24 April, 2016

A Week Later and I'm Still Just Messed Up

Last week a friend of mine shared a video with me of the underground churches in China. As I watched that video that day something happened inside of me. I began to tear up... and then sob and then I was bawling my eyes out and literally shaking as I was so broken before the Lord. As I viewed the absolute passion and hunger of the people in China as they pursued the Lord I became convicted over my own walk with Christ. I saw people who even though they know they could be imprisoned or even put to death for worshipping Jesus, got up and gathered at 4:30 in the morning to worship before going to work. And they do this every day, seven days a week. There are days where they gather (again, in hiding) and will stand and listen to preaching and teaching for 6-10 hours at a time. In the video, there were thousands who met in these gatherings. And I sat here an thought how 1/3 to 1/2 of my church is absent every Sunday. Some of my people who consider themselves to be "regular" attending members average 1 to 2 Sundays per month that they attend. At 2 hours per week, that means they were in worship for 48 hours last year. So, living in a land where we have the absolute freedom to worship as we choose they attend less per year than these people in China attend in ONE WEEK. And we wonder why they have thousands attendance and regularly report miracles in their midst... and we are struggling to keep the doors open due to low finances in our church. I've found myself praying passionately and asking God to do whatever it takes to awaken the American church. If it takes persecution, then send us persecution. If it takes a loss of freedom, then take our freedoms. I just want to see this kind of passion and joy awakened in the American church which is by and large, soundly asleep. 

17 April, 2016

How Much Do You Love Him?

This morning I posted the following scripture to my Facebook status... "And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind." Matthew 22:37
Just as I posted it, a thought hit me... "If a person really loved the Lord with all their heart, soul and mind... then would anything possibly get in the way of that person getting to the House of God once time per week to worship him with other believers?  
I don't think so.

In the natural, when we fall in love with someone, we will do anything to see and spend time with the person we have fallen in love with. When I met my wife, I often got off work at 7:00 AM and rather than go home and go to bed, I'd drive an hour and a half to go see her, depriving myself of sleep. If I couldn't drive, I'd be on the phone with her. We spoke so often that my phone bill was nearly $400 that month. (Remember, this was more than 30 years ago!) My point is, I wanted to be with her and speaking with her as much as possible.  How much more should we desire to speak to God and to be in His presence?  

I already know that there will be those who will respond with, "I can do that at home." My question is, "WHY?"  
Let's be brutally honest, not all, but by far, MOST people who "worship at home" are doing so because they can't find a church that suits them and does things as they think they should. That's pretty selfish. God's Word is clear about not forsaking the assembly (corporate worship) but these folks reject that because it's not done their way where they are comfortable. All I'll say about that is that somewhere "self" has come inbetween the heart, soul and mind that is to be given to the Lord.

OK... Let the attacks begin. 

13 April, 2016

We Are Needing Help!

Sometimes I wonder if it will ever end.
Most of my friends and readers know that the church where I pastor was heavily damaged in a wind storm back in November when the roof was ripped off and then suffered tremendous water damage when we had a freak snowstorm that dumped 8" of snow inside the building and then we had torrential rains for a month. Repairs have been slow and ongoing as the insurance has fought us every step of the way.

Now... it gets worse.
The insurance company has now told us that unless we do some repairs to the outside of our building and have it repainted by the renewal date in July, they will not renew our policy. After all the added expenses of being out of our building for 5 months, paying double utilities and the additional insurance policy to cover us in the temporary location, we simply don't have the funds to do these repairs. We are trying to do much of the inside repairs on the building to save money and use some of that to make outside repairs, but we are not going to reach the time frame they are giving us this way. As much as I HATE doing things like this, I am reaching out to others and asking for your help.
Anything that anyone can do to help us will be appreciated. No gift is too small. When it is all added up together, I believe God's people can help us get this done.

You can donate here

Thank you in advance for anything you can do to help. If you cannot give, please pray for us and pass this on to others.

Silently Saying the Shadaha

It is the Muslim way of silently saying the Shadaha, "The only god is Allah and Mohammed is his prophet!"  Index finger extended vertically, symbolizing "one god."


Important: Follow the pictures to the end.















