Wednesday, July 18, 2018

I don't know how it was when you were a kid, but for me, swimming was the thing. Any chance to get to go swimming was met with great enthusiasm. Whether it was a real honest to goodness swimming pool, or the local swimming hole, I was all about getting myself into the water.

But from time to time an unusual thing would happen. We would take a picnic lunch along and eat a meal before we'd go swimming. That's when the "Mom" rule would kick in. "You can't go swimming until an hour after you've eaten." What? Why not? What's up with this? You entice me to an afternoon of swimming and then you feed me and saddle me with this parental burden. You've got to be kidding." We had to wait an hour exactly. We were informed that if we went swimming before the hour was up, we would cramp up, sink to the bottom of the pool where we would drown. I remember one time asking my mother, "What if we go in after waiting 59 minutes and 59 seconds?" Now she knew I was trying to find a loophole in this whole eating/swimming thing. "Nope...cramp, sink, drown." So there we would be....sitting at the edge of the pool watching all the other non-fed kids having the time of their lives. IT was miserable.

I said all of that to make a point.
We need to take that same enthusiasm we had as a kid and apply it to our daily walk with Christ. In fact, that walk isn't to be as a spectator to what God is doing in His Kingdom rule. We are called to participate. You can tell some people that and they look at you like you've developed three heads. "You mean I'm suppose to be an active participate in what God is doing?" Duh? Yes!

Contrary to popular church belief, the guy up front who you've hired to be the pastor/teacher, is not there to do everything. He is not there to make the church function or look better or win people to Jesus. He is there to equip you to do all of that stuff. Pray for people....see people healed.....break off demonic oppression and suppression....feed the poor....visit the sick and those in prison (or county jail). You've got to dive into this whole Jesus thing.
Don't be content to sit on the bank while all the other kids are in the pool having a wonderful time. Dive in with them.

Have you read that book? The Bible? Have you read it? Jesus comes along and puts together the most improbable group of individuals ever assembled, and then gives them authority and power to ransack the kingdom of the devil. I'm not sure I would have trusted the disciples with my car keys, much less the Kingdom of God. But Jesus did. He trusted them. He told them, "Hey guys, it's time to quit sitting by the pool. It's time to jump in!" O.k.---he didn't really say it that way, but you get the point.

He didn't line them up and say, "Who has a college degree?"
"Who has been to seminary?"
"Who can read Hebrew and Greek?"
Nope! He simply called, empowered and then sent them on their way, two by two. Did they mess up? Probably. It was probably very awkward on that first journey without Jesus there to guide them. There was probably a lot of "You go first"..."No you pray"....."Not me, you pray first." But eventually the boys jumped in the pool and began to have some fun. In fact, they returned from their journey with all kind of tales to tell Jesus.
They didn't sit by the pool and watch....
They jumped in.
What about you?
Are you going to sit by the pool while everyone else has the fun?

Or are you going to jump in?

God on you...


Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Spirit Vs. Flelsh

Galatians 5:13
You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature, rather serve one another in love.

God's desire is to occupy the center place in my heart, my thoughts, my my life.
It's easy to make such statements.
To parrot the words...
Give a "book" answer .

But to actually place God at the center of my will is hard.

There is the ongoing struggle between Spirit and flesh.
Between His ways and my old ways that seem to rise up from time to time.

Rise up to try and take control again.
It's begins with a subtle thought of exercising my own will over that of God's.

I am assured by the Holy Spirit of my salvation. IN fact, my salvation is an ongoing process.
I was saved back in 1961...
I am being saved today, here in 2018.
And I will be saved at some future point.

Maybe that is why ol' Paul wrote in Philippians 2:12 that we were to "Continue to work out our salvation iwth fear and trembling."

Such is why I must be vigilant in this journey of daily life.
To be aware of my need for a POWER greater than myself who can guide me and help me to make the right decisions.
Such a POWER has paid the penalty for my sins....
Such a POWER has broken the power of sin in my life...
And such a POWER fills me to help me stand against the presence of sin.

