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Keurig Christianity?

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I’m pretty sure most of us have one of those Keurig coffee makers setting around on the counter. The convenience of being able to make just one cup at a time of our favorite coffee is hard to beat in my opinion. A bit expensive, but nice just the same.

Keurig

Keurig.com

But what happens if you want to drink 2 or 3 cups of coffee? Or what happens if you have 4 or 5 people over for coffee and all you have is the Keurig?

The answer is you still get one cup of coffee at a time. Interestingly enough, this “one at a time” concept of the Keurig is not unlike the mindset of many of us in the church today.

I’ve taken to calling it the “Keurig mentality”. We say that we desire more of God, that we want a closer walk with Him. The problem is we want our one cup filled just one time, and we want it filled up instantaneously. Isn’t that how many of us approach God?

I’m here Lord. Give me everything I need right now so I don’t have to keep coming back to have my one cup refilled. Lets get this over with. One stop shopping at the corner church!

As though that were somehow enough.

Unfortunately, that’s not how this works. Or as the Facebook TV commercial used to say, “that’s not how any of this works”!

Desiring God is a noble endeavor, one that all of us should strive to pursue. But growing and maturing in Christ is the result of a lifetime commitment. Getting out of the starting gate as a new Christian and growing into the mature,strong believer that God wants us to become requires patience, experience, and faith(Romans 5:4).

“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown.”      I Corinthians 9:24-25

Running a marathon requires training, discipline, the correct diet, and a resolve to make it to the finish line.

marathon runners

NPR.org

Oh, and many, many refills. You see, one cup just won’t do!

Be blessed!

Ron

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Missing: Spiritual Leadership in the Home

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In these chaotic days in which we now live,the absence of leadership,particularly Godly leadership,is most definitely contributing to the moral demise of our homes, communities,and ultimately our society.

It is a natural human tendency to look for leadership, as we’re taught from our youth that there is a hierarchy,or leadership structure in our homes, schools, and government that we are to follow.   Leadership

When people lack leadership at any level, they tend to look elsewhere. For the Christian, we look to the Church, or more specifically to our Pastors and leaders in the local church.

Unfortunately, even that is no longer a given, as evidence by the plethora of wannabe leaders looking to make Church a “career”, rather than a lifetime commitment to servant hood.

So what’s a person or family to do who cannot find sound,Godly leadership? If you are a Christian, you look inward,to those in your own home. In other words…sometimes you have to step up and assume the leadership role of your family.

After all, that’s what God called you to do! Yes…you are called to be the servant leader of your home!

The Bible has established a very clear leadership path for our homes and families, which is that the husband is to be the spiritual head of the family. The Apostle Paul gave perhaps the most in-depth explanation of this in his epistle to the Ephesian church.

Submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, …   Eph. 5: 21-33   ESV

Please note, I am fully aware that many will bristle at the word “submit”. Taken out of context, the word “submit” is a demeaning,humiliating term of subservient obedience. That is NOT however what the Apostle Paul is meaning when he used the word “submit”.

The term “submit” was used to describe relationships peculiar to Christian believers. By digging into the scriptures, we find that the true sense of the word describes the Christian grace of voluntarily yielding one’s preferences to another.

In other words, to “submit” in the Christian sense has nothing whatsoever to do with domination,or forcing one’s will upon another. NOTHING! And for you husbands that think this verse gives you a license to lord over your wives like some kind of ogre, think again. You are supposed to love your wife as much as Christ loved the church, even to the point of giving your own life for her!

love your wives

Pinterest.com

Of course, even the Biblical example of spiritual leadership in the home can present it’s own share of unique problems today. For example,the family structure in America is undergoing a radical shift away from the two parent household. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2016 there were nearly 12 million single parent households, with a staggering 80% of those headed up by single mothers.

Additionally, 1 in 4 children under the age of 18 — a total of about 17.2 million — are being raised without a father! So much for men assuming the traditional spiritual leadership role of the home. How can they, when they aren’t even there?   source: https://singlemotherguide.com/single-mother-statistics/

Is it any wonder then that our children’s lives are being wrecked by gangs, drugs, violence and despair? There is no Biblical family structure in so many of these situations, and lacking that many of our children are left to fend for themselves, often becoming easy prey to the streets.

