Thursday, November 17, 2011

For God's Sake, What's Wrong With Me?

Have you ever asked yourself that question before? I know I sure have many times. Like the time as a teenager when I got on the back of a Ninja motorcycle with a friend who liked to hit speeds of 130 mph. Or the time when I climbed 60 feet up Chimney Rock at Lake Martin just to jump off. There are numerous times that I have asked myself this question and wondered if there really was something wrong with me. I think we all do this at times. Even so, I find that I have asked that same question after doing something stupid, selfish, or just flat out sinful. The fact of the matter is that we all do this.

Having been a Christian for almost 30 years, I can still slip up and do a big piece of stupid. You know how it is when you do something dumb and you have to ask yourself that question; "What's wrong with me?". There have been times too in my faith walk that not only did I sin, but sinned big time and even enjoyed it for a season! (How many know that sin is fun and enjoyable for a while, but that does not make it right!) I remember early on in my faith that when I would lose my temper, throw a fit, and just do a big ole piece of stupid, I would ask myself, "What's wrong with me?. I mean I must not be a Christian for surely a Christian would not do that." I would feel bad about it and still wonder about my salvation. I must not be saved if I can get that mad and act that way, right? Then I would go to church and hear a message most likely confusing me even more. I would hear the preacher say something like; "Well, if you are a Christian you might sin, but if you stay in that sin then you just 'ain't' saved!" O boy! Here I'd go again feeling even more insecure and more confused about whether or not I was saved or not. I'd lie in bed at night thinking that I must not be saved and I would pray to God asking Him, begging Him to save me and to make me a Christian. After a long night of doing that I would wake up feeling much better and thinking 'I am NOW saved!' Phew! Much better. Then a few days, a week, or even a month might pass and it would happen again. I'd do a big ole piece of stupid AGAIN! I'd sin against God and against someone else and there I was asking that question all over again; "What's wrong with me?" Talk about frustration! I see this all the time and it is so unfortunate that it happens. I eventually got tired of this and simply went to God's Word for help. (Now there's an idea!)

My first stopping place I went to was the verse I had memorized when I had first trusted Christ. John 3:16! "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life." In basic terms, If I would only believe in Jesus, I would be saved. I remember praying after reading this. I said something like; "OK Lord, I believe this and by faith accept it as being true. Now Lord help me understand why that I, a born again, Jesus loving, Christian just keep messing up and sinning and at times sinning big?" He then led me to Romans 7. I found that the Apostle evidently had similar struggles! Booya! He did things he didn't want to do and didn't do things he knew he needed to do. Basically Paul said that even though he was a follower of Jesus, he still messed up and still did pieces of stupid. Talk about relief and comfort for me! We see this truth throughout Scripture. God's people have a tendency to 'still sin' and sin in big ways at times. Remember David? Samson? Peter? This doesn't mean we are not saved, it surely means though that Christians still have the propensity to sin and will sin and at times they will sin for extended periods of time. I am reminded of Jonah and also of Lot, whom God called righteous but lived in sin till they died. In 1 John 5:16 John makes reference to the 'sin unto death' affirming that a believer can actually live in sin till he dies and STILL be saved.

So, what am I saying? First of all I am NOT saying that sin is OK. Sin is WRONG and is never acceptable, but it is something we must deal with daily till we die. What's wrong with us then? The truth is; we are sinners saved by grace living in a fallen world with many enticements and temptations that the enemy uses to discourage, deter, and defeat us. There will be times of victory over them while there will also be times when we simply succumb and fall into sin. Even so, take courage! When you totally blow it, as I have done many times, get up, ask God for forgiveness, and press on! 1 John 1:9; We confess, He forgives! Now that's good stuff!

Now let's move forward in Jesus name!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

This is America! ... At Least For Now

(I wrote this as a Facebook comment, but decided to post as my blog.)

This is America, home of the Brave and land of the Free! This is America, not England, not Spain, not Mexico or Canada! This is America and we were birthed in pain, blood, and the lives of men and women seeking freedom from government control and tyranny. We wave the American Flag proudly. 911 reminded us that we are hated and despised as a nation and the enemy wants to destroy us and is bent on doing just that! Anything that deters, squelches, or hinders us from being America works in unison with those who want to destroy our country. Those who fight against the freedom to fly an American flag, pray, or bear arms strike at the heart of who we are. 911 proved that there are those who want us wiped off the face of the earth. 10 years later, it seems that most have forgotten. 

Maybe though it is deeper and more diabolical than we figured. Radical terrorists have not only infiltrated the USA, their ideology and their hatred has found sympathy with many. The enemy has snuck in and found sympathizers and has enlisted many who call themselves Americans all the while they hate the America that is free, that is strong, and that is the greatest nation in the world. Those Americans who hate America should leave! It is a sad day we live in when we have a president who bows to Arab leaders and apologizes for America being America. We are on a downward spiral and there are those right here in America, who call themselves Americans, who serve in our very own government as President and congress, etc. and those who pull their strings (George Soros, etc.) who are hell bent to bring America down and destroy that which we have truly enjoyed and held dear to our hearts - our freedom! 

Socialism is not freedom! Government Control is NOT FREEDOM!!! See, what is sad is that this country was formed as a REPUBLIC, NOT A DEMOCRACY! Republic is rule of law. A Democracy is majority rule. When the majority is conservative - conservatives rule. When the majority is liberal - liberals rule. Whatever is majority rules whether it be liberal, conservative, Islam, etc. If Radical Islam becomes majority, then they rule! They don't just worship Allah, but they make everyone else do the same and if you don't they KILL YOU!!!  

Radical Islam has been given a pass by many in this country because we need to be tolerant. Tolerant my hind parts! Tolerance says, if you want to worship Mickey Mouse, go ahead, just don't force that on me. There are those who are not only tolerant of Radical Islam but who cater to and give sympathy to. Don't dare mention Jesus or fly an American flag here in AMERICA but give preference to Muslims to build a Mosque on ground zero! We have crazy people making decisions now which will bring America down and I can't stand it! 

