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How to ensure mistakes don’t ruin your life

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“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Ps. 51:10

The words of the sweet Psalmist of Israel, King David, as he acknowledges his sin with another man’s wife,the murder of her husband,and his futile attempts to cover it up.If only David could have seen into the future,perhaps a vision of what was to come would have convinced him to keep his eyes from wandering.

Every time I read this verse I am reminded of how weak this earthly tabernacle

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is. In an instant we can go from the highest highs to the lowest lows,all because we decide to yield to a voice that calls us to do the unthinkable. It humbles me to think that if the King of Israel could do it,I know I could as well.

And so could you.

David’s entire being was affected by what he had done. His relationship with God was severed,the joy of the Lord had departed him, and he was left alone to reflect upon the magnitude of his error.I cannot imagine how his soul must have been tormented!

Think about this for a moment.This wasn’t just another King of Israel.This was David.The shepherd boy anointed to be King.A ma

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n after God’s own heart. Chosen of God,anointed King of Israel,feared by his enemies and adored by his subjects.Legendary giant killer and warrior without equal.

If ever the phrase”how the mighty have fallen”fit a man,it was David.Here was the man who literally “had it all”. This was God’s chosen one to replace a king that had forsaken the Lord.David was to “right the ship”in Israel.Yet for all of this,it wasn’t enough to keep his feet from wandering.

Surely David must have asked himself a thousand times if the momentary pleasure of sin was worth it.How could it have been,when his momentary lapse of judgement led to the rest of his life being one of sorrow and turmoil?

David’s sin led to lies and deception that culminated in Uriah’s death. And what of the child conceived from this rendezvous with the beautiful Bathsheba? Despite his fasting and praying before God night and day, the child born of his adulterous union became sick and died.Unfortunately for David,his sin also mightily impacted his other children as well.

David’s beautiful daughter Tamar was raped by her brother Amnon, who in a revengeful rage killed Absalom, who in turn was slain by Joab.Think of it,the King’s family destroyed by the sins of their father.And for what?

In his despair and brokenness,David came to the realization that the high price of sin was more than even he could bear.He soon learned that being King not only has it’s rewards,but also it’s share of heartache. All that was left for him to do was to throw himself upon the mercies of God.

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”

How gracious is our Father to forgive us when we come to Him with a broken spirit. David did not offer to God mere lip service, but rather a broken heart and a contrite spirit.David wasn’t just sorry because he was found out.No,David was truly sorrowful of heart and soul.This beloved,is true repentance.

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For certain,if we attempt to cover up and hide our sins,God will reveal them in His time.Fortunately for all of us,if we expose them to God He will cover them with His mercy.

As we come to the end of another year many of us will be spending time reflecting on the year’s past achievements and disappointments.Maybe there are some things you need to take to God? Maybe there are some things haunting you,just as they did David.

I want you to know that mistakes don’t have to ruin your life,nor should they define who you are.David could have used a friend to remind him of that,couldn’t he? Perhaps you could too?

May I encourage you to do as David did and simply turn to the Lord and ask His forgiveness for your sin? If you will do this, you will find as David did that our Lord is a restorer of the broken.He is the heart-mender after all.

I can’t think of a better way to start 2017,can you?

Ron

Where is the Lord God of Elijah Today?

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Thinking of the Old Testament prophets,their ministries,their successes and failures has me wondering why we don’t see God show up today like He did back then.In light of the fact that (a) God never changes(Malachi 3:6) and (b) Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever(Heb 13:8),it seems reasonable to ponder these things.

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I have heard it preached and taught that God just doesn’t move like that today.That God has a new covenant with us through His Son Jesus.

While I agree with that,it still doesn’t explain why we don’t see God moving in the powerful ways like we read about in His Word.Here is just one example.

From the Old Testament book of II Kings,chapter two,we read where the successor to the prophet Elijah,in this case a man named Elisha, takes the mantle,or cloak that fell from Elijah and smacks it upon the Jordan River.
No doubt expecting something miraculous he utters the quote “where is the Lord God of Elijah“?(II Kings 2:14),at which time the waters of the Jordan dried up and Elisha was able to pass over on dry land.We thus see that the prophetic ministry of Elijah was passed on to Elisha.

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Now,given what I’ve already stated about God never changing,suppose we turn Elisha’s question around to read like this:”Where Are God’s Elijah’s Today”? If in fact we serve a God that changes not, it stands to reason that His power has not diminished with the passing of time.

So we can assume that God is still God,and that as God He can still do what He did hundreds or thousands of years ago.The reason then that we don’t see God performing the miraculous must lie elsewhere.

Of course,if you are a cessationist you believe that all miracles stopped long ago.That those things only happened for our admonition and pertained to the apostolic,or early church era.I do not share that view but believe that God was performing the miraculous long before there was a church,and it is His desire to do so today.

It is my contention however that the “Elijah’s of God”in our time have been derelict in their duties,resulting in a famine of the miraculous.Tough words indeed,and they hit home with me as well.

