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Why Are We Here: Part 2

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Recently, I happened upon an online discussion about abortion. A key hot button of the discussion was that several of the more conservative participants kept referring to abortion as murder, while those from a more liberal perspective felt that using such a strong word demonstrated a lack of wisdom and compassion.

It didn’t take long before the gloves came off and the participants seemed to forget that they were on a Christian site. In short order, it got ugly. Real ugly. Words were said that certainly did not reflect the love of Christ. Feelings were hurt, and in the end nothing changed except for the fact that yet another wedge was driven between brothers and sisters in Christ.

All of which left me wondering about something. Do we not understand that the enemy excels at getting us to focus more on the things that divide us, rather than the things that bind us together? It seems that we Christians are so naive and gullible that we take the bait and swallow it before we ever have the first inkling as to what Satan is up to!

Am I the only person who thinks this way? Are the differences between us so insurmountable that even Jesus cannot bridge the gap?

Abortion has been one of the tools that Satan uses to cause division in the Church ever since it became the law of the land. Of course, he has many other tools at his disposal, but because abortion is one of those topics that people on both sides of the fence are incredibly opinionated about, it’s easy for the enemy to use it to sow discord among the brethren.

Whether you agree with abortion or not isn’t really the issue any longer. I don’t agree with it, nor do I believe it is a “right”, but then again I (unapologetically) tend to look at life through the lens of Scripture. This puts me at odds with a great many things taking place in our world today, not just abortion.

Obviously, many people, and that includes Christians, would object to my rather simplistic approach to this subject, and I have no problem with that. I happen to believe that God’s family is much larger than some of us believe it to be, and as such there is plenty of room for Christians who believe differently than I do. Insert 😊

Therefore, knowing that abortion is here to stay, is our best course of action to berate and condemn those who have an abortion, or has God called us to a higher purpose? Are we to continue down the path of division, or should we be seeking God for wisdom in how best to minister to those affected by abortion?

How would Jesus respond to the divisive issue of abortion? And of even greater importance, what would be His response to those who have had an abortion? I believe we can get a glimpse into how He would approach the subject by recalling His interaction with the woman who was caught in the act of adultery. Scripture reference John 8:3-11

As the story goes, a group of men brought a woman to Jesus who had been caught in the very act of adultery. According to the Law, she was to be stoned to death. They were hoping however that Jesus would do something contrary to the Law so that they might have an accusation against him, thus giving the religious rulers just cause to eradicate him.

The story takes a very unexpected turn however when Jesus looks at the woman’s accusers and says to them “he that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone”. Their arrogant hearts condemned, as none of them were without sin; one by one they walk away. Can’t you just hear the stones dropping to the ground?

Jesus then looks to the woman and asks where her accusers are, to which she responds that there are none. Jesus then uttered what had to be the most gracious words this woman had ever heard. Deserving of death for her sins, Jesus tells her that neither does he condemn her, and to go and sin no more. Emphasis mine

This is how I see Jesus responding to the abortion issue. Notice that Jesus did not excuse the adulterous woman’s sins, but rather he acknowledged them for what they were, yet offered forgiveness instead of condemnation.

Jesus was much more concerned with forgiveness than punishment. Do you know why that was? It was because Jesus came to reconcile people to God. He could have delivered this woman to be stoned, but instead He offered her reconciliation! How amazing is that?

All of us have done things worthy of punishment, or worse. Some of us, like the adulterous woman, have committed sins worthy of death. Yet God, through His Son Jesus Christ, has chosen instead to forgive our sins and offer to us the gift of forgiveness and reconciliation.

Does this give us a “free pass” so that we can do whatever we want to do without consequence? Of course not. No one gets a free pass. We must repent of our sin and turn to Jesus.

‘‘He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation;

That is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation”.   2 Corinthians 5:17-19.  ESV

The Church has been entrusted with this message of reconciliation. We were not entrusted with a hammer of condemnation. Neither were we entrusted with the gavel of judgement.

Our ministry, our very purpose, is to extend mercy and reconciliation to a lost world that gropes in darkness. We can serve no higher purpose here on earth than to represent Jesus Christ in meekness and love to those left devastated and wounded by the poor choices they have made.

That we have made.

This world doesn’t need another argument for or against abortion. It needs the people of God to stand in the gap and offer comfort and hope to those who are struggling with issues that are bigger than they are. The world needs to see Jesus.

In all of us.

In every situation.

Be blessed,

Ron

 

 

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You Have Not Returned to Me

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All of us stumble and fall.

Every one of us.

Saints.

Sinners.

All of us.

Where is God when we stumble and fall? Does He turn a deaf ear to us and say that “you’re on your own”?

As all of us who have stumbled can attest,God is faithful to restore us again and again should we come to Him with a repentant heart.

