Thursday, January 29, 2009

"A Good Conscience"

We read from God: "...and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame." (I Pet. 3:16) How important is a good conscience? The goal of preaching/teaching (or it should be the goal) is to create a good conscience within the believer (I Tim. 1:5). When we speak of a good conscience, it is a sense of well being that produces a stability and confidence. When one has a guilty conscience, they are uncomfortable, dissatisfied, aware of their failures and it creates frustrations and one is easily agitated! A guilty conscience has knowledge of their deficiencies and fear begins to grow within. Have you ever done something you knew was wrong and when you faced the one you were closest to, you found yourself either irritated at some little something or overly sweet and nice to get from being caught? That's a guilty conscience at work.
Too many are ruining their lives by not keep a good conscience because they step into sin rather than do what is right staying away from sin. When the conscience is defiled, a persons faith will never move forward. They will drown in their misery, their guilt all the while their conscience becomes slowly seared to where eventually, they will feel no pain! (This is where a lot of bad attitudes come from!) That's the most dangerous position to find yourself. The hardening of the heart is part of that process. Once the conscience is seared over, lying comes easy, sin can be followed and practiced without much concern and the road to doom lay ahead. Something will happen...something major!
She was 18 years old. She let her boyfriend talk her into a sexual relationship. He pushed her and ranted on her until she finally gave in. No one else knew. In teaching a class one Sunday morning, I remember looking at her and she would look away, not wanting to make eye contact or really pay attention. That just did not seem like her. A few days later, my phone rang and here was this precious young lady crying and in the state of panic. She shared with me what had happened and said all through the class, she felt I knew what had happened. She was praying she wasn't pregnant (to which we found out later she was) and she felt so cheap and defiled. You see her conscience was crying out, screaming "You're guilty!" and it was taking her down quickly. If she does not make the proper moves, it could have devastating effects on her life.
Most people choose to ignore their conscience when they know they have performed some disapproved act. That's when all the games start. The faking, the inner turmoil, your self esteem, deception and lying and it will take you completely away from God if it is not dealt with. So, that lead us to this. When you know your conscience is defiled, you know you are guilty, there are one of three choices you will make: (1) IGNORE! When one ignores their conscience when it is guilty, you must also ignore the will of God. That's where the searing process will begin and a life of misery one sets for themselves. (2) JUSTIFY! One can look to ease their guilt by finding fault with someone else for their failure. The blame game begins. A guilty, burden conscience that starts blaming others for their practice will lead you down a road so far from God. You hear people say, "People can't judge me!" That's the blame game and it will not end up good. You will eventually cut off every person that really cares and could help! (3) FACE IT! If one would be honest in their heart, come to God openly, no pretending, no blaming, no faking but an humble honesty, they will find relief for their guilt and favor in the eyes of God. Remember, the blood of Jesus is to cleanse the conscience! (Heb. 9:14)

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

"About Love"

We have such a shallow understanding of God's love. That will always be! We do not realize everything that is involved in love. Oh, we read I Cor. 13, the love chapter and other Scriptures but do we really grasp hold of His love? Preachers often teach on the 'agape' love, (I am one of those), but defining words still doesn't bring out God's intended desire through His love. Sometimes we have grown so accustomed to definitions and religious chatter, we have grown unimpressed with love. If we would spend a little more time listening to God speak through His word rather than religious chatter, the truths revealed might impact our lives a little more.
The death of Jesus is not just an act of dying. It seems we hear that every single Sunday when one speaks at our communing with the Lord in His supper. People want to dramatize the pain, the suffering, but it goes beyond that. The love of Jesus in His dying was a redeeming death, an atoning and sacrificial death. By me writing this, one will read what I just wrote and think, "I know that!", but do we really? The cross was God's way to man to open his eyes to what God's love is toward us! We must be careful that we do not cheapen the love of God and bring His love down to some "defining words" in the Greek or some dramatic way of dying. We are too 'sugary' in our thoughts on love. That's why more focus should be given to God's word, allowing Him to explain what He means.
I guess what I am driving at is one thing about the love of God. When we start making His love about our happiness and contentment we miss God entirely, which means we miss the purpose of His showing His love. Our happiness is not what God was driving at. He was concerned about our eternal well being and our holiness!!! Too many are using God and His love as a personal delight, a self centered passion that drives us to take from His love driving us to fulfill our selfish ideas and ways! Just look at our approach in worship and daily living. Look at our outreaches that have taken the love of God into some type of "hand out government commodities!" We teach the lost to use God's love for other things than what God wanted. Nice, soft, frilly, give you whatever you want is a love that is completely self consumed. Read the Old Testament about the sacrifices and see what God is driving at. Read why He gave His commandments, His word and see what love was driving at. Look at the mercy and grace that were extended in the days before Christ (and they were there) to see the love God wants. Read carefully I John 4:9-14 and let it speak about the love of God. Love is about righteousness, holiness and truth! That is the very nature of God. Well, I think I may have over-stated what I wanted to convey and I am not sure I understand what I am trying to say, but I do know one thing...the love of God, when properly applied and understood will bring us to our knees and move us in haste toward Him!!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

