This is not a political post so if that’s what you were looking for you won’t find it here.Neither is it a post about gun control.No,this post is about something that goes deeper than racism. Much deeper.

This is a post about “WHY” people do the things they do,in particular why heinous crimes are committed in the first place.

The recent tragedy in the Charleston South Carolina church is one more reminder that there are those among us who will stop at nothing in their attempts to garner attention to their favorite cause.

Upon hearing the news reports of this act of violence the news media immediately branded this a hate crime.Specifically,a hate crime spawned by the racist mindset of a young man.

Here is where I completely disagree with the masses.

Oh,there can be no doubt that this young man’s mind had been poisoned by racist thoughts.Just as certain is the fact that he planned this murdering rampage to take place in a house of worship in order to get the maximum shock value.

Yet for all of his deliberate actions I believe the media and nearly all Christians who have spoken publicly about this have overlooked one very important thing.

You see,when something of this magnitude takes place society rushes to place a label on it so that by doing so it can be more easily understood.In this case it was immediately branded a hate crime perpetrated by a racist.

But what society,and in particular the media,doesn’t understand is that the root cause of such acts of violence is not born in the bed of racism.

No,racism is but one of many causal factors born out of something much more heinous than racism. Much more damming than hate and bigotry.

SIN

The underlying issue here,the root cause of the “why did this happen” is called SIN.

And it is understandable why SIN is never mentioned in situations like this. For you see we want to,need to,blame someone.

So of course we delve into every detail about the murderer’s life in hopes of uncovering that one detail that will help us make sense of it all.

And that is our undoing. Society today rejects the notion of SIN because to acknowledge that such a thing does exist would be to acknowledge our own SIN,and that just can’t happen,can it?

I mourn with my brothers and sisters who have suffered such needless tragedy and loss at the hands of a young man who by his own volition has thrown his life away.Their pain will never go away.

But let us not forget that racism has been with us as long as hatred,anger,violence,contempt and any other acts of abuse towards others has been around.

They’ve all been right here with us because SIN has been with us. So here’s the real question:

If society cannot fix its problems,and it is obvious it cannot,then what hope do we have?

And the answer is very simple: we have no hope apart from the saving grace of God who sent His only Son to die for our sins.

The government cannot legislate out racism any more than it can eliminate the drug problem.As we pour billions of dollars into one feeble attempt after another to create our own version of utopia on earth,evil marches on unfettered except by the efforts of those committed to a Christlike life.

SIN is a spiritual condition that can only be dealt with at the foot of the Cross. No law or ordinance can destroy it or even hope to control it.

You see, Racism is not our biggest problem.Neither is bigotry or hatred.

The rejection of Jesus Christ however,is.

Ron

The “Worship Experience”

Posted: June 29, 2015 in Uncategorized

A couple of days ago I was reading an article about the various styles of worship music and it quickly became apparent that worship wars are still being fought all over the Christian landscape.

There were over a thousand comments in response to this article and as one would expect they brought out extreme emotions from every camp represented.

The “hymn” crowd spoke about how their songs were based upon scripture while the “contemporary” crowd declared that no one wants to hear those old songs any longer.

All of this has caused me to spend some time in thought about this subject and as I used to be a “worship leader” I feel somewhat qualified to speak about it.

What is a “worship leader”? Well,to start with you will not find the title of “worship leader” found in scripture. It is a position created by the church.You will not find it mentioned in Ephesians chapter four where Paul named several different ministries given to the church.

11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints,for the work of the ministry,for the edifying of the body of Christ.

So what exactly is a “worship leader” if it’s definition is not found in the bible? Is it what we used to call the “song leader”? Is it what was formerly referred to as the “music minister”?

From my own personal experience as well as from speaking in a lot of churches and seeing many worship leaders in action I have found that the most common definition is “one who leads us into the presence of God”. If that is true,then let’s dwell on that for a few moments.

“Leads us into the presence of God”. Pretty serious business that. Wherever God is,Holiness abounds. Holy in a way that many of us cannot fully understand. Holy in the sense that the unclean and impure cannot dwell in His presence. Holy in the sense that God told Moses to take off his shoes because the place where he was standing was Holy ground.

So a “worship leader” is to lead us to this place,this presence,this Holy presence. And it is here that I must ask the question: is that even possible?

