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A new chapter

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I thought I would give a little update as to why I’ve not been blogging as much lately. A lot has happened in the past few months, so much so that my family and I have began a new journey, one that we are very excited about.

Due to unwanted, unexpected, and unforeseen circumstances, our family voluntarily removed ourselves from the church we had been a part of the past two and a half years, effective October 5th, 2019. With that, of course, went all opportunities for us to be used in that particular ministry.

While none of this was planned, meaning there was no plan ‘B’, I remain a firm believer that when one door is closed eventually another one will open. I have survived enough wars to know that God is faithful, and that if we in turn are faithful to Him everything will eventually fall into place. I don’t know about you, but I don’t believe one can ask for more than that.

Fast forward to January 2020 and indeed, another door of opportunity has opened. After weeks of non-stop prayer, God has led us to the place He wants us to be, where a new Pastor and church have welcomed us with open arms.

In a word, we could not be happier!

Just to show you how the Lord works and that His timing is always perfect, our first Sunday there just happened to be the last Sunday of another minister who was moving to another state. A door was opened!

We are now regularly involved in the music and teaching ministries of our new church. The fact is, we are busier now than we have been at any time in the past two and a half years, and by all accounts we are about to become even more busy as we acclimate ourselves to the ministries in this local church. We love it!

Our new church is hardly affluent, being located in a more rural area. What it lacks in affluence however is more than made up for by the wonderful, kind people(the majority of whom are of very modest means)who sincerely love God. These are hard working, salt of the earth people. My kind of people.

My wife reminded me the other day that all of this was an answer to prayer. Her exact words were something like “Every night I listened to you ask the Lord to open doors and use us for His purpose, and He has”.

Strange as it sounds, I hadn’t even made the connection!

So there you have it. We are continuing to find joy in this journey of ours, we’re simply traveling a somewhat different path. With that, for the time being this blog has now become a secondary ministry outlet, which means I will be blogging less and focusing more on actual church ministry.

This does NOT mean that I will be abandoning A Front Row View of the Church. I just won’t be posting regularly because I simply don’t have the time to do so. I will still enjoy reading the blogs that all of you post, and look forward to doing so.

Please keep our family in your prayers. Our heart’s desire is to make a difference in the lives of others, and for these same people to make a difference in ours as well.

Be blessed everyone!

Ron

 

Prosperity…God’s way

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I don’t know about you, but even though I enjoy the Christmas holidays, I’m glad they are behind us. I was beginning to wonder if I would ever recover from the deluge of non-stop TV advertisements imploring me to buy a new car, a new refrigerator, or a new diamond necklace.

What with Santa touting a new Mercedes, the local appliance dealers reminding me they are offering a once in a lifetime opportunity, or just hearing the words “Black Friday” for the 14 millionth time, my brain reached the point where it stopped processing this stuff sometime about a week after Thanksgiving.

Am I the only one that watches these commercials of a husband giving his wife a brand new car (complete with $500 bow stuck on the top) and thinks “who really does this”?

Could anything say “it’s all about me” more than this?

Does anyone else find themselves asking how in the world did we ever become so enamored with things?

I’ve been thinking about all of this, as you can tell, and its got me to wondering about something. As a Christian, how do I guard my heart against adopting this same attitude?

How can I resist this madness while living in an overwhelmingly materialistic society that declares I should get whatever I want, when I want it, no matter how much I have to go in debt to get it?

The answer, for me at least, is to try to keep my heart humble and my thoughts focused upon the Lord. We have a Biblical example of this with King Solomon. Very early in his reign as king of Israel, Solomon had a dream in which God said to him “Ask! What shall I give to you”? [1]

Imagine what the response would be today should the Lord say such a thing! I think it’s safe to say that most would respond with a list beginning with “I want…”

Solomon however did not ask for a single thing for himself. He didn’t ask for money, a new chariot, or a new fleet of camels. Instead, he responded to the Lord out of his heart. Listen as he answers God:

And Solomon said to God: “You have shown great mercy to David my father, and have made me king in his place. Now, O Lord God, let Your promise to David my father be established, for You have made me king over a people like the dust of the earth in multitude. Now give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may go out and come in before this people; for who can judge this great people of Yours?”  [2]

What Solomon desired was wisdom and knowledge. Think about this for a bit. As king of Israel he had the right to ask for anything. What he wanted though was for God to equip him to lead the great nation of Israel, and he understood that this would require him to possess certain tools if he was going to be able to do this.

