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The Great Adventure

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I’m looking for adventure.

I’m not looking to book passage on a cruise ship or a train. I’m not dreaming of going on safari. Mount Kilimanjaro isn’t calling me. And I’m sure not interested in a trek to the South Pole!

No, I’m looking for an adventure of the God kind.

Adventure 1

wordsoverpixels.com

You know the kind of adventure I’m talking about, don’t you? The kind where you know that God is calling you out and away from the stale,ordinary day to day existence we all succumb to. Real adventure.

The kind of adventure where you have no idea what the end goal is, and even less insight on how to get there. You just “know that you know”that God is calling you to MORE.

Like He did with Abraham, telling him to leave all he knew to start on a journey to who knows where(Genesis 12).

The kind of adventure guided only by the Word and the Presence of God.

Scared yet?

Or an adventure like Noah. Build an ark? Sure thing Lord. But what’s an ark, and what is this “rain” you speak of? Noah’s adventure was one of a kind, in fact we’re still talking about it today!

I’m looking for a faith adventure. One that requires me to walk by faith, and not by sight. An adventure over uncharted waters, across hills and valleys, my compass fixed on God.

walk by faith

Davidcrank.com

I’m looking for an adventure that goes far beyond Church, one that is immersed in a living relationship with the living God.

I’m looking for that Abundant Life kind of adventure.

The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly“.   NKJV   emphasis mine

I don’t know when, how, or any other of the countless details that make up this great adventure. What I do know is I’m putting myself out there and saying to the Lord that I’m all in.

Lead me Lord,and I’ll follow.

Who else is up for a great adventure of the God kind?

Be blessed,

Ron

 

 

 

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Stuck at the starting gate…

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Do you ever think about whether or not you are making progress in your walk with the Lord? Are you growing in your faith? Are you steadily marching along toward the goal of spiritual maturity?

Tough questions for all of us, aren’t they? Even after all these years, there are times when I think to myself “am I really growing like I should be”?

Do you feel like instead of progressing, it’s more like you’re stuck in neutral?

If we’re being honest, does it feel like you’ve been taking two steps backwards and one step forward?

Or are you one of the millions that have started on a journey with Christ, yet you are neither going forward or backwards, like you’re not moving at all?

In other words, are you stuck at the starting gate?

starting gate

If this is you, then read on because this post is for you!

Being stuck at the starting gate describes those of us who know the Lord as our Savior, who attend church regularly, read our Bibles, and for all intents and purposes are doing all the right things. We’re on our way to heaven.

Yet for all of that, something is missing. There is no passion, no excitement, no enthusiasm for the things of God. Just going through the motions of “churchianity”. We’re described in the Bible like this:

“This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me;” Matthew 15:8

OUCH!

We’re present in body only. We can’t seem to find a way to become engaged. We just “are”. We’re stuck at the starting gate. Nothing moves us, nothing motivates us. We just “are”.

motivation not

This is a long way from the life that Jesus describes in the second half of John 10:10!!

“I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”

The Abundant Life. You’ve no doubt heard about it. You’ve probably heard a sermon or two about it.  TV preachers talk incessantly about it. Book shelves are filled with volume after volume of authors who attempt to link prosperity with the Abundant Life. You know the ones:

  • The Laws of Prosperity
  • Blessed
  • Biblical Keys to Financial Prosperity
  • Christian Prosperity Secrets
  • The Prosperity Bible

OK, you get the point I’m sure. It seems there is no end to the amount of information out there about prosperity and the Christian. The world, and sad to say a great many preachers, says that living an Abundant Life means living a life of financial prosperity.

But that is NOT what Jesus was referring to when He spoke of the Abundant Life! Truth is, you can live an extraordinarily Abundant Life while being flat broke!

The Abundant Life is a life of meaning, purpose, contentment, joy, strength, and faith that culminates in eternal victory in Jesus Christ.

Now that’s an Abundant Life!

Of course, this does not mean that God doesn’t want us to be blessed and prosperous. Of course He does. What we have to ask ourselves however is what good does wealth and prosperity do us if we are miserable, unhappy, living in fear and doubt, and without hope?

Or what good does wealth and prosperity do us if we can’t get past the starting gate?

If you’re feeling like you are stuck at the starting gate, I have great news for you! The only thing keeping you there is YOU! The Gatekeeper is Jesus, and he has left the gate wide open for you to walk through and begin the journey of a lifetime!

The key to an Abundant Life is Jesus!