For certain,the word “miracle” is thrown around a lot today.Nearly every gospel crusade or event proclaims the presence of miracles.Just last night I listened to a man telling of the

incredible miracles taking place in Africa.They weren’t shown mind you,just talked about.

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My minister brethren cringe when I say this,but I’ll go out on a limb here and say that 99.9% of Christians alive today have never seen a complete,instantaneous physical healing.

This must be one of the great tragedies of our time!

Many will take this lack of physical evidence and use it to make their case for cessasionism,however this reasoning is a scapegoat for our own lack of faith and is indicative of a culture of unbelief in our churches.

Far from being finished with performing the miraculous,I am of the persuasion that God still desires to work through His Church to do those things that only He can do.Perhaps a stumbling block to this is that we want the credit? Just a thought.

Over 2100 years ago God used another prophet to speak to the nations,specifically to this generation.This prophet’s name was Daniel,whom you may remember as being thrown into a den of hungry lions for refusing to bow to an ungodly decree.

This same Daniel had a message for the Church of our day that should cause all of us to think about whether or not the miraculous has ceased.This message is found in the book of Daniel,chapter eleven.

Those who do wickedly against the covenant he shall corrupt with flattery; but the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits.  Daniel 11:32 NKJV

Daniel looked into the future and saw the Antichrist deceiving the people of earth.More importantly,he also saw God’s people as strong and doing great exploits.In other words,if you believe as I do that we are living in the last days before the return of Christ,we are to expect God to show up through His people(the Church) and do the miraculous.

I must admit that I do not know when God’s Elijah’s will show up on the scene.I believe many of them are alive today,perhaps waiting for the clarion call from on High to go forth.One thing I do know is this:when they show up and begin to do exploits, we will not have to wonder if they are real.

Maybe YOU are one of God’s Elijah’s.Perhaps something is stirring deep within your soul that is calling you,drawing you to a closer walk with the Lord.If so,I pray that you heed His call and begin to prepare yourself.

God is still God.In the past He always did what He said He would do.

I am expecting Him to continue this pattern. After all,He hasn’t changed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

So you want to be a follower of Jesus do you?

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I admit it. I’m old school.I was taught that anything worth having was worth working for.That if I were to ever accomplish anything or have anything nice I had to put my nose to the grind stone.That no one was going to give me anything.Boy,has this proven to be true!

I’ve basically lived my entire life with this being one of my guiding principles.I started working for wages at 15 years of age at a local farm.If any of you have bailed hay from the time the dew has dried until dusk you know what hard work is.

I recently retired after nearly 28 years at an automotive manufacturer,and my total working career is somewhere in the neighborhood of 45 years.In that time I’d like to say that I think I earned my keep. At least I tried to.

I see that same philosophy of hard work and dedication being necessary in the Lord’s work as well.While the current wave of easy believeism and “no cost” church membership is all the rage,I maintain that there is a price to pay if we’re to follow Jesus.

Rest assured,I am not referring to salvation here.That is not something any of us could ever earn by our own merit,works,or good deeds.Salvation is the ultimate free gift that the Father has given to all of us,bought and paid for by His only Son Jesus.

No,the philosophy of hard work and dedication I’m referring to is an essential component of true discipleship.A study of the gospel of Matthew points us to this fact as Jesus is teaching his disciples about the high cost they must pay to be a follower of His.

Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.  Matthew 16:24

Prior to this particular verse Jesus has just shared with his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem,be killed,and raised on the third day.After sharply rebuking Peter for not accepting this word,Jesus tells them of the high cost they must pay if they are to follow Him.

There is something both powerful and frightening about this.

Powerful,because in these words Jesus clearly lays out the “formula”for becoming a follower of Christ.It could not be any clearer.I hear many today touting their own version of a plan,or formula.Sadly,most of these involve your money.

Which is why the worldly church of today has invented a “discipleship for dollars”,aka sow a seed method for discipleship. Let’s face it,giving money is very easy compared to denying ourselves anything.Why deny myself anything when I can just write a check?

This verse is also frightening because what Jesus expects of us is perhaps the most difficult thing he could have asked of us.To deny oneself is not easy.In fact,it is extremely difficult.Especially for those of us that like to do things our own way.Which is nearly all of us.

Lets look closely at this three step discipleship mandate from Jesus.

  1. They must DENY themselves
  2. The must TAKE UP his cross.
  3. Only then can they FOLLOW him.

This denying of oneself is something most of us rarely think about,especially in the consumerism driven world that we live in.If you think about it,is there ever a time when we are not bombarded with the media telling us that we deserve it? TV,Web,Magazines,it’s seemingly endless!Whatever it is…we have to have it!

The entire world of commerce is predicated upon the belief that the consumer is number one.This is 180° opposite of the command of Jesus to deny our self.If I can be very plain here,Jesus is actually telling us that if we are to follow Him,WE can no longer be number one! How does that sit with us?