'Godly Character"

God is trying to grow character in us! We need to be people of great character and I don't mean "be a character!" Character is tried integrity. It is being sound in upright behavior with honesty and sincerity. In other words, it is doing right, with the right attitude no matter what! Character is what produces hope in an individual (Rom. 5:3-4).
Sometimes people are harsh and rude. When one is that way, that reveals their character. Sometimes people have 'smart mouths' and that is a revealing of their character. People are put in situations and they will cheat when no one is looking. That's their character. I've seen in the church where unloving and harsh men are placed in leadership roles (such as an eldership). Servants of the Lord are to be gentle and respectable in their behavior (I Tim. 3). That's their character. Jesus makes no one 'smart mouthed', mean or nasty!!
The danger that exists is many times people cannot discern a person of godly character from a person of charm. Dale Carnegie made loads of money with charm! Absalom stole the hearts of Israel over his father David because of his charm (II Sam. 16). People follow someone who is charming and smooth and the become blinded to the honest evaluation of their true character. We seem to have great difficulty distinguishing true, godly character and a person with an outgoing personality!
God's word warns to watch out for those with "...smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting." (Rom. 16:18). Paul made absolutely certain he was "not walking in craftiness or adulterating the word of God." (II Cor. 4:2) Many people can have charm about them, but no godly character. Preachers are favored because the man is exciting or has a great personality. That can blind people to the character of the man. I was attending an assembly where the congregation just loved their preacher (which I was thankful they do.) They spoke of his delivery and his sermons. I listened and it didn't take long to realize, he was a professional entertainer!! He told stories at the right time to move the emotions and was great at holding ones attention, but had little application to God's word. When he used the word, it was often misused! He was charming but had no character. Someone asks, "How do you know?" A man of character will be honest placing God first and foremost, using His word to create faith and not rely on their speaking ability!!!
Salesmen, con-men have to be charming and lovable! They are trying to take people in. Character is discipline. Character has a purpose. Character is what makes one do right in the difficult situations. Character makes one follow through with their word. Character will not compromise God and His ways. Character is not rude, hateful or mean. Character can be 'tough' when it needs to be and can make calls in difficult situations but it will be tempered with godly love. It takes godly character to preach the truth, to stand for right. True Christianity is about character. Character is gained by persevering in difficult situations and God uses those difficulties to build His character in each of us.

Monday, January 26, 2009


John came preaching repentance for the Jewish nation, preparing the way for Jesus. People were coming out confessing their sins and being baptized (Matt. 3:1-6). John made certain the people understood that just saying "I'm sorry" was not repentance! (Luke 3:7-9) True heart repentance leads to a change of direction and lifestyle. Godly repentance produces fruit and visible fruit is product of a repentant heart.
Many times people say they are repentant for what they have done or practiced but in reality, all they do is just feel badly or sorrowful for what they have done. "I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will of God, so that you might not suffer loss in anything through us." (II Cor. 7:9) Read the words carefully! " were not made sorrowful, but sorrowful to the point of repentance!" People feel sorrow but it is nothing more than an emotional response. They do not change their hearts! To be moved by sorrow, that moves one to doing the will of God, that is true repentance. "For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death." (II Cor. 7:10) I have seen too many, during an emotional struggle speak of repentance or openly admit to their failures, but they never have a sorrow that leads them to doing the will of God from the heart. It is a short lived, emotional response only to turn into the same road again. It is a repentance that will lead one into death! No life of God! Little desire to change their attitudes toward the Lord (or the ones they hurt)! It is simply sorrow of the world and there is little fruit involved.
Years ago, there was a fellow in the Lord's body that had mistreated his wife until she left him. It hit him hard and he came forward, admitting his wrongs. But I was disturbed about what I saw. There was very little change in his life. He still seldom came to the assemblies and Bible studies were definitely out of the question. One day he walked in my office to speak. As we were going through things, he opened the door for my thoughts. I shared with him I can see what is coming down the road if there aren't some heart changes. I spoke to him that he would eventually meet another woman, get emotionally involved wanting to marry her, the elders will tell him 'no', it will offend him and he will leave! He said that would never happen!! Guess what???? It happened almost exactly the way I said.
I am not a prophet and do not claim to have any special insight. There are patterns and as one studies God's word, you can see those patterns. Worldly sorrow or sorrow of the world will only produce death. Godly sorrow will lead one into doing the will of God, producing a repentance without regrets which is seen in a changed life!

