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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

 

 

Who is waiting on whom?

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Are we waiting on God?

Or is God waiting upon us?

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So much depends upon our personal perspective in the light of God’s Word,doesn’t it?

From our perspective, are we waiting on God to open the flood gates of heaven and pour out a blessing on us? We hear a lot about that don’t we?

Or is God waiting upon us to humble out hearts,acknowledge our insufficiency without Him,confess our sin,and be restored to Him so that we can be blessed? (James 5:16)

From our perspective, are we waiting on God to empower us to serve him in ways heretofore not seen?

Or is God waiting upon us to go forward in the strength and power that He has already given us?  (Luke 24:49)

From our perspective, are we waiting on God to “pour out His Spirit on all flesh…” in some version of a “last days revival”? (Joel 2:28)  How many times have you heard that?

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Or is God waiting upon us to accept His word that has already declared “But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel…” (Acts 2:16)

From our perspective, are we waiting on God to fill our churches with throngs of hungry worshipers so that we can then teach them all they need to know about the Christian way?

Or is God waiting upon us to obey the command already given to “Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled”? (Luke 14:23)

From our perspective, are we waiting on God to miraculously cause worldwide peace to break out on the earth,ushering in a world without poverty,violence,strife,and disease? As if God were a genie in a bottle maybe?

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Or is God waiting upon us to accept the call already given to serve Him, knowing that until He comes again,there will be no peace but rather division and strife?  (Luke 12:51)

At the end of the day,I believe we the Church spend an inordinate amount of time waiting upon the Lord to do things He has either already done or already told us to do.

Which leads me to conclude that God is actually waiting upon us. If we are waiting around for new marching orders there will be none given. They were issued to the Church nearly 2000 years ago. You might have heard of them before:

      The Great Commission: Matthew 28:19-20

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The Great Commission says to “GO”. What are we waiting for?

The High Cost of Negativity

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The following headline in today’s newspaper immediately caught my attention:

“Groups pump millions into negative ads in Ohio”

The amount of money spent to discredit and defame another person is staggering,as the following paragraph from the story details:

“Spending this year by independent political groups with confusing-sounding labels like super PACS, 501(c)(4)s, and 527 organizations will almost certainly surpass 2012, when at least $85 million was spent in Ohio on the races for president,Senate,and the House of representatives.”Negativity 2

Sure could use a little good news today.

So let me break this down a bit more. Here in Ohio we have some of the poorest counties in the U.S. In the areas of the state hardest hit by the recent economic downturns(think “coal”),the state employment rates are at or above 9.6%,far above the nations 5.1% rate.The highest unemployment rate(Monroe county)comes in at a staggering 13.4%!(Source: March 2016 Office of Workforce Development – Bureau of Labor Market Information).

The lack of quality health care and housing for tens of thousands of Ohioans is appalling.According to a University of Akron study an Ohioan is born into poverty every 18 minutes.Am I the only one who finds this nearly unbelievable? And what of the nation? The numbers add up to millions!

Lest we forget,Ohio also has the dubious distinction of having one of the nation’s worse drug addiction problems.It has gotten so bad the the heroin “problem”in Ohio is making the rounds on the national news outlets.According to a CBS news report of 4/26/16,twenty three Ohioans are killed each week by heroin.

Sure could use a little good news today.

So let’s see if we understand all of this. The state of Ohio has an enormous employment problem,some of the highest in the nation. It has a severe drug addiction problem,so much so that every week another 23 people are killed by drugs. It has a depressing level of poverty,which by the way is being added to at the rate of another hungry mouth to feed every 18 minutes.

So yeah,I think that about sums it up.That’s a lot of negative information,is it not? Kind of depressing isn’t it?

Sure could use a little good news today.

Too bad we aren’t hearing much in the way of good news. What we are hearing however is that the special interest groups that control the finances required to elect your favorite politician are spending nearly $100 million dollars on negative TV and radio ads.

Wonder how much they give to fight poverty…lack of health care…hopelessness?

And don’t forget: the other 49 states are doing the exact same things.

One hundred million dollars spent on negativity. Negativity 1

Can you see what I see? I see heartbreak. I see destitution. I see destruction. I see a colossal crime being perpetrated against humanity. I see greed running rampant and an attitude of “it doesn’t matter what it costs so long as I get my way”.

Please don’t mistake this post as one of trying to drum up support for any particular candidate or party.I try my level best to stay away from entering the political fray because I know that my personal political views will not mesh with the majority today.It’s simply not worth it.I don’t discuss politics and I don’t allow myself to be drawn into mindless debates.

I am actually embarrassed and ashamed that as a state and as a nation,what we currently have running for political office is the best and brightest we can come up with. Or rather that money can buy.

Do you ever ask yourself “how did we ever get this way”?

