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Wanna Wrestle?

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Wrestling is still a huge attraction for those that favor the “made for TV”variety of wrestling. It doesn’t seem to matter that the matches are well rehearsed,scripted events pitting the good guy against the bad guy and nearly everyone knows who the “winner”will be before the sound of the bell. This stuff is still raking in hundreds of millions every year!

wrestlers

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Too bad life isn’t like that. Wouldn’t it be great to know ahead of time when disaster would strike? To be able to “script”our lives to a certain degree? To know when the bad guys were going to “clothesline”us? To be able to see in advance when the opponent was sneaking up on us from behind?To be able to fix the match?

Of course there are others who say that they wouldn’t want to know any of these things ahead of the time. “Might ruin the journey”they say. Hmmm..

If only there was a way to know ahead of time who the winners and losers will be in real life.To know our opponent so well that we could foresee his every move and plan accordingly.

Well, if you’re a Christian,you already know who the winners and losers will be! The old,old story was written a long time ago and God wins!

That doesn’t mean however that there aren’t some battles to fight.

As a child of God we understand all too well who our opponent is.We know him by many names including Satan,the devil,Lucifer,deceiver,and a host of others.

Not only do we know who he is,but we also know how he operates.His forte is wrestling.

He lies,he cheats,he steals,he kills,he destroys.He wrestles.

Good-vs-Evil

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In the age old battle of good vs.evil Satan is the ultimate bad guy.He is the opponent no one wants to face and there is no quit in him.His chief purpose is to destroy everything that is good,and that includes everyone who claims Christ as their Savior.

Yet as “bad” as he might be,he proved to be no match for Jesus Christ! Matter of fact,even though Satan orchestrated the “match of eternity”at an arena called Calvary,a place where he thought he had every advantage,it was a simple wooden cross that proved to be his undoing.

A simple Jewish carpenter who never raised a hand against him,but who instead simply used the word of God to rebuke him,had defeated this enemy once and for all.

For all of us.

The scriptures make it very clear who our enemy is.The world,in it’s twisted way of distorting the truth,would have us to believe that as divided as the church may appear to be we are defeated.The enemy has won.Uh…no

Not so fast.Let us consult the authority of God’s word for a closer look at this.

No less an authority than the Apostle Paul had this to say about this great wrestling match called life:

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.  Eph. 6:12  NKJV

Our enemy is not one another.My battle is not against Baptists,Lutherans,or Methodists,and neither is yours.We are not told to battle any denomination or it’s creed or doctrine.Our fight is against the powers and spiritual forces of the devil that have enslaved this world in darkness and confusion.

The next time you feel you’re being challenged by the “ultimate bad guy”,just remember that Jesus has taken the fight out of the devil for you.So if you get the sense that the devil is challenging you to a wrestling match,you can rest assured that he cannot win.

He’s already been counted out.

The Beauty of a Life Redeemed

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Unmerited Grace…Favor Undeserved

Unlimited Mercy…Matchless Worth

Heaven’s Best…The Worst in us

Abundantly Blessed…

O The Beauty of a Life Redeemed

One thing I have desired of the LORD, That will I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD All the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the LORD, And to inquire in His temple.   Psa 27:4 NKJV

The Beauty of the Blood

Sunflower_Beauty.27552109_std

Woodlandtown.org

 

 

Aren’t They all Churches of Christ?

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Sunday afternoon my daughter and I went driving for a couple of hours as part of the requirement for her getting her license.When we drove past a local Church of Christ she asked me “aren’t they all churches of Christ”? Wow…what a question!

My daughter has been raised in church so she is of course well versed in “church”culture. Yet her question prompted me to ask her a question in return,which was “is it confusing for an 18 year old to see churches with so many different names”?

“It sure is” was her immediate response.

All of which got me to thinking: what kind of Godly relationship can we expect our children to have with the Lord when we who are supposed to be the leaders of the church are sowing so much confusion into their lives? How in the world are they supposed to know who’s right and who is wrong?

For example: according to the Center for the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, there were an estimated 43,000 Christian denominations in 2012.

Forty.

Three.

Thousand.

Which begs the question:

Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?  1Co 1:13 KJV

So I ask again: how is anyone,much less a young adult,supposed to figure out which church to attend,or which doctrine is the right one?

We have instilled in our daughter the importance of reading her bible and of having a right relationship with the Lord,but I have no illusions that she will agree with me on every single point of doctrine.Nor should I expect her to read from the same version of the bible that I do.She is an independent young woman who with God’s help must chart her own destiny.

So what of those who do not yet know the Lord but may be seeking Him? To which of the 43,000 denominations do they turn to? Yours? Mine?

Of course,all of us believe we “know the way”,or at least have some assurance that we are on the right track.And heaven knows we could start our own version of jihad,or holy war by laying claim to having the answers for everyone.For certain we all know that wars have been fought and inquisitions enacted throughout the ages all in the name of “church”.

