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How much longer will you carry that ball and chain?

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Most of us have heard the term “ball and chain” before. It used to be a common term that described an actual weight attached to the ankle of a prisoner, a method of prohibiting the prisoner from escaping.

You may have also heard it used derogatorily by a husband or wife who refers to their spouse as a ball and chain, meaning that they are being dragged down by a reluctant spouse. Hopefully not, but…

It is the rare individual that isn’t walking around carrying some type of baggage, or in this case a ball and chain, these days. As a matter of fact, I am hard pressed to think of even one person who isn’t.

All of us have been negatively impacted by someone or something in this life. Such is the cost of our living in a fallen world. The result of such encounters can leave us damaged and scarred, left to carry around the consequences like a ball and chain.

You know what’s interesting about carrying around a ball and chain? You never feel the impact of it as long as you’re sitting still. It’s not until you wish to get up and move on that you begin to feel the tug of it’s weight holding you back.

This is an apt metaphor for our Christian walk as well. How many of us live lives clouded by guilt, uncertainty, shame, and the like? Many of us do, of this I have no doubt.

We go through life carrying around all kinds of baggage, having learned to function to a certain degree in spite of the ever present weight of it all. This, in spite of the fact that Jesus said that “if the Son make us free, we shall be free indeed”(John 8:36).

How is this possible? It happens because we learn to navigate through this world from the security of our own comfort zone. Thus, as long as I stay in my box, or comfort zone, and do not try to move about too freely, all is well. I can manage the weight of the ball and chain, and still function.

But what happens to us when we feel God wanting to stretch us beyond our comfort zone, to get us out of our special box and move us to a new level? Well, if you’re like me, this brings about a degree of uncomfortableness and forces us to confront the ball and chain once and for all.

You see, sooner or later we must all deal with those things that hold us back. This is because God has a plan and a purpose for your life, and those plans don’t include you becoming comfortable enough to forever manage that ball and chain you’re carrying around.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.   Jer. 29:11

God’s plan for you and I is to be free from our past mistakes, to be free from the harm inflicted upon us by others. God has called us to a life of peace and love. The torments that have enveloped our lives are but shackles that must fall off in the presence of Jesus.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve grown weary of carrying around the ball and chain of past regrets. The things I cannot fix on my own, I must surrender to Christ. If we’re going to surrender all, then all must be willingly lain at the foot of the Cross.

Be blessed,

Ron

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Not just “A” name, but “THE NAME”

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Lots of people around this world are instantly recognizable by their name. Icons of entertainment, the sports world, politicians, the wealthy. Some more well known than others, but easily recognizable just the same.

There is one name however that all others must defer to, and that is the name of the Son of God, King of Kings. Jesus Christ our Lord.

His name is so great and mighty that no one before Him or after can lay claim to it. It belongs exclusively to Him and Him alone. Read along with me as the Apostle Paul explains to us how the name of Jesus came to be the name above all names.

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
‭‭Philippians‬ ‭2:5-11‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

Take note that Jesus wasn’t just given “a” name, but “THE NAME”. This is significant because with this name comes power and authority like no other.

If you consider the most powerful and influential people you know, not one of them has the power and authority to cause every knee to bow before them. That is reserved for Jesus Christ alone.

He earned THE NAME that is above every other name by humbling himself to the point of dying on a cross for the sins of the world. The Son of the Most High God chose to do this in obedience to His Father so that you and I might have life, and not just any old life, but an abundant life.

Jesus. God has given Him THE NAME. 

Be blessed friends…..

 

 

 

 

Another soldier’s coming home

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Yesterday I had the incredible privilege of attending the funeral service for a 95 year old father, grandfather, WWII veteran, and faithful Christian man named Eddie. My wife and I had been asked to provide part of the music and singing, and of course we gladly volunteered to help.

Listening to this man’s two sons speak so eloquently of their father brought many tears to my eyes, for it was easy to sense the deep, abiding love they had for him. But there was one thing that was said that impacted me more deeply than anything else.

As the eldest son came to the front of the church, dressed smartly in the same full dress uniform he had proudly worn many years ago, everyone listened intently as he began to share with us how that recently his father had begun to grieve over the conditions in America being played out on the news.

