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The Beast has been unleashed

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On December 31st, 2018, the Rev. Justin Hoke, pastor of Trinity Bible Presbyterian Church in Weed, California, posted the following on the church’s outdoor sign. [1]

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Unfortunately for Rev. Hoke, LGBT activists descended upon the church last Sunday, claiming the sign was “hateful.” Later, these activists vandalized the church sign. Far worse than that however was the shameful lack of support this pastor received from his congregation. Persecution is to be expected whenever one takes a stand for Godly principles, being abandoned by one’s congregation,however, is not. [2]

In light of that sad state of affairs, the Rev. Hoke was forced to write the following on his Facebook page a few days ago:

“As of today, I am no longer the pastor of Trinity Bible Presbyterian Church.

After much prayer and counsel, I have decided that it is best to briefly communicate what has taken place.

1. I was informed by our other elder that he felt he could no longer follow my lead as Pastor of TBPC.
2. I was informed that essentially all but one couple in membership would leave the church if I continued as pastor of TBPC.
3. Our other elder and the couple felt that those who left would likely return if I would leave.
4. Our other elder was agreeable to stay and assume the pastoral responsibilities.

Therefore it was determined that it would be in the best interest of the local body for us (TBPC and the Hoke family) to part ways.”

So what we have here is a minister of the Gospel who stated three irrefutable,Biblical truths on his church sign.

  1. Bruce Jenner is still a man
  2. Homosexuality is still sin
  3. God’s Word does not change,even if the culture does

Incredibly, his entire congregation (save one family) decided that it was better to side with the LGBT activists than their own pastor,and left the church. Rather than standing firm upon the truths of God’s word, this congregation bowed their knees to Baal, soundly rejecting God, His word, and their pastor. Instead of supporting their pastor and his family by upholding these truths, they took the cowards way out by throwing him under the bus.

The fact that this could even happen is evidence that the spirit of antiChrist, which has always been present (though largely kept under wraps), has been unleashed upon America and is no longer being restrained. This should serve as a warning to all Christian leaders that the freedom to declare the whole counsel of God is now a part of America’s past. [3]

Indeed, the Beast has been unleashed!

This is only the beginning of course. Don’t want to support an unholy agenda by baking a cake for a homosexual couple? Then you will be shut down so you can’t bake a cake for anyone. Soon, these events will become commonplace, hardly raising an eyebrow.

It isn’t too far on the horizon when the Devil’s advocates will sit in the sanctuary, secretly recording a gospel message, carefully listening for anything they can remotely twist into “hate speech” so they can call in their ‘activists’ and destroy more pastors and their congregations.

What these so called ‘activists’ are willingly ignorant of however is that these same tactics have long been employed by ruthless regimes of every type in order to weed out the “subversives” who seek to overthrow the government by their “heinous deeds” of worshiping God. The only difference between them and groups such as LGBT and others like them is that the latter have managed to garner the support of the liberal elite in both Hollywood and Washington D.C.

Thus, they wield an unprecedented level of power to destroy the family and as much as possible whatever is Godly by ascribing the words “hateful” and hate speech” to all who dare oppose them.

But let’s be honest here, shall we? Was it the sign itself that caused such an explosion of anger and hate from the LGBT activists, or is something else the cause of their outburst? Was seeing words that refute their lifestyle and their agenda really what triggered this explosion of hate from them?

Of course not! What so enraged these people was the fact that someone would dare condemn their chosen lifestyle.  What really happened here was these LGBT activists were making a statement. And that statement was that no one, not even God Almighty himself can tell them how to live their lives. This was all about spiritual rebellion against the authority of God to govern our lives according to His divine mandate.

This outburst is just the latest in what has become a predictable pattern by those who oppose God. Oh, to be sure the methods have changed, as have the players in the game. New strategies are being developed almost daily in order to destroy the family as God created it. Rest assured however, that the chief engineer behind these activities is Satan himself.

