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What do YOU see?

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It’s been said that God sees everything, and I have no doubt that He does.

He sees the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Whether we’re at our best or worst, God sees it all.

All of it.

What do YOU see when….

*You are forced to walk around a homeless person on the street?

*You see a young girl carrying a child she is not prepared to raise?

*Yet another drug addict has fallen into despair?

*The evening news tells one horrific story after another of abuse?

*You see the line of people that stretches around the block at the food pantry?

God sees all of this. He sees the suffering and the pain of every one of these people. People that His only Son suffered and died for. People we are commanded to love.

Do you see the suffering? Do you see the pain?

Or are your eyes focused only on the cause?

Do you see fault?

Do you see blame?

When Jesus reminded us that the poor would always be with us (Matt. 26:11) he was letting us know that the problems of humanity are perpetual. That is a sobering thought isn’t it?

Now,we can choose to look at this in one of two ways. We can throw our hands up in despair at the seeming hopelessness of the plight of the poor and suffering.

Or we can choose to take the words of Jesus as a challenge to understand that these issues are not going away,therefore we must plan accordingly to do our best to alleviate the plight of the unfortunate among us.

I don’t pretend to have all the answers as to how best to accomplish this. But I am firmly convinced that it must begin with the church. Not the government. The church. Alleviating the suffering of the poor and unfortunate has always been the responsibility of the church.

It all boils down to what we see when we observe the pain and suffering of the poor.

I believe God sees their hurting.

I wonder what we,the people under the steeple, see…

 

Do you know what God uses?

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We’ll, to be sure He uses a lot of things to accomplish His will. Mostly however, He uses people. Broken people. People who have been humbled to the point of understanding that in and of themselves, not much would ever get done for the kingdom this side of heaven. People who “get it” that “…without me, you can do nothing” (John 15:5).

In short, God uses people who can and will hear His voice. The writer of Hebrews reminds us that when God speaks we are to be obedient to His voice.

Remember what it says: “Today when you hear his voice, don’t harden your hearts as Israel did when they rebelled.”   Hebrews 3:15

I am writing this post because I am of the firm belief that God is searching for people; broken, humbled people to reach this generation that is hell bent on self-destruction at a never before seen pace.

The signs are all around us that God is calling His people to the front lines of ministry. Where are these signs, you may ask?

The things we daily witness, man’s inhumanity against his fellow man, open rebellion against God on a scale that would cause Sodom and Gomorrah to blush, all are opportunities to show this world there is a better Way.

In spite of, and perhaps because of the magnitude of evil so prevalent in the world today, Jesus is calling. No less than seven times we read the following words in the book of Revelation:

He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches;”

Yes indeed, God is looking, searching, and calling for His army to run to the forefront of the battle. He is not calling us to cower in the corner, wringing our hands in fear and desperation at the sight of it all.

We know what God uses, now the question is does anyone hear the call?

Be blessed,

Ron

 

Which is better,being perfect or being anointed?

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A week or so ago my wife and I were asked to sing a song at the new church we’ve been attending for the past few weeks. Being thrilled for the opportunity, we gladly accepted the Pastor’s invitation. We chose an older song that was both familiar to us and one that my wife thought would bless those in attendance.

After practicing the song a few times at home we were ready by the time the mid-week service rolled around on Wednesday. The only music was me on the guitar, and due to some issues with my guitar’s pickup I wasn’t able to amplify it but had to play through a microphone. Normally this wouldn’t be a problem, but in this case I was not able to hear it clearly while we were singing.guitar sunset

To make a long story short, I stumbled a few times both while singing and playing. The worst was when I tried to play and sing a particular note but because I couldn’t hear it well enough, my fingers went one way and my voice another. Huge embarrassment right there!

Anyway, we got through it and took our seats. Much to my great surprise a lady whom we didn’t know came to us and shared that that particular song was exactly what she needed to hear. Soon, others also expressed their appreciation for our heartfelt song.

Meanwhile, in musicministry-v3spite of all the wonderful comments, yours truly was none too happy over his poor performance. Which brings me to the thought behind this post.

I beat myself up for several days because I was embarrassed at not hitting the right notes, so much so that the resident Princess reminded me that being perfect seemed to be more important to me than ministering to someone’s need.

Ummm…OUCH!

I knew exactly what she was getting at. Rather than permitting the Lord to work through us to minister to a hurting heart, imperfect as our song was, I wanted instead to display perfection in our capabilities. Did you get that…OUR capabilities?

Now, don’t get me wrong,  I believe we should do our best no matter what avenue of ministry we’re working in. To be sure, our version of the song that night would not win any contests, but what it lacked in perfection, it made up for that in that it touched someone’s heart.

