if you still living in bondage in your mind, you nullify the effects of the cross.

Your choice!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Understanding true leadership and bad leadership.

We are coming into an election season, to be honest it seems like we are always in an election season any more. Choosing a good leader is difficult, what is even more difficult is living under a bad leader. Bad leadership can even corrupt good men and women. The book of James gives us some insight into good and bad leadership, signs that you are either going to be blessed or struggle under the leader at your job, church, government, ministry, or home. You may be a leader; if you are please take these few brief comments to heart. Be encouraged or make corrections which ever applies to you.

Rooted in the heart of a good leader is peace, purity, gentleness, mercy and freedom from hypocrisy.

Rooted in the heart of a bad leader is envy, self-seeking, confusion, and so on.

Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. 15 This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. 16 For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. 17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. 18 Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. James 3:13 – 18

It would be easy to point to a leader and begin to judge them based on your perception. We need to be very careful when we judge those in leadership that we see through the Lord’s eyes and not our own. Leadership is costly. A good leader will make tough, and at times, unpopular decisions based on his/her desire to please God rather than men, that is one of the definitions of true humility. A true leader wants the best for the Lord and everything and everyone God has placed in their hands. A true leader will fight for you, even against your own self-destructive behavior and sin nature, even if you don’t realize they are fighting for you.

Our questions of whether a leader is good or not is often measured in time, not in immediacy. Evil intent is seen more as the direct result of long-term impact rather than short-term response. Is the benefit all about the leader? Is the glory going to the leader? Does the leader talk about themselves all of the time and constantly need the reassurance of the people around them. Are decisions made to directly benefit the leader or do they benefit their family, business, government, or ministry they are leading? Do they really believe in what they are saying or are they saying it to please the people? What did they believe before they were placed in a position of leadership, it is most likely, despite all the rhetoric or their actions, what they believe now. Consistency is key to being a good leader.

If you are a leader in your job, ministry, home, or government, know that God has a plan for you and your leadership. There are many different styles of leadership each style works in different environments. Please understand that your leadership is a gift from God and a responsibility to God. You are not in a position to please men but God. It does not need to be a burden but a blessing. Like any gift from God as you surrender and use it for His honor and glory you draw closer to Him. But like the failures in the Bible, if you use it for selfishness, it may seem like you are prospering for a season but in the end you will find only frustration and a long distance relationship with the Lord. Don’t be afraid or frustrated. If God has called you, as you submit to Him, He will give you the wisdom to be all that you have been called to be and all that you family, business, government, or ministry need you to be.

If you are under a good leader, pray for them that they will continue to be the man or woman of God, He has called them to be. If you are under a bad leader, pray that the Lord open their eyes to become who God has called them to be. Pray that you can learn what you need to about humility, godliness, and service. Anyone can rejoice under a good leader but it takes people after God’s own heart to be fruitful and at peace under bad leadership.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Little faith or mountain moving faith

Yesterday I talked about how little our faith needed to be to be mountain moving. I want to encourage you today a little further in that idea.

You are familiar with Jesus saying to his disciples, “If you have faith as a mustard seed you can say to the mountain be removed and thrown into the see” Matthew 17:20

Jesus made that statement after the disciples could not deliver the young man from the demon. In fact they had been trying while Jesus was with God the Father, Elijah, and Moses on the mount of transfiguration. Jesus said to them, “you of little faith”. If you look at each time He mentioned that to them you will see a pattern of what Jesus was saying.

How often do we know that God can do something and we set about doing it in our strength rather than God’s? The disciples knew the boy could be set free from the demon; their faith was in the fact that the boy could be set free; they knew it. However their faith was in relying on their own strength rather than the Lord. Notice they recognized that God could do it, so they had faith but it was not in the power of God, but in their own ability, their own work, rather than that of the Lord.

The same thing happened when the storm came and Jesus was sending the disciples with him to the other side of the lake (Matthew 8). The storm came, they knew they could get across the lake if they just worked hard enough at it so they did what came naturally for fisherman, they gripped, worried, complained, and rowed harder. Once again Jesus said they had little faith. Their faith was in knowing that God could do something but their focus was on the idea that they had to make it happen rather than relying on the Lord to lead them and show them what to do.

Romans 12 tells us that each of us are given a measure of faith. Faith is indeed like a muscle the more we use it the stronger it becomes. However our faith must not be in a works mentality but a grace one. We do not have any abilities within ourselves that God has not given to us. Our dependency must not be on what we know God can do but on God.

I know it may seem like I am a broken record on this but it is always about relationship. The stronger our relationships with the Lord, the more we recognize Him in every aspect of our lives; the more we recognize how much He loves us, His leading, and daily guiding of our lives. The less we rely on our strength and the more we turn to Him first.

Be blessed today rely on Him, even in your strengths. Watch what he will do as we use our faith to trust Him rather than in ourselves. All it takes to move mountains is a little faith in God’s ability rather than a lot of faith in our ability.

Friday, November 4, 2011

In everything give thanks

Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. I Thessalonians 5:16 – 18


This is the month of Thanksgiving. A time here in America where we reflect on how blessed we are. It is not always easy because selfishness creeps in on us very easily. It is easy to become prideful and selfish and to not realize how well we really have it. At a minimum, as a Christian, you have Christ and if you think about it that means you have everything.

