Wednesday, November 26, 2008


This will be my last post until after Thanksgiving and can you believe it is a Thanksgiving post? I really enjoy this holiday. It is one that is not filled with money, endless ads on buying this and that and reminder to each to be thankful.
On the flip side, it is a really sad state of mind when we have to be reminded to be thankful. The pulpits were filled with sermons on thankfulness, (which is not wrong, I just choose not to allow the world to dictate what needs to be preached), and everyone sends e-mails on being thankful and the list goes on and on. God's word reminds us to be thankful as that is the attitude of a saint (Eph. 5:3-4). The saved should always give thanks for all things (Eph. 5:20). We have been qualified by the blood of Christ to share in the inheritance for which we are to be thankful (Col. 1:12). Our lips that give thanks to his name is a sacrifice offered to God (Heb. 13:15). The bottom line is the saved are thankful because they are saved! Difficulties arise in our lives, but the blood of Christ and His salvation remains. People want to try to hurt or destroy us, but the atoning sacrifice and cleansing keep us safe in God's hands. Times may get rough, jobs may get scarce but the salvation of God does not become distracted toward us. Saved people live saved lives and saved lives are demonstrated by always giving thanks through His name. This time of year should help us see that thankfulness is not seasonal, but eternal!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

"The Delight of God"

Have you ever thought about God delighting in you? Maybe our picture of God is this harsh, unrelenting Father, sitting there waiting for you to mess up so He can slap you down!? People think so many things of God and I am afraid it is the preachers who bend our minds and hearts to seeing who He really is. God is a just God! He is the Almighty! He does not look upon sin favorably! He does not tolerate straight out rebellion on the part of His children! He will discipline those He loves by bringing pain into their lives! All of these things are part of love and holiness. We just do not understand God very well because we do not look to Him and His ways many times. We are too busy skimming the Scriptures with fleshly thinking and ideas.
One thing we need to know about God is that He delights in forgiving us! Yes, you heard me right. He delights in forgiving. Not only does God offer an abundance of forgiveness, (we don't believe that either at times), He offers it with great delight! Listen carefully and accept it: "Who is a God like You, who pardons iniquity and passes over the rebellious act of the remnant of His possession? He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in unchanging love." (Micah 7:18) Why does God pardon? Because it is His delight to have this unchanging love. Notice Micah praises God, not for His creation but for the delight He has in His love to forgive.
Sometimes people think delight is a lot like joy! Joy is a much deeper word in the Hebrew and Greek than delight. Delight is more of a surface emotion. The Hebrew word "delight" is really stressing God's emotional involvement in forgiving. In other words, it thrills God to extend His forgiveness to the confessed sinner!! There is the joy in heaven, but it "delights" Him to forgive.
I can remember my son, when he hit his first home run as a kid playing little league baseball. That ball travelled past the outfielders in the air and I want you to know that my son "delighted" in that home run. It was all he talked about for weeks on end. That is similar to how God reacts when He extends forgiveness! The prodigal that came home (Luke 15) and the father immediately went into banquet mode because of the delight of his sons return. The young lady, who just received that engagement ring, flashes that ring in delight with an excited smile! It's what a father feels when someone speaks to him about his children on their conduct and respect. We father's delight in hearing that. It thrills us to no end. Well, that's how God feels to extend His lovingkindness and forgiveness.
If we would only realize our unconfessed sins are destroying us and making us miserable, while God is wanting, desiring and waiting to offer to us His forgiveness. If we would only give Him the opportunity to forgive us by being honest and humble, to confess our sins, He would "delight" to forgive us. Why are we so reluctant? Do we love our sins more than the God of all grace who delights in forgiveness? Maybe that is what we need to ask ourselves!

Monday, November 24, 2008

"Simply Amazing!"

