21 March, 2017

Would You Invest In This?

Imagine if you will, a man that a man is given the opportunity to step in and manage an established, thriving restaurant. For awhile, things go well, but then the man becomes frustrated and asks to be transferred to another restaurant within that franchise and go to another one that he thinks will make him happy. After just a few months, he becomes frustrated at that one as well and just abruptly quits without notice. Now, this guy is a likable fellow and after a few months he goes back to the director of the franchise and asks to be given another chance and he is placed in another location. After just a few months there, he approaches the director and explains that he thinks he should have never left the first location and asks for the opportunity to go back there. The director gives him that opportunity as well, and things go well there for a period of time, but then, after convincing them to expand and purchasing property to do so, he becomes frustrated again and wants to move. He is again afforded this opportunity and he is moved to another thriving restaurant in a new location. Shortly after arriving there, he convinces them they need to modernize and relocate the restaurant property. In the process, many customers leave and the manager himself becomes frustrated and quits and for a time does another job. After a short period of time, the man again approaches the director of the chain and asks to go to another location and manage yet another restaurant for him. Because he is a very likable guy, he is once again afforded the opportunity. For a period, things are going well, but then he becomes restless and frustrated and his frustration takes its toll on that restaurant and  it loses most of their customers and then he quits yet again and moves back to where his journey began and decides he is going to open a new restaurant, but this time he is going to break away from the chain that has given him opportunity after opportunity and he is going to start an identical restaurant in that community. He begins to contact customers that he has served in previous years and locations and he asks for their financial support in starting this new restaurant...

Now I ask you... would you invest in this new restaurant?
What if this were not a chain of restaurants, but this story was about churches and the man a pastor? Would you invest in this? Personally, I want to sow my seed into good ground where there is a proven track record of good fruit.

He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

17 March, 2017

Emotional Healing

Ever been hurt by someone in the church? I'm not talking about a ball bat upside the head kind of hurt; although... Nah, can't go there!
No, I'm talking about where somebody said or did something to hurt you in your spirit, or in your emotions. Somebody betrayed a confidence, or told lies about you, or did something that just cut you deep inside.
I know you have been there. We all have.
This is one of the most painful hurts there is; when someone you love and trust just rips your heart out for you, stomps on it, kicks it around for awhile and then hands it back to you like nothing ever happened.
And you have probably thought, if not said, "I'll never let anyone hurt me like that again."
You are not alone.

Think how David must have felt. He was a loyal servant to King Saul.
He would do anything he could to protect his King. He ministered to him in song when he was troubled. He fought for him when his kingdom was challenged. This was his king, and David honored him. He was best friends with Jonathon, the king’s son.
But Saul became enraged and jealous and threatened by David, and he sought to kill him.
We read about how David ran for his life. We read how he had the opportunity more than once to kill Saul, but he would not touch the anointed of God. He was still loyal, even though he was considered the enemy. But can you imagine how David must have felt on the inside?
Man, I cannot imagine the emotional struggle that must have gone on within him. Can you imagine the emotional roller coaster he must have gone on?

This story causes me to think about my own pain and how I deal with it. There have been times that I have had the opportunity to plunge in the dagger, so to speak, while the one who hurt me was down. It would be so easy to do. But friend, can I tell you, that does not ease the pain! It will only get worse. The only way to get over the pain is to allow Jesus to do some spiritual surgery on your soul. It begins with forgiveness. Even if the person(s) who hurt you have never apologized, we must forgive them anyway. I learned a long time ago that forgiveness is a gift that you give yourself. (Think on that awhile, you'll figure it out.)

Once you have forgiven, then you must open yourself up to the healing work of Jesus.
I know... that is not easy to do. Because to open yourself up means you make yourself vulnerable again. But it must be done. I remember a friend of mine from days gone by. He had three slugs from a 38 in his back. He carried them around for years. He told everyone he carried them as "a badge of honor" as he would proudly show everyone the scars and the knots that were plainly visible when he removed his shirt. But the truth of the matter was, he was afraid to have surgery. He was afraid to trust a doctor to take them out of him. After years of carrying these bullets in his body, he finally agreed to have them removed. I remember the days after the surgery when he was in pain and he was so mad at me for talking him into having them removed. I thought he was going to kill me... literally. But something happened.
After a few days the pain subsided, the wounds healed and one day he told me, "Dago, thanks for pushing me to have this done. I feel better than I have in years." He admitted that his "badge of honor" had been giving him pain every single day for years. He told me that he had not been able to sleep because when he would roll over on his back the pressure on those slugs was excruciating. Now he was sleeping well and moving around pain-free for the first time in many years.