I just went through a very painful dental surgery. I won’t go into details but suffice it to say my mouth was in severe pain and I felt as if I had broken my nose. Believe it or not I am grateful. When I was a young boy, I had my teeth knocked out, right after my permanent teeth had come in. The University of Pittsburgh Dental School experimented on me, successfully, but not without consequences. Since that time, I had dealt with issues resulting from the experimentation. The surgery I just had, despite the pain, is the beginning of finally making right, the best that could be done over 40 years ago.

I am telling you all this to say that despite the pain, I can give thanks to the Lord for the wisdom and insight He gave the dentist over 40 years ago and the increased wisdom and insight He has given my dentist now. The pain I am going through is on my way to my healing.

As much as my suffering is physical, yours may be as well, or it could be spiritual, mental, or emotional. Regardless of where your pain is rooted, I would encourage you to give thanks, not so much for the pain itself, but because you know the Lord, you know He will use it to bring about your healing.

You can choose to wallow in your pain, allow your pain to be what identifies you, or you can choose to believe that you are a son or daughter of Christ and that this temporary discomfort, if given over to God, will get you to your place of total healing.

God did not cause the problems I have, but I have given them over to Him and have expected Him to use them for my good. He has used them to help me become who He has called me to be. Rather than taking ownership of my suffering, I gave it over to Him and asked Him to use it for His honor and glory.

Jeremiah 29:11, you know it, talks about God’s plans for us. All of His plans are good. Bad things will happen because we live in a fallen world. We don’t have to identify with them or take ownership of them. They are not to define us. He is to define us! If we give thanks to Him for giving us the opportunity to trust Him with our struggle, pain, wound, or whatever, He will then turn it from a tragedy to a triumph. In everything give thanks!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Be an example for others to follow

Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ. 1 Corinthians 11:1

It is tough in our culture to stand for Christ. There are temptations all around us. There is compromise and injustice everywhere we look. It is easy to become discouraged, but God knows. Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes that there is nothing new under the sun. All the compromise and injustice have been around since the beginning.

We are called to be salt and light. We are called to be salt because it preserves the meat when the natural way of things is for the meat to decay and become corrupt, salt stops the decay and saves the meat. We are called to do that in our society. Salt also adds flavor to something bland and apart from Christ the world really has no true flavor. We are called to be light because left to humanity darkness will overwhelm the world. Corruption is in our fallen nature. We must be the light, the brightest thing in the room. The things everyone is drawn too.

So what does that have to do with 1 Corinthians 11:1? In Hebrews chapter 11 we are given a list of people of faith. These men and women are real people who struggled but over came by faith. The list was put together so we could be challenged in our faith to hold on and be like those who have gone before us.

We can read our Bibles and receive great insight and understanding from them, however for many people the best way they can grasp a firm understanding of the Scripture is by seeing it lived out in the lives of others. It is one thing to read that we should live by faith; it is another thing to show people how to live by faith. It is one thing to know that we must forgive others, it is quite another to show people how to do it.

We are all to be living examples of who Jesus is and how much God loves. I know that sounds difficult but the good news is that it is not really about us, all we have to do is love the Lord and allow Him to love us and we will naturally be the examples He wants us to be. It is never about perfection. Perfection is about our working to earn God’s favor. We already have His favor. It is about our love for Him and allowing Him to pour His love into every aspect of who we are and who he has called us to be.

Be the example, let Him love you and love through you!

Monday, October 31, 2011

All Saints Day Eve (Halloween)

Today is all saints day eve, never heard of it before? That’s OK unless you were raised Catholic or Anglican it is most likely that you would have never heard of it.

The purpose of this holiday in the Catholic and Anglican churches has a few different meanings. The meaning that makes most sense to me is the honoring of the men and women who have gone before us and sacrificed so that we might hear the Christ story and follow in their footsteps and also avoid their mistakes so we might become the men and women of God we are called to be.

Paul wrote at least three times about the need to be an example, Philippians 3:17, 2 Thessalonians 3:9, and 1 Timothy 4:12.

I am not one who openly condemns trick or treating, especially for little kids who have no idea about its very dark and evil foundation. Personally, my kids did not go trick or treating, to be honest I was probably more concerned about the evil that people can do to the candy more than anything else. Is there any other time when you would tell your kids that it is OK to take candy from strangers. That being said let me share this scripture as to why I don’t condemn the idea.

“To the pure all things are pure, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure; but even their mind and conscience are defiled.” Titus 1:15

The idea of All Saints Day is that those who have gone before us are honored. I would like to recommend that if you are going to take you kids trick or treating that they dress as someone that they can honor. It does not need to be a Bible character but there are plenty of wholesome characters that can encourage your children to keep their hearts and minds on the world of possibilities that they can accomplish because of people who have gone before them.

Allow me to give you one other scripture that will keep you focused on what is important and what will be important for your children as well.

Philippians 4:8,9 The Message

“Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.”

If you are taking your kids trick or treating, please keep in mind that you are setting the tone for what they believe and what is important to them. Who do you want them to emulate? What do you want them to think is important? Let them be a character that is some one they want to be like. All of the Bible characters, Disney characters, super heroes, and others have their strengths and weaknesses, talk with your kids about the good things and they things their character needs to be an overcomer.

Friday, October 28, 2011

What about witchcraft and Halloween?