Perhaps you know someone like this.No matter the subject,it inevitably comes back around to them.It’s the American culture,it’s all about ME because I’m special,or to be blunt it’s because we have exalted ourselves in such a prideful manner that we can scarcely think of anyone but ourselves. We are number one and that’s just the way it is.

Kind of hard to deny ourselves with that mindset,isn’t it?

Jesus then tells the disciples that they must take up his cross.Did you see how Jesus personalized the cross? They must take up his cross. That’s right,your cross.Did you know you were expected to pick up your own cross?

The cross was known for one thing,a cruel method of crucifying the flesh that ultimately ended in the death of the one who was crucified.That’s what Jesus is saying to his disciples and us,that if we are to be a follower of Him we must crucify this flesh.

Just as the straw is burned when it comes in contact with fire,so must our selfish desires burn away that we might take up our cross.We are to take up our cross and gladly carry it through the good times and the bad.This friends,is the mark of a follower of Christ.

When self has been denied,the cross is more easy to bear.

It is only after we learn to discipline ourselves through denying this flesh,then taking up our cross daily,does Jesus invite us to follow Him.This is the only way,just as Jesus is the only Way.There are no shortcuts beloved.This road can be long and dusty,but a journey worth the effort.

My hearts cry for the church is that it will return to the command of Jesus to deny ourselves,take up our cross,and follow Him.The world needs this more than it can imagine.

Jesus,the Hope of Glory must work through His church.You and I make up His hands and feet,His very heart.This world is dying a painful and horrific death,alone and destitute for the love of God. The love of God that must come through you and I.

I wonder sometimes,do we as the church somehow think that God is going to do this all by Himself? If that were so,why would He need you and I? The easy believeism I mentioned earlier is a perfect example of this.

I see it all the time: “repeat this prayer after me,now say… I am saved”. That’s all there is to it they say. But where is the discipleship?Where is the instruction on how to walk with the Lord?This is one reason why so many who start out for the Lord fall by the wayside!

So you want to be a follower of Jesus do you?

Well get ready,because it’s going to cost you something.

Just remember:anything worth having is worth working for.

Have a great Thursday everyone!

 

 

 

 

 

What happened to my church?

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“Ron,what’s happened to my church? It seems they no longer want us older saints. They are shoving all of us aside and replacing us with younger people. Don’t we matter any more”?

A precious,dear saint of God named Sarah* said those words to me over twenty years ago.In her confusion,hurt, and grief she wanted to let me know that she was struggling with all of the change that had suddenly engulfed her world.

Change can do that to us,to all of us,can’t it?

You would have to know this dear sister to fully appreciate her sense of despair.A woman of very humble upbringing,married but never able to have children,her church became her whole life.

Though limited in education and resources, she long ago had committed herself to doing all that she could do for her church. Indeed,it sometimes seemed as though the church was the family she never had.

She was there when the doors were open.She prayed daily for her church,not once but several times each day.And let me tell you,when Sarah prayed she got down to business with God! She had a way of praying that made me think that this woman was in touch with Something not of this world.

To her,the church was the very epicenter of her existence and she was determined to do everything within her modest means to ensure it remained healthy.She gave faithfully.She loved everyone.She also believed in “telling in like it is”,if you know what that means.She dished out love and correction with equal fervor.

She read and studied constantly,and she had a way of presenting the gospel that made it seem to come alive.Though she never attended Bible college, she could hold her own and then some when someone wanted to show off their knowledge of the Bible. Listening to her one could almost sense the love of God embracing you as she spoke of her Savior.

Unbeknownst to Sarah however ,her world was about to be turned upside down.

A meeting had been called at the church.Something about needing approval for something or other.Comments were made during the meeting about the need to become more modern,to do things the way other,more progressive churches were doing them.

It didn’t seem to matter that the church was vibrant(oh my,you should have heard our choir!),attendance was growing weekly,or that we had an established ministry of feeding the homeless.

The community where the church was located enthusiastically embraced the church’s various ministries.The church was always mentioned as one of the denominations shining examples.

There was something very special about this church that you could feel the moment you walked into the sanctuary. Expectation.Enthusiasm.Loving people loving each other.New faces and kids everywhere. What could possibly be wrong with this?

Evidently,plenty.

We were told that we must change our focus. Time to shift our priorities they said. It’s a new day,a different time the leadership team declared.We needed to move away from “traditional ministry” and focus more on attracting a younger crowd.We needed programs and activities geared more toward them,we were told.

I never understood why we couldn’t do both.

Like good foot soldiers,everyone tried to follow this new ministry direction.After all,that’s what we’re supposed to do isn’t it? Bit by bit what was once a thriving faith community was reorganized into the church that leadership said the community needed. But it wasn’t the same any longer.

Tragically,it was not just the members who felt that way but the entire community noticed it as well.So much so that they stopped coming. Funny isn’t it,how those on the outside can tell there’s something wrong on the inside?