Thursday, January 22, 2009


One of the greatest mistakes made by people is their lack of understanding God and His nature. Many have taken God, because of His great mercy and compassion, and turned Him into an idol! The Almighty is made into 'fluff' and He will always respond to our whims and ways. That is a very dangerous attitude and road to walk when one thinks God will always be there to help, no matter what one thinks or what they choose, even if they are doing no harm to another. "Your eyes are too pure to approve evil, and You cannot look on wickedness with favor." (Habakkuk 1:13)
God is a lover of people. He cares deeply for the eternal destination of each and every soul. I cannot begin to grasp His love and concern. However, He is also a God of justice, righteousness and truth! Love demands those characteristics. God cannot do things unjustly. It is impossible for Him to be unrighteous and He always upholds and stands in the truth. To minimize any of these is to create a 'god' different than the Almighty!
Here is where mistakes are made. I hear many, who speak about the path they choose to walk, or their direction of their lives. They are comfortable with their choices, never realizing this truth: "There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death." (Prov. 14:12) Many seem to think their lives, their choices are the right choice but it will take them into death, spiritual death. How does one avoid that? If the path we have chosen does not take us upward, deeper into the things God, more dedicated, more concerned for spiritual food and less concern for the world, more love for His children, our brothers and sisters, we are not going to arrive at God's intention. "For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite and whose glory is their shame, who set their minds on earthly things." (Phil. 3:18-19) The deception for many is their own desires become what they go after, not the desires of God. Their minds are constantly set on earthly things (which is fleshly). The things they take pride in, glory in are things that will eventually take them down into shame.
What is more sobering to the mind is how God deals with each person. "For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness." (II Thes. 2:11-12) To not love the truth, to not pursue the truth has drastic consequences. God will send a deluding influence to take you away, further from Him, while you think you are alright! What a scary thought. Why would God do that? Because His righteousness and justice demand that!! When people want to believe what is false, follow thinking that is false, He makes certain they find it. That's what they choose and He opens the door to find the deception they go after. It is true, "There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death." And God will help you along that way if that's what you want. I encourage us to pause and re-think about what we seek, who and what we love and where our lives are really headed. God loves, God cares and God is merciful but His truth will stand as He has no part of any deception, half-hearted devotion in the lives of anyone.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

"Learning To Move Away From Fleshliness"

The hardest thing for many in Christ is to determine if they are being fleshly or spiritual. Most cannot tell the difference. Too many are taking personal ideas and testimonies, finding some verses in Bible that they think validates those ideas and thoughts and think it is being spiritual. Whenever one takes God's word, combines it with self made thoughts, it becomes fleshly. Fleshly people have little to no power to change into the likeness of God because the things of God are reduced to human levels. A spiritual person is one who lines up with the character, thinking and will of God, to please Him alone, letting go of their personal thinking and desires.
Recently I was reading some one's facebook. They spoke like the world, thought like the world and tried to apply it all to God. It was sad. I wanted to write on their wall to share with them about their fleshly mind set, but I realized when you try to correct the fleshly, they will respond fleshly, taking offense. When you correct a spiritual person, they will take the direction and love you for it! If I were fleshly, I would go ahead and take the liberty to write, thinking I was helping. That's what many do. They cannot say 'no' to their desires.
In Acts 2:38, there are two things that happen at our "new birth." (1) Forgiveness! A complete cleansing of our sins wiped away. (2) Given the Holy Spirit! Why? To lead our lives in another direction, away from our fleshliness and fleshly reactions. That means a new power is involved. Our minds must be set on the Spirit, not our flesh so we can draw from the spiritual things of God. It's not magical but simply a yielding, a willingness to allow God to take us in another direction when we encounter situations in our life. Instead of thinking how situations affect us, or take us down, we have the opportunity to think in terms of what the Lord is trying to teach us and train us in, looking out for the benefit of others rather than yourself. When in certain situations, most never consider others but how everything affects them! That's being fleshly. You will react fleshly, using your own thinking and feelings to determine your course of action. We need to embrace our forgiveness, which many do, but they never "die" to themselves and give God complete right over their thinking and actions. You can really see it when people hold to grudges and hurt feelings. All that matters to them is how they have been treated. They never believe they have "died with Christ" so the old, fleshly self is still in commission and it will just grow stronger and stronger with age.
The most important factor to overcoming your fleshliness is your mind set. Grasping hold of our "new birth", realizing we have "died" is the secret to finding true power and strength to overcoming. Setting our minds on things above, not on the little sayings of people, the little religious quotes that we think is spiritual. God is trying to change us from within and His power wants to work, but fleshly thinking and reactions will thwart His actions. God cannot and will not work in fleshly minded people. The Scriptures tells us if "you are living according to the flesh, you must die!" (Rom. 8:13) That should get our attention!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

