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Which is better,being perfect or being anointed?

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A week or so ago my wife and I were asked to sing a song at the new church we’ve been attending for the past few weeks. Being thrilled for the opportunity, we gladly accepted the Pastor’s invitation. We chose an older song that was both familiar to us and one that my wife thought would bless those in attendance.

After practicing the song a few times at home we were ready by the time the mid-week service rolled around on Wednesday. The only music was me on the guitar, and due to some issues with my guitar’s pickup I wasn’t able to amplify it but had to play through a microphone. Normally this wouldn’t be a problem, but in this case I was not able to hear it clearly while we were singing.guitar sunset

To make a long story short, I stumbled a few times both while singing and playing. The worst was when I tried to play and sing a particular note but because I couldn’t hear it well enough, my fingers went one way and my voice another. Huge embarrassment right there!

Anyway, we got through it and took our seats. Much to my great surprise a lady whom we didn’t know came to us and shared that that particular song was exactly what she needed to hear. Soon, others also expressed their appreciation for our heartfelt song.

Meanwhile, in musicministry-v3spite of all the wonderful comments, yours truly was none too happy over his poor performance. Which brings me to the thought behind this post.

I beat myself up for several days because I was embarrassed at not hitting the right notes, so much so that the resident Princess reminded me that being perfect seemed to be more important to me than ministering to someone’s need.

Ummm…OUCH!

I knew exactly what she was getting at. Rather than permitting the Lord to work through us to minister to a hurting heart, imperfect as our song was, I wanted instead to display perfection in our capabilities. Did you get that…OUR capabilities?

Now, don’t get me wrong,  I believe we should do our best no matter what avenue of ministry we’re working in. To be sure, our version of the song that night would not win any contests, but what it lacked in perfection, it made up for that in that it touched someone’s heart.

When you get right down to it, isn’t that what ministry does? It reaches the heart and does the work of the Holy Spirit, a work that we ourselves cannot do. It is only when we yield ourselves to the Spirit that He is able to accomplish what needs to be done.The-Ministry-of-the-Holy-Spirit

All of us have been called to minister in one way or another. In fact, Peter tells us that “As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God“.   1 Peter 4:10

My prayer is that I will get out of His way and permit Him to do what He knows needs to be done. If that involves a sour note or two, what does it matter so long as the end result is someone being strengthened in their walk with the Lord?

Have a blessed day!

Ron

 

How to survive when your world falls apart

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You’ve been there,haven’t you? You’ve carefully planned things out down to the smallest detail. You’ve selected the career path that you believe will bring you security for theplan rest of your life. You have researched and chosen the best school to receive your education.

Looking even further ahead,you begin to envision the man or woman of your dreams. You see the two of you dancing through life,living in a comfortable home where your children can grow up safe and content.

A fairy tale existence;isn’t that what we all plan for,what we all dream about?

That is until the harsh realities of life begin to chip away at our hopes,our dreams,our best laid plans. Suddenly,what was once sunshine and rainbows gives way to the raging storms of divorce,sickness,abuse,or worse.shattered-dreams

Some of you have been there. Are there now.

Your world has fallen apart,and no amount of pleading,begging,or deal making can restore what was. Where do you turn when you’re out of options?

I’ve been there. I have survived abandonment.I’ve made it through the gut wrenching agony of a divorce I did not choose to be a part of. I know what it feels like to be left for dead on the side of the road,to be made to feel as though you have no worth. I understand completely how debilitating and life altering divorce can be to every person it touches.

I have been to the brink. To that place from which many never return,that place where death seems a welcome relief from the agonizing pain of losing everything you once held dear. Having lost family,home,and in the eyes of denominational Christianity my ministry,I am well acquainted with loss.

Beloved,when you have lost it all,when there are no options and no help to be found,life no longer seems worth living.Such is the reality of hopelessness. It is the embodiment of the scripture that says the enemy comes to steal,kill,and destroy(John 10:10).

Ah,but there is hope after all! I know because I’m living proof!hope

Those plans you made? The dreams you had? They might all be a distant memory by now. Many of MY plans have failed.A great many of MY hopes and dreams have been shattered. Those were MY plans and MY dreams.

