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Encounters of the God Kind

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Have you ever had an encounter with someone that impacted your life so powerfully that you have never been the same?

Perhaps your spouse, a teacher, a famous person? How about a complete stranger?

My point is that we encounter all types of people along the way as we journey from here to there, and those encounters can be impactful both positively and negatively.

Reading the four Gospels, we find people of every social and economic class encountering Jesus. Rich young rulers, poor destitute beggars, religious leaders of various sects, even a tax collector or two thrown in for good measure. It seems Jesus was no stranger to any of them.

What I find so amazing about the encounters Jesus had with all of these people is that all of them share one commonality. That is, whenever anyone encountered Jesus, they never left the same way they came. In other words, their encounter with Jesus impacted them in ways that forever changed them.

Which brings me to the heart of the matter: if we have had an encounter with Jesus, how has it impacted our lives, how has it changed us for the good?

Those are powerful questions, aren’t they?

Recently, my wife shared an article with me that she happened upon which in essence declared “that because of grace, we are all a work in progress”.

The article further went on to make the case that when someone comes to faith in Christ it can take decades to weed out some of our bad habits and sins. Therefore, established Christians are not to think badly of, or look down upon these new converts that have yet to mature in their faith.

I find that I am in agreement with some of the points made in the article, and others I am in opposition to. For example:

I certainly do agree that we are all a work in progress. I know that I am!      Romans 3:23 tells us that “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”. Pretty safe to say that all includes each one of us, agree?

And no one could argue that our sanctification is a lifelong process in which God chips away at this veil of flesh every day, forming, molding, and shaping us into His likeness.

I also agree that we cannot sanitize grace. Let’s face it; sin is messy, dirty, complicated, and downright ugly in the face of a Holy God. Grace demands patience, for it cannot be rushed lest its work in us fall short.

Where I disagree however is with the premise that after decades of Christian living, our growth and maturity can remain negligible. While we can debate the expected growth and maturity rate of a new believer, I contend that anyone who has come into the very presence of Jesus will grow and they will mature.

Think of it this way; if you stayed at the same levels you were at while attending the 1st grade, you would never accomplish much over your lifetime, would you? Of course not! You had to grow, to learn, to mature, because all of these elements are necessary for your success.

It’s really no different when you become born again. You are a new creation in Christ. The old man has passed away, and a new man has taken its place. This new man is essentially starting over in the 1st grade of life, and embarks on a lifelong journey of learning.

What would happen to that new believer if they stayed in the same place? They would not grow, not mature, and not learn. In reality, they would exist and not much more.

Is that what the Lord desires for us? Hardly! Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.  III John 1:2

My prayer today is that we would understand that God wants us to grow and mature in our walk with Him. It is not His will that we stay the same, but rather that we have a life of blessing and abundance!

The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.   John 10:10

An encounter of the God kind will change you for all of eternity. Being with Jesus means you can never stay the same, for “being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ”…   Philippians 1:6

Have a blessed Lord’s Day!

Ron

 

The High Cost of Negativity

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The following headline in today’s newspaper immediately caught my attention:

“Groups pump millions into negative ads in Ohio”

The amount of money spent to discredit and defame another person is staggering,as the following paragraph from the story details:

“Spending this year by independent political groups with confusing-sounding labels like super PACS, 501(c)(4)s, and 527 organizations will almost certainly surpass 2012, when at least $85 million was spent in Ohio on the races for president,Senate,and the House of representatives.”Negativity 2

Sure could use a little good news today.

So let me break this down a bit more. Here in Ohio we have some of the poorest counties in the U.S. In the areas of the state hardest hit by the recent economic downturns(think “coal”),the state employment rates are at or above 9.6%,far above the nations 5.1% rate.The highest unemployment rate(Monroe county)comes in at a staggering 13.4%!(Source: March 2016 Office of Workforce Development – Bureau of Labor Market Information).

The lack of quality health care and housing for tens of thousands of Ohioans is appalling.According to a University of Akron study an Ohioan is born into poverty every 18 minutes.Am I the only one who finds this nearly unbelievable? And what of the nation? The numbers add up to millions!

Lest we forget,Ohio also has the dubious distinction of having one of the nation’s worse drug addiction problems.It has gotten so bad the the heroin “problem”in Ohio is making the rounds on the national news outlets.According to a CBS news report of 4/26/16,twenty three Ohioans are killed each week by heroin.

Sure could use a little good news today.