And here’s the real kicker: even the homeless stopped coming.They no longer felt welcomed in the church.You see,in the scramble to reorganize in order to make our church more attractive to the new audience they wanted,the homeless had been forgotten. Left out. Abandoned.

So they went elsewhere.Or nowhere.

As I said previously,this happened over twenty years ago. The church that I loved,the church that Sarah and so many just like her loved,closed it’s doors within a few years of that fateful meeting.What had once drew the multitudes from afar had ceased to exist.

It’s members scattered here and there,some finding a new church home while others never fully settled in someplace else. Some gave up searching altogether.As for Sarah,she found a new church home and immediately went to work for the Lord there.

You may ask why I am telling you this sad story of something that happened so long ago,and what could it possibly have to do with us today.Well,let me try to explain.

In this life we are privileged if we find something that so touches our hearts that it becomes a part of us.Like that one true love,the man or woman of our dreams.That one who will be your forever soulmate.They come around once in a lifetime and we treasure them dearly.

I feel the same way about God’s church.Even though I may say things about the church that many wished I didn’t,I love the church.I say the things I do because I have a very keen sense of what the church can and should be,and it is painful to sit and watch what has happened to the family of God.

I cannot,I will not remain silent.

Most of the readers of this blog are aware that I recently moved to another part of the country.Without a doubt,this has been a life changing event,one that has caused me to spend time in reflection,both past and future.

One part of this reflection is that I’m reminded how precious my memories of church are,especially as we attempt to find a new place of worship in what to me is a new and very different world.

You see,from my perspective church today isn’t what church used to be. Of course,there are many, many voices out there proclaiming that it can never be what it once was. Just as life can never be what it was.I get it.

Things change constantly,culture is ever evolving and morphing into the next new phase. I certainly get that. And I am not,as my sweet Princess loves to remind me,living in the past. This time.

I think of church as community,or family. My fondest memories of church seem to center around togetherness and gathering together to worship in unity and love. Perhaps it’s because growing up my own life was so void of those things that I cling to these precious memories.

And I’m struggling to find that right now.

Visiting a new church for the third time where the only two people that greet you are the pastor and his worship leader is not my idea of community. Can someone explain to me how 100 people can stare at you and never smile or offer a handshake? Hey…I even showered!

It begs the question to be asked “what,or who are you if your character more closely resembles a zombie than one of God’s children”? Ummm…where is this abundant life Jesus spoke about(John 10:10)?

Someone whose opinions I value greatly told me recently that “I should forget everything I knew about church. That church is dead and will never come back”they said.

“The best you can hope for is to just find a place to attend,sit through their programs,and realize that you have nothing to offer them by way of engagement or involvement.Just sit there,sing along,nod at the appropriate time,and go home”.

Talk about painful to hear!   My God!

I confess that this does not sit well with me. This is not the model that the Disciples gave us concerning the church. In fact,the Disciples would not recognize the church of today.

They were a part of something that was alive and powerful. The churches they established shook up the known world. Indeed,it was said that their message was capable of turning the cities upside down(Acts 17:6).

I don’t know about you,but I’m not seeing any communities being turned upside down for Jesus today. I’m not seeing the lasting effects of a life changing encounter with Jesus Christ.What I am seeing is a church that has embraced the world while forsaking its roots.

In our zeal to be more culturally attractive we have forsaken the old paths(Jer 6:16). In their place we now have a politically correct, counterfeit church that wouldn’t dare rail against sin for fear that what is hidden in its own tents might be exposed for the world to see.

See,I told you I wasn’t going to remain silent.

Please understand me. I am not against necessary change,especially if it means winning the lost and ministering to the needy. I’m all in. Matter of fact,I’m getting desperate to find a place where I can get involved! Refusing to change when it is necessary can be fatal!

What I don’t understand is why we can’t do all of that,and still be the church. A powerful church emboldened by the Holy Ghost to be the hands and feet of Jesus…to all people. Isn’t that our assignment? I mean…where’s the love?

I guess I’ve now lived long enough to fully understand what sister Sarah said all those years ago:”what’s happened to my church?”.

  • Sarah is not her real name.Out of love and respect for her I have chosen not to reveal her real name.

Are you satisfied with just one day of Christmas?

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Am I the only one that thinks we’re getting ripped off here?

December 25th. Christmas Day.Here for just 24 hours then gone until next year.

Right this moment the TV news is touting yet another heartwarming story about someone reaching out to someone else just in the nick of time to avert a disaster of some sort. I love that.

For the past couple of weeks I’ve been hearing these kinds of stories regularly on the evening news. People from all walks of life start performing incredible deeds of kindness and generosity.

Some good news is indeed welcomed right now,especially given that we have just survived an incredibly cold,mean,and heartless national election. Yeah,we could use some good news for a change!

What I have never understood however is why these types of things only seem to happen at Christmas time? Maybe they do happen all the time,but you sure don’t hear about them like you do at Christmas.

