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How do you know that you know Him?

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Did you know that there is a fool proof test in the Bible for proving whether or not we know God? Yes, there really is and it’s found in 1st John 2:3.

Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments.

Wait, surely it can’t be that simple, can it? Just keeping His commandments means I know God? Yes, that’s exactly what it means and it really is that simple. If we know Him, we will keep his commandments. John goes on to explain this in a bit more detail in verses 5 and 6.

But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.

So if we keep His word (commandments), God’s love is perfected in us and we have full assurance that we are His. Furthermore, as God’s love is perfected in us those things that are not pleasing to Him fall off of us, enabling us to walk in the Spirit just as our Lord did.

Pretty simple, wouldn’t you agree? If we love God, we will do what he said to do. Easy Peasy!

Now, if you’re following along you may have noticed that I skipped verse 4. That was because verse 4 proves something entirely different than verse 3 does. In fact, verse four is often skipped entirely by those who are responsible for proclaiming the whole counsel of God. The reasons for that are many, but suffice it to say that in the ears of many today, verse 4 is considered harsh and unloving. See if you agree.

He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.

Ummm….can someone say “OUCH”!

How about we do a comparison, OK? Verse 3 tells us that if we keep His commandments, we are one of God’s children and know Him. Verse 4 says that if we say we know Him but do NOT keep his commandments, we do not know Him because we are a liar.

I’m certain that a great many people would find it offensive to be called out in such a manner. After all, isn’t the common response something along the lines of “you don’t know my heart, so how can you say such a horrible thing” when we are challenged?

But you, see, that’s just it. None of us can see inside another’s heart. None of us can judge the motives of others. Besides, that really isn’t what God has told any of us to do, despite what some may think. Yet God’s word bypasses all of the ‘what ifs’ and ‘how do you knows’ by simply breaking it down to whether or not we are keeping God’s word and living accordingly.

I don’t know how you feel about it, but it seems to me that in this day when what used to be wrong is now right and what used to be right is now wrong, something as simple as ” Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments” is pretty refreshing.

Actually, the reason I’m writing this post is because of a personal desire to reconnect with a common, simple faith. A faith void of superlatives, outlandish claims, unreasonable (and unbiblical) expectations, and a host of man-made requirements. In short, the farther down the down-grade (to quote Spurgeon) the church appears to be headed, the more inclined I am to hold fast to the basic, simple truths of scripture.

And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:35-40 ESV

Have a blessed day everyone!

Ron

A Fresh Perspective

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Whom have I in heaven but You?
And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You.
My flesh and my heart fail;
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Psalm 73:25-26

Psalm 73 has to be one of my favorites because it points to the fact that as a child of God, it is normal to question, to wonder, and yes, to doubt. The writer of this Psalm, Asaph, struggled greatly over the fact that while he was doing his best to serve God, the wicked were seemingly enjoying a continuous state of prosperity. This caused him no small amount of doubt, dismay, and confusion, as I’m sure it does with you and I today when it appears as though the “rich get richer and the poor get poorer”.

To better understand his perspective, it’s important to know a little bit about Asaph. He was was from the priestly tribe of the Levites, and was one of the three men that David had put in charge of the singing part of their worship. In today’s religious circles he would be called a worship leader or a song leader. [1]

Despite his position and his loving relationship with the Lord, it did not prevent him from feeling as though he was getting the short end of the stick. While he was doing his best for the Lord, it appeared to Asaph that the wicked were living better than he was. In other words, if the wicked were prospering while at the same time living life on their own terms, why should he continue to walk the straight and narrow if the wicked were also being rewarded?

