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A recipe for disaster

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The Princess and I have been talking a lot lately about prayer. Specifically, how that prayer is a key ingredient in the life of a Christian, and how that if we leave the Lord out of our daily lives it’s like making a cake without all of the necessary ingredients.

Now, I like cake. Not all kinds of cake mind you, especially if it’s loaded with rich, too sweet, gooey icing a half inch thick. I know, I know, that’s what everybody loves, right?

Not me, I like enough icing to add some flavor, but I don’t want to eat it by the forkful.

pineapple upside downMy favorite kind of cake is pineapple upside down cake, if you’re interested. My second favorite would probably be German chocolate, even with its sweet coconut icing. I know what you’re thinking; he wants his cake and he wants to eat it too. Yep.

No matter the kind of cake we like, one thing is for certain and that is if you leave out a key ingredient, you will end up with a less than perfect cake. In which case, why bother?

Isn’t this how our lives are with Christ? There are many “ingredients” that come together and are intertwined with one another in the development of our faith. Things such as worship, study, and fellowship are hallmarks of a committed relationship with Christ.

Yet there remains one more, major ingredient in this ever developing relationship, one I personally feel is the most important.

Prayer

One of the most important aspects of any relationship is a little something called communication. Lack of communication is one of the greatest hindrances in any relationship. Just ask any married couple about this!

In the life of a Christian, communicating with God in prayer is absolutely essential, yet it is one of the most overlooked, neglected parts of our spiritual lives. How do we know that we have neglected our prayer life?

It will show up in many ways. It will show up in our attitude. When we don’t pray, we easily become distracted by the negativity around us, and that same negativity attaches itself to our attitudes.

Bad-Attitude-Quotations-012

Golfian.com

Christians who don’t pray are moody and temperamental. They are no fun to be around. They tend to see the bad more than they see the good. They are judgmental and unforgiving. Mercy and compassion are traits that are rarely seen in them.

If you want a reality check, try this little exercise: go back over the past month and add up all the time you have spent alone with God in prayer. Now, take that same time frame and add up all the time you have spent on social media or watching TV.

Would you say the results are sobering?

As you know, Jesus spent time training his disciples how to pray. Yet before he actually gets to the part about “Our Father, who art in heaven”, he says this:

“And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 

But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.”         Matthew 6:5-7

Do you see the command to pray in these verses? In these two verses of scripture, Jesus said “when you pray” three times. He did not say “if you want to pray”, nor did he say “if you feel like praying”. No, he said “when you pray”.

We know, of course, that Jesus was our example when it comes to praying. After all, there were many times when he would go off to be by himself so that he could pray (Mark 6:46, 1:35, Matt. 26:36).

The expectation therefore is that as children of God we will pray. We will talk to God. We will enhance our bond with Him by communicating with Him through prayer.

praying man

pastorlyons.org

Beloved, if there is any one reason as to why the Church is so anemic today; it is because we don’t pray enough. We are not in contact with the Source of our strength!

Someone has said that the church of today has grown to the point that she is 10 miles wide, yet only ¼” deep.  Ouch.

The Lord Himself told Israel that if they would humble themselves,and PRAY,and seek my face,and turn from their wicked ways, then He would hear from heaven….(II Chro. 7:14).  Sounds pretty important, doesn’t it?

How then can our faith grow without prayer?  Prayer is the engine, or power behind our faith. How can we pray a prayer of faith if we never spend time with Him in prayer?

Can we ignore God until a need arises and then expect Him to come to our rescue when we rub our “prayer lamp” like the proverbial Genie? Is that how we think this works?

Talk about a recipe for disaster!

The apostle Paul said that we were to “pray without ceasing” (1st Thess. 5:17). A Christian that doesn’t pray is like the baker who sets out to make a cake without flour. The end result might resemble the real thing, but the proof is on the inside!

I encourage everyone to begin to pray a little more each day. Talk to God; tell Him all about it, just like the chorus to the old gospel song “Just a little talk with Jesus” says.

“Now let us have a little talk with Jesus
Let us tell Him all about our troubles
He will hear our faintest cry
He will answer by and by
Now when you feel a little prayer wheel turning
And you know a little fire is burning
You will find a little talk with Jesus makes it right”.

For sure,we need all of the key ingredients to produce the desired results. Leaving out just one of them is a recipe for disaster.

With that, I’ll end this post. I need to go pray!

Be blessed!

Ron

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What do YOU see?

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

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

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

All of it.

What do YOU see when….

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

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

*Yet another drug addict has fallen into despair?