Single mothers are attempting to provide the family structure,income, and spiritual leadership that God intended for BOTH the husband and the wife to provide. This is a HUGE problem! This is NOT what the Lord intended for our families, that they be ripped apart in front of our eyes.   women-in-christian-leadership.jpg

So who’s going to provide this much needed spiritual leadership given that the home is under such an attack? One thing is for certain, and that is that if families are to survive the spiritual onslaught they are being subjected to, and it is indeed a spiritual attack, God has to become the focal point of the home!

Whether the home consists of a husband and wife or a single parent, someone must step up and assume the role of spiritual leader. There can be no other solution. There MUST be a spiritual head in our homes.

There must be that “go to person” that prays for their family. There has to be a clearly defined spiritual leader that can offer Biblical guidance and wisdom to their children. And lest I be misunderstood, whoever is the spiritual head of the home must seek advice,counsel, and wisdom from each member of the family.

This cannot be a one man or one woman show! Spiritual leadership in the home that fails to seek input from others is not true leadership, it is equivalent to being a taskmaster ordering their subjects to obey his or her commands.

OK, you’ve read this very lengthy post. Now what do I do? Here are three simple ways to provide spiritual leadership for your family:

  1. Learn to pray for your family! Every day, the spiritual leader of the home should be taking their families to the throne of God. Ask God to cover your family with His divine protection.
  2. Pray for wisdom. Just as King Solomon prayed and asked the Lord to give him wisdom to rule the people of Israel, so should we be asking the Lord for such wisdom. Parents, especially new parents don’t always know what is best for their families. After all, it’s not like or children come with an instruction manual!
  3. Lead by example! Be the man or woman of God that you have been called to be. Be strong and courageous in the Lord. As David encouraged himself in the Lord, we too should look to Him as our source of encouragement.
Dear Lord

Beliefnet.com

My prayer is that we will assume our rightful position as spiritual leaders in our homes, whether male or female.

It is our only chance to take back what the enemy has stolen from us. Indeed, it is our only hope for a future!

Be blessed!

Ron

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A front row seat to a marvelous transformation

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Over the past several days I have had a front row seat to watch the construction of a new home directly behind me.To many,I’m sure the noise and debris generated by this construction is all they see and hear.2016-12-22-10-30-09

For me however,it has been a wonderful experience to watch as the workmen who started with a blank canvas of Southern Oaks and tangled vines quickly transformed the site into a house.

I’ve watched with great interest as huge machines came on sight and completely ripped out trees that have been on the earth far longer than I have. In awe I watched the ground being leveled, concrete foundations poured, block walls erected, and now the roof sheathing is finished.2017-02-03-12-11-10

Like a well-oiled machine the construction crews all work in perfect harmony, each person responsible for completing a specific task. As soon as one job is finished, the next worker is waiting to add his unique part to the ever enlarging home as it soars to new and greater heights.

The more I’ve watched this building process, the more I am reminded of construction of another kind. Like these skilled workmen who transform raw lumber into a beautiful home, every one of us is being transformed into something we as of this moment cannot fully appreciate.

Just like this new home is being constructed of many pieces and parts, all of us are in various stages of our own personal transformation, with Jesus being the Master Builder. In as much as the construction crew started with sticks, stone, dirt, and trees, God took us just as we were, and began what will be a lifetime transformation process in us.

Firstly, He must remove the dirt and undesirable things from us, which occurs when we repent of our sins. Once the canvas of our heart has been cleared, it is time for the foundation work to begin.

Second, when He saves us and fills us with His Spirit, the foundation has been laid, one that can never be destroyed. He is the Chief Cornerstone of our salvation, the stone that the builders rejected (Acts 4:11), and in Him our building is secured.

Thirdly, the real work begins in us. While this work may seem tedious, even difficult at times, it is necessary for our growth and maturity. The battles that loom on our horizons will serve a dual purpose: first to strengthen our resolve in Him and our commitment to Him, and second, to increase our faith in Him.

