It is terribly sad to turn on the news virtually everyday and see what new horrific deeds have happened while myself and my family were sleeping. Beheading’s, mindless killing and destruction in Baltimore, sex trafficking even the murder of unsuspecting people in the House of God attempting to learn a better way to live their lives in a wicked world. There are so many emotions that have gone through my mind during the tragic past few days that I can hardly contain myself. This senseless killing should never have happened and yet as difficult this pill is to swallow, there is no reason to think that this type of hate and violence won’t.
As you are reading there will be some that will and have already thought,”You are nuts”. Maybe. What I will say in this brief message will not be heard, understood or even considered by many if not most. So let me just throw this out to ALL of the news outlets and politicians out there, “We can not eradicate evil.” We can’t do it. All this talk about the why these things happen. Is it fatherless homes? Is it gun laws or the lack there of? Is it poor education? Is it drugs? I say no. These things certainly contribute to bad things happening but they are merely symptoms of a much bigger disease.
Warning…I am going to use scripture to show what’s going on in an attempt to help any believers that are distraught and confused and hopefully encourage any non believers to at least to put away any thinking that the bible is a bunch of fairy tales and at least look at the wisdom in this book. The world that we live since sin entered the world has been violent – the first murder where Cain killed his brother Able and from that has continued to spiral downward and get progressively worse. In Gen. 6:11 we read, “God saw that the earth had become corrupt and was filled with violence.”
Scriptures like Proverbs 6:17 and Isaiah 59:7-8 and many more scriptures speak of mans evil ways that lie, is proud and seeks the innocent to kill. There is a lack of peace and harmony among mankind because we have thrown away our moral compass – not lost it, as losing something suggests an accidental misplacing. We threw it out the window. Man has never liked being told what to do, even if it is for our protection. Just look at our children. No one has to teach a child to lie or disobey parent and truthfully, many times parents think that it is cute when a child says “NO” or uses explicit profanity. Just listen in the work place or the schools how people speak to and about each other. The more we push cultural humanism, the more wicked the world has become Why? Because we have as Romans 1:25 says, “traded the truth of God for lies“. We no longer accept or recognize truth but have create our own version of truth; one that suits our “modern” life styles.
In our pride, in our arrogance and in our achievements that we call progress, we have decided that we don’t need God anymore. We are smart. We have money. We have fame and fortune. We have technology at our finger tips. We have closed the door on our God and said, “We don’t want you”. We do this and shake our fist at heaven saying, “If we can’t have same sex marriage, we don’t want you God!” If we can’t have Kaitlyn Jenner’s, we don’t need God!” If we can’t do whatever we want that pleases us and brings immediate pleasure to our bodies then we give God the finger. We have created everything that we could ever want and while things SEEM great, for a while, there is something missing – a huge void. Knowing God
Pause for just a second. Christians, we can call people out for sin. We can categorize sin into levels ranging from bad to worse. We can stand on our soap box and proudly claim our exemption. If that is you, then just go ahead and run for office somewhere. You will fit in just fine. We need to to love folks right where they are, in their sin because somebody loved you and me right where we were in ours and let the transforming power of God do the changing in peoples life. God always has His way and His plans can never be thwarted.
Will behavior modification remedy this worlds problems? Will stricter gun law reduce violence? Will a stronger military stop the bad guys? Doubtful. The problem is sin and sin can only be dealt with by the power of God. Will these things help? Sure, in the short term and I am not against them. But evil always raises its ugly head and when it does, it has gained momentum. History shows that the one thing that we have learned from history is we haven’t learned anything from history. By that I mean the historically (bible history) that if you keep pushing God out, garbage comes in.
Should things like Charleston killings happen? No. Beheadings? No. 911? No. Sex trafficking? No. Will they continue? Yes they will unfortunately…Until Jesus returns. He died to put and end to our enslavement to sin, and evil and twisted thinking but many choose the opposite way of life and the result in chaos, unrest and a lack of peace and they force this on others and the result many times is great loss of life, pain and suffering. My prayers go out to ALL people, of ALL races and ALL ways of life that that would find peace in the only place that true peace can be found – Jesus.
I recently ran across an email suggesting some various articles that were supposed to be worthy of reading. (As a pastor of a small church plant I get a lot of these) The first article a saw was written by a 37 year old male blogger that refereed to himself as a “cis gendered male” in a separate blog. Now don’t read anything into that. I added that part because I had never heard the term before. The email pointed to a response to an article from Relevant Magazine titled “5 Really Bad Reasons to Leave Your Church“. The response was titled “5 Awesome Reasons to Leave Your Church” and the blogger/author said it all boiled down to one real reason, “My needs aren’t being met“.
