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5 immutable facts about our Christian walk…

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There are many “non negotiables” concerning our covenant relationship with Jesus Christ. Here are five of them that should be required reading for us all.

“The saying is trustworthy, for: If we have died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself.”
‭‭2 Timothy‬ ‭2:11-13‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Determine in your heart to be faithful to the end….

Ron

He’s All I Need

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Have you ever struggled with something that was so much bigger than you that it seemed like a hopeless situation?  Perhaps the better question for many of us would be not if we have such a situation, but  how many of those types of situations are we struggling with!

Lets face it, in this world everybody is dealing with something. The size of the “something” might differ with us, but we all have our battles to fight.

But I love how the Word always seems to have just the right nugget for the particular situation we’re dealing with. Take the everyday battles we all endure, don’t they make you weary at times?  They sure do that to me.

That’s why I love the following:

Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You.

My flesh and my heart fail; But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Psalms 73:25-26

The Lord understands that we don’t have an endless supply of strength and energy. Our strength runs out,and to be honest we can get weary in our hearts and spirit as well. In fact, throwing in the towel might not seem like the worst option at times!

To offset our weaknesses, God takes over and gives us the necessary strength to keep going. You know how we know when God takes over? It’s when we sense His peace in the midst of the storm. That’s right,God doesn’t always remove the problem,but he is faithful to walk beside of us in the midst of it all.

Many of us have prayed for certain things such as healing, restoration, peace of mind, etc.,only to see the situation either not resolved or perhaps grow more serious. This leads us to ask one of those “questions of the ages”…

“Lord, why aren’t you answering my prayers. Are you not even hearing me?”

This can be one of the most disheartening things to deal with as a child of God, these unanswered prayers. What are we to do when we’ve done all we can do, when we’ve followed the script and still get no answer?

Well, I can tell you what one of the greatest men of the bible did when he was facing a similar situation. The Apostle Paul had a physical issue, exactly what it was remains a mystery, but the fact is he had a physical issue and he had prayed three times for healing.

And got nothing in return. No healing. Nothing.

Has that ever happened to you? I’ve lived it myself, and I’m pretty sure most of you have as well. We pray and pray, we do our best to believe and not waver in our faith, and boom! Nothing happens.

So what about the great Apostle Paul? This man prayed for many others and saw them healed. Why on earth did God not heal him?

Lets see what Paul himself had to say about this.

And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure.

Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me.”

“And He said to me,“My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  II Cor. 12: 7-9

Paul prayed three times for healing. Perhaps you’ve prayed hundreds of times more than that without an answer?  The truth is, Paul did receive an answer, it just wasn’t the one he was expecting.

Jesus told Paul that His grace was sufficient for his situation, and that His strength was made perfect in our weakness. Please don’t brush this off with a “well, some consolation that is”!

If we will learn to trust Him in all things, His grace will be enough to see us through. No one can adequately express why God doesn’t answer our prayers in the manner we ask Him to. Countless theologians have tried and failed. The truth is we want what we ask for.

Aren’t we like that in all things? We want it our way, and we want it now.

God however, doesn’t operate on our schedules. Well, at least He doesn’t on mine. He is not tied to a calendar or a clock, and it is for certain that His ways are higher than our ways. Meaning, it is futile to try and understand the why’s and how’s of God’s doings.

The one thing we can do however is accept that His grace is sufficient for our every need. Accept that when I’m weak, His strength takes over.

Acknowledge that He is all you need.

Be blessed,

Ron

4 Reasons Why Finishing Strong Is So Important

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

journey-with-jesus

Preston Hollow UMC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    great cloud of witnesses

    sarasmusings.wordpress.com

 

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

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

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

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

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

    can't give up now

    flickr.com

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

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

Be blessed!

Ron

 

 

 

 

 

Ashamed of the Gospel?

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We hear a lot of talk today about shaming. Whether it’s body shaming, food shaming,gender shaming or whatever else comes to mind, it’s all a form of ridicule. Taken to the extreme,which is of course how we think in our society today, any type of criticism or critique can be labeled as shaming.

I have found another type of shaming however that garners very little attention,if any, in the media. It’s called Spiritual Shaming. It happens when a Christian chooses to be led by God’s Word rather than the prevailing opinions of the age.

