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Catching up!

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I can hardly believe that it’s been nearly a whole month since my last blog! This certainly wasn’t planned, so I thought I would share with you what has me so preoccupied these days.

If you will remember, several weeks ago I accepted the position of Associate Pastor of our church. Since then, my responsibilities have grown exponentially leaving me little free time to attend to this blog.

At our church we have Sunday School, Sunday morning worship, and a Wednesday mid-week service, all of which I have some responsibility for.

I minister at every Wednesday service, which of course requires study time as well as prayer time. I also teach the adult Sunday School class every other Sunday. Again, more study and prep time.

For all of our services I am also part of the worship team, playing guitar while my wife Debbie plays the keyboard. Even our daughter has joined in the festivities as a children’s Sunday School teacher.

One of my most time consuming responsibilities is editing the video of our services. This is something I have never done before so it has been quite the learning experience for me. Especially since I’m learning completely on my own!

Learning a new software program is challenging enough, but trying to edit a video on a woefully underpowered laptop is the essence of frustration. My computer is so old and underpowered that it actually overheats and shuts down in the middle of what I’m doing!

If you know anything about this type of work, you know that to edit 4K video requires a beast of a computer, which neither our church or myself has. We are currently looking into a new PC that can handle this type of task, but because we are a small church money is tight. We simply don’t have the $2000 (low end!) to purchase what we need. So we continue to pray that God will make a way for us.

I roughly calculated that using my old PC to edit video is taking about 15-20 hours. For ONE video! As someone who is always looking for the most efficient method of getting a task completed, this activity has been “somewhat trying” on me.

One of my other responsibilities is that of managing our church website. It is a work in progress, with yours truly learning on the fly once again. We are locked into the current site hosting plan for the next year, but after that we will reevaluate things and see if we might move it to WordPress or some other platform that gives us more control over our content. For now, it does the job. If you’d care to check it out, head on over to cognocatee.org. Please remember, it still has a ways to go but it is far beyond what it was when I started.

One other thing I’m heading up now is our daily devotional outreach ministry. This is where we send out an encouraging scripture text each day, and include any urgent prayer requests along with it. So, I have had to learn a couple of new communication systems pretty quickly, which is actually very interesting to me.

Ironically, of the many things I am now doing in ministry I doubt I could have gotten up to speed so quickly had I not had the career I had at Honda. Being immersed in various forms of technology there enabled me to bring much of that same aptitude to my ministry work. It almost makes me think this was God’s plan all along. What do you think?

So there you have it.  I know I left something out, but I cannot remember what it is. At any rate, I think you get the picture. This is my new “retired life”, and I love it!

Of course, like every church ours struggles with the whole Covid-19 issue. Reorganizing the sanctuary to ensure safe distance was no easy task, and it severely limits the number of worshipers we can have.

Nonetheless, I am thrilled to be waist deep in ministry during this season of my life. I am blessed beyond measure to have a wife who is not only supportive of what I’m doing, but is right there with me when she can be. She remains my biggest supporter and I am thankful the Lord uses her gifts and talents as well.

With that I will say “thank you” to you who have prayed for me and encouraged me faithfully to press onward. I am always amazed at how faithful God is when we put our hand to the plow.

I promise I will try not to stay away so long before posting again. Believe me, I have a million words stored away for this blog but I am lacking the time to express them for now. As in all things, God knows and understands best doesn’t He?

I pray the Lord blesses you and encourages you daily. In these trying times we need the Lord like never before, and it is a great comfort to know that “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble”. Psalm 46:1

Ron

Death does not have the final say

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In this post I want to speak about a subject that we all try to avoid thinking about: the subject of death. As I am sure you would agree, there isn’t a more unlikely or unwelcoming topic for a blog. Yet because death affects us all, and it has been front and center with me as of late, I felt it important enough to address in this post.

Over the past few days I have found myself in the unenviable position of having to deal with the subject of death far more than I care to. From the recent deaths of three brothers in Christ to the impending deaths of a couple more, it would seem that death is running unabated among my small circle of influence.

One of the men who recently passed was a millionaire many, many times over. His homes and incredible possessions spoke volumes as to his great wealth, and the exorbitant medical care costs associated with prolonging his life for a few months more meant little to him.

The other two men were about as far from wealthy as one could get I suppose. For these two, there were no millions of dollars from which to buy expensive medical treatments in the hopes of buying a little more time. The only thing they had to look forward to was to be released from the excruciating pain of an incurable disease.