Be blessed,

Ron

 

The fear of the unknown vs. your familiar past

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I’ve been thinking about an event recorded early on in the book of Genesis, one that took place thousands of years ago, yet still has implications for us today.

The story of Sodom and Gomorrah is one that most people are familiar with, or have at least heard something about. It’s a story of both destruction and deliverance, one where the central theme is God’s willingness to forgo righteous judgment if only a few God fearing people can be found.

As the story goes, the search for righteous citizens is futile, thus God orders the complete destruction of the cities by raining down fire and brimstone. Not a pretty thought, to be sure. The only escapees are Abraham and his wife, his nephew Lot and his wife, and their two daughters.

As they are running for their lives, the angels who delivered them warned them not to look back. Unfortunately for Lot’s wife, she could not resist the temptation to do just that. Here is the high price she paid for her disobedience:

“But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.”   Genesis 19:26

This story is now thousands of years old, yet the central truths of it still ring true today. God is still a righteous, loving, and forgiving God. And man is still prone to looking in the rear view mirror instead of looking ahead.

Lot’s wife looked back because she wanted to see what was happening to her former home. She felt an emotional attachment to the city, so much so that she disregarded the clear warning of the angels who had been sent to rescue her.

Aren’t all of us guilty to some degree of doing the same thing? Instead of forgetting those things which are behind and pressing toward the mark (Philippians 3:14)….we are drawn back to familiar territory. We gravitate toward the known and comfortable, and resist the unknown in front of us.

The familiar is a powerful force in our lives, and I dare say all of us enjoy the comfort we receive from being surrounded by the familiar things we have accumulated.

The flip side of this however is that the familiar can also become a huge burden that wears us down as we endeavor to journey onward with Christ.

This burden is always present to remind us that we don’t really need to press on into uncharted territory, not when we can stay here in the relative calm waters of familiarity. Besides, there is a certain element of fear when dealing with the unknown, and we all know how we feel about that!

In spit of these things, there is a very real danger in allowing the familiar to rock us to sleep. If we choose to permit this, we risk missing the greatest adventure we could ever partake of!

This Great Adventure is going to be the primary emphasis of “A Front Row View of the Church” in 2018. I will be sharing from the word of God how that the words of Jesus in John 10:10 “…... I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly, are the key to unlocking this Great Adventure.

I am excited about what God has in store, and trust you will be encouraged to put yourself out there, where The Great Adventure beckons!

Ron

 

 

 

Encounters of the God Kind

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Have you ever had an encounter with someone that impacted your life so powerfully that you have never been the same?

Perhaps your spouse, a teacher, a famous person? How about a complete stranger?

My point is that we encounter all types of people along the way as we journey from here to there, and those encounters can be impactful both positively and negatively.

Reading the four Gospels, we find people of every social and economic class encountering Jesus. Rich young rulers, poor destitute beggars, religious leaders of various sects, even a tax collector or two thrown in for good measure. It seems Jesus was no stranger to any of them.

What I find so amazing about the encounters Jesus had with all of these people is that all of them share one commonality. That is, whenever anyone encountered Jesus, they never left the same way they came. In other words, their encounter with Jesus impacted them in ways that forever changed them.

Which brings me to the heart of the matter: if we have had an encounter with Jesus, how has it impacted our lives, how has it changed us for the good?

Those are powerful questions, aren’t they?

Recently, my wife shared an article with me that she happened upon which in essence declared “that because of grace, we are all a work in progress”.

The article further went on to make the case that when someone comes to faith in Christ it can take decades to weed out some of our bad habits and sins. Therefore, established Christians are not to think badly of, or look down upon these new converts that have yet to mature in their faith.

I find that I am in agreement with some of the points made in the article, and others I am in opposition to. For example:

I certainly do agree that we are all a work in progress. I know that I am!      Romans 3:23 tells us that “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”. Pretty safe to say that all includes each one of us, agree?

And no one could argue that our sanctification is a lifelong process in which God chips away at this veil of flesh every day, forming, molding, and shaping us into His likeness.

I also agree that we cannot sanitize grace. Let’s face it; sin is messy, dirty, complicated, and downright ugly in the face of a Holy God. Grace demands patience, for it cannot be rushed lest its work in us fall short.

Where I disagree however is with the premise that after decades of Christian living, our growth and maturity can remain negligible. While we can debate the expected growth and maturity rate of a new believer, I contend that anyone who has come into the very presence of Jesus will grow and they will mature.