That is why the turning of will over to His care is so important. So that I won't lay hold of my thoughts and decided what I will and will not do. 

maybe I think about such things too much.
I look at others and they seem to be blissfully unaware of the battle between Spirit and flesh. What I have learned over the years about my own walk with Christ, is that the closer I get to Him...the more I grow in Him, the more my heart is uncovered. I discover new things about myself that I wish I didn't have to. But isn't this only an example of the incredible love that God has for you and me? That He loves us so much that His heart is that we grow in Him to move beyond the influence of the flesh....that old sin nature?
I think maybe yes, it is.

God on you..


Monday, July 16, 2018

Our Finest Hour


All a part of life. But in the life of someone coming our of addiction, such are usually self-inflicted. The dark thoughts and negative emotions cloud and color the choices that are made. What this means is that sometimes a bad choice turns into a terrible choice, as one choice piles up on another in an effort to deal with life.

I have been in the middle of these type situations for a long time. Watching someone make a bad choice because it seemed like the easier, softer way, rather than the right way.
Someone chooses to drink, knowing full well what is going to happen.
They drink anyway.

One drink leads to twelve, all the while putting the addiction stamp of approval on the decision to start. At the same time, the truth eats away at every decision. "You know better than this! Don't do this." But with every drink that voice is replaced with an accusing, sarcastic voice that demeans the individual with guilt and shame. These two wonderful emotions only fuel the cycle to drink so that you don't feel. Funny part is that the more you drink (or use drugs) so that you don't feel....the more you feel all the negative garbage that is being heaped on you.

God's plan to deal with such emotional baggage is pretty amazing.
Once a person is saved, they have deposited in them God's Holy Spirit.
I know this term doesn't fit Him well, but think of the Holy Spirit as a type of "SUPER" conscience. Yet more than simply sound the alarms and whistles when we are headed toward making a bad choice, the Holy Spirit will direct us in our choices. All the while, He begins the process of changing our character so we don't live the old life style.

I love James 1:2-4 in the Message Bible.
Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it (the situation/ circumstance) do its work so you become mature and well developed, not deficient in any way.

Instead of cutting and running back to the darkness, we take hold of Jesus' hand a little tighter. "I will not run! I will stand!" As we declare our intention, God's Spirit will strengthen us. It will be a storm to weather, but as with any terrible weather pattern, there is always a break and the sun comes shining through. Same with this new life we are trying to lay hold of. The storms of life will come and buffet us, but the SON, Jesus, will come shining through. That is a promise.

During the darkest time of world war II, when England stood alone against the German War machine, Prime minister Winston Churchill told the people that when history looks back at their struggle, it would declare "This was their finest hour."
Such will be recorded for everyone who lays hold of Jesus, and does not let go but pushes forward to face the day.

God on you...

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Things Are Getting Weird

Job 33:14
For God speaks again and again.....though people do not recognize it.

O.k....for starters let me say that I don't walk around getting supernatural communications from on high all the time.
God does speak in various ways to get my attention. To point me toward something that I normally might miss. I mean...come on....He used a burning bush to get Moses' attention, did He not? Not that I'm Moses, or that I'm buying tickets to Egypt, but that God does speak.

I posted earlier this week about how God used a Penny to remind me of the call to serve minister and love as He loves. That was cool, and I carried that around to remind me that God's ways are not like mine (thank goodness). Well, I had another God encounter on Wednesday. I've mentioned that I love to make the rounds of the local thrift stores to see what books they have to offer. I've put together a pretty good reference library to help me in my study of Scripture, so I try to visit at least one thrift store a week.  

On this particular day, I was walking down row after row of books when one book caught my eye.....Not one I usually would have given a second thought. It was a journal...A mission journal entitled "GO INTO ALL THE WORLD." For what ever reason, I pulled it down and began to leaf through it.

The journal has pages for notes, and also pages under the heading of "What is God teaching me?" It looked brand new...I thumbed through it and saw that not one page had been written on. It was as if someone had been given the book as a present and was not motivated to fill in any of it. I really considered it strange that such a book would be donated and found at a thrift store.

I purchased it for $1.00 and brought it home, not sure of what I was to do with it. On Thursday morning, after our quiet time, I opened it up and jotted down some thoughts concerning this journal. Below is the first posting in this new/old journal.

