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The fear of the unknown vs. your familiar past

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ron

 

 

 

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All the kings horses,and all the kings men…

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Fractured

Splintered

Divided

Call it what you will, but America is floundering. In the cesspool of its own ignorance, undone by the deliberate abandonment of the Godly principles that once shone brightly for the entire world to see, we are drowning.

I know, I know. Ouch already!

Slowly, almost imperceptibly so as not to garner attention to the ungodly course she had chartered for herself decades ago, the axe was laid to the root of the tree so that death would not come quickly, but rather so slowly as to be unnoticed by the masses.

Generations of men and women who steadfastly held to the belief that they were free and independent of government intrusion in their personal lives have given way to a new generation that expects, no, demands, that government be their new god, their provider.

Decades of “he who has the most money wins” elections have produced the current crop of leaders who could not lead your grandmother across the street. In spite of this atrocity, we blindly cast our lots with them instead of God. The blind leading the blind!

What breaks my heart is that we are better than this! We know the way! The great travesty in all of this is we know the path to victory,yet we choose to stumble along in our own strength.

We are drunken on the new age Kool-Aid gospel of self importance. “You can be anything you dream,so dream BIG” they proclaim.This man made gospel replaces God with you, as though you were in complete control of your life and not God.

No amount of cheer-leading will make America great again. The fact that America is no longer the nation it once was is not a recent development, although the political elite and network talking heads would have you to believe otherwise. We did not get in this situation over night friends.

Do not misunderstand what I’m saying here. I am not criticizing America per se. I believe this country to be the best place on earth to live and raise a family. I love my country and am proud of its countless accomplishments over the past two and a half centuries.

Truth be told, the entire world has benefited from America’s existence. Actually,several nations owe their very existence to this country. But she has fallen far from the lofty heights of the blessed that she previously enjoyed.

Long forgotten is the scriptural admonition to “come, let us reason together”(Isaiah 1:18). The uplifting words of the Apostle Paul in Philippians 2 seem about as likely to happen in America as the mighty Mississippi reversing its course.

1 Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? 2 Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.   Philippians 2:1,2

From where I sit on the front row, I see an incredible opportunity right now for the church to arise and be THE CHURCH. The CHURCH must be the hands and feet of Jesus to a people wandering in spiritual darkness. To provide something that our government cannot, will not provide: REAL LEADERSHIP.

We the people need to hear from the God of heaven, not the god of this world. We need truth, not another lying politician. We need hope not vain, empty promises. We need encouragement, not more of the same disparaging vitriol.

Yet more than any of those, what we need most is to hear the clarion call to prayer from our church leadership. Pastors all over this land should be on their collective faces in solemn prayer for revival. God let it be so!

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.  II Chr. 7:14

God is still God; in spite of what the antichrist-minded puppets of Satan want us to believe. God is still in the forgiveness business, and He has plenty to spare.

Is it too much to ask that we take a good hard look at our hearts and acknowledge that we are arrogant and filled with pride? Per the verse above, does it surprise you to know that this is what God expects of us?

How is it that we do not seem to grasp the seriousness of the hour? Are we truly so blinded by Satan that we cannot see the outstretched hands of Jesus beckoning us to “come unto me”?

We all know the nursery rhyme about a character that sat on the wall. He did well from his lofty perch, yet when he fell, he fell so hard that he could not be put back together again. This simple analogy cannot be lost on us.

Humpty Dumpty

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My prayer today is twofold; one, that we would recognize the grave seriousness of our present condition, and two; that we would recognize the only remedy for our brokenness is God Almighty.

Have a blessed day,

Ron

How to ensure mistakes don’t ruin your life

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“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Ps. 51:10

The words of the sweet Psalmist of Israel, King David, as he acknowledges his sin with another man’s wife,the murder of her husband,and his futile attempts to cover it up.If only David could have seen into the future,perhaps a vision of what was to come would have convinced him to keep his eyes from wandering.

Every time I read this verse I am reminded of how weak this earthly tabernacle

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is. In an instant we can go from the highest highs to the lowest lows,all because we decide to yield to a voice that calls us to do the unthinkable. It humbles me to think that if the King of Israel could do it,I know I could as well.

