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Four reasons to avoid the Vortex of Negativity

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Most of us have seen a Vortex before, whether in person or on the news. A Vortex is easily identified by a swirling mass of air or water, such as in a tornado or cyclone. Here in Florida these are also found in waterspouts.

tornado

No matter the type of Vortex, they all share at least two things in common:  1) if you get too close to one it will literally suck you into it, and 2) it will always leave a path of destruction in its wake.

Additionally, there is no escape from it unless it releases you from its deadly power. Even then, the end result will not be pleasant.

There is however another form of Vortex, perhaps more damaging than all those previously listed. It’s what I call the human “Vortex of Negativity”, and once it has you in its grip it will literally suck the life out of you. Here are four reasons why you should avoid it at all costs.

No.1 It will steal your Joy…Joy is one of the fruits of the Spirit, did you know that? But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness (Galatians 5:22).

If you have been around joyless people for even a few minutes you know how they can rob you of your joy. Many of us struggle with this. We’re happy, and then we’re not.

Joy killers are subtle; they rarely show up with sirens blazing, seeking instead to peck away at our joy in anonymity. Before you even know it’s happened, you find yourself struggling to find joy in anything because your joy has been stolen from you!

No.2 It will steal your Gratitude…A grateful heart is a thankful heart, one that will show up in our attitude. Paul, that great Apostle, understood the importance of thankfulness when he said that “in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thess. 5:18).  In his song of thanksgiving upon recovering the Ark of the Covenant, David said “Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever“(1 Chronicles 16:34).

The Vortex of Negativity is thankful for nothing, but rather seeks out the things that have not gone our way and focuses instead on what could have/should have been.

This Vortex is particularly dangerous because it will retard our growth and leave us to wallow in defeat. People who are ungrateful, especially Christians, are also some of the meanest people around. And yes, they are infectious.

No.3 It will steal your Confidence…When we have lost our confidence we begin to flounder. We are tossed to and fro seemingly adrift on the seas of life with no real purpose. We become double minded, unable to press forward with purpose.

This is not how God created you. An oft quoted scripture from the Old Testament book of Jeremiah tell us “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope“(Jer. 29:11). The Vortex of Negativity wants to hide from us the promise of God and instead get us to focus on what we ourselves can do. This, of course, is never enough to satisfy.

No.4 It will steal the life God has appointed you to…We are called and chosen to live a fulfilling and complete life. Jesus described it this way: “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly“(John 10:10).

The Vortex of Negativity is a thief bent on stealing, killing, and destroying our lives one piece at a time until the notion of an abundant life is nothing more than a fairy tale.

The devil would like nothing more than to get our focus off of God’s plan for our lives so that he can then offer us an alternative. Without fail, the alternative he presents to us will lead us down the path of destruction. How could it not, when Jesus has already told us what the enemy’s motives are?

The “Vortex of Negativity” is a powerful force that works against us in many ways. Whether it’s to steal our joy, our gratitude, our confidence, or even the very life God has planned for us, this cocktail of negativity is the enemy’s design for your ultimate destruction.

But I have Good News this day! Your Bible declares that “No weapon formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue which rises against you in judgment You shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is from Me,” Says the Lord.    Isaiah 54:17

No weapon, no device, no Vortex of Negativity that the enemy tries to destroy you with can prosper.

This is your heritage as a child of God!

 

 

 

 

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Two of the hardest “EASY” things to do

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Have you ever thought about how we Christians go out of our way to make life harder than it needs to be?

Consider the church or assembly where you worship. I imagine there are certain rules that you are expected to follow in order to be a member in good standing. For instance, some churches have rules on attendance, and others prohibit smoking and drinking. No gambling is also found in most list of rules.

rules

chypsministry.org

Some churches still prohibit women from wearing makeup and jewelry. These are typically associated with long jean skirts for the ladies and white shirts for the men. UGH. When will we ever learn that personal holiness begins in the heart and not the closet?

Oh, and did you know there are different rules for the Methodists than there are for the Baptists? Did I mention the rules in the Black church, whatever that is? In addition to all of this, perhaps most important of all are the unspoken rules, which of course everyone is somehow supposed to know.