Or at least it seems that way.

Some people call it the magic of Christmas. Others say that Christmas just makes them feel good. Then you have those that declare that its the spirit of Christmas.

Whatever you call it,what I want to know is where is it the rest of the year? Why can’t we have that Christmas feeling all the time? And just where does the spirit of Christmas go after December 25th?

Why don’t we give extraordinary tips at the restaurant every day to help out that single mom whose waiting on tables to help make ends meet? Surely they can use the help throughout the year.

Why is it that Christmas is the only time of the year when you hear about the “secret santa’s” paying off someone’s layaway at Walmart? Is Christmas the only time of the year when people use layaway?

Just yesterday I saw where hundreds of volunteers showed up to put together Christmas dinners for the homeless and needy in this area. What is it about Christmas that makes people do what they would not do in July?

Could it be that Christmas is the one time of the year when we actually open the door to our hearts so that we can then see the needs of others? If so…why? Why not every day?

Could it possibly be that at this one time of the year Jesus becomes real to us? To all of us?

Why do we wait all year to show a little kindness and compassion to others? Surely those wonderful traits are needed throughout the entire year,aren’t they?

In this cold,callous world showing acts of kindness and mercy are often viewed as a type of weakness.After all,only the strong survive,right? Is that why we refrain from doing them at other times?

Whatever the reason for the sudden outpouring of love and kindness,don’t you wonder why it can’t be this way all the time? Could it? Can it? Do we dare hope that it could be?

Here is what I think. I think it starts with one person. That could be you. Or it could be me. Doesn’t matter. What matters is that we open our eyes to the needs of others. That we allow ourselves to feel. To care.

What matters is that we recognize that we are so blessed to have so many good things,and that for the grace of God any one of us could be that person in need of some Christmas love.

Frankly,I’m not satisfied with one day of Christmas. Not when I know how easy it would be to keep the true meaning of Christmas going day after day.

Pipe dream you say? Pie in the sky? Maybe it is. But I’ve always heard that if you’re going to dream,dream big.

Merry Christmas everyone.

Ron

 

 

 

 

 

Is your priority list as ugly as mine?

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I’ve been thinking about priorities lately because it seems the busier I get the harder it is to keep my priorities in order. We all have priorities in life,whether they be our children, our careers, our marriages, or the many relationships we have.

Some of us are exceptional at prioritizing(my wife,for example is amazing)while the rest of us, well….not so much. Maybe you can relate?priority-list

If you had to list your priorities in order of importance,what would your list look like? If you are a Christian then likely your list would look something like this:

  • faith
  • family
  • career, etc…

Would this list be pleasing to God? Many times we get so focused on what’s important to us that we forget that God also has things He wants us to prioritize.Let’s look at something Jesus said about priorities.

Matthew 6:33 (NKJV)
But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

Now don’t miss that. Jesus said to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness…..What does “seek first” mean? Well, no matter how you slice and dice it,it means that nothing else is more important.

In this verse Jesus just established a priority for you and I.Its priority number one.

According to Jesus,our lists do not come first. Whatever we may have at the top of our list of priorities does not belong there unless it lines up with Matthew 6:33. And this my friends is where the battle line is drawn.rearranging-your-priorities

 

 

This battle to prioritize our lives really comes down to who,or what, is most important to us: God or me.God or my spouse or kids.God or my career.

Is this life all about me,or is this life all about God and me on this journey together?

So…about those priorities. What’s made your priority list these days?

How about we look at mine first? I’ve been doing an honest assessment of my priorities these past few days.Brutally honest. And in the light of Matthew 6:33 I do not like what I’ve found.

Let me show you what’s made my priority list lately:

  • Web surfing
  • TV
  • Sitting by the pool
  • Fishing
  • Eating
  • More TV

Get the picture? Ugly,isn’t it? I’m the guy that used to say that complacency is killing the church,one drop at a time. Turns out I was right. Oh,and notice who’s missing from my list?

Since I’ve recently retired I could easily make the case for taking some time for me.Everyone tells me I deserve it.After all, that’s what retired people do.Except that while making time for me is OK,leaving no time for HIM is not OK.Not even.

We do love our excuses,now don’t we??excuse

Now don’t get me wrong,I’m still following along in my nice little daily Bible reading plan.It’s become part of my morning routine,right there with breakfast.

If this is your daily routine and it works for you I mean no offense, but somehow I don’t imagine that the Lord is too pleased with having to compete with my breakfast for His attention.

Listen,all of us struggle at times. I’m living proof that it takes a concerted effort to keep our priorities in order.It doesn’t just happen.I suppose there are many others who feel the same as I do,cause I know I’m not the only one that struggles from time to time.

Am I?

Now that I’ve got you feeling terrible about yourself, here’s the real kicker in all of this.You and I happen to be the beneficiaries of a promise from God that He will never leave us or forsake us(Heb 13:5). And I don’t know about you,but that statement is pretty amazing.