This, I found, was a troubling statement. Never in over 2 decades of studying the scriptures have I found one passage that said that people should come, have come to the church/temple or the the Lord to have their needs met. I find this to be a growing problem within the church. As I refer to the church, please keep in mind what the church is first as the people of God; second, a body of believers that meet, eat, pray together and encourage one another. Now I’m not talking about people that came to Jesus in order to be healed. I am talking about people that come to the church, sit down and in a sense say “Gimme”.
This mentality is killing the church partially due to…the church not standing on TRUTH and picking little pieces of truth that they can fly a flag of protest on. TRUTH, not some truth, not a truth but TRUTH. A huge problem is that people come in with their hands empty and hearts closed and want their hands to be fills (metaphorically – what can I get) and the heart is off limits (Metaphorically – I ain’t changing).
Why is this a problem? Should we not come to church to receive a message and learn from God? Well, that is what most pastors would hope. But consider this, Where is the sacrifice of praise? Where is the GIVING of ourselves? Where is the idea of GIVING ourselves wholly to a holy God? Most people want to come to church, get inspired, maybe their toes stepped on, shake a few hands, listen to some toons but give…? Give ourselves to God not take take take. It reminds me of a story I heard about a dad who reluctantly was convinced by his wife and 8 year old son to come to church instead of watch the football game. After arriving at the church and complaining about the crowd, the guy on the 2nd row that owed him 20 dollars, the singer that was off key, the offering plate was past. The dad squirmed as he thew in a $1 bill. All the way home the dad ranted about his experience at the church. Finally his son who was listening to every word piped up and said, “But it wasn’t bad for a dollar.”
This I hope you understand is not about money but what WE give in terms of ourselves. We should be giving of ourselves to the work and ministry of the gospel message and less about taking. We need to start opening up our hearts to God’s truth. I believe that the only reason to leave your church should not be about the music, the style, the bible version that is used by the pastor but this…IF biblical truth is being taught or not. If the truth is subjected and twisted due to the culture, science or political pressure then I can’t be a part of the fellowship until such time as there is repentance. Now that being said, I have an obligation to go to the pastor, elders and leadership to point out any unscriptural error in teaching. First though, WE have to study the word ourselves – 2 Tim. 2:15 teaches us to study the word. When we study and search the truth, error can clearly be seen should it pop up. If the leadership’s truth is based on anything other than the truth of God’s Word or is based on the culture war and being PC, that’s a big problem. If repentance does not follow and I can’t sit under the leadership, I must break away from that fellowship.
For my Christian, believer, follower of Christ or however you refer to yourselves you will notice that this post is not chock full of scriptures and that is for this reason. For the believer, you already know that this message is right without putting 25 verses up here. You are called to be in the local church and its fellowship and to serve…period. But for the unbeliever or the skeptic, the bible won’t mean anything anyway. It is my hope that the unsure will read the conviction in these words and know that church isn’t perfect and neither are its people. But don’t focus on me or the guy down the road but focus on the life of Jesus that we should be striving to be like. I have a whole lot more to say on this subject but I am going to leave it where it is til another time. In closing remember that it is “Better to GIVE than RECEIVE”.
“For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6 (NASB)
Cuba, Vietnam, Granada, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, North Korea – these are places in my life time that our country has either been at war with or at least been the threat of war. I am sure there are others that I did not mention but I think that you get the idea.
There is a lack of peace in the world however, that extends beyond the military battlefield. That battlefield is in the home and the work place and even the church where there is unrest and strife and worries and these things rip the peace out of our lives and cause terrible unrest.
I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world – John 16:33
Peace means much more than the absence of war. Peace paints a picture of harmony and completeness. It is a promise of peace; to make whole and restore. To have Peace or “Shalom” is to have a fulfilled life in every way. It is a state of safety where your life is put at ease by the Lord Jesus Christ – the One that we celebrate at Christmas. The One bringing this peace has the power to carry His plan of peace out.
With “Shalom” peace there is no fear; no worry, but instead a sense of harmony and oneness. Everything is exactly the way it should be. Things are in their proper order. This is “Shalom” – this is the peace that Jesus brings – Our Prince of Peace.