All of this of course, is to build us up to ultimately become the finished masterpiece that the Father envisioned we should become when He is finished with us.

Paul understood this perfectly as he explains it to the church at Ephesus:

19 Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,

20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone,

21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord,

22 in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

Eph. 2:19-22   NKJV

Yes, we all start as a blank canvas, but oh what a masterpiece you will become, especially when you have a front row seat to the transformation!

Have blessed day in Jesus name!

Ron

 

What is it exactly,that we’re searching for?

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Why are we Christians not content with where we are in life? In our relationships? In our walk with God? If you really think about that question for a while,it says an awful lot about us doesn’t it?

discontentment

gracefromhim4.blogspot.com

 

The Apostle Paul said he had learned to be content in whatever state he found himself to be in (Philip. 4:11). Do you know anyone like this? Are you like this? I must admit that I have not yet arrived at this place in my life.

Paul learned to be content,meaning it was not an instantaneous event, but rather a process he went through. A refining process. Being beaten, shipwrecked, starved, abandoned, stoned and left for dead will definitely refine a person to the point that things no longer matter.

Perhaps that explains our mindset today when it seems that we expect instant gratification in almost every situation. We just don’t want to endure the process required to get from point A to point B. The process can indeed become uncomfortable,and we try to avoid uncomfortable, don’t we?

You’ve no doubt heard the expression that a person has to pay their dues. Older  people understand that to mean you have to put in the time and effort to get the promotion,or the job,or the honors.

So it is with serving the Lord. Growing in the knowledge and grace of our Lord is a lifetime commitment.To be really honest, it’s also hard work. It requires discipline and much sacrifice on our part.The rewards however,are incomparable to anything we could ever hope to gain from this world.

That’s why we must be very careful when searching for contentment in places we have no business being in. Let me share a personal example with you.

Many years ago there was a time when I actually was content in just about every way possible.While I didn’t make a lot of money,I made enough to get by and I was OK with that.My spiritual life was soaring and I felt like I had it all.It was liberating to be in such a state!

At about this same time I started hearing about a new job,one that paid more than I thought I would ever earn. The more I thought about that job and what the extra income could afford me,the more I began to want it.Soon,it was all I could think about.

I began to look away from my life of contentment,searching elsewhere for what I did not know, somehow convinced that this new job would be a blessing from Him and that I would continue merrily on my way.After all,what difference could it make where I worked?

So I applied for the job and got it. Much to my great surprise I soon began to hjob-is-crushingate everything about it. The job itself,the people,the red tape,the long hours,the stress. You name it,and I came to loath every part of it. This was shocking to me as I had never hated a job before.

To say I was no longer content would be a huge understatement.Every part of my life suffered,especially the spiritual part of me.I was left with little time for prayer and study,and in short order realized I was in trouble.The grass was definitely NOT greener on the other side!

I spent four and a half years at that job,and when I was laid off I was probably the only person there who shouted for joy at the news! Those were the worst four and a half years of my life,and I say that with no exaggeration.I had suffered terribly for my mistakes,and prayed that God would forgive me and help me find the job He wanted me to have.

Which He did, on both accounts!

So I’m wondering,where are you with this whole contentment thing? Only you can answer that,but if you’re like me those closest to you probably have a pretty good idea.

Careers,titles,authority,money,all these are fleeting things that will disappear and may cost you more than you bargained for.

So what is it exactly,that we’re searching for? It’s taken a long time, but I now know the answer to that question.We’re searching for the very things that God is offering to us. All we have to do is accept them. It really is that simple!

I’ve learned (the hard way) that contentment can only come from a life grounded in Christ.I’m hoping you realize that as well.

Be blessed!

Ron

Weathering The Storms

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According to the calendar it is Springtime.I said “according to the calendar” because around here you wouldn’t know it was spring by looking at the thermometer.Or my rain gauge,which had an inch of ice in it this morning!