I can only say that the Bible is true! We are closer than we have ever thought! Spirit of Anti-christ is at work deluding the masses and clearing the way for The Anti-christ to come on the scene! People, I love this country and I am American through and through, red, white and blue, but this country is in the hands of the wrong people and those people are representative of a larger problem! There is something so much bigger at work here. 

I know I could be wrong (I doubt it though!), but I think that we are on the brink of something catastrophic! In one way, it is sad and it is scary, but in the other, it is exciting! The Bible talks about all of what we are seeing. In the last days, men will become lovers of self and haters of God! Think about it. How can so much hostility be against America and the American way of life by Radical Islam? They see us as a 'Christian' nation! I know we left that a long time ago, but they see us as such and they hate it because they hate JESUS CHRIST!!! 

I hold to the words Jesus said; "I shall return like a thief in the night!" Could it be that we are on the brink of the antichrist coming on the scene? Maybe? Maybe not! I am not looking for antichrist, but for Jesus Christ! Jesus Himself said He would come when least expected. I find that not many really expect Jesus to come any time soon. That is when He said it would be! Things are falling into place where the people of America and the world will become dependent upon government. Antichrist will make it where ALL must depend upon him or die. Thank God that Jesus said He would take His own out before The Antichrist comes on the scene! I'm ready! Are you? I love America! Will die for America and for the freedom we have, but it seems that we are so much closer to losing that freedom. I still hope that things turn around. I pray that they do! But, I know to that it may not happen. That's sad, but then as a follower of Jesus, I find it exciting as I anticipate the greatness of all He has in store for believers! Even so, come Lord Jesus! With all that is happening and all that is about to happen, good or bad, I quote an American hero of 911, Todd Beamer - "Let's Roll"!!!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Two Kinds of Christians

(The Difference Between The Spiritual Man & The Carnal Man)

By Scott Myers

John Calvin and Jacobus Arminius have been dead for years, but they are still stirring up a hornet's nest today! Well, at least their teachings are. Since the days of these two theologians, there has been a constant debate (and much arguing) in regard to salvation and sin in the lives of Christians. Calvin at least contended rightly that salvation is by God's grace, and that there was nothing that could destroy the believer's relationship with the Lord. Once a person is saved, he is saved for all eternity! (The life one gets at faith in Jesus Christ is 'everlasting', i.e., 'never ending'!) Arminius believed that it was possible for a 'sinning' Christian to lose his salvation. WRONG! Calvin, on the other hand went to the extreme in teaching that a Christian is not accountable for his sins because they were all under the blood of Christ, and that it makes no difference how one lives. WRONG! Arminians, those who adhere to Arminius' teaching, damn Christians who sin to hell. WRONG! So ... it's easy to see how these two systems of theology have caused many Christians to ponder the question; 'Is there any difference between a God-fearing, Christ-honouring, Spirit-filled Christian and one who is carnally minded, worldly ambitious, and self-righteous?'

OK, let's move ahead to our day. There are those who have gone so far away from the Scripture as to contend that if an individual sins after faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, it is evidence that he has not 'really' been saved. Such contention is not true because 1 Cor. 3:12-15 says;

Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

and Eph. 2:8-9 says;

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.

There are many other similar passages that also teach conclusively that works do not enter into spiritual salvation and that it is possible for an individual to be spiritually saved and yet not have a single good work to his credit. (The thief on the cross for instance had no works at all. A person who trusts Jesus on their death bed also will have no good works!)

The Word of God teaches that there are two types of Christians. The Word of God also goes as far and reveals a three-fold classification of mankind: The unsaved, called the natural man, and the saved, which are divided into two groups - the spiritual and the carnal.



The natural man is spiritually dead and lives life apart from any influence from God. Since he is spiritually dead, he cannot hear God or accept the things of God. Whereas the spiritual man is a Christian who is following Jesus and living life by faith, the carnal man, a Christian as well, but like the natural man he too is dominated by his carnal/selfish desires and does not live by faith. The carnal man IS a Christian! This truth is unequivocally set forth in 1 Cor. 3:1-4.

"Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly—mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans? For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not mere human beings?"

We can look back into the Old Testament for a classic example: Abraham, representative of the spiritual Christian, and Lot, representing the carnal Christian. Were it not for the statement in 2 Pet. 2:7, 8 that says;

"and if He rescued righteous Lot, oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men (for by what he saw and heard that righteous man, while living among them, felt his righteous soul tormented day after day by their lawless deeds)."

we would not know by the life he lived that Lot was a saved man. He was spiritually saved, but all of his works were destroyed. (Based upon their systems of belief both Calvin and Arminian camps would have to say Lot was lost!)

One of the most poignant truths in the Word of God is that Christians must give an account unto the Lord for the deeds done in the flesh as a believer. This is a repulsive doctrine to many Christians and for many it has never even been heard of! While the gospel of the grace of God has been taught, the doctrine of rewards seems to have been hidden or at the least obscured. For instance, how many Christians believe that heaven is a reward? Many hold to this erroneous belief all the while the truth is that heaven is a gift given to those who place their faith in Jesus Christ. Still, God's truth must be proclaimed whether man receives it or not. 2 Cor. 5:10, shows us that ALL Christians must appear before the Lord to be 'judged' based not upon whether we were saved or not, but instead upon 'how' we lived life once we were saved.

"For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad."

OUCH!!! By much that is preached and taught today it seems that this verse must not 'really' exist in Scripture ... but it does!