It’s a peculiar thing, this thing called death and dying. It spares no one. It does not discriminate according to your wealth, or lack thereof. It plays no favorites. Leaving this life a pauper or a multi-millionaire makes no difference in the end, for death has a 100% success rate.

Should the Lord delay His coming, everyone reading this post will have their date with death. There’s no use in pretending otherwise, and while it is certainly not an uplifting subject, death is nonetheless coming for us all.

When it does, the only thing that will matter then will be whether we have prepared ourselves for what waits on the other side. You see, the Bible makes it clear that after we pass on, there is a judgement from which no one is excused. [1]

How we have lived in this life will dictate where we spend eternity. If we have lived our lives in service to the Lord, we know that Heaven and all of its splendor awaits us. Conversely, if we have rejected the Lord and chosen instead to live our lives selfishly without regard for others, we will spend eternity separated from God in a place of unimaginable suffering.

The greatest news of all however is that although death awaits us all, every born again child of God is assured that upon our last breath here on earth, we will take our first breath in Glory. In other words…death does NOT have the final say!

Jesus paid it all. His blood redeemed us from every curse, even the curse of death. For you see, whom the Son sets free is free indeed, and that includes freedom from the bondage of death. [2]

All of the men I have spoken about in this blog loved the Lord. All of them had made their preparations for eternity and are now enjoying a peace that I cannot even begin to fathom.

That’s what real freedom is. It’s knowing that death has been defeated at Calvary, and that life eternal awaits all who have surrendered their hearts to Christ. A life free of pain, discouragement, depression, tears, and any other thing that would not bring joy to us.

Sounds like the life for me, how about you?

Ron

[1] Acts 17:31, Hebrews 9:27

[2] John 8:36

In spite of the insanity, God still has a plan

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For the past several weeks I have been preoccupied with a certain thought and I’m wondering if it’s just me, or if there are others who are wrestling with these very same thoughts.

Watching the riots and violent demonstrations unfold, it seems to me as though this nation is teetering on the brink of insanity. How else could you describe the systematic dismantling of a society in favor of anarchy?

Does anyone else feel this way, or am I all alone on this island of misfits?

Consider the following if you will:

  • Municipalities are discussing the defunding of their police departments. Yes, some prefer the words “reallocate resources”, but the meaning is the same. [1]
  • The city of Seattle WA. is under siege as violent protesters have taken over city hall. [2]
  • Christopher Columbus statues are being taken down across America.  [3]
  • NASCAR has ordered that no more Confederate flags may be flown at it racetracks. [4]

As I said, we are teetering on the edge of insanity as a nation. OK, maybe the NASCAR thing isn’t such a big deal in the big picture of things, but you get my point.

Granted, we have many areas in this country that are in dire need of attention. Racism, bigotry, hatred, and rage are but a few of them. These issues are brought about by man trying to elevate himself above his fellow men, which is what men do when they no longer submit to the moral authority that God has ordained.

These issues however cannot be solved with another brick through a window. A better place to start would be with a conversation with the Lord.

Along with the inequalities and injustices now making headlines worldwide, I’d personally like to see the same amount of “focus” being placed on child hunger, child sex abuse, and affordable health care.

And while we’re at it let’s not forget the systematic murder of 60 million babies in the womb. Which, by the way, makes Hitler look like a Sunday School teacher. But I digress…

Now, lest you have started to wonder if I’ve lost it, consider this if you will.

No matter what is going on around us, God is still commanding the sun to rise in the East every morning, and every evening just like clockwork I get to watch the spectacle of the setting sun in the Western sky.

He is still in control. Man may tear down and destroy in his feeble attempts to rewrite history, but God’s plan for man cannot be altered. What is this plan of his?

God’s plan is for man to be saved. Plain and simple, God wants to save you and me from an eternity separated from Himself. Despite man’s best efforts to destroy himself and the community he lives in, God Almighty has given us his only Son Jesus Christ as full payment for our personal salvation.

Even while this nation is ablaze with hatred and violence, Jesus is still fulfilling God’s plan of salvation because God, not man, not any “movement”, but God alone is still on the throne.

Our ideologies, apart from God’s plan, are just that…ideas. 

God, however, has a plan for your life, and as part of that grand plan he has created you to soar above the ideologies of mankind. You were not created to rob, kill, and destroy. Those are the works of the devil, not God’s grandest creation. You were created in the image of God to excel!