As one reads their Bible, you find God express Himself in different ways. Sometimes He used His power to get across a point to man through natural calamities. At times God revealed Himself in Majesty as in dealing with Isaiah (Isa. 6). The apostles saw the power and might of God in Jesus as He rebuked the wind, walked on the water and raised the dead.
There was one apostle named Thomas that saw Jesus one day in the upper room. There was no power, no ground shaking or defying nature. A Savior that stood in front of Thomas quietly and humbly with visible wounds. The words came to his ears, "Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing." (John 20:27) Thomas, in his amazement said, "My Lord and my God!" What a staggering confession! It was more than, "Hey, you're alive after all!" It even went beyond, "Now I believe!"
We miss the depths so many times because we simply do not look at our Savior and Lord. Let me see if I can draw your mind to open up and see what I think I see. We just read words and plod right along missing the insight to God. It is not that Thomas identified Jesus as God, which is profound in itself. Listen closely: it is the kind of God that stood before Thomas that amazes the mind! Here is a God that spoke this world into existence, that could remove mountains, who knows each star in the heavens by name and all the nations of this world are a mere drop of water from a bucket before Him - that kind of God was standing before Thomas. A God that was beaten, whipped and cut, standing quietly before Thomas, with all of the doubts Thomas had, asking him to "reach here." He is a God that gave Himself up to lowly, dust made, selfish and brutal man whom He had created standing before Thomas. Yes, it was the Almighty that made Himself vulnerable in mans hands and for what reason? Because His love would have it no other way! Now that's simply amazing to me!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

"The Golden Rule"

We all know the 'Golden Rule.' "Treat others the same way you want them to treat you." (Luke 6:31) (Actually I memorized it from the King James Version, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.") I learned that from childhood and still hear many people today use it as a pattern to live by. But wait, I need you to listen carefully and think about this. Sometimes we follow something so long, we never give thought to why other than someone taught us that. Jesus spoke this "Golden Rule" to those who were under the old covenant, the law of Moses, prior to His death. The law of Moses was based on "loving your neighbors as you love yourself." (Lev. 19:18) It was also based on "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth." (Ex. 21:24)
As Jesus was facing the cross, He was privately meeting with His disciples. His teaching came forth: "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another." (John 13:34) There was a change in direction and depth. Jesus brought in "a new commandment." No longer were things based on "self" but on the basis of His loving death. We are not called to treat others as we would want them to treat us. We are to treat others as God has already treated us in Christ Jesus! "Self" is taken out of the way. Christ has taken our place.
Christ did not intend the "Golden Rule" to be the ultimate expression of our lives and love. He sacrificed for us and we are to take His sacrifice and use it on behalf of others. We love because He first loved us! We treat one another the way God has already treated us! That is our calling in Christ Jesus. We are to behave toward others as God has already behaved toward us in Christ. We have been called into His holiness. "But like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves in all your behavior." (I Pet. 1:15) Maybe we need to rethink the standard of living by which we live and it might open our eyes to why we live such shallow and weak lives rather than drawing from the power of our heavenly Father through Christ Jesus our Lord.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

"Same God of the OT and NT?"

Someone asked why it seems God is so wrathful in the OT and much softer and kind in the NT? It's a great question and I pray I can give a decent explanation. The OT is much larger in volume than the NT. It involves the history of man, particularly the nation of Israel. But more to the point, the OT central concern is God working with a sinful and disobedient Israel, the people He delivered from bondage and brought to Himself, and the sinful nations around. The NT central concern is God's work in and through Jesus Christ on behalf of all mankind. You see this particularly in the gospel accounts and Acts. We see the result of the work of Christ Jesus in the rest of the NT. What we must not overlook is there is wrath expressed from and about God in the NT.
There was a little girl who was asked why God was so wrathful in the OT than in the NT. The little girl sat and thought for a moment, then she spoke, "That was before God became a Christian!" I am afraid there are people in our society that believe that very thing!
God sent His wrath on Israel because of their continually rebelling against Him. He loved this nation and He called them His children. They constantly went astray in their hearts and the love of God could not allow them to be so evil without inflicting pain upon them to get their attention. The surrounding nations tried every thing they could to kill and destroy the nation of Israel, so God had to protect His own people by inflicting pain upon the other nations to get them to see that Israel was loved by God. What many fail to realize is that love does involve punishment! We can learn that just as parents. Why do we punish our children? Because we hate them and are wrathful toward them? No because we love them and when they go astray in their heart to do things that are not proper, we need to get their attention and show them there is pain involved in sin! When we inflict pain upon a child, that shows the child that love is making its presence felt and it is a visible love. The same with God punishing Israel in the OT.
The NT reveals the redeeming work of Christ on behalf of all mankind. God has not changed from the OT, but God is showing man His love for all in the work of Christ. There are stern warnings that go out to those who never come to God through Christ and those that come to Christ and fall away. We need to study and read our Bibles and see God's love, knowing His wrath is a wrath because of His work on behalf of mankind. You think about it and if I have missed something, please help me see!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