By direct statement, parable, type and symbol, the Holy Spirit has set forth throughout the Word from Genesis to Revelation the truth that faithful Christians will be rewarded and unfaithful Christians shall suffer loss. For instance, consider briefly the parable in Luke 19:11-27. Here our Lord shows that in the days of His absence His business has been committed into the hands of His servants. When He returns, the servants shall be called before Him to give an account of their faithfulness. In the parable one is given authority over ten cities, another is given authority over five cities, while the unfaithful one has no authority whatsoever; however, the fact remains that this unfaithful servant is a servant of the Lord and his spiritual salvation is secure, though there is no reward; no place of reigning/rulership which would give him honour and glory

Look at David. From David's experience in the wilderness reveals that many of the men associated with him, because of their faithfulness to him in his exile, were given places of honour when he established his kingdom. Many others, because of their unfaithfulness, though still in his kingdom, had no place of authority/rulership.

Notice 2 Tim. 2:12;

"If we endure, we will also reign with Him;

If we deny Him, He also will deny us..."

and Matt 20: 20-23.

Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came to Jesus with her sons, bowing down and making a request of Him. And He said to her, “What do you wish?” She *said to Him, “Command that in Your kingdom these two sons of mine may sit one on Your right and one on Your left.” But Jesus answered, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink?” They *said to Him, “We are able.” He *said to them, “My cup you shall drink; but to sit on My right and on My left, this is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by My Father.”

You will note in these verses that the position in the Kingdom is up to the Father and it is on the basis of works. Many unfortunately take what Paul is writing to Timothy is about is salvation. He's not! Paul is dealing with believers and rewards!

Truth: Spiritual Salvation is by grace, and rewards are given on the basis of works. There will be a time, the coming thousand-year reign of Christ, in which rewards to the faithful Christian will be manifest as well as loss to the unfaithful Christian.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Ministry of Darkness ~ Part 2

We've looked at the ministry of darkness and how there will be times in our lives when we are walking with Jesus, trusting Him, actively worshipping and loving Him with all of our hearts when all of a sudden without any warning the lights go out. This spiritual eclipse takes place and darkness surrounds us and overtakes us. God has removed light from our life and we wonder what is going on.

God has a purpose.
Have you ever gotten serious with God, your prayers began to get answered, you hear the voice of God clearly, and it seems all is well in the world? Intimacy with God is wonderful, your zeal for God is growing, and you sense Him like never before? You have that feeling of 'Yea, THIS is so cool'! Then one day you wake up and darkness surrounds you and dryness and emptiness is all you can feel. You don't see God, you don't hear God, and for some weird reason there is this tidal wave of doubt in that if for a moment or two you are not even sure God is even real. Been there and done that! If we are honest, we all have doubted. It is simply par for the course in the life of fallen man who has trusted Christ. It just happens. Not because we are not really saved or we have lost salvation, but because we are flawed and messed up. Even though we are saved, we still possess the 'sin gene'. Not only do we have the propensity to sin, we are going to sin and at times struggle in our very own faith in God. Just because I am saved does not assure that I will be exempt from struggles in matters of faith. I believe the opposite. I will struggle in the area of faith because I am saved. Face it, it's just not normal to trust someone we have never seen. We will go through things and be faced with situations and decisions that will test us and challenge us and it will be in some of these times that we will doubt, even doubt that God exists. Jesus never said it was going to be easy! As a matter of fact, nowhere in Scripture do we find that it will be easy. On the contrary Scripture proves it over and over that it’s going to be hard and difficult and at times overwhelming, especially when we experience dark dry spells.

NOTICE DANIEL – In Daniel 10:8 we can see that Daniel was exhausted! He hit the wall! He had no strength left in him. Daniel was God’s man, a man of strength, a man of spiritual power and stamina. Not long after he had seen great visions from God he experienced a spiritual eclipse! Daniel found himself physically and emotionally exhausted! Ever been there? Verse 9 says that Daniel was so physically weak that he passed out. I’m convinced that many Christians are tired and exhausted because they are just too busy, yes too busy doing church stuff, going through man-made motions, and doing 'busy' stuff that they don’t have time for God. This wasn’t the case with Daniel, no indeed! Daniel was exhausted for He had been with God! He had spent time not in a deacon's meeting, not in a business meeting, not in a Sunday School class; he spent with God! I must wonder, who of us today have exhausted himself in fellowship with the Living God? Have we ever? Hmmm...

REMEMBER DAVID? – David, a man after God’s own heart. Killed Goliath when he was only a teenager! He later became a mighty warrior for God and ultimately the king of God’s people. Went from mountain top experiences with God to another! Experiencing victory after victory, blessing after blessing. Anointed with God’s power and authority to overcome and defeat all enemies and enjoy fellowship with God Himself and yet experienced times when he penned the words “My God, my God why have you forsaken me? Far from my deliverance are the words of my groaning. O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I have no rest.” My God can't we feel David's emptiness? His despair? His helplessness? It is obvious from just this one verse found in the Psalms that David experienced soul darkness! He felt as if God had abandoned him, had left him all alone and hopeless. Wow! God's great and mighty warrior, God's man, His #1 man went down! I think because we are so familiar with this story that we strip it of much of its meaning. David was broken and greatly depressed here. Here is this warrior who had stood up to a Philistine army, killed thousands, and commanded the strongest army in the world crying to God. Wow! I know that sure makes me feel better right off. His pleading was; "WHERE ARE YOU LORD? HEY! REMEMBER ME???" David couldn't find God anywhere! Darkness had surrounded him! He found himself in a dark pit looking for God!

HOW ABOUT JESUS ? Remember the darkness He experienced in the Garden of Gethsemane? In His darkest hour on the cross Jesus Christ Himself cried out to the Father the exact words David voiced; "My God, My God why have you forsaken me?" Talk about make you think! Jesus, the Son of God, God in the flesh, experiencing soul darkness! Wow!

(I have to say it's when I read these stories that wonder about those Christians who seem to always have it together and never have such problems. I really wonder!)

But still I ask why? Many ask WHY??? Why must we experience soul darkness? Is there a purpose or something? You bet there is! Notice ...