There can be no room for personal liberty in such an environment, as personal liberty might allow one to step out of order, thus creating chaos, and if there’s one thing we like about rules it is that they bring order.

Now, I like order, to an extent. Order, or Rules, brings with them a sense of stability and security, and who doesn’t appreciate that?

I do not like order however that is so inflexible that I cannot be free to express myself. Here’s a personal example of what I’m talking about. I like color, lots of color, especially bright colors. Maybe it’s because I have a degree of color blindness and struggle to see color like everyone else. Whatever the case, I love bright, bold colors.

On Sunday’s I always wear a suit to church. Why?  Because I like wearing them. I also like wearing a tie to church, which I am acutely aware, goes against the norm these days. But I won’t wear just any tie. No boring, ugly ties in my closet! That’s why I wear ties that are bold, colorful, and bright.  Like this for example….IMG_0111

Sorry, but no dress codes for this guy!

OK, back to my topic. One of the greatest problems with church rules is that we expect everyone to follow them, thus creating carbon copies of ourselves in the process. And as if that weren’t bad enough, we will follow up on our rules by making even more rules.

So, are all of these rules necessary to be a follower of Jesus? Do we really need a list of can’s and can not’s? Well, let’s consult the manual, shall we? Surely there we can find some direction.

In the gospel of Matthew, chapter 26 we find the following:

Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.   Matthew 22:35-40  KJV

twogreatestcommandments

the-ten-commandments.org

Love the Lord. Love your neighbor.The two hardest “easy” things you can do.

It’s because we the Church make it so. Not the Lord. Not the Word. WE make it so hard. It’s as if we cannot fathom that loving the Lord and loving your neighbor could be enough. So we add our own special flair to it in the form of Rules.

And look what we’ve made of the church!

All of the Law and all of the prophets hang on just these two commandments. Nothing else is required. No list of Rules. No list of do’s and don’ts. No clothesline religion here, no sir.

All of the Law and all of the prophets hang on just these two commandments. This easy, this simple, this uncomplicated.

Maybe the reason we make it so hard is because of the word “love”. If it were anything else, perhaps it wouldn’t be so troubling, but love, well that hits us right in the heart doesn’t it?

Just like it’s supposed to.

Be blessed,

Ron

Driving a square peg into a round hole

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“Not wanting to appear judgmental, we mistakenly try to make biblical truth fit the culture around us.”   A.W. Tozer

What an astounding statement made by the Rev. A.W. Tozer regarding the Christian Church. Especially so, considering Rev. Tozer passed away in 1963!

We can only imagine what he would think were he alive today, seeing as how the Church has wandered so much further into compromise and the worldliness which he foresaw as the Church’s greatest impending threat of his time.

To be sure, no one wants to hear about subjects that prick the heart, yet it is necessary to bring them to light. God has always demanded that His truths be shouted from the roof tops! If you doubt this, might I suggest a cursory read through the Major Prophets of the Bible?

With a keen awareness of how much emphasis is put upon blending in with society, the Church bends, twists, and does back flips all in the name of relevancy so that she may maintain some semblance of importance to a culture largely devoid of the knowledge of God. All in the name of not wanting to be seen as judgmental, of course.

Isn’t it strange that for nearly 2000 years the Church did not concern itself with how the outside world perceived it, while now the opposite is true? For nearly twenty centuries the focus of the Church was on faithfulness to God. Now…not so much.

This is a travesty unlike anything we have seen in recent times. For the last 50-75 years the Church has been so consumed with the process of reinventing itself in order to become more like the world, that for all intents and purposes she has ceased to be The Church.

Indeed, despite the command to come out of the world, the Church has rebranded itself to be nearly indistinguishable from the world. And this world is suffering greatly because of it.

It is no different than taking the square peg and driving it into a round hole. On the surface,these are not a match for each other. However, if you get a bigger hammer and drive the peg harder, eventually some semblance of “fit” comes into being. It isn’t pretty, and a keen eye will certainly notice that something is amiss with this “match”. But hey, we made it work!

Oh, for certain it is religious, but it is an anemic counterfeit of the once powerful Church that was founded upon the shed blood of Jesus Christ. Having prostituted itself with erroneous doctrine that tickles the hearers ear, it is unable or unwilling to stand solely upon the truth of God’s Word.