Just a week ago we had 55 mph winds and lot’s of rain.This morning I awoke to the yard covered in snow.I would have taken a picture of that but the wind chill was a balmy 19 degrees,so I decided you would have to use your own imagination for that one.

So,yes it is supposed to be Springtime,but the weather doesn’t want to cooperate.In fact,as I look out my patio door right now it’s snowing again!

From watching the evening news I understand that millions of you are dealing with weather extremes all across the country,so I guess that means it’s just one of those years.

We’re all weathering the storms this spring.

Even the animals, for example.Right behind my back yard is a small pond that has an island in the middle of it.Like clockwork,every year about this time several Canadian geese fly in to do battle for this small pond in order to use it as their nesting sight.This year was no different as we watched several pairs of geese battle it out for this prime piece of real estate.Eventually,one couple reigned supreme and claimed the rights to the pond and the island,driving all other competitors away.

Within days the female was sitting on the island,just like every other year for the past 10 years or so that we’ve witnessed this annual ritual.She’s hard to see in this photo,but if you look closely to the left of the center of the island you can just make out her black head through the brush.

2016-04-09 14.17.48

This goose has weathered the strong winds,pounding rains,ice and snow,and the rising water that threatens the nest,and who knows what type of predators,all without ever leaving her nest.

She does this because nature has taught her that before she gets to experience the new life that will soon start pecking it’s way out of the shell,there are things to endure.

Freezing nights

Hunger

Loneliness

Storms that must be weathered

We’ve all heard the term “silly as a goose”or “they don’t have the sense that God gave a goose”,whatever that means.Yet I’m convinced that there is much we Christians can learn from these “silly geese”.

Things like Endurance

The female goose will not leave her unborn for any reason,and once the goslings are born she becomes even more protective.She stays right there through the fiercest of storms because she somehow knows that if she were to abandon the nest her unborn have zero chance of survival.So she patiently endures whatever nature throws at her,because a happy day is just around the corner.Branta_canadensis_-Calgary,_Alberta,_Canada-8

Maybe we should remember this: For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for life; Weeping may endure for a night, But joy comes in the morning.   Psa 30:5 NKJV

Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.   Heb 12:2 NKJV   (emphasis mine)

All of us either have,or will have things which must be endured.Not because we don’t love God,or because we’ve done something wrong,or heaven forbid not because of what some false teacher may say, that it’s your own lack of faith that has caused your misfortune.If we endure with patience, victory WILL come.

Things like Commitment

The nesting goose is in it for the long haul.Over these past years of observing their actions I have learned that the time varies from when they start nesting till the goslings appear.No doubt there are a great many struggles,with weather being just one of those.Still,it doesn’t matter because none of those things will move the goose off her nest.

Reminds me of something Paul said here: But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus–the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.   Act 20:24 NLT

The King James version of that particular verse says it this way: But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.

That should be our battle cry,that nothing will move me from my appointed destiny in Christ.

Things like Patience

There is something in nature that tells the goose that it’s going to take a lot of patience to bring forth her young. I watch the nesting goose on the pond and I see how she reacts to things that invade her space.Like the muskrat that swims around her island,and even occasionally takes a few steps up on the island.

Or the ducks that fly in to spend time on the pond.The nesting goose just takes it all in stride,annoying as it might be.Funny thing about these ducks.The male goose guarding the pond has no problem with them,but just let another goose act like it’s going to land and the baby ducklingfight is on!

If we’re to weather the storms that come our way,we need a great deal of patience too,as the writer of Hebrews reminds us:

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset [us], and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,   Heb 12:1 KJV

Life has a way of testing our patience doesn’t it? At least,that’s been my experience so far!And this life really is a race isn’t it?

A race that has to be ran

A race that has to be endured

A race that has to be taken one day at a time

Just like the geese on the pond out back,we’re in this race for the long haul.

Weathering the storms is never easy,in fact the process can be painful at times because life’s storms come in all varieties;physical,mental,financial,illness,even death.But please remember this one thing the next time you find yourself battling the forces that are coming against you:

After the storm has passed,the sunshine is brighter than ever before.

Ron