"Not sure why I purchased this journal---but for $1.00 how could I go wrong. Funny how the cover of this journal has decals and stickers from exotic places in foreign lands. Kind of like the old steamer trunks people use to travel with back in the 20's, 30's and 40's. These stickers and decals were a kind of badge for others to see where you've been. To show others that you're life hasn't been what others might call normal. In fact these stickers would subtly say that the owner of this trunk hasn't just lived life, but rather is an adventurer. That in fact the trunk owner may have seen things and had experiences that most people only dream of. Isn't this the very heart of what it means to follow Jesus? That such isn't what some may call normal, but rather an adventure. I think maybe yes it is."

This adventure of following Jesus isn't about the geography of the world...It's about the application of His Kingdom rule through our faith, belief, and willingness to live our lives daily for Him.  Maybe that is what I was to see in this journal....that every believer has an on-going call to daily get up and go out into the world, taking care of the corner God has called them to, and placed them in.  So maybe this journal was put there for me to see to remind me what God expects of me  (and you)....

And one last thing...
This is where I guess you could play the theme song to the Twilight Zone...Today as I was closing the journal up after writing in it, something inside the cover caught my eye. I'd never really noticed it before. It was an inscription that had been written to the original owner.

The opening words.....
Michael...use this journal when you go on your next mission trip....

My name...Michael...there in plain sight.
Now we can spin this twenty ways till Sunday...but I can't help but think that God set this up, once again to remind me of the mission.

Why do I need to be reminded? Could be that some hard times are just around the corner that would seek to stop me from following Jesus.  I don't know.

I just know that there in that store, along the back wall...there were thousands of books, and I happen to find the one that had my name in it...and that it was a journal yet to be filled in, to remind me of the life still yet to be lived. I saw the inscription inside the cover and I could not help but break into a smile. "God, You are something else!!"
One last thing....
The store I found the journal in?

The Center Of Hope thrift store.
That is exactly what I had found...

God on you...

Thursday, July 12, 2018

A Word....Or THE Word?

Have you ever gone to a conference where some well known Bible teacher or speaker is going to be?
Have you ever gone to a Worship conference where a well known worship leader was going to sing and play?
Have you ever gone to the Holy Land, Israel, and walked and viewed the places we have heard about all our lives?
What did you come away with?
The feeling was tremendous.
"I could sense the presence of the Lord."
Well let me ask you a question.
When is the last time you read the Word of God and was blown away just like when you attended conferences and meetings?
Why? Why is it that we view the Word of God as dry and something that we are required to read? We sometimes treat the Word of God as though if God himself did actually reveal to us some truth, we would label that among miracles.
Why do we have a disregard to the power of the Word of God?

I know that we are not called to live our lives searching for the next spiritual high or the Hallelujah fuzzies, but we seem to be a generation of Jesus junkies. Not the Jesus of Scripture but the pre packaged, glossy, fun Jesus. One that blesses without regard to the status of our hearts. We want the glitz and glamor but please don't make us read that book.
We can quote page and paragraph of THE SHACK.....
But we are ignorant of the Justification of God.
We have prayed JABEZ's prayer until we are blue in the face.....
But we couldn't tell you one thing about Sanctification.....
We can sing the latest worship hit from the Time Life Series......
But we are hard pressed to tell what it means to walk by faith and not by sight.
We are an ignorant people when it comes to the Bible.
Ignorant doesn't mean we are stupid. Ignorant means we don't know.
Yet it is this incredible Word given to us by God that is the fore most vehicle through which He speaks.
Hebrews 4:12-
For the Word of God.........His communication with us, his creation... Word means we listen and take in. We don't engage in conversation as to what God was REALLY saying. The Holy Spirit in us, teaches us the wisdom and knowlege of God.

Is living and Powerful.......If it is alive, then it is relevant to every generation and every situation that we may face.

Sharper than any two edged sword...........what is a sword good for? War..defending yourself and at the same time, it can cut open and reveal what is inside.