The Word, after all, is offensive to the masses. It always has been.

On that note, let anyone dare bring to light the current state of backslidden Christianity, and he will soon find himself the target of legions of modernist churchmen and liberal theologians who think that God has instituted a new plan for the Church of today.

If anyone dare mention the deplorable condition of this Laodicean Church they are immediately branded as divisive, judgmental, a bigot, and a host of other not so pleasant names.

I say this with all sincerity, but in case you haven’t noticed, the Church is under an attack of biblical proportions. No longer is the Bible considered the standard for living. No indeed, that antiquated way of thinking has been replaced with an “anything goes” mindset.

And I’m referring to the Church, not the world!

Our churches no longer proclaim the Word of God, but rather a fashionable “gospel light” that is designed to be easy on the ears and even easier on the conscience. Can’t have the Word bringing conviction to our unregenerate hearts, now can we? No indeed, not if we are to become “one” with our culture.

How in the world did things get this way? Well, the prophet Isiah had a pretty good idea what contributed to the downfall of Israel, and I think it sums up the condition of the Church as well.

There is no one who calls upon your name, who rouses himself to take hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us, and have made us melt in the hand of our iniquities.    Isaiah 64:7

When people, God’s people, fail to call upon Him the end result is what you see all around you. The Church has a form of Godliness, but lacks the power of God to do the work it has been called to do. Why does the Church not rouse itself from its slumber and call upon the name of the Lord? Read on for the answer!

Just as Paul prophesied, society, and that includes the Church, has succumbed to the Spirit of the age.

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,”                 2 Timothy 4:3 ESV

No longer do men of God stand boldly in their pulpits, armed with the Sword of the Spirit and the unadulterated Word of God. No, our pulpits are manned by hirelings who have not come prepared to do battle, but instead have armed themselves with the latest gimmickry in order to appease the masses who are clamoring for yet another “feel good about me” sermonette.

Throw away that outdated bible! It is a cancer in the minds of those who wish to create their own version of utopia. God is no longer needed, for we have within our ranks carefully chosen leaders who will show us a better way. After all, we have evolved beyond the need for Godly instruction, as man is now god of his own destiny.

From where I sit on the front row, I see an impending, catastrophic implosion of what we call the Church. What survives will be the last day remnant, or the real Church, that is fervently praying and looking for the return of our Lord Jesus.

Driving a square peg into a round hole accomplishes nothing. It doesn’t fit,nor are they designed to accommodate each other. It is wholly unnatural. Like the Church trying to be like the world.

Or like the Church,drifted apart from its Anchor.

If you made it this far….thank you. My purpose is not to offend, but rather to awaken the Church from the stupor that has engulfed it.

May the Lord richly bless you is my prayer,

Ron

 

 

 

The Perspective of Time

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“What a difference a day can make”.I’ve heard that remark so many times through the years.

Imagine the difference then that a few years can make. That’s what I was thinking the other day as I read several chapters in the book of Job. As I began reading it dawned on me that I had neglected this Old Testament book for quite some time.

I always loved it’s beautiful descriptors of the battle of “good vs.evil”,Satan vs. God. It always seemed that no matter how hard Satan tried to discredit God,the faithfulness of God always prevailed.It was great to reconnect with this old,familiar book.

Now,for those of you who are not familiar with the book of Job,it is often regarded as one of the greatest studies of the human response to suffering.More importantly,it is a study of trust.If the reader will carefully study the book of Job,he or she will see the subject of trust come to the forefront as Job ultimately concludes that God is just and righteous.

Many people who read this book quickly form the opinion that God is not fair,that He was unjust in allowing an upright man such as Job to suffer. This is understandable, considering the Biblical description of Job is as a man that was “pure and upright,and one who feared God and turned away from evil”.

I believed that myself,long ago. Just like I believed that God was not fair because He refused to allow Moses to enter the promised land because of one mistake. Boy did I ever struggle with that one!

Just like I believed that God was not fair when tragedy struck my own life. Just like you may be thinking right now concerning a situation you are dealing with. We all want to shout aloud “how can a God of love allow this to happen” at times,don’t we?