The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.   Psa 34:18 KJV

But have you ever wondered whether or not you were important enough to the Lord that He would seek you out? Have you ever thought to yourself “am I even worth it”?

I mean,it’s one thing for me to acknowledge my sin and turn to the Lord asking for mercy.As a Christian I know that I must do this if I am to be restored to a right relationship with my Creator.

But what happens if we choose to continue doing that thing that displeases Him? Does the God of the universe wash His hands of us as if to say “well,I guess you will reap the rewards of your actions so you’re on your own”?

All of this brings me to a tragic story in the Old Testament book of Amos that reminds me of how far the Lord will go to recapture our hearts.The story is one that reveals the very nature of God’s heart and His longing for a relationship with His people.

1 Hear this word, you cows of Bashan, who are on the mountain of Samaria, Who oppress the poor, Who crush the needy, Who say to your husbands, “Bring wine, let us drink!”

2 The Lord GOD has sworn by His holiness: “Behold, the days shall come upon you When He will take you away with fishhooks, And your posterity with fishhooks.

3 You will go out through broken walls, Each one straight ahead of her, And you will be cast into Harmon,” Says the LORD.

4 “Come to Bethel and transgress, At Gilgal multiply transgression; Bring your sacrifices every morning, Your tithes every three days.

5 Offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving with leaven, Proclaim and announce the freewill offerings; For this you love, You children of Israel!” Says the Lord GOD.

6 “Also I gave you cleanness of teeth in all your cities. And lack of bread in all your places; Yet you have not returned to Me,” Says the LORD.

7 “I also withheld rain from you, When there were still three months to the harvest. I made it rain on one city, I withheld rain from another city. One part was rained upon, And where it did not rain the part withered.

8 So two [or] three cities wandered to another city to drink water, But they were not satisfied; Yet you have not returned to Me,” Says the LORD.

9 “I blasted you with blight and mildew. When your gardens increased, Your vineyards, Your fig trees, And your olive trees, The locust devoured them; Yet you have not returned to Me,” Says the LORD.

10 “I sent among you a plague after the manner of Egypt; Your young men I killed with a sword, Along with your captive horses; I made the stench of your camps come up into your nostrils; Yet you have not returned to Me,” Says the LORD.

11 “I overthrew some of you, As God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah, And you were like a firebrand plucked from the burning; Yet you have not returned to Me,” Says the LORD.

12 “Therefore thus will I do to you, O Israel; Because I will do this to you, Prepare to meet your God, O Israel!”

13 For behold, He who forms mountains, And creates the wind, Who declares to man what his thought is, And makes the morning darkness, Who treads the high places of the earth–The LORD God of hosts is His name.   Amos 4:1-13 NKJV  (emphasis mine)

This passage of scripture reveals clearly that our Lord will not just let us go to do as we will,but rather He will continually plead with His children to “return to me”. In other words,it isn’t as easy as we might imagine to “get away from the Lord”because as you can see,God will do whatever He needs to do to get your attention.

Why is that? Is it not because of your worth?

I once heard it said that for any soul to enter into Hell they would have to first get past Jesus,and I believe this to be true. The God who in times past sent armies to oppress His people in order to get them to return unto Him now has sent His only Son Jesus to stand between you and I and eternal separation from Him.

The God who in times past withheld even the rain from heaven to try to get His people to return unto Him now pleads with every soul to accept the Supreme Sacrifice that is His only Son,Jesus Christ as the only Way,the Truth,and the Life.

If you have fallen…get up. If you fall tomorrow…get back up.

You will find One reaching out to you with an unseen hand to pick you up,for He will not leave you broken and desolate.It is not in Him to abandon you in your time of need.

Many are the afflictions of the righteous, But the LORD delivers him out of them all.  Psa 34:19 NKJV

He delivers him out of them ALL!

You can return unto Him!

Be blessed,

Ron

An Interesting Idea

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ron

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

The Cross That Set Me Free

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As Easter is fast approaching, I find myself being drawn more and more to the Cross of Calvary. To me, nothing is as precious or more sacred then the Cross that Jesus suffered and died upon. It’s because of this cruel instrument of death that I am free from the chains that once held me bound.

I find it interesting that what some consider nothing more than a piece of interesting jewelry to wear around the neck can also be a symbol of hatred and disgust to others. Indeed, I can think of no other image that stirs the emotions of mankind more than the Cross of Christ.

Scripture presents a picture of the Cross described in many different ways. The Apostle Paul referenced the Cross by associating it with the words Offense, Foolishness, Obedience, Shame, Reconciliation, and a host of others. However you picture it or describe it one thing is clear: without it you and I would be forever lost with no hope.                                                  Image

 

Jesus is my Redeemer, my Savior, my very present help in the time of trouble.

He paid the debt that I could never pay,and for that I worship Him with all that is within me.

Be blessed,

Ron