The purpose of the Lord however,stands eternal.

Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand. Proverbs 19:21   ESV

God has a plan for you. God has big plans for you. A purpose. Thoughts of good,to give you a great finish to this life you live.And his plan for your life supersedes everything else you have already endured or may be enduring at this moment.When you get right down to it,His plans,His purpose,trump all of your heartaches.

When your world crumbles all around you,as it surely will at some point in this life,what’s your survival plan? If you don’t have one,may I suggest one for you?

I would lay hold of the promises of God. Of the One whose purpose stands forever. Lets face it, nothing we can come up with on our own is better than the plans God has for our lives. Why not place our hopes and dreams in His hands?

I can tell you this,it works. When we make Him priority “A” in our lives instead of “plan B”,we may still go through seemingly insurmountable difficulties.The difference is that we are not walking through them alone.We are walking through them with the One whose purpose will stand.

Now that’s what I call a survival plan!

Where is the Lord God of Elijah Today?

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Thinking of the Old Testament prophets,their ministries,their successes and failures has me wondering why we don’t see God show up today like He did back then.In light of the fact that (a) God never changes(Malachi 3:6) and (b) Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever(Heb 13:8),it seems reasonable to ponder these things.

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Blueletterbible.com

I have heard it preached and taught that God just doesn’t move like that today.That God has a new covenant with us through His Son Jesus.

While I agree with that,it still doesn’t explain why we don’t see God moving in the powerful ways like we read about in His Word.Here is just one example.

From the Old Testament book of II Kings,chapter two,we read where the successor to the prophet Elijah,in this case a man named Elisha, takes the mantle,or cloak that fell from Elijah and smacks it upon the Jordan River.
No doubt expecting something miraculous he utters the quote “where is the Lord God of Elijah“?(II Kings 2:14),at which time the waters of the Jordan dried up and Elisha was able to pass over on dry land.We thus see that the prophetic ministry of Elijah was passed on to Elisha.

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Bibleencyclopedia.com

Now,given what I’ve already stated about God never changing,suppose we turn Elisha’s question around to read like this:”Where Are God’s Elijah’s Today”? If in fact we serve a God that changes not, it stands to reason that His power has not diminished with the passing of time.

So we can assume that God is still God,and that as God He can still do what He did hundreds or thousands of years ago.The reason then that we don’t see God performing the miraculous must lie elsewhere.

Of course,if you are a cessationist you believe that all miracles stopped long ago.That those things only happened for our admonition and pertained to the apostolic,or early church era.I do not share that view but believe that God was performing the miraculous long before there was a church,and it is His desire to do so today.

It is my contention however that the “Elijah’s of God”in our time have been derelict in their duties,resulting in a famine of the miraculous.Tough words indeed,and they hit home with me as well.

For certain,the word “miracle” is thrown around a lot today.Nearly every gospel crusade or event proclaims the presence of miracles.Just last night I listened to a man telling of the

incredible miracles taking place in Africa.They weren’t shown mind you,just talked about.

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Slideplayer.com

My minister brethren cringe when I say this,but I’ll go out on a limb here and say that 99.9% of Christians alive today have never seen a complete,instantaneous physical healing.

This must be one of the great tragedies of our time!

Many will take this lack of physical evidence and use it to make their case for cessasionism,however this reasoning is a scapegoat for our own lack of faith and is indicative of a culture of unbelief in our churches.

Far from being finished with performing the miraculous,I am of the persuasion that God still desires to work through His Church to do those things that only He can do.Perhaps a stumbling block to this is that we want the credit? Just a thought.

Over 2100 years ago God used another prophet to speak to the nations,specifically to this generation.This prophet’s name was Daniel,whom you may remember as being thrown into a den of hungry lions for refusing to bow to an ungodly decree.

This same Daniel had a message for the Church of our day that should cause all of us to think about whether or not the miraculous has ceased.This message is found in the book of Daniel,chapter eleven.