I wonder how many of us have our own "badge of honor". Things that we carry around and tell others about almost boasting about how we survived. We put on a false air, but the truth is, we are in pain. The pain is hidden inside, and no one knows it is there but us. We refuse to acknowledge the pain, because that shows our weakness or vulnerable side... or maybe our fears. But the pain is there.

It is time for healing.
It is time to allow the Holy Spirit into those areas we have kept guarded and hidden away.
It is time to swallow our pride and admit to God that we are afraid, but that we need to have those "bullets" from the past removed from our lives.
God is ready and willing to heal us... but we have to allow him to.
Will you allow the Holy Spirit to begin that healing process in you?
I won't lie. It is often a painful process.
But there is peace that is only available at the end of the suffering.

15 March, 2017

Possible Shaking to Begin Soon Within the Church?

I had a couple of similar and very disturbing dreams last night. It was really strange in that I was awakened from the first dream and when I opened my eyes I saw the time was 3:33 and when I woke from the second it was 5:55. I am not sure of the significance of those times, but I know in my spirit there is something to them. In both of my dreams, I saw a violent shaking of the earth. The really strange part was that the only things I saw shaken were churches, especially some very well known, large ministries. I saw one of those churches shaken to the point that the building being split wide open, almost as if an ax had been swung down upon it and tore the place asunder and the view I had was looking down from above like a video was being shot from a helicopter.  Another ministry center was shaken to the point that there was nothing but rubble and dust. A third was shaken and about half the building crumbled and I saw thousands of people running from this building while others remained in their seats as if nothing were happening around them.

I've been troubled all morning. I believe God is getting ready to do some house cleaning within His church. I am not sure if the dreams were literally in reference to these three churches, or if this was symbolic of God dealing with error and false doctrine within the church as a whole. I would say to the churches in general, it's time to examine ourselves and to make sure we are adhering to sound doctrine because I believe the Holy Ghost is about to shake things up.

09 March, 2017

Are You Comfortable With That?

I was talking with someone this week who conveyed to me that there was a family who had told them that they had not been going to church or supporting their church because they were mad at their pastor for not coming by to visit them. I'm not going to go into all of the detail here for time's sake as well as privacy, but I will share this. I asked this person if those who were upset had contacted their pastor and indicated that they'd like to have a visit. As I told her, it's just a fact that in this day and age, most people really do not want pastoral visits anymore, and unless people ask for me to visit, I generally do not. She said she did not think they had, and that she'd ask them. I then asked if she thought the people had a good reason for not going to church and for withholding their giving to their church. She said she had not thought about it before, so I told her to think about that and then act on it. I told her that if she felt it was scripturally wrong for them to act the way they are then as their friends and sister in Christ, she owed it to them to confront them on it. I could tell she did not like that, but it is, in fact, her responsibility to correct error where she see's it in those she loves.  

I left her with a final thought and a method with which to bring about correction. I suggested that she ask her friends if they thought they would be comfortable standing before God on judgment day and claim that they felt justified in laying out of church for an extended time and withholding their giving because they were angry.  She said, "I can't ask them that! They'll be mad at me next!"  So I said, "so you think they are wrong for what they are doing then?" She said, "Of course they are!" She got real quiet after saying that and said, "Guess I've been wrong too." 

06 March, 2017

What Are You Planting For?

This morning I was reading on Facebook and I read a post by someone referencing their "planting" seed for something they are desiring and it really got me to thinking. In my mind, I saw a kitchen window with a small tray of herbs growing... which definitely serves a purpose, but it caused me to question if our goal is to sow seed to meet our own personal need, or if our goal is to sow seed to meet our need as well as that of others around us and produce seed for the next season as well. Farming would hardly be worthwhile if your "harvest" was only enough to provide for one meal. Quite the contrary, the goal is to supply for all of that families needs for the foreseeable future. So why is it that in the spiritual sense, we so often "sow seed" for something immediate... something we are staring down next week and not looking beyond our own front yard and into our community around us. I think it is about time that we begin to pray, as Jabez did, "enlarge my territory."  That we begin thinking beyond ourselves and our family and begin to ask for something larger and more impactful.

Just thinking out loud this morning.