And so could you.

David’s entire being was affected by what he had done. His relationship with God was severed,the joy of the Lord had departed him, and he was left alone to reflect upon the magnitude of his error.I cannot imagine how his soul must have been tormented!

Think about this for a moment.This wasn’t just another King of Israel.This was David.The shepherd boy anointed to be King.A ma

gerrit-van-honthorst-king-david-playing-the-harp-1611-1156x1407x300

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n after God’s own heart. Chosen of God,anointed King of Israel,feared by his enemies and adored by his subjects.Legendary giant killer and warrior without equal.

If ever the phrase”how the mighty have fallen”fit a man,it was David.Here was the man who literally “had it all”. This was God’s chosen one to replace a king that had forsaken the Lord.David was to “right the ship”in Israel.Yet for all of this,it wasn’t enough to keep his feet from wandering.

Surely David must have asked himself a thousand times if the momentary pleasure of sin was worth it.How could it have been,when his momentary lapse of judgement led to the rest of his life being one of sorrow and turmoil?

David’s sin led to lies and deception that culminated in Uriah’s death. And what of the child conceived from this rendezvous with the beautiful Bathsheba? Despite his fasting and praying before God night and day, the child born of his adulterous union became sick and died.Unfortunately for David,his sin also mightily impacted his other children as well.

David’s beautiful daughter Tamar was raped by her brother Amnon, who in a revengeful rage killed Absalom, who in turn was slain by Joab.Think of it,the King’s family destroyed by the sins of their father.And for what?

In his despair and brokenness,David came to the realization that the high price of sin was more than even he could bear.He soon learned that being King not only has it’s rewards,but also it’s share of heartache. All that was left for him to do was to throw himself upon the mercies of God.

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”

How gracious is our Father to forgive us when we come to Him with a broken spirit. David did not offer to God mere lip service, but rather a broken heart and a contrite spirit.David wasn’t just sorry because he was found out.No,David was truly sorrowful of heart and soul.This beloved,is true repentance.

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For certain,if we attempt to cover up and hide our sins,God will reveal them in His time.Fortunately for all of us,if we expose them to God He will cover them with His mercy.

As we come to the end of another year many of us will be spending time reflecting on the year’s past achievements and disappointments.Maybe there are some things you need to take to God? Maybe there are some things haunting you,just as they did David.

I want you to know that mistakes don’t have to ruin your life,nor should they define who you are.David could have used a friend to remind him of that,couldn’t he? Perhaps you could too?

May I encourage you to do as David did and simply turn to the Lord and ask His forgiveness for your sin? If you will do this, you will find as David did that our Lord is a restorer of the broken.He is the heart-mender after all.

I can’t think of a better way to start 2017,can you?

Ron

What will it take?

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Problems.

We’ve got big problems here in America.

Drug problems. Employment problems. Gun problems. Hate problems. Mass Murder problems. Rape problems. Criminal problems of every imaginable kind.

crime in America map 1

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These problems vex our society in ways that most of us don’t even think about,let alone understand the complexities of.

And what is most distressing about these issues is that they are getting worse instead of better.

In spite of billions trillions of dollars thrown at them in hopes that we will find solutions,our problems worsen.

Apparently money can’t buy everything after all.

We all know this because we see the evidence of it in our communities on a daily basis.What used to happen only in large cities has found it’s way to the family farm and every small town in America.I’m certain that if Mayberry existed today, Andy & Barney would be knee deep in drugs and violent crime.

But this list is by no means complete,because in addition to the Criminal problems we are facing, we are also dealing with Personal problems on an unprecedented level.

Unemployment. Inequalities of every sort. Brokenness. Hopelessness. Our children addicted to prescription medicines for emotional stress.

Depressing,isn’t it?

It seems that every politician has the answer,which I find interesting since these same politicians have continually said they have the answer.Yet the carnage continues.

yes no

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Pass this bill.Pass that bill.Implement this initiative.

It’s the fault of the left.It’s the fault of the right.

Problems.

Big problems.


Yet as unbelievable as all of this sounds,we have a problem much larger and more serious than any that I have previously listed.

You see…we have a God problem in America.