"Hijacking God"

It is hard to believe that we can destroy our own studies and worship. We take a verse or verses, begin to read them and then it is off to the races for many. The focus can turn quickly to how blessed we are and we share that openly. That really can't be wrong, can it? Then it is over to some self based stories that opens the door to more self based stories. Next thing you know, we are talking about things that have nothing to do with the study of the truth from God's word and it has become a self based study, with self thoughts. Many times, the majority never realize what is happening. This is what lends us to fleshly thinking and actions.
But that isn't all. We follow our study with our singing praises to God. That is fitting for Christian's, isn't it? We are told about our pitches, our harmony and we seem to love the sound of our voices. We are caught up in the beauty. The singing has become a self pleasing sound and we enjoy it!
What am I saying? I am trying to get us to realize that too many times, we 'hijack God' with all our self gazing! We gather to hear God further to reveal Himself, but we end with all this self reflecting and self gazing stories. We listen to the gift of some of the voices and we end up drowning out the voice of God who wanted to say something to us. Our gifts get in the way of our listening to what He wanted to reveal to us about Himself. Preachers allow it to happen, elders allow it to happen and members have difficulty at telling the difference.
Praising God is fitting for those in Christ Jesus! But so is listening to God!! Our studies, our praise will be more "awe filled" when we draw near to listen to God rather than turning things toward us. We need to prepare our hearts to listen, allowing Him to speak to us from His word. We need teachers that help us, lead us into listening to the Lord, drawing out rich teachings from His word so He speaks to us. The bottom line is many times our studies and worship are nothing more than self seeking moral instructions and lovely sounds. We just don't seem to hear God! That's why our teaching/preaching at times is so shallow.
I ask you to pray that God will raise up more teachers/preachers and wise leaders that can keep us from walking in self made circles, who can deliver us from self gazing by offering to us the Almighty Father who can enrich us and speaks to us. Look away from self and let's stop 'hijacking God!'

Monday, November 17, 2008

"Unforgiving Hearts"

It still amazes me how people, who claim Jesus as their Lord, who claim they read their bible daily, pray with fervency and have a deep love for the Lord cannot forgive from the heart when they feel they were wronged! It makes me wonder what 'word' they read and 'who' they pray to. To hold to grudges reveals deeper seated spiritual problems and how little trust is really placed in our Lord.
Was it not Jesus who said if we do not forgive we are not forgiven? Does that not impact us? Yet we move along, with little thought how we treat others who have wronged us. Sometimes our emotional hurt is much greater than our faith in the word of the Lord. If you come to the cross, it calls us into a world of forgiveness and compassion. It changes our lives and outlook toward others who have hurt us. The cross shows us the depth of man's sins and the price that had to be paid to free us from the strangling power of sin. People become enslaved and desparately want to be free but sin holds them in its grasp until they can break to Jesus. Your forgiveness was not cheap. It came at a high price that no person on this earth would be willing to offer. The heart of God becomes exposed when He sends His own personal Son at our expense. The times we have walked over God, spoke His name is vile and unholy ways, rebelled by shaking our fists in His face that no one was going to tell us what to do and so thankless for the blessings we have been bestowed only to complain because things aren't working out the way we planned. In all this, God reached out, willingly and lovingly offered us 100% pardon at the cost of the blood of His Son. It should shame us as well as bring us to our senses to rejoice. We assemble to give thanks to His name, take His supper and hear Him proclaimed. But then it happens...someone hurts our feelings or something from our past reminds us of how we have been hurt and we hold to that. The person who hurt us becomes stuck in our mind and they are so arrogant and unrepentant. Resentment wells up, our hearts become darkened and our minds are wanting justice and accountability. It doesn't come so we become more embittered! On the flip side, we still attend the worship to our Lord, speak lovely things of His name and share in His supper not giving one thought that we are deceiving ourselves, becoming more corrupt within our hearts and walking a road of hypocrisy. We don't reveal that openly but God sees it all. He must shake His head in shame and then the words of Jesus fall on our ears: "Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way I had mercy on you? And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him. My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart."