23 February, 2017

Forgive and Let Go

This morning I woke up very early, just after 4:00 AM and could not get back to sleep. I came down to my office and was browsing the net and I read a quote from Lewis Smedes that I've seen or heard at least dozens of times before, but today it set the wheels turning in my head. Smedes said: "Forgiveness is like setting a prisoner free... and then realizing the prisoner is you!" 
Now, as I've sat here drinking my coffee and watching the sun come up (sort of... winter in Illinois does not mean you actually "see" the sun) my thoughts have gone back to that quote over and over. Sure, it sounds like the Christian thing to do when we say "forgive and forget"... but let's be honest here. It's just not that easy. It's not like you can just hit the delete button and all memory of pain is gone. Yes, forgiveness is a needful thing, a beautiful and precious thing... but if most of us would be really honest, forgiveness does not come without a fight. We can say the words, and I believe, truly mean it when we say, "I forgive you", but it's that forgetting thing that is hard. I won't try to throw this off on anyone else... maybe it is just me, (but I doubt it) but there are plenty of times when I really think I've forgiven something, and then I find myself getting angry or hurt all over again when it all comes flooding my mind somewhere down the road. Often times we think of forgiving someone who has wronged us, but there is a great struggle in actually putting forgiveness into practice. I believe that one of the reasons we struggle is that even though we know that we shouldforgive, somewhere deep inside we don't feel like that person (or persons) deserve our forgiveness. Truthfully, sometimes they don't deserve it! But I have come to learn that those who deserve forgiveness the least, actually need it the most! It's pretty easy for us to say, "they hurt me... they cost me... they put me through so much... I need to get even with them!" But that's a trap. The only people that we should ever try to get even with are the people who have helped us! You'll never get ahead as long as you are trying to pull someone down. Instead, pull yourself up to a higher level. As long as we are trying to get even, trying to pull someone else down, we will never get any further or higher than we are now.
Forgive and forget? That's not very likely. We generally tend to remember things. It is forever locked in our minds. Rather, I say, "forgive and let go."  You know something? I've learned that often times the person that I'm hurt at doesn't even want my forgiveness. They are trapped in the gall of bitterness too, and when you forgive... they may not even be willing to receive it. They may want to fight some more. But when we choose to forgive and let go, while it may not set them free... it sets YOU free. It's like taking the shackles off or opening the prison door. But you have to choose to walk out of the prison once that door is opened. One of the problems for many of us is that when we choose to forgive, yet the other person refuses to let it go... we tend to stay in that prison, trying to "fix" things that may never be fixed. You can only choose to forgive. You have no control over what the other person does. It only takes one person to forgive, but it takes two to be reunited. If that other person chooses to stay in the shackles of bitterness, it does not mean you have to do the same. Forgive, and let go. Move on.
One last thought. Forgiveness does not mean that we must tolerate. To forgive someone and that person continue to do the same hurtful things, say those same words or commit the same grievous actions against us, that is abuse. We don't have to stay there and take it. I can hear someone saying that Jesus said to "turn the other cheek."  Yes he did. But while the Bible may not say it, I do not believe that Jesus was implying that we are to stay there and be beaten repeatedly. Forgive, and let go. Move on and learn. Forgiveness not mean that you have to subject yourself to continued abuse. Some of the most powerful times of forgiveness have happened in my life when I've said to someone, "I forgive you... but we are done."  But you have to mean it. You can't just say the words, you must truly forgive. For when we harbor unforgiveness in our hearts, it eats at us like a cancer. It is a surrender of our destiny, because we will keep falling back to that same place, no matter how high we climb. When we have unforgiveness in our heart, it is like a magnet that always pulls us back to that place of hurt and pain. It's just not worth it. When we forgive, we win.  Forgiveness will set you free from what holds you to your enemies. Forgive... and let go... and be free!

22 February, 2017

Receiving By Faith

I've been talking with someone for awhile who has been going through a fairly rough time and they are a bit beaten down and lacking faith right now. I can understand that as I've been there plenty of times myself. This morning as we were talking I was feeding her scripture after scripture, trying to fuel her faith but it was almost like she was rejecting each passage I gave her with her questions about "how", "can this happen for me", "why is this happening" and on and on. Finally, I asked her why she was having such a difficult time accepting the biblical promises for her and her response hit me like a ton of bricks because, in her words, I think I actually heard the words of many other people that I had just never put into that context. She said to me, "I hear the promises and I want to believe... but it just does not make sense to me." Bells and whistles went off inside my head as this just resonated within me... people trying to walk by what the can see, feel, touch... control. Faith does not really work that way. If you can wrap your brain around it and figure it out in the natural, then there is no need for faith. Faith is the key to our spiritual life and walking in the spirit rather than the natural. God's promises are not spoken "to make sense" but they are spoken to produce and release faith in us. The miraculous will not be released until we stop "figuring it all out" and walk in the realm of "I'm putting my faith in and trusting you, Lord."