It is nearing Halloween time here in the United States. Every country around the world has a day very similar to our Halloween and the celebrations vary but have a lot of similarities. The idea is a day focused death, witchcraft, and our more ghoulish nature.

The children of Israel were told this;

“There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, 11 or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. 12 For all who do these things are an abomination to the Lord, and because of these abominations the Lord your God drives them out from before you.” Deuteronomy 18: 10 – 12

Why do you think this is so severe? It is rather simple if you think about it. God’s desire is to have an intimate, personal, relationship with each of His children. From the beginning of mankind He created us to have relationship with Him.

In the garden of Eden the serpent used witchcraft to convince Adam and Eve to sin. Now you’re saying I don’t see that in the Bible. What is witchcraft?

Witchcraft is a rebellion against God, 1 Samuel 15:23 says. It is also an attempt to fulfill your purpose or to override God’s purpose in your life through manipulation or control. Drugs (used for the purpose of mind control not healing), hypnosis (used for the purpose of manipulation), Ouija boards, séances, tarot card readings, astrology, gambling, and psychics all fall under the category of witchcraft. God has created you with a purpose in mind, something that will fulfill you and bring you great joy. What any of these types of things do is at the very least weaken your trust in God’s ability to impact your life or at most link you demonically to a hopelessness of Satan’s plan for your life.

Every human has been impacted by witchcraft. Because of Adam and Eve’s fall to witchcraft we all suffer the consequences. The cunning thing about these types of witchcraft they can at first seem to work. Certainly with drugs and drunkenness there is a sense of euphoria. There can be a “high” that takes place when a horoscope reading appears to be correct. When demons manipulate a present situation to make a psychic seem correct there can be a sense of awe. All the things that are either rooted in the flesh or in demonic activity ultimately end leaving you either addicted, hopeless, feeling used, or any combination of all three.

Why is it that 95% of all significant lottery winners wish they had never won! The works of the flesh and the enemy always leave us empty, used and hopeless.

God loves us all and wants every person to be fulfilled, loved, whole, and filled with hope and power. We only get that when we allow the Holy Spirit to lead and guide us because we have surrendered completely to the Lord.

Very few are in bondage or immediately addicted the first time they try one of these things. It is gradual and steady. Before you realize it something else is controlling you and your joy has left you.

God’s plans for you are amazing, beyond your wildest dreams. Don’t settle for a cheap imitation, believe Him for the amazing plan He has for you!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

What do you do when you are over burdened?

I have been hit with a number of people who are feeling so overwhelmed they don’t know what to do I felt I need to revisit a topic I preached a while ago.

Here is a simple scripture that everyone has heard at one time or another, these are Jesus’ words.

Matthew 11:28 – 30

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

Three quick points

1) If you take Jesus’ yoke, He is the one carrying the load. In ancient times a larger, mature ox was yoked to a younger ox to teach them. The older ox carried all of the load and the younger ox merely had the yoke resting on it. Jesus was, most likely, seeing such a situation when He said this to the people. He wants us to understand He will carry our loads for us if we allow Him.

2) When we are “yoked” to Jesus we are right next to Him. He is within a whisper of all that is going on, He sees what is taking place in our lives. We can be assured that He is with us. We never need to feel abandoned again. Jesus is always right beside us an easy ear-shot to our every prayer.

3) We will never get lost again. If we are “yoked” to Jesus then we are sure to get where He wants us to go. We will fulfill His purpose for us because we can’t do anything but go where He wants us to go. God created each one of us for a purpose. If we try to fulfill that purpose in anyway but through the Lord we end up frustrated, empty, or at the very least fulfilling far less of what we can do than God had purposed.

Stop carrying the burden! Give it over to God. You may very well have to say, “God I can’t carry this burden. Please help me to release it to you.” As you do, you will see the Lord do amazing things through you. You will also gain back the peace, joy, and love you once had.

God does not give you burdens to ear you down or out. He gives them to you so you can change your world but He will carry the load if you will let Him

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

How near are you to God?

Sounds like a funny question doesn’t it. As Christians we believe that God is omnipresent meaning that He is everywhere. That being the case we are always near to God.

If you have heard me speak or have read this blog over the last eight years of my doing it you will have heard me say things like, “God is always speaking to us”, “God will never abandon you” and “God is right here with us.” All of these are true however there are times when we feel closer to him than others. Why is that? Is there a way, in those times to draw nearer to Him?

Here is what the Bible says:

James 4: 7 – 10

“Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.”

James is talking about people who are disobedient and rebellious. They are in the church but rather than acting like saints they are acting like sinners. They are quarreling and arguing with one another, not preferring one another. They are more worried about getting what they want than trusting God to give them what they need. In other words, the world’s attitude has crept into their lives and they have wandered from whole-heartedly following the Lord to half-heartedly following Him.

Even as they have rejected the Lord, and to be honest in our growth all of us go through times like this, times of selfishness, God is showing mercy and saying, “just turn around, I’m right here!”

Even when we go through times of rebellion, God is still right there drawing us back to Himself.

Sometimes it is just the stuff of life that makes us feel so far away.