From a Christian perspective I am deeply concerned about the precarious position America finds itself in today.Our enemies have uncovered our weaknesses,and they are many.The constant bickering and in-fighting among the various political candidates is a direct outcome of their lust for power and control,and serve only to widen the gulf between themselves and a desperate populous.

Can anyone argue that we are not reliving the actions of another nation that at one time was blessed beyond measure because they obeyed the Lord God? As we in America continue the downward spiral into the darkest reaches of sin,we continue to mirror ancient Israel who willingly chose to accept the leadership of fallen man verse the divine mandates of a Holy God.

And the LORD said to Samuel, “Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them.     1Sa 8:7 NKJV

I ask you, how can we feed and clothe our people,how can we offer them an alternative to a lifestyle steeped in drugs,how can we create new opportunities for employment,when those who we elect to solve these problems have rejected the Lord in favor of corruption?

We need God. Whether you realize this or not,we need God.

More money is not the answer. Another politician is not the answer. Your preferred political party is not the answer. The Right is not the answer. The Left is not the answer.

And yes,in the interest of full disclosure even the church is not the answer.The wealthy church that does precious little to stem the tide of negativity in their neighborhoods has long ago abandoned it’s mandate of love and compassion.While the world that is outside the ark of safety in Jesus tumbles into an eternity without God,the church is more concerned with demonstrating it’s success and influencing the world.

All the while billions beg to see a demonstration of the power of the gospel.

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pastordaveonline.org

We are falling headlong into an abyss from which there will be no return,yet no one seems to care enough to acknowledge this.

The answer that America needs will not be found in an election booth this November.

It can only be found at the Cross, where we must repent of our backsliding deeds and return unto the Lord.

We simply cannot afford the high cost of negativity any longer.

The Power of a Praying Wife

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Thousands have no doubt read the book “The Power of a Praying Wife” by Stormie Omartian.I cannot say that I am among them,although I have seen the book in my house.I think it was given to my wife some time ago,and I’m not even sure if she has read it!

No matter,for as great as that book may be,I have my own story of the Power of a Praying Wife. A real life story.One that I live every day.

Especially today.

Let me back up just a bit and let you in on what’s been going on in my work life.While most who read my blog know that for the past nearly forty years I have been actively involved in about every facet of ministry there is,I also have a full time secular job with a very large company.

I wear many hats and have a great deal of responsibility,which of course also means I sometimes have a great deal of stress in my life.Like for the past several weeks.

I have been involved in an assignment that has pushed me to the brink on more than a few occasions and the associated stress has affected me in a not so good way.Tired,not pleasant to be around,consumed with a million details.You get the picture I’m sure.

So,what do most men do when faced with the sometimes overwhelming pressures and stress of business?

They push harder of course!

Which gets us what?

More stress of course!

Doesn’t seem to matter if you’re a saint or a sinner,I think men are just wired this way(sorry guys!).

Until you reach the point that you know you can’t do this anymore.

Not this way.

Something has to change.

My work day started at 6:00AM and almost immediately I was faced with a situation that overwhelmed me.And trust me…that doesn’t happen often or easily.

All day it was more of the same,and actually it grew more intense as the day went on.I text-ed my wife that I was downright frustrated,mad,and disgusted with dealing with this situation and that I had had enough.

Enter my praying wife.

Who promptly told me that this was nothing more than an all out attack of the enemy and that I should begin praying right now,because she was praying mightily for the very one who was the source of the stress.

Now I must confess that this was not my first thought.Praying is always good and yes,I am fully aware of the scriptures teachings concerning prayer.After all,I’ve taught others about it for nearly forty years!

So why did I suddenly forget all I knew in the midst of this battle?

Because that’s what the enemy does to us. All of us.He strategically gets our thoughts so consumed with something that we forget that SOMEONE has promised that “greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world”.

The enemy is a joy killer. He is a destroyer of hopes and dreams.  He is a thief who will steal even our very souls from us if he can. What he does mostly however is create situations that consume us to the point of getting our eyes off of Jesus,if even for a little while,so that he can tempt and discourage us.

That’s why I am so thankful,so grateful to be married to a praying wife!

The power of MY praying wife cannot be measured and it is a treasure that I am not worthy of.We have been through so much in our life together and we have come through it all because of her unyielding faith in the Lord.She is a precious gift that for reasons yet unknown was sent into the life of a lonely man one day many years ago.To say that I love her does not do her justice.I need her.I depend upon her.She is my right hand.

She reminded me today of a very powerful truth that bears repeating here:there is no new way.The old way works.Get back to it.She was talking about prayer.

It really does work.

Especially when it comes from my praying wife.

By the end of the day the stress was gone and the meeting I had dreaded for so long went wonderfully.My presentation went well and I breathed a huge sigh of relief.It was as if the entire stress charged atmosphere had been changed.

And it had.

Because when you have a praying wife who is in the midst of the fight with you,and you bring the Lord into the battle as well,victory is assured!

Be blessed,

Ron