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

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

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

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

Or are your eyes focused only on the cause?

Do you see fault?

Do you see blame?

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

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

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

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

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

I believe God sees their hurting.

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

 

Are you satisfied with just one day of Christmas?

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Am I the only one that thinks we’re getting ripped off here?

December 25th. Christmas Day.Here for just 24 hours then gone until next year.

Right this moment the TV news is touting yet another heartwarming story about someone reaching out to someone else just in the nick of time to avert a disaster of some sort. I love that.

For the past couple of weeks I’ve been hearing these kinds of stories regularly on the evening news. People from all walks of life start performing incredible deeds of kindness and generosity.

Some good news is indeed welcomed right now,especially given that we have just survived an incredibly cold,mean,and heartless national election. Yeah,we could use some good news for a change!

What I have never understood however is why these types of things only seem to happen at Christmas time? Maybe they do happen all the time,but you sure don’t hear about them like you do at Christmas.

Or at least it seems that way.

Some people call it the magic of Christmas. Others say that Christmas just makes them feel good. Then you have those that declare that its the spirit of Christmas.

Whatever you call it,what I want to know is where is it the rest of the year? Why can’t we have that Christmas feeling all the time? And just where does the spirit of Christmas go after December 25th?

Why don’t we give extraordinary tips at the restaurant every day to help out that single mom whose waiting on tables to help make ends meet? Surely they can use the help throughout the year.

Why is it that Christmas is the only time of the year when you hear about the “secret santa’s” paying off someone’s layaway at Walmart? Is Christmas the only time of the year when people use layaway?

Just yesterday I saw where hundreds of volunteers showed up to put together Christmas dinners for the homeless and needy in this area. What is it about Christmas that makes people do what they would not do in July?

Could it be that Christmas is the one time of the year when we actually open the door to our hearts so that we can then see the needs of others? If so…why? Why not every day?

Could it possibly be that at this one time of the year Jesus becomes real to us? To all of us?

Why do we wait all year to show a little kindness and compassion to others? Surely those wonderful traits are needed throughout the entire year,aren’t they?

In this cold,callous world showing acts of kindness and mercy are often viewed as a type of weakness.After all,only the strong survive,right? Is that why we refrain from doing them at other times?

Whatever the reason for the sudden outpouring of love and kindness,don’t you wonder why it can’t be this way all the time? Could it? Can it? Do we dare hope that it could be?

Here is what I think. I think it starts with one person. That could be you. Or it could be me. Doesn’t matter. What matters is that we open our eyes to the needs of others. That we allow ourselves to feel. To care.

What matters is that we recognize that we are so blessed to have so many good things,and that for the grace of God any one of us could be that person in need of some Christmas love.

Frankly,I’m not satisfied with one day of Christmas. Not when I know how easy it would be to keep the true meaning of Christmas going day after day.

Pipe dream you say? Pie in the sky? Maybe it is. But I’ve always heard that if you’re going to dream,dream big.

Merry Christmas everyone.

Ron

 

 

 

 

 

Tell Me The Truth

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I cannot tolerate anyone lying to me.

People who lie simply cannot be trusted because they are practicing deception at my expense.If you tell me something I am going to take you at your word and if I find that you have lied to me,well,good luck in earning back my trust in you.

Lots of people lie,and they tell all kinds of lies:

  • Big lies.truth
  • Little lies.
  • White lies.
  • Any kind of lie.

To some people lying is so natural that it seems they don’t even realizing they are lying.The truth escapes them and is foreign to them.They are in bondage to the enemy for indeed they are his children.Perhaps you know people like this?

As for me, I want to know truth.

I want to know God’s truth.I want to know God’s truth because it is powerful and above reproach.Even as men twist the scriptures for their own selfish,personal gain God’s truth remains.It cannot be changed.

It is because that God’s word is unchangeable and true that it has stood the test of time.While for thousands of years false prophets have tried to usurp His truth and change it into whatever convenient lie is required to dupe yet another generation,God’s truth is still setting free those held captive by Satan.

Jesus said that it was truth that would set us free.

John 8:32;  And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

That my friends,is a very powerful statement.Lets look at the context of the scripture where Jesus said that.

31 Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. 32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

33 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’?”

34 Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. 35 And a slave does not abide in the house forever,but a son abides forever. 36 Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.    John 8:31-36   NKJV

If Jesus said that the truth would make us free then what will we be free from?

The trappings of Tradition…Religion…Guilt…Sin?