ENGLISH PREACHER T. AUSTIN SPARKS experienced soul darkness after mountain top experiences with God. He said; “in order to go on to further stages of truth to further revelation, something has to happen to us. We go through new experiences of death, desolation, emptiness, hopelessness, in order to come into something further on and deeper in divine revelation. We thought we had come into the fullness of God’s thoughts. We thought we were really growing, seeing. Then everything is as though it is nothing… “My experience is that it is through such a history with God – a history of repeated desolation and emptiness, after wonderful unveilings and revelations – you are brought up out of that dry place again into something further on, greater revelations. And your vision is enlarged…”

Fellow Saints (Sinners who have been saved!) LISTEN UP AND LISTEN CLOSELY! IF you are seeking to follow the living God, I mean you are in this thing for the long haul, you WILL experience soul darkness! You WILL have dry spells! You WILL struggle in painful ways! Let me be clear ... SOUL DARKNESS is part of the journey! You’re not losing ground in these times! It's part of the Lord’s plan. Just press on and KNOW BY FAITH that God is with you! Keep on keepin' on and you will move toward higher ground, experience greater victories, and receive new revelation from God! Hang on brothers! Hang on sisters! God is preparing you for something GREATER! BIGGER! GRANDER!

Remember! IN the darkness, God IS WITH YOU! After Daniels time of darkness it says in Daniel 10:18; "Then this one with human appearance touched me again and strengthened me". There is a promise in this. Afterwards GOD WILL TOUCH YOU! We don't know how long the darkness is going to last, but once it has completed what God wants it to accomplish God will touch you!

SO ... Hang tough!!! Stay faithful! Don’t lose heart! STAY WITH GOD!

In the words of Paul in Galatians 6:9; Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.

Don't give in, give up, or give out!

Friday, May 27, 2011

The Ministry of Darkness Part 1

By Scott Myers

Has there ever been a time in your life when you just felt darkness. I mean you're praying, you're living for God, you're trusting Him, you're giving of yourself to Him, you're worshipping Him, yet in all of that it’s like the lights are out. Please understand that I’m not talking about times in our lives when we do a piece of stupid and embrace sin. I’m talking about when you’re doing everything right. You’re walking by faith and from all you can tell, you’re right with God, yet it’s like a spiritual eclipse has taken place in your life. The light has gone and vast darkness has overcome you. Ever been there? I have! It’s like being in a pit. Well that’s what Isaiah is talking about in Isaiah 50:10-11.

"Who is among you that fears the LORD,

That obeys the voice of His servant,

That walks in darkness and has no light?

Let him trust in the name of the LORD and rely on his God.

Behold, all you who kindle a fire,

Who encircle yourselves with firebrands,

Walk in the light of your fire

And among the brands you have set ablaze.

This you will have from My hand:

You will lie down in torment."

This text seems to give us the picture of a believer going through the inevitable – soul darkness. For many of us it’s unexpected, and for most of us, we just don’t know how to handle it. When the lights go out in our spiritual walk we need to know what to do. Darkness is simply the absence of light!

When the lights go out on this lonely road of faith, I have 3 suggestions.

SUGGESTION #1 - Keep On Walking!

The logical thing to do when the lights go out in the physical realm is to stop!

To stop whatever it is we are doing until we can get the lights back on. Well, in the spiritual realm this is not the right thing to do. If you are a believer, you are a spiritual being. Keep in mind that our emotional needs, our mental needs, and our physical needs all are spiritual needs! So then, what are you to do when darkness falls upon you? When light is withdrawn from your life? First of all, keep walking!!! Keep walking the walk of faith! Keep living for God! Keep doing that which you know is right! It’s so important that we not forsake our faith just because darkness befalls us. You see as a follower of JC we are on a grand journey and the basic need for this journey is 'faith'! It's trust! It's trusting God EVEN in darkness. The lonely road of faith we are called to walk on by God actually implies we walk on in faith in spite of the darkness that surrounds us! We are to keep praying, keep trusting, keep seeking and keep living for Jesus! We must keep the faith and just press on moving forward step by step in faith! Don’t stop! Don’t quit!

SUGGESTION #2 - Do NOT Create Your Own Light!

Secondly, when the lights go out DON’T LIGHT YOUR OWN FIRE!!!

Our natural desire will be to create some light ourselves that will substitute for the light of God. Remember, Remember, Remember, God’s light has been withdrawn. For whatever reason, God has done this! He has withdrawn His light and we should never, never, never attempt to replace it with our own light! Very big mistake if we do! Unfortunately many of us here try to do this. We try to light our own fire to take the place of the light God has taken away. Many reason we shouldn’t light our own fire!

Soul Darkness is Ordained of God!

Darkness is the absence of light; therefore, if there is a darkness that has come upon your life as you walk with Jesus, it is simply because God has withdrawn that light for a purpose. To make any man-made light will be to frustrate the purpose of God in your life and actually thwart whatever it is God is seeking to do in your heart. Think about this. Do you realize that night time is just as much a part of the day as the light is? God created the light and He also created the night! Just like darkness of night has a purpose, there is a purpose for soul darkness! I find it so remarkable that there are some things that you just can’t see except in the darkness! The moon, the stars! Meteor showers! Great lightning shows.! Passing comets! Only when it is dark can you see these beautiful creations of God! Soul Darkness is ordained of God and there is always a purpose for it. I believe that it’s during these times God wants us to see truths about ourselves and also truths about Himself in big ways, like a comet flying in the night sky! Maybe He wants us to see our faith and how strong it really is, or how it’s not, or maybe how faithful He is. Maybe He wants us to see something about ourselves that we can’t see when the light shines brightly!

Another reason we should not light our own fire;

Man-made light is Defective & Dangerous!

Abraham tried to make his own light and Ishmael was born. We are still paying for that attempt! Simon Peter in the Garden of Gethsemane attempted to light his own light and cut off Malchus’ ear. Our attempt to make light is a sure defeat, a mistake, a failure on all levels! Whether it’s church or just life, when we attempt to do it on our own, we mess up and we miss God! Our man-made attempts to fulfill the purpose of God are defective and dangerous and will never get it done!