Hebrews 13: 5 - 8

Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” 6 So we may boldly say:
“The Lord is my helper;
I will not fear.
What can man do to me?”
7 Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct. 8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

The writer of Hebrews (because of the style I believe was actually Apollos) Is telling us in chapter 13 there are things that we go through, simply the things of life. God is always there her will never leave you, you are never alone and guess what, the God of the Old Testament miracles, the God in flesh that walked among us and performed great miracles and showed us great love, He is the same God.

Whether it is sin or simple the stuff of life that has you feeling like God is so far away, don’t believe it. God is right here with you. Even as you are reading this blog, He is saying to you He is right here with you. Just come to Him. Wait for Him to talk with you and He will. Jeremiah in 31:3 says He loves us with an everlasting love.

He is right here, now!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Why do bad things happen to good people?

How many times have you either heard or thought that question?

It is not an unusual question. In many ways the prophets ask the same questions, David did in the Psalms, Job in his writings and in Jeremiah 12, Jeremiah is really rather frustrated with the good getting jerked around and the wicked prospering.

It all comes down to really who we are and who we are is rooted in what we believe. Jesus said, in this world you will have tribulation, be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.

Bad things are going to happen. For someone without Christ, there is no hope, only the possibility of picking ourselves up by the bootstraps and doing the best we can.

Because we have given our lives over the Christ, they are in his hands. At the very least Romans 5: 3-5 applies

And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; 4and perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

God’s plan for us is to be blessed. We may at times walk through fires and floods, through the valley of the shadow of death. As The Lord speaks through the prophet Jeremiah in chapter 29 verse 11, his plans are for our good and not for our destruction, for a hope and a future.

It is all a matter of trust. Do we trust that God loves us? Do we trust that He knows us? Do we trust that He will always accomplish His purposes through us? If we do then, as David, Moses, Daniel, Peter, Paul, and all of the saints of old have learned, even when bad things happen God can still be trusted and he will prove His faithfulness to us!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

How secure is our salvation? Part 3

Ok, so I kind of left a bombshell with you when I gave you the scripture from Hebrews 6: 4-6

“For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, 5and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame.”

The questions often arise, “Can I lose my salvation?” If so, how easy is it? Then there is an even more basic question how do I know I am really saved?

The above scripture shows us that it is entirely possible to lose your salvation, but our salvation is based upon relationship with God the Father through His Son Jesus Christ. The people, the writer of Hebrews is speaking about, have known the things of God and chose, as Satan did, to rebel against God, dismissing His grace for them, choosing their own desires above God. It is the epitome of foolishness.

All of us sin, we all show signs of rebellion toward God at times, however God’s grace is always able to work on hearts and through His kindness He leads us to repentance. When our hearts become so hard that we do not respond to His love and grace toward us, we no longer care about our relationship with God and throw our salvation aside.

Remember, hell was not created for mankind but for the rebellious angels and Lucifer (Satan) their leader (Matthew 25:41). God’s plan has always been for the redemption of man. He is always drawing us to Himself.

Salvation is not given out only to the perfect. None of us are perfect but it is given out to those who believe in Jesus Christ as their Lord (Romans 3:23 – 25; 10: 9,10). God has drawn us to himself and we must choose to walk away in rebellion to lose our salvation.

Our sin does not keep us out of heaven. If we have to be sinless to make it into heaven none of us are making it. It is only by grace through faith that we get in, not by our own works. This is not an excuse to keep on sinning. Our growing relationship with the Lord should cause us to move away from sin and to press into a deepening relationship with our Father.

If you are going to worry about anything, be concerned about your relationship growing daily with Him. Keep an active prayer life, read God’s love letter (the Bible), and keep in fellowship with other like-minded believers.

If you are married or have ever had any kind of loving relationship in your life, think about how easy it is to neglect that relationship. If you are not careful you can lose that relationship. The main difference between our earthly family relationships and God is that family or friends can get hurt and not see the neglect as something they can help resolve. God is always drawing us back and we have to make and intentional effort to break relationship with Him.

Hopefully this answers your questions and gives you a sense of security in your relationship with the Lord. Keep growing in Him! It will change your world

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

How secure is our salvation? Part 2

Moving on!

Yesterday I gave you a list of scriptures to read that are simply some basics regarding salvation. I understand that there are many more. Volumes have been written about the concept of salvation but blogs are meant to be quick thoughts so I will attempt to keep it quick.

What is our salvation based upon - the answer – Relationship with God the Father through His Son Jesus Christ!

Ephesians 2:8 - 10

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

It is not our work, our goodness, our righteousness, and our holiness that saves us. It is simply the fact the God loves us (John 3:16, 17) and has extended grace to us. Grace is simply favor that we have with God just because He loves us. God wants relationship with us. He created man to have relationship with Him. Our relationship was broken when Adam sinned. Part of the authority mankind was given when God created him was the authority to have free, open, loving, communion with God. Jesus death on the cross and blood sacrifice that obliterates our sins gave us the ability to grasp that authority once again.

Isn’t it our decision to come to Christ and isn’t that then a work? Yes and No!

John 6:44 indicates to us that the Father has already drawn us to himself.

“No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.”

God has already drawn us to himself. He is the one that does all the work. When we come to Christ we are merely doing what God has created us to do. He has made us to be drawn to Him. Every gift, personality, the way we were made has all been by God to follow him and fulfill our purpose as human beings. If there is a work on our part in coming to Christ, it is simply agreeing with the way He created us.

Did he select or create only certain people to be saved? Did he select and create certain people to go to hell? Can we lose our salvation?