Have you ever felt this way? Have you been the person at work who is known for always taking the high road, for example, only to see someone of questionable conduct or character get the promotion? It happens all the time, doesn’t it? It’s enough to make you question what in the world is going on here, or at least say along with Asaph ” Surely I have cleansed my heart in vain“. [2]

Just like Asaph, when we feel unfairly taken advantage of or somehow slighted, questions and doubts begin to formulate in our minds. Our flesh, being what it is, causes us to be envious of the wicked who appear to be rewarded for their deeds, leaving us to wonder about the injustice of it all. Asaph himself said that he was envious of the boastful when he saw the prosperity of the wicked. [3]

The reality is that we live in a fallen world, a world of hurt, pain, and injustice. A world where what is fair and just has been supplanted with undeserved accolades being heaped upon the enemies of those who desire to do good and to follow God. In essence, the world seems to have done a 180 when it comes to what it considers right and wrong, just and unjust. Evil, it would seem, is rewarded while Godliness is reviled in our world today.

All of this of course was spoken about in the Scriptures, so no one should be surprised that it is occurring now. The truth is, none of this is new. It’s been happening for as long as man has inhabited this earth. Even Jesus said that the rain fell upon the just and the unjust. [4]

Still, believers are no strangers to doubts and struggles. After all, we have very real emotions, emotions that can get the best of us at times. It’s important then to remember that we are not robots, programmed to act and feel according to a preset narrative. 

Who doesn’t have ups and downs in their walk with the Lord? Like many of you, I can attest to the fact that sometimes our faith is strong and sometimes it is weak. There are times when we look at the world and it has no attraction for us. Other times it seems that we can’t stop looking and admiring the things of the world. Our humanity dictates that there will be times of strength and times of weakness.

Asaph allowed the seeming prosperity of the wicked to nearly shipwreck his faith. He describes how that in trying to make sense of it all that it became too painful for him. [5] We’re like that too, aren’t we? We can become so fixated on what others have or are doing that it consumes our every thought, causing us to lose sight of the big picture. Focusing on the perceived wrongdoings of others blinds us to the reality that God is the only one qualified to make righteous judgements.

It wasn’t until Asaph went into the sanctuary that God gave him understanding in the matters that were so troubling to him.  It was then that he saw that the end of the wicked was certain destruction. Yes, the wicked certainly do prosper in this life, we see it every day, but what really matters concerning them is the same thing that matters to the righteous: where will eternity be spent?

You might say that when Asaph went to church, he received a fresh perspective on things!

Once God enlightened Asaph regarding the end of the wicked, his heart was grieved and his mind was vexed at how foolish he had been not to trust that the Lord had all of this under control. It wasn’t until after he had entered the sanctuary and enquired of God that he was able to speak the words at the top of this post.

So what’s the lesson in all of this? Well, I think there are many things we can take away from this Psalm, but I want to highlight just three of them:

  1. While it is perfectly normal for us to question the injustice of wicked people prospering while the righteous suffer lack, such things are not for us to judge. God alone is righteous, therefore it is He who determines the fate of us all. This, of course, requires much faith on our part, as well as the strength to focus on our own particular calling.
  2. Sometimes the simple truth is that we need to take things to God in prayer. All of our mental wrangling over things that are beyond our ability to comprehend are best given to God. We can lay awake at night, tormented by a thousand “why’s”, only to have the sun rise upon them the next morning with nothing having been resolved. As Asaph learned, God has a different and higher perspective than we are capable of, and we can save ourselves much anguish by simply letting go of things that are outside of our own lane.
  3. Because it is a normal thing to question and doubt at times, we should use the lesson of Asaph to encourage other Christians when they too have struggles and doubts. This is far better than for us to haphazardly judge them, especially as we see so many struggling today.

I hope that you will take a few minutes today and read the 73rd Psalm in its entirety. In it you will find the answer to one of life’s greatest mysteries. I don’t know about you, but from time to time I need to see things from a fresh perspective.

Have a blessed day,

Ron

[1] 1st Chronicles 15: 17 [2] Psalm 73:13 [3] Psalm 73:3 [4] Matthew 5:45 [5] Psalm 73:16

Catching up!

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I can hardly believe that it’s been nearly a whole month since my last blog! This certainly wasn’t planned, so I thought I would share with you what has me so preoccupied these days.