There really is nothing new about all of this. As a matter of fact, it’s been going on since Satan first appeared to Eve in the garden when he coerced her and Adam into disobeying the command of their Creator. It’s the same mindset today, only instead of cunning, stealth, and deception, Satan now uses an “in your face” attack designed to intimidate God’s people into surrendering without a fight. [4]

Those who are wise understand where all of this is headed. The ‘children of light’ understand that these are the beginning days of the time when the adversary would unleash his power against all that is called Godly, thus causing many to lose their faith. [5]

Rather than cower in fear at those who oppose God and all that is Godly, our assignment is to pray for those who persecute and seek to harm us. Jesus teaches us that our weapon of choice must be love. We are not to return hate for hate, but must rise above the hate from those who oppose God. [6]

Be blessed, and pray without ceasing!

Ron

 

[1] https://www.sacbee.com/news/state/california/article224506495.html

[2] 2 Timothy, 3:12

[3] 1 John 4:3

[4] Genesis 3

[5] 1 Timothy 4:1

[6] Matthew 5:43-45

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Substitute Preacher…

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As I mentioned in my last post, this past week I have been filling in for my Pastor, who is taking a few days off for some much needed rest.

Since we have both Wednesday evening and Sunday morning services at our church, I needed to prepare two different messages, and when you add in hospital visitation it was a busy week.

Well, not that busy, but busier than what has become my new normal since retirement.; )

If you’ve never done something like this, it is both exhilarating and somewhat frightening, especially if you’ve been “out of the saddle” for awhile. It also helps a great deal to know that there are people praying for you, and I sincerely appreciate those of you who lift me up in prayer.

A lot of prayer and study time is necessary to deliver God’s word effectively, at least that’s how it is for me. I understand that many ministers preach from a sermon outline they’ve purchased online, and many simply purchase an entire sermon series which they then tweak to fit their needs.

I decided long ago however that I could not do it this way, preferring instead to spend time in the Word and in prayer in order to hear from the Lord as to what He would have me to deliver to the congregation.

This is not something I take lightly, and I approach it as if the Lord Himself were listening. Which, of course, He is.

As it turned out, it was well worth the effort, and I am happy to report that both messages were received with a lot of sincere enthusiasm, and many reported to be encouraged and strengthened.

I count it a privilege to be able to pray with people who have been broken by the cares of this life. Hearing them pour out their hearts to God, and to be able to pray and weep with them is an honor I do not take lightly.

It is humbling to be reminded that the Lord will still use a willing vessel, and I am thankful for the drive and passion for ministry He has instilled in me.

Sensing the presence of God was just icing on the cake, and that makes it all worthwhile for me.

Have a great Monday everyone!

Ron

 

 

 

Business as usual?

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The other day my wife heard a somewhat amusing story about a pastor and his struggling church,and she thought I might want to pass it along via the blog. I thought it made a pretty good point and I hope you will agree.

Seems a church was struggling to make ends meet, and the situation had caused the pastor to inquire of the Lord as to why this was. The Lord responded and said “you are in the church business, but I am in the redemption business. If you will get in the redemption business, I’ll take care of your church business”.

Sometimes we get caught up in things and situations, and in doing so we forget who is really in charge and what is important. Some call this majoring in the minors, and that sounds about right.

The thing is, we all do it to some degree. It’s hard not to when you’re struggling to get by or are trying to figure a way out of a seemingly impossible situation.

It’s in these times however when we need to take a step back and remember that God is our Helper. We are not alone and have no reason to doubt or fear because God is with us.

The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed, A refuge in times of trouble.   Psalm 9:9

We have the assurance that we can trust in Him and that he will not forsake us. Our job then is to be about the Lord’s business. Or as my Pastor likes to say: “let go and let God”.

Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness,then these other things will be given to you. Matthew 6:33

If we are faithful to do that, to be about our Father’s business, he then is faithful to “supply all of your needs according to his riches in glory.”  Philippians 4:19

Be blessed!

Ron

Translation or Demonstration: which do we need more of today?

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As of this post, there are approximately 100 versions of the English translation of the Bible. Amazingly enough, I am old enough to remember when you could count the number of Bible translations on one hand! My, how things have changed!

We now have versions that have eliminated all of the “impossibly difficult to pronounce words”. There are also versions that contain word for word translations of the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek . We have Women’s,Men’s, Teens, Tweens, Children’s, Student’s, Leader’s, and New Believers Bibles.

Browsing online or through a Christian book store reveals a plethora of KJV,NKJV,ESV,NIV,NLT,NASB,HCSB,ISV, and about ninety other translations.