A Christian today is labeled insensitive, intolerant, a bigot, unloving, uncaring, and on and on it goes. Interestingly enough, all of these labels can more easily be attributed to the very ones using them than to Christians. But I digress.

As I said, no one seems to want to mention this type of shaming, do they?

Ridicule can be a very effective tool in Satan’s toolbox. It is used to damage, hinder,or even destroy ones Christian testimony. It is certainly not a new phenomenon, in fact here is an example from nearly two thousand years ago:

“Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, to which I was appointed a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles. For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.”    ‭‭II Timothy‬ ‭1:8-12‬ ‭NKJV‬‬.  emphasis mine

One can only wonder how much of the New Testament would not have been written had Paul been as thin skinned as many of us appear to be today. Ridiculed, or shamed continuously, he marched on, confident that his Lord would see him through every situation. He remained unashamed.

Where is that mindset among believers today?

I know that some Christians become offended at the Word of God. It convicts us of our sinful life styles and reveals the dark places of our hearts, and we don’t like that one bit. The Word demands that we do something about US!

That’s right, the Word will never deflect our own shortcomings elsewhere, it demands that we own them and do something about them!

It doesn’t change with every new fad, nor does it change with popular opinion. It remains unchanged,true, and steadfast. It doesn’t even ask if we like it! It does however require us to conform to it, not the other way around.

Ashamed of the Gospel? There was a time when I was new in the faith, and the case could be made that I was indeed ashamed of the Gospel. I didn’t like the shaming, the ridicule that came with my new faith,because it hurt. My lack of spiritual maturity caused me to take it personally.

That was a long time ago, and my once new faith has matured to the point that I now fully understand that it’s not about me, it’s all about Him. Shaming, ridicule, all of that is actually directed at the Christ in me, not me personally.

Because of that truth, I have nothing to be ashamed of.

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.”   Romans 1:16

Have a great day!

Ron

 

 

Missing: Spiritual Leadership in the Home

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In these chaotic days in which we now live,the absence of leadership,particularly Godly leadership,is most definitely contributing to the moral demise of our homes, communities,and ultimately our society.

It is a natural human tendency to look for leadership, as we’re taught from our youth that there is a hierarchy,or leadership structure in our homes, schools, and government that we are to follow.   Leadership

When people lack leadership at any level, they tend to look elsewhere. For the Christian, we look to the Church, or more specifically to our Pastors and leaders in the local church.

Unfortunately, even that is no longer a given, as evidence by the plethora of wannabe leaders looking to make Church a “career”, rather than a lifetime commitment to servant hood.

So what’s a person or family to do who cannot find sound,Godly leadership? If you are a Christian, you look inward,to those in your own home. In other words…sometimes you have to step up and assume the leadership role of your family.

After all, that’s what God called you to do! Yes…you are called to be the servant leader of your home!

The Bible has established a very clear leadership path for our homes and families, which is that the husband is to be the spiritual head of the family. The Apostle Paul gave perhaps the most in-depth explanation of this in his epistle to the Ephesian church.

Submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, …   Eph. 5: 21-33   ESV

Please note, I am fully aware that many will bristle at the word “submit”. Taken out of context, the word “submit” is a demeaning,humiliating term of subservient obedience. That is NOT however what the Apostle Paul is meaning when he used the word “submit”.

The term “submit” was used to describe relationships peculiar to Christian believers. By digging into the scriptures, we find that the true sense of the word describes the Christian grace of voluntarily yielding one’s preferences to another.

In other words, to “submit” in the Christian sense has nothing whatsoever to do with domination,or forcing one’s will upon another. NOTHING! And for you husbands that think this verse gives you a license to lord over your wives like some kind of ogre, think again. You are supposed to love your wife as much as Christ loved the church, even to the point of giving your own life for her!

love your wives

Pinterest.com

Of course, even the Biblical example of spiritual leadership in the home can present it’s own share of unique problems today. For example,the family structure in America is undergoing a radical shift away from the two parent household. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2016 there were nearly 12 million single parent households, with a staggering 80% of those headed up by single mothers.