If you will remember, several weeks ago I accepted the position of Associate Pastor of our church. Since then, my responsibilities have grown exponentially leaving me little free time to attend to this blog.

At our church we have Sunday School, Sunday morning worship, and a Wednesday mid-week service, all of which I have some responsibility for.

I minister at every Wednesday service, which of course requires study time as well as prayer time. I also teach the adult Sunday School class every other Sunday. Again, more study and prep time.

For all of our services I am also part of the worship team, playing guitar while my wife Debbie plays the keyboard. Even our daughter has joined in the festivities as a children’s Sunday School teacher.

One of my most time consuming responsibilities is editing the video of our services. This is something I have never done before so it has been quite the learning experience for me. Especially since I’m learning completely on my own!

Learning a new software program is challenging enough, but trying to edit a video on a woefully underpowered laptop is the essence of frustration. My computer is so old and underpowered that it actually overheats and shuts down in the middle of what I’m doing!

If you know anything about this type of work, you know that to edit 4K video requires a beast of a computer, which neither our church or myself has. We are currently looking into a new PC that can handle this type of task, but because we are a small church money is tight. We simply don’t have the $2000 (low end!) to purchase what we need. So we continue to pray that God will make a way for us.

I roughly calculated that using my old PC to edit video is taking about 15-20 hours. For ONE video! As someone who is always looking for the most efficient method of getting a task completed, this activity has been “somewhat trying” on me.

One of my other responsibilities is that of managing our church website. It is a work in progress, with yours truly learning on the fly once again. We are locked into the current site hosting plan for the next year, but after that we will reevaluate things and see if we might move it to WordPress or some other platform that gives us more control over our content. For now, it does the job. If you’d care to check it out, head on over to cognocatee.org. Please remember, it still has a ways to go but it is far beyond what it was when I started.

One other thing I’m heading up now is our daily devotional outreach ministry. This is where we send out an encouraging scripture text each day, and include any urgent prayer requests along with it. So, I have had to learn a couple of new communication systems pretty quickly, which is actually very interesting to me.

Ironically, of the many things I am now doing in ministry I doubt I could have gotten up to speed so quickly had I not had the career I had at Honda. Being immersed in various forms of technology there enabled me to bring much of that same aptitude to my ministry work. It almost makes me think this was God’s plan all along. What do you think?

So there you have it.  I know I left something out, but I cannot remember what it is. At any rate, I think you get the picture. This is my new “retired life”, and I love it!

Of course, like every church ours struggles with the whole Covid-19 issue. Reorganizing the sanctuary to ensure safe distance was no easy task, and it severely limits the number of worshipers we can have.

Nonetheless, I am thrilled to be waist deep in ministry during this season of my life. I am blessed beyond measure to have a wife who is not only supportive of what I’m doing, but is right there with me when she can be. She remains my biggest supporter and I am thankful the Lord uses her gifts and talents as well.

With that I will say “thank you” to you who have prayed for me and encouraged me faithfully to press onward. I am always amazed at how faithful God is when we put our hand to the plow.

I promise I will try not to stay away so long before posting again. Believe me, I have a million words stored away for this blog but I am lacking the time to express them for now. As in all things, God knows and understands best doesn’t He?

I pray the Lord blesses you and encourages you daily. In these trying times we need the Lord like never before, and it is a great comfort to know that “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble”. Psalm 46:1

Ron

This Little Light of Mine

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How many have heard the old gospel song “This Little Light of Mine”?

It’s a song recognized around the world as a favorite of children. Many of you may have first learned this song in Sunday School or children’s church.