Would you believe that God still operates this way today? That’s right. If God calls you He will equip you. It really is as simple as that. Of course, we sometimes try to make it much more complicated than that, but the fact is God calls, he equips, and he qualifies those he has called to his work.

Getting back to Solomon, when he answered the Lord’s request he was answering from his heart. He didn’t have time to wake up, rub the sleep out of his eyes, and put together a list of ‘wants’.

What God did was go straight to the heart of the matter. See what I did there?

Because Solomon’s heart was pure before the Lord, he received far more than he asked for.

Then God said to Solomon: “Because this was in your heart, and you have not asked riches or wealth or honor or the life of your enemies, nor have you asked long life—but have asked wisdom and knowledge for yourself, that you may judge My people over whom I have made you king—wisdom and knowledge are granted to you; and I will give you riches and wealth and honor, such as none of the kings have had who were before you, nor shall any after you have the like.”  [3]

Having a heart for the things of God places us in a position where He will not only give us the desires of our heart, but in addition the Lord will add much more.

This is an area where so many have gotten way off track today. We have a sense of entitlement running rampant in the church that says in so many words that God “owes us” abundant blessings just because we call ourselves Christians.

I hate to burst your bubble, but the Almighty does not owe us a single thing. That’s right, God is not under some type of binding contract with us that forces him to bless us in any way, shape, or form.

To think that we are in a position to demand anything from God is akin to the spoiled children I see in the stores who whine, cry, and scream when mommy and daddy won’t buy them the shiny new toy they want.

To be clear, the Lord desires that we prosper, even as our soul prospers. [4] One of the ways we achieve this prosperous life is found in the book of Joshua. Here we find that as Moses was giving his final instructions to his successor, he also gave him the secret to real prosperity.

This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success”.

So we find that prosperity not only comes from having an honest heart towards God like Solomon did, but also from reading and meditating upon God’s word. Putting God first, as Solomon did, reflects an attitude of gratitude.

And that, my friends, is where the blessings of God flow freely from.

Have an awesome day in Jesus name!

Ron

[1] 2 Chronicles 1:7   NKJV

[2] Chronicles 1:8-10   NKJV

[3] 2 Chronicles 1:11,12  NKJV

[4] 3rd John 1:2

 

Generational Curses: are we free or not?

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In today’s post I want to address the issue of “Generational Curses”.

For those unfamiliar with the term, it implies that if you or someone you know struggles with an addiction, domestic violence, depression, or any other unfavorable trait it is likely because someone in your family tree has also had to deal with it.

Hence the “Generational Curse”. It is passed on to each succeeding generation.

Where does this idea come from? It comes from the Old Testament. After God had instructed Moses to ascend Mount Sinai with two new stone tablets (that He would again write the Ten Commandments on), the Lord appeared to Moses in a cloud and there He proclaimed the following:

“Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting (punishing) the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.” [1]

Here we find the Lord telling Moses that He will forgive acknowledged sin and transgressions but will punish unrepentant sin and transgressions for generations. This is where the common idea comes from that a child must pay for the sins of the father.

We find this same thought farther along in the Old Testament book of Lamentations. Having endured incredible persecution after having been carried away in the Captivity, the prophet Jeremiah calls upon the Lord for mercy.

In his passionate plea he refers to God’s chosen as orphans and fatherless, and their mothers as widows. He goes on to mention how that they are required to buy their own water if they are to drink, and describes their own wood being sold to them. He says their necks are under persecution, and they have no rest from their labor. [2]

In the middle of his humble prayer Jeremiah acknowledges the sinfulness of the people.

Our fathers sinned, and are no more; It is we who have borne their iniquities. [3]

He rightly lays the blame for what has come upon them at the feet of their ancestors that sinned. These unrepentant transgressions caused God to allow them to be carried away as captives, enslaved once again by a foreign army. These ancestors are now all dead, but it is Jeremiah’s generation who must now pay this awful price for what they did.

All of this brings us to ask the question: does this same Generational Curse ‘law’ exist for Christians today? Is it possible that the reason so many Christians struggle with specific areas of their lives is because they are still under a Generational Curse?

