Monday, February 29, 2016

Don't Judge Me? Wait a minute!

Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. . . . (Luke 17:3)

I hear it so much today: "Don't judge me!" Well, I would expect that from those who do not know the Lord. After all, who wants to be corrected for wrong? Who wants to be told they did something offensive if they believe it was the right thing or their thing? However, the bible is clear in several locations that we are indeed to point out a fellow believer's sin, but in private mind you. It is not to embarrass anyone, but to bring one to repentance and forgiveness. It is meant to create unity and fellowship within the Body and with God. Friends do not allow friends to openly sin without the love to speak with them! It is eternally dangerous. In fact, as in the previous verses, to misuse Scripture or deliberately keep someone from the Truth is likened to being drown in the depths of the sea with a concrete block tied around ones neck! Wow, that's always been clear to me.

Now for the world, the unbelievers, well if they do not know Jesus, they will not understand the sin. It is best for us to be a light for them by living out the Gospel truths before them. We should not waste our time on pointing out facts they cannot comprehend without the Spirit of God's understanding. The worse thing we can possible do is to say we believe yet not live the Truth. Our words are then shallow and in vain.

We are our brothers' keepers!  Pray for the rest to come to know the Truth!

Friday, February 26, 2016

Mentoring Boys or Fixing Men . . . It's a Choice!

Fourteen years ago today the Lord presented my bride and me with a gift. We had named him months before he was born . . . "Michael Gerard". He is indeed a "gift from God" and will be "mighty in battle"! Michael was born within our hearts and delivered from heaven. He has been a sign of grace and full of of joy and energy since the day we laid eyes upon him. 

On this his fourteenth birthday, my simple prayer is that he remains in the will of God and that we have the fortitude and strength it takes not to fail him or the Lord!

You you shall walk after the Lord your God and fear Him, and keep His commandments and obey His voice; you shal serve Him and hold fast to Him . . . because you have listened to the voice of the Lord your God, to keep all His commandments which I command you today, to do what is right in the eyes of the Lord your God. (Deuteronomy 13:4-18)

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Are we failing God and the next generation?

Giving our kids advice about the future . . . challenging to say the least!  Many of us have found ourselves saying, "I just want you to be happy." While this may sound good, it is not biblical or smart, and will lead most in the wrong (sometimes deadly) direction! Others of us say " Get a good education so you cam make a good living to care for your family." Since when does a good living, lots of money, a big home, and a nice car equal out to success?

Work (i.e. a job or career) is sacred according the Word of God. It is a blessing to work. It is a calling from God! God has designed us each in a unique way with special physical and spiritual gifts. Are we ignorant of these things as parents, adults, and mentors? Do we even know our own gifts? Are we using what God has given to us to best serve Him? Is our goal to groom successful, well-to-do business men and ladies or disciples of Christ prepared to do battle for the Lord?

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)

Whatever we do, we are to do it as unto the Lord, for His glory!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Are we blending in?

No matter the ridicule, misjudgment, false accusations, slander, misrepresentations, rejections, or isolation, we who STAND for Christ must continue to stand! We cannot give in to political correctness or other pressures to conform and be like the rest of society. We only have to please One . . . 

Anybody suffering for Christ today?

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. . . . Likewise, the Spirit also helps us in our weaknesses . . . What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?  . . . As it is written, (Psalm 44:22) "For Your sake we are killed all the day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter." (Romans 8:18-36)

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Friends of Youth or Makers of Disiples of Christ?

Many of us shy away from severe discipline. We are afraid to "lose" our children. I must admit, I too have failed in this area at times. I rely too much upon words and hoping the kids will "get my example". However, all youth need physical discipline at times . . . a real consequence to sin! 

Furthermore, we have all had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live . . . Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but PAINFUL, nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:9-11)

I have much to learn as a parent and educator who is responsible to the youth of today (and tomorrow). I must take my training from the One who made me and all these kids. I am accountable to Him! Father knows best! Will I choose His way of discipline or risk their future?  Am I seeking to make friends in the world or disciples of Jesus? My desire is to love them as God does!

Monday, February 22, 2016

Always a good time to begin again . . .

Sometimes we need to regroup and rethink our plans. It's good to examine what we have been doing and restart a plan of which we have gone astray or even redo the plan altogether. It is not failure to change plans or even admit we have fallen off track. In fact, it is very wise and encouraging to be honest woth ourselves so as to refocus and reset our aim. God did this with His people once they came out of Egypt and Joshu took command. It is good too for us to stop and rethink . . .

And this is the reason why Joshua circumcised them: All the people who came out of Egypt who were males, all the men of war, had died in the wilderness on the way, after they came out of Egypt. For all people who came out had been circumcised, but all people born in the wilderness, on the way, as they came out of Egypt, had not been circumcised. For the children of Israel walked forty years in the wilderness, till all the people who were men of war, who came out of Egypt, were consumed. . .  Then the Lord said to Joshua, "This day, I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you."