Jesus didn’t come so that we could give gifts on the 25th of Dec. He didn’t come that we could sing “Jingle Bells” and “Santa Claus is coming to Town”. He came to give us peace with God and He came to give us peace within ourselves. How about you? Have you ever said yes to Him? He stands at the ready offering His peace and wants to be a part of your life. Say YES to Him today. It’s the greatest gift you could ever receive.
Father, help us to discover the peace that came to the world, born in a feeding trough, lived a sinless life and offered Himself as a sacrifice for all the world. WHAT A GIFT! May we receive that gift as we repent and believe. Thank you.
In Jesus Name…Amen
“Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!”– Luke 1:30-33
If you searched your heart, where would you find hope? What it is that you have based your hope? Job security, finances, significant other, stuff? I will go out on a limb and say that these things will at least at some point lead to disappointment, discouragement and desperation.
Our hope is found in the fact that God has keeps His promises. Hope began in the Garden of Eden where satan is told that from the seed of the woman would come a savior, Emmanuel and that Savior would destroy all of the doubt, sadness, pain and suffering and ultimately satan himself once and for all.
His name is Jesus!
He will do battle with Satan and even though the enemy would strike a seemingly fatal blow against Jesus, he will not defeat him. Jesus will crush Satan and his power. Jesus will destroy the pain of death and sin giving us hope as we wait confidently for His return.
Is there hope in this world? Yes! Hope was born to the world 2000 years ago in Bethlehem. Do you want hope? Do you need hope…real hope? Confident expectation? Do what the shepherds did so long ago. Make “haste” and bow before the King. Are you willing to humble yourself and bow in faith before the Lord Jesus Christ?
Some people think about Jesus each year at Christmastime. They are deeply touched by the season, the songs and the spirit, they promise to know him personally. Then Dec. 26th rolls around and the moment passes. Life’s pressure drag us away from the birth of Jesus, even His life, death and resurrection. Make the personal commitment that Jesus Christ will be your Lord and Savior. Is there room in your heart for Jesus? May God give you grace to make room in the Inn of your heart.
Lord, help us to put aside the pressures of gifting and receive Your sacrificial gift of love. Thank you God for loving me enough to leave Your heavenly throne and relentlessly pursue me. I surrender all to You. In Jesus Name…Amen.
A soft answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger – Proverbs 15:1
I created a MySpace and Facebook account years ago in their infancy partly as a social experiment to see what students liked, talked about and general what they were really you to. But this monster grew into something unbelievable; a type of terror that exists to rob people of their time, to give them a license to say whatever they want, to whomever they want, whenever they want without any feelings of liability or responsibility. Disagreements with and by believers, politics, social and economic trends and the like have given people a “safe haven” to speak their mind, destroying the character and integrity of others and themselves frankly while hiding behind Freedom of Speech when the scriptures that we are supposed to hold dear to our heart teach us to “Speak the Truth in Love”. Going further we read in Eph. 4:29, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen“.
Does this truth not resonate in our hearts as we type and text? I find Chapter 4 of Ephesians an amazing chapter because the content is speaking boldly about the maturity of believers and gives us sound teaching and instruction for Christian living which is largely ignored unless it fits the mood of the day or whether or not someone has hurt us and made us angry.
But please allow me to focus on one passage that this message begins with – A soft answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger – Proverbs 15:1.
It is my prayer and I believe the desire of Almighty God that people listen as I dissect this verse and shine some light on a few words within.
Why should we care how we use words? Let’s first look at the word SOFT – A Soft answer… This speaks of something…well…soft, something that is tender or delicate. This word however is much deeper. This “soft answer” speaks as one who is innocent like the words of a small child, innocent in the way they think and see things, innocent because these strong words would never be used by such innocence.
The second word I would like to illuminate is the word WRATH. Now this really isn’t that hard to define or understand but we really need to look deep within the meaning and intent of this word. It obviously is speaking about anger, even hot indignation. But below the surface as we peel back the layers to the root we can see that this word “wrath” speaks of conceiving as though it were a sexual act and a human being is conceived in the womb. Wrath as it is conceived grows within and causes rage and bitterness and gives birth to evil. Look what Jesus has to say about wrath…
But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell – Matt. 5:22
Wrath poisons the heart and clouds our judgment and robs us of joy and fellowship with the Lord.
The last word I would like to view is the word ANGER. Now you may be thinking “wait, we just talked about that one”. Ummm…. NOT! This is a problem with the English language or maybe just how we choose to lazily communicate. WRATH and ANGER here have very different meanings. Anger literally means to blow our breath out of our nostrils. Think about it. How many times have our children pushed THE button and we take that deep breath and exhale through our nose, nostrils flaring our like a bull in the middle of the ring being tormented by a red cloth? Hot air blasting out, ready to destroy whatever is in our path. Not only this but this word even describes our facial expression or countenance contorting, wrinkling our forehead so there is little doubt when ANGER is on the loose.