Confused yet? You should be.

Why do we have so many translations of the Bible when statistics show that only one in five Americans actually read the Bible? If we are to believe the data, it seems obvious that our attempts to make the Bible easier to read have largely been for naught.

Of course some will argue that if even one person is strengthened in their walk with Christ through reading one of the above mentioned Bibles it’s worth it, and I couldn’t agree more. I am thrilled that the Word of God is being presented in a manner so easily understood by the masses.

Yet somehow, the sheer volume of Bible translations hasn’t equated to stronger, faith filled Christians. How could they be, when the percentage of Bible reading is so low? Or as the Princess recently told me, just because man changes a lot of the words, man cannot change the heart.

Could it be that our focus is misdirected? Do you suppose that even with all of the available translations of the Bible we are still missing something?

I believe that we are. It’s a key component of our relationship with Christ, and it’s written on the very pages of the Bible we aren’t reading! Consider the following from  2nd Corinthians,chapter two:

1 And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God.
2 For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.
3 And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.
4 And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power:
5 That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.

In his 2nd letter to the church at Corinth, the Apostle Paul has just revealed to us the key component I was referring to. Let me explain.

It is not excellency of speech, for Paul said that he didn’t come spouting great sounding words, nor did he come declaring his vast wisdom. He could have, but that wasn’t his focus.

He did not come to them bragging about all of his past accomplishments, or of his powerful connections. Again, he certainly could have done so, as his resume was filled with them. What he did profess however was the knowledge of Jesus Christ and His resurrection.

Paul did not speak as to appeal to the wisdom of men, though he certainly could have held his own with the brightest minds of his day. Being a master of the Law, Paul was well versed in all aspects of communication, yet he made no effort to appease the conscience of men.

What Paul brought was nothing that would appeal to the carnal nature of man. What he brought to Corinth was a demonstration of the Spirit and power of God.

This is what I believe to be the missing, key component in our relationship with Christ: the demonstration of God’s power.

All of the things that Paul did NOT do or bring to Corinth, we have in abundance today. We have some of the most highly educated and knowledgeable men and women to be found anywhere in the world standing in our pulpits today.

We have men and women so eloquent of speech as to be capable of painting a thousand virtual masterpieces with their great swelling words, all designed to appeal to our carnal nature.

Yet what we desperately lack is a demonstration of the power of God. Please understand what Paul was referring to by the “demonstration of the Spirit and power”.

He was referring to the power of the Spirit to heal the sick, save the lost, and yes, even to raise the dead. Real power. God power. The kind of power that has become nearly extinct in our day.

While publishers continue to pump out more and more new Bible translations that go largely unread, the Church starves for a demonstration of the real power of God.

I must ask though, how can God reveal Himself in power when we don’t even know Him as the God of the Word?

Why is this so important? Paul gives us the answer in the last verse, where he says “That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God”.

Our faith, that precious commodity that we are to cherish and nurture as a precious gift, must not be in any man. No preacher, no pastor, certainly not a “pay for your blessing” televangelist. Paul declares that our faith should stand in the power of God.

As many of you know, in the hardest times of your life faith that is rooted in God will stand. Likewise, faith that is rooted in man will last only as long as the good times last. God’s power is infinite, and His supply has not diminished with the passing of time.

My prayer is that all who read this will commit their being to God,not man. That instead of running to the next conference or the next hot off the press translation, we will run instead to the Word of God.

Regardless of the translation.

Ron

 

“I want God to heal me,but…”

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I still remember hearing someone say those exact words to our pastor. A young man from church had been injured at work, and the pastor had asked him if he would like the church to pray for him according to James 5:14.

Now, the first reaction would normally be to answer “YES” to having the church pray for you, especially if you are in pain and unable to work. Especially if that was the norm for your church!

That would be the normal reaction.

That wasn’t, however, the reaction of the young man who was injured. His response was “well, I want God to heal me, but I’m expecting a big check from the state Workers Compensation and I don’t want to jeopardize that”.

Like most of us in the congregation, the pastor was stunned at his response. Quickly regaining his composure, the pastor said something along the lines of “well, let’s pray that God will heal you and that you will get the money you are anticipating”. I mean, what else could he say at that point?

What would your reaction have been?

