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When God is your only option

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This past Sunday morning in my home church, I delivered a message about the undefiled and incorruptible inheritance that awaits us. I made several points about how short this life really is, and how that if our only hope was in what we can amass in this life, then our hope was not only misplaced, but also futile.

I tried very hard to drive home the point that in this life, while there will be seasons of hurt and disappointment that will severely test our faith, such testing is much more precious than gold which is purified in the fire. [1]

At the close of the message, as is the custom in our church, I invited anyone in need of special prayer to come forward. Our church makes this time of prayer a priority, and every week there are usually several people that come forward.

On this particular Sunday, a young lady who had only recently started attending our church came forward. Having met and spoken with her on her first visit, I was aware of some serious physical challenges she had been facing, so it was no great surprise to see her ask for prayer.

I listened as she shared with me that the disease that was supposed to be in remission had now spread to another part of her body. If that wasn’t horrific enough, she told me how fearful she was of what might become of her small children should the unthinkable happen to her.

As I prayed for her, she collapsed into my chest, sobbing uncontrollably and unashamedly. In short, she was broken. Broken in spirit and broken in body. And who wouldn’t be?

I have no doubt that some of you understand this level of desperation. You too have had to face death head on, with no guarantee of the outcome. Can life get any more real than this?

As I continued praying with her, she held on to me, unable or unwilling to let go. All I could think about was how this is what real ministry is supposed to be: bearing one another’s burdens in our most desperate moments.

That’s why we’re here, to express the love of Christ to all who need it. You and I are the hands and feet of the Master, and I believe with all that’s within me that no one is too hurt, too sick, too lost, or too desperate that God cannot get to them. He can reach anyone in any situation. He is our helper in the time of trouble. [2]

It may seem like God is this young lady’s only option at this point, but really…

Sometimes I wonder…is that so bad?

Please join with me in praying for Mary, and if you would, please share this with someone else that believes in the power of prayer.

Ron

 

[1] 1st Peter 1:3-9

[2[ Psalm 46:1

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It’s ok to love from a distance!

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Do you struggle with making steady progress in your walk with the Lord because of certain people in your life that keep pulling you away from Him?

Do you ever feel like ‘taking two steps forward and one step backward’ sums up your life?

Do the failures, hurts, and disappointments from your past continually haunt you to the point of nearly paralyzing you, thus rendering you unable to effectively live for Christ?

familyradio316.com

If any of this sounds like I’m reading your mind, it’s because almost all of us are in these same predicaments. Let’s face it, the struggle is real, and we are locked in a very real battle with a very real enemy.

I have lived long enough to understand that all of us struggle at times, but not all of us struggle for the same reasons. In addition, we may also find ourselves struggling with situations not of our own choosing, and therefore out of our control.

With that in mind, I want to focus on a particular area of struggle that we can control, which is who we allow into our lives.

This can be a difficult subject to deal with for a Christian, first of all because God is love, and as his children we are taught to love people. The idea of keeping anyone at arms length is not easy for some because they equate that with a lack of love.

It was Jesus after all who said that “no greater love has a man than this, that he would lay down his life for his friends”.  From this verse we find the heart of God, and it is only natural for us to desire to emulate that very same love.  [1]

So, again, we who are followers of Jesus Christ must love people because that is the commandment of our Savior.

No doubt you have heard it said that Christians are to “love the sinner but hate the sin”, or some variant of that. That means that we are to look past the sin in a person’s life and see their need for a Savior.

Personally, I believe this to be sound advice. We must be careful however to understand that while we should love without regard to lifestyle choices, habits, etc, we must be very careful as to how much influence we allow these same people to exert over us.

And yes, that includes those who profess Christ but live as though they know nothing about Him. This is made perfectly clear to us in Paul’s second letter to Timothy where he said we were to turn away from such people.   [2]

It is (hopefully) obvious to us as Christians that we cannot permit the enemy to gain a foothold in our homes and in the lives of our family members. We must remain vigilant against the methodology of the adversary, because he routinely transforms himself into something that we would be attracted to.   [3]

In other words, our enemy isn’t likely to appear on your doorstep wearing a red cape, horns, and carrying a pitchfork. He will however appear in such a manner as to put you at ease long enough to deceive you!

This is where loving from a distance comes into play. Instead of opening our hearts to things that might harm us, we should proceed with caution. And yes, it is perfectly alright to say NO to someone!

As a matter of fact, scripture teaches us to keep the world at an arms length from us. Paul actually used a stronger word when he said we should come out from among them and separate ourselves.