When you get right down to it, isn’t that what ministry does? It reaches the heart and does the work of the Holy Spirit, a work that we ourselves cannot do. It is only when we yield ourselves to the Spirit that He is able to accomplish what needs to be done.The-Ministry-of-the-Holy-Spirit

All of us have been called to minister in one way or another. In fact, Peter tells us that “As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God“.   1 Peter 4:10

My prayer is that I will get out of His way and permit Him to do what He knows needs to be done. If that involves a sour note or two, what does it matter so long as the end result is someone being strengthened in their walk with the Lord?

Have a blessed day!

Ron

 

All the kings horses,and all the kings men…

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Fractured

Splintered

Divided

Call it what you will, but America is floundering. In the cesspool of its own ignorance, undone by the deliberate abandonment of the Godly principles that once shone brightly for the entire world to see, we are drowning.

I know, I know. Ouch already!

Slowly, almost imperceptibly so as not to garner attention to the ungodly course she had chartered for herself decades ago, the axe was laid to the root of the tree so that death would not come quickly, but rather so slowly as to be unnoticed by the masses.

Generations of men and women who steadfastly held to the belief that they were free and independent of government intrusion in their personal lives have given way to a new generation that expects, no, demands, that government be their new god, their provider.

Decades of “he who has the most money wins” elections have produced the current crop of leaders who could not lead your grandmother across the street. In spite of this atrocity, we blindly cast our lots with them instead of God. The blind leading the blind!

What breaks my heart is that we are better than this! We know the way! The great travesty in all of this is we know the path to victory,yet we choose to stumble along in our own strength.

We are drunken on the new age Kool-Aid gospel of self importance. “You can be anything you dream,so dream BIG” they proclaim.This man made gospel replaces God with you, as though you were in complete control of your life and not God.

No amount of cheer-leading will make America great again. The fact that America is no longer the nation it once was is not a recent development, although the political elite and network talking heads would have you to believe otherwise. We did not get in this situation over night friends.

Do not misunderstand what I’m saying here. I am not criticizing America per se. I believe this country to be the best place on earth to live and raise a family. I love my country and am proud of its countless accomplishments over the past two and a half centuries.

Truth be told, the entire world has benefited from America’s existence. Actually,several nations owe their very existence to this country. But she has fallen far from the lofty heights of the blessed that she previously enjoyed.

Long forgotten is the scriptural admonition to “come, let us reason together”(Isaiah 1:18). The uplifting words of the Apostle Paul in Philippians 2 seem about as likely to happen in America as the mighty Mississippi reversing its course.

1 Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? 2 Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.   Philippians 2:1,2

From where I sit on the front row, I see an incredible opportunity right now for the church to arise and be THE CHURCH. The CHURCH must be the hands and feet of Jesus to a people wandering in spiritual darkness. To provide something that our government cannot, will not provide: REAL LEADERSHIP.

We the people need to hear from the God of heaven, not the god of this world. We need truth, not another lying politician. We need hope not vain, empty promises. We need encouragement, not more of the same disparaging vitriol.

Yet more than any of those, what we need most is to hear the clarion call to prayer from our church leadership. Pastors all over this land should be on their collective faces in solemn prayer for revival. God let it be so!

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.  II Chr. 7:14

God is still God; in spite of what the antichrist-minded puppets of Satan want us to believe. God is still in the forgiveness business, and He has plenty to spare.

Is it too much to ask that we take a good hard look at our hearts and acknowledge that we are arrogant and filled with pride? Per the verse above, does it surprise you to know that this is what God expects of us?

How is it that we do not seem to grasp the seriousness of the hour? Are we truly so blinded by Satan that we cannot see the outstretched hands of Jesus beckoning us to “come unto me”?

We all know the nursery rhyme about a character that sat on the wall. He did well from his lofty perch, yet when he fell, he fell so hard that he could not be put back together again. This simple analogy cannot be lost on us.

Humpty Dumpty

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My prayer today is twofold; one, that we would recognize the grave seriousness of our present condition, and two; that we would recognize the only remedy for our brokenness is God Almighty.

Have a blessed day,

Ron

Donuts or fat free cookies: what’ll it be?

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An elderly gentleman said something along those words a couple of weeks ago as we were visiting a new church. For some reason,it seemed he was steering me to the fat free cookies,then again I have put on some weight since I retired.cookies

I had to chuckle at this scene,the old gentleman doing his best to make us feel welcome,me on the other hand just wanting to find a seat and quietly blend in.

Have you ever thought about what really draws you to church?  

What’s the attraction?