Is it not strange how we say we want God, but we really don’t? On one hand we say we want God’s blessings, but sometimes our actions say we want them if

I guess it isn’t just kid’s “that say the darnedest things”, but do we really think about the things we say?

What does this say about us and about our relationship with the father? I think it says that we think way too highly of ourselves for one thing. Or it could say that we are confused as to who serves whom.

This attitude is reminiscent of one that appeared long ago in a garden somewhere. Remember the Garden of Eden, when Satan tempted Eve? Satan told Eve that if she would eat of the forbidden fruit her eyes would be opened and she would be like God. Even though God had been explicit in His instructions to Adam & Eve, they decided to roll the dice.

How did that work out for them?

There is an interesting dilemma in the church today, this idea that we can bargain, or negotiate with God. Of course, we’ve all heard or known of people who have said “Lord, if you will do such and such, I’ll serve you”. That’s not at all unusual.

However, we seem to have taken this thought process a step further when we say that we want God’s blessings, “but”…Are you or I in a position to negotiate with the Almighty?

This mindset is further proof that we are living in the time that Paul said would come where “men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful.…” (II Tim 3:2-5).

The young man at the beginning of this story, what happened to him? Well, he got his big check and spent it on all kinds of “stuff”. He did not however, receive his healing. It’s also interesting to note that he has not worked since those events of 25 years ago.

Oh, and lest you think this story was one that couldn’t possibly be repeated, you would be wrong. Just three years ago I had a lady from another church tell me nearly the same thing. She was also receiving compensation for a work related injury and was therefore hesitant to be prayed for.

What is it that you need from God? Healing? Finances? Hope? Comfort? Encouragement?

If we need something from our Heavenly Father, we cannot be double minded about it. When we come to the throne, we must ask in faith, with no doubting. The Bible tells us that we who are double minded are unstable in all our ways and we will receive nothing! (James 1:6-8).

Whatever your need this day, don’t try to bargain with God. Simply come to Him and make your needs known to Him. He is a rewarder of those that diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6).

Perhaps you are questioning whether or not God will hear your prayer,or whether or not you are “good enough”. If that’s you, I’d like to leave you with this verse to meditate on:

All that the Father gives me will come to me, and the one who comes to me I will by no means cast out.   John 6:37

Have a blessed Lord’s day!

Would Jesus ever sanction”pay to pray”?

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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.

 

This One Thing I Know

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There are a lot of very smart people in this world.

So smart that sometimes I wonder how in the world a person can accumulate so much knowledge in a lifetime.

You probably know people like this.People who seem to be on an entirely different plane than the rest of us.

Politically smart…Mathematically smart…Business smart…Theologically smart…

I’ve been thinking about who and what I am in the eyes of God,and one thing I am not is smart.

Oh,I’m smart enough to make a very good living.And I think I’m smart enough to know that the best thing I’ve got going for me besides my family is my relationship with the Lord.

Ah yes,there’s that word again…relationship.

I have been a Christian for over 35 years and in that time I have served in just about every capacity the church has to offer.

I’ve been a pastor,a church planter,an evangelist,a whole bunch of other titles,shoot I’ve even been a janitor!

For about 30 of my 35 years I have been behind a pulpit somewhere or another and that has defined who I am in Christ.

Not Ron the Christian man,but Ron the preacher man.

Or so I thought.

For the last couple of months I’ve been without a home church while I take a step back and regroup.This was a choice I made…..to be nothing except an anonymous Christian for a while.

I’ve seen too much of the ugly side of church.All the things that make people cringe when I write about them on this blog.The things that people don’t want to believe happen in church.

For a while I felt lost,as though my life had no meaning.After all,how could God use me unless I was busy doing church work?

It has suddenly occurred to me that I am much more than a Christian with a title.Much more.I am first and foremost a forgiven sinner now called a child of God.I am a witness of the power of His resurrection for He is alive in the hearts of His children.I am part of this big family of God.I belong to Him.

I am nothing without Christ.But with Him I am a complete man.

I am not “smart” in the way the world measures intelligence,but I agree with the Apostle Paul when he said this:

2:1 And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God.
2 For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
1 Co 2:1-2

To know Jesus and Him crucified.

Now,that is a smart man!

Be blessed,

Ron

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