14 February, 2017

How Do We Define Success? (Revised)

I originally posted this entry on May 26, 2010, but I was thinking on this topic last night and this came to mind, so I looked it up and decided to repost it, with a few additional thoughts tagged on at the end. 

How Do We Define Success?
I was just reading a story on Fox Sports website about how the man pictured here, Jamie Moyer is about to take ownership of a record that no one would really want.
The record?
He will be known as the pitcher who gave up the most home runs during his career.

At this moment, he has given up 501 home runs, just 4 shy of the all time record. Sounds like a dubious record that smacks of failure, doesn't it? But is that really what this says of Jamie Moyer? I don't think so. To me, it points to a marvelously successful career of this man. Consider what that record indicates. This man has been good enough that despite giving up more than 500 home runs in his career, the Phillies are still willing to keep him around on their team, and in fact pay him 6.5 million of dollars to pitch for them! Consider that at the age of 47 he is still playing the game kids half his age star in and is still winning games. That's pretty amazing to me. And consider this: The man who currently holds the record, Robin Roberts was considered one of the best in baseball in his era and is in the Baseball Hall of Fame, as are the men who hold the number 3, 4 and 5 spots... Ferguson Jenkins, Phil Neikro and Don Sutton. Mr. Moyer is in good company, if I do say so myself!

As I was reading the article and thinking about the company he keeps, I recognized this fact, all 5 of these men all had long careers, all of them pitching into their 40's. Only one of them (Moyer) has pitched on teams that would be considered "great" teams. While each of them may have had one or two years where they really seemed to excel, the fact is, that for most of their careers, they were not "superstars" but rather were steady and consistent over the long haul.

That last fact really jumps out at me and got me to thinking about how we define success. Sadly, more times than not, we define success by what "wows" us... often times a flash in the pan. I've been a huge baseball fan since I was a small child, and I've seen some guys burst on the scene and take the attention of the baseball world by storm, only to just as quickly fade away. Guys like Mark "The Bird" Fidrych who burst on the scene in 1976, winning rookie of the year while pitching for the Detroit Tigers and winning 19 games, despite not even pitching an entire season. He was dubbed "great", "superstar" and so on, but when he retired just 4 years later he had only won 10 more major league games in his career. Bud Smith burst onto the scene midway through the 2001 season as a Saint Louis Cardinal going on to win 6 games with one of those games being a no-hitter. He was labeled the next superstar and was a key component in a huge trade between the Cardinals and the Phillies that brought Scott Rolen to the Cardinals. Rolen had been labeled a trouble maker and was hated in Philadelphia. We know how Rolen did in Saint Louis... but what about Bud Smith?  Smith won only one more game in his career before quitting the game. I could go on and on with such examples. The point I'm trying to make is that success should not be judged on a moment, or a season, but rather, by looking at the long haul. Would you rather have a spectacular game or season, or a steady career where you've been consistent for 2 decades? I'll take the later.

Now, I've said all this to bring us face to face with a glaring problem that we have in the Body of Christ. We are quick to elevate people to "superstar" status because they can preach a great sermon, hold a good revival, or they start a church that explodes with growth. Or you have an individual or family who "show up" at a church, and they "explode" on the scene. They want to be involved in everything. They make a great display as to how "spiritual" they are. They are loud and in your face about how great their love for God is... and many people are sucked in by their theatrics. But I've been around long enough that I've seen it way too many times. These new people are almost always a flash in the pan, and if they don't get enough attention and power, they blow on to the next church to bless them with their presence. This is one reason why I seldom allow new people to get involved in any position in the church until they show me that they can submit themselves to leadership. A person who cannot submit themselves to a leader is themselves a mark of a pitiful leader.