Those who do wickedly against the covenant he shall corrupt with flattery; but the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits.  Daniel 11:32 NKJV

Daniel looked into the future and saw the Antichrist deceiving the people of earth.More importantly,he also saw God’s people as strong and doing great exploits.In other words,if you believe as I do that we are living in the last days before the return of Christ,we are to expect God to show up through His people(the Church) and do the miraculous.

I must admit that I do not know when God’s Elijah’s will show up on the scene.I believe many of them are alive today,perhaps waiting for the clarion call from on High to go forth.One thing I do know is this:when they show up and begin to do exploits, we will not have to wonder if they are real.

Maybe YOU are one of God’s Elijah’s.Perhaps something is stirring deep within your soul that is calling you,drawing you to a closer walk with the Lord.If so,I pray that you heed His call and begin to prepare yourself.

God is still God.In the past He always did what He said He would do.

I am expecting Him to continue this pattern. After all,He hasn’t changed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Partnership or Ownership?

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If you listen to many of the more popular speakers in the church today there seems to be a consensus that God needs us in order to accomplish His will on earth.

Often,this reasoning is a result of misapplication of the word “Covenant”found scattered throughout both Old and New Testaments. For example:

Therefore know that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments;   Deut. 7:9

They have turned back to the iniquities of their forefathers who refused to hear My words, and they have gone after other gods to serve them; the house of Israel and the house of Judah have broken My covenant which I made with their fathers.”   Jer. 11:10

 And this I say, that the law, which was four hundred and thirty years later, cannot annul the covenant that was confirmed before by God in Christ,that it should make the promise of no effect.   Gal 3:17

that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.   Eph 2:12
These verses,and dozens like them point to the fact that when scripture refers to covenant,it is speaking about a solemn promise,or relational agreement that God makes with his people.
The prevailing thought today however is that covenant means that we are in a partnership with God,meaning that this is a relationship mutually dependent upon one another.
This thought process is a an outcome of the word faith cult that elevates man to god-like status. To understand the status that word faith teachers give to man is a topic I will delve into in a later post in great detail.For now,suffice it to say that word faith believers say that when a man is born again,he has regained his divine nature that they believe he had before the Fall. Because of this he is now able to (once again) use his divine powers of creation and domination. Sad though it may be,this heresy is creeping into mainline protestant denominations at a rapid pace and shows no sign of slowing down.
So the big question is this: is God really needing us to “partner” with Him in order to accomplish his will on the earth? Does the God of heaven need us in order to accomplish anything on earth?
Well, yes and no.
I believe God does wish to establish His covenant with everyone and scripture backs this up in many instances. We know that since the beginning God has desired a people with which to forge a relationship with,and to that end He has established his promise,or covenant with us, through His Son Jesus Christ.
For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. Matt. 26:28
 Jesus described a New Covenant that was brought about by the shedding of His own blood. This speaks to a relationship so intense as to be created,purchased,and sealed by the blood of Jesus Christ. He did not need a “ministry partner” to do this.He did this because of His divinity,and no one else ever had or ever will do such a thing again.
This is where those who believe that God needs us in order to accomplish His will on earth are in error. Does God desire that we position ourselves with Him so as to be available to be used by Him? Of course He does! If we fail to position ourselves in such a manner does the work of God come to a halt? Of course not!
God’s work cannot be stopped.If it could then He would not be God.
He desires for us to enter into a covenant relationship with Him,of this there can be no argument.But I would argue that rather than partner with us He desires to own us!
What do you mean, and how can this be?
Simply this.If we submit ourselves unto the Lord,and by that I mean complete submission to the point where my needs no longer matter,only then can the Lord actually use us to do the great work that needs to be done before His return.
Until and unless we are willing to submit to Him in such a manner,we can never know Him in the deep covenant relational manner He so earnestly desires.We will only go so far with Him before the flesh wins out and we begin to pull back into our comfort zone.
Those claiming that God needs us to partner with Him are attempting to either elevate man to a god like status or bring God down to their level in order that they would be considered as equals.And that my friends,is the crux of the issue isn’t it?
To be thought of as being so spiritual as to be equal with God.
The late Paul Crouch,owner of The Blasphemy Network (aka TBN) used to claim that “we are little gods”. Seems that he and millions of others who subscribe to such drivel forgot that there was another well known character who believed that.You might know his name as Satan,or Lucifer.
No, God does not need us. It is us who are completely dependent upon Him for everything. The very air that we breathe is supplied by Him.The water that sustains life on this earth is supplied by Him in the form of rain.
Not much we can do to partner in that,is there?
Be blessed!
Ron

I Know the Thoughts…

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Loneliness.

