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Don’t Rush The Process!

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We live in a world where speed is of the essence. All of us are impatient and want what we want-when we want it-which is usually immediately. custom_clock_hands_16007

Sound familiar?

When it comes to the process of shaping and molding us into the child of God that we are destined to become however, speed does not appear to command a position of priority with the Lord.

At least where I am concerned, He doesn’t seem to be rushing the work along. Maybe you feel the same way? It would seem then that by all accounts, God has his own timetable when it comes to the work he is doing in us.

Christianity 101 says that all of us are on a journey with Christ. On this journey are mountain top experiences, below sea level valleys, incredible growth spurts, times when we seem to be mired in quicksand, and dare I say, a time or two in God’s woodshed.

All of this is just part of the refining process being wrought in us, a process intended to remove the impurities and replace them with more of Him. custom_bubbling_cauldron_15528

The Bible is filled with accounts of ordinary people like you and I going through this process. One of the best examples of this is found in Acts chapter seven, where Stephen is recalling the story of Moses being exiled to the wilderness where he would eventually receive the call of God.

To save space here, I’ll leave it to you to read Acts 7:23-30 for yourself. The key takeaway that I want to impress upon you from these verses is that Moses was 40 years old when he was exiled to the Midian desert.

He was 80 years old when God sent him back to Egypt to deliver the people of Israel from bondage.

This means that Moses spent 40 years on the back side of the Midian desert before God called him out. I don’t care who you are, that’s a long time to wait!

What do you think was happening during those 40 years? Well, we know that he had a wife and two sons, and we know that he worked for his father in law. But what about Moses, the future leader of Israel, what was happening to the man?

desert

Photo by Dan Grinwis on Unsplash

Here’s what I believed happened to the man Moses. I think God went to work on him, and it took God all 40 years to get Egypt out of Moses!

Remember, Moses was raised in luxury and privilege in Pharaoh’s household until he was 40 years of age. It’s only natural to think that during those years he had become accustomed to the finer things in life. I know I would!

What a stark contrast to go from Pharaoh’s household to a burning desert!

During those long years in isolation, Moses was no doubt subjected to countless hardships, hardships he was not accustomed to.

Brokenness, Humility, and Solitude became the new way of life for Moses, and I have no doubt that this was very painful for him to endure.

Ah, but you see, even Moses had to go through the refining process.

And the process could not be rushed.

Just like the process you’re going through cannot be rushed.

The process by which Moses was transformed into a mighty servant of God was not without pain and sacrifice. It came with a great price to him, requiring him to forsake all that he once held dear to his heart.

Sometimes this is what God requires of us, to sell out completely to Him. Maybe this is you at this moment?

You see, God had another plan for Moses life, one he could not begin to imagine.

Consider this thought: God spent 40 years getting Egypt out of Moses, only to send him right back there with an assignment that no one could have seen coming.

I mean seriously, who but God could do such a thing?

To Moses, 40 years must have seemed to be an eternity. To us, 40 days seems like an eternity, but when God is in the works He will sustain our strength and equip us for the task ahead.

I want to encourage all of you who may be on the Potter’s wheel or passing through the Refiners fire to be patient and wait upon the Lord.

but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.   Isaiah 40:31 

wait upon the Lord

Don’t rush the process friends; He knows what He’s doing with you!

Be blessed,

Ron

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The Great Adventure

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I’m looking for adventure.

I’m not looking to book passage on a cruise ship or a train. I’m not dreaming of going on safari. Mount Kilimanjaro isn’t calling me. And I’m sure not interested in a trek to the South Pole!

No, I’m looking for an adventure of the God kind.

Adventure 1

wordsoverpixels.com

You know the kind of adventure I’m talking about, don’t you? The kind where you know that God is calling you out and away from the stale,ordinary day to day existence we all succumb to. Real adventure.

The kind of adventure where you have no idea what the end goal is, and even less insight on how to get there. You just “know that you know”that God is calling you to MORE.

Like He did with Abraham, telling him to leave all he knew to start on a journey to who knows where(Genesis 12).

The kind of adventure guided only by the Word and the Presence of God.

Scared yet?