Piercing.............nothing can stop the sword from going deep inside even the division of soul and spirit. It is the battleground where God prevails every time.
and of joints and marrow.

And is a discerner of thoughts ......................The Word of God uncovers sinful thoughts which lead to transgressions (deeds and actions)

And intents of the heart..............The Word of God actually is preemptive in that it deals with our sin while they are still just thoughts and intents. We actually haven't carried or acted upon them yet. God intercepts them before we have an opportunity to put them into practice and they become deeds. He saves us from the deed bringing consequences that may harm and follow us for the rest of our lives.

Read the Word of God today.
Ask God to increase your hunger for it.
Become a lover and student of His Word.
It brings health to your soul and strength to your body.

God on you..........

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

A Wednesday Posting On Being The Church, Not Doing Church

Reprint From July 2014

Wimber on the value of relationships:
"The vertical relationship with God has its outworking in horizontal relationships of love between people. (I John 4:19-21). Christianity is not a system of religion. It is a way of life, a way of relating in love to God, people and the environment that God has placed them in.

The church in America has taken a wrong turn somewhere along the way. I don't want to come across as being some kind of religious judge, nor do I wish to simply act as though every thing is peachy-keen. I simply want to say what God has placed on my heart.

Too much effort, time and money is being poured into the structure of the church, with no thought to the life of the church. People are asked to tithe more and more...give more and prop up the structure. John use to say that you have only two types of churches. (1) life in search of structure, and (2) structure in search of life. I fear that more and more are falling into the #2 category. I spoke with someone recently whose heart was breaking. Their church had divided and there was a lot of division and factions speaking against each other. This person was upset and you could tell that they were wounded deeply by all the bickering. "We only have about 75 people coming on Sunday." This statement was couched with the emotion that "Our church isn't very valuable because we don't have a lot of people coming." I asked them, "Which had you rather have----75 people who fall in love with Jesus and are sold out to doing the stuff of the Kingdom.....or 500 who simply come and never fully participate in the kingdom work?" 
I'll take the 75. 

 I've said this before, but I don't know that people really believe it, or they just don't hear it. The success of any church....any movement or denomination is not measured by the bank account and the number that attend each week. The success is measured by the quality of people produced by that church. Do they love Jesus? Are they about the business of the Kingdom when they aren't at church? Are they motivated by love to reach out to those around them? That is the measure. Do they know how to worship? Do they know how to worship corporately in community with others....and by themselves? Do they realize that their first and most high calling to God is to worship Him? Do they fully grasp the concept and directive from Jesus that they are not to be about the business of making converts, but rather making disciples? Such is what a successful church does. The true measurement of any church is the character of the people, and the fact that they are ministering every day where ever they may be. Praying for people, feeding people...reaching out to people. Not in an effort to enfold them into their church, but simply because that is what our Father expects of us. We do the Kingdom work because we have been called. And you know what? We do without a committee. We do it even when the pastor isn't around. We don't wait for the deacons or elders to give us the green light. Do you get it? We serve and minister because that is what we have been called to do. 

On the surface, if you look at VRC, you would feel very sorry for it.
On a good night we will have 20 come to the meeting.
But within those 20 we have 9 who are committed to learn how to serve and "do the kingdom work". More than this, you have to take in consideration those who are tied to VRC  who don't even live in this state. Daily they come to this blog page to receive a word from encouragement to keep on and not give up.....

Not to mention those who call me on a regular basis to let me know their status and to share their God encounters with me. God has raised up others to start recovery meetings as a result of our work in recovery. I guess some people are able to raise up those who go out and plant churches. We are about the business of planting meetings where the name of Jesus is lifted up as the answer to addiction.
And one last thing....
That 20 who come to is a constant roll over so it's never the same ones.
Our goal as a church?
Love 'em to death and influence them to really take a look at who Jesus is and the mission that every believer is called to participate in. That mission burns on our hearts, not because we have to do it......but because we want to!

Love those who come and reveal Jesus to them. Not the church Jesus.....Not the denomination Jesus...but the real-deal Jesus of the Bible.

Wimber taught us that who worship is the most important thing there is.
You may be thinking, "Well duh! We worship Jesus."
Do we? Does everyone who nails the word church to their sign really worship the triune God?
Here's how I see it.