Additionally, 1 in 4 children under the age of 18 — a total of about 17.2 million — are being raised without a father! So much for men assuming the traditional spiritual leadership role of the home. How can they, when they aren’t even there?   source: https://singlemotherguide.com/single-mother-statistics/

Is it any wonder then that our children’s lives are being wrecked by gangs, drugs, violence and despair? There is no Biblical family structure in so many of these situations, and lacking that many of our children are left to fend for themselves, often becoming easy prey to the streets.

Single mothers are attempting to provide the family structure,income, and spiritual leadership that God intended for BOTH the husband and the wife to provide. This is a HUGE problem! This is NOT what the Lord intended for our families, that they be ripped apart in front of our eyes.   women-in-christian-leadership.jpg

So who’s going to provide this much needed spiritual leadership given that the home is under such an attack? One thing is for certain, and that is that if families are to survive the spiritual onslaught they are being subjected to, and it is indeed a spiritual attack, God has to become the focal point of the home!

Whether the home consists of a husband and wife or a single parent, someone must step up and assume the role of spiritual leader. There can be no other solution. There MUST be a spiritual head in our homes.

There must be that “go to person” that prays for their family. There has to be a clearly defined spiritual leader that can offer Biblical guidance and wisdom to their children. And lest I be misunderstood, whoever is the spiritual head of the home must seek advice,counsel, and wisdom from each member of the family.

This cannot be a one man or one woman show! Spiritual leadership in the home that fails to seek input from others is not true leadership, it is equivalent to being a taskmaster ordering their subjects to obey his or her commands.

OK, you’ve read this very lengthy post. Now what do I do? Here are three simple ways to provide spiritual leadership for your family:

  1. Learn to pray for your family! Every day, the spiritual leader of the home should be taking their families to the throne of God. Ask God to cover your family with His divine protection.
  2. Pray for wisdom. Just as King Solomon prayed and asked the Lord to give him wisdom to rule the people of Israel, so should we be asking the Lord for such wisdom. Parents, especially new parents don’t always know what is best for their families. After all, it’s not like or children come with an instruction manual!
  3. Lead by example! Be the man or woman of God that you have been called to be. Be strong and courageous in the Lord. As David encouraged himself in the Lord, we too should look to Him as our source of encouragement.
Dear Lord

Beliefnet.com

My prayer is that we will assume our rightful position as spiritual leaders in our homes, whether male or female.

It is our only chance to take back what the enemy has stolen from us. Indeed, it is our only hope for a future!

Be blessed!

Ron

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Be all you can be?

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There is an increasingly popular sentiment in the world today that says God wants you to reach for the stars, that you were created without limitations, that you are destined to have it all. In short, utopia can be yours if you will follow the prescribed path to enlightenment.

Unfortunately for the millions of people who have jumped on this pleasant sounding and sensory appealing bandwagon, that isn’t what God desires for us at all.

Borrowed from popular belief ideologies shared by Oprah, Tolle, etc., a new religion of inclusion is  being created from randomly selected portions of scripture and other religious beliefs. Its purpose is simple: to convince their listeners that just as there is good in all religions, so are there many paths to God.

These promoters of this new “path to enlightenment”, which include leading proponents of the modern “feel good” prosperity gospel such as Jakes and Osteen, have in essence created a Christ denying philosophy centered on their man-made religion of self-enrichment and self-worth.

On the surface these philosophies appear to be perfectly harmless. After all, what could be wrong with wanting to enrich ones self-esteem? Or how could desiring “your best life now” be anything but a worthwhile endeavor? And hey, don’t we tell our kids to “reach for the stars”?

Here’s the problem: all of these philosophies, which are really nothing more than a newer version of rehashed Eastern Mysticism, require that a person look within themselves as the key to attaining their stated goals.

They elevate mankind to god-like status, capable of being in complete and total control of one’s own destiny, thus denying our Lord his rightful place as God. In essence, they require belief in Satan’s original lie to Eve that “you will be like God“. Gen. 3:5

Amazing,isn’t it, that we still fall for that same lie after all this time!

Perhaps most heinous of all is that millions of professing Christians are of the belief that these concepts are compatible with Biblical Christianity.

These concepts are, however, diametrically opposite of God’s plan for His creation. From the beginning, God has instructed man to look to Him as the Source of enrichment, enlightenment, inner fulfillment, and self-worth.

