Thursday, August 30, 2018

"Yes, Lord!"

And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. 12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. 13 Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lust.     (Romans 13:11-14)
People wonder why am always asking if folks are really saved. Paul's words make it plain!  It is getting late. We never know when Christ will come back, sure. However, in this world with all the toubles we are experiencing, we also never know when a life may be cut short or serious illness or disability may encounter anyone.

TODAY is the day of salvation! If today you hear God calling, answer with a "Yes, Lord!"

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Christ does stand with us!

Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong.  Let all that you do be done with love. (1 Corinthians 16:13-14)
It is jot easy being a Christ-follower today. While salvation is all the work of Christ, living the CHRISTian life takes work. Honoring the Lord is what one does takes sacrifice. Choices must be made. Learning must take place. Decisions are difficuult at times. Feelings can be hurt. Friendships can be torn apart.  Yet it all must be done in love in order to honor our Savior!

Stand tall. Be bold. Be brave. Be willing to stand alone knowing Christ does stand with us! 

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

a life of daily sacrifice

Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach.  For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come. Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.  But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased. Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.(Hebrews 13:13-17)
Jesus, as we know was God in the flesh. He is and was Emmanuel . . . God with us! He is a Holy God and a Perfect God! Yet He came to a sinful earth to save a sinful humanity that we may spend eternity with Him as He designed when He first made man.

So what then is our response? Do we simply utter a few words, go through some rituals, attend weekly gatherings and special events and expect to now be deserving of life and fellowship with this God?

I believe there is more! Not that we can ever add anything to what God has done, but the fact that we cannot should cause us to do our best to refect Him in our daily lives. Paul, the Hebrew of Hebrews, instructs us to live a life of daily sacrifice, honoring God. He is very plain: It's the least we can do for what God has done! (Romans 12:1-2)

As we believers, disciples of Christ,  go through life, every thought, every word, every action tells the world who we are and Whose we are. Whether we are at work, at the mall, attending an event, or at home with spouse and children, we are to be honoring God.

But are we?

Monday, August 27, 2018

God will carry us through!

Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.  But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.  To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.(1 Peter 5:5-11)
I don't have to remind anyone that we live in a dangerous, trecherous and evil world. For the genuine Christ- follower, it can be even that more challenging.

Many times we are unsure whether the things we go through are from God or because we follow God! Like Paul, the good we attempt to do is rejected and the evil we observe is rewarded. One thing we know for sure though, God IS in charge!

Stay humble. Trust God. Be watchful. Satan wants to discredit God by discrediting our walk in this world. Stand firm as others have in the past (Hebrews 12: 1-2).

God will carry us through!

Thursday, August 23, 2018

CHRISTian Education: Are we now willing to sacrifice?

It has been said that "if we don’t teach our children to follow Christ, the world will teach them not to.”

As a CHRISTian teacher the past ten years and missionary teens for twenty, I have witnessed families regarding a CHRISTian education as an option, not a requirement. Yet the bible is clear about how parents are to teach their children the things of God. Parents are working two to three jobs and fifty to sixty hours a week.  Church attendance is spotty and seldom do our teens attend SONday school or youth groups. In fact, a majority of the teens I teach never attend church and depend upon the bible teacher to teach them ALL they need to know about Christ! I have surveyed the students and a wide majority have no or little prayer, bible study, or discussions about the things of Christ within the home. It saddens me but challenges me just the same. I have led many students to Christ and dozens have even been baptized at our school's church because they have no church home or rarely attend. They tell me I am the only biblical teaching they receive. What does this say about the kids who are in state-run schools from age four to five through university? Children educated in the state system become adults of the state! The reason why CHRISTian school attendance is dwindling and CHRISTian schools are closing is because parents are choosing other comforts over the sacrifice of a CHRISTian education. Free STEM classes, free art programs, sports teams and dance programs offered by the public school system take precedent over the CHRISTian school requiring tuition. Is the sacrifice of a CHRISTian education not worth the SOUL of the child? Is an IVY LEAGUE education worth more than a CHRISTian University education? What value is it for a child to gain the entire world and lose his or her soul? My wife and I have sacrificed careers, friends, family, and more to answer the call of God to serve  children and families. We have gone into debt to obtain a CHRISTian education to be better equipped to serve. It saddens my heart and soul to see our schools being threatened, our churches struggling and fellow believers losing jobs, homes, and relationships. When . . .WHEN will we as CHRISTian parents and grandparents wake up and begin to re-value the things of God. We must "train up our children" (Proverbs 22:6). We must instruct our children. (Deuteronomy 6:6-9) As Jesus said, we are to bring the children to Him (His Word) and have them learn.(Matthew 19:13-15) Paul instructed Timothy to teach these things and insist that everyone learn them! (2 Timothy 4:10-11) If we continue to work long hours, and our kids do not not attend church, SONday school or youth bible studies regularly, yet they receive all the state-funded education from ages four through adult, what should we expect for their souls? What should we as parents expect God to say to us as those given stewardship over their souls?

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Committment...All In?