And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. 2nd Corinthians 6:16,17

If we are to live victoriously in Christ, it will be because through Christ we have conquered our past failures and disappointments. Through Him we will have buried the demons that used to haunt us.

“You can’t defeat the demons you keep playing with” is a popular internet meme quoted frequently all over the web today by many preachers and Christian entertainers.

It is a very powerful truth as well.

To continue “playing with” them is to invite certain destruction into our lives because having fellowship with darkness is diametrically opposite of what scripture teaches us in Ephesians 5:11.  [4]

As children of the King, we are to love all people simply because everyone, saint and sinner alike, has been created in the image of God. Never forget that while we were yet sinners ,Christ died for us.

Wisdom, however, dictates that loving from a distance until you really get to know a person is not only prudent, it may just save you much heartache.

Have a blessed day everyone,

Ron

[1] John 15:13

[2] 2nd Timothy 3:5

[3] 2nd Corinthians 11:14

[4] Ephesians 5:11

 

 

It never ceases to amaze me…

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Have you ever noticed how that certain topics will stir the masses to action while other, equally important topics barely draw a whimper?

Consider for example the President. Any time his name is mentioned one of two things is sure to happen.

  1. His followers will defend his actions no matter how questionable
  2. His detractors will demonize his actions no matter how beneficial

Love him or hate him, very few remain on the fence about him.

And so it is with any number of controversial topics, people, or subjects. Everyone has an opinion, and most are only too willing to share theirs with the world. Except for one distinct group of people, that is.

It seems that the only group that remains consistently silent in the face of controversy are those who call themselves Christians.

As sheep being led to the shearer, we Christians have a peculiar propensity to remain mostly mute, content to watch from the sidelines while the spirit of AntiChrist marches towards ultimately criminalizing Christianity in America.

Think about that statement for just a moment.

  • It is the Church that is supposed to be Christ’s representative on the earth.
  • It is the Church that has been charged with leading men out of darkness into the light.
  • It is the Church that is supposed to be leading by example in all areas of spirituality and morality.

In other words, the Church is supposed to be heard from!

Yet it never ceases to amaze me that when the Church needs to rise to the occasion, it is as if someone pushes a ginormous MUTE button and she remains silent.

So it is with the recent House of Representatives “Equality Act“. This bill, which passed by a margin of 236-173, is one of those that if it ever becomes law will forever change the way that you live in America.

Simply put, this “Act” makes no allowance for communities or individuals of faith who hold traditional views of marriage and gender. In other words, if you hold to a Biblical viewpoint, you will find yourself on the wrong side of the law.

Personally, I absolutely believe this bill we eventually become the law of the land because once those who currently oppose of it are disposed of, there will be no stopping it.

If by some chance you have never heard of this legislation, you owe it to yourself and your family to read it. You need to know what is coming and the impact it will have upon your life, because life as you now know it will be over.

For a “plain English” summary, simply Google “Equality Act and the Church” and you will find all you care to digest on the matter. The link above will take you to the first post in the search engine.

I have searched for an official response from the Church to this atrocity of legislation but other than a few comments from fringe denominations such as the Seventh Day Adventist church and the LDS, I haven’t found much from mainline Christianity

Which in itself is an abomination.

It never ceases to amaze me how legislation that is diametrically opposed to all things “Godly” can be proposed, and the Church will step aside and allow it to become law without any resistance.

Then again, we’ve seen this movie played out before, time and time again. The tens of millions of lives destroyed by the likes of Stalin, Mao, Hitler, Kim Jong Un, and more recently Saddam Hussein all took place with barely any organized resistance from the Church.

How any rational person can remain oblivious to the fact that the Church is in an epic battle with “spiritual wickedness in high places” is quite simply beyond me. [1]

All that is left is for individual Christians to pray and seek the face of God. Pray for the strength to stand in the face of the severe trials that are surely coming upon this nation. Pray that we will be given the grace to to hold fast to our convictions, no matter the personal cost we must endure.

Ron

 

[1] Eph 6:12  “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”.

A sure and steady anchor

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As I look out the window of what we refer to as our multi-purpose room(the ladies of the house refuse to give me complete control of it so I can’t call it my office), everywhere I look I see signs of life.

Here in Florida the grass has been growing for quite a while now. Since March I’ve been mowing once a week, and in a few more weeks the rainy season will change that to a twice-weekly chore.

Songbirds are constantly singing their unique songs, while a chorus of screeching jays, cardinals, and blackbirds announces the arrival of a bobcat, now hidden in my flower bed. Little gray squirrels run about the yard, chasing each other in an endless game of tag.