Some worship God the Father, God the Son......and God the Holy Church. Here we have an over emphasis of the church as the only real frame of reference to knowing God. The end result is traditionalism.

Then you have some who worship God the Father, God the Son,  God the Holy Bible. Exalting the word of God above the Spirit of God. This results in legalism and fundamentalism (ideology).

Some groups worship God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Experience. Seeking the supernatural and the spiritual gifts as an end in itself. This results in sensationalism. Also leads to a sense of elitism as though those who receive such are living this relationship with Christ on a higher level than the average believer.

Others worship God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Ministry. The ministry and mission of the church becomes the only and all-consuming reason for its existence. The results are that the people are driven to measure everything by performance.

Last but not least....
The One I strive for as pastor of VRC....
To worship God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.

Receiving and honoring the Spirit of God by giving Him His correct place within the church. Doing so results in the incarnation, the presence, power and freedom of the Father and the Son.
Jesus said, "I and my Father will come and dwell in you."  (John 14:23).
Is VRC the perfect church with perfect people? Heaven's no. We are a busted up, messed up group of folk's who are simply learning a new way to live according to our Father in heaven.
But we are about the business of change. Why? Because we have done time on the dark side and now we are free. 
 God on you this day...

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

God Put A Penny On The Ground

Yesterday was a day of appointments.
Not the kind you schedule, but those that kind of fall in your lap.
You know that something is going on (that is a nice way of saying, "God is doing something...I don't see the bigger picture at this time) simply because you keep running into folks who need a moment of your time. It might be that they need prayer because they're going through a hard time.....maybe some financial help with a situation they can't take care of.....or they just need to talk with someone.

I had finished up my morning Bible Study over at Elmo's place, had said my good byes, and headed out the door, when I saw a lady crossing the street coming my way. I recognized her from other recovery meetings I had spoken at. I was surprised to see her over in this particular neck of the woods.

We exchanged pleasantries and she asked me if I could pray for a family she knows who has a member that is wrapped up in alcoholism. You know and I know that such doesn't just affect the one who's drinking. It draws the entire family and in, and sucks the very life from all of them. It seems, in this instance, that things have spiraled downward to the point that things are getting dangerous around the home. The person in question is in full blown denial about having a problem. You get the standard answer of "I can quit anytime I want to." How many times have I heard this?

As she shared the story, asking me if I would pray for this family, she began to reveal a bit of her heart. She leads a recovery group in town and is experiencing low numbers and small crowds attending. She is getting discouraged and even has thoughts of giving up. I know that she attends other meetings where the crowds are larger, so I asked her, "Do you look at the other meetings and judge what you're doing based on their numbers?" Her eyes filled up with tears, and she said, "I just want to have a packed house for our meeting." I told her that I totally understood what she was going through, and then I shared a lesson that I had to learn in dealing with our meeting, Vineyard ReCovery Church. I told her to quit looking at what she doesn't have, and concentrate on the ones who come to her meeting. "Look for the one...the one who is hungry to receive," was my advice. Look for the one who comes through the door that is in desperate need of God in their life. That is one you want to approach for prayer. That is one that you want to pour your love out on. Don't neglect anyone...but look for that one. We shared "good-bye's" and went our separate ways.

Made my way over to apartments on Walnut street to help a man I've know for a number of years. He is going through some hard times, and his health is steadily going downhill. But like he says (in his own words), "I am a survivor!" and he means that. Got to visit with him and help with some needs. We prayed and I told him I would check back on Friday. Going back to my car, my phone rang and it was someone else asking for prayer. As I approached my car, I think maybe God left a token lying on the ground for me to see. Something to remind me that it was His kingdom work that we all have been called to do. What was the token? A penny lying there by the driver side door.

What's so special about a penny? Nothing in and of itself, but I've become kind of crazy when it comes to coins I find laying around. I always check out the date and see if it corresponds to an event in my life. Most times it doesn't, but every now and then it does strike home. So here I was ministering and taking care of folks....some might even call it "pastoring". I looked at the date on the penny. It was 1964.