For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.
13 Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. 14 That good thing which was committed to you, keep by the Holy Spirit who dwells in us.(2 Timothy 1:12-14)

What has happened to committment today? Whether in the secular world or within CHRISTian circles, it seems to be a "what have you done for me lately?" world. 

People leave churches at the drop of a hat. Family members even attend different churches! Students switch schools based upon won/lost records of sports teams. Adults change jobs chasing dollars. Spouses seek temporary pleasure rather than lifetime relationships. 

Paul warns and admonishes Timothy to hold fast to what he has learned with the aid of God the Holy Spirit. I am trying my best to "hold fast"! 

Since Christ rescued me, I have been committed to my church since being saved in 1992. Why? The Word is still being preached! I have been with my wife through ups and downs for 21 years...learning from past mistakes and scriptual instructions. It is a covenant with my bride and God. I have been educated as a missionary and bible teacher through church, university and seminary.  My family attends church with me and serves with me. My brides serves beside me in ministry. My son attends the school I serve. I won' t cave in to political correctness or cultural bias.

I won't quit.....I can't quit!

Yet others have QUIT on me. I have been fired for not "fitting in". I have been shunned for not meeting the "look". My dedication has at times been mistaken for not being "all in". To say the least, I have been scarred, battered, and bruised. 

Yet I am who God created me to be....unique, different, outspoken, dedicated, committed and ALL IN! We as a family are committed to God first and to His people. (Joshua 24:15) So despite the circumstances presented...

I won't quit....I can't quit!

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Don' t Expect Blessings Without Work.....

Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?  Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one [j]cubit to his [k]stature?“ So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not [l]arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. (Matthew 6:25-34)
 Don' t Expect Blessings Without Work..... yes we are instructed to trust God. We are instructed to not worry about everyday things or even the things of tomorrow. While birds do not "deep and sow", they do work to provide. Consider the work ethic of the ant (Proverbs 6:6-8).

In the verses from Matthew 6 above, there is a key verse for us: Seek FIRST the Kingdom of God! Our priority is not money, retirement accounts, clothing, cars, housing or other things. Seeking the Kingdom of God is building into other's lives, investing in relationships, sacrifice, service, stewardship, discipleship, producing fruit and Godly character. Then, if we do these things, the other "things" (things we need) will be provided by God.

Putting God and His Kingdom values first will change our personal priorities. As we work the Kingdom priorities, personal priorities take a back seat. We will accept God's will more often than we question it. Hard work in general will not produce the things of God unless we are seeking Him in our labor. Our Godly labor is not in vain! (1 Corinthians 15:58)

So, Don' t Expect Blessings Without Work.....

Friday, August 17, 2018

Do Not Back Down...Come Out of the Closet!

We have a lot of closet CHRISTians today; willing to worship on SONdays, serve at church events and even faithfully tithe. But when it comes to boldness from Monday through Saturday, at work, in the neighborhood, at the gym, out with the boys or a ladies' night, well we back down a bit. Why are we so quiet? Why are we shy about our Savior? We wear Adidas and Nike. We spend hundreds on Koors and Versace. We advertise everything and everyone BUT Christ!

C'mon man! Just stop....or should I say START....Do Not Back Down...Come Out of the Closet!
So they called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.  But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge.  For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.”  So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way of punishing them, because of the people, since they all glorified God for what had been done.  For the man was over forty years old on whom this miracle of healing had been performed.
And being let go, they went to their own companions and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them. So when they heard that, they raised their voice to God with one accord and said: “Lord, You are God, who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them, who by the mouth of Your servant David have said:‘Why did the nations rage, And the people plot vain things?  The kings of the earth took their stand, And the rulers were gathered togetherAgainst the Lord and against His Christ.’ “For truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done. Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word.... (Acts 4:18-29)

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Tied to Culture over Christ?

“Now therefore, fear the Lord, serve Him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord15 And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lordchoose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”(Joshua 24:14-15)

Joshua challenged his people, God's people to decide just Whom they would follow. Their ancestors had served false gods and un-Godly customs and traditions . . . and God dealt with them for it!  Much of it I'm sure was thought to be harmless; just cutural tradition. Yet God called them out!

Many Christ-followers today are afraid to break ties with cultural, ethnic, political, or family tradition at the risk of making enemies or losing relationships. Today, as in Joshua's day, it is time we make a hard decision.

What, Whom, and why are we following? Are we tied to culture over Christ? Does Scripture or society rule us? Are we moved by politicians or the Prince of Peace?

As a white middle-aged male, I am at times misjudged for this political party or another. Yes, I am pre-judged a lot. I expect it as a matter of fact based upon this world today. I experience it daily dealing with young people and the things they have be taught. Yet as a CHRIST- follower, though I am registered to a party to be able to vote in primaries, I vote character and not political party. I do not vote color or gender.  I honor and pray for the office, not always the man or woman in the office. I am  careful not to call out people because I too could be embarrassed publically because of my sin. (Romans 3:23) It's only His grace that I am where I am today. (Romans 6:23) I am challenged to be the best I can be as an example to those around me. I seek to be a change agent, one people can come to trust based upon my heart and my life, not what I look like. As a result, I have lost, gained, and lost again.