The Jews to whom Jesus was speaking were obviously very religious,maintaining they were Abraham’s descendants.Because of their position they were blind to the real bondage they were in.It cannot be argued that they were free except in their own minds, and that because of the lineage to Abraham that they held so closely to.

Funny what we will say and do when our religious traditions are threatened,isn’t it?

The world is full of different religions,and all of them claim heritage to someone or something that they believe makes them better than,or holier then,all others.Not a day goes by that we aren’t bombarded with news accounts of one atrocity after another done in the name of religion.Or how often do we hear of another type of religious atrocity when we read accounts of wolves in sheep’s clothing, fleecing the flock to fill their pockets while their “sheep”wander about without a true shepherd.

Yet the fact is that unless they know the truth that Jesus spoke of,they remain in bondage to Satan to this day.This is the lie of the ages that has been sown in the hearts of men for thousands of years.The lie that says it doesn’t matter which god you serve,they’re all the same.After all,there is “good” in every religion(or church if you will).

No,Jesus made it as clear as he could.If we are to be freed from our sins,freed from our past mistakes,freed from bondage of religion and tradition…only the Son can make us that kind of free.

And that my friends, is the TRUTH.

 

Can God Handle This?

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I know what you’re thinking; well that’s a really dumb question.God can handle anything.He’s God after all!And everybody knows that God is still God,right?

Well…not everyone knows that.Or believes that.

I’ve been thinking about this for some time,and several recent conversations and “chance”meetings with individuals has urged me to write about it.

What do you tell someone who is standing on the edge of the abyss who doesn’t know that God can handle it?What do you tell someone who looks at you with “that look”in their eyes,that pleading,longing look that is more desperation than anything else?

They’re out there,those people who have no idea where to turn next.And they’re hurting in ways that most of us cannot comprehend.

Frightened.Hurt.Disillusioned.Wondering.Most of all wondering why.Why is this happening? What do I do now?

Most of us,when confronted by life’s challenges will fall back on the scriptures,and rightfully so for therein lies much of our strength and encouragement.Or we will turn to a Christian friend or leader for comfort.

For centuries Christians have garnered hope and strength from scriptures such as these:

For who is God, save the LORD? and who is a rock, save our God?   2Sa 22:32 KJV

For this God is our God for ever and ever: he will be our guide even unto death.   Psa 48:14 KJV

For our God is a consuming fire.   Heb 12:29 KJV

All great words to live by.But what about these folks that don’t have scriptures,or words of hope to sustain them?No preacher or minister to turn to?

Connie;who just today stopped by my desk to say goodby.You see,today is Connie’s last day after 30 years of service.I used to be her supervisor,and we shared several laughs and memories from years gone by.She got quiet as she prepared to leave and told me that she was hoping that things would work out alright.I thought that was a strange thing to say on this occasion and just as I was about to inquire she told me that her husband had not been able to work in over four years.Depression,she said.She told me that she had hope that everything would work out,so I asked her what the source of her hope was.”Nothing really”,came her response.She proceeded to explain that “you gotta have hope or else nothing will work out”. Connie is hoping in hope.Doesn’t believe in God.Believe me,I know.

Or Nathan;who just last week answered the call at his post as a local volunteer fire chief only to get there too late to save the two young girls,sisters,trapped inside.Nathan isn’t Nathan at the moment,he’s still in shock at witnessing what no one should ever see.His friends are very concerned about him because the life of the party is mostly silent.Nathan isn’t much of a believer either.Like the majority of the world,Nathan believes his good deeds will ensure his spot in heaven.

Today my office phone rang with a call from Mike,who told me his dad has cancer.Mike is usually somewhat scatter brained on his best day,but today was different.There was fear in Mike’s voice,fear of losing his dad.Mike and his dad have a very special relationship,a relationship forged out of some difficult days from years past.Mike is “religious”. He goes to church on Christmas and Easter to appease his elderly mother.Every once in awhile in a half joking manner he’ll say something religious like “I’ll say a prayer for you”. The rest of the time Mike cusses like a sailor.Actually, I think he could teach sailors to cuss.

Finally,I would be remiss if I failed to mention the text I received today from Gene.Gene is hurting terribly right now because he’s having to do what he’s tried to avoid doing for many years.Gene is having to place his mom in a nursing home.Did I mention that Gene is a Mamma’s boy? He’s taken care of his mom for many years since his dad passed away,and in fact he once told me he’d do just about anything to keep her out of the nursing home.Thankfully,Gene is a believer,and so is his mom.

There are others that I have encountered today,but it is enough.

So what do you tell someone who is standing on the edge of the abyss,who doesn’t know that God can handle it? What do you tell someone who looks at you with “that look”in their eyes,that pleading,longing look that is more desperation than anything else?