If I look to my right, I see pots of shrubs I started from cuttings a few months ago. Just beyond them is a pineapple plant that I grew from a rooted top of a pineapple bought at the grocery. Another one sits in a glass jar, awaiting the development of its own root system.

Palm trees are everywhere, which reminds me I need to call someone to trim the tallest ones. I no longer have the balance I once did, so climbing a 20’ ladder no longer seems like the wise thing to do.

The jasmine are beginning to bloom in force, filling the yard with their musky fragrance. Pink, red, and coral hibiscus are showing off their brilliant colors, as are flowering shrubs I potted up months ago but can’t recall the names of at the moment.

If all of this seems a bit idyllic, it’s because it is. Though I may be surrounded by homes, traffic, and people all running here and there doing whatever they are doing, this is my refuge.

You see, I need a place where I can get in touch with the things that matter to me. Whether it’s getting my hands in a flower pot, mowing the lawn, or simply enjoying the sights, sounds, and smells of a myriad of living things, these are the things that ground me.

This does sound pretty nice, even if I do say so myself. And I do not want to give the impression that like the Apostle Paul, “I have learned that whatever state I find myself in, I am content”. I wish! Yet I know all too well that any peace and contentment would be impossible were it not for the anchor of my soul that holds this all together.

Jesus is that anchor and the rock that I rest upon.

While I do not have great wealth, I am rich in ways that no amount of money could purchase. When you possess the love of Christ, the desire for material wealth fades into obscurity.

I would like to think that you also have a place of refuge, a place to get away from the daily grind and the stresses of this life, a peaceful place to enjoy the things that are most important to you.

Most of all, I trust that you are anchored in Jesus Christ. Without Him, any such peace and contentment would be impossible.

Be blessed,

Ron

 

 

 

 

 

Sexual abuse in the Church: has this become an acceptable sin?

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Readers of this blog are well aware that I have not shied away from taking to task the many sexual predators who are part of the Catholic Church hierarchy. Whether the abuser is a Priest, a Bishop, or a Pope, there is a seemingly endless trail of shattered and broken lives in the wake of the unprecedented abuse of the Catholic Church’s many deviant and perverted sexual predators.

That is not to say that the Catholic Church stands alone in its abuse of innocent boys and girls. Far from it. As today’s church rejects the clear teaching of God’s Word, thus becoming less Christ-like in the process, it is becoming more and more like the world, willingly taking upon it the sins and iniquities for which Christ died.

In essence, what we are witnessing today is the proverbial “I want my cake and I want to eat it too”. In other words, the Church wants to be recognized as Christ’s representative here on earth, but at the same time want to indulge itself in the vile sins of the world. Such are men and women who have had their conscious seared with a hot iron. [1]

That being said, it would be unfair of me to fail to call out these same types of predators who ‘worship’ in other churches, so today’s blog will center around the recent sexual abuse scandal that has been brought to light in the Baptist church.

Before I begin, I am well aware that this is not a popular subject. There will be no “Amens!” shouted from the pew. No one will applaud this message because the truth is most people would rather not know of these abuses in the Church.

When I speak on subjects like this, it usually generates silence. No one wants to believe that their church leader could be guilty of such heinous behavior. And besides, the attitude that some things are best left unsaid is just as alive in the church today as it always has been.

All of that aside, I recently came across an article in the Houston Chronicle that details a pattern of sexual abuse in Baptist churches in Texas going as far back as 1998. In that time, approximately 380 Southern Baptist church leaders and volunteers have faced allegations of sexual misconduct for their abuse of over 700 victims.  [2]

The pattern of sexual perverion and abuse in these Baptist churches differs little from that which is taking place in the Catholic Church. Indeed, a summary of the article linked above details a very similar approach to sexual abuse.

“Many of the victims were adolescents who were molested, sent explicit photos or texts, exposed to pornography, photographed nude, or repeatedly raped by youth pastors. Some victims as young as 3 were molested or raped inside pastors’ studies and Sunday school classrooms. A few were adults — women and men who sought pastoral guidance and instead say they were seduced or sexually assaulted.”

So, a reasonable person might wonder what in the world is going on here? These are not isolated incidences of a rogue minister gone bad. This is a clear and established pattern of sexual corruption and abuse. This is also a very clear testimony to the fact that these ‘ministers’ are wolves in sheeps clothing, unregenerate in heart.

How can such things be permitted to happen, or better yet how could these predators have been allowed to remain in positions of power and authority?

