Home

Stickers say a lot about us

3 Comments

I think those old,leather luggage trunks are so cool,especially the ones that have those travel stickers plastered all over them, like this one…

travel-trunk

One can only imagine the stories this trunk could tell,and the countless memories made in far away, exotic places would no doubt be joyfully shared for years to come. Think of the adventures! Each one of those old stickers is a story,and when you add them all up they would make quite a novel!.

Did you know that all of us have our own collection of stickers? That’s right,even if you’ve never left your home town you have them. And just like those on the travel trunk above,our stickers tell a great story. Stickers of a different sort,stickers of our life’s journey. Yours might look like the one above,or it might look like this one…

custom-luggage

Here’s the thing about these stickers. They represent events of the past,both happy and sad. Events that we cannot change or wish away. Events that are burned indelibly in our hearts and minds. Some wonderful,some not. Either way,they are part of who we are. And while all of us would like to focus on those happy stickers,the truth is that we often spend more time thinking about the not so happy ones.

Not that anyone needs reminded of this,but the devil does a great job of bringing past, painful memories back to life. Painful memories are one of his chief weapons in the battle for our souls. Do you know why this is? Because they are extremely effective at stopping our forward momentum in Christ,often to the point of paralyzing us.

Scripture reminds us that the weapons of our warfare are nor carnal (II Cor.10:4). That is because our battles are not carnal,but spiritual,and are fought with mind and spirit. Paul understood this, and to the believers at Philippi he offered the following as the guiding philosophy that drove him onward…

Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,   Philippians 3:13.NKJV

Maybe,like me,your life is plastered with stickers that remind us of things we wish we had never done,or that things had not been done to us. As an example,a lot of the stickers on the second trunk are my own. And I left off the really bad ones.

Perhaps,again like me,you struggle with the whole “forgetting those things which are behind”. If so,here’s a different perspective on the subject that I would like to share with you.

Many times when we read the Bible we lose sight of the fact that these men were not super human. Rather,they were cut from the same cloth as you and I. Still,we wonder how Paul could say that he had forgotten the things of his past. It doesn’t seem possible,does it?

Well,I don’t believe he ever forgot them completely. And I can absolutely guarantee you that Satan never stopped reminding him of them. When he said “forgetting those things which are behind” he meant that those events would always be a part of him,but they would never define him.

Though always present,Paul chose not to allow his stickers to hinder him from fulfilling God’s plan for his life. They had been set aside,placed on the back burner,a part of his life that while reachable,he no longer considered them essential to his mission.

What do you choose to do with your stickers?

Our vision of those things which are in front of us,blessings,joy,peace,and ultimately our salvation,is marred by the painful reminders of our past that are pasted like stickers on a baggage trunk.

Here then,is the secret to dealing with those unpleasant stickers. When we endure bad things,the memories of the event are forever etched into our minds. But like Paul,those events do not,can not define us because we are new creatures in Christ Jesus.

That God has done a new work in our hearts and lives is cause to rejoice! Do you agree with me that we sometimes forget this? We should be shouting that “I’m not the same any more”!

We should never forget that the battles of today are strengthening us for tomorrow.We know what to expect from the enemy,we know how he works, but more importantly we also know what our God can do!

Through Jesus the way has been made for us to live an abundant life ( John 10:10). A life of pressing toward the mark of our high calling in Jesus.

In spite of those stickers that have attached themselves to our lives!

Special thanks to my daughter Lindsey for her help with the artwork! You should check out her blog at https://thelindseyvibe.wordpress.com/.

How to choose between the wide and the narrow:part 3

3 Comments

In my previous two posts I’ve talked about the Narrow Gate and the Wide Gate,and how one leads to life and the other leads to destruction.

I’ve talked about who the “many” are that are heading towards destruction,as well as who the “few”are that are on the pathway to life.

I’m going to conclude this simple little study in this post by explaining how we can be certain we are choosing the Narrow Gate that leads to life.

So, how do we correctly choose between the Wide Gate and the Narrow Gate? I’ve thought long and hard about this, not wanting to offer up a great theological dissertation, yet at the same time not wanting to minimize what I believe to be the greatest decision you will ever make.