Many Christians today like to believe that their church can be traced back to the Apostles and Disciples of Christ.Some believe that their church was started due to a direct revelation from God Himself.Still others lay claim to a particular religious figure from the past,or as in the case of most mega churches today they follow a personality.

But do you see how difficult it can be to sort through this mess of religiosity?

Catholic,Baptist,Methodist / Wesleyan,Lutheran,Presbyterian,Pentecostal/Charismatic,Episcopalian/Anglican,Churches of Christ,Assemblies of God,Church of God,Seventh-Day Adventist,Church of the Nazarene,Church of the Brethren,Independent Christian Church…and on and on it goes…

Jesus said that “Do [you] suppose that I came to give peace on earth? I tell you, not at all, but rather division.” Luk 12:51 NKJV

Jesus was NOT referring to the church in this passage! Any division in the church comes not from Him ,but from US!

If the church’s divine mandate is to go out and make disciples of all nations,is it any wonder the church is failing so miserably? We cannot even agree among ourselves what we are to believe! And we expect the lost to somehow look at us as the answer to their lost condition,to entrust their eternal souls to our care?

Something has gone horribly wrong in the church! It would seem that any person that disagrees with their church doctrine or polity is free to start their own…to the tune of 43,000 of them! And I can assure you I have seen this happen far too often.The next time you’re out driving in your city,start looking at the various church signs out there.The number of them is astounding! Are all of them right? Are all of them wrong?

I cannot presume to speak for anyone other than myself in matters of faith and salvation.We are all on a journey of our own.Indeed,we are instructed in the word to work out our own salvation:

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;   Phl 2:12 NKJV

What I do know is that many established,long time Christians are finding themselves at a critical juncture in their faith walk.Gone is the confidence they once had that the church had all the right answers.The church has been silent for far too long on issues of grave importance.Either that,or they have given them a simple,cursory response when what was called for was the voice of God thundering from the nations pulpits!

To answer my daughter’s question:”aren’t they all churches of Christ?”,I have to be honest and say I think not.What I know to be true and without fault or wrong is not any church or particular denomination,but rather Jesus Christ Himself.

He is the spotless Lamb of glory,God’s sinless sacrifice offered once and for all for the sins of all men everywhere.

And upon this truth I stand.

The High Cost of Negativity

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The following headline in today’s newspaper immediately caught my attention:

“Groups pump millions into negative ads in Ohio”

The amount of money spent to discredit and defame another person is staggering,as the following paragraph from the story details:

“Spending this year by independent political groups with confusing-sounding labels like super PACS, 501(c)(4)s, and 527 organizations will almost certainly surpass 2012, when at least $85 million was spent in Ohio on the races for president,Senate,and the House of representatives.”Negativity 2

Sure could use a little good news today.

So let me break this down a bit more. Here in Ohio we have some of the poorest counties in the U.S. In the areas of the state hardest hit by the recent economic downturns(think “coal”),the state employment rates are at or above 9.6%,far above the nations 5.1% rate.The highest unemployment rate(Monroe county)comes in at a staggering 13.4%!(Source: March 2016 Office of Workforce Development – Bureau of Labor Market Information).

The lack of quality health care and housing for tens of thousands of Ohioans is appalling.According to a University of Akron study an Ohioan is born into poverty every 18 minutes.Am I the only one who finds this nearly unbelievable? And what of the nation? The numbers add up to millions!

Lest we forget,Ohio also has the dubious distinction of having one of the nation’s worse drug addiction problems.It has gotten so bad the the heroin “problem”in Ohio is making the rounds on the national news outlets.According to a CBS news report of 4/26/16,twenty three Ohioans are killed each week by heroin.

Sure could use a little good news today.

So let’s see if we understand all of this. The state of Ohio has an enormous employment problem,some of the highest in the nation. It has a severe drug addiction problem,so much so that every week another 23 people are killed by drugs. It has a depressing level of poverty,which by the way is being added to at the rate of another hungry mouth to feed every 18 minutes.

So yeah,I think that about sums it up.That’s a lot of negative information,is it not? Kind of depressing isn’t it?

Sure could use a little good news today.

Too bad we aren’t hearing much in the way of good news. What we are hearing however is that the special interest groups that control the finances required to elect your favorite politician are spending nearly $100 million dollars on negative TV and radio ads.

Wonder how much they give to fight poverty…lack of health care…hopelessness?

And don’t forget: the other 49 states are doing the exact same things.

One hundred million dollars spent on negativity. Negativity 1

Can you see what I see? I see heartbreak. I see destitution. I see destruction. I see a colossal crime being perpetrated against humanity. I see greed running rampant and an attitude of “it doesn’t matter what it costs so long as I get my way”.