All of this tomorrow.

Here is a scripture for you to think about for tomorrow!

Hebrews 6: 4 - 6

For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, 5and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

How secure is our salvation?

After the blogs about heaven and hell, I had a number of responses people concerned about their own salvation.

What is our salvation based upon?

Is it our works? What we do and how good we are?

Is it a one-time deal and we never have to worry about it again?

Do we have anything to do with it or does God simply choose who will be saved?

One I was young, I was raised in denomination that believed that once you made a commitment to Christ you never needed to be concerned about sin or walking away from God because your salvation was eternally secure. Later, we changed churches and denominations and I was told every time you committed sin you had the strong possibility of losing your salvation.

Here are a few basic scriptures that will help you to understand salvation.

Ephesians 2:8 - 10

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

John 6:44

No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.

Romans 10: 9,10

that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

2 Peter 3:9

The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

And of course the most important verse of all…

John 3:16,17

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

OK that is enough for today. Normally I do all the work by researching and writing, it is your turn now! Reread the above scriptures and tomorrow we will discuss the answers to the questions I posed in the beginning and how these apply.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Keys to a happy marriage part 2

Here is part 2 of a very basic approach to having a happy marriage. It may seem simplistic but I have found these simply steps are the ones that most people find is at the root of the marriage trouble. If you can follow all six steps you will see an amazing difference in your marriage.

52% of Christian marriages end in divorce, slightly higher than the unchurched. The solution is to simply have a happy marriage. After 50 years you should still get a smile on your face when you think of your spouse. I know, you’re thinking you’ve got to be kidding. After nearly 22 years, I still get a smile when I think about Paige. We have had some rough roads but “God is faithful!” In this edition, part 2 of “Don’t be a statistic” allow me to share a few words of advice about having and maintaining a happy marriage.

In the first blog I mentioned the first three keys to a happy marriage; 1) Pray together, 2) Enable your spouse to be the best they can be, and 3) Be each others best friend. I want to give you three more keys to a happy marriage

4) Fight Fair! I would have liked to not include this but, we are human. If you have any two people in a room you probably will have three opinions present. Until we are all dead to our own flesh, we will always be selfish, misunderstood, stressed, prideful, or just simply poor communicators, so we will argue. The Bible says, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual {forces} of wickedness in the heavenly {places.} Ephesians 6:12. Often, we set our focus to fighting and disrespecting our spouse rather than solving the problem. Words said quickly, never can be taken back and establish long lasting wounds. The enemy has done a great job destroying marriages. Fight fair by realizing why you are arguing; you have a disagreement and you need to find a solution. Our flesh wants to win, our spirit cries out for a solution. We are called to love and respect each other. There will be disagreements, work toward solutions.

5) Forgive. Because we have failed with the first four points, we often carry around baggage from past relationships and present ones. Jesus said “Your heavenly Father will forgive you if you forgive those who sin against you; but if you refuse to forgive them, He will not forgive you,” Matthew 6:14 Jesus doesn’t say only if you’re right forgive or you don’t have to if you were hurt unjustly. Forgiveness is not just an action, it is a choice; sometimes it is moment by moment, sometimes daily. We need to keep forgiving until we feel we have forgiven. We are also told not to let the sun go down on our anger, the implication being, everyday we should strive to start new fresh and free. Unforgiveness is a spiritual slavery that holds those in it’s clutches unwitting accomplices to their own misery. Freedom comes by choosing forgiveness. We are never more like Jesus than when we forgive. If Jesus could forgive those who hated him, how much more should we be willing to forgive those who love us?

6) Priorities – In Luke 10 Jesus is visiting friends and explains to Martha that Mary has chosen the best thing by sitting at His feet. Priority 1 - must be being with Him. If we are with Him we know what He is doing, we aren’t concerned about what others are doing. When we are with Him, He can whisper and we hear His voice. Priority 2 - our spouses; between Ephesians 5, 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 Paul explains the holiness and priority that a marriage must have and that our spouses, next to the Holy Spirit, can be our greatest asset and next to Satan, can become our greatest detriment. Peter writes that even our prayers are hindered if our relationship is not right. Priority 3 - Psalm 127:3 says that children are a gift from God. 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 tell us that our children are our first disciples; thus a major priority. Priority 4 - what you do for God. If we secure our relationship with the Lord, our spouse, and our children then the enemy has no room to attack, our foundation is secure and what we do for the Lord can proceed uninhibited.

If you are able to follow these 6 points, your marriage will get better. If you are not married you can apply most of these principles to all of your relationships. If you are planning on getting married they will help you find the right spouse. Either way, you will be happier and more fulfilled. Marriage is to be a team project, The Lord, you and your spouse. With that team you will not become a statistic but a joy.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Keys to a happy marriage part 1

I dealt with the basics of the faith in the last few blogs. I thought I would deal with the basics of having a great marriage. Today and in the next blog I will give you 6 quick steps to having a happy marriage and not becoming one of the horrible statistics of divorce.

Don’t be a statistic!

52% of Christian marriages end in divorce, slightly higher than the unchurched. If you quickly leave the church your chances of divorce decrease by 1%. Although I don’t think that is the solution to the divorce problem. The solution is to simply have a happy marriage. After 50 years you should still get a smile on your face when you think of your spouse. I know, your thinking you’ve got to be kidding. After nearly 28 years, I still get a smile when I think about Paige. We have had some rough roads but “God is faithful!” Allow me to share a few words of advice about having and maintaining a happy marriage.