Do you see the very clear difference? Today’s path to spiritual fulfillment and enlightenment is built upon man as its own god. Contrast this with the Biblical foundation that Jesus Christ is “the way, the truth, and the life“, and it becomes easy to see that the train has indeed jumped the tracks.

Of course, all of this is really not new. As a matter of fact, the Bible actually foretold us that these attempts to supplant God with man would happen in the day in which we live. Listen to Paul’s instructions to Timothy:

For the time will come when they will not tolerate sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, will multiply teachers for themselves because they have an itch to hear something new. They will turn away from hearing the truth and will turn aside to myths.   II Tim. 4: 3,4  HCSB

Can any of us seriously refute that we are eye witnesses to this today? The model seems to be if you don’t like a particular statement in the Bible, simply replace it with one of your own.

Sort of like having your cake and eating it too!

In reality, what’s sad is not that so many false beliefs are springing up today. As noted above, scripture makes it clear that this would happen in the last days.

No, what is sad is that Christians seem to be void of any discernment between what “thus says the Lord” and what these false teachers are promoting.

Taking it a step further, the saddest part of all is that these popular personalities are teaching another gospel altogether. Listen to what Paul had to say about preaching “another gospel”:

But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.  Gal. 1:8   NKJV

Accursed? That is a very strong word isn’t it? Well, let’s also add this verse to the mix:

There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.   Proverbs 14:12   NKJV

So as we can clearly see, there is a very real danger in looking within ourselves as the answer to all of our problems. As the verse above states, there is a way that seems right to us. The way of self-preservation, or self-sustainment, is the way of the world. Always has been.

The wise however understand that our “help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth”.    Psalms 121:2

Be all you can be? Count me in,but count me among those who understand that for me to be all I can be, Christ must be at the center of it all.

Not me.

Be blessed,

Ron

Giving to the Lord: just money or is there more to it?

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Last night my daughter and I were having a discussion on giving to the Lord’s work, specifically in the areas of tithes and offerings. I always love having these types of discussions with her because her perspective tends to mirror those of her generation. Which, btw, don’t always line up with my own!

We talked about the origins of tithing, the Law, the how’s and why’s of Old Testament  giving, and finally how Jesus and Paul spoke of giving in the New Testament. To be sure, like most millennials she had lots of questions, which, believe it or not, I actually enjoyed.

We spent a fair amount of time talking about giving to receive a blessing, vs. giving as an act of worship. Since she has been raised in a Christian home, she has learned by observing her parents that giving to the Lord’s work is not optional, but rather a part of worship.

She has also heard conflicting views on the subject, particularly among those who espouse the “sow your best seed now to receive a blessing” crowd that permeate the airwaves today. Being a very bright young woman, it thrills me to know that she will not be numbered among those who succumb to such error (insert proud dad smile here).

We also talked a lot about the motivation to give to the Lord’s work. Do we give out of fear? Do we give because there is a “church rule” about giving? Do we give because that’s just what we do? As I said, she’s a bright young lady and has a lot of questions!

Our discussion concluded with the understanding that giving, like most everything else related to the Lord’s work, ultimately is an issue of the heart. We give to the Lord not to receive a blessing, but rather as one more type of personal worship. After all, it is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35).

We know that the Lord loves a cheerful giver (II Cor. 9:7), and as such we should not give grudgingly. As an act of worship, I believe giving should be looked upon as one more thing that we get to do for the Lord, not another thing we have to do.

For me, the highlight of our discussion was when she asked me “what about the poor, those that have nothing to give. Does God still bless them”? I think at that moment I saw my daughter in a different light, because she has a heart for the poor and underprivileged. I pray that she guards her heart well as she grows older and that she always remembers those less fortunate than herself.

Thankfully, she understands that as Christians we have an obligation to help the poor and to work to make their plight easier if possible. I wish all of us could come to the same conclusion because I think we could have a tremendous impact on our communities. If I really think about it, I can think of few things more pleasing to God than to aid the poor.

Tossing money into a basket or plate is one thing, the motivator behind our giving however is what is important. Giving from the perspective of a grateful heart is a wonderful part of our worship. A part that all are invited to participate in.

Have a wonderful day!

Ron

 

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