God has a plan for you that includes you and your loved ones spending eternity with Him. Yes, the heathen may rage. Nothing about that will take God by surprise. Trust me, He’s seen it all before!

Take heart, for despite the insanity enveloping our nation, God still has a plan, and that plan my friends includes the saving of your soul. You belong to Him, and don’t ever let the devil tell you otherwise.

Have a blessed day,

Ron

 

[1] For a look at what happens to communities that defund their police force, look no further than Camden NJ. While some call it a model for police reform, the facts speak differently.

 [2] Demonstrators have since set up occupancy in a six-block section of downtown and renamed it “Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone” (CHAZ).

[3] It seems Christopher Columbus, he of the Niña, Pinta, and Santa Maria fame treated indigenous peoples he encountered rather poorly. Who knew?

[4] What is odd about this decision is that NASCAR has its roots deep in the South, where there are a great many people still flying the Stars and Bars. One wonders if NASCAR will not boycott Coca-Cola next. After all, its founder was Lt. Colonel John Pemberton, he of the Confederate Army’s 12th Calvary.

 

Sorry America, but your rage is misplaced

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Coming out of the recent pandemic that saw a near complete shutdown of our society along with critical shortages of many essential items, I am struck by the things we now seem to have an abundance of.

Anger comes to mind as something we have in abundance. And hatred, let’s not forget the overflow of hatred in America. Oh, and I don’t want to forget one other thing we have in great abundance today; finger pointing. Can’t forget that now, can I?

Almost beyond belief, it would seem that the cataclysmic virus that had doomed us all to certain death really wasn’t the apocalyptic event prophesied by the media after all. How could it be, when hundreds of thousands are marching side by side not wearing a mask? Imagine that would you?

Things were so bad that we were strictly forbidden to go to church for fear of spreading this death defying virus, yet somehow or another congregating in crowds of tens of thousands doesn’t pose any health risks at all.

I mean, who knew?

Honestly, I’m thinking the wrong crowds are filling the streets of America. I’m thinking we awful, disease spreading, unenlightened Christians ought to be the ones pouring out into the streets of America to protest the theft of our Constitutionally guaranteed freedom of worship. [1]

Speaking of pouring out into the streets, I have lived on this earth for just over 65 years, and in that time I have seen many instances where people took to the streets out of frustration and anger over issues beyond their control.

I was just a boy of eight years of age when Martin Luther King gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech in 1963.

I was thirteen when the infamous “Chicago Seven” were arrested for their anti war activities during the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago.

Just two years later when I was a 15 year old, the Ohio National Guard opened fire on a crowd of Vietnam War protestors, killing four and wounding nine. Living just a couple of hours from Kent State University, it seemed like it was in my backyard.

Since those tumultuous times of decades past, there have been several other noteworthy examples of citizens taking to the streets to protest for one reason or another. Abortion, LBGTQ, Environment, Guns, Women’s rights, Anti-war, and the Million man and Million woman marches have all made their mark on the fabric of American society.

Today, as our nation once again seethes with anger in the wake of the brutal, heinous murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, millions are again taking to the streets in a show of indignation and defiance of the status quo.

Of course, the violence that has erupted during the peaceful marches is the result of a well planned and well funded attempt to destroy the fabric of American society from within. There is only one word that most aptly describes what is being played out before our eyes: EVIL.

We can dress it up any way we like to, but it’s still EVIL. We can call it racism or bigotry or any number of other names, but it’s still EVIL. And this is what those marching and protesting in the streets do not understand. This is NOT an issue of race. It is an issue of EVIL. Even those violent criminals that have been unleashed upon our society are completely misguided. The issue here is not one group hating another. It goes much, much deeper than that.

What we’re dealing with here is of the spiritual nature. Don’t believe that? Read what the Apostle Paul had to say about the subject of EVIL.

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. (emphasis mine)

Did you understand what Paul meant? Our battle, your battle, is not with mankind. It is NOT with your neighbor who is of a different skin color than yours. It is NOT with those whose belief system differs from your own. No, the battle is against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

In other words, the battle is against the spiritual forces of darkness that exist in high places. Who is leading the charge of these forces of darkness at play in our society? Why, it’s none other than Satan himself. That’s right, and every person storming the streets today is being played by the devil. Not a popular sentiment, is it?