You tell them God’s got this.

Because He can handle it.

Be blessed,

Ron

There’s Hope,then there’s HOPE!

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Hope,I really love that word because it speaks of having something to look forward to.It speaks of turning the page,of a new day with new opportunities.

We all have hope of some kind don’t we? Some of us hope for things,some of us hope for relationships,and still others of us hope for a better life altogether.

My wife and I even started a ministry called H.O.P.E.!

I think hope is something we all have to one degree or another.Granted,life can be challenging to the point that we feel that all hope is lost, yet God remains faithful even in the darkest of times.I don’t remember who said it, but someone stated that hope is being able to see that there is light in spite of the darkness.Love it.

In this world today many are questioning “where is that light”,for all that seems to take center stage is darkness.The senseless murder of innocents is increasing at an alarming rate throughout the world,and the pleas of the religious to stop the violence go unheeded.

Unquestionably,the hearts of many have become hardened to the point of unfeeling or uncaring.And it will get much worse.

Jesus said it would be so in the time in which we now live.

Yet…hope remains strong in the hearts of those who have placed their trust in the Lord Jesus.Not just any kind of hope,not just a maybe someday kind of hope.But a hope that is alive!

You see,there is one reason and one reason only why we have this kind of hope and it is summed up in one word:

Resurrection

For it is through the Resurrection of Jesus Christ that we are able to lay hold on this hope.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,   [1Pe 1:3 NKJV]

Empty-Tomb-2

the cripplegate.com

Peter and the rest of the disciples understood that though they had suffered the loss of everything dear to them and had become social outcasts because of their faith in Christ,the faith that carried them from day to day was a living hope.

They had the kind of faith that was alive because they knew that their Lord was alive.And that hope is available to all of us today because Jesus is still alive!He is still alive and He is still offering that living hope to a world lost and headed for Hell.

That living hope is still the driving force that keeps us going through unspeakable tragedy.Hope that is alive is hope that will sustain us beloved!The tempest may blow,the storms of life will rage,our world will be rocked,but that living hope will see us through it all.

But there are those…

How sad that men and women choose to live out their lives not knowing that there is something beyond this life that is far better than anything they could ever imagine.The Apostle Paul said that if all we have hope for is in this life we are miserable!

If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.    1Co 15:19 KJV

If you are reading this and you can say that you are without hope,or that your only hope is in this life,I invite you to consider Jesus the Living Hope.

He is the way maker when there doesn’t seem to be any other way.He is the peace speaker in the middle of the raging storm.He is the One and only One that can be called the difference maker.

He is alive,and He offers to all a living hope through His resurrection!

Have a blessed Easter,

Ron

A Day Like No Other

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Friday

We call it “Good” Friday

A day that saw an event that changed the entire world for all time.

An event so horrific and unthinkable as to defy the imagination.

crucifixion

bible-history.com

A day that saw the murder of the world’s only sinless man, who just a few hours earlier had been tried and found guilty of love.

That’s right; found guilty of love.

His only “crime” was that he willingly,lovingly offered Himself as the eternal sin offering that was necessary to take away the sins of the people. He did what was impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to do: He did not merely postpone sin from one season to the next.

He eradicated sin.

For all people

For all time.

What I could never do,He gladly did for me.

Precious

Priceless

Matchless

Holy

Oh,so Holy

The Crucifixion of Jesus was the the most brutal,horrific,inhumane,and barbaric method to kill someone.It’s purpose was twofold:

It was meant to kill,and it was intended to humiliate.

Death from crucifixion is slow,deliberate,and excruciatingly painful.After enduring the tortuous anguish of the cross,death from exhaustion and eventually asphyxiation is seen as a welcomed relief.

Crucifixion was seen as the ultimate humiliation.Stripped of his clothing for the world to see was in itself humiliating.The condemned is then hoisted high above the earth to become a spectacle to all who passed by.

Jesus…

Humiliated

Tortured

Murdered

All because of love.

Jesus said this shortly before His death:

17 “Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. 18 No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.”  John 10:17,18 NKJV

It was Love that was stretched on a cross that day two thousand years ago.

unconditional love

The unconditional love of Christ-Paul Washer

I put Him there

You put Him there

It was Love that kept Him there.

Someone said that love is not a religion,that love is a person.

Love is Jesus

A Day Like No Other?

Without question it was.

There will never be another day like that day.

There doesn’t need to be.

Once and for all,the atonement for our sins has been paid.

Be blessed,

Ron

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