As in… we have rejected the Lord and are now left to our own abilities.Like this…

And the LORD said to Samuel, “Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them.   1Sa 8:7 NKJV

The children of Israel have just sealed their fate. They insisted on being ruled by a king,just like the nations all around them.They told the prophet Samuel that they wanted an earthly king,and rejected the God that had created them.

Saul

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You see, they made the same mistake that we have made.They looked all around them and saw that the other nations were doing just fine without the rules and laws that they themselves were bound to follow.Serving God had become burdensome to them.They had grown weary of the sacrifices and rituals that must be observed.They wanted an easier life.They wanted to be taken care of like the other nations they encountered.

And so God gave them exactly what they asked for.He even told Samuel to let the people know what kind of a king they were going to get,as well as the cost of his rule over them.Even though king Saul would take their children from them and cause servitude to be the order of the day,still they preferred him over God.

Thus began the downward spiral of what was once the chosen people of God Himself.To read the tragic history of a backslidden Israel is to read the story of modern day America.

And yet we also clamor for a king.Or a queen.is_it_2016_yet_square_sticker_3quot_x_3quot

But we do not ask for God.

Anyone,anything….but God

We do not ask for God because we do not know Him.We cannot inquire of Someone that we know nothing about.We have forgotten,rather thrown away, our heritage.

Shocking,but where are the shepherds crying aloud for this nation to humble itself and return to the Lord? If this were a different day the pastors and priests would repent in sackcloth and ashes.But not us.We have strayed too far.We are far too proud to admit our sins to a Holy God.

What we want, we have been given.

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.   2nd Tim 4:3,4

As a nation…we are alone and left to our own devices.

While the nation cries for more gun control,precious few cry out for more God control.

While our leaders stagger under the burden of overwhelming defeat in the battle to control the drug problem in America,very few cry out to God for a mighty deliverance.

More intervention by our government is simply not the answer our society needs. Our government is corrupt and stinking to the core.They cannot help.

We need a God intervention.In the worse possible way.

What is needed is an acknowledgment by all that we do not have the answers in and of ourselves,and that turning back to God is our only hope.

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Perhaps,if only for a while,believers can call upon the name of the Lord to hold back the oncoming flood that is destined to engulf this once great nation.

Perhaps that is what it will take.

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

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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

Dream Stealer

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There have been a few occasions when I have shared with everyone how that my wife always seems to know exactly what to say and when to say it.This past Monday was no exception.

Monday was my birthday and I was feeling a little down about some things while I was at work.My wife and I had shared a few texts back and forth and she figured it out pretty quickly.Wives are like that,you know?At least the good ones are.

At some point during my lunch time I received yet another text from my wife,and I could tell by the length of it a mini sermon had filled the screen of my phone.I’d like to share what she said to me in hopes that it might speak to others,just as it has to me.

“Just heard a quote:if you don’t make peace with your reflection,you will always be at war with yourself”. She followed that with this:”we can’t change our past,but we can leave it at the cross and and move past it…and have peace and thrive.You have a future doing something for the Lord,but only if you stop living in your rear view mirror.Trust,believe….our future is only going to be as sweet as you expect and believe that it will be.Don’t allow the enemy to steal any more of your dreams”.

I think I’ve read this a dozen times since Monday and it’s still as powerful as the first time I read it.

Our reflection,or the man in the mirror can be a tremendous hindrance to our progress in the Lord,but only if we allow it to!Haven’t many of us commented that our greatest enemy is often ourselves?To overcome,or gain the victory over our own self doubts is necessary if we are to do anything for the Kingdom of God.

We all have a past.A past that many of us wish we could somehow wipe away never to be remembered again.But there is a powerful adversary who knows every minute detail f our past,and his job is to make sure that we don’t ever forget it.

It’s important that we understand this.As Christians we acknowledge the fact that the sins of our past are no more.As far as the East is from the West,that’s how far God has cast our sins away.

Yet Satan,the angel of light,our adversary,is determined that our past sins continue to have a stranglehold on every facet of our lives.This is the battle that everyone must fight.God has forgiven.Satan says “no He hasn’t”.