One of the answers to those questions, and there are many, is that there is an expectation that members of the church, in particular the clergy, will conduct themselves in such a manner as to exhibit the highest moral and ethical behavior possible. They are,after all, supposedly representing God as they fulfill the duties of their position.  [3]

That is the expectation at least, one I believe that is shared by most.

Because the expectation is that the clergy will always take the high road, it can be difficult for laypersons to believe that any of them could actually be capable of committing such acts of sexual violence against our childeren. Thus, it makes it easier to either disregard an allegation or choose to simply look the other way when confronted with the evidence.

Disregarding ANY allegation however is completely unacceptable, no matter how uncomfortable it may be. I can think of no place where this should be permitted, most certainly not the Church. Choosing to look the other way in the face of sexual abuse allegations is tantamount to saying “I don’t care”.

Every single sexual abuse allegation MUST be investigated to the full extent of the law, and perpetrators found guilty must be punished according to the same extent of the law. Anyone found guilty of covering up sexual abuse in the church is just as guilty as the perpetrator, and MUST share in the guilt of the offender and must also be punished accordingly.

Beloved, these things are taking place because the Church, just like the world in which she abides, is systematically severing its relationship with the Almighty. Having convinced itself that it is above reproach, there is nothing off limits to it as she seeks to disregard the clear admonition of scripture to “come out from among them, and be ye separate, and touch not the unclean thing…”. [4]

Church leaders of every denomination would do well to read again the words of Jesus as he spoke to the Laodicean church this warning:

So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked— I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten.” Rev. 3:16-19

Rest assured, the day is coming when every deed will be judged. No one will escape the judgement seat of Christ. Not Catholic, Baptist, or any other religious person.

In that day, Jesus said that he would separate the sheep on his right hand from the goats on his left hand. Many will be shocked to see those they had held in high esteem being ordered to stand with the goats, as their sins will be made known to all. [5]

God’s Church deserves better then this. Jesus Christ was mocked, beaten, and whipped until nearly dead. Forced to carry the instrument of his own impending death, He staggered through the streets until reaching the place of execution. Without hesitation He allowed his hands and feet to be nailed to the Cross, after which He was elevated above the earth so all could see Him. Hanging there naked, blood pouring out of his body, he became the Supreme Sacrifice for the sins of all men.

This is the True Leader of the Church! I submit to you that any man or woman who is guilty of perverse sexual sin against His Church, has never had an encounter with Him!

Ron

 

[1] 1 Timothy 4:2

[2]https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/investigations/article/Southern-Baptist-sexual-abuse-spreads-as-leaders-13588038.php?fbclid=IwAR2BdtoC8nvXuizrZhBcvQ5vAz9AA8lgWGltfCZDnDO1BAsQPcDEpwFH4VM

[3] Titus 1:7

[4] 2 Corinthians 6:17

[5] Matthew 25:32-46

 

Becoming deaf to Satan

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Voices…

Noise…

As a lover of solitude, I find this world to be a very noisy, intrusive place. Being raised as I was, meaning as a full-fledged country boy, I learned to love the quiet and peace of near silence.

I can still remember hours and hours where the only sounds I heard were that of the wind blowing, or the birds chirping. Imagine not seeing a single car go past your house for several hours! That was my world as a child.

Things certainly change as you grow into adulthood though, don’t they? Somewhere along the way, you realize that it’s time to leave behind the only life you’ve known and join the masses who are making a living and doing all the other things that adults are expected to do.

That’s when you start to hear them. Voices, coming at you from every conceivable direction, all clamoring for your attention, all wanting to be heard. Happy voices. Angry voices.

Your Boss.

Your spouse

Your kids

Your friends

Then there are two other, very distinctive voices, voices that sound like none of the others. Voices that seem to almost be in competition with one another as they vie for your undivided attention.

Gods voice.

Satan’s voice.

As a child of God, we hear His voice in many ways. We hear it in the Word of God. We hear it when we spend time with Him in prayer. We hear it in the laughter of little children. And yes, we hear it in that “still, small voice”. [1]

The voice of God is unmistakable to His children that have inclined their ears towards Him, as Jesus told us in John 10:27 that “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me”.

Satan’s voice, however, is a deceptive voice. That is because Satan is a liar and never tells the truth. To mask his lies and gain our trust so that we will let down our guard, he must appeal to our fleshly desires.

One of the ways in which he accomplishes this is to mix a little bit of biblical truth in with the lie. For example, a common false teaching that has crept into the church today is that all of us are “little gods”.