SUGGESTION #3 - Lean On Jesus!

The passage said 'let him trust the Lord and lean on His God'! This isn’t a deep concept, but it really is a powerful one to say the least! Lean on Jesus! I do not mean to be simple, but it really is that simple. Trust He’s there; believe He's there with you and lean on Him! You see, God sends the darkness in our lives so that we might discover that even though the light is good, there is something even better than the light – Jesus! Even though the light may be gone from your life, God isn't! Jesus is always there! He’s always right there with you! Just reach out and take hold of Him! EVEN when you don't feel Him!

Soul Darkness will come at times in our lives and it's so important that we understand that it's during these times that there is something very important God wants to teach us. Or just maybe He wants us to enjoy Him instead of the light.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Putting On Socks

I have recently been reminded  that we truly are creatures of habit. We like that which is familiar and that which causes less friction and less problems. I noticed that every morning it's the same routine, day after day. Lay in bed till alarm clock goes off, turn it off, roll over and pray for my family and the day ahead, get out of bed get that first cup of coffee with my bible in hand, then the news on to see what happened in the world, shave, gym, back home, shower, dress, eat, off to work. Every day the same thing, over and over and over and over and ... I am sure you get the picture. Well, this morning something or someone said - DO IT DIFFERENT! I DID and I LOVED IT!

This morning I got out of bed, didn't drink coffee, went for a jog instead of hitting the gym. Wow! It was a little strange, but it was good! As a matter of fact it was real good! I enjoyed my jog and I got to see the beauty of the fog as it hovered just above the pond. I got to listen to the unusual hum of the 'red-eyed locusts' as they do whatever it is they do. As I returned refreshed, I continued to do things a little different. Such as ... instead of putting my right sock on, then my left, then my right shoe, then my left. I started with my left foot. To be honest, that really was strange for me, but I did it!

OK, I can hear it now ... WHY? WHY would I do that? Why even discuss it? Well, it hit me early this morning in my quiet time before I even got out of bed- so many of us go through life just going through the motions, doing the same thing every day, over and over and over again, never deviating a bit. Then I was hit again much harder! How many believers get stuck in religion, church life, and just a big ole religious rut all because they refuse to change. Sure, I understand that change is not fun for most (I actually like change most of the time!), it's not easy (thinking back to my socks and shoes), and it's definitely not popular (especially in traditional churches). One thing for sure is that while changes are not permanent, change is (Geddy Lee of Rush). Even so, because so many refuse to embrace change and take hold of something new, believers and churches all over America have become stagnant in their faith and are dying in the deathbed of routine. It's a sad reality.

Certainly Scripture tells us that Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever and that God does not change. Thank God that He doesn't change, but that does not in any way imply that He does not do 'new' things do things differently than before. Neither does it imply that we reject change. When was the last time you saw a lamb sacrificed or blood wiped on the doorposts? You haven't. Why??? Because God chose to do a NEW thing! He chose to do something different! Can you see Jesus bringing it up in a deacons meeting or a church business meeting to get their approval of feeding the 5000 or healing blind man? I can just hear it? "Are we sure this is what we want to do? I mean we have never done this before." or "Is it going to cost anything?" Or how about a favorite of mine; "What do the by-laws say?" AAAAGGGHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!! You may laugh, but this happens all the time because churches are filled with people who refuse to do something new or different and who refuse to even consider change.

Do you get the picture? So many believers get plugged into a church and get caught up in a religious routine and DIE! That's right! They DIE!!! Do we even realize that becoming a member of a church is not the goal? How many believers miss God all because they refuse to embrace newness and change? How many churches are dead and just filling up an acre of land all because they refuse to break out of the religious junk called tradition? More serious than that. How many lost people will never embrace Jesus because His children refuse to step out of their cozy comfort zone of routine church life and tell them about Him? This happens all the time all because we are creatures of habit and we buy in to the lie of settling into routine church life that never embraces real life. I have wondered about those who refuse to change when it plainly states in Scripture that the sanctification process is God 'changing' us into the likeness of His Son. Hmmm...! While change is not always good (I defer to our current political state), God calls us to be people who embrace newness of life that comes from intimacy with Him and that newness obviously requires change.

Start today, try something new even if it is to just get out of a cozy routine of putting your right sock on first. God is the same, yet He is always calling us to change and embrace newness of life. O yea!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Have We Forgotten What It Feels Like?

Have we forgotten the warm feeling of seeing a baby sleeping?

Have we forgotten the comfort we felt when we used to sit in our parents lap?

Have we forgotten the excitement of going to see grandparents?

Have we forgotten the thrill of jumping into a lake, pond, or river for the first time?

Have we forgotten the fun of playing hide-n-go-seek?

Have we forgotten the pleasure of running and playing in the yard?

Have we forgotten the satisfaction of a cool drink from the water hose on a hot day?

Have we forgotten the anticipation of our own birthday party or Christmas morning?

Have we forgotten the security of being tucked into bed by mom and dad?

Have we forgotten how our heart used to jump when we held hands with someone special for the first time?

Have we forgotten the butterflies when we proposed or was proposed to?

Have we forgotten the flood of 'YES!' when she said 'YES'!

Have we forgotten the sadness the first night away from our lover?

Have we forgotten the ecstasy we felt when we reunited afterwards?

Have we forgotten the love that overwhelmed us when first laid eyes on our children?

Have we forgotten the 'heaven' we felt when we first held our children?

Have we forgotten that nothing else matter when we were wrapped in the arms of our lover?

Have we forgotten the warm 'fuzzies' we felt when our lover just smiled at us?

Have we forgotten the warmth of an embrace from a loved one when the world was cold?

Have we forgotten the sweetness of sitting with our lover in silence knowing that all is well?

Have we forgotten the elation when our child crawled up in our lap and said "I love you so much."?

Have we forgotten the delight we get when our kids look into our eyes and smile at us?