It's the same with these flash in the pan ministries. How many times have we seen these people blow in and blow up? Men and women are flashy, successful (by man's standard) and they are thrust in front of the camera, they write books and make the circuit riding the wave. The problem is that way too often, when it all is said and done, we see preachers having affairs, using drugs, homosexual activity, and other scandals surface in their ministry. I've seen guys start churches and in a very short period of time they have that church running 300, 500 or more, only to see that church in bankruptcy 2 or 3 years later.
Again, how do we define success?
Is it bursting onto the scene to the cheers and applause only to fade away or fall, or is success found in the man or woman who spends a lifetime as pastor in a small town making strong disciples within his church of 30, 50 or 80? I have to say, some of my heroes are men whose names may never be known by the vast majority of people. My father is one of them. He spent years pioneering churches across Missouri and Iowa, and once that church was established he moved on to another town to do the same. Some would call him a failure because he never pastored a large church. I call him my hero. And there are hundreds like him. There are men I know here in Illinois who have spent more than 20 years at the same church, and the churches are not large by any stretch of the imagination, but they have some of the most dedicated, loyal Christians and church members that you will ever meet. They know the Word of God because they've been taught and instructed in the way of righteousness. Again, I cannot speak for anyone else, but I would call these men a success long before I'd call a "superstar" on TBN a success. Money and fame does not equate necessarily equate to success, nor does it exclude success.

My point is don't get caught up in the hype and hoopla of a moment or a move... keep your eye on the big picture. Success to me is not a flash in the pan or a big event... it is the steady, consistent walk that matters.  In the local church, everyone wants to focus on the new family that blows in. People make over them, celebrate them and inflate their egos... and then are hurt when the flash dies and the true person is seen as they move on to their next show. I choose rather to celebrate the ones who have been with me through thick and thin and remain faithful to God and their church. Others may impress men... but I have a sneaking feeling that God is smiling, not at the latest dog and pony show, or the person who has to be seen and heard, but by those who are faithful, consistent and true to their walk with God and faithful to their church week after week, month after month, year after year.  YOU are the true giants. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 9 that we should run the race to win!

To those at The Oasis Church of God who fit that last category (you know who you are) I celebrate you, and want you to know that God celebrates you too!

07 February, 2017

Where Is Your Passion?

I'm a people watcher. What I mean by that is that while I do in fact listen to what people say, I watch them and I pay far more attention to what they do. You see, as the old saying goes, "Words are easy but actions speak louder than words." As a pastor, I'm really not impressed with the person who "puts on a show" around the church house or the church people. I'm impressed by the actions I witness when they don't even know people are watching. The person who acts the part in the church house but then becomes a "secret agent" Christian when they walk out the door betrays their true heart. And it's not me... God views things pretty much the way I do. If you doubt that, try reading his word, because he says so. People can "say" how much they love God and they want to see the Kingdom of God advanced, but then they spend far more time, energy and money on their hobby than they do with God. I don't have to go any further... let's let the words of Jesus address this from Matthew 6:19-21:
"Don't store up treasures on earth! Moths and rust can destroy them, and thieves can break in and steal them. Instead, store up your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy them, and thieves cannot break in and steal them. Your heart will always be where your treasure is."

Jesus clearly says that your heart will be reflected by what your passion is. Some people's passion is in doing good works, and they try to say they do this for Christ, but the truth is that they do it for personal recognition and gratification. They have deluded themselves into thinking it's all for God, but they take all the glory and God's word says that he will not share his glory with anyone or anything. Some refuse to give to the church saying that they prefer to do good themselves so that they know where "their money" is going. That betrays their heart because number 1, it is "their money" and number 2, the reason truth is that they want the emotional rush of giving to someone so they can feel good, and they know that someone knows what they have done. Just as important, they are saying, "I don't think the pastor and the church have the smarts nor the heart to do the right thing like I do." That shows their heart loud and clear.

Let me ask you today... where is your passion?  How much time do you give to your favorite tv shows... your hobby, your golf, your music, your reading (or whatever it may be). Now how much time do you give to reaching the lost? How much time do you give to your church? Oh, I know... that's the pastor's job.  Is it? Check that one out in the word of God and let me know what you find.

Where is YOUR passion?

18 January, 2017

Special Moments That Make It Matter

A few moments ago I had one of those moments that just automatically turn on the faucets of tears. I'm sick right now and have been pretty much off of my feet since Sunday night. I've been on antibiotics since Monday and still feeling pretty rough. Anyway, early this morning I received a call from a young mother in town who I've met with and counseled through some trying times. She said she'd heard I was sick and wanted to check on me. We talked for a few moments and the conversation ended. So, just a few minutes ago, I received another call from her and she said, that she had left something for me out on my porch. She said she did not have much, but she wanted to show me some love in return for all the times I'd been there for her. I went out on my porch and there I found a plastic container of chili with a handwritten note that said, "You are loved!"

Right now, sitting here eating that chili, I feel the best I've felt in awhile.