Well, 1964 just happens to be the year God called me to be a pastor. I was thirteen, attending a summer revival at my home church. That particular night Rev. Hugh Chambliss was the visiting preacher and his message hit me like a ton of bricks. It was as if everyone else in the church had disappeared, and it was just Bro. Hugh and me. I knew that I knew, that I knew God was calling me to be a preacher/ pastor. At the same time it frightened me to death, so much that I ran from the call for 33 years. The call never went away, and I could never truly escape from it. Yet here, on the ground was a token from God to remind that I was doing what He'd call me to 54 years earlier. A reminder that when any of us does anything in His name, we are advancing the Kingdom of God.

Matthew 10:42
And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.

It is the simple "acts" of giving and loving that matter the most. Doing so draws hearts to be open to the Holy Spirit's leading. How hard is it to give a cup of water away? Think on this.

God on you...

Monday, July 9, 2018

Kingdom Call...Kingdom Power...Kingdom Work

Matthew 8:2-3
A man with leprosy came and knelt before Him and said, "Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean." Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man, "I am willing," He said. "Be clean!" Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy."

That voice....
I'd recognize it anywhere.

For eight years I listened to that voice. He taught me. He stretched my belief's. He challenged me. The voice belongs to John Wimber. At one time, John was the face (and voice) of the Vineyard.

After my ordination as pastor, I took full advantage of the library of tapes that Gadsden Vineyard Church owned. IN some ways, they became my seminary. They help to form my theology and belief about the Kingdom of God. They helped me to see that Jesus has called every believer to participate in the Kingdom work of Christ. Funny part in all of this is that if God has indeed called every believer to participate...then would it not make sense that He would equip us for such a work and call? I believe the answer would be yes.

I grew up in church...
The church WAS my family....

But my understanding of church and how it operated was that the pastor was the main instigator of Kingdom work. Those of us who sat in the pews were to help him. He came up with the vision and direction for the church. Even though I had read Ephesians 4:12, I did not understand that the main duty of a pastor was to Equip  the people for works of service (or ministry) so that the body of Christ may be built up. Now my mind told me that "works" or "Ministry" simply meant that I was to be given a job at church that help take care of some of the day to day things that had to be done in order for the church to function.

I didn't understand that I was called to participate in the works of Jesus. In fact I didn't even see this when I read Matthew 28:18-20.
Here is the rundown on these verses.

#1 - Jesus lays foundation for future ministry by saying ALL authority has been given to Him by His Father in heaven. 
  A.) Authority that extends to heaven...all the way down to earth.

#2 - He then commands (not suggest) His followers to "GO"....

#3 - In the going, these disciples are to make other disciples.
       A.) Oh yeah, when Jesus said that all authority had been
       given to Him, the inference of us "Going" means that 
       we go because His authority has now been given to us.

#4 - Make sure that those who are brought into our spiritual family are baptized.

#5 - Teaching them.....(not in a classroom, but by modeling before them) to observe ALL THINGS that That I have commanded you.
    A.) You could say that this teaching and learning is the
        earliest form of "On the job" training.

   B.) So what falls under Jesus' teaching that the 
       disciples were given by Jesus, that they are to 
       reproduce with these new disciples or followers?
        1.) Well, according to Matthew 10:1...Jesus gave
        them power over unclean spirits ( uh...that 
        would be demons. He also gave them the power
        and authority to heal all kinds of sickness
        and all kinds of diseases.

#6 - Jesus closes out by saying..."I am with you always, even to the end of the age.
     A.) In other words, He has given us His Holy Spirit to
     be the guide and source of the power needed to carry
     out the kingdom work.

I know that as some of you read what I've written today, your mind will tell you that you can't do any of these things...cast out demonic spirits....heal anyone who is sick much less someone who has a disease, and you would be right. You can't.
But Jesus still can.
The Holy Spirit given to every believer can and will.

God the Father has not changed the churches marching orders.
When ever we pray "Your kingdom come....your will be on earth as it is being done in heaven, we are asking God to use us in this divine engagement of His authority and power being brought to bear for the salvation of those who do not know Jesus.