Have we forgotten the little pieces of happiness we feel when the entire family sits down to a meal?

Have we forgotten the enjoyment of holding our loved ones and feeling their heart beat against our chest?

Have we forgotten the feeling when we really believed love was forever?

Have we forgotten how to feel altogether?

I hope not. If so, let's learn to feel once again and forever!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

My Thoughts: One Problem With Christian Men

When it comes to observations, I have many. I figured I would start writing down some and here is one that has been on my mind for a while now.

I find it odd that when it comes to Christian men, it seems that the world's impression of them being weak, spineless, and judgmental men for many is true. Let me explain. Paul Coughlin, the author of No More Christian Nice Guy says "Christian men are expected to be mild and amiable, though Jesus was far from mild and amiable. They aren’t expected to show much emotion either, especially passion, since the "ideal" Christian man is primarily stoic." This is exactly what many believe Christian men should be like and unfortunately many actually are like. This leads to an unhealthy tension for those who want to follow Christ or have just considered becoming a Christian.

For Christian men this undue tension between exhibiting strength and being Christ-like is an unfortunate constant. This should not be. For the reason mentioned above, so many equate being strong to being wrong. They equate toughness and boldness to badness and rebellion. For many, being tough and bold is bad and definitely not something a Christian man should be. This is just crazy! Our culture, which over the past 3 decades has done all it can to 'feminize' and 'de-masculinize' men and has produced a generation of spineless, pathetic, self-centered men who don't have a clue what being a man is all about. This demasculinization unfortunately crept its way into the church , found a huge reception, and now has basically taken over. Man, who was created in the image of a Warrior God has bought into the lie and as a result been hindered from becoming the man he was created to be. He's been trained instead to be nice and to reject any and all 'aggressiveness' and 'boldness' because it's just not 'Christian'. Instead of promoting and encouraging men to become warriors and champions for Christ and for their wives and families, Christian men have been taught to be spineless, emotionless wimps! I agree that in our world today aggressiveness and boldness is not 'Christian', but it certainly is Christ-like! Today's Christian man is not what God intended when He created man! God created man to be strong, vivacious, and passionate. He created man to take a stand for righteousness, to fight for it, and give his life for it if need be but it seems that there is an overabundance of just the opposite in our world and especially in our churches.

This tension leads to many problems for men when it comes to relationships and life in general. The fact of the matter is that man really does have this inborn desire to be strong, aggressive, and victorious. He has a God-given desire to show aggression, to conquer, and to win! When this desire is repressed, it causes problems. Aggression, if not allowed properly to flow, will manifest itself in destructive ways such as anger, irritability, and even rage. How many men mistreat their wives or children, yell and scream at children and co-workers, or just flat out irritable all the time? How many Christian men do this? Then there are those men who just don't really know what to do and simply check out emotionally. Teenage boys will find ways of releasing aggression through sports (which is great) or through negative ways such as fighting, rejecting authority, and unhealthy sexual relationships. Could it be this simple? I think so. I am not saying that all sinful aggressive acts of men should be blamed on this, but I would venture to say much of it could. Think about it. If a man is not allowed to express himself in the way he was created to, frustration will set in and will cause him to express himself in unhealthy ways. Christian men today are frustrated men because they don't know how to be the men God created them to be. Most don't have a clue what it is he is suppose to be! Most men are frustrated, unsure, and insecure.

Aggression is power. It's a force to be reckoned with and when that force is stifled, it will begin to buck and kick and seek to get out anyway it can. When man believes it is sinful to even have those 'wild' and 'warrior-like' passions, he will seek to squelch them out and 'resist' these evil urges. When he does all he can do to silence this inner 'sin' he finds that it's not really that easy. He finds that after his well intentioned efforts to restrain this 'sinful' aggressiveness, he still loses his temper ,blows up, or hangs his head in shame and eventually just gives in and gives up.

Now if he never overcomes this lie, man will become nothing more than a beaten down shell of a man. His spirit shattered, his will depleted, and his desire for adventure and excitement history! Churches are filled with men like this. For many, they will find a comfortable place of existence and accept mediocrity and lackadaisical Christianity while others will attempt to compensate by taking on roles of 'leadership' within the church. These spiritually impotent men who do find their way into leadership positions feel the urge to become the 'caretakers' of the 'things' of God and honestly believe that they are doing something for God by caring for 'the church'. Even though it is not based upon them being a man of God , they find some meaning and significance in life. This new role for these men produces a false sense of pride, also known as arrogance, ensnaring them in a system of such that is absolutely foreign to Scripture. This fabrication has hurt and actually destroyed many churches. Because these men are not qualified, nor are they spiritually mature enough, they become the blind leading the blind. What they call church now has become anything but 'church'. They take that which is spiritual and attempt to run it by 'unspiritual' means. Real spirituality is replaced by dead religion led by men who don't have a clue to the things of God. For instance, how many deacons honestly know what the 'mysteries of the faith' are? I know men who have served as deacons for years who cannot lead a lost person to Christ. Deacons, men who suppose to know the 'mysteries of the faith' who can't even tell someone how to be saved. This is an atrocity and yet our churches are filled with them!

Well intentioned yet spiritually impotent men become keepers of the crypt dedicating themselves to caring for a dead, or at the most, a dying institution void of all spiritual power and maturity. These men find themselves in roles in which they simply do not belong and out of ignorance and arrogance begin to run the church. They hide behind dead religion, domineering wives, and the very institution responsible for such. The only excitement these men experience is when they get caught up in arguing about and complaining about petty stuff revolving around institutional things, i.e. 'church stuff'. I have seen men who should be sharing the love of Jesus and the message of hope and salvation with others be overcome emotionally with the overwhelming need to call a meeting to discuss the silly, the absurd, and the ridiculous. I have seen grown men blow up in a 'business' meeting over the fact that the youth wanted to sell donuts to help raise money for camp. I have seen it where the church had to vote on whether or not it was OK to have an event to reach lost people. What?!!! I have seen grown men spew venomous hatred to staff over the length of Vacation Bible School or the volume of the song service. When a man will hide behind church by-laws and man-made traditions and neglect the hurting, lost, and dying, something is terribly wrong! Men so caught up in 'taking care of the church' have missed that which is really important. What a shame! What a horrible shame!