16 January, 2017

Not Perfect, But Forgiven

I was having a conversation with someone earlier today who has only been a Christian for a relatively short time. This person was speaking of some of their struggles in their Christian walk and how it seemed like no matter how hard they tried, they kept blowing it and they felt like giving up. The said they were trying so hard but just could not get it right. They told me that they were just going to have to try harder, but that they were getting so frustrated and wondered if they could ever make it to Heaven. I almost had to laugh, not because what this person was saying was in any way funny, but that this sounded exactly like me when I was just starting out in my Christian journey. What I related to this person is what I want to write about just briefly tonight. 

For those who don't know me, I am the son of a pastor and my grandfather was also a preacher. I was raised in church most of my life. I knew (or thought I did) what was expected of Christians. The reason I say "thought I did" is because what I understood was basically a list of do's and don'ts. To make this shorter and straight to the point, I had learned a lot about religion, but I did not understand anything about having a relationship wit Christ. I knew that as a Christian I was supposed to "live like one", which meant, we did not cuss, smoke, drink, steal... you get the idea. So when I gave my heart to Jesus, I tried to stop all that. I tried to make myself into a "good person" who lived a clean life. But I kept failing. I'd find myself lying and using language that was laced with profanity. I really tried... and I kept falling. I was at the place where I was starting to believe that I just could not live as a Christian. I thought maybe it was just my lot in life that I was going to die and go to Hell. Then one day as I was reading the Bible, I stumbled upon the words of Paul where he wrote about how he struggled with the same thing... and it changed my life. He wrote in Romans chapter 7, " I don't understand why I act the way I do. I don't do what I know is right. I do the things I hate."  A few verses later he goes on, "I know that my selfish desires won't let me do anything that is good.  Even when I want to do right, I cannot. Instead of doing what I know is right, I do wrong. And so, if I don't do what I know is right, I am no longer the one doing these evil things. The sin that lives in me does them. The Law has shown me that something in me keeps me from doing what I know is right. Then Paul says the words that unlocked the chains that had held me captive for so long. He says,  "What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!

So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin."

There is something in that last sentence that will transform your life, just as it did mine. Paul tells us that the secret is KNOWING (this takes faith!) that the blood of Jesus has set us free and saved us, even though out bodies may not know it yet! This is not meant to give us an excuse to continue in sin. Far from it. What it says is that when I give my life to Christ, I'm as saved as I will ever be from that moment on.  Our flesh is still subject to the natural... but our spirit is free! This is where the battle between the flesh and the spirit begins as we take authority and persevere and overcome those things... but we are saved already. Never doubt that!  The work of Christ is full and complete and saves us to the uttermost from the second we invite the Holy Spirit into our lives. You will never be "more saved" than you are right then. But you and I have to get that issue settled in our spirit-man because the Accuser will be right there every time we fall telling us we are lost, never were saved and telling us what scum we are. If we don't know what the Word of God says we may forfeit that salvation and walk away from it. That's his goal! We must at that moment KNOW we are safe and secure in Christ and tell him to take his lies down the road. If we don't, most likely we will return to our old ways and continue living in sin. 

There is a vast difference in committing a sin and living a lifestyle of sin. What Paul is describing in Romans 7 is crucial to us. Notice he says he does not want to do those things anymore. The Holy Spirit makes us aware of things that grieve the Spirit and this is where our job begins... that of sanctifying ourselves. Separating ourselves from the things the flesh desires. This battle is a life-long battle as we beat this body into subjection. Again, this does not make us "more saved" but it does deepen and enhance our walk with the Lord. Satan's aim is to so batter us with guilt and shame to the point that we doubt our salvation. The most difficult aspect of all of this is getting beyond the question of being worthy of salvation. We're not... not one of us. This is the beauty of this whole thing. Romans 5:8 says, "But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners." It has nothing to do with us being good, faithful or deserving at all. It only as to do with God's wonderful grace!

15 January, 2017

I'm Back

I've taken a little while away from writing because 1) I've been very busy, and 2) because my focus was distracted by the political drama that has unfolded surrounding the election of Donald Trump and the crying and protesting by Democrats. I'll say this and move on. Suck it up and deal with it. He is our next President. I did not like it when Obama won in 2008 or 2012, but I accepted the will of the voters and moved on. So, let's give the man a chance and see what happens.

Now, as I begin writing again this year, I want to focus much more on those things that matter, primarily with spiritual matters and family. So, in the coming year, it is my goal to not write about political issues at all, unless it is a MAJOR story or that political happening has a spiritual connection or will impact Christians. I look forward to connecting with many of you again.