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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

 

My personal goal for 2020: Consistency

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While I’m not a fan of New Year’s resolutions, I am a person that is quite used to goal setting. In my working career I had to develop 5-6 goals every year and come up with action plans and schedules to meet all of those goals. Accordingly, I would be evaluated on how well (or not) I did.

Now that I’m retired, I can honestly say I miss absolutely nothing about that process, especially the evaluation part of it. Talk about stressful! That being said, the Princess might argue that I could use a new goal or two just to keep the wheels from getting too rusty. 😉

With that in mind, I did want to mention something that I plan to work on in the coming year, and hopefully shed some light on why I believe this is so important. That something is called “Consistency”.

The Bible is literally filled with examples of how we are to live our lives in a consistent, Christ-honoring manner. Did you know that this a hallmark of the mature believer? By the same token, living our lives in a manner that is opposed to clear biblical teaching is indicative of a ‘less than mature’ believer.

Paul referred to this in many of his writings, but the one that really speaks to me today is this one found in the book of Ephesians.

So that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes“.  [1]

Doesn’t that sound like us sometimes? Immature in our relationship with Christ. Tossed back and forth and in a near constant state of confusion about what to believe. Caught up in a web of lies and traps designed to trip us up in our walk with the Lord.

I must admit, this describes me more than I like. Perhaps you as well? If so, what it says about us is that we lack consistency. Paul understood the importance of this as he encouraged the Corinthian believers to “be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord”. [2]

Consistent people are steady people. They aren’t easily distracted from the task, or mission at hand. As we progress in our walk with him, we find that we become like a rock, immovable in our faith and resolution to serve God.

Many of you are like this I’m sure. You’ve endured too much to ever turn back. God has kept you when you saw no way, and He’s brought you through situations that you could have never come through on your own.

You’ve joined the ranks of the consistent, steadfast, and immovable Church that has a deep understanding of who you are, and most importantly, who He is. You exemplify a faithful, ‘tried in the fire’ life of one who loves the Lord.

I love how David said “Love the LORD, all you his saints! The LORD preserves the faithful but abundantly repays the one who acts in pride”. [3] God preserves His faithful, or consistent children. How could we not love Him accordingly!

As we begin both a new year and a new decade, I hope you will join me in seeking consistency in all we do for the Lord. By staying in the Word and spending time in prayer, I believe our lives will reflect that steadfast, immovable, and abounding life He wants us to have.

Be blessed on this New Year’s Day!

Ron

[1] Eph. 4:14 ESV

[2] 1 Cor. 15:58 NKJV

[3] Psalms 31:23 ESV

 

 

Just how FREE are you anyway?

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This post is a continuation of my previous post “The bondage of MORE”, where we saw that the need for “MORE” brings about a type of bondage that can be extremely difficult to break free of.

As anyone can tell you, when you are in bondage you are not free. You are a debtor, or slave to that which has you bound. Every choice and decision you make is centered around satisfying the source of your bondage.

Does that sound like freedom to you? Of course not, yet untold millions of Christians are living this very life today. They should be free, having been set free by God’s Son, yet find themselves ignoring the clear mandate of scripture to avoid becoming entangled again with the yoke of bondage. [1]

Jesus had much to say about freedom, and rightly so because he is the great Liberator. In one of his many exchanges with the temple Jews, Jesus had an encounter with them concerning the freedom that comes from knowing Him.

Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can You say, ‘You will be made free’?”

Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed. [2]

In these verses we find that Jesus has told the temple Jews of two distinct ways in which they can be free. Now, keep in mind that these Jews thought themselves above the need to be set free because they claimed to be descendants of Abraham. They were, of course, familiar with the social hierarchy where both free and slave co-existed. To them it was simple. The Jews were at the top of the ladder, while Gentiles and slaves were at or near the bottom.

The first way they could know freedom was to abide in, or follow, the Word that Jesus taught them. If you will do that, He said, “you shall know the truth, and the truth will make you free”. In essence Jesus was telling them that if you will lay aside your religious traditions and instead follow me, you will be free. Free of guilt, free of sin, and free of bondage.

We understand then that truth brings freedom both in this life and ultimately eternal salvation. Where does this freedom producing truth come from? It comes from God’s Word. If they would accept the truths that Jesus gave them, they would be completely free.

