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This demon named “Regret”

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Is there one among us who has lived their life in such a manner that they can look back upon it and say “I have no regrets”?

I can state categorically that I am disqualified from being able to make such a claim. When we think of regrets we see images of things we wish we had not done, or at the least done them differently. I stand guilty as charged.

We remember conversations we’ve had with family and friends that did not turn out well, and we wish we had spoken with more kindness. Perhaps what we remember most is that conversation we meant to have, but never got around to having.

The voice of my wife on the night that her father passed away serves as a reminder to me about how it should be when we do things in a way that is pleasing to the Lord. As we drove away from her fathers home that night she looked at me and said this: “I have no regrets. There is nothing left unsaid between us. He knew how I felt about him and I knew how he felt about me because we often told each other”.

There it is…no regrets. Nothing left undone or unsaid. For the rest of her days on this earth my sweet wife can live peacefully knowing that there is no reason to look back and wonder ‘what if?’

The pain of regret for the rest of us is very real though isn’t it? That is why I refer to it as a demon. It brings with it pain and suffering over what might have been…what should have been.

Regret is relentless in its goal of keeping our eyes fixed on our rear view mirror. The enemy knows that as long as he can keep us looking back, we will never be able to look ahead. Up ahead awaits victory, while behind us lies a minefield of defeat.

Past mistake and failures of every sort are hurled at our minds at warp speed, rarely giving us a moments respite from the battle. Oh, and the enemy doesn’t care a bit that a past regret wasn’t your fault. You see, even if it wasn’t your fault he wants to transfer ownership of it to you because once you own it, he will use it against you at every opportunity.

Do you see how diabolical Satan is?

The enemy doesn’t even care that when you became a Christian that you were made a new creation. It doesn’t matter to him that the Bible teaches us that ‘old things are passed way’. He has no regard for the fact that as followers of Jesus Christ we now have ‘the mind of Christ’.  [1]   [2]

None of that matters to Satan. All that matters to him is that you keep looking backwards and not forwards, back to the path of destruction carved by an endless array of regrets.

So what is the child of God to do about this demon named “Regret”?

One of the first things we must do is acknowledge that we cannot undo the past. We get no ‘do-overs’. The best we can do is try to make amends where necessary, but the fact remains that what’s done is done.  [3]

Another thing we must do is to turn the situation over to the Lord in prayer. Peter explains it best here:

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you”. [4]

When we give it to God we are to leave it with Him. Of course, this is easier said than done because the enemy will never accept this as the final word on the matter. As I said earlier, he will bring this up to you time and time again in an effort to turn your attention to the past and not the future.

The Apostle Paul went so far as to suggest that we forget those things that are in our past. Paul knew of course that if he was to ever fulfill his destiny in Christ, it would be because he steadfastly looked ahead and not behind him. [5]

Forgetting our past sins and mistakes is not easy. It never is. I’m sure many of us have forgotten our past sins and mistakes many times. No doubt, we will forget them many more times before we leave this life.

When Paul says to forget those things which are behind us, he wasn’t trying to say that they are zapped from our memories never to be drudged up again. What he meant was that we should be so forward-focused that the past stays in the past.

That is how we get the victory over this demon called ‘Regret’. We leave it in the past and focus on running the race that is before us. Regret is a crippling, joy stealing invention of the devil that has no power over us unless we give it power.

As for me and my house, we choose to look ahead to the future that God has ordained we should have. We are free, having been set free by the blood of the Lamb.

“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed”. [6]

Keep looking straight ahead,

Ron

 

[1] 2nd Corinthians 5:17

[2] 1 Corinthians 2:16

[3] Matthew 5:24

[4] 1st Peter 5:6,7

[5] Philippians 3:13

[6] John 8:36

Bloodlust

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Note: this post was originally written immediately after the Dayton and El Paso mass shootings back in August of this year. I have resisted publishing it until now because of its tone, not wanting to add to the overall anger and frustration of the moment. What is interesting to me personally is that I feel just as strongly about this as I did nearly a month and a half ago, especially in light of the most recent shooting at a high school in Santa Clarita California.

Bloodlust: an uncontrollable desire to kill or maim others.

Did you know that so far this year there there have been more mass shootings in America than days in the year?

As of September 1, which was the 244th day of the year, there have been 283 mass shootings in the U.S., according to an article published on CBS.com that cites data from the nonprofit Gun Violence Archive (GVA), which tracks every mass shooting in the country. [1]

Crazed gunmen are everywhere it seems. Dayton, Odessa, Virginia Beach, and El Paso are just some of the most recent locations where mass shootings have occurred. Geography apparently offers no barrier to those intent on slaughtering innocent people, as evidenced by the random locations of these tragedies.

Each new incident brings with it a new round of shock, outrage, and horror that such atrocities could be occurring virtually ’at will’ in America. With sickening frequency, TV news reporters, film crews in tow, show up at these grisly scenes to give us an ‘up close and personal’ look at the carnage.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, politicians take turns demonizing one another in an insidious effort to absolve themselves of any guilt derived from their inability to at least slow down the pace of these massacres.