This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine,

Oh this little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine,

This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine,

Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

 

Hide it under a bushel? No! I’m gonna let it shine,

Hide it under a bushel? No! I’m gonna let it shine,

Hide it under a bushel? No! I’m gonna let it shine,

Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

 

Won’t let Satan blow it out, I’m gonna let it shine,

Won’t let Satan blow it out, I’m gonna let it shine,

Won’t let Satan blow it out, I’m gonna let it shine,

Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

Though originally written as a song of love, hope, and devotion to our Savior, This Little Light of Mine was also sung as an anthem of hope and courage during the American civil rights movement of the 1960’s. In fact, it’s still being sung today during times of civil unrest.

America could sure use a little hope right about now, wouldn’t you agree? And we certainly need to shed some light on these times of uncertainty, when it seems that this present darkness is overpowering what little light remains.

Thinking about all of this as I watch the carnage unfolding across the landscape of America, about how desperately we now need the Church to be a beacon of light and a sanctuary of love, I can’t help but be reminded of the words of Jesus when he told the Disciples to let their light shine.  

14 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.   

15 Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lamp stand , and it gives light to all who are in the house.   

16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. [1]   

The Church, that is You and Me, has the answer to the cancer that is racism. We have the antidote within us to calm the fears of a nation bordering on collapse.

The love of God is that light of the world. It is shed abroad in our hearts so that men might see Christ in us. It is given to us that men might see our good works and give praise to God for them.

Now is not the time to hide our lights. It is for such a time as this that God has given you this light, that those stumbling in the darkness may see.

While the politicians and the media are consumed with finger pointing and spewing forth their poisonous venom, the Church must be the Church.

Whether your church’s doors are open or closed has no bearing on who you are in Christ. What God has placed in your heart is not regulated by politicians, but guided rather by a higher Power.

The command to “let your light so shine before men” is in essence the marching orders of every Christian. The light within you is the antidote for hatred, and it must not be hidden from society.

I encourage everyone to pray for the situation in America. Pray that men would desire peace, and that the Lord would send peace that “passes all understanding”. [2]

I know that many today hold to the opinion that prayer doesn’t work. The Bible, however, tells us that “the effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much”. [3]

This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine,

Oh this little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine,

This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine,

Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

Don’t let anything stop your light from shining. America and the rest of the world need to see it!

Ron 

[1] Matthew 15:14-16    

[2] Philippians 4:7  

[3] James 5:16 

 

What Are You Anchored To?

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Things have been moving along at a fairly good clip recently in spite of the quarantine/lock-down we’ve been under for the past month or so. I’ve been busy with church work, hospital visits, and recording radio broadcasts. Our church is busy acquiring new camera and recording equipment so that when we are able to make use of our sanctuary again, we will be able to produce top quality material to upload to YouTube, Radio, and our own Podcasts. We are working hard, using this “downtime” to better equip our church to reach our community and far beyond.

Speaking of hospital visits, there is nothing normal about visiting someone in the hospital now thanks to the Corona virus. As a matter of fact, my pastor was hospitalized for several days recently and he was not permitted a single visitor, not even his wife! Imagine having to communicate by phone while looking at each other through the window. These are strange times indeed.

A couple of days ago I received a call early in the morning from my pastor asking me if I wanted to go to the hospital with him to pray for someone. This wasn’t a member of our church or someone we knew, which of course doesn’t make a bit of difference to us, so of course I was happy to go along.

I didn’t realize until we arrived at the hospital that they weren’t going to allow both of us to see this person, so while pastor had his temperature taken and filled out the lengthy questionnaire, I decided to spend the time speaking with the family members gathered outside.

It has always amazed me what you can learn about people if you will just take the time and listen. During a crisis, especially when it is life and death, people are also more prone to listen to what you have to say as well. It makes for a good opportunity to talk with them about eternity, in fact I found this family very willing to talk about spiritual things.

So, for the next 20 minutes that’s just what we did. I learned that this family knew quite a bit about God yet were living their lives far from Him. I listened as I was told of how they used to attend church a long time ago, and in fact two of their daughters still attend church. Interesting, isn’t it, that the parents who used to take their kids to church many years ago now no longer attend, yet their children do.