Why do you suppose racism still exists at the level it does today? Why haven’t supposedly educated, enlightened individuals been able to come up with a permanent cure for racism? The answer is so simple that its almost too simple. The reason racism still exists at its current level is because the cure for racism is the love of God, and the world has largely rejected the Source of this love.

It’s like the old adage about taking a knife into a gunfight. You can be the very best at using a knife, but against a gun you have virtually zero chance of success against your adversary. Fighting systemic racism by protests, even violent protests does nothing to address the root of the problem! To be sure, these marches have gotten the attention of the entire world. They have no doubt spawned new discussions (or soon will) on how best to deal with the problem.

But not one thing is being done to address the root of the problem: we have forsaken God.

And that, dear readers, is not something that can be corrected by marching down Main Street USA. It can only be corrected at an altar.

Have a blessed day,

Ron

 

Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? Psalm 2:1

 

[1] The Bill of Rights: Amendment 1

What Are You Anchored To?

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Things have been moving along at a fairly good clip recently in spite of the quarantine/lock-down we’ve been under for the past month or so. I’ve been busy with church work, hospital visits, and recording radio broadcasts. Our church is busy acquiring new camera and recording equipment so that when we are able to make use of our sanctuary again, we will be able to produce top quality material to upload to YouTube, Radio, and our own Podcasts. We are working hard, using this “downtime” to better equip our church to reach our community and far beyond.

Speaking of hospital visits, there is nothing normal about visiting someone in the hospital now thanks to the Corona virus. As a matter of fact, my pastor was hospitalized for several days recently and he was not permitted a single visitor, not even his wife! Imagine having to communicate by phone while looking at each other through the window. These are strange times indeed.

A couple of days ago I received a call early in the morning from my pastor asking me if I wanted to go to the hospital with him to pray for someone. This wasn’t a member of our church or someone we knew, which of course doesn’t make a bit of difference to us, so of course I was happy to go along.

I didn’t realize until we arrived at the hospital that they weren’t going to allow both of us to see this person, so while pastor had his temperature taken and filled out the lengthy questionnaire, I decided to spend the time speaking with the family members gathered outside.

It has always amazed me what you can learn about people if you will just take the time and listen. During a crisis, especially when it is life and death, people are also more prone to listen to what you have to say as well. It makes for a good opportunity to talk with them about eternity, in fact I found this family very willing to talk about spiritual things.

So, for the next 20 minutes that’s just what we did. I learned that this family knew quite a bit about God yet were living their lives far from Him. I listened as I was told of how they used to attend church a long time ago, and in fact two of their daughters still attend church. Interesting, isn’t it, that the parents who used to take their kids to church many years ago now no longer attend, yet their children do.

Whenever you get in a conversation with folks who “used to go to church”, they always want you to know that. It’s a type of defense mechanism I believe, a way to let you know that they know all about God and church, so you don’t really need to go into all of that with them.

I think it’s called deflection.

At any rate, I gently reminded the person I was speaking with that what we used to do so far as attending church didn’t mean that we had somehow accumulated enough “points” with God to permit us to ignore Him today. I let her and her family know that God isn’t a genie that can be summoned to our rescue whenever it was convenient for us to do so.

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I find that a lot of people treat God this way. They live their life in whatever manner they choose and give little if any thought to eternal, or spiritual things. They can’t be bothered with religion, spirituality, or God. Those are things that one comes to terms with when they get old and are coming to the end of their days.

I used this family as an example as I was recording the radio broadcast yesterday. I was speaking from Mark chapter 4, the story of Jesus rebuking the winds, and how the disciples did the only thing they knew to do during this violent storm, which was to call upon Jesus.

The point I was making was that we cannot wait until we are in the storm to turn to God because there may not be time do so. The time to turn to Jesus is right now, before the next storm comes rushing into our lives.

And that is where I will leave this post. All of us have faced the storms of life, and it is for certain that storms will come again. The question we need to ask ourselves is this; “what are you anchored to”?

Will you be like the family I was speaking with at the hospital, with no anchor and no lifeline? Will the next storm find you tossed about, at the mercy of the wind and rain? Will you be forced to cry out to your “genie” to save you?

If you answered YES to these questions, then you need to turn your heart to Jesus. Don’t wait, don’t keep making excuses, just do it. NOW.

Trusting in His promise to never leave us or forsake us,

Ron

Help in trying times

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I sincerely hope that this post finds all of you safe and as well as can be expected during these times of unrest and uncertainty. 