So at the risk of being guilty of over simplification, here goes:

Accept Jesus Christ as your Savior.

Wait…that’s it? That’s the key to choosing right verses wrong? That’s how I choose the Narrow Gate?

Can it really be that simple? What about all the rules, the do’s and don’ts? What about joining a church? Surely there is some sort of list I need to check off! And what about those good deeds I keep hearing others talk about?

No, none of that is necessary in order for you to make the right choice.

Certainly, after salvation there are important decisions to be made. That is another topic for another day. We’re talking about making that first step, and that first step is saying YES to Jesus.

Everything, and I mean everything, is secondary to accepting Jesus as Savior. The Christian life begins and ends with Jesus.

Now I’m going to say something here that may shock you. For all I know, it might anger you. Or worse!

If any blogger, pastor, preacher, teacher, Rabbi, priest, or any other religious leader tells you that their way is the only way, I want you to RUN as fast as you can away from that person.

The ways of men are simply that. They are not God’s ways no matter how well intentioned they may be. Proverbs 14:12 tells us that There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.

Jesus Himself declared that “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.   John 14:6   NKJV

The most important decision or choice you will ever make in this life is the decision to accept Jesus as your Savior. He is the Narrow Gate that leads to life, and He invites everyone to enter this gate.

Be blessed everyone,

Ron

No Matter What…

6 Comments

I will remember what you have done for me O God.

I have not forgotten how you spoke peace into my heart when I was at my lowest point so many years ago. Job 38:1,which I had read many times before, suddenly came alive in my heart that day when I realized that you are God even in the midst of the most violent storm. I knew at that moment you were going to rescue my soul from the waters that sought to drown me.

I have never forgotten that “encounter”.

It has sustained me and encouraged me more times than I can remember. It has left an indelible mark upon my heart,as if You knew all along that this would be a defining moment between us.A reference point that I could draw from again and again.

Like I am now.

Your word has been a constant in my life. Is it any wonder the Word of God has been described as “a lamp unto my feet”? Surely there can be no greater road map in this life than your word,a guide that directs us even in the darkest of nights. Like an old familiar friend, it always calls me back to its pages should I become slothful and inattentive to its beckoning voice.

the-unity-of-the-church-jesus-is-our-lord-thy-word-is-a-lamp-unto-my-feet-a-light-unto-my-path-1416064589nkg48

prayerpins.org

Through the years I have rejoiced at the transforming power of your word. I have been witness to seeing the hardest hearts melt when confronted with the message of hope and renewal found within its pages. I have seen grown men and women literally run to the alter under the convicting,yet loving wooing of the Holy Spirit.

I often marvel at what some men consider to be miraculous,or at the numbers of people seeking miracles, when by the simple act of a wayward soul repenting of their sins the angels of heaven begin to rejoice. What else can men do here on earth that causes celebration in heaven? Can anything be more miraculous than the Creator reclaiming one of His own?rejoicing-among


As much as I wish it were not so, I have also been witness to my own failures. I have faltered,fallen short on countless occasions,and no doubt disappointed many people. I find that even at this stage of my life there is still much I do not understand about this covenant relationship with our Lord. There are days when I still have more questions than answers. Is this how it is supposed to be? That this sense of wonderment about unanswered questions will serve as our own “thorn in the flesh” to keep us on our knees?

You know how hard I have tried to become one of “them”,to fit in with the crowd. I’ve joined their ranks. Several times. Sat through the classes. Studied their course materials.Taken and passed the exams. Have the sheepskin in the frame. Attended their conferences. Shook hands with the “right people”. Held titles and positions. Yet for all of that, I did not fit in. I could not bring myself to “go along to get along” when my conscious balked at the shallowness of it all. For this I am branded a “what might have been”. I’ve heard “I don’t know what to do with you” more than once.

Still,no matter what,I will remember what you have done for me O God.

I will praise you,for I remember your kindness to me these many years. Though men and denominations have long ago abandoned me,and many others like me by the side of the road,yet you remain faithful to me.Your mercy endures forever.