Can a man or woman lead me into the presence of God Almighty simply by singing songs of praise and worship? Can such an “atmosphere” actually be created or designed?

Please note that I am not criticizing anyone in a position of “worship leader”. As I have already stated I used to be one as my wife and I used to serve as worship leaders.

Where I think I struggle with this subject is that my attitudes towards music in the church has changed in the past several years. Oh,I still love music that lifts and encourages the heart. And I still love to play my guitar and sing songs of praise and adoration to my God.

I think the difference now is that it has become intensely personal for me,and perhaps it should have always been that way.

I have come to the understanding that I cannot be led into His presence for His presence is always near. One cannot be led to this Holy place by a song or a program,one lives in His presence by staying in the word and prayer.

In His presence is a continual spirit of worship and praise that is not dependent upon man,for it is not a created thing. Worship is a heart thing,not something contrived.

What I’ve learned is that there is indeed only One Worship Leader,and that is the Holy Spirit.

Be blessed,

Ron

A House Divided

Posted: June 28, 2015 in Uncategorized

Matthew 12:25 (KJV)
And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand:

Like so many others I have been watching and listening intently to the recent Supreme Court rulings concerning marriage.

While I believe this decision is an abomination before a Holy and righteous God,in no way did it take me by surprise.In fact,I am somewhat surprised that it took this long to enact this legislation simply because the climate in America has long been ripe for such a thing.

I know many well meaning and devoted Pastors who were just as adamant that such a thing could never happen in our country. Their thinking was that God would not permit such a thing,and that if Christians would bind together in agreement that somehow the forces of evil could be turned back.

The reality however is that the seeds of division in America were sown long ago,and the battle lines between good and evil were drawn up before any of us were born.

You see,in every society there are those who wish to live out their lives in accordance with the precepts of the Creator. There are also those who wish to live out there lives with no acknowledgement that someone greater than themselves actually does exist.

And therein lies the conflict,or division that Jesus speaks of. It is as old as the original sin when satan lied to Eve and said you shall not die if you eat of the forbidden fruit. On one hand stands the Almighty speaking truth and words of freedom and liberty, and on the other stands satan telling lies that lead to entrapment and bondage.

Or breaking it down to a societal level you have those sworn to uphold the basic tenements of the faith,while in that same society you have those crying out for another golden calf.

Make no mistake about it,we are a nation divided.We have been split into many factions and while it hurts to say this someone must stand up and declare it: America will never be the same again.

We have forfeited our blessing by allowing ourselves to become polluted with the lies of satan. The latest decision to permit those of the same gender to marry is just the latest in a long list of abominal acts we have permitted.

Prayerless homes and schools,abortion,lawlessness on a scale heretofore unimaginable,corruption in every level of government,all slowly but surely eroding the very fabric of a once proud and great nation.

I love America,but I do not love what it has become. I am not a nationalist who believes that everything we do or did was somehow automatically blessed by God just because we are American.

I am however a realist who sees things as they are and what I see is yet one more nation in the history of nations that has forsaken the God of heaven for the god of self.We have opened a Pandora’s box of greed and sin the likes of which has never been seen and I dare say we are at a loss as to what to do about it.

Yes,we are divided against ourselves. We are now in a situation where we cannot help ourselves for we have willingly unleashed the powers of darkness upon our own nation.We have in effect said that God no longer matters for we are in control of our own destiny.

Yet Jesus Christ who cannot lie plainly stated that a nation divided against itself cannot stand. So where does that leave us?

We are headed for a fall. We cannot stand in our present condition. We cannot save ourselves from the course we alone have chartered.The Great Depression of years past will pale in comparison to what is coming. The collective sum of our iniquities will bring America to its knees,and who shall save us from ourselves?

In the coming months and years I have no doubt that great persecution is coming to the Christian in America,just as it is all over the world.We will not be spared for the spirit of Anti Christ is growing by leaps and bounds.

Division comes at a terrible cost,doesn’t it?

Ron

Have you ever thought about,I mean really thought about,how much of this life you are actually living?

Sometimes I think we get so caught up in careers,societal ills,and just the fast pace of it all that we find ourselves going through the motions of life,but not really living life.