My point? Look…the scriptures, GOD’s Word people, is supposed to teach us, educate us, steer us, guide us and there really isn’t any excuse for posting every disagreement and lashing out with hate and disgust at people and unloading every piece of dissatisfaction with life via Facebook, MySpace, texting…no matter how much you are hurt or suffering. Our attitudes should be more like, “Lord, walk my through this fiery furnace” not “well I’m hurt so I am going to take things into my own hands”.
Trust in the LORD and do good. Then you will live safely in the land and prosper – Psalm 37:3
Trust in the Lord – With all the nonsense on the web, the negativity, anger, disagreements and the like bombarding our thoughts, how in the world are we to think about the things that are “noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy (Phil. 4:8)
I say again TRUST in the Lord and do Good!
Father, Thank You for salvation! Thank You for the change! I pray that You would impress upon our hearts Your way of doing things by using our words to encourage, uplift and speak truth into the lives of people in our circle of influence because we love You. In Jesus name, Amen!
Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins – Romans 3:24
Not sure how to express this or even if I should. Hope you understand. This has been a particularly difficult year financially for me and my family just like it has been for many of you who are reading this. With all the hope of more prosperous times on the horizon, we just haven’t seen it. As always we remember that Christmas is not about receiving presents, Santa and eggnog – these are fun things but it just not the truth. It’s about the giving of hope to a world that is in desperate need. It is about receiving the hope given as God came to the earth as a baby and endured everything that we experience, suffered terribly on the cross so that the hope of spending eternity with Him in heaven is not a dream but a reality through Jesus.
Someone walked through the doors where I am employed and gave an envelope to one of our customer service reps for me. The envelope read “a blessing from the Lord”. She brought it back to me and said, “Merry Christmas. You can’t ask who it is from.” Upon opening the envelope and examining the contents I was astonished to find a sum of money.
I am overcome with amazement and a little bit bewildered. There is nothing particularly special about me. I am not a particularly good person. Not a particularly good husband or father. I am not deserving of such a gift. Yet someone felt that we needed help; that we needed hope.
Isn’t this what Jesus did for us? He came as a baby, lived a perfectly sinless life all the while being tempted, tried, beaten and put to death on a cross – for me and you; even though we aren’t particularly deserving or particularly good person, husband, wife, son, daughter or father. I am not deserving of such a gift. Yet God knew that we needed help; that we needed hope. And so God made a way for us to be ever hopeful in the person of Jesus the Christ. He is Savior, Counselor, Wonderful, Everlasting, Father, Prince of Peace – My Rock!
To my anonymous giver, I thank you. Christmas is still a magical time where miracles and blessings arrive just like Jesus – when the time is just right. It’s true that I am not deserving – not deserving of being blessed with such a terrific family, loving children, beautiful wife and most importantly SALVATION. I thank God that it is not based on me but on Him.
Lord, Thank you for changing me and the change in me. I can never be worthy but You still made a way for me and have given me so much. I love You. Amen.
Sometimes children say the strangest things. Strange I believe because as adults we think on a totally different plane – not always good. We have gone through a season of sickness in our family over the past few weeks. Around and around it goes, vomiting and other nice things that shouldn’t bear mentioning. It would seem that everyone except me has passed around this horrible stomach bug at least twice. Just a few days ago, my little princess Emma was the unhappy recipient of nausea, cramping and yes, vomiting.
As I sat on the couch just an hour or so after putting her down, I heard her in making some pretty disgusting sounds. I ran into her room only to find that she had thrown up all over the bed, the wall and herself including her hair. I rushed her to the bathroom to the toilet to let her finish her business and this is where the strangest thing came. As she leaned over the toilet all she could say was, “I’m sorry I threw up on my bed”. No crying. No dramatics. Just an apology. Such humility is to me unbelievable.
When Jesus was asked by His disciples “Who is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?”, Jesus made a profound statement, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.” – Matthew 18:3-4
Rarely do we see examples of loving-kindness and thinking of others first unless it is from an innocent child. My child seemed to be so concerned about the impact of her sickness on Mom and Dad that she completely ignored the fact that she was the one in need of attention, she was the one that needed to be held and cared for and yet all she could at that time think of was us. To my Emma – “I thank my God every time I remember you” – Phil. 1:3