I confess that I struggle to understand why my phone never rings. Why my inbox remains empty. Why the invitations have all dried up. Why so many that I poured into over the years have forgotten that I exist. Could it be that since I am no longer in a position to help them ascend the ladder,I am of no value to them? The “amens”, the slaps on the back,the firm handshakes of approval,now there is nothing but silence.

if-you-live-for-peoples-acceptance-you-will-die-from-their-rejection

quotlr.com

Except from you O God.I hear your voice calling out to me daily.

Actually, I do understand. I am an embarrassment to the Laodicean church of this generation. There is no place for the likes of me in a church that has become so much like the world as to be nearly indistinguishable from it. I speak the truth in love,which means I refuse to soften the message for the sake of men; to do so would be to prostitute your Word.I am an anomaly,a throwback to a long forgotten age, an age before political correctness ensnared the church in its damning choke hold. I know no other way.

I will remember what you have done for me O God.

Where you are leading me I do not know,but time has proven that I can trust you to take me safely there.How I will get there remains a mystery,yet I know that you have it all worked out.

No Matter What.

I will praise You in this storm.

 

 

 

 

A Day Like No Other

4 Comments

Friday

We call it “Good” Friday

A day that saw an event that changed the entire world for all time.

An event so horrific and unthinkable as to defy the imagination.

crucifixion

bible-history.com

A day that saw the murder of the world’s only sinless man, who just a few hours earlier had been tried and found guilty of love.

That’s right; found guilty of love.

His only “crime” was that he willingly,lovingly offered Himself as the eternal sin offering that was necessary to take away the sins of the people. He did what was impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to do: He did not merely postpone sin from one season to the next.

He eradicated sin.

For all people

For all time.

What I could never do,He gladly did for me.

Precious

Priceless

Matchless

Holy

Oh,so Holy

The Crucifixion of Jesus was the the most brutal,horrific,inhumane,and barbaric method to kill someone.It’s purpose was twofold:

It was meant to kill,and it was intended to humiliate.

Death from crucifixion is slow,deliberate,and excruciatingly painful.After enduring the tortuous anguish of the cross,death from exhaustion and eventually asphyxiation is seen as a welcomed relief.

Crucifixion was seen as the ultimate humiliation.Stripped of his clothing for the world to see was in itself humiliating.The condemned is then hoisted high above the earth to become a spectacle to all who passed by.

Jesus…

Humiliated

Tortured

Murdered

All because of love.

Jesus said this shortly before His death:

17 “Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. 18 No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.”  John 10:17,18 NKJV

It was Love that was stretched on a cross that day two thousand years ago.

unconditional love

The unconditional love of Christ-Paul Washer

I put Him there

You put Him there

It was Love that kept Him there.

Someone said that love is not a religion,that love is a person.

Love is Jesus

A Day Like No Other?

Without question it was.

There will never be another day like that day.

There doesn’t need to be.

Once and for all,the atonement for our sins has been paid.

Be blessed,

Ron

If Only I Could…

6 Comments

Go back to a time when the church really did love the lost.When the church actually was a real part of the community and lived and thrived in the midst of the people.Where churches were located where the needs were the greatest and building committees were not focused on property values,but rather the value of a person’s eternal soul.

Back to a time and place when the prayer meeting was the focus of the church,and men and women cried out to God to heal their cities and save the lost.To a time when on any given Sunday morning all the attention was upon Jesus,not on the trendy pastor or how many varieties of coffee are served in the cafe’.

If only I could sit with the saints of just a few generations past and observe their walk with Christ.To see them living the gospel in a way that brought no special attention to themselves,but rather to Jesus alone. To hear their testimonies of how they overcame one obstacle after another through their faith in God,and to know that kind of rock steady faith that is in such short supply today.

Faith that brought them through.Faith that healed their sick children and supplied food from only God knows where.The kind of faith from a made up mind that knew that the Christ life was the best life,the only life.

 

I’m reminded from time to time that I have a tendency to spend too much time looking back,and not enough time looking forward.I suppose that comes from reading the scriptures for so long now and comparing the words of Jesus and the writings of the disciples to the world in which we now live.