A new start . . .a fresh beginning . . . washed and refreshed to get back in the battle. The reproach . . . the stone has been rolled away!!!!!

Friday, February 19, 2016

Living in FEAR

Yes, redeemed sinners still sin, but it's how we feel about it that counts! Are we convicted, or do we pass sin off like a rain drop on a windshield and just wipe it away? Where is the sorrow, the shame, the guilt? After all Christ has done and still does for us, how can we call ourselves believers and still casually sin day after day with no conviction? Listen to the writer of Hebrews . . .

Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the Covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?  . . . The Lord will judge His people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands the Living God. (Hebrews 10:29-31)

Yes, I still sin, but many times right in the middle of that sin, I feel horrible. I fear God! What about you? What about our youth? Are we teaching and modeling the FEAR of God anymore?

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Danger Zone Ahead!

This morning I am burdened to pray for our youth! As I experience more and more of spiritual apathy, spiritual ignorance, and outright disagreement with Scripture, I am hurt, appalled, and at times even angry. I know no better thing to do than to go to the Father in prayer . . .

Teach me to do Your will, for You are my God; Your Spirit is good. Lead me in the land of uprightness. (Psalm 143:10)

 . . .that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height . . . to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:17-19)

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Basics of Prayer

I have been teaching on prayer recently in my middle school classes and two things we have been focusing upon are speaking to God but also listening to God. Many times we forget the listening part! Do we even know what God would sound like? Well, first, we must realize what we sound like to God! Do we sound like babbling babies, arrogant adults, or children approaching their loving Father with love, respect, and real needs? Consider these basic verses . . . .

And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think they will be heard in their many words. (Matthew 6:5-7)

What a reminder to me today. Be real with God; whether alone or in public. Who am I to impress anyone, much less God!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Why Worry?

Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own troubles. (Matthew 6:34)

Jesus has just finished teaching His disciples how to pray and directed them to serve God over worldly desires and He sums it all up but instructing them to deal with things as they come. While is is surely wise to plan for tomorrow, we cannot be so stressed about tomorrow and the future that we cannot handle today! 

If you are like me, you make a list or a lesson plan and if it cannot be accomplished, it moves to the next day. No one thing is more important than serving God, caring for family, and being safe. Priorities . . . Godly priorities matter!

Friday, February 12, 2016

A Valentine Promise

No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man, but GOD IS FAITHFUL, who will NOT allow you to be tempted beyond why you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you might be able to bear it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)

Valentine's Weekend is approaching and everyone is rushing for flowers, candies, dinner reservations, etc. CHRISTian spouses are searching for the perfect verse to woo their mate. While Scripure is full of "love quotes" today this one has hit me: nothing is more loving or says "I love you" more than FAITHFULNESS. As God has been and always will be faithful to us, we (husbands) must be faithful to our wife. We may not have the looks of other guys, the phisique of other men, or the fancy words drooling off our tongues, but we do have the Spirit of CHRIST living within us that gives us the power to be FAITHFUL. No more excuses guys! This alone speaks security, protection, and commitment to a bride who desperately needs these things. 

So as we read the Song of Solomon or the 1 Corinthians 13 verses, don't forget that being faithful to God, bride, and family speaks bouquets of love and feeds sweetness to the heart's palate!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Investing forward . . .

But the Lord is faithful, Who will establish you and guard you from the evil one. And we have confidence in the Lord concerning you, both that you do and will do the things we command you. Now may the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into patience of Christ. . . But as for you, BRETHREN, do not grow weary in doing good . . . (2 Thessalonians 3:3-5,13)

Oh, these are hard words to swallow for those of us who believe, because many times we are used up, run down, and out of the time and energy it takes to do the work. I am talking about all the work we do . . . not simply the mundane day in and day out jobs, but ministry!

CHRISTian workers in the field can at times be the most overworked and most neglected. They are expected to work and never tire. They are expected to enjoy every second of their labor. They are not expected to become ill, weary, or simply tired! 

The ones in the limelight may be rewarded now and then, but the ones in the daily trenches and in the background grind away daily . . . often alone. I know the bible says to wait upon the Lord and many times that is our solace . . . The Lord! 

Be encouraged by Paul's words. Don't give up doing good. After all, we are working for the Lord and His day is coming . . .

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

At times we may seem invisible . . .

"For the Lord does not see as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. . . And the Lord said, "Arise, anoint him, for this is the one!"(1 Samuel 16:7,12)

Man might see one thing about a person, but knows the heart. Certain folks are accepted, applauded, rewarded, and promoted. Others are left behind, forgotten, taken for granted, and often physically and emotionally drained. Many times, the devoted follower of Jesus Christ is working hard in the background . . . in the shadows holding up the foundation of major endeavors,  yet unnoticed and unrewarded. . . even misrepresented at times. 