Can I tell you something that time has taught me about the “fairness” of God?

Unlike God,we lack the ability to see the future. The hear and now is our dwelling place,and we are forced to deal with life as it comes. That includes those things we identify as unfair.

Just like Job,we cannot see the end of the trial while we are in the midst of it. But He can,which is why we must learn to be slower to question the “fairness” of God. Remember,God always has a plan where you are concerned. And that includes the trials you go through. Coincidence is not in His vocabulary.

2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4 ESV)

The perspective of time has taught me the deeper meaning of this present life being a place of preparation for the eternal one that is to come. Time has taught me that God knew all along what he was doing when he permitted Job to be attacked by Satan,that he knew what he was doing when he refused to allow Moses to enter into the promised land.

That he knew all along what he was doing when he allowed me to walk through the fire,instead of quenching it first.

Nothing takes God by surprise. Nothing.

The perspective of time has taught me to trust God. To trust the refining process that all of us are going through. To trust that while I may not understand the things that have happened to me,or the things I am presently enduring,He does.

To a child of God,this is enough. If we’re faithful,the perspective of time will teach us this principle.

Have a blessed day,

Ron

Continue in the things we have learned

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Unlike so many of you,I had little in the way of church,or religious training while growing up. I could count on both hands the number of times I went to church during those years,so to say I got a late start would be an understatement! Quite the contrast to my wife,the pastor’s daughter, whose earliest memories are of being in church!

During those early years I could never have imagined that one day God’s Word would become the bedrock of my life. Indeed,had God never drawn me to Him and instilled in me a deep hunger to know His Word,my life would have been unimaginably different.

As I gaze upon the events unfolding in the world I can’t help but pause to give God thanks that I am no longer the person I used to be,or the person I could have easily become. At this stage of my life,I now know more assuredly than I ever have before,that He and He alone has kept me from reverting back to that person I once was.

He has a plan for my life. And He has one for you too.

Listening to current events can be disturbing to even the most well grounded among us. For those not familiar with God’s Word,some of these events are actually frightening when you realize their potential implications.To those people,it must seem overwhelming watching the evening news.

The Apostle Paul knew something about this as well and even prophesied about it. In 2nd Timothy 3:2 he described the condition of the world in the latter days as a time when men would be lovers of themselves,boastful,proud,and a whole host of other not too pleasant things,most of which we are seeing unfold right before our eyes.

Yet this great Apostle knew something else about this,which was that irregardless of what was going on around us,we were to continue walking with Christ as though nothing was happening. He explained it this way:

10 But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance,
11 persecutions, afflictions, which happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra—what persecutions I endured. And out of them all the Lord delivered me.
12 Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.
13 But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.
14 But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them,
15 and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.    II Tim 3:10-15   NKJV   (emphasis mine)

Paul tells us we must continue in the things we have learned,which brings me to the central point of this post. All of us must remind ourselves from time to time that our hope is sealed in Jesus Christ. The things we have learned through our studies of the scriptures have made us wise for salvation,meaning the Word of God will instruct us in all things necessary for our salvation.

Events taking place now in the world,and events to come in the future all have the ability to divert our attention away from the “things we have learned”. Our responsibility is to make certain that does not happen,which we can accomplish by following Paul’s advice to Timothy.

Have a blessed Wednesday,

Ron

How to choose between the wide and the narrow:part 3

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In my previous two posts I’ve talked about the Narrow Gate and the Wide Gate,and how one leads to life and the other leads to destruction.

I’ve talked about who the “many” are that are heading towards destruction,as well as who the “few”are that are on the pathway to life.

I’m going to conclude this simple little study in this post by explaining how we can be certain we are choosing the Narrow Gate that leads to life.

So, how do we correctly choose between the Wide Gate and the Narrow Gate? I’ve thought long and hard about this, not wanting to offer up a great theological dissertation, yet at the same time not wanting to minimize what I believe to be the greatest decision you will ever make.

So at the risk of being guilty of over simplification, here goes:

Accept Jesus Christ as your Savior.

Wait…that’s it? That’s the key to choosing right verses wrong? That’s how I choose the Narrow Gate?