Or an adventure like Noah. Build an ark? Sure thing Lord. But what’s an ark, and what is this “rain” you speak of? Noah’s adventure was one of a kind, in fact we’re still talking about it today!

I’m looking for a faith adventure. One that requires me to walk by faith, and not by sight. An adventure over uncharted waters, across hills and valleys, my compass fixed on God.

walk by faith

Davidcrank.com

I’m looking for an adventure that goes far beyond Church, one that is immersed in a living relationship with the living God.

I’m looking for that Abundant Life kind of adventure.

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“.   NKJV   emphasis mine

I don’t know when, how, or any other of the countless details that make up this great adventure. What I do know is I’m putting myself out there and saying to the Lord that I’m all in.

Lead me Lord,and I’ll follow.

Who else is up for a great adventure of the God kind?

Be blessed,

Ron

 

 

 

Stuck at the starting gate…

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Do you ever think about whether or not you are making progress in your walk with the Lord? Are you growing in your faith? Are you steadily marching along toward the goal of spiritual maturity?

Tough questions for all of us, aren’t they? Even after all these years, there are times when I think to myself “am I really growing like I should be”?

Do you feel like instead of progressing, it’s more like you’re stuck in neutral?

If we’re being honest, does it feel like you’ve been taking two steps backwards and one step forward?

Or are you one of the millions that have started on a journey with Christ, yet you are neither going forward or backwards, like you’re not moving at all?

In other words, are you stuck at the starting gate?

starting gate

If this is you, then read on because this post is for you!

Being stuck at the starting gate describes those of us who know the Lord as our Savior, who attend church regularly, read our Bibles, and for all intents and purposes are doing all the right things. We’re on our way to heaven.

Yet for all of that, something is missing. There is no passion, no excitement, no enthusiasm for the things of God. Just going through the motions of “churchianity”. We’re described in the Bible like this:

“This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me;” Matthew 15:8

OUCH!

We’re present in body only. We can’t seem to find a way to become engaged. We just “are”. We’re stuck at the starting gate. Nothing moves us, nothing motivates us. We just “are”.

motivation not

This is a long way from the life that Jesus describes in the second half of John 10:10!!

“I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”

The Abundant Life. You’ve no doubt heard about it. You’ve probably heard a sermon or two about it.  TV preachers talk incessantly about it. Book shelves are filled with volume after volume of authors who attempt to link prosperity with the Abundant Life. You know the ones:

  • The Laws of Prosperity
  • Blessed
  • Biblical Keys to Financial Prosperity
  • Christian Prosperity Secrets
  • The Prosperity Bible

OK, you get the point I’m sure. It seems there is no end to the amount of information out there about prosperity and the Christian. The world, and sad to say a great many preachers, says that living an Abundant Life means living a life of financial prosperity.

But that is NOT what Jesus was referring to when He spoke of the Abundant Life! Truth is, you can live an extraordinarily Abundant Life while being flat broke!

The Abundant Life is a life of meaning, purpose, contentment, joy, strength, and faith that culminates in eternal victory in Jesus Christ.

Now that’s an Abundant Life!

Of course, this does not mean that God doesn’t want us to be blessed and prosperous. Of course He does. What we have to ask ourselves however is what good does wealth and prosperity do us if we are miserable, unhappy, living in fear and doubt, and without hope?

Or what good does wealth and prosperity do us if we can’t get past the starting gate?

If you’re feeling like you are stuck at the starting gate, I have great news for you! The only thing keeping you there is YOU! The Gatekeeper is Jesus, and he has left the gate wide open for you to walk through and begin the journey of a lifetime!

The key to an Abundant Life is Jesus!

Be blessed,

Ron

 

The fear of the unknown vs. your familiar past

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ron

 

 

 

4 Reasons Why Finishing Strong Is So Important

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What an incredible journey we’re on with Jesus!  Just thinking about the years spent with Him as my Lord brings back so many memories, memories of happy, joyful times of serving Him with my brothers and sisters in Christ.

journey-with-jesus

Preston Hollow UMC

When I reflect upon the seemingly impossible situations I’ve seen God’s children come through, I just want to shout out a hearty “Praise The Lord Somebody”!