Well, to be sure there is no shortage of Christian ministers out there that teach that Generational Curses are still applicable to the Christian today. [4]

To find the truth however, we must look to the Word of God, not popular books written by popular ministers. When it comes to the subject of generational curses, there is no more definitive response than that found in Galatians 3:13.

Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”).

Through His death, burial, and resurrection Jesus Christ paid every sin debt and broke every curse. He accomplished this by becoming a curse in our place. He who knew no sin or iniquity became accursed for you and me.

He abolished for all time any curse, generational or otherwise that may have been placed upon your life. Curses have no hold on your life after you have accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior. They are no longer the stronghold that you once struggled with.

Personally, I find it nearly unbelievable that these same people who want to declare that everything we could ever need, including physical healing, was provided for in the Atonement, also teach that this same Atonement couldn’t break the power of a Generational Curse.

This is mind boggling. Either Jesus Christ broke the chains of sin and death, or he did not. There cannot be an exception or any exclusions. Did not Jesus tell us that He came that we might have life, even an abundant life? How in the world can we live this abundant life while under the bondage of some Generational Curse?

The answer of course is that we cannot! Therefore, every curse was broken at Calvary, so that you would be free indeed to live out this Incredible, abundant life that God wants you to be living.

Does this mean that our struggles are over? Of course not! As long as we live upon this earth, we will be continually tested by an adversary that does not want to turn loose of you. Be that as it may, we are FREE in Jesus Christ!

The Apostle Paul very clearly tells us that he was free, completely free from any law of sin and death. Every Christian enjoys this same liberty in Christ. “Whom the Son sets free, is free indeed”. [6]

And yes, that includes any Generational Curse.

Be blessed on this Lord’s day!

Ron

 

[1] Exodus 34:7

[2] Lamentations 5:1-5

[3] Lamentations 5:7

[4] See “Breaking Generational Curses” by Marilyn Hickey, “How to Break Generational Curses” by Tony Evans, “Breaking Generational Curses”, “Free at Last”, by Larry Huch

[5] Romans 8:2 “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death”.

[6] John 8:36

 

The numbers don’t lie

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It’s hard to believe that we are just a few days away from the start of another decade, proof that “time flies” is more than just a catchy saying. So much has happened over the course of the past ten years that it is almost mind-boggling, and it’s not a stretch to say we’ve seen a little bit of everything in the 2010’s.

From Occupy Wall Street to Black Lives Matter to scores of earthquakes and hurricanes, as well as the never-ending threats of terrorism, the events of the past decade have certainly captured our attention.

Time stops for no one, and if there is one thing that will always be inevitable it is change. Speaking of change, something changed during this past decade that most of us are unaware of, yet it impacts all of us in one way or another. This change has to do with the Church in America. The 2010’s were, unfortunately, a decade of steady decline in the Church.

The following graphic from the Pew Research Center illustrates these changes.

 

Whether we realize it or not, these negative changes affect all of us. If you don’t believe that, just look around you. The signs of moral decline and decay are everywhere, and there are precious few areas of our society that do not reflect this. This is true of our government, our schools, our workplaces, and yes even our churches.  The numbers don’t lie!

Now here is an interesting fact about this. According to the Pew Report,“the nation’s overall rate of religious attendance is declining not because Christians are attending church less often, but rather because there are now fewer Christians as a share of the population.” emphasis mine

This should cause all of us to take notice. As the numbers of unchurched, “none’s”, and non-religious Millennials continue to grow, this means that the percentages of active Christians continue to decline.

And that, I fear, spells trouble for this nation. As Christianity continues to decline, this leaves the door open for the enemy to step in and implement his own plan for America. Let’s face it, can any of us seriously argue that we aren’t seeing this plan being implemented already? Being a Christian in America today ranks near the top of the most despised groups of citizens. Categorized as intolerant, bigoted, hateful, and unloving, Christianity is under attack like never before.

Of course, none of this should take any Christian by surprise. The Bible is very clear that this is what would happen before the return of Jesus Christ.

“Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come. Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God”. [1]

Yes, it’s true that the numbers don’t lie. We are firsthand witnesses to the beginning of what Paul called “the great falling away”. Do you know what else is true? God will sustain His people even in the darkest of days. We are the church, the body of Christ, and Jesus himself said that “the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it“. [2]

This goes hand in hand with Paul saying that even as we see these things happening all around us, we should remain steadfast and not allow ourselves to be troubled. “Let no one deceive you by any means” the Apostles states.