1) Pray together! George Barna of the Barna Research group found that couples that pray together have a greater than 90% chance of staying together for life. Some of our driest times as a couple have been when due to busyness or tiredness Paige and I have neglected to pray together. We have found in addition to the spiritual blessing from praying together some practical blessing come as well. Sometimes I am not the greatest communicator in the world, after all I am male. When we pray together I hear Paige’s heart and she hears mine and we are able to keep up on what is really important in our lives. We also know that with all the things happening in the world there is at least one person praying for us. It is also very hard to stay upset with someone you are praying for (not that Paige or I would know anything about that).

2) Make your goal to enable your spouse to be the best that they can be. In “The Message” Ephesians 5 says this “Everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of her.” This is Christ example to the church of how a husband should treat his wife. It is both a blessing to you and your spouse if everyday your focus is, “How can I bless my spouse today to help them be who God has called them to be?” Hurtful words wounding actions all get set aside if that’s your goal. Find out what your spouses gifts and goals are and help make them happen.

3) Be each others best friend! Ephesians 5 also says the husband and wife are one. What this has meant to me is that nothing should be in between the two. I have seen many marriage disasters due to friends, children, or parents coming between and dividing what should be one. You parents will pass away, your children will grow up and move away, and any friend that is more important to you than your spouse is trouble. We are to prefer one another and that should be especially true of our spouses. If you want respect give respect, if you want to feel safe in your marriage then make your marriage a safe place for your spouse. If you do steps 1 and 2 step three will be easy.

Having a happy marriage isn’t about stuff, beauty or perfection it’s about love and these three steps say “I love you” louder than words. There are a few more steps I would recommend but those are for another time. I give you my personal guarantee if you do these three steps your marriage will be on the road to that smile every time you think of your spouse even after 50 years.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Christianity 101 Hell

There a lot of misconceptions about eternity and especially about hell. The misconceptions are based not on the Bible, but instead on folklore, legend and people's hope for what hell is like. I know this is not a comfortable topic but it is a necessary one.

Once again:

A few things we need to understand about eternity

1 We have only one life in which to determine our destiny (Hebrews 9:27).
2 We will exist eternally either in heaven or hell (Daniel 12:2,3; Matthew 25:46;John 5:28; Revelation 20:14,15
3 Heaven or hell is determined by whether a person believes (puts their trust) in Christ alone to save them (John 3:16, 36).

So if we are going to spend eternity in either heaven or hell, what are they like?

Islam – Hell is described like Christian hell, a place of eternal torment all non-Muslims go there and some Muslims. Everyone stays in the grave until the final judgment then everyone judged by his or her works, not grace. As a Christian and people of the book we would go to hell until judgment then go to paradise, if predestined to do so.

Hinduism/Buddhism – Karma (you deeds in this life) determine whether you reincarnate (as a bug, rock, cow, another human etc..) or escape to enlightenment.

Mormons – hell is temporary at the resurrection they are all given the opportunity to accept heavenly Father. After that only Satan and those who still reject heavenly Father will be in hell.

Jehovah’s Witness – No hell wicked annihilated, other people except for the 144,000, remain in grave until resurrected after Armageddon then given choice to go to heaven.

What does the Bible say?


1 Hell was not designed for people but was established originally for Satan and his demons (Matthew 25:41; Revelation 20:10).

2 Hell will also punish the sin of those who reject Christ (Matthew 13:41,40; Revelations 20:11-15; 21:8)

3 Hell is conscious torment.
• Matthew 13:50 “furnace of fire…weeping and gnashing of teeth”
• Mark 9:48 “Where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched” Not it says where “their” worm – imposing that worms are eating at individuals
• Luke 16 parable of Richman and Lazarus verse 24 “Then he cried and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.’
• Revelation 14:10 “he will be tormented with fire and brimstone”
• No where does it say or suggests that you will see or be with other people

4 Hell is eternal and irreversible.
• Revelation 14:11 “the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever and they have no rest day and night”
• Revelation 20:14 “This is the second death, the lake of fire”
• Revelation 20:15 “If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire”

Probably the worst torture is the absence of “feeling” the presence of God the aloneness that every person will feel along with the knowledge and remorse for eternity of rejecting God. There will be no hope, no joy, no love, no grace, no mercy, nothing of the fruit of the Spirit. The torment continues beyond that with the heat, flames, smell of the sulfur and the worms.

Hell is not a place where you will want anyone to spend time. God sends no one to hell. We choose to go there by our rejection of the gift he gave for our salvation, his Son Jesus Christ. It is not goodness that gets us entrance into heaven nor is it our evil nature that keeps us out but instead it is relationship with God the Father through His Son Jesus Christ that makes the difference.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Christianity 101 Heaven

Once we understand salvation we need to grasp heaven and hell. Each of us will spend eternity in one of these two places based on our relationship with Jesus.

A few things we need to understand about eternity

1 We have only one life in which to determine our destiny (Hebrews 9:27).
2 We will exist eternally either in heaven or hell (Daniel 12:2,3; Matthew 25:46;John 5:28; Revelation 20:14,15
3 Heaven or hell is determined by whether a person believes (puts their trust) in Christ alone to save them (John 3:16, 36).