Alas, none of us can stay in that happy place where the sweet memories of our past reside forever. Sooner or later, we have to pick up where we left off and press forward.

Unfortunately, mixed in with those happy memories are those of not so happy times, when my new faith was challenged by family and friends who did not approve of “the new me”.

But one’s life is made up of the sum total of both good and bad, positive and negative,which is why I think it’s been the experience of a lifetime, and as the old gospel song says ” I wouldn’t take nothin’ for my journey now”!

And that brings me to the subject of this post: Finishing Strong.

For all of us, there is a real danger in becoming complacent in our walk with Christ. So easy is it to fall into our own comfort zones, that often we don’t even realize we’re there until something happens to awaken us out of the slumber.

The Apostle Paul recognized this danger and encouraged us to stay ever vigilant, continuing to move forward in our walk with God.

“Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 3:13-14   KJV   emphasis mine

With this in mind, here are 4 reasons why I believe finishing strong is so important.

  1. We have an obligation to those who have gone on before us to finish well. Christian history is resplendent with countless examples of those who have preceded us and were faithful until the end. The Bible speaks of “a great cloud of witnesses” who have paved the way. Our faithfulness in turn serves as inspiration and hope to those coming up behind us.

    great cloud of witnesses

    sarasmusings.wordpress.com

 

  1. This generation of Christians is responsible for this generation’s lost souls. Think about that one for a while. This means that we have a solemn obligation to win the lost of our generation. We cannot stop evangelizing our world, but in fact we should be increasing our efforts in this area, especially as we see the day approaching. Paul said that he “pressed toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus“.

Pressing equals tremendous effort!  All of us have been given just one life in which to accomplish everything we’ll ever do. We should live like we believe that!

  1. At the end of the day, when our journey has ended, only those things which we have done for Christ will really matter. To the Corinthian church Paul said: “Wherefore we labor, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad

It is important that we finish strong because there is coming a judgment that all of us will be required to attend. Whether we have done good or bad, all must be accounted for in that day. Is this not sobering?       Scripture reference 2 Cor. 5:9-10  

  1. Finally, we must finish strong because we have been given a promise that if we endure till the end, we shall be saved (Matt. 10:22). Finishing our race as strongly as we can simply means that we cannot coast to the finish line.

    can't give up now

    flickr.com

“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.”   I Cor. 9:24-27

I trust that this post has been an encouragement to you to finish as strongly as you can. While it is true that there are many obstacles in our path, and for certain there will be more to come, I am confident that Jesus will walk alongside us as we finish this race.

Be blessed!

Ron

 

 

 

 

 

“This work isn’t for wimps”…

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I recently heard these words from a sermon preached by a young minister named Reggie Abraham. Reggie and his family attend the same church we have been attending the past several weeks, and this was my first time hearing him minister.

The thought behind this statement was that we all stumble and fall as we journey on with Jesus, but that just as our Leader stumbled on the way to the Cross but got up and continued on, so must we.

I was struck by the irony of Reggie’s statement for a couple of reasons. For one thing, it’s true that we are often knocked down and must pick ourselves up and start again. Sometimes we have the help of fellow believers to assist us, yet there are also times when it takes the Lord to raise us up and right our ship. Either way, we press onward.

I also found it ironic that Reggie spoke about falling down, because for the past six years he has had more than his share of being down. You see, six years ago Reggie suffered a serious stroke while riding his motorcycle. His right side was paralyzed and it was a miracle that he was able to get his bike stopped, especially considering how fast he was going.

While I don’t know all of the details, having just met him, I do know that he has spent a long, long time trying to rehabilitate his body and return to some sense of normalcy. Today, six years later he is still greatly afflicted on the right side of his body and just recently was able to find employment.

What is so remarkable about Reggie, and others like him who have had to overcome tremendous obstacles in their lives, is his indomitable spirit. His smile is contagious and his sense of humor will leave you laughing along with him as he delivers the Word in a manner that is guaranteed to touch your heart.

All of us face obstacles don’t we? I honestly don’t know a single person who can truthfully claim that their life has been one without hardship, regret, illness, or some sort of catastrophe.

I’m not saying it isn’t possible, but I have yet to meet the person who lives in a bubble, unscathed by the world and all its trappings.

