Home

What are you settling for?

2 Comments

God has called us to live an Abundant Life, just as Jesus describes in John 10:10.

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.”

I’m thinking that we are settling for far less than an Abundant Life, especially as Christians, the Body of Christ. For example…

By all appearances, we are content to go to church, listen to a few songs, settle in for a nice sermon that was designed to make us feel better about ourselves, then head quickly for the door in order to get a seat at our favorite restaurant.

Mediocrity Green Road Sign with Dramatic Clouds, Sun Rays and Sky.Content to leave exactly as we came.

Content to settle for yet another dry, lifeless, powerless church service.

 

The only thing worse than this is doing it all over again.

Every

Single 

Week

Surely, the enemy of our souls is watching all of this, gleeful in that we have succumbed to the spirit of slumber. This, in spite of Paul’s warning to the church at Rome:

And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed.” Rom. 13:11

This is what settling does to us. It allows complacency to overwhelm our senses to the point that we no longer are even aware of what we don’t have!

Our churches have all kinds of musical talent for example. From keyboards and guitars to drums and full orchestra’s. Music fills the rafters. Yet it’s one lifeless, cold, ritualistic note after another, void of any anointing that might sear the conscious or break through a heart hardened by sin.

So we settle. And we clap. And we sing. And we clap some more.

And leave exactly the same way we came.

We have learned to be OK with settling. In fact, settling is now normal.

Our ministers now have access to scriptural knowledge like at no other time in history. Thanks to the Internet, entire volumes of reference materials are at our fingertips. Huge libraries containing thousands of works published by sold out men and women of God are accessible via a click of a computer mouse.

Yet for all of this available knowledge and wisdom, what we are presented on Sunday mornings are short sermonettes containing tidbits of scripture, but filled with stories about being a better you, or how to live your best life. To more than a few, this is a great time to take a nap!

bored_in_church-300x270

charleyreeb.com

These sermonnettes are nothing more than pulpit cheer-leading. They prompt us to feel the “rah rah rah” of the moment, but cannot prevent the euphoria from draining away when life suddenly interrupts our version of “churchianity”.

For that, we need the whole counsel of the meat of God’s Word.

Do you want to know the secret to living your best life, and how to be a better you? The secret is to die daily. That’s right, draw nigh to God and in the process you will crucify this flesh that demands more and more of the pleasures of this world.

Would it shock you to learn that God isn’t the least bit interested in whether or not you are living your best life? Would it surprise you to learn that what He is really interested in is that you submit your entire life to Him?

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.  Matthew 6:33

Give Him all of you FIRST, then the things you desire will come. Anything less than this is settling. Yes, seeking the kingdom of God first is a costly endeavor. It will cost you your WILL.

Nothing worth having is free, nor does it come easy. The rewards however, are priceless.

Why then do we settle for less than the Abundant Life Jesus spoke of?

What exactly are you settling for?

Be blessed,

Ron

 

 

Advertisements

“It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood…”

7 Comments

Hi neighbor!

How many of us remember that tune from the “Mr. Rogers Neighborhood” TV show?

Mr Rogers Neighborhood

photo from Amazon.com

Just a few days ago Fred McFeely Rogers would have turned 90 years of age were he still alive. A lot of things were unique about Mr. Rogers. For one thing, he always changed into a sweater when he came through the door, and he could often be seen changing into comfortable tennis shoes as well.

Another thing that always stood out about him was how gentle and kind he was. He never spoke harshly about anyone, and he could put a positive spin on just about anything. You could always count on him smiling for most of the show too!

You also may not have known that he was a gifted musical composer who wrote over 200 of the songs that were performed on the TV show, including the iconic theme “It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood”.

The one thing that stands out above all of these tidbits though is that Mr. Rogers was a Presbyterian minister, and he used his call to minister to children everywhere. He felt a special bond with his young audience, and considered it his mission to provide programming that reflected his own gentle spirit.

“Those of us in broadcasting have a special calling to give whatever we feel is the most nourishing that we can for our audience,” Mr. Rogers said. “We are servants of those who watch and listen.”   Fred Rogers

Of course, he had his detractors as well. Some people cannot stand the fact that there are kind, considerate, and gentle people in the world and therefore have to find something negative to say. Through the years I’ve heard just about everything possible said about Mr. Rogers, and I dare say his reputation far exceeded that of his harshest critics.

Every day people made fun of him. Names such as wimp, sissy, gay, and others much, much worse were ascribed to him. He was the butt of endless ridicule for his soft spoken manner.

To countless children however, he was a friend. A friendly, smiling face that came into their homes and offered encouragement and hope.

I don’t know about you, but I believe an awful lot of people could sure use a friendly, smiling face to come and offer hope and encouragement to them today.

Mr. Rogers passed away on February 27th, 2003, but the driving force of his life lives on eternally. While he did his best to teach children about many things, he taught a lot about friends and friendship. He himself had a Friend like no other.

A man who has friends must himself be friendly, But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.    Proverbs 18:24

If you need a friend today, I encourage you to call upon the Lord Jesus. He has promised to never leave you or forsake you. I’d call that a pretty special friend, wouldn’t you?

Oh, and before I forget, Jesus will make your neighborhood more beautiful than even Mr. Rogers could!