Of course, the obvious answer is “to worship,or God”. But what REALLY draws you to church?

Tradition?  It’s the right thing to do?  You like the minister?  It’s your only chance to dress up?  It’s where we meet friends ?  You serve in one capacity or another?  We go to worship God?  Our parents drag us to church? You go to be taught the Word of God? They have the best donuts and coffee?

I confess to you that that going to meet with God hasn’t always been my prime motivation.

Sometimes,many times actually,I’ve went to church because of my responsibilities. Whether teaching a class,ministering from the pulpit,singing in the choir,after a while it can all become routine,like some part time job can become.

Plus,and I’m being really honest here now, sometimes I think it was because God was supposed to meet with me there,not the other way around. Pride does that,doesn’t it?

Funny thing about this journey we’re all on. We go to church faithfully, we support it financially, we often serve in various ministries, we try to live out our faith as best we can. We do all the right things, yet I suspect that….

knowing God

chucklarsen.com

We don’t really know God like we think we do.

We know a lot about God,but we do not know Him.

If we did,I can’t help but believe that our approach to Him would be different.

You see,I’m particularly troubled by something I’ve been observing.And no,I’m not talking about whether or not you wear a suit or shorts and flip flops. Couldn’t care less,actually. Nor does the Lord,I assume.

I’m troubled by the flippant,cavalier attitude I’m seeing in God’s house. In particular,I’m bothered by things going on around me during what is supposed to be a time of worshiping God Almighty.

How can we commune with God while perusing eBay on cell phones and tablets? Are you expecting an email from God,is that why people are checking their email in the middle of Amazing Grace? Does consuming coffee,milk,donuts,and cans of soda bring people closer to God during what is supposed to be a time of worship?

Worship of God Almighty.

This stuff bothers me. And if you say “well,you shouldn’t be looking at what everyone else is doing” you might be right. But it still bothers me. And here’s why.

Can somebody say “where’s the R.E.S.P.E.C.T.“?

respect

Is this the proper way to come before the King? In His own house?

If you were invited to Washington DC to meet a high ranking dignitary,or some other venue to meet someone very important,would you show up with a Mountain Dew in your hand? Or how about that dream job of a lifetime,think the interviewer would mind if you munched on a breakfast burrito in between questions?

If any of this would be deemed unacceptable to you,help me understand why it’s OK to do it in God’s house. Why do we reverence earthly things more than God? Does any of this seem right to you? Is this what people do who expect to meet with God? Doesn’t this say something about our perception of who God is?

I know, I know. All of this is just way too legalistic isn’t it? Some of you no doubt think ‘what a jerk. What’s up with coming off so heavy handed? Lighten up dude! It’s only coffee and donuts after all. Who are you to make the rules anyhow? At least they are in church!!’

Actually,this post isn’t really about what goes on inside a building. It’s more about what goes on inside another type of building: our own temples. But you knew that,didn’t you?

Here’s what’s really bothering me about this attitude. I think we have exceeded all expectations in bringing God down to our level. Yep,we’ve finally done it. We’ve figured out a way to treat God as an equal.

And it shows.

We treat God like He’s part of the furniture. No awe. No wonderment. No amazement. No reverence. No fear.

Just one of the guys.

We don’t really know God,for if we did we would stand before Him, in His house,awestruck at the magnitude of what He has done for us! Instead,we treat His House as though we’re hanging out at Starbucks. Or like He’s the last person we expect to show up.starbucks

If we knew God,it would show.

It would show in our attitudes.

It would show in our behavior.

It would show in our language.

It would show in our worship.

We don’t really know God,for if we did we would spend time in His Presence long before 10:00 AM on Sunday.

We cannot know someone we don’t spend time with. Did you get that?

In her book Teaching a Stone to Talk, Annie Dillard described her thoughts on how we so nonchalantly approach a typical Sunday:

“Why do people in church seem like cheerful, brainless tourists on a packaged tour of the Absolute? Does anyone have the foggiest idea what sort of power we blithely invoke? Or, as I suspect, does no one believe a word of it? The churches are children playing on the floor with their chemistry sets, mixing up a batch of TNT to kill a Sunday morning. It is madness to wear ladies’ straw hats and velvet hats to church. We should all be wearing crash helmets.”

Yes indeed.

Sometimes I wonder if God doesn’t look at us as we sit in our seats,minds a million miles away,coffee in one hand,cell phone in the other and say to Himself “do they really not know who I am”?

So to answer the question “Donuts or fat free cookies:, what’ll it be?“, I think I’ll pass this time.

Seems I have a bigger question to settle.

the_light_end_tunnel

Reclaiming Biblical Faith

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Have you ever went to bed with a specific thought on your mind,only to awaken the next morning with that exact same thought being the first one to enter your mind?

