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Why So Much Killing?

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Like most of America I was deeply saddened by the latest school shooting in Oregon this week.If I’m being honest I must admit that I wasn’t shocked,and that in itself is is a testament to how violent our society has become.Violence in America has become the norm,and whether we like to admit it or not,it is.

Let’s face it,violence has become so common place that it has lost it’s shock value.We shake our heads and bemoan the senseless loss of life,and then go about our business wondering quietly when and where the next attack will occur.In fact,only a day later and the topic around the water cooler is the football game.

Are you surprised by the level of violence in America? If not surprised,what are you? What emotions are you dealing with in light of the Oregon school killings? Are you angry? Are you hurt? Are you sickened by it all?

And what is the underlying reason behind all of this? Well,as a Christian I know that the driving force behind all of this is evil.It is the force of darkness being unleashed upon a society that has by and large rejected God.You see,we live in a society where men’s heart are cold and hardened by the deceitfulness of sin,and from what I read in the scripture it is only going to get worse.

“And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.”   Matthew 24:12

Of course,in America we don’t teach such things any longer,and even if we did most parents are not reinforcing it at home.I read recently of someone who stated that he simply did not believe in evil,that the word evil was just an excuse.Try telling that to the parents of one of the victims of this weeks murder spree.

I believe we in America,and especially the church, are in denial about what is taking place right before our eyes.For the past couple of hundred years the church has been only too willing to accept a new premise that there was no need to be concerned about the dangers of a last day rebellion against God, for after all one day the Lord himself is going to snatch us all away and spare us any suffering.Well guess what? We are living in the last days in the midst of a great falling away.

And you’re still here!

Easy believeism that says repeat this prayer and you are a Christian.Easy believeism that says suffering is for those “left behind”. Easy believeism does not require a change of heart,only that we fall in line with the millions of others who are pretenders for the faith instead of contenders.

“Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.”   Jude 1:3

Do these words hurt you? Do they offend you? That is not my intention.I seek only to call attention to the fact that we are fast asleep to the evil all around us.

Millions of words have been spoken already regarding this latest tragedy.Some,like our President, are angry and want to impose strict controls on who can possess a firearm.Others see the solution as one of arming everyone so that we at least have a chance to defend ourselves.Many are also speaking out about the lack of available mental health resources.Still others are taking the position that it’s the parent’s fault.

What I have yet to hear is someone willing to step out into the spotlight and state publicly that we are reaping the consequences of our own past decisions.That’s right…we have brought this evil upon ourselves!The society we now have is the society that has been created by a populous consumed with the ideology that God is dead,if indeed He ever existed.

We,by our insistence on creating a society where every man is responsible only to himself,have created a culture of death.We act as though we cannot understand why there is so much killing,yet think nothing of killing tens of millions in the womb because we pretty up the massacre by calling it “choice” instead of what it really is.We are delusional,we are willingly ignorant of the facts in the hope that “it won’t happen to me”.

How in God’s name could we ever think that we could end up any different when our hands are stained red with the blood of the innocent?We in America glorify death,we celebrate it and the forces behind it.We continually reelect politicians who will carry out our wishes for more carnage,lest by some miracle someone would actually be given an opportunity try and stem the (RED) tide.We have opened up a Pandora’s box of unprecedented evil,and yet still we refuse to humble ourselves before the only One that can save us.Yes…we have what we have because we have paid a great price to have it so!

In the verse from Matthew quoted above,Jesus stated that the love of many shall wax cold.We are witnessing just such a thing right before our eyes.The sinner who has continually rejected Christ continues to grow angrier by the day.His heart knows nothing but rage for he is angry at what he does not know.

But there is also this:the love of many Christians is waxing cold as well.Oh,we may not read about them shooting up defenseless citizens,but they are turning cold nonetheless. The lack of genuine Christian love is appalling today and it grows continually worse.You see,in the church there is a different “culture of death”. It is a culture of complacency,a culture of lack,and a culture of “you are not important enough for me to care”.

The day of the Oregon shootings I asked my wife when all of this would stop.Her answer? “When we get to Heaven”. She was 100% correct, I’m afraid.

Why so much killing?

It’s because we have supplanted the love of God for the love of self.

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

When life hands you lemons

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If you’re like most people, life has handed you your share of lemons.

lemons

Funny thing about lemons.They look pretty and smell great but if you bite into one you’ll find they are very sour.They are kind of deceiving if you think about it.Kind of like they aren’t exactly what they appear to be.

Life is like too,that isn’t it?

Things are going along really good and suddenly,out of nowhere,life hands you a bunch of lemons.

  • Disappointments
  • Hurts
  • Illness

All of a sudden you find yourself wondering “what just happened”? Can you relate to that?

The Bible is filled with numerous encounters of God’s servant’s whose live’s were interrupted by being handed a big bowl of lemons. One such example was a king of Judah,King Hezekiah.