Think on these things today....
God on you...

Friday, July 6, 2018

What Is In Your Mouth?

The title of today's posting comes from the commercial about the Capital One Credit Card. The catch phrase is "What's in your wallet?" The inference is that your wallet has no use or purpose without the Capital One Credit Card in it.
What's in your mouth? What is it that you speak daily? Does your words give value to what you believe or are you simply imitating what you hear on the daily news.

Paul writes in I Thesssalonians 4:18:
Therefore comfort one another with these words.

The word "therefore" is a connecting word. Paul is tying two thoughts together, so for us to understand what the verse is referring to, we have to look back at the context given in the preceding verses.
Paul is referring to the rapture.
The rapture has fallen out of favor with a lot of churches today.
The rapture is old had. antiquated and out dated.
My friend, be careful about what you allow to roll around in your brain. Be careful about the subtle voices that you listen to that lead you to disavow the truth about the return of Christ.. Many today simply don't teach it or speak on it.
They speak on the fact that we should be focused on what needs to be done now. (Nothing wrong with this...we do have a kingdom call to carry out during our time here on planet earth). But as a friend of mine was so fond of saying...."Keep one eye here on earth, and one eye looking above.
Some churches promote a social gospel of doing good works and helping people.
This kind of teaching, while not evil, carries with it a trap that snares us. What trap? The trap of feeding our flesh. Inflating our ego. Putting us at the center of God's will and not God himself.

I am not here to debate or discuss the position of the rapture in relation to God's plan. I am simply here to say that if Paul says we should comfort one another concerning the calling up by the Lord Jesus Christ of his church, then we should be speaking on the subject.
In fact the word "Comfort" used in the verse carries with it the idea of teaching or exhorting each other. Why? Why speak out on the Rapture?
Because it builds hope within us. It tells us that no matter how hard or bad things get here on earth, at some point the Lord Himself. Do you see that? The Lord Himself will descend. He isn't going to send angels after us. He will come.

The custom in Jewish Weddings was for the husband, during the betrothal period, to work and prepare a place for the couple to reside in. Did Jesus not say that he was going away to prepare a place for us and that it he was going away, would he not come back and get us? I think the answer is yes. This brings comfort to us on so many levels. It soothes my spirit and lets me know that what I am going through here on planet earth is temporary.

Some say the rapture is pie-in-sky-theology.
My friend, I say it is Jesus-in-the-sky-truth.
Read the words of I Thessalonians 4:13-18 for yourself.
Take heart!
Jesus is coming back to call his bride unto himself.......and thus we shall always be with the Lord.

Maranatha, Lord Jesus!
God on you..........

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Thoughts On The 5th About The 4th

Fourth of July.....
Always a lot of memories come to me on this day.
I can see two little boy's at the end of our driveway, with their friends, shooting off fireworks. Roman candles and bottle rockets lighting up the evening sky. Laughter and sweaty faces turning toward us proclaiming..."Mom! Dad! Did you see how high that one went?"
There was always something cooked up on the grill. Maybe a burger or two....some chicken....didn't matter, it was always good.

Yesterday was another opportunity for me to reflect on the goodness of God and the blessings that my family has received from Him. I guess the question I ask the most is "Why?"  Why me. Why this family. Oh, don't get me wrong...we've had our fair share of life-storms and hard times, but through it all there has always been the presence of God. If I could say anything, the lesson that has come through the clearest is that He is a God that is faithful even when we are not.

As I've gotten older, I see some things that my youth would not allow me to see.

That really, in this life, nothing is more important than following hard after Jesus. Such is more than going to church. It's more than reading a chapter a day. It is an invisible drive to see what's next...what is God going to do today? It's that voice inside that urges you to give away your last dollar because you see someone in need. An argument always ensues such a thought. "But God...this is my last dollar and I don't get paid for three more days!" Every point I throw up is met with..."Are you going to obey me." I've had this argument so many times, and I've seen God's provision come to my family after being obedient that I don't even try and use it anymore. I simply obey.

All day yesterday I kept thinking about the word freedom.
Seems to be a word that is bandied about on the Fourth.