Wise words that all of us would do well to listen to.

Be blessed on this Lord’s day,

Ron

 

[1] 2nd Thessalonians 2: 1-4  NKJV  emphasis mine

[2] Matthew 16:18  NKJV

 

 

 

 

Just how FREE are you anyway?

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This post is a continuation of my previous post “The bondage of MORE”, where we saw that the need for “MORE” brings about a type of bondage that can be extremely difficult to break free of.

As anyone can tell you, when you are in bondage you are not free. You are a debtor, or slave to that which has you bound. Every choice and decision you make is centered around satisfying the source of your bondage.

Does that sound like freedom to you? Of course not, yet untold millions of Christians are living this very life today. They should be free, having been set free by God’s Son, yet find themselves ignoring the clear mandate of scripture to avoid becoming entangled again with the yoke of bondage. [1]

Jesus had much to say about freedom, and rightly so because he is the great Liberator. In one of his many exchanges with the temple Jews, Jesus had an encounter with them concerning the freedom that comes from knowing Him.

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

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

Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed. [2]

In these verses we find that Jesus has told the temple Jews of two distinct ways in which they can be free. Now, keep in mind that these Jews thought themselves above the need to be set free because they claimed to be descendants of Abraham. They were, of course, familiar with the social hierarchy where both free and slave co-existed. To them it was simple. The Jews were at the top of the ladder, while Gentiles and slaves were at or near the bottom.

The first way they could know freedom was to abide in, or follow, the Word that Jesus taught them. If you will do that, He said, “you shall know the truth, and the truth will make you free”. In essence Jesus was telling them that if you will lay aside your religious traditions and instead follow me, you will be free. Free of guilt, free of sin, and free of bondage.

We understand then that truth brings freedom both in this life and ultimately eternal salvation. Where does this freedom producing truth come from? It comes from God’s Word. If they would accept the truths that Jesus gave them, they would be completely free.

The second way they could no freedom was to place their trust in the One who had the power to set at liberty them that are held captive. [3]  Jesus told them that “if the Son makes you free, then you are free indeed“. How could he make such a statement? It was because as the Son of God, He abides forever as ruler over the house of God. In other words, He alone has such authority.

All of this brings me back to the question “Just how FREE are you anyway”? This is a question that all of us need to answer. If we say we hold to the truth that “if the Son makes you free, then you are free indeed“, do our actions reflect this? If we agree that “the truth shall make you free“, are we living our lives as one who is not bound by the “lusts of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life“? [4]

I submit that until and unless we are daily trusting in the Lord Jesus for our every need, we are not completely free. That doesn’t mean that we aren’t saved and on our way to heaven. It does not mean that we are not a child of God.

What it DOES mean is that we are living in a place where we shouldn’t be, which means we are unnecessarily having to struggle with things that the Lord can give us victory over. After all, “if the Son makes you free, then you are free indeed“.

There is no freedom like the complete freedom that God offers to us. Being “free indeed” means there are no chains still attached to us. There is nothing we are in bondage to. Our hearts and minds are free of guilt. We are free to live our lives in a way that pleases Him, not ourselves. Complete freedom in Christ means victory.

That’s how free I want to live my life, and I trust you do as well!

Have a blessed day everyone,

Ron

 

[1] Galatians 5:1  KJV

[2] John 8:31-36  NKJV

[3] Luke 4:18  ESV

[4] 1 John 2:16  NKJV

Does doctrine still matter today?

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In today’s post I’d like to address the issue of doctrine. Specifically, whether or not it really matters to the church today.

Doctrine is one of those words that many of us in the church don’t like because the very word brings to mind rules, regulations, and irrefutable, unarguable dogma. To some, doctrine takes all the ‘fun’ out of church.

What is “Doctrine”?

Doctrine is the belief or set of beliefs and principals that make up the essence of the Christian faith. These include (but are not limited to) the Virgin birth, the Incarnation, The Crucifixion and Resurrection, and the necessity of Salvation, among many others.

From these essential truths come the various creeds and theological positions that have evolved into the essentials of our faith. From as far back as the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy to the New Testament book of Revelation, doctrine has always been a critical component of our walk with the Lord. [1]  [2]

What “Doctrine” is NOT

Doctrine is not a list of rules and regulations that a particular church or denomination has put together in order to regulate your behavior. Some examples of this include forbidding the wearing of jewelry and makeup, forbidding members to attend movies, even requiring a specific dress code that includes the length of your hair.