Thursday, November 13, 2008


This might be a little long, but I need to write it. Submission is a word that really sets us off sometimes. Some view it as weak or something you do when one cannot do any better because you are forced. However, God's word speaks often of submission. Wives are told to submit to their husbands and Peter says even if the husband is disobedient to the word (I Pet. 3:1). We are told to submit to one another, to submit to human institutions, governments and masters. Why would the apostles Peter and Paul call us to submission? Could it be there is something wrong with our view toward submission?
Let me say that when we are told to submit, the Lord is speaking to His chosen people that are alive in His name, redeemed and full of joy and share in the glory of Christ. We are people who are wonderfully, marvelously saved and freed from the bonds of sin. We are His children and He loves us deeply. Having said that, here are some truths I have observed...
(1) Everyone on earth submits to someone each and every day! We submit to Christian's and non-Christian's alike. On our jobs, helping out someone in need, even the driving of our vehicles, we submit to someone.
(2) Submission is something we choose. Our employers may ask something of us and we may not like it, but we submit! Our doctors might tell us to change our diet or give us advice when we are ill and we submit. A teacher asks certain things in order to finish a course and we submit. We choose to submit in these cases and there are other cases too.
(3) Submission can become more difficult if someone is causing us stress or pain. When we suffer because of someones unkindness toward us, our attention begins to be drawn to how we are being treated and the blessings we have in Christ seem to fall in the background. Submission becomes more difficult because we choose something different in our hearts. We want to eliminate the stress and pain and take our own action to do so. The danger becomes we may be creating more difficulties in our lives rather than relieve the situation.
(4) Submission is easier or harder depending on the source of stress or pain. You see families caring for a sick child and there is no question to submit to whatever it takes for their well being. You feel the stress because of the pain the child is in or what they are going through because they belong to you and your love for the child strengthens you to carry the burden. You make the choice to submit. Take a marriage that is strained. Submission becomes a greater challenge because we might feel bullied or taken advantage of and it does not suit us. This is probably the situation most find themselves when choosing not to submit. We see little reward to submitting to someone who hurts us or takes advantage of us. It applies to the law of the land also.
To submit to someone or an injustice, we must take great care in looking at our attitudes. What we have to keep in mind is life is not about our "rights". We gave Jesus our every right to allow Him to have first place in everything we do and think. When Peter asks us to submit (I Pet. 2:13-25), he is not forcing us. He is showing us because of our relationship to the Creator of the world, who is our Lord and Master, submit and with a right attitude! He has it all under control. We are serving Him by submitting. Why would the Lord ask such of us, especially when someone is taking advantage of us? Because attitudes of the Lord transforms situations and soften hearts! If our heart will submit to the Lord, then what gets our heart will get our energy! Whoever has your love has your service! And I hear Christian's advising other Christian's, "You don't have to put up with that nonsense!!! I would..." or "I would leave them if they treated me that way!" Maybe we really need to re-examine our relationship to the Lord. Are we really saved and in a safe haven? Who is really getting our love and devotion?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