The second way they could no freedom was to place their trust in the One who had the power to set at liberty them that are held captive. [3]  Jesus told them that “if the Son makes you free, then you are free indeed“. How could he make such a statement? It was because as the Son of God, He abides forever as ruler over the house of God. In other words, He alone has such authority.

All of this brings me back to the question “Just how FREE are you anyway”? This is a question that all of us need to answer. If we say we hold to the truth that “if the Son makes you free, then you are free indeed“, do our actions reflect this? If we agree that “the truth shall make you free“, are we living our lives as one who is not bound by the “lusts of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life“? [4]

I submit that until and unless we are daily trusting in the Lord Jesus for our every need, we are not completely free. That doesn’t mean that we aren’t saved and on our way to heaven. It does not mean that we are not a child of God.

What it DOES mean is that we are living in a place where we shouldn’t be, which means we are unnecessarily having to struggle with things that the Lord can give us victory over. After all, “if the Son makes you free, then you are free indeed“.

There is no freedom like the complete freedom that God offers to us. Being “free indeed” means there are no chains still attached to us. There is nothing we are in bondage to. Our hearts and minds are free of guilt. We are free to live our lives in a way that pleases Him, not ourselves. Complete freedom in Christ means victory.

That’s how free I want to live my life, and I trust you do as well!

Have a blessed day everyone,

Ron

 

[1] Galatians 5:1  KJV

[2] John 8:31-36  NKJV

[3] Luke 4:18  ESV

[4] 1 John 2:16  NKJV

Does doctrine still matter today?

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In today’s post I’d like to address the issue of doctrine. Specifically, whether or not it really matters to the church today.

Doctrine is one of those words that many of us in the church don’t like because the very word brings to mind rules, regulations, and irrefutable, unarguable dogma. To some, doctrine takes all the ‘fun’ out of church.

What is “Doctrine”?

Doctrine is the belief or set of beliefs and principals that make up the essence of the Christian faith. These include (but are not limited to) the Virgin birth, the Incarnation, The Crucifixion and Resurrection, and the necessity of Salvation, among many others.

From these essential truths come the various creeds and theological positions that have evolved into the essentials of our faith. From as far back as the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy to the New Testament book of Revelation, doctrine has always been a critical component of our walk with the Lord. [1]  [2]

What “Doctrine” is NOT

Doctrine is not a list of rules and regulations that a particular church or denomination has put together in order to regulate your behavior. Some examples of this include forbidding the wearing of jewelry and makeup, forbidding members to attend movies, even requiring a specific dress code that includes the length of your hair.

None of this falls under the heading of essential church doctrine necessary for salvation, but rather this is Legalism. What Legalism does is attempt to exert control over people, rather than permit them to enjoy the freedom they have in Christ. [3]

Now, you may be asking why any of this is important. It is important because proper doctrine in essential in the defense of the faith. This means that what you and I believe matters. It matters because it matters to the Lord.

For example, in speaking to the church at Pergamos in the 2nd chapter of the book of Revelation, Jesus is speaking to them about the issue of doctrine. Specifically, he told them that because they tolerated the doctrine of Balaam, a false teaching that led Israel into idolatry and fornication, it would be held against them.

They also had among themselves those that held to the doctrine of the Nicolaitans. This false belief was one of compromise, rejecting the idea that complete separation between Christianity and the practice of occult paganism was necessary.

I find it incredibly interesting that doctrine was so important to the Lord Jesus that he actually called out those that were permitting false doctrine in their midst. This mindset is completely opposite of many in the Church today where doctrine has taken a back seat to belief systems developed to appease the mind of guilt and raise one’s esteem.

It has become a common thought today that while core doctrines were necessary for the development of the infant church, 2000 years later we have moved beyond the need for such rigidity.

For proof of this consider the church you attend today. Does it hold to the Biblical standards in it core doctrines? For that matter, does it still hold to its original doctrinal statements? Going a step further, does your church still officially hold to these truths yet never speak on them?

I believe we do the Lord a huge disservice by not proclaiming the essential, core doctrines of the Christian church today. I am firmly convinced that this lack of solid Biblical instruction is a large part of why the church isn’t the powerful voice it once was in society. Specifically, many of us have no idea why we believe what we believe. How then can we tell others, especially those outside the household of faith?

The answer to the question “Does doctrine still matter today” is a resounding YES!

Be blessed today,

Ron

 

[1] Deuteronomy 32:2

[2]. Revelation 2:14-15, 2:24

[3] “Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed”.  John 8:36.  NKJV

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