Our sins were nailed to the Cross beloved.Once and for all our sins were purchased by the blood of Christ.I think we would all do better if we reminded Satan of this from time to time.After all,our weapons are more powerful than his!

The weapons of our warfare are not carnal,but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds.   2nd Cor 10:4

Because our sins were nailed to that Cross we are free to move beyond them,justified before a Holy God as though we had never sinned.That should be what we focus upon.That alone should be our battle cry.

My sins,your sins,all of them are in the rear view mirror.They are behind us.The only way you can see them is if you turn around and look for them.

How about you? Have any big dreams for God? Unfulfilled dreams? Dreams that you continue to hold on to?

As my precious wife reminded me,”don’t allow the enemy to steal any more of your dreams”.

Be blessed,

Ron

Going After The Straying Lamb

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I love to read the gospels,especially the parts where Jesus talks about sheep and lambs.Like most of you,when I hear the words “sheep” and “lamb” I immediately see images of fluffy,playful sheep and sweet,innocent little lambs.I doubt there are too many things more beautiful than that.

There is a special relationship that exists between the shepherd and his flock, one not unlike a man has with his own children.The shepherd is the caretaker,or protector of his flock.He is the one that the sheep depend upon for their very survival.

The shepherd is responsible for chasing away the hungry wolves who lurk on the outskirts of the flock,always waiting for an opening to rush in and seize his prize.The shepherd tends the wounded among his flock,gently nursing the hurting back to health.Without the faithful shepherd,the sheep would be scattered to the four winds and would eventually be either killed by predators or die of hunger or thirst.

In Matthew chapter 18 Jesus is once again teaching his disciples a lesson,and this time the lesson is all about going after the one that has wandered from the flock.This story paints a beautiful picture of the love of the shepherd for his sheep,and it is a portrait of Christ and His church.

12 “What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying? 13 “And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that [sheep] than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray. 14 “Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.   Mat.18:12-14  NKJV

What Jesus has done here is reiterate a very basic truth about the relationship between the shepherd and his sheep.Simply stated;if one sheep were to wander away from the flock, the shepherd must leave the rest to find it.No questions asked;that is his duty and his calling.To seek the one who has wandered is his solemn responsibility.This is the value the shepherd places on just one of his sheep.

This is a key point not to be missed:the shepherd places as much value on the one sheep as he does the entire flock.Have you ever wondered why this is?Why not stay with the ninety nine and just write off the one that wandered off on his own.After all,it’s just one sheep and the shepherd still has almost all of the original flock.So what’s the big deal about the one?

To a shepherd,a real shepherd,his heart is in his work.In fact,it’s all about the heart isn’t it?Because the shepherd’s heart is in his work,he has committed himself to them.To the outsider they’re just dumb animals,but to a real shepherd those sheep represent his heart.They represent his love for them.

Christ and the church are another type of Shepherd and sheep aren’t they?Jesus is often referred to as the Good Shepherd that gives his life for the sheep,an analogy that is easy to grasp.Jesus the Good Shepherd leads his flock to greener pastures,to a tranquil place from which to drink,and to a place of safety for the long night ahead.

Jesus,like the shepherd in the field,would stop at nothing to retrieve that one sheep that has strayed from the safety of the flock and bring it home to safety.His heart is in His work.

The straying lamb wants to come home,to feel once again the safety and security that he once knew.This world has a way of turning what looked to be so appealing into hell on earth,and many a lamb has succumbed to the enticements of others. What seemed to be the bright lights calling was no more than a mirage that deceives and binds us with cruel chains.

Perhaps you know one that has strayed,one that has drifted close to the outer edge of the sheepfold,ready to bolt.Maybe Jesus the Good Shepherd has been dealing with you about this particular one,urging you to be the caring and loving shepherd that they will respond to.

If this is you,would you please listen to that still small voice that is urging you to go after the one that has wandered?Would you open your arms to carry that wounded one back to the safety of the flock?It’s not hard,really it isn’t.

You would be surprised to know that to hear the sound of a loving shepherd calling out to him is all it takes to break every chain and free the straying lamb from his situation.

Pastor,Teacher,Worker,Saints of every description….there’s a straying lamb waiting to hear you say “come back home”.

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