But hang in . . . God sees it all . . . His rewards are so much greater! Only the things we do for Christ . . . especially  the things only He knows about such a person, will last!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Not easy, it's why they call it ministry!

Remind them remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men. For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lists and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hearing one another. . . (Titus 3:1-3)

Paul, in writing to Titus, encouraged him to be very diligent in his teaching, but yet remember where we all were before we knew Christ. What a reminder today for those who parent, mentor, teach, and shepherd! Many times we stress what is right and demand obedience, but we forget that we too were once in the shoes of the student, the learner, the new believer and the once seeking Truth. We too are still learning . . . 

We do not know it all! Here is when grace kicks in . . . seek His grace and guidance. 

We have all been there!

Monday, February 8, 2016

Spiritual Focus

Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according  to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. (Colossians 2:8)

Paul warns us against the world's ways of presenting truth; philosphy and tradition, basic principles of the world . . . political correctness if you would! It is alive and well in our homes, in our social media, entertainment, and yes, even within our churches. Paul says "Beware!" This world and its ruler are out to cheat us out of the freedoms we have in Christ. It wants to twist God's Word around family traditions, cultural practices, and acceptable social practices. 

Stay grounded to the Truth we learned from the beginning. Hold fast to the words of God and not man. Having been warned against losing spiritual sight yesterday in church, I am again reminded from God's Word to remain focused!

Friday, February 5, 2016

Eternal Truth . . .Eternal Rewards

Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. . . . Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, AS I SHOULD. (Ephesians 6:14-15, 20)

It is more and more of a challenge with every passing day; standing for and teaching the Gospel Truths. So many, both in and out of our churches are compromising the eternal and everlasting words of God Himself. While it breaks my heart to witness people my age rejecting the Gospel, it tears at my very fabric that Satan has twisted the minds of our youth! Many refuse to accept the plain and simple Truth that Jesus' way is the ONLY way and His words are the ONLY Truth we have. 

But I will not stop. I will not back down. With every breath I have I will speak and do my best to live the Truth out before them. One may hear and respond. That will make it worth the effort!

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Reward the Right Things, not EVERYTHING!

If anyone serves me, he will if anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; for where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor. (John 12:26)

Jesus was teaching just after His triumphant entry into Jerusalem and spoke concerning a life dedicated to serving Him. A life of honor, according to God's standards, is not one of accolades and rewards, but of sacrifice and selflessness. We take the example of Christ Himself!

Whom do we honor today? Where lies our standards of excellence? As believers,  are we placing the proper values on the things that matter? While earthly achievements are worthy of praise and reward, Godly principles and character bring eternal change and yes, one day, HONOR! 

Above all, we must honor THE King!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

I am entitled to . . . .

For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not ideal when We were with you, nor did we eat anyone's food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. . . "The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat." ( 2 Thessalonians 3:7-10)

As believers, we are do all we can to provide for our needs and even to go as far as to trust the Lord to provide where we fall short. Far too many of us have fallen into the social traps of allowing the government and others to provide ALL we need and more. The bible is clear . . . we (specifically men!) are to work! Now if we need a hand-up now and then, fine. However, we are not to fall into the traps of entitlement. Far too many of our younger generations are now convinced that we are entitled to food, housing and finances rather than "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." 

Abundant life, by the wayapplies to a life in Christ, not life smothered in the finer things of life (John 10:10).

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

As your President . . . .

Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to be great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave. . . just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many. (Matthew 29:26-28)

As we begin the political process of nominating presidential candidates, I can think of very few who have these words in mind as they campaign. Oh, there are a few who may quote the words or claim to want to serve, but in many hearts the role of a politician is one of power, prestige, and popularity. While they are concerned about the legacy they may leave behind, I do not believe it's much along the lines of the spiritual legacy alluded to here by Jesus.

Jesus told the disciples that leadership, BIBLICAL leadership, comes at a great cost. Oh, there are rewards, much of which will come in eternity, but there is much in the way of ridicule, torment, loneliness, exile, slander, heartache, and more! Many of us are willing to accept the applause but quick to run from struggles. 

Will we be able to drink from the cup? (verse 22)

Monday, February 1, 2016

Celebrating HIStory

And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and had determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us . . . (Acts 17:26-27)

One blood . . . So where is there room for racism? In the Body, we have NO excuse! Among Christ-followers, there is no room for discrimination based on anything other than hating sin. 

How can we say we love God, yet have differences with one from our very own blood? (1 John 4:29) 

One Body, one Spirit, one Lord . . . one race . . . CHRISTian! ((Ephesians 4:4-6)

Storms and Faith

Jesus got into a boat. His disciples followed him.  Suddenly a terrible storm came up on the lake. The waves crashed over the boat. But Jesu...