You have to understand that this man was a decorated soldier who sacrificed  everything to fight for the freedoms you and I enjoy today,and watching Americans turn on one another broke his heart.

Having served in no less than five European countries during WWII, participating in countless battles,including the infamous Battle of the Bulge, this man knew sacrifice and hardship like few of us can even imagine.

Yet unbelievably, at the end of his life he wondered if not only his own sacrifice, but that of millions of others had not been in vain. To set by and watch the nation he fought for be torn apart from within was more than he could bear.

This patriot,to whom America is deeply indebted,died feeling like the country he loved so dearly had betrayed him and his fellow soldiers. He stated on several occasions that the country he loved was being taken from him,and those of his generation, and I’m pretty sure if you were to ask,most veterans would agree with this assessment.

Listening to all of this broke my heart, and the fact that I had met this man only a couple of times prior to his death did nothing to diminish the impact of these powerful words from a man who was part of America’s “Greatest Generation”.

All of us would do well to step back and really think about the sacrifices made by prior generations, sacrifices that we continue to benefit from today. Whether we choose to accept it or not, the fact is that the entire world as we know it would be a much darker place had those before us not responded to freedoms cry.

As we topple the images of our past in a vain attempt to erase the painful memories associated with them, we would do well to remember that just like its individual citizens, our nation has made many,many mistakes, some of which have scarred this nation with a perpetual open wound.

None of which however can ever be forgotten,either individually or collectively.

The mistakes of our past are part of our history,and history cannot be rewritten, though many have tried and continue to try to do so today. The truth however, is still the truth. All we can do is move forward, not backward as we seem to be doing.

 

Eddie knew his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for many decades, and in the end it was this relationship with Jesus that kept him pressing toward the mark in spite of what was going on in America.

For you see, it was Jesus Christ that gave him hope for a future. An eternal future without violence and hatred. A future without racism and bigotry. A future where there would be no need for another world war. A future where sacrifices ceased.

A future not of this world…

As America continues on its march to abandon democracy in favor of socialism, as she slips further and further away from her Godly heritage, hope in this life will eventually become non existent.

The only hope available will be the hope we have in Christ.

As I close this post, the words to a song written about a soldier going home are ringing in my mind tonight, so I thought I would share them with you.

Verse 1

His back is bent and weary, His voice is tired and low
His sword is worn from battle, And his steps have gotten slow
But he used to walk on water, Or it seemed that way to me
I know he moved some mountains, And never left his knees

Chorus
Strike up the band assemble the choir, Another soldier’s comin’ home
Another warrior hears the call, He’s waited for so long
He’ll battle no more, ‘Cause he’s won his wars
Make sure heaven’s table, Has room for at least one more
Sing a welcome song, Another soldier’s comin’ home

Verse 2
He faced the winds of sorrow, But his heart knew no retreat
He walked in narrow places, Knowing Christ knew no defeat
But now his steps turn homeward, So much closer to the prize
He’s sounding kind of homesick, There’s a longing in his eyes

Lyrics to “Another Soldier’s Coming Home” by Janet Paschal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 immutable facts about our Christian walk…

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There are many “non negotiables” concerning our covenant relationship with Jesus Christ. Here are five of them that should be required reading for us all.

“The saying is trustworthy, for: If we have died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself.”
‭‭2 Timothy‬ ‭2:11-13‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Determine in your heart to be faithful to the end….

Ron

At the end of it all, the only thing that will matter…

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Won’t be if you are popular or not,an introvert or extrovert. Whether rich or poor, conservative or liberal, none of these will be an issue. If you are Baptist or Catholic, Quaker or Pentecostal, religious affiliations won’t be the deciding factor in where we spend eternity.

None of these things that we place so much importance on will matter when the trump of God sounds.

For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.                       I Thess. 4:16

No, the only thing that will matter will be our relationship with this One who will descend from heaven with a shout. And He will not be interested in our family tree or whether or not we threw a dollar into the red kettle at Christmas.

The church has been proclaiming for nearly two thousand years that Jesus Christ is coming to earth again. And just as Peter prophesied would happen, there are fewer and fewer who believe this is true.

Knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.”   II Peter 3:3-4

When that day finally does come, He will be coming to gather His children from the four corners of the earth. He’s not coming back for Republican or Democratic Christians. He’s not even coming back for Liberal or Conservative Christians.

He is coming back for those who have repented of their sins. Period.

At the end of it all, that’s all that matters.

Who is Jesus Christ?

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Ask a group of people that question,and you might be surprised at the responses you get. To some, Jesus was a good man who went round doing good deeds. Some say he was a prophet. Still others say He was the Son of God.

The correct answer of course, is that all of those descriptions are accurate. They are also inadequate. To better understand who Jesus is we need to look to the scriptures.

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.

For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.

And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.

For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell,

and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.”         Colossians‬ ‭1:15-20‬ ‭ESV‬‬

In these few verses we learn that Jesus Christ is…

The Image of God. If you want to know who God is, all you need to do is look to Jesus, for he is the very image of God.

The Firstborn of all creation. Being the firstborn means that Jesus is the heir of God.

The Creator. By Him all things were created,whether in heaven or in earth. Even things that you and I cannot see, He has created.

The Force that holds everything together. Revelation describes Him as the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.

The Head of the Church. All answer to Him. He alone is the supreme leader of the Church,and no human can take his position or title as such.

The Reconciler of all things, His own blood paying the price.

So the next time you begin to wonder about Jesus, about who He is, or what He is, think on these things.

Have a blessed Tuesday, in Jesus name.

Ron

 

“What will you do in the end?” Conclusion

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For those of you following along, I began this miniseries with a look at Jeremiah 5:30,31, which ends with God asking the children of Israel (through the prophet Jeremiah) “what will you do in the end?”

In the three previous posts I have attempted to provide enough information about the current state of affairs in America to hopefully get everyone to see the parallel between ancient Israel and America today. In my opinion, the similarities are almost unbelievable.

In today’s conclusion, I wish to show you that in spite of the ungodliness that has pervaded America; we can have both hope and confidence in Jesus Christ to not only see us through these tumultuous times, but cause us to flourish and prosper in them.

To the discerning Christian, it is evident that the breakdown of the moral fabric of our society is all part of God’s master plan for the times we are living in today. Notice I did not say that God caused this, or that it is His fault.

Oh no. What we are seeing here is history repeating itself, as in the sins of Israel and the subsequent consequences being repeated right here in America.

I am simply saying that scripture makes it very clear that before the return of Christ, lawlessness and chaos will be the norm (II Tim. 3:1, II Peter 3:3,). It does not take a trained theologian to understand that we are seeing this played out each and every day.

Indeed, what we are seeing is the beginning of the inevitable separation of the sheep and the goats. Of course, you may not agree with this and believe that eventually everything will return to normal. I believe however, that “normal” is gone forever.

But be all that as it may, I am reminded of Paul’s encouraging letter to the church at Thessalonica where he told them “not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come“.  II Thess. 2:2

Just as then, so it is today that our hope is rooted and grounded in the Lord Jesus, therefore we should not be shaken or troubled by the events we are seeing played out before us. Easier said than done? Not really! Our task is simply to keep our eyes on the prize.

Our hope cannot be placed in political parties and systems, or candidates who promise things impossible to fulfill. Our hope must be in the Lord Himself. Listen to the question that Jeremiah asked:

Are there any among the false gods of the nations that can bring rain? Or can the heavens give showers? Are you not he, O Lord our God? We set our hope on you, for you do all these things”.  Jer. 14:22   ESV

Our Provider is none other than the Lord! Nations have always crumbled; none have endured because they have all forsaken the Lord at some point in their history. Only God is steadfast and unmovable. Why would we want to hold to anything but Him?

As I mentioned previously, we in America are horribly divided. Voices of every type and flavor are clamoring for our attention. Follow us. Follow them. Go this way. Go that way.

All of this reminds me of something that Joshua said when telling the children of Israel that they must make a choice about whom they would serve.

“And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”    Joshua 24:15   ESV

I believe that America has been presented with this very same dilemma today. Whom will we serve? Are we prepared to forsake all others in order to stand with Joshua and declare that as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord?

Or if we choose to serve another besides the Lord, are we prepared to answer the burning question:

But what will you do in the end“?

Be blessed and encouraged in His might!

Ron

 

 

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