"A Word on Christmas"

I am not a man of controversy. I do not believe it does anyone any good except create hard feelings. This little writing has no intention of creating controversy but to explain some things from the heart of God speaking to the tradition of man.
We are coming up on a time of year where you will hear slogans and Christmas songs fill the airwaves about the birth of Christ. One such slogan is, "Jesus, the reason for the season." As a Christian that loves the Lord and heeds His word, let's examine and see if He really is the reason for the season.
Jesus had a strong teaching in Matt. 7:21, "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter." What is the point of our Lord? The will of God must be at the heart of a follower of Christ. That means there is no room to follow ones own desires and thinking. In Matt. 17:1-8, we have written for us the transfiguration of Jesus before the eyes of Peter, James and John. Upon seeing Moses and Elijah appearing with Jesus, Peter wants to make three tabernacles for each one. Peter was making Jesus equal to Moses and Elijah. God spoke up and said, "NO!" The point was being made that one doesn't make Christ common to blend with everyone or everything else around. We need to listen to Jesus and not bring him down to man's level. Paul reminded the brethren at Colossae, "See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ." (Col. 2:8) He says, "See to it!" Make certain we aren't taken captive by man and his thinking or traditions. We must make certain that our teaching, the will of God comes according to Christ, not men.
Having said the above, what about Christmas being tied to "Jesus is the reason for the season?" Where did we come up with that? Who invented the Christmas idea? Was it a teaching of Christ and His apostles or an elementary principle of the world? The birth of Jesus was never preached after the resurrected Christ! Jesus sent His apostles into all the world to preach the gospel, the death, burial and resurrected Christ (I Cor. 15:1-4) No man is saved by His birth but only through the resurrected Christ will anyone be saved. We are too easily caught up in man's traditions, the elementary principles of the world and Christ never taught or asked to teach on something made up by man. The tradition of men draws attention world wide to honor Christ twice a year: Christmas and Easter. What about the rest of the time? That should get our attention as we live for the Lord each and every day. Man is the reason for the season and to make the season look spiritual, man tied Jesus to Christmas. Even the word 'Christmas' shows us it is man originated! If one would think, you would find that Dec. 25 was not His birth because in that part of the world, they are having winter like we. They do not tend to flocks in the pastures as the sheep are put up in pens until the spring!
Someones asks, "Is it wrong to give gifts, have a Christmas tree and lights?" Those too are traditions of men. However, they are not religious! There is nothing wrong with enjoying a season. Romans 14 speaks of using days individually and they are fine. Just don't tie it to a religious service or to Christ! We need to do what we do according to Christ and hold fast to Him. To enjoy family times, gift giving and the twinkling of lights, there is nothing condemning in those. Keep Christ and His death, burial and resurrection at heart. Ignore the religious pomp of the world and whatever you do, do not be taken captive!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

"Conduct Yourself With Fear"

Peter tells us, "And if you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each man's work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay upon earth." (I Pet. 1:17) Do you call God your Father? If you call God your Father, should there be some respect as a Father? We learn that God our Father will impartially judge each of us according to our personal work. He will impartially judge in two areas of our lives. Let's take a look at this closely.
"Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose to motives of men's hearts; and then each man's praise will come to him from God." (I Cor. 4:5) When the Lord comes, there are two things that are going to be revealed: (1) He will bring to light the things hidden. Jesus is going to expose open for all to see the things done in secret. When people do things in secret, there is a reason for their secrecy. In most cases, when people 'sneak' around, they have no intention of changing. That's why they do things in secret. Jesus is going to bring those secret things to light. If one address God as their Father, they need to realize Jesus is going to bring their hidden things out for all to see. No one will hide anything from the Lord! (2) He will disclose the motives of the heart. Why we do what we do is most important to the Lord. One can do good for the wrong motives. It may be to gain praise or recognition for themselves. It may be to get something in return from another. Sometimes it can be a 'you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours' motive. Our motives are going to be disclosed. Can you imagine that no one will ever know your intentions, but one day, in front of all, the Lord will disclose openly your motives for all you did. This will lead to whether we get praise from the Lord or condemnation. Notice in the verse we read..."and then each man's praise will come to him from God." After bringing things hidden to light and disclosing motives, then the Lord will praise you unless you aren't living an honest life.
If we address God as our Father, we need to live our lives in a reverence, respect for who He is and what He will do. He is impartial. It doesn't matter if your a minister, rich or poor, God is not partial. He will deal with each of us and that should put a fear/reverence in our heart by addressing Him as Father. That alone should affect our conduct!