On the surface, I would hope that none of us would consider ourselves to be a “god”, yet that is exactly what some teach today. They quote John 10:34 as their proof text:

Jesus answered them, ‘Is it not written in your Law, ‘I have said you are ‘gods””

This is classic Word of Faith teaching, and it is nothing short of blasphemy. Yes, Jesus did in fact quote that particular verse from Psalm 82, but He was stating that HE was above judges as the Son of God. In no way, shape, or form was Jesus telling any man that they were a “god”.

This type of false teaching appeals to the flesh, and the desire for power that the flesh lusts after. It is deceptive in that the devil takes scripture and twists it to appeal to the flesh. He mixes a truth with a lie to deceive us.

There are a lot of false teachers out there today that espouse this particular brand of false “theology”. The late Paul Crouch of TBN fame was one of it’s biggest proponents, and it has been passed down to the likes of Benny Hinn, Joyce Meyer, Crefflo Dollar, Fred Price, Marylin Hickey, and Jesse Duplantis, to name a few.

This is but one example of how the enemy will take something that God has said and twist it into something entirely different. From the moment in the Garden when Satan twisted God’s commands, thus enslaving man to sin, to this present day, he has never stopped in his attempts to undermine God’s plan for your life, all while lying to you.

How many of you, like myself, hear the non-stop voice of the enemy as he tries to steal, kill, and destroy? [2]

It’s very real, is it not?

So how are we to drown out the relentless voice of Satan so we may overcome his deceptive tactics?

  1. For one, we must stay in the Word. Nothing brings clarity to the believers’ mind like Gods Word. It is the standard by which all Truth must be measured. Every sermon or teaching that we expose ourselves to must be measured against this standard. And that includes your pastor or your favorite TV preacher or author. If what they are teaching differs in any way from the written Word of God, you must reject it.
  2. We must continue to cultivate our relationship with Christ through prayer. It is shocking to hear how little time the average Christian spends in prayer. Prayer is a line of communication between God and man that must remain open at all costs. If you are too busy to pray, you are too busy.
  3. We must be a people who worship. Worship comes in many forms, and not all of them involve singing a song! For example; purpose in your heart to be a thankful Christian. Give Him thanks for all the many blessings you have received from Him. Learn to be a sacrificial Christian. Prefer others before yourself. Become a doer of the Word, and not just a hearer.

I believe that it is possible to become deaf to the voice of Satan, but it can only be accomplished by redirecting our attention and focus on the things of God.

If we will do this, our lives will be enriched far beyond what we can imagine!

Be blessed everyone,

Ron

 

[1] 1st Kings 19:12

[2] John 10:10

Therefore the land will mourn

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It’s a dangerous thing for a nation to decide that God is no longer relevant. 

Whenever society enacts policies and laws that are void of any regard for God and his word, you can be sure that trouble will soon follow.

Any time that man becomes convinced of his superiority in matters of humanity and proceeds to embark on a path that takes him away from God, the remembrance of nations who long ago became extinct will remind him of the folly of such endeavors.

When mercy and truth are relegated to the furthest recesses of the mind and no place can be found for them in the halls of rulers, kings, or presidents, Satan is given free reign to pour out his wrath upon a society blinded by ignorance.

A people who have chosen not to retain the knowledge of God among them is by all accounts a people awash in sin and degradation, hopelessly entangled in their own filth, unable to know the cleansing freedom that can only be found in Christ.

1 Hear the word of the Lord,
You children of Israel,
For the Lord brings a charge against the inhabitants of the land:

“There is no truth or mercy
Or knowledge of God in the land.
By swearing and lying,
Killing and stealing and committing adultery,
They break all restraint,
With bloodshed upon bloodshed.
Therefore the land will mourn; …  Hosea 4

 

Our land is in a perpetual state of mourning, and as a result many have lost hope. Not just for today, but hope for a brighter future. Hope for a better tomorrow.

The most amazing thing about all of this is that God’s children do have hope. We, like faithful Abraham, are looking for a city ‘whose builder and maker is God‘ (Heb. 11:10).

Like the story found within the pages of the book of Hosea, we long for the day of reconciliation, when God gathers his elect from the four quarters of the earth.

We are living examples of a hope that is not of this world, but of a world to come where love rules and evil has been forever banished.

To many that sounds like a fairy tale, but to the Christian who is exhausted from years of unceasing spiritual warfare, it offers the promise of rest.  

I thank God that while I may be a resident of this earth, I am looking for the day when I become a citizen of heaven.

A place where mourning of any kind will never be heard again. Until then, may the Lord  somehow call us back to ‘the old paths, where the good way is…’   Jeremiah 6:16

Ron

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