It seems that all of us are impacted in one way or another by COVID-19, and the staggering toll this virus is taking on the entire world leaves many wondering how much longer they can endure the restrictions, closures, quarantines, lockdowns, and empty grocery stores.

Of course, none of these temporary hardships can begin to compare with the loss of lives, those still hospitalized, and the hundreds of thousands of confirmed cases.

By actual count as of 3/28/2020 @ 3:16 PM EST the numbers look like this:

  • Coronavirus Cases = 650,926
  • Deaths = 30,299
  • Recovered = 139,555

Source = https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/

All of this says nothing about the impact to families, businesses, schools, and even churches. The financial impact alone is almost incalculable. No one has a clue as to how long real recovery will take or even what that will eventually look like. 

Now that certain states are contemplating the closure of their borders, one has to wonder if we won’t soon see armed military guarding all entrances to states in an effort to stem the tide of this deadly pandemic.

If all of this seems more than a little surreal, you are not alone in thinking that. Americans all across this nation are now confronted with an enemy that strikes at will, and to date has met little resistance.

That being said, and contrary to the 24/7 NNN (Negative News Networks) portrayal of hopelessness, we know that we can go to our Lord in prayer for help and support during these trying times. All throughout the Bible we have examples of God’s people turning their hearts toward Him in their hour of distress, and we are afforded the very same privilege today!

Wanting to encourage our church family, yesterday I recorded a message for our church’s radio broadcast and entitled it simply Strength for These Uncertain Times. In this message I recounted the story of David and his army, who upon returning to their home base of Ziklag, found the city burned and their wives and children taken captive.

So distressed were David’s men that they talked among themselves of stoning David to death. Knowing he was outnumbered and that his life was in peril, David did the only thing he could do; he strengthened himself in the Lord his God. [1]

I love this particular story because it points to the fact that when we are at the end of our rope and out of options, God is more than able to help us if we will turn our hearts toward Him. David found this to be true when he recovered all of their families that had been taken.

For many of us however, God is always our last resort. We will try everything in our own power to fix, overcome, or otherwise do it on our own before as a last resort calling upon the Lord.

I would like to encourage all of us to tackle the challenges we are facing today in a different, even radical manner. How about we look to the Lord first instead of as our last option?

If we would just remember that God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble, it is my firm conviction that He will give us the strength we are all going to need for the days to come. [2]

It is true that we are facing an uncertain future, a future that is changing at such a rapid pace that few of us can keep up. 

Just as true however is the certainty that none of this has taken God by surprise. The very One that knew us while we were yet in our mother’s womb is also the One who holds the future in His hands. What is uncertain to all of us, God has already seen.

I end this post with a final thought from the Psalmist of Israel:

The Lord is on my side. I will not fear. What can man do to me”? [3]

Take courage beloved, God is still God, and He always will be God!

Ron

 

[1] 1 Samuel 30:6

[2] Psalm 46:1

[3] Psalm 118:6

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The cold, hard truth is that this COVID-19 virus is unmanageable for a President, a Prime Minister, a Chairman, or any governmental powers. If anyone says otherwise, or that they could have reacted better or faster, or that they have the solution, to them I say you are either a liar or you have no conscious. Otherwise you would have stepped forward and made your case.

This is the worst possible time to be pointing fingers, but the nauseating debacle of getting the stimulus package approved was a classic example of a childish game of “it’s all your fault”.

How disheartening that the politicians on both sides of the aisle made it clear that the 2 Trillion dollar relief bill wasn’t really about you, it was about them getting their pet projects approved.

Any rational person understands that every cent of that 2 Trillion dollars should be earmarked for costs directly associated with this virus, not more pork from Washington. Under the guise of a $1,200 relief payment, politicians from across this nation have once again shown us that they are not worthy of our trust.

I bring this up dear reader, because regardless of your political affiliation, what has just happened here shows you once and for all that you and I simply do not matter. We are merely pawns in this diabolical shell game between warring factions of arguably the most corrupt political system the world has ever known.

And that is a bitter pill to swallow. It didn’t start out this way. It was never supposed to be this way.

Unfortunately, it is, and no upcoming election will change things. The lines have been drawn in the sand. The word “compromise” has been stricken from the vocabulary of this current crop of politicians.

You want to know the real tragedy in all of this? What we are currently witnessing is mild compared to what awaits us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Like a vapor….

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Today I had the privilege of conducting the memorial service for the gentleman I introduced to you a few weeks ago, the man who had recently been given 30 days to live.