Seemingly devoid of all common sense and reason, these inept ‘leaders’ can not muster up enough concern and compassion to lay aside their partisan politics in order to at least try to do something other than point their fingers at one another.

We are a nation awash in the blood of its citizens, gunned down on a daily basis while those elected to ‘protect and defend’ sequester themselves safely behind the well protected doors of Congress.

Perhaps this is more telling than we want to admit, for their actions are indicative of people who have thrown in the towel, possessing neither the courage nor the decency to acknowledge their failures. Political suicide, don’t you know.

Strange, isn’t it, that the Congress of these United States of America is so hell bent on impeaching a President that it will scarcely give more than lip service to the fact that the citizens it has been elected to SERVE are being slaughtered under their watch.

I fear that the awful truth is that we are a nation that has come to love bloodshed. I fear that our collective consciousness has been so ‘seared with a hot iron’ that we can never again be a peaceful and loving nation that values all human life.  [2]

How else can we explain such unabated mayhem?

All of this is not unprecedented of course, after all history does tend to repeat itself doesn’t it? I am reminded of something the Lord said to his servant Jeremiah nearly 2600 years ago when it became apparent that Israel would not permit the Lord to rule over them.

A wonderful and horrible thing is committed in the land; The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?   Jeremiah 5:30,31

The word “wonderful” here is more accurately rendered ‘astonishing’, as in an “astonishing and horrible thing…” Those who purported to speak for the Lord spoke only lies, thus leading God’s people even further down the path toward destruction.

Those entrusted with the care of the soul of the nation were no longer leading the people according to God’s commandments, but after their own sinful desires. Does this not sound eerily familiar to you today?

Incredibly, the people loved it this way. They loved the idea of permitting someone else to be responsible for the religious aspects of their lives, while they themselves sunk to new lows.

God ends this warning by asking Israel when it’s all said and done, who will you cry out to for help? Who will come to you and save you from yourselves?

Isn’t that the cry of America today? We are drowning in blood, the blood of innocent children gunned down in our streets and our schools. Who will save us from ourselves? Who will right these wrongs?

As if all of this senseless killing wasn’t bad enough, we must add to the carnage the blood of tens of millions of babies slaughtered in the womb, and now outside of the womb. Unlike unlike gun shootings however, this genocide draws not even a whimper from the politicians, Hollywood, or the media.

Do we honestly believe that a Holy God will hold us guiltless for this? Are we so drunken with the blood of the innocent that we cannot understand that judgement is soon to come, and indeed has already begun?

How is it that tens of millions of Americans dare call themselves “Christian”, or Christlike, yet support political candidates who heartily endorse the murder of unborn children? Is there even one person on this planet that can show where Christ is in alignment with such debauchery?

This may sound harsh, but it needs to be said and I will not remain silent on these issues. We have become like the wild beasts of the fields who have developed a taste for human blood. Laying aside their natural tendencies they have turned to consuming something they were never created to consume.

Bloodlust: an uncontrollable desire to kill or maim others.

I’d say that just about sums it up, wouldn’t you?

Please be in prayer for our nation. There is no other hope for America.

Ron

[1] The GVA defines a mass shooting as any incident in which at least four people were shot, excluding the shooter.

[2] 1 Timothy 4:1-3

 

How to choose between the wide and the narrow

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Gates.

I like gates. Plain ones, ornate ones, all kinds of gates. Being a country boy, I got used to seeing gates either around the neighbor’s property or my own. They always made me curious about what’s on the other side.

Gates are built for several reasons. One is to allow access to areas that otherwise would be unreachable due to fencing or some other type of obstruction.

Some are very imposing and seem to say “keep out”, while others have that inviting look that says “welcome home”.

pasture-gate

toadhollowphoto.com

They are also built to contain things or animals, like sheep, cattle, and other animals so they cannot escape and freely roam where it may be dangerous for them to do so.

Gates are also used to safeguard the entryway of a small village or town. These gates serve as a type of passage way into the village. Once through the gate, you’re in.

Around the Old City of Jerusalem there were several gates that permitted citizens to enter and exit the city as needed.

Names such as Zions Gate, Jaffa Gate, Lions Gate, Herod’s Gate, and several others might be familiar to you. All of these gates served distinct purposes, and the history of them is quite fascinating.

map-of-old-jerusalem

While Jesus was intimately acquainted with all of the Jerusalem gates, He also spoke of gates in a figurative manner, such as when teaching his disciples.

Jesus referred to two of these types of gates as the Narrow Gate and the Wide Gate. You will find them referenced here in Matthew’s gospel:

13 “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.

14 “Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.   Mat 7:13-14 NKJV

As Jesus speaks of these gates notice that he also references two distinct people groups, the “many” and the “few”. I find it interesting that every one of us fits into one of these groups, the only distinction being which gate we ultimately enter through when our lives here on earth are complete.

Let’s take a closer look at these two gates along with their corresponding entrants. Let’s begin with the Wide Gate.