So while we may go through times when our lives fall short of the Lord’s expectations,He remains faithful to us.He is always patient and kind towards us,gently urging us onward and helping to develop in us the discipline and character needed to be a follower of Him.

Be blessed!

 

 

What kind of minister says things like this?

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That was the question I asked myself this morning after hearing the minister say for the sixth time “this stuff is hard to believe,isn’t it”?

Please forgive my pessimistic,somewhat snarky title. It’s been one of those days. You know those kind of days. The kind where you ask yourself “why do I subject myself to this”?  Why not just stay home and have Bible study around the table?

From the Genesis account of creation to the Immaculate Conception, the minister made a point of telling us that these things are hard to believe.A seven point sermon to tells us that the Bible can be hard to believe. Hard to believe for whom?unbelief

To the unsaved person I would agree that most of scripture can be hard to believe when taken at face value. I’m pretty sure that most of us who were not raised in church struggled with biblical concepts while on the outside looking in. At least I know I did. Boy did I struggle! That’s what unregenerate minds do!

But concerning the word of God,what is so difficult for a sanctuary filled with believers to grasp here?

Are there some things in the Bible that challenge us as Christians? Absolutely there are! Do I question certain things? You better believe it. But that does not mean they are not to be believed.

Umm…..I think that’s why they call it FAITH! Some things are more difficult than others to believe and FAITH has to kick in at some point or else we’re no different than the unbelieving world.faith-quote

Maybe I’m an anomaly.I actually do believe the Bible.I actually do believe it was written under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.I believe it is God inspired and sufficient for our instruction and admonition.In short, I believe every word of it.

Maybe what bothered me the most about this morning’s message was that at the end of the service this same minister closed the service by asking any non-believers that might be present to “believe on the Lord Jesus”.

And some people wonder why I take the position I do in regards to the church of today?

This morning’s “encounter”reminded me of a quote from one of my favorite authors,Leonard Ravenhill,who said this: “The best title of the (professing) church of God today is Unbelieving Believers“. Well said Leonard.

 

Out of respect for God’s house I sat through the whole ordeal instead of bolting for the door after the 2nd or 3rd “this is hard to believe”.

A very poor choice on my part,of that you can be sure.

To all of you that have a faithful minister who proclaims the word of God I would ask this question: do you pray for them regularly? If not,you should make it a daily practice to not only pray for them but give thanks to God for them.

Believe me,they are becoming more scarce than you think.

The search for a new church home begins anew 😦

 

 

 

 

This is What Happens When God Has Left the Building

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I have wrestled for weeks over whether or not to post this.Actually,anguish is a far better descriptor than wrestle.I have literally paced the floor over this.I have written it and then rewritten it at least six times.I set it on the shelf hoping it would disappear or somehow delete itself.Which, of course, it didn’t.

It is not my intent to offend,but rather to call attention to an unfolding tragedy.So with that out of the way,and apologies for the length of this post…

Sometimes it seems as though I’m setting in a room watching a movie,or more accurately a horror film,as I watch,listen,and observe our society in action.

From the humble beginnings of a people desperately searching for something better a scant two and a half centuries ago,we have morphed into a society our forefathers would never have imagined.Could never have imagined.

Sometimes I want to scream from the tallest building”what in the world has happened to us!”.

Even the most ardent,forward thinking framers of the Constitution could never have envisioned the nightmare that has now enveloped us.Were it not unfolding right in front of us it would be all but unbelievable.

My ancestors and yours,many of whom risked their lives to come to America,would hardly have thought of making the journey to come here had they envisioned the debacle which is now America.

The greatest symbol of freedom and democracy the world has ever known has been corrupted by it’s own success,and now more closely resembles the tyrannical empires of the past more than the beacon of hope she used to be.

Let’s be honest here,America is out of control. Not “spinning out of control”,which would infer that it is still possible to regain control. No,we are completely out of control.And we are spiraling into an abyss from which there can be no escape lest we repent and return to God.

If you’re like me and wondering how this could have happened,I offer this simple but poignant observation: We have all been willing partakers in this tragedy!

By our own actions,or lack of action,we all must share the blame.The Hell borne efforts to rid this nation of it’s dependence upon God are now firmly entrenched in our culture,so much so that God is a stranger in America today.

All all of us have blood on our hands.

We Christians have not prayed enough.We have not loved enough.We set idly by while millions every day depart this life for an eternity separated from God.Doomed.Damned.And we feel nothing for them! No burden felt for the lost,no empathy for those outside the Ark of safety.Nothing.

Think of all the time,money,and effort that the adversary has been spent on campaigns to reduce God to an afterthought at best.God defying court decisions,every imaginable wickedness and evil in high places. All have played a key part in the systematic overthrow of the conscious of this nation.We are numb.

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The end result is an endless stream of blood in our streets. Murder rages out of control.Unconscionable  violence rarely causes an eyebrow to raise.