I want the church to be the church that Jesus died for.

I can’t help it,I really can’t.For you see,everything in me longs for the church to fulfill it’s divine mandate,it’s purpose,to love.

Unconditionally…unashamedly…without reservation…without hope of gaining anything in return…freely.

I cannot remember the last time I saw or heard a minister of the gospel weeping over the condition of the church at large.And I wonder…where are the shepherds? Have they not gone the way of the world?Are our pulpits filled with hirelings and not shepherds? The way of the shepherd has been cast aside and in it’s place are cookie cutter impostors in skinny jeans developing 3-5 year business plans instead of developing the flock.Instead of preparing the flock for what is to come.

And we wonder: where are the miracles of days gone by? Where is the next generation of warriors? Where are those who have been to the mountain and heard from on high?Indeed…where is God?

Where are those who love their sheep with the burning fire of the love of God?

If only I could…how about you?

Be blessed,

Ron

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Be blessed everyone,

Ron

The Trappings of Modern Evangelism

2 Comments

Watching “church”on TV,online,etc…I find myself wondering if people (you know,the one’s in the pew) even read the Bible any more.It’s shocking to see and hear so many “amen’s” to things that are contrary to the teachings of the Bible.When did God’s people become so gullible as to believe that if the preacher said it,well it has to be true?If it wasn’t so tragic,it would be funny to watch people hurriedly writing down the latest kitschy or hip saying from the preacher.All to get you in the proper mood for giving, you understand.

If we are students of the Word then why does it seem that we do not apply the lessons of the Word to our lives?

Does anyone still believe that the Lord has given us His divine plan for how we are to live our lives? How is it then that we can read the Word of God and not be changed? How is it that we can attend church services and leave exactly the same way we came?How in the world is it possible that I can blindly agree with what is said from the platform,yet stumble at the teachings of Jesus?

How is it that our hearts have become numb to what “thus saith the Lord”?

Is it because the church today has made it so easy for one to join it’s ranks by simply repeating a prayer, signing a card, and attending a class? Is this all it takes? Then what do we do with this…?

“Now, therefore,” says the Lord, “Turn to Me with all your heart, With fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.”  Joel 2:12   NKJV

If I am to believe this Word, then God Almighty is telling me that I am to forsake my own will,my own desires,my own dreams and turn myself completely over to Him! But wait!! Even that’s not enough! God demands that I turn to him with fasting,weeping,and mourning as well!

In other words He is demanding that we acknowledge and repent of our sins with a heavy heart! Contrast that with the evangelism model of the church today that says “repeat after me”! WHAT?!

God demands,let me repeat that word again…God demands that we turn to Him with a repentant heart,not that we come forward in a meeting to repeat some simple words as if we’ve suddenly discovered a magic salvation formula.

The Lord said of Israel that “Everyone turned to his own course”,and we have followed in their footsteps.Instead of repenting we have chosen our own path, and in our arrogance we still expect God to bless and prosper us.Imagine that! Are we to honestly believe that we can have God and our sins at the same time?

“I listened and heard, But they do not speak aright. No man repented of his wickedness, Saying, ‘What have I done?’ Everyone turned to his own course, As the horse rushes into the battle.”  Jer. 8:6  NKJV

Jesus said that “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” Matthew 6:24   NKJV

Beloved we are required to make a choice! God demands we make a choice. We cannot have it both ways!

If you are attending church where there is no standard,where you never hear the word “sin”,where your pastor or priest never tells you that a Holy God demands that we forsake all and turn to Him, my advice to you is to run as fast as you can out of there!

“Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Repent, turn away from your idols, and turn your faces away from all your abominations.   Ezekiel 14:6   NKJV

I believe with all that is within me that there is coming a day when every preacher and priest is going to be held accountable for not declaring the whole counsel of God.For not declaring and upholding the standards contained within the pages of God’s Word, the blood of many will be upon our hands.