Monday, November 10, 2008


Personal testimonies are becoming more and more common place in the religious arena, especially in the assemblies. People want to speak about the wonderful things that God has done for them. They "testify" to power changing moments in their lives and some of the stories are moving. It brings excitement and an experience like none other. Is this really good? Is this what we need to be doing? It all depends on whom you ask. Some say there is nothing wrong with this as it excites people to hear that God is working and alive. Others do not know what to think and still others are left feeling like they and God are so far apart, that nothing could bring them together because they have never had such experiences. I recently had someone suggest to me that I need to have personal testimonies on my radio program to help get the community to see God at work.
When one is honest with Scripture, we do not find personal testimonies, even though Paul at times went through some of his life experiences. He had to because of his former life as a persecutor and his life as an apostle. Some people were having difficulty believing he could be a preacher and an apostle. Please read carefully and listen: no recounting of one's personal experiences brought anyone to the Lord! I sure haven't found it in Scriptures. When Paul was at Corinth with all their parading their favorite preacher, Paul reminded them,"And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified." (I Cor. 2:1-2) He proclaimed the testimony of God! And what was that testimony? Jesus Christ and Him crucified! Paul later reminds them, "For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord..." (II Cor. 4:5) The brethren at Colossae were taught that everything was about Jesus and Him alone. Just read the first chapter. Christ was the mystery of God and the riches of knowing "Christ in you, the hope of glory" was what was preached! (Col. 1:27) Paul said that it is Christ that is proclaimed and taught to every man (Col. 1:28). It is in Jesus that all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden (Col. 2:3). We are instructed to walk in Christ, rooted and established in Him (Col. 2:6-7). What does all this teach us? There is no room to teach us or proclaim anything about us! The power of God and the wisdom of God are found in Christ and proclaiming Him.
No one will ever find a relationship with the Lord based on some man or woman's personal testimony. There is no power in man. While stories may move our emotions, faith cannot be built! When people face extreme difficulties in their lives, I have never had one person share with me, "This is difficult but I remember so and so and their personal experience they shared is helping me get through this!" People long and look for the true answers only found in Christ. They need assurance from the Lord. It might do us good to rethink what we are promoting and listening to and then see why so many lives are lived with few real answers. God placed all of Himself in Jesus which means if we look or promote anyone besides Him, our lives will become nothing more than an emotional roller coaster, always needing the next man-made thing to prop us up only to let us down in time of need.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

"The Soul That Pants"