Can it really be that simple? What about all the rules, the do’s and don’ts? What about joining a church? Surely there is some sort of list I need to check off! And what about those good deeds I keep hearing others talk about?

No, none of that is necessary in order for you to make the right choice.

Certainly, after salvation there are important decisions to be made. That is another topic for another day. We’re talking about making that first step, and that first step is saying YES to Jesus.

Everything, and I mean everything, is secondary to accepting Jesus as Savior. The Christian life begins and ends with Jesus.

Now I’m going to say something here that may shock you. For all I know, it might anger you. Or worse!

If any blogger, pastor, preacher, teacher, Rabbi, priest, or any other religious leader tells you that their way is the only way, I want you to RUN as fast as you can away from that person.

The ways of men are simply that. They are not God’s ways no matter how well intentioned they may be. Proverbs 14:12 tells us that There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.

Jesus Himself declared that “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.   John 14:6   NKJV

The most important decision or choice you will ever make in this life is the decision to accept Jesus as your Savior. He is the Narrow Gate that leads to life, and He invites everyone to enter this gate.

Be blessed everyone,

Ron

How to choose between the wide and the narrow

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Gates.

I like gates. Plain ones, ornate ones, all kinds of gates. Being a country boy, I got used to seeing gates either around the neighbor’s property or my own. They always made me curious about what’s on the other side.

Gates are built for several reasons. One is to allow access to areas that otherwise would be unreachable due to fencing or some other type of obstruction.

Some are very imposing and seem to say “keep out”, while others have that inviting look that says “welcome home”.

pasture-gate

toadhollowphoto.com

They are also built to contain things or animals, like sheep, cattle, and other animals so they cannot escape and freely roam where it may be dangerous for them to do so.

Gates are also used to safeguard the entryway of a small village or town. These gates serve as a type of passage way into the village. Once through the gate, you’re in.

Around the Old City of Jerusalem there were several gates that permitted citizens to enter and exit the city as needed.

Names such as Zions Gate, Jaffa Gate, Lions Gate, Herod’s Gate, and several others might be familiar to you. All of these gates served distinct purposes, and the history of them is quite fascinating.

map-of-old-jerusalem

While Jesus was intimately acquainted with all of the Jerusalem gates, He also spoke of gates in a figurative manner, such as when teaching his disciples.

Jesus referred to two of these types of gates as the Narrow Gate and the Wide Gate. You will find them referenced here in Matthew’s gospel:

13 “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.

14 “Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.   Mat 7:13-14 NKJV

As Jesus speaks of these gates notice that he also references two distinct people groups, the “many” and the “few”. I find it interesting that every one of us fits into one of these groups, the only distinction being which gate we ultimately enter through when our lives here on earth are complete.

Let’s take a closer look at these two gates along with their corresponding entrants. Let’s begin with the Wide Gate.

What is significant about this particular gate? For starters it’s big enough to accommodate the many. Also, the road leading to it is wide. It’s easy to get through isn’t it? Unfortunately, this gate also leads to destruction.

Sometimes the easiest choices in life lead to consequences we’d just as soon have avoided, agree? The easy way is so enticing, and it’s the rare person among us who would deliberately choose the more difficult path. Indeed, our nature is to seek the path of least resistance.security-consequences

Jesus said that there are many who will be going through this particular gate. Who are these “many” described in verse 13?

I believe they fall into two different, or sub groups of people.

1) Those that willingly and knowingly rejected Christ as their Savior.

2) The religious who have been deceived into believing they are “good enough”, and thus have trusted in themselves rather than Jesus.

Luke 19:10 tells us “for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost”. Obviously, those in group # 1 have rejected the One that came to seek and save. This group of people has therefore chosen the Wide Gate that leads to destruction.

Perhaps far more tragic than the 1st group is group #2. This group has some knowledge of the fact that on their own they are not “good enough”, however they are deceived into thinking that by looking inward they can do enough on their own to ultimately enter through the Narrow Gate that leads to life.

The great sorrow here is that they knew they were inadequate by themselves, that something was missing, but they chose to look within for the solution rather than look to Jesus Christ. In doing so they have also chosen the Wide Gate that leads to destruction.

Be watching for my next post, which deals with the second people group, the few.

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