Whenever you get in a conversation with folks who “used to go to church”, they always want you to know that. It’s a type of defense mechanism I believe, a way to let you know that they know all about God and church, so you don’t really need to go into all of that with them.

I think it’s called deflection.

At any rate, I gently reminded the person I was speaking with that what we used to do so far as attending church didn’t mean that we had somehow accumulated enough “points” with God to permit us to ignore Him today. I let her and her family know that God isn’t a genie that can be summoned to our rescue whenever it was convenient for us to do so.

Altusfineart.com

I find that a lot of people treat God this way. They live their life in whatever manner they choose and give little if any thought to eternal, or spiritual things. They can’t be bothered with religion, spirituality, or God. Those are things that one comes to terms with when they get old and are coming to the end of their days.

I used this family as an example as I was recording the radio broadcast yesterday. I was speaking from Mark chapter 4, the story of Jesus rebuking the winds, and how the disciples did the only thing they knew to do during this violent storm, which was to call upon Jesus.

The point I was making was that we cannot wait until we are in the storm to turn to God because there may not be time do so. The time to turn to Jesus is right now, before the next storm comes rushing into our lives.

And that is where I will leave this post. All of us have faced the storms of life, and it is for certain that storms will come again. The question we need to ask ourselves is this; “what are you anchored to”?

Will you be like the family I was speaking with at the hospital, with no anchor and no lifeline? Will the next storm find you tossed about, at the mercy of the wind and rain? Will you be forced to cry out to your “genie” to save you?

If you answered YES to these questions, then you need to turn your heart to Jesus. Don’t wait, don’t keep making excuses, just do it. NOW.

Trusting in His promise to never leave us or forsake us,

Ron

THIS is what Jesus would do!

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Well, life is certainly different today than it was just a few short weeks ago, isn’t it? Emotions are running high, fear and worry dominate the daily news, and Americans are dealing with the unnerving reality of being told what they can and cannot do and where they can and cannot go.

Yes…these are difficult days, are they not?

In addition to the countless businesses being forced to shut down, many churches have been forced to close their doors as well, at least temporarily. 

For those determined to conduct church services, this has necessitated a move to more creative methods of ministering to our congregations. Facebook Live, radio, YouTube videos, even ‘parking lot’ church are all examples of how churches have had to think outside the box.

Here in Florida, our Governor has included attending church services in the “essential” category, meaning that houses of worship may remain open as usual, with the caveat that worshipers stay a safe distance apart from one another.

Naturally, this decision has been received in either one of two ways. On one hand, you have those who are cautiously elated at the prospects of assembling together again for worship. Then there are those who think this was just about the worse decision that could have been made. Like most things in life, I guess it depends on which side of the fence you happen to be standing on.

While I readily admit that the current environment has thrown us all for a loop, it is a curious thing to me that so many in the church still cling to the notion that the church is the building that they attend services in.

The truth is, that is simply not correct. The church has never been a building, a temple, or a cathedral. The Church has always been you and me. It has always been those people who have trusted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.

All of this gives me reason to suspect that what I’ve longed believed is true: the Church has lost its identity. We have supplanted the truth that we are the church with the error that the church is a building.

Looking at it another way, the church has adopted the very same mindset that the citizens of this country have adopted when explaining the nucleus of our government. “We The People” has been tossed aside in favor of the government being more readily identified as a conglomeration of buildings in Washington D.C.

This isn’t a mere play on words, nor is it a simple issue of semantics. This is a very important issue for several reasons, not the least of which is that the Church was never intended to become an institution, or a building.

Institutions are typically cold, lifeless, bureaucratic entities that exist (hopefully)to serve the greater good of society. This does not describe the Church that we read about throughout the New Testament!

The Church is a living extension of the Lord Himself. As such, we ought to be asking ourselves if Jesus were here today, how would he respond to the current worldwide crisis?

Would Jesus shutter himself behind locked doors and close all of the blinds? Would He sequester himself apart from every person on the planet?