For a while things had taken a positive turn, so much so that the doctors believed it was beneficial to begin again to aggressively fight the cancer that had invaded his body.

This respite, as it turned out, was to be very short lived. Daryl passed away this past Sunday at 1:22 am. 

I must confess that the news of his passing caught me off guard. After previously being told that the doctors thought there was at least some hope, I had anticipated him being with us for some time.

So it was with great sadness that I received the report of his passing, especially since our church had basically “adopted” his family. 

Out of necessity I was asked to do the memorial service for Daryl  because our pastor is in the hospital awaiting surgery. I received the call yesterday morning that I would be doing the service, so needless to say it’s been a flurry of activity in preparation for today’s service.

Not coincidentally, this past Sunday also marked my official start as the new associate pastor of our church. To say that Debbie and I are busier than ever would be an understatement, but oh how we love it!

So, armed with personal notes from the family and my own ministry materials, we presented a message of love, hope, and compassion to this wonderful family. 

My message was short and to the point. I told them that at the end of our lives there are only two options as to where we will spend eternity.

Because Daryl had departed at a relatively young age (by today’s standards), I made a point that even if we lived to be 120 years old, compared to eternity that was a drop in the bucket. As the Bible tells us, this life is like a vapor, which means it doesn’t last very long.

I mentioned to the family that when we are young, all of us feel bulletproof and invincible. Let a few years pass by however, and those feelings of invincibility quickly fade away.

I could tell that this caused many of them to think about this, as the family was represented by a good mixture of all age groups. The younger ones especially gave this some thought, and I shared with them how that I felt that exact same way when I was younger.

I concluded my message by reminding them that when we come to the end our days, God doesn’t send us anywhere. We send ourselves to either Heaven or Hell based upon what we have done with Jesus Christ in this life.

I don’t think any of them had ever considered this before, and I pray it will stay in their minds until they each decide what they will do with Jesus.

Afterwards, our church had prepared a nice meal for the family, and that gave me an opportunity to get to know some of them. It was obvious that they loved Daryl, and the many children, grandchildren, and other relatives spoke so lovingly of him.

At the end of our time together I was pleased that so many told me they were comforted by the things I said. My hope and prayer of course is that they won’t just think on the things I said, but that they will also act upon them.

I think it would be wise for all of us to consider this issue of our life being like a vapor. The material things we strive for will one day be left here for others to deal with, because it is for certain that we will take no possessions with us when our time comes.

I close this blog with something a coworker of Daryl’s said to me today. It seems that many of them have been praying for Daryl for some time that he would give his heart to Jesus. He looked at me very seriously and asked me “do you think Daryl made it”?

My response was simply this: none of us knows the heart of another. What I do know however is that the Daryl that left this life was not the same Daryl I first met in the hospital nearly a month ago.

Many, many people have prayed for him, including some of you dear readers. In less than one month, Daryl went from a man who wanted nothing to do with “religion”, to a man who gladly and willingly reached for my hand when I asked him to pray.

Beloved, this life is like a vapor. Live your life in a manner that will matter for all eternity. Make it count. Really count. 

There are millions of “Daryl’s” out there counting on you!

Ron

 

 

 

Whom Shall I Fear?

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This morning I was asked to deliver the message in both the 8:45 and 10:45 services because our pastor was ill. Thankfully, he is not suffering from the current virus that has afflicted so many, nonetheless he will be requiring medical attention as soon as possible. Please keep him in your prayers.

It just so happens that I was recently reading the 27th Psalm, and I thought it was appropriate to speak on the subject of “Whom shall I fear”, taken from the first verse of this particular Psalm.

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

I think these are legitimate questions considering the current state of near-panic being exhibited by so many in our communities. Fear is a natural reaction to adverse situations beyond our control, and it takes a great deal of faith to remain calm in times like these.

I mentioned this morning how that Paul told Timothy that “in the last days, perilous times shall come“, and that whether or not one agrees that we are in the “last days” one thing was for certain and that was that we are living in dangerous times. [1]

When you really think about it, none of this should take any of God’s children by surprise. Yes, it is a shock to our system to see how that life as we have known it is changing by the day. Yet throughout the Scriptures God has warned us of a time when we would be inundated with wars, famines, pestilences, lawlessness, and a myriad of other unsettling events. [2]

My message this morning centered around the fact that while many things are out of our control, God remains in full control. Because He is in control, we have nothing to fear. How, you may ask, can I say this?