The Psalmist paints for us a vivid picture of a persons soul that pants for God in the 42nd Psalm. He uses a deer that pants for water. The deer may have been on the run like a runaway train. The miles that were covered fleeing for his life and his lungs are hurting because of the sucking in of air deeply. His mouth is dry and parched and his throat seems to be on fire. He can wait no longer! Danger or not, he must find the nearest stream and drink or he will die. He pants for water! He finds a stream and licks up the cold water with life saving gulps. That's what I picture when I read this Psalm. "As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul longs for You, O God."
The soul, the deep inner part of man, seems in despair and hurting. You can hear the writer groan and hurt as things in his life have worn him down and driven him to the edge and he feels it deep in his soul. We have had times in life where we are like that, haven't we? We have gone through things where it looks as if everything stands against us and wants us to drown in misery or loneliness. "My soul thirsts for God, for the living God; when shall I come and appear before God?" The tears seem to flow easily and others just do not understand the pain felt in the soul. A pain that no person on earth can take away. "These things I remember and I pour out of my soul within me." Memories of the past are longed for and the days of joy and thankfulness are desired but at the present, we find our souls hurting and needing to find strength.
Here is the deer, at the limit of his endurance and it knows one thing: "Find water!" Here we are as humans hurting and despairing and there is only one thing we need to know: "Find God!" For it is only in God that we have a reason to hope and move forward! You hear, "Here, over here, let me give you some good advice and counsel!" Will it help me find God? "Here, over here is my friendship!" Will it help me see the face of God? "Here, over here is a place you can run to and lay down to rest for a while." Will I find God there? "Here, over here is a book that really helped me in my time of need!" Will it lead me into the presence of God? "Here, over here is a seminar you should attend or a support group that you need. Will they bring me to God? The troubled, hurting soul needs one thing and that is God! "The Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime; and His song will be with me in the night, a prayer to the God of my life." The soul that pants for God and Him alone will find relief in the presence of God. What does your soul pant for when you become wearied and weak?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

"Worshipping or Worship?"

I read more and more about congregations that go toward the 'contemporary' worship style. Please do not misunderstand, this is not about bashing. This is about worship! The more I hear and witness, it seems we are recklessly pursuing "the feeling of being blessed." What I mean by that is the central element of worship is how worship is structured. Worship becomes designed to bring out emotional responses to make us feel something. That seems to be what so many are looking for. There is also another side and that is the "this is how we have always done things" attitude. That too can be destructive in our worship. Because of the last statement, that is what is leading so many to want to "feel blessed" and being moved by something in worship. I had a fellow preacher tell me that the reason he likes the contemporary style is because he "felt so blessed the first time he was involved, he would keep doing it!" I guess I am left out because I do not pursue a "feeling of blessed." One cannot feel spiritual blessing (Eph. 1:3). They are only in Christ and are ours based on faith, not feeling. (How do I know I have been redeemed? I can't feel it but I believe it because in Christ we have redemption.)
Let me make a quick point and I will end this and hush. I want us to think and be honest with Scripture. Worship (even bad worship) does things to a worshiper. We need to realize that. Biblical, true worship is the faithful response of the people of God to God! Biblical, God centered worship is intended to edify and bless the worshiper but that's not the goal! To make us the goal, what we get out of it, is self worship, not God centered. I know this is touchy with some, but we need to realize in true worship, God is the worshiped, the Majesty, not some moving by our external things! Too many are trying to create an atomosphere which makes that the center and goal. God is the center! God is at the heart! Not some moving "blessed feeling" or some stirring feeling in the heart. Let's be honest and study holy Scripture. True heart worship has God at the center, not some contemporary idea. In fact, why is is called 'contemporary'? What is that saying? God centered or something else? Biblically rich teachings and people that are communing with the Lord they love and adore will lead to heart, God centered worship and there will be no distractions or taking another road to stir something. Maybe we need to ask are we worshiping our worship or really worshiping God? I have to think about that, don't you?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

"Church Shopping"