What is significant about this particular gate? For starters it’s big enough to accommodate the many. Also, the road leading to it is wide. It’s easy to get through isn’t it? Unfortunately, this gate also leads to destruction.

Sometimes the easiest choices in life lead to consequences we’d just as soon have avoided, agree? The easy way is so enticing, and it’s the rare person among us who would deliberately choose the more difficult path. Indeed, our nature is to seek the path of least resistance.security-consequences

Jesus said that there are many who will be going through this particular gate. Who are these “many” described in verse 13?

I believe they fall into two different, or sub groups of people.

1) Those that willingly and knowingly rejected Christ as their Savior.

2) The religious who have been deceived into believing they are “good enough”, and thus have trusted in themselves rather than Jesus.

Luke 19:10 tells us “for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost”. Obviously, those in group # 1 have rejected the One that came to seek and save. This group of people has therefore chosen the Wide Gate that leads to destruction.

Perhaps far more tragic than the 1st group is group #2. This group has some knowledge of the fact that on their own they are not “good enough”, however they are deceived into thinking that by looking inward they can do enough on their own to ultimately enter through the Narrow Gate that leads to life.

The great sorrow here is that they knew they were inadequate by themselves, that something was missing, but they chose to look within for the solution rather than look to Jesus Christ. In doing so they have also chosen the Wide Gate that leads to destruction.

Be watching for my next post, which deals with the second people group, the few.

Prosperity: God’s way

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Last week my wife and I were privileged to minister at the Eastview Church of God in Dayton,Oh. It was so wonderful to hear my wife sing the praises of God while I accompanied her on the guitar.She is such a blessing in my life and there is no doubt that God himself smiled upon this unworthy man the day she came into my world.

Since it has been far too long since my last post,I thought I would share a bit from the message I delivered last week.I do apologize for this,but we are currently consumed with moving and I haven’t had the time to really think about the blog.

My message for the day was based on 2nd Chronicles 15:1-8. The theme of these verses is God’s clear instruction that if you walk with Him, he will walk with you,but if you turn away from Him he will also turn away from you.

Though Judah had previously enjoyed God’s blessings they now found themselves broken,discouraged,and defeated. They had in effect walked away from God.

Sin will destroy a nation.

Every time.

Yet because Asa turned his heart to the Lord God gave him rest and peace during his reign. Stability was also one of the hallmarks of Asa’s reign as he ruled for 41 years. Contrast that with the fact that during those 41 years, Israel had crowned seven different kings!

Asa tore down the pagan gods. He even destroyed the images his own mother had erected!asa-cuts-down-image

Clearly there is an historical precedent that we could learn from by examining what the Lord said unto Asa. Lets read together from my text from last week’s message.

1 Now the Spirit of God came upon Azariah the son of Oded.

2 And he went out to meet Asa, and said to him: “Hear me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin. The Lord is with you while you are with Him. If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you.

3 For a long time Israel has been without the true God, without a teaching priest, and without law;

4 but when in their trouble they turned to the Lord God of Israel, and sought Him, He was found by them.

5 And in those times there was no peace to the one who went out, nor to the one who came in, but great turmoil was on all the inhabitants of the lands.

6 So nation was destroyed by nation, and city by city, for God troubled them with every adversity.

7 But you, be strong and do not let your hands be weak, for your work shall be rewarded!”

8 And when Asa heard these words and the prophecy of Oded the prophet, he took courage, and removed the abominable idols from all the land of Judah and Benjamin and from the cities which he had taken in the mountains of Ephraim; and he restored the altar of the Lord that was before the vestibule of the Lord.       2nd Chronicles 15:1-8  NKJV

“The Lord is with you while you are with Him. If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you”.

Could the God of heaven make it any more plain than this?

Contrast this Word with what America is hearing from its pulpits today. We are being told that the way to prosperity is to GIVE. TV preachers constantly use the same tired,worn out shtick that if you give,it will be given to you…

Of course the Word says that. But the last time I checked,there were also an additional 65 books of the Bible that teach us the full understanding of God’s plan of prosperity!

Can you imagine that the God who said that the earth and the fullness thereof is the Lord’s is at all behind such lunacy?

For us to prosper as individuals and as a nation,the die has been cast. There is no “formula” or “special prayer” that will cause us to prosper.You can give all you have to your favorite hipster preacher and it will not prosper you one bit so long as their remains sin in the camp!

No, it is a heartfelt commitment unto the Lord that brings prosperity to our lives, to our nation.

“For a long time Israel has been without the true God, without a teaching priest, and without law;”

Sound familiar? Recognize any similarities? Hello North America!!

“But you, be strong and do not let your hands be weak, for your work shall be rewarded!”

Clearly,God wants to prosper His children. But it can only happen when we turn again to the Lord.He will not prosper us if we are double minded,if we live like the world and partake of it’s sin. God said rather that He would turn away from us.

I told the congregation that I’m around people all day who make the sign of the cross but speak as though they spend most of their time in the bars! It should be obvious to anyone that we cannot have it both ways!

Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.   3rd John 1:2  KJV

Have a blessed Sunday everyone!