I honestly believe Satan's goal is to break a Christian man all the way down and then deceive him to believing that it is his responsibility to protect the institution of the church and all of its traditions. This will keep him from doing anything bold or outrageous for God! It will keep him spiritually paralyzed. Churches are filled with these men. They may be Christians, but they are lost men who have been overcome by the enemy and have failed to become the men God meant for them to become! It's a sad state! Instead of the 'church' embracing and encouraging men to be men, it has done just the opposite. Churches are filled with men who have never been validated, who have never embraced their calling to be men, and who promote the very same thing to others. May God open our eyes to see this lie and may we sharpen our swords (and our wits) and become the Warriors we were created to be! God set us free in Jesus not be religious eunuchs but to live life with passion and make a real difference in this world! Now that's real life!

Afterthought: I must mention that I know many godly men who serve in churches as deacons, elders, SS teachers, etc. who truly serve the people and minister to them according the Word of God and are real men of God!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Enemy's Strategy: Keep ‘Em From Taking Bold Steps!

In my tenure as a disciple of Christ, I have had my ups and my downs. Some of the ups have been higher than high and some of the lows have been lower than low! Someone has said that following Jesus is like being on a roller coaster. Well, that analogy seems fitting until you have truly hit the lows in following Jesus. The lows on a roller coaster are extremely fun and exciting, but the lows I have experienced in following the Lord are not fun in any way. As a matter of fact they have been some of the darkest and most depressing times in my life. Being a Christian is easy. Following Jesus is brutal and definitely not for the faint at heart.
Let me explain by asking a question. "How many of us would walk through Wal-mart or the grocery store and say to everyone we meet; "Hi, how are you? I just want you to know I love Jesus. Hope you have a good day." Seriously! How many? Would you? Have you ever done anything like that? Most of us would have to say "no, I have never done that". I am wondering just how many would say; "that's just crazy I would never do that!"? Sure that is extreme with some folks, but it should not be something that we would 'never' do. The fact is that most Christians just would not do it because of the fear of 'what' others would think of them. Who wants to be considered a weirdo? Who wants to be thought of as a fanatic? Who wants to be labeled a "Jesus Freak"? I mean come on, I love Jesus but let's not get carried away.

OK, let's calm it down to just a light roar then. How many of us would simply just do what is right when we know it's right? I can hear all believers saying, "I would!". Of course we all would, wouldn't we? I am not so sure about that. I remember shortly after I got saved and boldly saying that I was going to tell everyone about Jesus. Then I ran into a popular young lady and reneged on my commitment. I felt the pressure and caved! I did not want to appear weird in the eyes of this pretty girl. Sure I was a young believer but still that haunts me to this day that I wimped out. What I find though after years of following Christ that there are those within the body of Christ who do the same thing today. Not just those who are young in the faith, but so many who have been saved for years, those who are seen as pillars in our churches; SS teachers, deacons, elders, and even preachers! For instance, how many times have you ever wanted to clap in church or raise a hand in worship or just sing out with enthusiasm yet held back from doing so because you didn't want to seem weird. Don't even think of going down to the altar to pray. People might think you did something wrong. I say; "WHAT"?! If we hold back in these things, we can rest assure we will never do anything bold for Christ. That's Satan goal! Paralyzed Saints who are satisfied with going to church yet never crossing that line and embracing boldness.

I went to seminary with guy who got saved and started living for Jesus. He was from a religious family who was from another Christian denomination. Because of his stance, his family literally disowned him! He is a pastor today who still boldly follows Jesus! Jesus in Matthew 10:34-36 said; "Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man's enemies will be the members of his household." Wow! Those are pretty inflammatory words by Jesus. I find that many who follow Him don't know this verse or simply ignore it hoping it will never be brought up. My friend, following Jesus means taking bold stands that will cause others, even brothers and sisters in the Lord to ridicule, mock, and turn on you. If we are concerned with what people think of us, we will never do anything bold for God! The enemy's strategy is to play on our pride in order to keep us from taking 'foolish' bold steps for God! Then again, the foolishness of the cross is the power of God!