So if we are going to spend eternity in either heaven or hell, what are they like?

Islam - Heaven is paradise only those whom Allah has chosen will go there, every man has virgins waiting on him not much there for women.

Hindu/Buddhist - Heaven ultimate enlightenment absence of all desire and place of eternal nothingness

Mormon – heaven, three heavens One for Mormons , true believers, Two others lower depending upon your good works on this earth.

Jehovah’s Witness - Heaven is pretty much like we describe it but only 144,000 go there the rest will remain on earth in a renewed Garden of Eden

What does the Bible say?


1 - It is a physical place – Jesus came from there (John 6:42) and lives there (John 14:2,3), God dwells there (Matthew 6:9), angels are there (Hebrews 12:22)

2 - It is a place where our inheritance is waiting. Reserved specifically for each of us. (1 Peter 1:4)

3 - We will be free of the corruption of this earth and will be made righteous and pure. (Matthew 6:20; Romans 7:24; Matthew 13:43

4 - We will be with our loved ones who have died in Christ before us. (1 Thessalonians 4:14 – 18)

5 - We will be given rewards (Matthew 6:19 -25; 25:20-21)

6 - It is a place where those things that may have been disregarded on earth will be acknowledged and rewarded (Galatians 6:9)

7 - It is a beautiful city (or large dwelling of people) with many dwelling places for each of us. (Revelation 22:1,2; John 14:2

8 - Heaven has light, water, trees, and fruit (Revelation 22:1,2)

9 - We will be able to walk in and out of the city, the city is only part of heaven. Revelation 21:24,25; 22:14

10 - There are animals there. (Isaiah 65:25; Revelation 6:2-8;19:11)

11 - We will eat and drink there. (Matthew 8:11; Luke 22:29,30; Revelation 19:9)

I believe based on these scriptures and others that heaven is very much like the uncorrupted earth. God took the design of heaven and created earth and the place we are going is like what we have never seen before and earth like place more beautiful than words could ever describe. It is a place of love, joy, peace in there fullest so much that if revealed to us living we could not stand it. Heaven is a place where we will have the full knowledge of all of our questions; a place where we will know God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and completely feel their love, joy and acceptance of us.

Next time: what is hell like?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Christianity 101 Salvation

This is a primer regarding salvation. There are many things that we believe based on tradition and many things we believe based on a structured belief system. Often both of these will point us to the truth. What I am sharing with you today is based on what the Bible has to say about salvation.

Once again this blog is not an exhaustive study just simply a beginning. I encourage you to take it from here.

Salvation – we are in need of a savior no man is righteous on his own to be in the presence of God, God is holy.

Other religions say:

- saved by good works, (sins are paid for by good works), if you have already been chosen by Allah to be saved.
- Shahadah, prayer 17 cycles of prayer 5X/day, 2.5% goes to poor.
- Ramadan fast sun up to sun down (no food, drink, or sex).
- Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca once in their lives. Jihad (holy struggle)

Hinduism Buddhism – no salvation only reincarnation or enlightenment based on goodness and elimination of desires.

Mormons – all the works you can do, keep commandments, baptism, missionary efforts, plus grace through faith.

Jehovah’s Witnesses – maintain the rules listed by the Watch Tower society some of which are not fellowshipping with non-Jehovah’s witnesses, not celebrating certain holidays or birthdays, not wearing crosses and a host of other a sundry rules.

What does the Bible say?

1) The question is, “If I were to stand before God today what reason would I give for entrance into heaven?”

Is it your good deeds? Right living? Going to church? Having someone religious in the family?

2) All of us are sinners

Isaiah 59:2 But your sinful acts have alienated you from your God; your sins have caused him to reject you and not listen to your prayers.

Isaiah 64:6 But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousness is like filthy rags; we all fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.

Romans 3:23 - for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

3) Sin can’t be in God’s presence so God did what was necessary for us all

Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates his own love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

2 Corinthians 5:21 God made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we would become the righteousness of God.

4) We can’t save ourselves no matter how good we are it is all about grace and faith.

Romans 3:24,25 - and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.

Ephesians 2:8, 9 For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so that no one can boast.

Titus 3:5-7 he saved us not by works of righteousness that we have done but on the basis of his mercy, through the washing of the new birth and the renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us in full measure through Jesus Christ our Savior. And so, since we have been justified by his grace, we become heirs with the confident expectation of eternal life.”

5) It is only through Jesus – no other god – no other man

John 1:12 But to all who have received him (Jesus) – those who believe in his name – he has given the right to become God’s children

John 3:16 - 18 For this is the way God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world should be saved through him. The one who believes in him is not condemned. The one who does not believe has been condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the one and only Son of God.

1 John 5:11,12 And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. The one who has the Son has this eternal life; the one who does not have the Son of God does not have this eternal life

Salvation – we can’t earn it, we all need it, God made the way for it, it is only by grace through faith and only through Jesus.

So God made a way, offered a free gift. He prepared a place for us. So does God send people to heaven or hell?

Romans 8:29, 30 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.