Think of it this way; if you stayed at the same levels you were at while attending the 1st grade, you would never accomplish much over your lifetime, would you? Of course not! You had to grow, to learn, to mature, because all of these elements are necessary for your success.

It’s really no different when you become born again. You are a new creation in Christ. The old man has passed away, and a new man has taken its place. This new man is essentially starting over in the 1st grade of life, and embarks on a lifelong journey of learning.

What would happen to that new believer if they stayed in the same place? They would not grow, not mature, and not learn. In reality, they would exist and not much more.

Is that what the Lord desires for us? Hardly! Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.  III John 1:2

My prayer today is that we would understand that God wants us to grow and mature in our walk with Him. It is not His will that we stay the same, but rather that we have a life of blessing and abundance!

The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.   John 10:10

An encounter of the God kind will change you for all of eternity. Being with Jesus means you can never stay the same, for “being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ”…   Philippians 1:6

Have a blessed Lord’s Day!

Ron

 

Stickers say a lot about us

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I think those old,leather luggage trunks are so cool,especially the ones that have those travel stickers plastered all over them, like this one…

travel-trunk

One can only imagine the stories this trunk could tell,and the countless memories made in far away, exotic places would no doubt be joyfully shared for years to come. Think of the adventures! Each one of those old stickers is a story,and when you add them all up they would make quite a novel!.

Did you know that all of us have our own collection of stickers? That’s right,even if you’ve never left your home town you have them. And just like those on the travel trunk above,our stickers tell a great story. Stickers of a different sort,stickers of our life’s journey. Yours might look like the one above,or it might look like this one…

custom-luggage

Here’s the thing about these stickers. They represent events of the past,both happy and sad. Events that we cannot change or wish away. Events that are burned indelibly in our hearts and minds. Some wonderful,some not. Either way,they are part of who we are. And while all of us would like to focus on those happy stickers,the truth is that we often spend more time thinking about the not so happy ones.

Not that anyone needs reminded of this,but the devil does a great job of bringing past, painful memories back to life. Painful memories are one of his chief weapons in the battle for our souls. Do you know why this is? Because they are extremely effective at stopping our forward momentum in Christ,often to the point of paralyzing us.

Scripture reminds us that the weapons of our warfare are nor carnal (II Cor.10:4). That is because our battles are not carnal,but spiritual,and are fought with mind and spirit. Paul understood this, and to the believers at Philippi he offered the following as the guiding philosophy that drove him onward…

Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,   Philippians 3:13.NKJV

Maybe,like me,your life is plastered with stickers that remind us of things we wish we had never done,or that things had not been done to us. As an example,a lot of the stickers on the second trunk are my own. And I left off the really bad ones.

Perhaps,again like me,you struggle with the whole “forgetting those things which are behind”. If so,here’s a different perspective on the subject that I would like to share with you.

Many times when we read the Bible we lose sight of the fact that these men were not super human. Rather,they were cut from the same cloth as you and I. Still,we wonder how Paul could say that he had forgotten the things of his past. It doesn’t seem possible,does it?

Well,I don’t believe he ever forgot them completely. And I can absolutely guarantee you that Satan never stopped reminding him of them. When he said “forgetting those things which are behind” he meant that those events would always be a part of him,but they would never define him.

Though always present,Paul chose not to allow his stickers to hinder him from fulfilling God’s plan for his life. They had been set aside,placed on the back burner,a part of his life that while reachable,he no longer considered them essential to his mission.

What do you choose to do with your stickers?

Our vision of those things which are in front of us,blessings,joy,peace,and ultimately our salvation,is marred by the painful reminders of our past that are pasted like stickers on a baggage trunk.

Here then,is the secret to dealing with those unpleasant stickers. When we endure bad things,the memories of the event are forever etched into our minds. But like Paul,those events do not,can not define us because we are new creatures in Christ Jesus.

That God has done a new work in our hearts and lives is cause to rejoice! Do you agree with me that we sometimes forget this? We should be shouting that “I’m not the same any more”!

We should never forget that the battles of today are strengthening us for tomorrow.We know what to expect from the enemy,we know how he works, but more importantly we also know what our God can do!

Through Jesus the way has been made for us to live an abundant life ( John 10:10). A life of pressing toward the mark of our high calling in Jesus.

In spite of those stickers that have attached themselves to our lives!

Special thanks to my daughter Lindsey for her help with the artwork! You should check out her blog at https://thelindseyvibe.wordpress.com/.