Jesus in fact told us that we would have trouble in this life. He said “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world“.   John 16:33.  ESV

I love how Jesus tells us to “take heart”. Even though trouble will no doubt come our way, He’s saying to us to be encouraged and empowered because He has overcome the world. Do you know that because He has already overcome, you also are an overcomer through Him?

He has gone before you and has walked in some of the same places you walk through. Scripture reminds us that “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin“.   Hebrews 4:15.  ESV

It is a faithful saying that Jesus understands your predicament. He’s been there, done that. Your greatest temptations, the ones that knock you off of your feet, the ones that send you reeling from their consequences, know that Jesus understands them because no one has ever endured the magnitude of temptations He endured.

Unlike many of us however, He successfully overcame them all, and so can you if you’ll place your hope in Him.

As Reggie said, “this work isn’t for wimps”. We all know serving the Lord brings with it unique challenges, and sometimes the journey can seem difficult at best. But the great thing about it is we don’t need to fight or overcome by our own strength or abilities.

Thankfully, God isn’t looking for perfect physical specimens to carry out His work. He isn’t concerned with our BMI, or if we have 13.1 or 26.2 decals on our car windows.

No, we have a great high priest who is leading the charge against our enemies. Our hope, our ultimate victory, is assured in Christ. His resurrection spelled defeat over Satan, over death, over Hell, and over the grave!

And besides, even if you are a wimp, it’s not your battle to fight but Jesus’s. All we need to do is get out of His way!

Be blessed,

Ron

 

How to have faith in God’s timeless process

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Face it.As much as we’d like to believe that hidden somewhere in the pages of God’s Word there exists a little known formula for living a charmed life,life’s journey has taught us that there is no quick fix,no potion,no enchantment that will deliver the kind of success being touted by the proponents of the prosperity gospel.

No glitzy TV programs,no Sunday snake oil salesman,no faith/power of positive confession/self help/sow your best seed now types of conferences,no slick self promoting “get in on this special offer now” spiel,will ever supplant God’s timeless process of faithful maturation.

You can’t buy it. You can’t steal it. For certain you can’t con your way to get it.

You have to earn it.Like a badge or a medal that is awarded to only a select few,growing in the faith and grace of our Lord is a process that will literally take the rest of your life.Indeed,our faith is continually growing, and that is as it should be lest we become stagnant and die.

In his 2nd letter to the church at Thessalonica,Paul was encouraged by their demonstrations of faith and love toward one another. “We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith groweth exceedingly, and the charity of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth;” II Thess 1:3    KJV

Paul draws us to the fact that their faith was “growing exceedingly”. For him to note this he would have had to have seen some outward,physical proof of this growth,which of course he recognized in their infectious love for one another.

These early Christians serve as wonderful examples to us today of the kind of growing faith and love that comes from God as we walk with Him daily. Did you notice the absence of so much of what we think of as church today? Are we missing something?

Could it be that these early Christians had already discovered the “formula” that so many seek today? I suggest that they had indeed found the secret to living the successful Christian life that the church today is searching for. In all the wrong places I might add.

The fact that this early church loved one another abundantly is ample evidence of their growing faith in God.Consider if you will that these Christians had no internet,no phone,no TV,no church buildings,and no programs for every member of the family.What they did have however… was each other!

Given the current church’s appetite for a “one stop shopping”brand of Christianity where an attempt is made to provide something for everyone,we are left to wonder how these poor,unfortunate,backward men and women ever survived.

They not only survived,but they also prospered because they trusted the Lord to see them through every situation.In other words,they trusted the process. James also,in speaking of the process said that “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.”   James 1:12   KJV

All too often this flesh does not want to endure much of anything, but will instead look for the closest exit or way of escape.In doing so we fail to see the hand of God guiding us through the process,thus stunting the growth of our own faith.

So how do we get to the place where we can have faith in God’s process? I think the writer of Hebrews said it best.”For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.”  Heb. 10:36

Patience in the process.Patience and endurance to see the race ran to completion.If we can learn patience,we will see a faith that grows exceedingly,a love for one another that abounds,and an enduring spirit that understands the process.

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