Ron

It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood
A beautiful day for a neighbor
Could you be mine?
Would you be mine?

It’s a neighborly day in this beauty wood
A neighborly day for a beauty
Could you be mine?
Would you be mine?

I have always wanted to have a neighbor just like you
I’ve always wanted to live in a neighborhood with you

Let’s make the most of this beautiful day
Since we’re together, might as well say
Would you be my, could you be my
Won’t you be my neighbor?     

Fred M. Rogers

“This work isn’t for wimps”…

2 Comments

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

 

Would Jesus ever sanction”pay to pray”?

4 Comments

Yes friends and neighbors,it’s now time to pay up.. if you need to pray up that is.

I found this little gem in my inbox the other morning from a group providing a subscription service to ministers. An obviously distraught pastor wrote to them with this question: “I have a power group trying to run me out of the church. What do I do?”  The answer to this pastor’s question is below.

“Here’s what happened: Within six hours, the pastor had received guidance from seven different people, including me. He was blown away.

There is no place like (group providing a subscription service to ministers). You can come to our safe community and ask any questions freely and without limits for only $9.97/month! That’s 33 cents a day.”

That’s right,for less than ten dollars a month you can ask unlimited questions,attend a live virtual staff meeting,receive a checklist to follow up on from the staff meeting,and finally you will receive resources to help you to follow up on the checklist from the staff meeting. All for the low,low price of $9.97 a month.

Stop. The. Presses. Pastors and other church leaders,with a mere click of a mouse or a tap on their iPad are now consulting subscription services instead of the Lord? Does anyone care to tell me what happened when God’s people failed to consult Him? I Chr.15:13,Ezra 2:63,Neh.7:65,Isa.19:3,etc…just to name a few!

OK,I’ll be the first guy to say that there are times when I desperately wish I could bounce some things off of my late Father in Law,the Rev. W.D.Tibbs. He and I spent many hours on his back porch discussing church matters,and I’m much wiser for it.

However, if paying for advice is how a church “leader” conducts himself,may God help his congregation.This,dear readers is what the church has come to.Do you still wonder that the devil laughs at church leadership today as he says to them “Jesus I know,and Paul I know,but who are you?”

I don’t know who I am most disillusioned with; pastors who have no more confidence in the God they supposedly serve that they would do such a thing,or a business that solicits money from them.Especially a business being run by someone who surely must know better.

What I do know is this:there is a reason why the church is so anemic today.All one has to do is look to it’s leadership to see the problem.

As for old fashioned me,I’ve yet to have God fail me,so I think I’ll stick with Him.

Now,where’s my WWJD bracelet when I need it?

Holy Father,surely your heart breaks as we find more and newer ways to reject you in favor of ourselves.Just as your word has foretold,we have sunk into deep mire.Our hearts are no longer aflame with the passion to serve you.We have not only lost our first love,we have fallen so far as to have no recollection of it.

Lord I pray the prayer of a heartbroken David:create in us a clean heart,and renew a right Spirit within us.

 

What kind of minister says things like this?

5 Comments

That was the question I asked myself this morning after hearing the minister say for the sixth time “this stuff is hard to believe,isn’t it”?

Please forgive my pessimistic,somewhat snarky title. It’s been one of those days. You know those kind of days. The kind where you ask yourself “why do I subject myself to this”?  Why not just stay home and have Bible study around the table?

From the Genesis account of creation to the Immaculate Conception, the minister made a point of telling us that these things are hard to believe.A seven point sermon to tells us that the Bible can be hard to believe. Hard to believe for whom?unbelief

To the unsaved person I would agree that most of scripture can be hard to believe when taken at face value. I’m pretty sure that most of us who were not raised in church struggled with biblical concepts while on the outside looking in. At least I know I did. Boy did I struggle! That’s what unregenerate minds do!

But concerning the word of God,what is so difficult for a sanctuary filled with believers to grasp here?

Are there some things in the Bible that challenge us as Christians? Absolutely there are! Do I question certain things? You better believe it. But that does not mean they are not to be believed.

Umm…..I think that’s why they call it FAITH! Some things are more difficult than others to believe and FAITH has to kick in at some point or else we’re no different than the unbelieving world.faith-quote

Maybe I’m an anomaly.I actually do believe the Bible.I actually do believe it was written under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.I believe it is God inspired and sufficient for our instruction and admonition.In short, I believe every word of it.

Maybe what bothered me the most about this morning’s message was that at the end of the service this same minister closed the service by asking any non-believers that might be present to “believe on the Lord Jesus”.

And some people wonder why I take the position I do in regards to the church of today?

This morning’s “encounter”reminded me of a quote from one of my favorite authors,Leonard Ravenhill,who said this: “The best title of the (professing) church of God today is Unbelieving Believers“. Well said Leonard.

 

Out of respect for God’s house I sat through the whole ordeal instead of bolting for the door after the 2nd or 3rd “this is hard to believe”.

A very poor choice on my part,of that you can be sure.

To all of you that have a faithful minister who proclaims the word of God I would ask this question: do you pray for them regularly? If not,you should make it a daily practice to not only pray for them but give thanks to God for them.

Believe me,they are becoming more scarce than you think.

The search for a new church home begins anew 😦