I can say this with 100% confidence because I am persuaded that there is “nothing that can separate us from the love of God“. [3]

I am not naive. I fully understand that this latest health pandemic has the potential to reach a level beyond anyone’s expectation. I also know that this will not be the last major crisis we have to deal with.

I do not say this lightly, but I say it in earnest consideration of the days we now live in, and the days that lie ahead of us.

The adversary will attempt to use this crisis to divide the church and to isolate us. This is already taking place as more and more churches are cancelling services. Because of this I strongly urge all of us to guard our hearts. Read your Bible daily, for in it you will find strength and encouragement for the journey. I also think it would be wise if we were to watch less TV news and read more of the Good News instead.

I also urge all of us to find time each day to pray. Stay in communication with the Father. I cannot begin to tell you how important this is, especially if you cannot attend church services. As I mentioned, the enemy desires to isolate us so that his voice alone is the one that garners our attention. Please do not allow that to happen in your life and in your family!

As to the questions from Psalm 27, we have no one to fear or to be afraid of. May God give you a peace that passes all understanding as you remember that the Lord has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, of love, and of a sound mind. [4]

I trust the Lord to watch over each of you,

Ron

[1] 2nd Timothy 3:1

[2] Matthew 24:5-7

[3] Romans 8:35-39

[4] 2 Timothy 1:7

 

 

30 days to eternity

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Suppose you were asked to meet someone who has a terminal illness. He has just been told he has 30 days to live, and has never had a saving relationship with the Lord. He’s lived his whole life of 60 plus years on his own terms, and now must come to grips with the reality that he will not die on those same terms.

As a Christian, what would your mindset be? Would you arm yourself with an assortment of ‘salvation scriptures’ and prepare to do battle with the enemy over this lost soul? 

What would you say to them? Would you tell them “you better get right” or you’ll go to Hell? Or would you tell them how sorry you were that this sickness had invaded their body?

I’ve been struggling with these questions all day today (Friday, March 6) after spending a few brief minutes with this man, his wife, my pastor, and another visitor in his hospital room. It really wasn’t much of a visit, as the man spent the time we were there leaning over a tub because he felt so nauseous.

Try as I might, I didn’t have the answers to the questions I spent the better part of the day pondering. To say this was unsettling to me would be a gross understatement. Additionally, my inability to make sense of how a man can be so close to eternity yet still resist the loving pull of the Holy Spirit unnerved me.

To be sure, this man has had the way of salvation explained to him in a very simplistic manner. My pastor made sure of that during a couple of prior visits. After living his life in the manner he chose to, this poor man likely never gave God a second thought in his lifetime. For certain, this was his first time ever hearing that Jesus Christ loved him enough to die for him.

He knows he is lost. He has been told that there are only two ‘final destinations’ for all of us, and he says he understands this.

Fast forward to today (Tuesday, March 10th). Debbie and I were asked by our pastor to provide lunch today for this man’s wife, who is unable to drive and thus cannot leave the hospital in search of something to eat. (For reasons we still do not understand, this hospital does not give a food tray to the spouse-even the spouse of a dying man). So Debbie prepared a nice lunch and off we went, back to the hospital.

We entered the room and we were pleased to see this gentleman able to sit up in his bed. After a bit of small talk I asked if there was anything we could do for them. The wife whispered the word “PRAY” to me, and surprisingly the man also said we could pray. Standing next to his bedside, I reached for his hand and was deeply moved by how firmly he grabbed my hand.

My prayer was a simple one. I asked our kind and loving God to have mercy upon this man. I asked Him to open his eyes, his mind, his heart, and his soul to God. I asked for comfort, for peace in his heart that surpasses all understanding, and I asked God to speak into this man’s heart the words of eternal life.

So, about those questions above, I believe I now have the answers, at least partially. I believe our reaction to someone in this condition must be to show them the unconditional love of Jesus Christ. No judgement is required or necessary, nor is there time to waste on it. He doesn’t need a judge, he needs a Savior. Whatever his past life has been like, none of that really matters at this point. The ONLY thing that matters is that he knows he has a Savior that loves him.

Finally, I think the God of heaven looked down on this poor man (me) and figured I needed to be reminded of just how blessed I am. I’d like to think that we were given a unique opportunity to do nothing for this man and his wife except to show them they are loved. No speech, no lesson, no sermon, just love.