Add this to For God so loved the world. You can see that God made a choice. He chose to give us free will. Is there any one that God does not know, is there any one whom God does not love? Then He paid the way through Jesus blood for every man woman and child to choose heaven or hell. He is always drawing them to himself but we can reject that drawing.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Christianity 101 Trinity part 2

“Why is it so important that we understand the Trinity or triune God?”

1) Trinity makes the entire plan of redemption possible.
Redemption is initiated by the Father (Galatians 4:4), accomplished through the Son (1 Peter 3:18), and is applied by the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5). The doctrine of the Trinity is important because there is no salvation apart from the Triune God. And the more we reflect upon God’s Triune nature, the more we can learn to love and appreciate God for Who and What he truly has revealed himself to be.

2) Shows us the fullness of who God is…

God is our Father and creator. God the Son came in the flesh in the incarnation of Jesus. Jesus being all God and all man showed us the way that God responds to people and situations and the sacrifice God was willing to make for us. Through Jesus sacrifice and resurrection he had paved the way for our redemption and the open door for the God the Holy Spirit to move in and through not just Kings and prophets but all mankind, drawing them through the redemption of Jesus to the Father

The resurrection speaks of the unity of God through the Trinity

Who raised Jesus from the dead?

- God The Father raised Jesus from the dead
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;”

- Jesus raised Himself from the dead (John 2:19-21; John 10:17-18)
Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” 20) The Jews then said, “It took forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?” 21) But He was speaking of the temple of His body.

- The Holy Spirit raised Jesus from the dead (Romans 8:11)
But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.

Jesus is God – John 10:30 “I and My Father are one.”
John 14:9-11 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10) Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11) Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.

Holy Spirit is God – Acts 5:3,4 But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself? 4While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.”

Below is a very brief chart that shows that each of the persons in the Trinity share the same attributes that only God shares. But remember, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit each have wills, and speak, etc. Therefore, we say there are three persons.

Called God Phil. 1:2 John 1:1,14; Acts 5:3-4
Creator Isaiah 64:8 John 1:3; Job 33:4, 26:13
Omnipresent Matt 19:26 Matt. 28:18 Psalm 139:7-10
Omniscient Romans 11:33 Matt 9:4 1 Cor. 2:10-11
Omnipotent 1 Peter 1:5 Matt 28:18 Romans 15:19
A Will Luke 22:42 Luke 22:42 1 Cor. 12:11
Speaks Matt. 3:17; Luke 5:20; 7:48 Acts 13:2
Holiness Rev 15:4 Acts 3:14 John 14:26; 16: 7-14

To the Mormons, Jehovah’s Witness there is no trinity. Jesus is God’s son but not equal with Him (But John 10:30 and John 8:58, Jesus states he is one with God and is the “I AM”) and the Holy Spirit is a force not equal with God.

Muslims - God does not have a son.

Hindus, Buddhist and new age we are all god.

Why is this so important?

If Jesus is not God then God did not make the ultimate sacrifice for us and the Holy Spirit can not be trusted because He is not truly God.

The Bible makes it important but inferring either directly or indirectly to the Trinity. Those that deny the Trinity limit the value of Christ death and resurrection and the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives

Everyone has a job. The function of each person of the God head shows us God’s intimate and powerful involvement in our lives that he is both transcendent (above all things) and immanent (intimately involved in our lives). To deny the Godhood of any of the persons of the trinity is to deny God’s word, his character, and the love and power of any one person of the Trinity.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Christianity 101 - Trinity part 1

One of the great mysteries in the scripture is the Trinity. Countless volumes have been written and in the few lines I have for this blog and the next one I want to give you, hopefully a little more clarity about the Trinity, God in three persons.

"We believe in one God, eternally existent in three persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit." These were present on the earth at one time during the baptism of Jesus. Luke 3:22.

22) and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form, like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

Following are a couple more verses that hint at the Trinity.

Luke 1:35 In the conception of Jesus we see the Godhead (trinity).
And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.

Matt. 28:19, "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit." (name not names oneness of the name and person of God)

2 Cor. 13:14, "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all."

It is important to understand that while they are three persons they are still one!

The Bible says there is only one God: "I am the Lord, and there is no other; Besides Me there is no God," (Isaiah 45:5). Yet, the Bible teaches that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are each called God.

Genesis 1:26 26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.

The Bible says this additionally about God’s oneness

Isaiah 44:6 “Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel, and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: ‘I am the First and I am the Last; besides Me there is no God. (Jesus in Revelation 1:17)

Isaiah 44:8 “Fear not, nor be afraid; have I not told you from of old and declared it? And you are my witnesses! Is there a God besides me? There is no Rock; I know not any.”

Isaiah 43:10,11 - Before Me there was no God formed, nor shall there be after Me. I, even I, am the Lord, and besides Me there is no savior. (Jesus)

Matthew 3:13 – 17; 2 Corinthians 13:14

It is tough to grasp this concept but think of it this way; when "theologians" use the word "person," they are not saying that God is three individual beings walking around who are actually one being. That would be a contradiction. Instead, we define a person as having self awareness, identity, can speak, love, grieve, etc. Each has their own specific function but they are never independent or in opposition. These are attributes of personhood and we see all of these attributes, and more, in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

I know that this can be a fairly "heady" subject but it is important to understand. Please stay with me as we complete the basics of this idea.

In the next blog, we will answer the question, "Why is the concept of the Trinity so important?" I will also give you many scriptures to back up the concept.