None of this falls under the heading of essential church doctrine necessary for salvation, but rather this is Legalism. What Legalism does is attempt to exert control over people, rather than permit them to enjoy the freedom they have in Christ. [3]

Now, you may be asking why any of this is important. It is important because proper doctrine in essential in the defense of the faith. This means that what you and I believe matters. It matters because it matters to the Lord.

For example, in speaking to the church at Pergamos in the 2nd chapter of the book of Revelation, Jesus is speaking to them about the issue of doctrine. Specifically, he told them that because they tolerated the doctrine of Balaam, a false teaching that led Israel into idolatry and fornication, it would be held against them.

They also had among themselves those that held to the doctrine of the Nicolaitans. This false belief was one of compromise, rejecting the idea that complete separation between Christianity and the practice of occult paganism was necessary.

I find it incredibly interesting that doctrine was so important to the Lord Jesus that he actually called out those that were permitting false doctrine in their midst. This mindset is completely opposite of many in the Church today where doctrine has taken a back seat to belief systems developed to appease the mind of guilt and raise one’s esteem.

It has become a common thought today that while core doctrines were necessary for the development of the infant church, 2000 years later we have moved beyond the need for such rigidity.

For proof of this consider the church you attend today. Does it hold to the Biblical standards in it core doctrines? For that matter, does it still hold to its original doctrinal statements? Going a step further, does your church still officially hold to these truths yet never speak on them?

I believe we do the Lord a huge disservice by not proclaiming the essential, core doctrines of the Christian church today. I am firmly convinced that this lack of solid Biblical instruction is a large part of why the church isn’t the powerful voice it once was in society. Specifically, many of us have no idea why we believe what we believe. How then can we tell others, especially those outside the household of faith?

The answer to the question “Does doctrine still matter today” is a resounding YES!

Be blessed today,

Ron

 

[1] Deuteronomy 32:2

[2]. Revelation 2:14-15, 2:24

[3] “Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed”.  John 8:36.  NKJV

THIS is what the Church is missing today!

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In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one cried to another and said:

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
The whole earth is full of His glory!”
And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke.
Isaiah 6:1-4  NKJV

Here a man named Isaiah is given a vision of the majesty of God, seated on His throne, exalted far above anything our minds can comprehend, so capacious that just the train of His royal robe fills the temple, while worshipping angels declare His Holiness and Glory.

Who but God could reveal such things? Seeing and acknowledging God for who He is, the righteous ruler of every kingdom and domain. The Lord of all, unequaled in splendor and Glory on full display!

This vision that Isaiah saw is one that should be permanently imprinted in the minds of all of God’s children. In this vision we are given a glimpse of the mighty God of creation, too glorious and magnificent for our small minds to comprehend.

Yet God, however, chose to reveal a small part of Himself in a vision to his servant Isaiah, and because of that we have a record of His great majesty. I say again, who but God could reveal such things?

To see Him as anything less than the Supreme Ruler of the ages is to view Him as less than, and if there is anything God is not it is ‘less than’.

What a contrast; in our world we strive to elevate man to god-like status, yet God chose to reveal Himself as God to this world! How incredible is that?

Hollywood, sports, politics, all of them have their champions. Indeed, some of them revel in the cult-like devotion of their followers. None of them however can ever be more than what they currently are, for try as they might, they will never be equal to God.

As Believers in Christ who have entrusted our very souls to this One that Isaiah saw. Our hope and trust is in the One who gave his servant a tiny glimpse into eternity. Our future is secure in the arms of the One who is worshipped by the angels of God.

We know that there will come a day when every child of God will see for themselves what Isaiah saw. Not only will we see it, we will live it for all of eternity. Heaven will become real for us one day, and with it the knowledge that we will never be separated from God. Isaiah may have enjoyed a momentary glimpse, but you and I will have all of eternity to bask in His Glory!

The vision that Isaiah saw of God is the vision that the Church must recapture. High and lifted up far above any man. The epitome of Holiness and Righteousness. Worshipped by countless numbers of angels.

If we could recapture this vision of God, it would go a long way towards turning our hearts back to Him.

Blessings to all,

Ron

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