The Bible speaks of this life as being like a vapor. Compared to eternity, even someone’s life that reaches 100 is but a passing vapor. Imagine then, how quickly will 30 days pass?

I humbly ask that you would remember this man in your prayers. I won’t mention his name, for God already knows him very well.

Ron

 

The Relentless Attack on the Family

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This post is a brief summary of a recent lesson I taught on the war that is being waged against the family in America today.

It is an undeniable fact that families in America are under attack, most especially those who still hold to the once common “bring up the child in the fear and admonition of the Lord” point of view. [1]

With an ever-growing list of governmental, secular, and societal obstacles to overcome, the traditional family structure is precariously balancing on the verge of extinction. One doesn’t have to do much more than open their web browser or turn on the TV to see this being played out.

Sociologists, Anthropologists, and Psychologists all agree that families must change, evolve, and adapt along with the society surrounding them or they risk being left behind. Few of us, for example, would prefer to return to the labor intensive, pre-technology days of our past. If you’ve ever driven by an Amish farm, I think you would agree with that sentiment.

Of course, nothing ever stays the same, and we all know that change in inevitable. How we manage those changes however, especially those that threaten our family’s spiritual values, will likely determine whether we continue raising those families in a Christ-affirming manner, or succumb to the changes brought on by an increasingly hostile and anti-Christian society.

The plain truth is that the family is facing an unprecedented assault by none other than Satan himself. Cleverly disguised so as not to revel his true identity, he alone is the family’s number one enemy. [2]

From the beginning, Satan has fought against the family. He has done his best to sow division and discord within it. By attempting to change the family from the original God-ordained structure we read of in the creation story, Satan has corrupted the family into the “define your own family unit as you see fit” example being presented today.

Be that as it may, I cannot overstate the importance of the fact that God is the greatest supporter of the traditional family the world has ever known. He should be, after all He created the very first family.

Had the original family not been blind-sided by a cunning, cruel, and deceptive adversary, the Utopia that was Eden might well have been our existence as well. At least I’d like to believe that.

In God’s original plan for the family, there was no hatred, jealousy, or distrust to be found. Indeed, so innocent and pure were the first two humans that God Himself walked among them in their garden, communing with them.

It didn’t take long before the adversary took note of this and sowed the covenant-breaking seeds of discord that literally shook the known world. A shaking that continues to this day, I might add. How could the original “first family” have known that a seemingly innocent conversation would alter the course of human history for all time?

Fast forward a few years and we see children being added to their family. Two sons were born to Adam and Eve, sons that grew up to become young men, one of whom was destined to follow his parent’s footsteps by making his own foundation-shaking poor choice.

As if his parent’s disobedience wasn’t bad enough, by murdering his younger brother Abel, Cain’s actions forever proved mankind as being incapable of resisting the whims of the adversary should man choose to disobey his Creator.

The sheer volume of heartache attributed to this disobedience is unquestionably a major contributor to the overall decline in the values and morals of our society. Small wonder then that Satan is so relentless in his ambitious campaign to destroy the family in America.

Here are just a few of the “methods” Satan is using to attack the family in America today:

  • Divorce (1 every 13 seconds, or 2.4 million a year) [3]
  • Drug & Alcohol addiction (over 21 million Americans have at least one addiction. Aside from the horrendous personal cost to the addicted and their families, addiction imposes a staggering $600 billion cost to the U.S. economy each year) [4]
  • Abuse & Neglect (nearly 700K abused children each year) [5]
  • Abortion (Reported CDC statistics do show a reduction in abortions from 1.4 million in 1990 to 623K in 2016). By some estimates, nearly 60 million babies have been aborted since it became “legal” to kill the unborn. [6]

As brief as this list is, it is nonetheless sobering to consider the magnitude of what the family is up against today. This is why mere words cannot turn the tide in this war against the family in America. What is required is divine intervention.

God’s people must rise up in prayerful unity and begin calling upon the Lord to fight this battle for us. Just as a young shepherd boy summoned the courage to challenge the status quo by declaring that “the battle is the Lord’s”, so must we in our day take the fight to the enemy by bringing God into the battle. [7]

My heartfelt prayer is that every child of God will do just that.

Be blessed in Jesus name,

Ron

 

[1] Ephesians 6:4

[2] 2 Corinthians 11:14,15

[3] WF-Lawyers.com

[4] Addictioncenter.com 

[5] Nationalchildrensalliance.org

[6] Wikipedia.org

[7] 1 Samuel 17:45-47

 

 

 

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