You can bet that 100% of the Muslims of the world who view these photos of Obama absolutely know what he is telling them.
Those who saw him do this in the picture have a VERY big smile on their faces!
Silently. Secretly. But at the same time, OPENLY.
The President of the United States is one of them and on their side.
Any doubts now? Pass this on to others!

By the way... Snopes.com will tell you this is false. But you need to understand that Snopes is VERY liberal and largely funded by the likes of George Soros, so they are always trying to cover the tracks of Obama. Do your own research on the use of raising the finger by Muslims and you will find the truth. 

12 April, 2016

Don't Give Up

How many Christians give up on a God-inspired dream before it comes to pass? Negative circumstances bring discouragement and frustration and we get ready to throw in the towel. For example, only two people show up for a prayer meeting and suddenly thoughts like, "Nobody’s interested in prayer" or you convince yourself that you didn’t really hear from God about having prayer meeting in the first place. Many things come to distract us and get us off track through frustration and discouragement. 

Consider this... King David waited years, living as a fugitive before he was given access to the thrown for which he had already been anointed as King. Eventually, God’s promise became reality, but his trouble didn’t cease. When the Philistines heard that David had been anointed king over Israel, they went up in full force to search for him. But David heard about it and went down to the stronghold (2 Samuel 5:17). It says in verse 19 says that he “inquired of the Lord” before he made another move.  There's the key!  If we feel discouraged in our quest to follow God, we could learn from David. Our enemy the devil will dog us like Saul did David. When the temptation to quit beckons, it’s time to talk with God. It is even okay to ask Him for encouragement, direction, and reassurance. He is faithful.

Instead of giving up a dream, spend some time alone with God.

04 April, 2016

Adversity With A Purpose?

I don't believe I know anyone who would actually say that they love adversity, but the truth is that adversity is a great indicator of our level of commitment to God. When life is just flowing along smoothly and we are having very few problems come against us, it becomes way too easy to fall into the trap of depending on our own abilities and resourcefulness. It becomes so easy for us to take for granted all of God’s abundant blessings and even forget how it is He which provides for us. When life is on cruise control and problems are few, we can get to the place where our self-reliance can cause us to neglect our prayer time and Bible study... and even attending corporate worship (otherwise known as church).

An example of how adversity pulled people toward God is seen in the book of 1 Samuel chapter 7 verse 8. We read: "They said to Samuel, “Do not stop crying out to the Lord our God for us, that he may rescue us from the hand of the Philistines."  You see, the Israelites heard that the powerful Philistines were preparing to attack them and fear seized their hearts as they realized they were no match for the enemy. So they pleaded for Samuel to continually cry out to God for deliverance.  So it is with us today. We are cruising along, neglecting our relationship with God, our dependence and reliance on Him and suddenly there is a bumpy road where problems come along and we turn around and cry out to God. So God will often allow problems and difficulties to arise, only because they are needful to gently remind us that we cannot do this life on our own.


My point in writing this today is to hopefully cause some folks to realize that their issues, problems and conflict that have come up in their life over and over are not simply Satan tormenting them, rather it is God trying to entice them into a deeper relationship with him where they learn to rely and be dependent on Him. Yes, there are times when we are vulnerable to attacks from the enemy, but always remember, that God hears the cries and prayers of His children when we humble ourselves and seek Him first and foremost. Just maybe you are going through the adversity right now because God is trying to woo you closer to Himself?

02 April, 2016

How Are You Using Your Mind?

I wrote the following last August and have had it on my iPad ever since and tonight decided to post it here. 

I am in flight from Puerto Rico to Chicago and watching a girl appears to be about two years old sitting on her daddy's lap. I've had fun just watching her. She is curious and inquisitive about everything from the TV screens that dropped from the ceiling to the earbuds her dad was wearing. Nothing seems to escape her attention and she has to know the how and why of everything she sees and hears. Her mind is just a sponge. All of this got me to thinking about the wonder of the human mind. I believe that our minds are wonderful gifts from God. They are the means by which we process the world around us just as this little girl is doing now. It is the mind that enables us to make choices which navigate our way through life based on this information we have gathered. It is the mind that releases amazing creativity and color to our lives.  It is also with our minds that we perceive God’s truth and if we accept and live by that truth we are transformed as we allow the Holy Spirit to renew our mind. 