Would he refuse to heal the sick out of fear on contracting COVID-19? Would he turn away the hungry mother who cannot feed her children? 

Would he turn out into the streets the struggling family who suddenly find themselves without a steady stream of income? Would he run to the store and hoard as many necessities as possible?

Well, the Good News is that Jesus is here today! He lives in each and every one of his children. So the question of WWJD, is actually a question of what are we doing to respond to this crisis?  

Since it is an established fact that you and I are the Church, the hands and feet of Jesus, and not some ornate building, wouldn’t you agree with me that right now the Church should be leading the efforts to minister to and provide for those who are in dire need today?

Wouldn’t this be a great opportunity to release some of the excess funds in our church treasuries in order to make a difference in the lives of people, the people that Jesus died for?

Perhaps you have heard about the church in Cincinnati that recently paid over $46 million dollars of medical bills for 45,000 families? Why should this be an aberration? Shouldn’t this be the norm?

As I keep reminding people whenever I can, as Christians we either are what we claim to be or we are not. There is no middle ground here. Either we are Christ’s representatives here on earth, or we are not. 

We cannot be Christian only when everything is going well in our lives. We cannot say we are followers of Christ and not follow Him wherever he may lead us…and that includes the current crisis we are experiencing.

Please understand me, I am certainly not advocating that you run straight to your nearest hospital and expose yourself to this virus. Absolutely not! We must be wise in times like these. We must follow the mandates of our local leaders. We must not do something that will prolong the crisis or put others in jeopardy.

Neither can we live in fear and torment however. We cannot be The Church if we are hiding behind closed doors. No, it is time for the true Church to arise. It is time to cast off the spirit of fear that is paralyzing our churches and leaving us incapable of serving others.

My prayer is that all of us would consider the needs of others during this time, and that we would remember that Jesus has called us for such a time as this to go forth and minister to them.  

That’s what Jesus would do.

Ron

There is but one Truth

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The word “TRUTH” gets tossed around a lot these days.

Politicians use it when they are trying to convince us that their favorite agenda item is for our own good. Mass amounts of data and statistics are compiled (and often distorted) to support their version of the truth.

Lawyers and judges speak about truth when they try to present the facts about their court cases. Witness statements, crime scene evidence, and the law itself are all used in an effort to reach a conclusive, truthful verdict.

Preachers and ministers are called to “speak the truth in love”as they declare the whole counsel of God. They are (hopefully) driven by the words of Jesus, who when praying to the Father said: “thy Word is truth”. [1]

With all of this truth being spoken, presented, argued for, and declared, one would think that people everywhere love the truth.

Nothing, however, could be further from the TRUTH.

While all of us may love our own version, or interpretation of the truth, the fact is that our human nature rebels against any truth that causes us to examine ourselves in the light of scripture. I run into this regularly when I remind someone who tells me they are a Christian that they cannot possibly be a lover of Jesus while simultaneously advocating the murder of unborn children.

Sorry, but the last time I checked, the word “Christian” still meant Christlike. I find no evidence in all of scripture to support the premise that Jesus Christ advocated the killing of any person. Of course, if the ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court trumps the Word of God in a person who declares themselves to be Christian, I can see where they would think that their views are compatible with Biblical Christianity.

They would be wrong, but I get it.

Of course, this is not a new revelation. Men and women have always been rebellious when confronted with the often uncomfortable truths of God’s word, a fact traceable all the way back to the garden of Eden and those rebels named Adam and Eve. Seems that TRUTH wasn’t something they were interested in at the time either. [2]

History has shown that this is the example that all of humanity would choose to follow. The truth, often being painful and convicting, is sacrificed on the altar of convenience so that we, like our “garden-abiding” ancestors before us, can have it our way. Oddly enough, it would appear that we humans are all too willing to swallow a lie rather than choke on the truth.