This thought has been brought home to me this past week in a major and tragic way.This past Monday we received the news that Wendy,my wife’s best friend of more than thirty years,had passed away sometime in the early Monday morning hours at home.

Wendy was one of those unassuming people that the majority of people would likely never notice,preferring instead to stay in the background and not draw attention to herself as she went about loving and serving the Lord.

Yet Wendy had a quality about her that I suppose I never gave much thought to,and that was her way of always trying to encourage others.Even when she wasn’t feeling well she still wanted everyone elses needs taken care of before her own.She was a living example of what Paul talks about here:

3 [Let] nothing [be done] through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. 4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.    Phl 2:3-4 KJV

Maybe I should back up a moment and give you just a little background about this remarkable woman.Fifteen years ago she was diagnosed with cancer and had surgery along with chemo and the usual assortment of other treatments to try to stem this disease.Unfortunately,one of the side effects of all of this was that her heart was severely damaged in the process.

So for the next fifteen years she soldiered on continuing to work full time as an RN and helping to raise her six beautiful children.In and out of the hospital her faith never wavered.And neither did her zest for life,to live her life to the fullest.

Neither did she stop trying to be a source of encouragement to anyone who might need it.

She was determined to life each day as if it might be her last,and as I sat there today listening to her Pastor talk about her life it suddenly dawned on me that this woman has lived several lifetimes in her short fifty years.She crowded as much as she could into every day both before and after she became ill.

Just listening to her children talk about their Mother with such love and respect reminded me that this is how it’s supposed to be.This is a real family.I’m sure there were times when dysfunction was the rule of the day,but they were a family that all could aspire to be like.Every one of her six children spoke about how their Mom took them to church and what an example of a Christian Mom she had been to them.Simply AMAZING!

I was also forced to come to grips with the fact that I don’t think I ever took Wendy seriously.I mean,I knew she was a Christian and that she loved the Lord,but I never really knew how deep her walk was with the Lord.To me she was just Wendy,my wife’s best friend that she would talk with on the phone for seemingly hours at a time.In actuality she was a strong woman of faith who sincerely believed what she read in the bible.So much so that she passed those same convictions on to her children,who will in turn teach their children.

Funny how some of us think we get to the point that we somehow breath a little different air just because we have been called to a certain work. Just because we see what we call a bit of success in the ministry. Funny how we forget to live life while consumed with that work.

Just a few weeks ago Wendy called from the hospital to ask for prayer and I prayed with her over the phone.In just a couple of days she was released from the hospital and I expected her to continue to gain strength and energy,in fact I was believing God for her complete healing.Little did I know that it would come on Monday morning this past week.

I suppose I could write a whole series of posts about Wendy just from the countless stories I have heard from my wife.But this post isn’t so much about her as it is this promise given to us by the Lord Jesus:

10 “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have [it] more abundantly.     John 10:10 NKJV (emphasis mine)

Abundant life. A rich life. A life lived to the fullest. A Christian life. Our life.

Jesus said that He had come not only to give us life,but to give us a abundant life. A life overflowing with grace and love. A life filled with laughter and joy. A life that in spite of its struggles is the only life worth living.

Wendy lived that abundant life. We can all live that abundant life. It’s found only in Christ.

Have you found it?

Love………..Live………… Dream………….Soar…………Live life to the fullest………..

Ron

For I [am] the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.

Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept [them]. Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the LORD of hosts. But ye said, Wherein shall we return?  Mal 3:6-7 KJV

So said the God of heaven to his people. God was “calling out” the nation of Israel because of their deliberate choice to forsake the commands of their God and instead choose their own path of living.

For hundreds of years after the Exodus from Egyptian bondage God never stopped calling his people to repentance.He never stopped revealing himself to them in wondrous ways.In short,he never stopped loving them.

Here is where God reveals himself to have the heart of a father,a father who longs for the return of the prodigal.He continues to look for the lost one that has wandered.He is ever ready to bind up the wounded and broken who will humble themselves and return unto him.

All of these precious words were directed to the people of Israel centuries ago,long before there ever was a Christian.

How faithful is God? The words of verse 6 state it better than I could ever hope to. Because God does not change,he does not turn away from his people,nor does he consume them.Even when his people have turned their backs on him.

Imagine if God were a man,or subject to the nature of man,one who changed his opinion based upon the latest social media poll.Imagine the chaos that would exist if God was double minded,or went back and forth unable to take a stand.