With all this in mind, it should be no surprise, then, that our minds are also strategic targets for Satan. In fact, the mind is the spiritual battleground if you will. When the enemy has his way, our minds harbor debilitating doubts, embrace lies which cripple and stall our lives as we entertain false affections, and rationalize sin.

One thing I have discovered is that this battle within our minds becomes especially strong when we make the decision to pray. We find ourselves saying things like "I'm too tired. I’m unworthy. This is useless; God would never listen to someone like me. God doesn’t care. I don’t feel anything so I must not be spiritual enough." This is where we need to be relentless with the truth of who we are in Christ. You see, we really can win this battle with our minds. Through Jesus' victory on the cross and by the power of His Spirit, we have all the spiritual weapons we need to "take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:5).

I wonder... how are you using your mind? So many Christian people fill their minds with useless or pointless information they suck from the mind numbing television screen. Other fill the minds with gossip and all the drama they can find. What would happen if we really applied ourselves to the admonition of thinking on things that are true, pure, holy and righteous? I'm convinced that people will make their decisions based on what they have filled their mind with. It's your mind; what are you going to do with it?

18 March, 2016

People...

Yesterday I was coming home from the store and was in a bit of a hurry because we had company coming for dinner. I was at a red light with one car, actually a van, in front of me. The light turned green and this guy in front of me did not move. I waited a little bit, but when he did not move I honked my horn. Still, he sat there. I honked again... and again and this guy never moves. As I looked into the van I could not see the driver at all. The light turned red again, and I began thinking, "Has the driver died or something?"  So I put my van in park and walked up to the van and looking in I saw this tiny old man was sitting there with his head dropped to his chest. I really did not know if he was dead or what, so I knocked on the window and he did not move.  I knocked again a little harder. The guy jumped, looked at me all confused and angry and then started screaming profanities at me and demanding to know what the "blankity-blank" I wanted. I told him he'd been asleep and sat through the light. He again threw out a string of curse words and asked why I was in the road knocking on his window. I told him again that he'd sat through the light. He looked at the light and turned back to me and screamed that the blankity-blank light was red. I told him that he had already sat through one green light. About that time the light changed again and he drove off, still screaming at me.   
People never cease to amaze me.

17 March, 2016

Following the Map Is Not Enough

I have been completely wired tonight and can't seem to wind down, so I turned on the television for a bit. When I turned it on there was a TV evangelist talking about how that the Holy Spirit was speaking to 1000 people right at that time to give some amount of money. (I really did not pay attention to the amount.) What got my attention was this guy saying, "The Holy Spirit is speaking to you to do what I tell you to do."
Let me see if I get this... the Holy Spirit is speaking to these people, but then He has to speak to this evangelist to tell him to tell those that He is speaking to already to listen to what the evangelist is saying. Uh, I may be a bit slow, but if the Holy Spirit is already talking to these people, then why did he need to speak to the evangelist to tell him to tell them to do what the evangelist says? Something is amuck here, don't you think?

This got the wheels turning and I began to think about how many people fall for stuff like this and follow people blindly. Turn on your TV set for a bit and give a listen to some of these shysters. There is a guy who calls himself "Master Prophet Jordan" who is prostituting the Gospel by selling his services as prophet. Depending how much you are willing to pay, the more he will reveal what god is saying to you. There is Don Stewart who will send you the magical "Green Prosperity Prayer Cloth" with instructions on how to use it, which of course includes sending in your offering; and the more you give, the more you are gonna get. There are countless others... but you get the idea. These men are dangerous. These guys are intentionally leading others astray and making a mockery of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

As I was thinking about all this, I realized how many people actually believe in and follow these guys and would most likely defend them very strongly.  Which made me think that you have got to be careful who you follow... when this thought popped into my head. (I'm finally getting around to the Map reference made above.)

Pictured at the top right of this blog entry is a street map of Galesburg, Illinois. It does not list all of our streets, but using this map, I believe someone who had never been to the Burg before could pretty well find themselves around the town with no problem. It is a pretty decent map which lays out the main streets, so it is a good map for someone who needs to get around Galesburg.
But what if I handed you this map as you were trying to find your way around Peoria? Even though this is a good map, it is not going to help you get where you are going.
I submit to you that it is the same thing in the spirit realm.
It does not matter how good your attitude is, or how positive your confession is, or how excited you are in your spirit, you are going to stay lost because you are using the wrong map. Once you have the right map, you can use your positive attitude, positive confession and positive spirit to move you in the right direction for your life.
The Bible provides that right direction, but even still, it must be read right. You cannot look at the south side of a map of Peoria to help you navigate the north-west part of town.
In other words, we have to use the Word in the proper context.
This is where all these false teachers and shysters lead people astray. They hold up the Bible, say the Name of Jesus... and weak, gullible people think they must be right because they used the Word of God and spoke the Name of Jesus, but they are shallow enough in their walk that they do not realize that they are being led astray.