We are overwhelmed with a drunken,drug induced society incapable of righting itself in spite of incalculable dollars spent in hopes of rectifying the problems.

Democrats.Republicans.Independents.Two party. Three party.All have promised us that they have the answers.All have failed because at best all they can do is apply limited interventions,or bandaids to spiritual problems encased in darkness.

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We are angry.Our collective voices ring loudly with the sounds of outrage.We rail against our government,this government of the people,by the people,for the people.

Contentment among us is a foreign concept.Divisiveness is the new commonality that binds us!

 

Indeed,implosion seems inevitable.

We have been blinded by the light.Not that Light,but this one: And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light”.    II Cor. 11:14

The god of this world has invaded our homes,our schools,our government,and yes especially our churches.Satan has ripped apart our society right in front of us,and we allowed it to happen with hardly a whimper.

God was declared out of touch with the new reality a long time ago. He became an unfashionable relic from a bygone era that must be dealt with in order for the hip,progressive and destructive agenda Satan devised for America to culminate in the travesty we now see before us.

And we,the church,did next to nothing to stem the tide. In our rush to become more like the world instead of separating ourselves from the world as we are taught in scripture(II Cor. 6:17),we the church are as guilty if not more so than the heathen we love to rail against.

Our pastors and church leaders have bowed the knee to Baal,to the great god compromise

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in order to distance themselves from the stigma of holiness and righteousness.We who sit in the pew each Sunday have clamored for teachers that will tell us stories that appease the conscious,all the while soundly rejecting the Gospel message as too strict and cumbersome.

This Christian way is too strict,they say,echoing the words of our Lord(Matt. 7:13,14). We want an easier path to follow,one that won’t cost us anything.

Considering all that has been said so far,and if you are still reading this,I have an announcement to make.One that I have agonized over for several weeks. One I take no joy in proclaiming and do not wish to make.

God Has Left The Building.

If He hasn’t,then why doesn’t He hear us? Could it be that we have become so used to this new normative of evil that we no longer care enough to cry out to Him? Has our collective conscious been seared with the proverbial hot iron(I Tim. 4:2)? Are we utterly incapable of determining right and wrong?

Has the line between good and evil become so blurred as to be nearly invisible to the masses? Where is the outrage from the church in America? Forget a National Day of Prayer. We are desperately in need of a National Day of Repentance!

Our pastors and church leaders are needed on the front lines of this battle,but they are nowhere to be found.Where are the voices from our pulpits declaring that we have offended a Holy God by our actions? Where is the call for repentance? It would seem that the sheep have been abandoned on the hillside to fend for themselves!

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But Wait!

It can’t be that bad can it? Nothing is ever as bad as it seems.It will get better,it always does.Sure, we may have fallen a bit but we’ll turn it around.

After all,we just elected someone who promised to make America great again didn’t we? As if any man or woman can cure what ails this once proud nation.

I know many that maintain that America,  at less than 250 years old, is too young to die.I appreciate that sentiment. I understand where they’re coming from.No one likes to admit what I’m stating here.It’s not popular.It’s not good news.It reeks of despair and uncertainty.I will win exactly zero friends by posting this and no doubt incur the wrath of many.

I would counter the “America is too young to die”outcry with this: America is already dead.In fact,death occurred some time ago when America became “rich and in need of nothing”. She just hasn’t accepted it yet.Or perhaps remains willingly blind to her condition.

Because you say,‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked…”   Rev 3:17

As I stated,we are blinded by the light from the deceiver who has positioned himself as truth.And we have bought it. Hook. Line. And Sinker.

And our silence is deafening.

Surely our decision making abilities (or lack thereof) must cause bewilderment in heaven!

No rational,sane Christian can argue that we are living in the Laodicean age of the church. The age of the great falling away.The age of compromise and rebellion against spiritual authority.Against the Ultimate Authority.

1 But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come:

2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,

3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good,

4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,

5 having a form of godliness but denying its power   II Tim 3:1-5

Dangerous or perilous for who? Certainly for everyone.Specifically for Christians.To the watchful eye,every single one of these traits is evident in America today.And it’s about to get uglier than we ever imagined.

We are beginning to reap what we have sown.

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.Gal 6:7

Serious students of the Bible know full well what has happened to the nation of Israel who,though blessed mightily by God,forsook Him for other gods.Israel,God’s own chosen people,was eventually consumed by the sinful lifestyle they willingly chose to follow after. One hundred percent of them suffered the consequences. No exceptions.No escape.

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This,it pains me to say, is America’s destiny.The destiny that we ourselves have plotted.We have chosen our own path rather than follow the path chosen for us by God Himself.

As terrifying as it sounds,the upcoming acts of this catastrophic drama are soon to play out one by one,and rest assured,there will be a final act.The curtain is going to close on all we hold dear.

How can we be so sure this is going to happen? Because God has done all that He could to restore humanities broken relationship with Himself. And we have counted it as nothing.We have cast the sacrifice of His Son aside and trampled his blood under our feet(Heb. 10:29). God will not remain silent.He never has.