Do we truly believe that God never thought to himself that it would be easier to just consume his people and then start over? We know he thought so because we read about it in his dealings with Moses in the wilderness.

Yet God said He does not change,therefore the sons of Jacob were not consumed.

We need to study this and let it sink into our spirits. Even though the people of God deliberately turned their backs on him,still he did not abandon them.Could he have,should he have,would he have been justified to do so?

What do you think?

There is something so special about these two verses of scripture for they reveal to the Christian the very nature of God.

God is saying that “no matter how much you hurt me,I will not abandon you. No matter how far you run from me I will seek you out.You cannot do enough to cause me to reject you.

Because I love you,because I am married to you,because I am to you as a groom is to his bride,you are mine”.

And what about you,dear Christian brother or sister?

Do you listen to his voice?

Read his word?

Seek him in prayer?

Worship him with your whole heart?

If this describes you I stand with you and declare the goodness of God.

Or is God your enemy?

Do you treat him as a stranger?

Do you know to do right but do it not?

Did you once have an intimate relationship with him,but now it seems as though that never happened?

Have you,like the people of Israel decided that you know best how your life should be lived so you have in essence created your own “religion”?

Do you have your own set of principles or guidelines?

In your world does everyone eventually get to heaven?

Have you made a deliberate choice not to follow the Lord,but to guide yourself?

If this is you,you must know that there is coming a day when we shall all give account for our actions.And please understand that I do not mean to come across as harsh or mean spirited,but the reality is that our ways are not his ways.God does not bow to us,in spite of our haughty attitudes at times.He tells us two separate times in the scriptures that the day will come when all of us will bow the knee to him.

I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth [in] righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear.    Isa 45:23 KJV
For it is written, [As] I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.    Rom 14:11 KJV

God is pleading with this world to return unto him,and he will return unto them.

He doesn’t change.Ever.

And so He waits………for those he loves to return unto him.

I hear this from people: “it’s so hard to serve the Lord these days. So much to contend with.So many battles to fight. Discouragement is everywhere.I just don’t think I can make it”.

And often I just want to say “REALLY?

It’s hard to serve God? After all He has done for us?

What does He ask,or require of us?

Well, we could look to Jesus and find where He said:

25 And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the law? What is your reading [of it]?”

27 So he answered and said, “‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’ ”     Luk 10:25-27 NKJV

Or we could look into the pages of the Old Testament and find where the Lord declared:

7 Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, Ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn [for] my transgression, The fruit of my body [for] the sin of my soul?

8 He has shown you, O man, what [is] good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?    Mic 6:7-8 NKJV

Here’s the deal: if you combine these two passages of scripture you will find that what the Lord requires of us is simply to “love the LORD your God with all your heart”.

Notice how these scriptures sort of mirror each other?

That’s no accident friend:)

In doing so you will fulfill all the Law and the prophets,and the end result will be a life lived humbly and upright before the Lord.

For a Christian,this should be our desire,and it should flow out from us naturally.

Nothing hard about that,is there?

Have a great Monday!

Ron

No Escape Without Jesus

Posted: June 3, 2015 in Uncategorized

The Apostle Paul, in writing to the church of the Thessalonians concerning the coming of the Lord likens it to a thief that comes under the cover of darkness.

Not too many things I dislike more than a thief!

It is critical that we understand to whom the coming of the Lord will be as a thief in the night. The answer is in the simple word “they”.

Who are “they”? Read with me in 1st Thessalonians 5:1-3:

1Th 5:1  But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you.
1Th 5:2  For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.
1Th 5:3  For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.

Paul declares that when “They” say Peace,and safety…..that sudden destruction will come upon them.

Who is this people that Paul refers to as “They”?

“They” are those outside the ark of safety. “They” are those who have not repented and accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior.”They”are those from every group,nationality,culture group,church,denomination,and every soul that has never darkened the door of a church.

Everyone who has rejected Christ is marked for destruction.

Tough words to handle,no?

The destruction that the unexpected thief brings in the dark of night.

Destruction from which there will be no escape.

Something very serious to ponder as we see this world caught in the whirlwind of sin and debauchery,headed for tribulation the likes of which this world has never witnessed before.

Ron