In all seriousness, that many would believe a lie rather than accept the truth is evidenced by the Apostle Paul’s stern warning that this would be the impetus by which the whole world would accept the antichrist. [3] This partly explains the insatiable desire we seem to have to place people in positions of authority who will tell us what we want to hear, irrespective of the truth.

These are dangerous, deceiving times that we live in. The sheer volume of lies being tossed about today make it difficult to separate them from the truth. This is exactly why there must be a standard for truth, a standard by which every thought can be measured. A standard that is defensible, irrefutable, and perhaps most importantly, uncompromising.

At the end of the day, there is only one Truth that fits such lofty criteria. This truth is contained in a book that is likely to be found in a great percentage of American homes. This book is acknowledged as the best selling of all time. You may have heard of it, for it has a very familiar title…

The Bible.

There is but one Truth. It has stood the test of time, and will stand when this world is on fire.

My prayer is that all will desire this Truth.

Have a blessed day everyone!

Ron

[1] John 17:17

[2] Genesis 3:1-5

[3] 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12

In Times Like These

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What about those other 6 days?

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As all of you who are Christians are aware, going to church is an integral part of our relationship with the Lord. As a matter of fact, going to church is so important that entire teams of people spend all week just in preparation for your arrival on Sunday.

Just think about all of the planning that goes into the Sunday service. There are hours and hours of prayer and study before the pastor can deliver what he believes God has given him for that particular service (I sincerely pray this is the case).

There are songs to rehearse, small group or Sunday School lessons to study, announcements to finalize, janitorial work to complete so that you have a clean building to worship in, children’s church to get ready for, and a hundred other essential tasks that must be completed before you ever step foot in the church.

If all of this seems like an enormous task, believe me it is. The average church member has no clue as to what has to happen before they find their seat on Sunday morning. It is an incredible effort that requires everyone to give it their best.

Looking at it from this perspective, it would seem that Sunday’s get the bulk of our attention whether you are an attendee, staff person, or the pastor.

All of this and more was part of a discussion the Princess and I had earlier this week. As we talked about all of the emphasis that is placed upon Sunday, my wife suddenly asked me “what about the other 6 days of the week”?

She explained that while we Christians have pretty much taken care of Sundays, what are we doing to nourish our souls the other 6 days of the week? I thought that was an amazing question to ask, and here’s why.

If we’re not careful, going to church can evolve into nothing more than a habit. We go to church because that’s what we’ve always done. Or, as someone I once worked with explained when asked why He went to church: “it’s the right thing to do”.

Sadly, many of us stopped going to worship a long time ago. Now, we just go to church. When that happens we are no longer engaged. We become part of the furniture, cold and lifeless. Just think, if that’s how we are on Sundays, how we are the other 6 days of the week!

In your own personal walk with the Lord, have you ever given much thought to how you keep yourself encouraged in the Lord? Specifically, do you place an emphasis on setting aside time for prayer and reading your Bible on days other than Sundays?

I believe this is a vitally important part of our Christian walk. I have learned through first hand, personal experience that if the only time we reflect upon the Lord is on Sundays we are not growing as we should be. We become stagnant and weak.  This is NOT the abundant life Jesus spoke of in John 10:10!

Here’s the thing beloved. We must understand that the enemy of our souls does not take a vacation Monday through Saturday. He does not show up to try to wreck our lives just on Sundays. The Bible says that he is like a roaring lion, seeking to devour us. This is his full time job.

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. 1 Peter 5:8 NKJV

Please be in prayerful thought about this topic. A ‘one day a week religion’ just doesn’t cut it. We need more of a relationship with our Savior than that. We must stay engaged through the Spirit, pressing onward in the power of the Lord.

The Apostle Paul spoke of a closeness with the Lord that is attainable for each of us. I can’t think of a better thing to do on those other 6 days of the week!

speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, Ephesians 5:19,20  NKJV

Be blessed on this Lord’s day!

Ron

Generational Curses: are we free or not?