Like most kings of old,they fought many battles with the armies that surrounded them.As you read the accounts of Hezekiah’s victorious battles in the book of Isaiah,you begin to understand that this man truly did love his God and sought to live a life that was pleasing to the Lord.

Yet just like all of us the day came when Hezekiah would be dealt a huge bowl of lemons.In chapter 38 of the book of Isaiah we find that the king was very sick,and ready to die.Read along with me….

In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death. And Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz came unto him, and said unto him, Thus saith the Lord, Set thine house in order: for thou shalt die, and not live.  Isaiah 38:1

Now,it’s one thing to be sick,even very sick.Maybe you have been there,at death’s door?

I know what that feels like because I was at death’s door when I underwent heart by-pass surgery.And thankfully I did not have anyone come to me telling me to set my affairs in order because I’m not going to make it through this sickness.I can’t imagine how that would feel!

But notice how in the next verse king Hezekiah responded to this bowl of lemons.

2 Then Hezekiah turned his face toward the wall, and prayed unto the Lord,
And said, Remember now, O Lord, I beseech thee, how I have walked before thee in truth and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in thy sight. And Hezekiah wept sore.   Isaiah 38: 2,3
The king’s response was to turn immediately to the Lord.  Wouldn’t we all be better off if instead of struggling on our own to understand the “Why’s” we would instead just turn to the Lord? And notice also how that Hezekiah reminded the Lord that he had walked before Him in a perfect heart?
Can we say that of our walk with Him? I only wish I could say that.Many well meaning people today like to tell us that we’re under grace(which we are)and that God understands our failures.Like that’s supposed to somehow take away the sting of failure!
Now look and see what happens next!
4 Then came the word of the Lord to Isaiah, saying,
Go, and say to Hezekiah, Thus saith the Lord, the God of David thy father, I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will add unto thy days fifteen years.  Isaiah 38: 4,5
Isn’t that amazing? One minute Hezekiah is sick and ready to die. A visit from the prophet Isaiah confirmed to the king that he wasn’t long for this world and he should make sure he had his will made out.This word from the Lord was all it took to get Hezekiah out of his sick bed and to begin calling on the name of the Lord.
Can I share something with you? When life hands us a bowl of lemons our first reaction ought to be to turn to the Lord in prayer and the Word because that’s where our strength to fight will come from!
The prayer of king Hezekiah got God’s attention.And you know what?He hears your prayers too.But we have to PRAY to be heard!So many times the enemy gets us discouraged and we don’t even think to pray,we just want to give up.
Yet God has a more sure word for someone today,and that word is to begin calling upon the Lord for your situation.Do not give up,do not throw in the towel.Pray with an understanding that it ain’t over until He says it’s over!
When life hands you lemons the popular saying is to take them and make lemonade out of them.And that is often good advice because attitude is everything when you’re dealing with difficult circumstances.
Yet when you’re in the battle of your life,lemonade won’t put the enemy to flight.It takes prayer to do that!It takes someone seriously calling upon the name of the Lord to know that He will hear.
The next time life hands you a bowl of lemons and you find yourself out of answers and helpless to figure a way out,do this:
PRAY!!!
Be blessed,
Ron

Much More Than a Lump of Clay…

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Jeremiah 18:1-6 (NKJV)
1 The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying:
2 “Arise and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will cause you to hear My words.”
3 Then I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was, making something at the wheel.
4 And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter; so he made it again into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to make.
5 Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying:
6 “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter?” says the Lord. “Look, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel!

I’ve written before about the potter’s wheel from the perspective of our heavenly Father molding and shaping us into the vessel He has ordained that we should become.I think all of us understand that this molding and shaping is all part of the overall process called LIFE and that we will never be a completed vessel this side of heaven.

Now I’d like to take another look at this potter’s wheel, a completely different approach to this shaping process.For example; how do we start out on this potters wheel?

The truth is that we all start out exactly the same.In fact, it doesn’t matter what your social status is,what your family’s last name is, or what church(if any)that you come from.No,the potters wheel is the great equalizer of us all.To put it bluntly, we all begin as the same lump of humanity in desperate need of a divine makeover.

For all of the matchless benefits of grace,for all of the times we have been forgiven,for every time we stood in need of an eternal advocate to plead our case before a Holy God,the truth is that Almighty God is a perfectionist and even a slight imperfection is one too many.

Almost is never good enough with Him.

Close may be acceptable in horseshoes and hand grenades but it just won’t cut it with God.

And let us praise His mighty name for this because you see if close was good enough,we might all be walking around as marred vessels with no hope of ever being all that the Lord had planned for us. Yet because of His perfectionist ways we are placed back on that wheel time and time again,ever being shaped into more than we ever thought we could be.

And lets be honest here shall we? This wheel can be painful and it can be lonely.It is often a wheel of rejection and hurt,of desperation and endless tears.Yet without this wheel we will never be a completed vessel.

Does this mean that God demands that we be perfect? No it does not,even though there are many examples in the New Testament that speak to our becoming perfect(this speaks to the condition of the heart,but that is for another post!).