That being said, if we are really going to be the Church, the people of God, then we must NOT be the white church, black church, Protestant church, Baptist church, Methodist church or and other "church". We MUST be the Body of Christ! ONE Lord, ONE faith, ONE baptism, ONE Father of us all! We MUST actively and openly discuss issues! But can we do that and risk losing tradition, friends, family . . . . .? Please take Paul's words to heart!

 I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism;  one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in [c]you all. (Ephesians 4:1-6)

Then You shall be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness,
With burnt offering and whole burnt offering;
Then they shall offer bulls on Your altar. (Psalm 51:19)
We simply cannot keep doing things our way andexpect God  to honor us. We cannot excuse our deep connection to this world and the say, "God bless us!" We are still called to be the ecclessia, the called out ones of God, the different and peculiar ones. If we live, speak, dress, and even worship like the world, what are we offering the unsaved?

It's time to stop trying to be like the sinful world in attempting to reach the unsaved world. We must offer a drastic alternative. We stay tied to money. We stay tied to homes and cars. We don't value family and relationships. Much like the rich young ruler, we cannot turn away from worldly priorities.

Jesus offer

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

NOT Just on SONday

Do good in Your good pleasure to Zion;
Build the walls of Jerusalem. I (Psalm 51:18)
Zion....or Mount Zion or Sion or Mount Sion is defined as a hill in eastern Jerusalem, Israel. Originally the stronghold of Jerusalem, Zion was conquered by David and in ancient times was the site of the Jewish Temple. It is now referred to as the Jewish people, Israel, the Jewish homeland that is symbolic of Judaism or of Jewish national aspiration and the ideal nation or society envisaged by Judaism. People also use the term Zion referring to heaven, a utopia, or simply a place where God's people dwell together.

While we as believers in the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ do well to bless and pray for Jerusalem (Zion) as instructed (Genesis 12:3) we as a Body are also to be praying for ourselves and fellow believers as this Zion today! 

As David prayed for the will of God in his city and for God's "wall of protection", we too need to pray for not simply our church, but our cities! Lord knows we need God's hand! We not only must pray, but act upon God's will.

Joining political movements and cultural activities is one thing. However, all or many are not Christ-centered or even beneficial for all. Our churches are either racially divided or totally ignore the socio-economic struggles. We must put more emphasis on a biblio-centric civic mindset based upon God's will and His Words, not the words of men! We cannot ignore society as if we live in a protective bubble. 

CHRISTians must be be CHRISTian activists, politicians, business leaders, teachers, parents, etc. We must speak biblically and teach Truth. As much as we need evangelists, we also need everyday CHRISTians to be unashamedly CHRSTian in public. Our cities need SALT and LIGHT as never before!


Monday, August 13, 2018

More Salt and Light

“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you[b] will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples. (JOHN 15:5-8)
There is a lot of turmoil in our world, our nation, our communities and our families. Most of it is a result of sinful choices and sinful people doing what we do best . . . SIN!

So what can you and I, followers of Jesus Christ, do about it? Some choose to hide behind the cross and let everyone and everything go to hell, so long as "me and my house" (Joshua 24:15) are secure. So then how is that "loving thy neighbor" (Mark 12:31)?

Others call out sinners as if they themselves have never sinned, yet none of us are good! (Romans 3:23)

What is the proper response?

May I suggest the verses listed in the opening? John advises us to stay connected to Jesus. The Holy Spirit can only work through us if we allow Him control. It takes hard decisions to give Him control over feelings, emotions, and reactions. It takes practice, patience, and and inner Peace knowing God is our Source and not this world.

I have experienced much in the way of disappointments, anxious moments, unexpected occurences and other rather unbelievable circumstances in the past year or so. I have not always reacted in the way God would have me . . . but I hope I am learning! I need to shed more Salt and offer more Light. Less of me and more of Him (John 3:30). Whether it is family, friends, job, or society, it is all about winning souls and making disciples! Do we trust Him or not?

Let's commit to stay connected to the Vine and allow His fruit to develop.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Serving Up Jesus....Serving Jesus!

But Jesus said, “Let her alone; she has kept this for the day of My burial. For the poor you have with you always, but Me you do not have always.” (John 12:7-8)

We can serve people all day, but we have only a short while to serve Christ. We serve others so they will know Him. Do they know Him?

Monday, August 6, 2018

Praying His Will

We request your prayers today. Our mission team was delayed from travelling Saturday due to the  East Coast storms. We have lost two days of service in Puerto Rico. Please pray that we can indeed fly out tomorrow morning (6:00 a.m.) to meet up with the teams already on the ground. We will travel in two separate groups as a result of rescheduled flights, but we are grateful just to be getting to Puerto Rico!

Stay tuned . . . . .
 Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 Confess yourtrespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. 17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. 18 And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit. (James 5:13-18)

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...