Everyone needs to follow the map... but following "the map" is not enough... you have to make sure you are following the correct map and learn to read it yourself instead of depending on someone else to read it for you.

10 March, 2016

Are You Saved, Or Do You Have Religion?

“For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death” (2 Corinthians 7:10).

This is a key verse when it comes to our salvation. The modern message has been “Just give your heart to Jesus, it’s that easy,” while the biblical gospel says the opposite. Jesus warned us to “strive” to enter the strait gate. The Greek word used for strive is “agonizomai” from which we derive the word “agonize.” It’s not easy to be born again. Like childbirth for baby and mother, it’s a difficult process of “mourning” and “heaviness.” Somehow, we've omitted that from our preaching and teaching today and as a result, we have many people who call themselves "saved" but the reality is that they are not "Born Again." The Bible is very clear in addressing the unsaved, as it says, “Cleanse your hands you sinners. Let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness.”  Remember how King David prayed in Psalm 51? This sort of prayer was not born out of a superficial sorrow, but genuine grief and agony as he cried out to the Lord for forgiveness. He did not just invite the Lord into his heart, he asked him to give him a new heart, a pure heart and to renew a right spirit and for God to make him faithful again. Today,  IF we speak of the blood of Jesus at all, we speak of it covering our sin, but David prayed, "wash me completely... cleanse me". This speaks of removing the sin, not just covering it. This error in our teaching and preaching today allows for people to continue to sin over and over with the understanding that their sins are "covered" rather than repentance, or turning away from our sin.

I've thought a lot over the past few days of my own conversion experience. This was something that was not done on an impulse, but something I gave much thought over, mulling the consequences of this decision. I knew that to make such a decision meant my life was about to take on a radical change. I knew that whichever decision I made, there were consequences to that decision. I wrestled with that decision and yes, agonized over it. When I surrendered, not just my heart, but my life to Christ, it was in effect, a changing teams. I often illustrate the conversion experience in this manner. Imagine that you are a baseball player and you play for the Giants, but now you are a free agent and you accept the bid from the Marlins. You sign a contract and you are now a member of the Miami Marlins. You wear their uniform, train with them and play for them. It would not be acceptable for you to tell your manager, "I think I'll go play for the Giants for a few days... but I'll be back."  You could sit in the opposing teams dugout with them during the game when they came to town. They are your former team, and now you are expected to stay with your own team.  But in Christianity, we act like we can put on whatever uniform we want to on any given day and float back and forth on a whim. The reason is that we have not had a change of heart. Many are "wearing the uniform" of their new team, but their heart is still with their old team living for self and the world. This is evidence that a "conversion" has not taken place, which means that salvation has not taken place. This is the great deception that Satan has perpetrated upon the church in these last days. People have a head experience, but not a heart experience, and that is why they can continue living in sin and little, if anything has changed in their life, other than the fact that they now go to church occasionally. There has been no repentance. 

Every time I speak like this, the critics emerge and point fingers and tell me how judgmental I am being and that I'm being legalistic. Don't take my word for it, examine God's Word to see what it says. The Scriptures admonish us to make sure we are genuinely saved. Again 2 Corinthians 7:10 says, "For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death."  Jesus told his followers in Luke 13:3 that without repentance they would perish.  Very simply... Biblically speaking that if you are saved, there with be repentance... there will be a change in the way that you live and who you live for. If there is not repentance, you are not saved. Period. Have you done that? Have you repented... turned and walked away from sin.. or are you a stranger to biblical repentance? This is far too serious to play games with. This is where our eternal destination is determined. This is something we need all be sure, or certain of... no guess work. 
If there has not been a change of heart which has lead to a change in the manner in which you live... then you have nothing more than religion, not salvation.