Modern evangelism is a mockery in comparison to the efforts of the early church,and the church of today is trapped in it’s clutches. In spite of the most beautiful churches and impressive technology on the planet that mankind has ever known,the world is headed to Hell uninhibited! And the church is powerless to stop this mad long rush into eternity apart from God.

Imagine just for a moment what Paul could have accomplished with this incredible tool we call the internet.No longer would he have been constrained by the long dusty miles between towns,or the distance he could cross by ship.The whole world would have been opened unto him and he would have taken full advantage of it! Why aren’t we doing the same?

Do we not yet understand that as the church goes,so goes the world? We have to face the awful truth that the church is not doing so good,and we are accountable to God for it’s inability to stem the tide of sin that is ravaging our cities.

I read just the other day where someone was stating that what the world needs is revival,and I wondered if that person knew the difference between revival and evangelism? Evangelism today is little more than a series of meetings where the preacher preaches and the people listen and go home the same way they came. Today’s evangelism is easy and cheap,and it’s fruit is nearly non existent.

Revival on the other hand is life altering.It is wrought from the anguish of countless hours of crying out to God.It comes from a sincere prayer for God to “create in me a clean heart,and renew a right spirit within me”. Revival is hard work.It is not easy or cheap,but will exact a huge price from us.

And we,like Israel,have “turned to our own course”.We have chosen the trappings of modern evangelism over true revival because it’s easy.And we want everything easy,don’t we?We have counted the cost of revival and decided that to stay the course is much easier.

Meanwhile,our nation is dying in it’s own filth and stench,the flesh of a once proud nation is rotting and putrid.Unable to save ourselves, yet we blindly trudge on following the same path that brought us to this point.For you see,for us to break free requires us to acknowledge,repent,and make the choice to serve God with our whole heart.

Something to think about…

Ron

Oh What A Season!

3 Comments

“And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.      Luke 14:27  NKJV

The Cross…

Yes,of course I know that this is the season of the Manger,the Magi,and the virgin birth of the Son of God.

My mind however,is not on any of those.My mind,and especially my heart,is on the Cross.

All of Christendom is rightfully preparing to celebrate our King during this Christmas season.

Choirs are rehearsing and the children’s play is almost ready for the big day.

I get it. I really do.I hear the wonderful Christmas songs on the radio.I love to look at the pretty decorations that have taken many hours to assemble.

In many ways I feel like a kid again at Christmas.My mind goes back to happy times as a child,laying under the Christmas tree for hours looking at the pretty lights.Hardly able to stand the wait until Christmas morning.

I hope I never lose that feeling,no matter how old I become.

Maybe you can relate?

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about Christmas,about Christianity.About us who claim that name “Christian”.About the One who authored it all.

I suppose there could have been Christianity without a stable and a manger,yet that is the way the Father ordained it.

There could have been Christianity without the angels declaring “peace on earth,good will to men”…yet that is how God ordered it to be.

And lest I be labeled a heretic,I guess there could have been Christianity without setting aside a day in December to honor Him who was born of a virgin.

Yet there could be no Christianity without a cross.

The Cross.That awful instrument of torture and death.That Cross,where no Wise Men were in search of the Bright and Morning Star.

No gifts were brought to THAT Cross.No gold,no frankincense,no myrrh.

No Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes surrounded by barnyard animals.

Tonight my mind is fixed upon a Cross.A lonely Cross.A desperate Cross.A bloody Cross.

Yes…THAT Cross.

Why the Cross? And why now? It’s almost Christmas time after all!

From a Babe in a manger to a King on THAT cross.

Birth to Death

Born to die.

For you and I.

This Christmas season my prayer is that in the midst of the twinkling lights and holiday gatherings,we pause to reflect upon the Gift of God.

The gift of that Babe in a manger.

Where Satan and every demon had to pause in sheer terror at the site of the One who was destined to destroy the powers of darkness for all time.

The gift of THAT Cross.

Where new life suddenly became available to all men everywhere,and the curse of death had been broken once and for all.

As we celebrate Jesus this Christmas season,let us never forget that He has charged us to bear our cross and follow Him.This is the only way we can be His.

Oh What A  Season!

What A Reason For This Season!

Ron

 

Older Entries