Whether we like it or not, people church shop. Many have no clue what that means and too many have wrong motives for their "church shopping." Some look because they have some unresolved bitterness in their heart toward someone. That's unacceptable to God and "church shopping" will not change their relationship or status with the Lord. Some shop because they want something they are comfortable with. That too is unacceptable as the Lord does not want us self centered and self seeking but looking to His ways. Still others "church shop" because they feel they aren't being used in their talents as they see fit. That too can be a wrong motive because those with this mind set may think more highly of themselves than they ought to think. Many "church shop" simply because there is no feeding, no richness from God's word and that's a good motive.
Where does all this leave us? First, we need to realize one church is not as good as another. The church, the church of the New Testament, is steeped in Scriptures and the truth is maintained. The church focuses on the gospel of God. That brings about understanding what is and is not to be. For those "church shopping", make certain you are fed on the living bread of Christ and His truth. Not some "worldly" ideas and events taken from Hollywood to draw people in. Stay away from the entertainment mode, which is a draw for many but will lead one away from the word of the Lord. When looking for the church, look for the teachers that take their calling seriously and work with the holy Scriptures to shape and form each member of Christ for service in a body that loves Christ and His body.
Be thankful and rejoice that you hunger, "church shopping" for the right reasons. In trusting repentance, you were united with Christ in baptism and placed in His body. You belong to Him so trust Him to help you find such a place that holds to the truth and gospel of Jesus Christ. Rejoice that you hunger for the rich truth from God's word and allow God to work in you while praying fervently seeking. Listen carefully, while looking, what is taught in classes and from the pulpits and you will find out if the congregation is self parading, self seeking and self entertained or holding and looking to the Master and Lord Jesus Christ. Listen carefully to see if the congregation is always "issue" oriented, endlessly raking others over the coals or lifting itself up above others. Make certain money is not driving the leadership, always asking for money. Listen to see if there is a care and concern for the lost, reaching out to those separated from Christ. Bottom line, if you hear and see brethren reaching out, giving, teaching and preaching that is all fueled by the rich truth from the gospel of Jesus Christ, thank God and stick to that people like glue and allow God to use you to help the body to grow. Keep praying and be honest between you and the Lord if you are "church shopping."

Monday, November 3, 2008


I am not a political person. Many of our politicians are so corrupt and power hungry, it drives them to depths of deceit and arrogance. Someone asks, "If you're not political, then why this blog today?" Here is the answer: I have received several personal e-mails asking how to determine who to vote for. I am very cautious when it comes to giving my opinion about things in a public manner and this is no different.
What seems to escape the notice of so many, especially among those who claim Christ, is the lack of looking to God and His righteousness for their answers. Too many get caught up in the smooth and flattering speech and taken in by that deceit. Too many are easily taken captive because of a smooth talker, never looking at anything deeper. Even in the church, Paul warned the Roman brethren: "For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Jesus Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting." (Rom. 16:18) I realize Paul is speaking about those in the church who cause hindrances and dissensions, but the application can be made here too.
Here is what God's word says about nations: "Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people." (Prov. 14:34) Our nation is definitely not a nation of righteousness. I'll share that in a moment. God spoke through Isaiah, "Woe to those who call evil good and good evil; who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!" (Isa. 5:20) What is this all about? In selecting who to vote for, you better consider which person stands closer toward the principles of God's righteousness. I am neither Republican nor Democrat. I am simply a child of God that prays for our nation. We are a nation on the decline because of our ungodliness and arrogance. Righteousness exalts a nation! Sin ruins a nation! We have become a nation that is voting to defend gay rights, something the Lord abhors. We have become a nation that kills babies! For Senator Obama, he has already taken California because they always go for the Democrat the majority of the time. Since he has an over-whelming lead there, he is now running ads (I have a cousin who preaches/lives in California) to push the people to vote 'yes' on one of their amendments to repeal the state constitution law on marriage and change it to same sex marriage. The Lord must be disgusted! Our nation has been over-run with the idea of accepting gay marriage. If that offends, God's word says that homosexuality has no part in the kingdom of God (I Cor. 6:9-10). Secondly, the abortion issue. The killing of little babies is abhorred by God and Senator Obama supports it!
Based on these two principles alone, take a hard look at the righteousness of God. Vote on the righteousness of God, upholding God's values, not man's! It amazes me how little people look to God and His word when deciding things in life. God designed marriage between a man and a woman. Children are a gift of God (Psa. 127:3) and we should not murder them. For any person to support what the Lord abhors, that person will never get my vote. Hold to God, listen to God and look to God. He will have the ultimate say in our nation. In the meantime, pray for those in authority so we can live a quiet and tranquil life in all godliness and dignity! (I Tim. 2:2)