Our perfection can only come from above,we cannot attain it in and of ourselves.If that were possible then has Christ died in vain and we are eternally lost in our sins.

A Lump of Clay? Maybe so, but that is just the beginning of the process.There is much more to come and the end result will be a vessel that will bring glory to God and not ourselves.

My prayer is that we will allow the Master Potter to perfect His work upon the wheel and that we will endure the process with love,humility,and patience.After all,if a diamond starts out as an ugly lump of coal before it is transformed into a beautiful jewel,how much more shall this lump of clay be miraculously transformed into something that the God of heaven can use for His glory!

Ron

A Day of Deception

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Like many of you,I often question many of the things taking place in the world today.

I mean, how could you not question the rampaging violence in our society,or the staggering numbers of starving and diseased people all over the earth? If we have a conscious at all, and certainly if we have the Spirit of God dwelling within us we must surely be aware that something has gone terribly wrong.

Yet on the other hand,I know people who believe that everything is great and that God is pouring out blessing after blessing upon this world.

I suppose if one wanted to one could say it’s all a matter of perspective.You know; the old half full vs.half empty thing.

Maybe it’s just me but being nearly 60 years old I believe I have lived too long and learned too much to bury my head in the sand and act as though everything is just as good now as it’s always been.

If I am to believe the Bible(and I certainly do)I must believe it all.I am not afforded the luxury to pick and choose the “nice” verses that are soothing to the soul and neglect the harsh warnings of trouble on the horizon.One look at the words of Jesus in Matthew 24 should give us a clear indication of what I’m referring to.

3 Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”

4 And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you.

5 For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many.

6 And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.

7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places.

8 All these are the beginning of sorrows.

The disciples had two questions to ask of Jesus,and if you think about those questions you realize that they aren’t much different than the one’s we are asking today.

In this short discourse Jesus gives a very clear picture of the conditions that will exist as the time of His appearing draws near.

In these six verses there is one warning that stands above the others.It is found in verse four when our Lord says to take heed,or be very careful,that no one deceives you.Why do you suppose He said that?

I believe it is because there is a spirit of deception in the world today.Think about this for a few moments.

Things that we have always been taught were true are being challenged on every hand.The cry of the world is that there can be no truth,therefore everything is permissible.

If I may be so plain as to say that the church today has become a purveyor of deception not unlike the world itself.

Which is why Jesus said that many would come in His name saying they are Christ,or of Christ,and deceive many.

Hardly a day goes by when we aren’t exposed to some new doctrine or belief system.What passes for Christian TV is hardly discernible from every other self help diatribe emanating from the world.

All of which begs the question: doesn’t anyone read their Bible anymore? Doesn’t anyone compare what they’ve heard with what was written?

Yes,we are living in the day of deception and many are falling away from their faith because of it.

Remember these words of Jesus:”in the world you shall have trouble,but be of good cheer for I have overcome the world.”

Even in a world filled with lies and deception, we can overcome it all because He has already overcome for us!

Be blessed

Ron

A Generation Who Did Not Know The Lord

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This morning we visited the Vandalia Christian Tabernacle in Vandalia Ohio, where Pastor Todd Hoskins pastors a great church that is full of enthusiasm for the Lord. Pastor Todd brought a great message from Judges 2:10 about a generation that did not know the Lord.

“When all that generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation arose after them who did not know the Lord nor the work which He had done for Israel.”
 
As I listened to this message I couldn’t help but think that this generation of Americans may well be the last one that knows the Lord. Of course that sounds foolish, but if we look honestly at the rampant sin that has engulfed our nation we must conclude that we are in serious trouble. It would appear on the surface that we as a nation have forsaken the old paths, not unlike the children of Israel did time after time. Look at what the Lord said to them in Jeremiah 6:16…
 
“Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein.”

 
If we forsake the ways of the Lord we are doomed to repeat the sins of the past and we cannot expect our end to be any different then the nations who have gone before us. It doesn’t take a genius to look around us and realize that we as a nation are determined to undermine the foundations upon which America has stood. People today are so unthankful, so rude, so self absorbed, seemingly caring for nothing but themselves. Yet I believe we have a choice to make. We can either bemoan the sad state our nation is in or we can do our part to try to stem the tide. What can I do, you ask?
 
First of all we can pray. Now, I know there are those that will say “well of course we can pray, but I want to do something”! Beloved, when we pray we are bringing Almighty God into the battle! There is nothing greater we can do than that. To call upon the name of the Lord for the restoration of America should be the mandate of every Christian in the world. It’s that serious folks.
 
I believe another thing we can do is to accept the responsibility to mentor someone in the faith. It is so easy to be critical and complain that this one or that one just isn’t doing it the right way, but have you and I stepped up to show them a better way? I well remember some of the saints of my past who have gone on to their reward patiently teaching me and working with me to help ground me in the faith. We need more of that today in the church. We need men and women who have been through the fires to walk along side those who are just starting out.
 
Would you consider doing your part?
 
Ron
 
 

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