Please don’t mistake this post as one of trying to drum up support for any particular candidate or party.I try my level best to stay away from entering the political fray because I know that my personal political views will not mesh with the majority today.It’s simply not worth it.I don’t discuss politics and I don’t allow myself to be drawn into mindless debates.

I am actually embarrassed and ashamed that as a state and as a nation,what we currently have running for political office is the best and brightest we can come up with. Or rather that money can buy.

Do you ever ask yourself “how did we ever get this way”?

From a Christian perspective I am deeply concerned about the precarious position America finds itself in today.Our enemies have uncovered our weaknesses,and they are many.The constant bickering and in-fighting among the various political candidates is a direct outcome of their lust for power and control,and serve only to widen the gulf between themselves and a desperate populous.

Can anyone argue that we are not reliving the actions of another nation that at one time was blessed beyond measure because they obeyed the Lord God? As we in America continue the downward spiral into the darkest reaches of sin,we continue to mirror ancient Israel who willingly chose to accept the leadership of fallen man verse the divine mandates of a Holy God.

And the LORD said to Samuel, “Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them.     1Sa 8:7 NKJV

I ask you, how can we feed and clothe our people,how can we offer them an alternative to a lifestyle steeped in drugs,how can we create new opportunities for employment,when those who we elect to solve these problems have rejected the Lord in favor of corruption?

We need God. Whether you realize this or not,we need God.

More money is not the answer. Another politician is not the answer. Your preferred political party is not the answer. The Right is not the answer. The Left is not the answer.

And yes,in the interest of full disclosure even the church is not the answer.The wealthy church that does precious little to stem the tide of negativity in their neighborhoods has long ago abandoned it’s mandate of love and compassion.While the world that is outside the ark of safety in Jesus tumbles into an eternity without God,the church is more concerned with demonstrating it’s success and influencing the world.

All the while billions beg to see a demonstration of the power of the gospel.

the_gospel_changes_everything1

pastordaveonline.org

We are falling headlong into an abyss from which there will be no return,yet no one seems to care enough to acknowledge this.

The answer that America needs will not be found in an election booth this November.

It can only be found at the Cross, where we must repent of our backsliding deeds and return unto the Lord.

We simply cannot afford the high cost of negativity any longer.

Tell Me The Truth

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I cannot tolerate anyone lying to me.

People who lie simply cannot be trusted because they are practicing deception at my expense.If you tell me something I am going to take you at your word and if I find that you have lied to me,well,good luck in earning back my trust in you.

Lots of people lie,and they tell all kinds of lies:

  • Big lies.truth
  • Little lies.
  • White lies.
  • Any kind of lie.

To some people lying is so natural that it seems they don’t even realizing they are lying.The truth escapes them and is foreign to them.They are in bondage to the enemy for indeed they are his children.Perhaps you know people like this?

As for me, I want to know truth.

I want to know God’s truth.I want to know God’s truth because it is powerful and above reproach.Even as men twist the scriptures for their own selfish,personal gain God’s truth remains.It cannot be changed.

It is because that God’s word is unchangeable and true that it has stood the test of time.While for thousands of years false prophets have tried to usurp His truth and change it into whatever convenient lie is required to dupe yet another generation,God’s truth is still setting free those held captive by Satan.

Jesus said that it was truth that would set us free.

John 8:32;  And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

That my friends,is a very powerful statement.Lets look at the context of the scripture where Jesus said that.

31 Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. 32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

33 They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can You say, ‘You will be made free’?”

34 Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. 35 And a slave does not abide in the house forever,but a son abides forever. 36 Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.    John 8:31-36   NKJV

If Jesus said that the truth would make us free then what will we be free from?

The trappings of Tradition…Religion…Guilt…Sin?

The Jews to whom Jesus was speaking were obviously very religious,maintaining they were Abraham’s descendants.Because of their position they were blind to the real bondage they were in.It cannot be argued that they were free except in their own minds, and that because of the lineage to Abraham that they held so closely to.

Funny what we will say and do when our religious traditions are threatened,isn’t it?

The world is full of different religions,and all of them claim heritage to someone or something that they believe makes them better than,or holier then,all others.Not a day goes by that we aren’t bombarded with news accounts of one atrocity after another done in the name of religion.Or how often do we hear of another type of religious atrocity when we read accounts of wolves in sheep’s clothing, fleecing the flock to fill their pockets while their “sheep”wander about without a true shepherd.

Yet the fact is that unless they know the truth that Jesus spoke of,they remain in bondage to Satan to this day.This is the lie of the ages that has been sown in the hearts of men for thousands of years.The lie that says it doesn’t matter which god you serve,they’re all the same.After all,there is “good” in every religion(or church if you will).

No,Jesus made it as clear as he could.If we are to be freed from our sins,freed from our past mistakes,freed from bondage of religion and tradition…only the Son can make us that kind of free.

And that my friends, is the TRUTH.