So is there no Hope?

Absolutely! As long as there is breath in us we have hope! God Almighty will see us through every upcoming scene.For the Christian who has placed their trust in the Lord,victory is assured.No matter what happens,God is faithful to His children.

Like many of you,I cling to the promise that He will never leave us nor forsake us(Heb 13:5). As a matter of fact I’m completely dependent upon His faithfulness.I trust Him completely because I have no one else in whom I can place my trust,and He has never violated that sacred trust.

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History has taught us that governments will fail.Societies will crumble.Men have always brought destruction upon themselves by the poor choices they make.It is a seemingly endless cycle.

History has also taught us something more valuable than those things.Perhaps the greatest lesson of all is this:

God may have left the building,but He will never leave YOU!

The Marking of a Tragedy

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Tragedy is a word we hear frequently today. Whether yet another police shooting,an airplane crash,forest fires that claim numerous lives and cause untold property destruction,or a multi car pile up on the highway,tragedy is constantly in the news.

But there is another kind of tragedy that while maybe not the type that makes the six o’clock news,it’s devastation is just as far reaching,and in some cases much more so.

I’m referring to personal tragedy. The kinds and types of tragedies that happen to all of us who live with fallen people in this fallen world.

Many of us have been deeply wounded by very personal tragedies. The scars we bear,whether physical or psychological offer testimony to the devastation inflicted upon us. Many times this comes in the form of an act perpetrated against our will. Victims of sexual abuse,those who suffer domestic abuse,children abandoned and neglected,can all readily identify with the word tragedy.

Other times tragedy comes in the form of simply living “life” as we know it. Those of us who have endured the loss of a loved one,whether through death or divorce know this type of tragedy very well.

Sadly,for many the tragedy becomes a part of us,a unique “branding”,or mark that seemingly imbeds itself in our DNA. It can become who or what we are,just as easily as any other type of identifier lets everyone know that we’re a fireman,a fisherman,or a baker.

Experience has taught me that this new addition to our DNA will continue to exert more and more influence over our lives,to the point that we ultimately mark this tragedy as THE event of our lives. In essence,it defines who we are.

Once that happens,we find ourselves returning again and again to the memories of this tragedy. We don’t want to. We fight as hard as we can not to. But we have marked this point in our lives and no matter how hard we work to keep the painful reminders of the past in the background,Satan will use every opportunity to bring them to the forefront. Because he knows that we must find a way,once again,to confront the demons of these past tragedies.

I fight this battle over many tragedies I have experienced. Especially today,December 1st. Today marks 49 years since my Dad passed away.That’s a long time ago. So long ago that memories that were once vivid and fresh in my mind are now starting to fade a bit.

I find myself wishing for the days of my youth when I thought I lived in a perfect world. Funny how your mind convinces you that everything was so great,when we all know better don’t we?

I marked a tragedy the day that my Dad died. There is no doubt about it. I didn’t realize it at the time but it is painfully obvious that I did. And this tragedy has maintained its grip on me for forty nine long years.Forty. Nine.Years.

This tragedy pulls me backward when I want to go forward. It haunts me,even consumes me at times. It causes me to distance myself from those I love so that I can return once again to happy childhood memories in my mind. A time long before I knew what a tragedy was.

When I was seven years old our home caught fire and was seriously damaged,so much so that all four of my siblings and I were dispersed to live with other families until months later when we were all reunited. This did not seem to me to be a tragedy,though for certain my parents thought so. I was too young to comprehend the financial impact and hardships this event cost them.To me it seemed to be an adventure of sorts,even though the family I lived with was so different than my own. I didn’t even mind having to wear hand me down clothes!

Looking back is a two edged sword isn’t it? On one hand,looking back can remind us of happier times with friends and family,and all of us cling to such memories.

On the other hand,looking back to focus again and again on the tragic events of our past can be debilitating,especially given the circumstances some have had to endure.

For me personally,I often wonder when or if I will ever free myself of the tragedies of the past. Perhaps it is unreasonable to expect to. Who can say?

All of this was brought home to me today when the Love of my life said these compelling words: “you know,if we lived in Bible times you would be turned into a pillar of salt”. Ummm…OUCH!

But I understood exactly what she meant by that,for she is witness to my many mental forays into the past. And she bears the brunt of the aftermath. With love and grace,she never fails to point me back to Jesus.

Just as I’m going to try doing for you.

The past can never be undone this side of heaven. Tragedies that were,will always be with us,until this mortality is replaced with immortality.

To the hurting and wounded among us,God has promised us a hope and a future. He has a plan for our lives,and that plan is centered around the hope we have in Christ. I for one am looking for a future when the former things are passed away. Old memories will be reaplaced with the new memories we will begin to make in a home that will literally be perfect in every way.

Memories that will never include a tragedy.

Be blessed,

Ron