People have grabbed this word and twisted the meaning of it.
Now days some people thinks that freedom means that we live in a country where we can do whatever we want to do.
We have freedom.

To me, freedom means that we've been given the right to do what we OUGHT to do, not what we want to do. That I have a Kingdom obligation to God.

Galatians 5:1 reads "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery." 
The freedom that Christ has offered us is a life of "being"....not doing.
We have been set free from the tyranny and rule of sin (that eventually ends in eternal separation from God) and have been called to a life that is defined by a change in our very nature and character. For too long, I thought that Christianity was a life of rules and regulations. An existence that was made up of commandments and a God who was just waiting for me to get out of line. Nothing could be further from the truth. 

God has called me....
God has saved me...
God has empowered me with His Holy Spirit to become the person that He intended me to be. In other words, I expend myself on allowing the Holy Spirit to produce His fruit (Galatians 5:22-24). The doing that we seem to think defines us a followers of Jesus is done so because of rules and commandments. If I am being the person God intends me to be...the doing will come natural. I will "DO" because I want to...not because I have to.

The verse from Galatians calls for us to "Stand Firm"....No matter what may be going on around us...we are to not be moved. Such posture, especially during hard times, is a testimony to the faithfulness of God and the freedom we have been given as His children. I can stand firm when the wheels are coming off because I can trust God.
I can stand firm when life's flood waters seek to wash me away because God is faithful.
I can stand firm because here in this unshakable place I have real freedom. I do not want to be like the ones who Moses delivered out of Egypt, who, when the first signs of trouble came, wanted to run back and put on the yoke of slavery. I've been set free and I choose never to return to that old life again.
How sweet the sound of that word.

God on you...


Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Selection Process For A New Pastor

Suppose the men we read about in Scripture went before a local church board to interview for the position of pastor for that church. What would the conclusion be for each person who interviewed?

 Adam: Good man but problems with his wife. Also one reference told of how his wife and he enjoy walking nude in the woods.

Noah: Former pastorate of 120 years with no converts. Prone to unrealistic building projects.

Abraham: Though the references reported wife-swapping, the facts seem to show he never slept with another man's wife, but did offer to share his own wife with another man.

Joseph: A big thinker, but a braggart, believes in dream-interpreting, and has a prison record.

Moses: A modest and meek man, but poor communicator, even stuttering at times. Sometimes blows his stack and acts rashly. Some say he left an earlier church over a murder charge.

David: The most promising leader of all until we discovered the affair he had with his neighbor's wife.

Solomon: Great preacher but our parsonage would never hold all those wives.

Elijah: Prone to depression-collapses under pressure.

Elisha: Reported to have lived with a single widow while at his former church.

Hosea: A tender and loving pastor but our people could never handle his wife's occupation.

Deborah: Female.

Jeremiah: Emotionally unstable, alarmist, negative, always lamenting things, and reported to have taken a long trip to bury his underwear on the bank of foreign river.

Isaiah: On the fringe? Claims to have seen angels in church. Has trouble with his language.

Jonah: Refused God's call into ministry until he was forced to obey by getting swallowed up by a great fish. He told us the fish later spit him out on the shore near here. We hung up.

Amos: Too backward and unpolished. With some seminary training he might have promise, but has a hang-up against wealthy people. Might fit in better in a poor congregation.

John: Says he is a Baptist, but definitely doesn't dress like one. Has slept in the outdoors for months on end, has a weird diet, and provokes denominational leaders.

Peter: Too blue collar. Has a bad temper-even has been known to curse. Had a big run-in with Paul in Antioch. Aggressive, but a loose cannon.

Paul: Powerful CEO type leader and fascinating preacher. However, short on tact, unforgiving with younger ministers, harsh and has been known to preach all night.

Timothy: Too young.

Jesus: Has had popular times, but once when his church grew to 5000 he managed to offend them all and this church dwindled down to twelve people. Seldom stays in one place very long. And, of course, he's single.

Judas: His references are solid. A steady plodder. Conservative. Good connections. Knows how to handle money. We're inviting him to preach this Sunday. Possibilities here.
(Author unknown)

God help us all!
God on you...

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