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In today’s post I want to address the issue of “Generational Curses”.

For those unfamiliar with the term, it implies that if you or someone you know struggles with an addiction, domestic violence, depression, or any other unfavorable trait it is likely because someone in your family tree has also had to deal with it.

Hence the “Generational Curse”. It is passed on to each succeeding generation.

Where does this idea come from? It comes from the Old Testament. After God had instructed Moses to ascend Mount Sinai with two new stone tablets (that He would again write the Ten Commandments on), the Lord appeared to Moses in a cloud and there He proclaimed the following:

“Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting (punishing) the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.” [1]

Here we find the Lord telling Moses that He will forgive acknowledged sin and transgressions but will punish unrepentant sin and transgressions for generations. This is where the common idea comes from that a child must pay for the sins of the father.

We find this same thought farther along in the Old Testament book of Lamentations. Having endured incredible persecution after having been carried away in the Captivity, the prophet Jeremiah calls upon the Lord for mercy.

In his passionate plea he refers to God’s chosen as orphans and fatherless, and their mothers as widows. He goes on to mention how that they are required to buy their own water if they are to drink, and describes their own wood being sold to them. He says their necks are under persecution, and they have no rest from their labor. [2]

In the middle of his humble prayer Jeremiah acknowledges the sinfulness of the people.

Our fathers sinned, and are no more; It is we who have borne their iniquities. [3]

He rightly lays the blame for what has come upon them at the feet of their ancestors that sinned. These unrepentant transgressions caused God to allow them to be carried away as captives, enslaved once again by a foreign army. These ancestors are now all dead, but it is Jeremiah’s generation who must now pay this awful price for what they did.

All of this brings us to ask the question: does this same Generational Curse ‘law’ exist for Christians today? Is it possible that the reason so many Christians struggle with specific areas of their lives is because they are still under a Generational Curse?

Well, to be sure there is no shortage of Christian ministers out there that teach that Generational Curses are still applicable to the Christian today. [4]

To find the truth however, we must look to the Word of God, not popular books written by popular ministers. When it comes to the subject of generational curses, there is no more definitive response than that found in Galatians 3:13.

Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”).

Through His death, burial, and resurrection Jesus Christ paid every sin debt and broke every curse. He accomplished this by becoming a curse in our place. He who knew no sin or iniquity became accursed for you and me.

He abolished for all time any curse, generational or otherwise that may have been placed upon your life. Curses have no hold on your life after you have accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior. They are no longer the stronghold that you once struggled with.

Personally, I find it nearly unbelievable that these same people who want to declare that everything we could ever need, including physical healing, was provided for in the Atonement, also teach that this same Atonement couldn’t break the power of a Generational Curse.

This is mind boggling. Either Jesus Christ broke the chains of sin and death, or he did not. There cannot be an exception or any exclusions. Did not Jesus tell us that He came that we might have life, even an abundant life? How in the world can we live this abundant life while under the bondage of some Generational Curse?

The answer of course is that we cannot! Therefore, every curse was broken at Calvary, so that you would be free indeed to live out this Incredible, abundant life that God wants you to be living.

Does this mean that our struggles are over? Of course not! As long as we live upon this earth, we will be continually tested by an adversary that does not want to turn loose of you. Be that as it may, we are FREE in Jesus Christ!

The Apostle Paul very clearly tells us that he was free, completely free from any law of sin and death. Every Christian enjoys this same liberty in Christ. “Whom the Son sets free, is free indeed”. [6]

And yes, that includes any Generational Curse.

Be blessed on this Lord’s day!

Ron

 

[1] Exodus 34:7

[2] Lamentations 5:1-5

[3] Lamentations 5:7

[4] See “Breaking Generational Curses” by Marilyn Hickey, “How to Break Generational Curses” by Tony Evans, “Breaking Generational Curses”, “Free at Last”, by Larry Huch

[5] Romans 8:2 “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death”.

[6] John 8:36

 

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