What has to be one of the cruelest human emotions is feeling like you are all alone in this great big world. To feel as though no one cares for you can be overwhelming to the point of debilitation.When you feel this way it seems as though God Himself has forgotten you.

There are so many who know this tragic state,and they come in all walks of life.See the homeless man on the corner?He understands the cold reality of loneliness.No family to call,sick,hungry,where will he sleep this cold wintry night?

See the wealthy socialite posing for the cameras?She too knows the despair of another night of solitude,away from the spotlight,away from the adoring crowds.She knows all too well that loneliness doesn’t discriminate.

And what about the lady next door,the one you see driving to church each Sunday? She knows loneliness as well,however her loneliness is from a different source than the others.Always quick to give out a word of encouragement to someone she knows is struggling,she is known as one who speaks the truth in love.

I’m sure you’ve noticed her in your church,haven’t you?She’s the lady who tries to shake hands with as many as possible before service starts.Nothing deep or overly spiritual,just a quick “welcome, we’re so glad you’re here today”.

She’s the one who calls the unloved just to let them know they are in fact,loved.She’s the one who sends out a card with a short,handwritten note that simply says “I care”.

The prostitute.The addict.The unclean.The unwanted.The rejected.She loves them all.

She loves deeply.And oh how deeply she hurts.For you see,her own phone never rings with the voice of encouragement.The daily walk to the mailbox never yields a card or a note,no reminders that someone cares.

And so she loves. And she hurts. And she cries. A lot.

She is confused.What has she done?Why has she been forgotten?She doesn’t understand why spiritual people do not sense that one of their own is hurting,and is so very lonely.

“God”,she pleads,”is there no one praying for me?Is there no one taking my name before your throne?Is this desperate loneliness my reward for doing the best I knew how to do”?

Suddenly,as if on cue,she hears His voice whispering softly to her:
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.   Jeremiah 29:11 (NKJV)

And she knows……..He does care.Oh how deeply He cares for her.

She doesn’t hear the heavenly choir singing.No thundering’s from the throne on High.No mighty angel band.

But she knows His voice.And she trusts that voice above all others.

She understands that while her Lord may not change the circumstances,He will make a way for her to endure this present season.

Loneliness

It doesn’t have to mean you have reached the end of your road.

It just might mean that it leads you down a different road,one that leads you straight to Him.

Be blessed,

Ron

An Interesting Idea

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I read a great article today on Linkedin that talks about what we’ve learned after finishing school.The article is about the Harvard class of 1989 and the results of a survey that 435 of those graduates completed.

The most compelling insights came from this open-ended question:

“If you could travel back to 1989 and explain your last 25 years to your younger self, what would that graduating senior have found most surprising?”

The answers from the respondents were very interesting and thought provoking,as well as entertaining.You really should click on the Linkedin link and read it for yourself!

So this article got me to thinking about my life as a Christian and the things I have done over the past 36 years.If I could go back in time 25 years what would I say to my younger self? And here is what I came up with:

I would have spent a lot more time developing lasting,loving relationships instead of spending so much time “doing church”. As much as I love the Lord,and He knows my heart,I realize now that I forsook those closest to me while I pursued what I thought was His will for my life.Had I known then what I know now I would have understood that “CHURCH” is not a building.It is not a denomination or an organization.It should never ever come first in anyone’s life.I would have understood that long ago I stopped being the church and started doing church.

If there is any redemption to my story it is that I can begin right now to nurture new relationships,as well as work on rebuilding those that have been categorized as hopeless.

Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation,
2 Co 5:18

Ron