So let’s see if we understand all of this. The state of Ohio has an enormous employment problem,some of the highest in the nation. It has a severe drug addiction problem,so much so that every week another 23 people are killed by drugs. It has a depressing level of poverty,which by the way is being added to at the rate of another hungry mouth to feed every 18 minutes.

So yeah,I think that about sums it up.That’s a lot of negative information,is it not? Kind of depressing isn’t it?

Sure could use a little good news today.

Too bad we aren’t hearing much in the way of good news. What we are hearing however is that the special interest groups that control the finances required to elect your favorite politician are spending nearly $100 million dollars on negative TV and radio ads.

Wonder how much they give to fight poverty…lack of health care…hopelessness?

And don’t forget: the other 49 states are doing the exact same things.

One hundred million dollars spent on negativity. Negativity 1

Can you see what I see? I see heartbreak. I see destitution. I see destruction. I see a colossal crime being perpetrated against humanity. I see greed running rampant and an attitude of “it doesn’t matter what it costs so long as I get my way”.

Please don’t mistake this post as one of trying to drum up support for any particular candidate or party.I try my level best to stay away from entering the political fray because I know that my personal political views will not mesh with the majority today.It’s simply not worth it.I don’t discuss politics and I don’t allow myself to be drawn into mindless debates.

I am actually embarrassed and ashamed that as a state and as a nation,what we currently have running for political office is the best and brightest we can come up with. Or rather that money can buy.

Do you ever ask yourself “how did we ever get this way”?

From a Christian perspective I am deeply concerned about the precarious position America finds itself in today.Our enemies have uncovered our weaknesses,and they are many.The constant bickering and in-fighting among the various political candidates is a direct outcome of their lust for power and control,and serve only to widen the gulf between themselves and a desperate populous.

Can anyone argue that we are not reliving the actions of another nation that at one time was blessed beyond measure because they obeyed the Lord God? As we in America continue the downward spiral into the darkest reaches of sin,we continue to mirror ancient Israel who willingly chose to accept the leadership of fallen man verse the divine mandates of a Holy God.

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

I ask you, how can we feed and clothe our people,how can we offer them an alternative to a lifestyle steeped in drugs,how can we create new opportunities for employment,when those who we elect to solve these problems have rejected the Lord in favor of corruption?

We need God. Whether you realize this or not,we need God.

More money is not the answer. Another politician is not the answer. Your preferred political party is not the answer. The Right is not the answer. The Left is not the answer.

And yes,in the interest of full disclosure even the church is not the answer.The wealthy church that does precious little to stem the tide of negativity in their neighborhoods has long ago abandoned it’s mandate of love and compassion.While the world that is outside the ark of safety in Jesus tumbles into an eternity without God,the church is more concerned with demonstrating it’s success and influencing the world.

All the while billions beg to see a demonstration of the power of the gospel.

the_gospel_changes_everything1

pastordaveonline.org

We are falling headlong into an abyss from which there will be no return,yet no one seems to care enough to acknowledge this.

The answer that America needs will not be found in an election booth this November.

It can only be found at the Cross, where we must repent of our backsliding deeds and return unto the Lord.

We simply cannot afford the high cost of negativity any longer.

Upon This Rock……

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Our family just returned from 10 days of sunshine and rest and we are very thankful to the Lord for His provision.I’ve had a lot of time to actually think without the pressures and demands of life interrupting me, and it was good to be able to spend quiet time alone with Him.

I spent quite a bit of time reflecting upon my own journey with Christ.I’ve been a Christian for almost forty years now, and there are times when it seems a lot longer than that. I guess life sometimes makes time seem to drag on longer than it actually does. Wouldn’t you agree?

And then there are times when it seems like only yesterday when I knelt in my kitchen and accepted the Lord into my heart.Serving the Lord,basking in the glory of it all,somehow seems to make the time fly by. Agree?

I should mention here that due to a family medical trait I really never dreamed I would live to be as old as I am.Even though I’m still 16 in heart and mind(just ask my wife!), my body however has a way of snapping me back to reality pretty quickly.

Which kind of has me thinking about endurance,and how we manage to hold to the Lord’s hand through the storms of life.My thoughts are that I could never had held on through some incredibly stormy seas unless I had a sure foundation.Which brings me to the title of this post: Upon This Rock…

In Matthew’s gospel we find Jesus is speaking to his disciples,and in particular Peter about this foundation.