Thursday, January 6, 2011

Breaking Free

Part 1
By Scott Myers
Why is it that so many believers find it practically impossible to live the spiritual life and walk in the freedom Christ gives? Let me ask that in a different way. Why do we Christians simply find it hard to really live the Christian life? What I find even in my own life is that even though we love Jesus, want to truly live a life committed to Him, we simply fail and many times fail miserably! What’s up with that? Why can’t we just get this thing together? I mean, God saved us and gave us ‘new’ life, gave us His Holy Spirit to live in us, and gave us the power to live this ‘new’ life, yet it just doesn’t happen. What? Hasn’t it been said over and over again by preachers, pastors, Sunday School teachers, evangelist and even those who do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ that Christians are ‘supposed’ to live like Christians? If a person has truly trusted Jesus Christ and he has truly been born again and he has truly been saved then he will certainly live like a Christian and possess an overcoming life, right? WRONG! Wrong a million times! Sure, Christians ‘should’ live like they are Christian, but that does not imply, nor does Scripture imply or directly say that it is automatic. Even though many hold to this falsehood and proclaim it adamantly, Scripture just does not say that.
OK then, where does that leave the multitudes of Christians when it comes to really experiencing and living the life we have been given by God? How are we to really ‘break free’ and express this ‘new’ life and experience an overcoming life? If Jesus meant what He said in John 10:10, that He came to give us life and to give it to us abundantly, then surely it is possible to experience this life, isn’t it? Of course it is! The answer lies within the pages of Scripture. Let’s examine some scripture and glean some very important truths concerning this very vital, but very basic topic.
Scripture divides man in to different parts in order to distinguish not only who he is but also how he expresses himself. Scripture in one place talks of man being tripartite (three parts) while in another place it divides man into 2 parts. Let’s look at the latter first and learn the distinction and in doing so gain some transformational truth that will equip us with everything we need to break free and live life to the fullest and live as overcomers.
The Inward Man and The Outward Man
In Romans 7:22 the Apostle Paul says; “for I delight in the law of God according to the inward man” and then in Ephesians 3:16 he speaks of being “strengthened with the power by His Spirit in the inner man”. In 2 Corinthians 4:16 Paul tells us; but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.
The fact is that when a person is saved, God, in the person of the Holy Spirit enters into man’s spirit. It is at the moment of a person’s faith in Christ God supernaturally brings man’s dead spirit to life as He takes up residence inside of man’s spirit bringing spiritual life and salvation – one in the same. The spirit of man is the very core of man and is what Scripture refers to as the ‘inner man’. It is this place, the spirit of man, that the Spirit of God resides and fellowships with man and man with God. This inner man died when Adam and Eve sinned against God the first time and is what comes to life when man exercises faith in Jesus Christ for the first time. It is man's spirit.
If the spirit of man is the core of who he is and represents the inner man, then just what is the outer man? The outer man, as Paul referred to as decaying deals NOT with his physical body, but instead with man’s soul. The soul, ‘Psuche’ in the Greek refers to man’s thinking (judgment, how he thinks), his emotions, and his volition (will). All of these are that which is in a fallen state. Man’s judgment, emotions, and volition (man’s will) stand in direct contrast to God’s will. The spirit is housed within the soul while the soul of man is housed within the body. The tripartite nature of man speaks of his spirit, his soul, and his body. It deals with him having a spirit, being a soul, and living in a body. Our subject at hand deals with the first two – the spirit and the soul; the inner man and the outer man.
Therefore the inner man is where God resides and fellowships with man while the soul is how man expresses himself. It must be understood then that if we are to ‘break free’ and experience real life, that abundant life, then our inner man must break free. It is in this breaking free that we find the ability to live life as we should – free in the Spirit. In other words, our inner man, our spirit mingled with the Holy Spirit must be set free if we ever expect to live that life! That means that it has to break through something. It then becomes obvious then that our inner man must break through the outer man. The inner man is housed or ‘shelled’ in the outer while the outer is housed in the body. The inward man must be released and this is where the difficulty lies. Many followers of Jesus Christ find themselves wanting to live that abundant life Jesus spoke of, but simply cannot do it. The willing and the wanting to are there, but the actually doing is not to be found. This is because the ‘inner man’, his spirit wants to but cannot break forth and live. It is hindered from breaking out and being set free. God desires that our inward man break forth and be released, but it’s not easy. Let’s look at a passage in John.
Jesus gives us a great analogy in John 12:24. “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.“ Can you see the principle here? This illustration sets a foundational truth concerning believers breaking free and living the life God intends for us to live. When a grain falls into the earth and dies it brings forth ‘new life’. The grain must die and dry up and burst open in order for the life that is inside the grain to come out. If the grain does not crack open, the life will never come forth. Notice that the grain must die. The grain is the shell of the wheat and it must die and crack open in order that the wheat come forth. Life is on the inside and must find its way to the outside if it is to live and bear fruit. This illustrates exactly what must take place with believers.
Notice what Jesus said in the very next verse. “He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal.” At face value, it would seem that Jesus changes the subject or at least take a different direction, but in reality He explains his previous statement. The word Jesus uses for ‘life’ is that Greek word again ‘psuche’ (soo-kay) which we get the word ‘psychology’. The word itself that means ‘soul’ or as here is translated as ‘life’ actually refers to the life we live. Remembering that it involves three parts; the intellect (how we think), our emotions (how we feel), and our volition (what we choose to do, i.e. our will). Verse 25 could also be translated as’ “He who loves his soul loses it, and he who hates his soul in this world will keep it to life eternal.” Remembering that life = soul = how we think, how we feel, and what we choose to do.
It then becomes obvious that first of all that Jesus is not referring to spiritual salvation for that comes about through faith in Jesus. This passage deals with verities other than eternal salvation, something beyond the spiritual salvation moment. When a person is saved, he is saved for eternity and does not have to worry about keeping it (saving/preserving it) to 'life eternal'. He has it and it is secure. The reference to 'keeping it or saving it to life eternal' refers to obtaining and keeping an overcoming life that will somehow have an impact in eternity. When we hate our life and deny our own ‘thinking, emotions, and volition' now in this life, the inward man will emerge and live an abundant, overcoming 'God' life AND we shall get something later for doing such. Notice Jesus said that he who hates his soul/life now. Hating one's life is equivalent to 'denying oneself, taking up his cross, and following Jesus'. Giving up one's own life now is sowing it to God and the keeping it to eternal life thus means giving up something now and getting something yet future. Denying one's life is work. It's hard work and it takes effort. Sowing is work! Whatever a man sows, he shall reap. Spiritual salvation is a gift that cannot be worked for, so that means the life that is kept to life eternal is something else. Gifts cannot be earned, rewards must be earned. The reaping must deal with God rewarding a person in the future for giving up his life now. The spiritual life, the abundant life, that inner life, the life of the inward man and the reward of such a life is what is in view here, not eternal life.
What we find among those who possess the life of God (i.e. who are saved), many simply do not bear it! In other words, not all who have God’s salvation experience it. Among those who possess the life of the Lord are either in one of two distinct conditions: imprisoned and unable to break free or set free and expressing life!
Now back to the great illustration. Just as the grain must die and break in order for the wheat to break forth and bear fruit, so must the outer man die and break in order for the inner man to break forth and bear fruit. Our souls must die in order for our spirits to emerge and release life!
The question then is not how to obtain life, but rather how to get that life to come forth! There must be a breaking forth and we must find just how that is to take place!