Most of us have probably experienced this,as I did the other morning.In my situation,I’d been mulling over a verse of scripture found in the book of Jude that deals with believers contending for the faith. You’re likely familiar with it as it’s often used in sermons.

Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.”   Jude 1:3   contend-for-the-faith

The part of this verse that I have been in deep thought about was the part about “earnestly contending for the faith which was once delivered to the saints”. Specifically,was there something different about their faith as opposed to our faith? Also,what had happened to their faith?

To make sense of this this we need to understand that the book of Jude was written approximately 80 years after the death of Christ. What is most striking about this fact is that in less than one century,there was apparently such a serious lack of faith in the church that Jude felt compelled to address the issue. How could this have happened in such a short time?

Jude gives us the answer beginning in the next verse.

For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.”   Jude 1:4

False Christians who knew not God,unregenerate men,had come into the church unnoticed by those who were responsible for protecting the flock. Once “inside the gate” these false disciples began sowing discord by teaching things contrary to the Word of God. Jude specifically mentions “turning the grace of God into lasciviousness”.

Lasciviousness? Now there’s a word you don’t hear very often,if at all.Of course,that’s the Kings English version of the word. Different versions read the word as lewd,immoral,decadence,or sensuality. Anyway,I’m sure you get the picture.

This word “lasciviousness” means lustful or lewd sexual behavior. In other words,the pure,sincere love of God that believers had for one another had given way to sexual immorality in the church,resulting in the faith of many being shipwrecked. All in the span of less than 100 years since Jesus was here on earth.

It is almost incomprehensible that such a thing could occur to the church that had turned the world upside down only a few decades prior.Yet that is what happened.

The church learned early on that the cost of not defending their faith against false believers was losing their faith. Let that sink in for a moment.losing-faith

This is why it is so important to stand up and defend the gospel. It is worth defending against its enemies,for if we do not defend it the gospel becomes weakened and powerless. It becomes what Paul described as “another gospel”,which is really no gospel at all (Gal. 1:6).

Jude’s exhortation to “earnestly contend for the faith” should indicate to us that “the faith once delivered to the saints” is the model for Christian faith today.So,we must ask what was this faith that was once delivered to the saints?

It’s pretty simple actually.Their faith was built upon a foundation of love,the love of Christ,and the love of one another.This agape love,the highest form of love, separated Christianity from all other religions of the day.

The faith once delivered to the saints was one of sacrifice and serving one another.It looked outward instead of inward. It was selfless,and I can’t think of a better example of the faith that was once delivered unto the saints than one of selfless love.

It’s certainly worth earnestly contending for. Agree?

Who is waiting on whom?

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Are we waiting on God?

Or is God waiting upon us?

waiting-on-god-001

ilifejourney.wordpress.com

So much depends upon our personal perspective in the light of God’s Word,doesn’t it?

From our perspective, are we waiting on God to open the flood gates of heaven and pour out a blessing on us? We hear a lot about that don’t we?

Or is God waiting upon us to humble out hearts,acknowledge our insufficiency without Him,confess our sin,and be restored to Him so that we can be blessed? (James 5:16)

From our perspective, are we waiting on God to empower us to serve him in ways heretofore not seen?

Or is God waiting upon us to go forward in the strength and power that He has already given us?  (Luke 24:49)

From our perspective, are we waiting on God to “pour out His Spirit on all flesh…” in some version of a “last days revival”? (Joel 2:28)  How many times have you heard that?

revival-image

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Or is God waiting upon us to accept His word that has already declared “But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel…” (Acts 2:16)

From our perspective, are we waiting on God to fill our churches with throngs of hungry worshipers so that we can then teach them all they need to know about the Christian way?

Or is God waiting upon us to obey the command already given to “Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled”? (Luke 14:23)

From our perspective, are we waiting on God to miraculously cause worldwide peace to break out on the earth,ushering in a world without poverty,violence,strife,and disease? As if God were a genie in a bottle maybe?

world-peace

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Or is God waiting upon us to accept the call already given to serve Him, knowing that until He comes again,there will be no peace but rather division and strife?  (Luke 12:51)

At the end of the day,I believe we the Church spend an inordinate amount of time waiting upon the Lord to do things He has either already done or already told us to do.

Which leads me to conclude that God is actually waiting upon us. If we are waiting around for new marching orders there will be none given. They were issued to the Church nearly 2000 years ago. You might have heard of them before:

      The Great Commission: Matthew 28:19-20

great-commission

blogs.christianpost.com

The Great Commission says to “GO”. What are we waiting for?

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