13 When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?

14 And they said, Some [say that thou art] John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.

15 He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?

16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.

17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed [it] unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.

18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

20 Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ.    Mat 16:13-20 KJV

Now,this is not a post about who/what Jesus was referring to when speaking about this “Rock”. I stand firmly in the corner of those who believe Jesus was referring to Himself as being the Rock,or Foundation of the church……and thus of me. You may think otherwise of course.

What I know for sure is this: there is no way humanly possible for anyone but Christ to have sustained me through the past forty years.No church,pastor,leader,denomination,etc…could do what He has done for me.

Nope. None but Christ. And I know that I know this to be true. Christ is my Rock.He alone is my foundation.

It is Christ alone that makes a way when there seems to be no way.

It is Christ alone who speaks to the storm and brings about a peace that passes all understanding.

It is in Christ alone that I place my hope for a future.A future without pain and disappointment.

There is none like Him. He is the One and Only Son of the Most High God.

The One that at the mention of His name “every knee shall bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord,to the glory of God the Father.”

My Rock.

Your Rock.

THE ROCK that even the gates of Hell cannot defeat.

Think about this: what hasn’t Hell,or Satan,defeated in this world? Actually,no matter where you turn there is evidence that Satan is hard at work.Hard to think of much that the devil hasn’t impacted in a seriously negative way through the centuries,isn’t it?

Except Jesus Christ.And His Church.

That’s why I know without any doubt that He is the Rock of my salvation.

How about you?

Be blessed!

A “Divine Wind”?

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Divine. I’ve always loved that word because it speaks to me of something much higher, much holier than I am. Something beautiful beyond my imagination, something not of this world, supernatural.

Take a look at how the dictionary describes divine:

Full Definition of DIVINE from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/divine

1

a :  of, relating to, or proceeding directly from God or a god <divine love>

b :  being a deity <the divine Savior>

c :  directed to a deity <divine worship>

That pretty much sums it up in my opinion. That is until the other day when I came upon an article on the Christian News web site about a pastor who has announced that he has received a new definition of the divine. What’s worse is that he attributes this new revelation to God. A “Divine Wind” he calls it.

Seems that GracePointe Church in Franklin, Tennessee has adopted a new stance on the position of allowing homosexuals to not only join their ranks, but also to enjoy all the benefits of membership.That includes all sacraments as well as marriage.

Now, this is not a post about bashing gays. Not at all. In spite of what some in the church say, homosexuality is really no different than adultery, lying, or any other sin.To put it bluntly, any sinful lifestyle we are living in severs our relationship with God and it can only be restored after repenting of our sins.

Christianity 101 there folks.

Beloved, sin is sin, and it will ultimately lead you to eternity separated from God.

Man, and in particular the church, has decided that different sins should be ranked in some kind of order of severity, forgetting the fact that all sin separates us from God.

No, this post is about calling attention to the fact that a man masquerading as a man of God would even dare to stand before a congregation and declare that such a thing is ordained of God Almighty.

This is how far the church has backslidden! This is the depth of depravity that the blood bought church has slipped into.

It is treacherous, it is vile, it is an abomination, and it is an affront to a Holy God.

It is the fruit of those who “preach another gospel” that Paul warned about in his letter to the Galatians.

And most alarming to me is that it seems to be OK with the Christian masses who declare it’s not their responsibility to say anything. Really?

If you take the time to read the article you will better understand how the doctrine of inclusion, while sounding good to the ears, is actually anti-Christ. It serves to scatter the sheep at the expense of gathering the goats.

The pastor of this church was quoted as saying “I am not sure I am right, but I am sure I sense the presence of God, and I know I’m doing my best,” he said. “And I believe before God almighty to this we have been called, and here we stand.”

So let me see if I understand this. You are leading your church in a radical departure away from biblical Christianity, but you’re not sure you’re right? And in the midst of your obvious confusion you are certain that you sense the presence of God?

Am I the only one who sees the deception this man is walking in, who sees the disastrous conclusion to this heresy?

From where I sit on the front row of the church I see someone who has lost his way and to add to it he is leading many hundreds down the same path of destruction.

Please join me in praying for this pastor and the congregation at GracePointe church. They do not need criticism or condemnation. They need a holy deliverance from the blindness that has ensnared them so that they may return to the God of the bible.

As for me, I just want to weep at what is taking place in our churches today.

A Divine Wind?

I’d say it’s Sin in the Camp!