"Gaining Discernment"

One of the greatest needs of our day and time is the need for discernment. Discernment is the ability to distinguish between things, choosing the best course. For many, their discernment is so lacking, they cannot distinguish between what is spiritual and what is fleshly. While at a workshop some years back, they were selling tee shirts with the Budweiser emblem on the front. In the emblem it said, "God-wiser! When you say 'God', you've said it all!" The lack of DISCERNMENT! People who claim to love the Lord cannot distinguish between things and are easily led astray because they have no discernment. It is too easy to get caught up into every one's ideas and thinking. We need to be able to recognize and analyze situations where we won't get trapped or swept off into some one's fleshliness or our own.
Where does one begin to gain spiritual discernment? You have to understand the importance of the word of God and a willingness to allow it to lead. "For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant." (Heb. 5:13)It begins with milk from the word. As a baby feeds on milk, they have little understanding of danger or directions. For those in Christ, milk is what puts one on the road. Drawing, drinking and growing in the milk of the word. It is the milk that allows one to grow into bigger things. But we need to go beyond the milk so we can grow into the word of righteousness. "But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil." (Heb. 5:14) Solid food is for the mature! How does one become mature? Practice!!! One must practice the word of righteousness. Practicing the word of righteousness is how one trains their senses to discern good and evil. It is easy to be carried away by our senses. People allow their feelings or natural thinking to carry them away into things that aren't spiritual and they cannot see it. They have never learned to have their senses trained to discern because they lack practicing the word of righteousness.
The danger comes when people don't mature. People who have been in Christ for 30-40 years or longer and they think they are mature, but their thinking and actions reveals they have moved little. "Concerning him we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing."(Heb. 5:11) A person dull in hearing is a person who has little practice of the word of righteousness, much less little reading of the word. A person dull in hearing is one who does not take the word to heart. For instance, you hear God's word about holding to a grudge or know what God speaks to those who hold to such. But you still hold to them. I personally had an individual share with me that they were hurt years ago by some brethren and they sat week after week, listening to sermons, classes and still holding to their hurt. They have no discernment in their life and they are dull of hearing! They will end up in the end losing their souls because they hold more to their "senses" of hurt than the word of God. They cannot discern because they will not allow the word to train them! They cannot discern between good and evil, seeing the evil they are trapped in!
When we focus on the wrong things, think with the wrong mindset, we will become dull and sluggish in our spiritual well being. We will talk like the world, think like the world because we are the world's! The only way out? God must permit!!! (Heb. 6:3) God will permit only if our hearts will take in His word, let His word lead us and teach us. Then we will begin to come into having our senses discern between good and evil.

Monday, January 19, 2009

"Your Mind Set"

What you dwell on daily has drastic results in your life. "Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you." (Phil. 4:8-9)
The guarantee..."the things you learned, received, heard and practice" the God of peace will be with you. These things must be practiced! Our mind set is most important. What we think and dwell on will determine a lot of things in your life. "Whatever is true"...not false, not rumors, not controversial things but think in terms of reality. To face life's problems with the Lord, we must dwell on what is true to find peace in the midst. "Whatever is honorable" with things that are dignified and serious. When faced with difficult situations, we must think in terms of doing things in an honorable manner. If one doesn't do that, they aren't dealing with what is true! "Whatever is right" ...our minds need to dwell on things that help us be responsible. Look out for what is right in each situation. Our minds do not need to wander in things that aren't right. The direction our life takes and when we encounter difficult decisions, doing right needs to lead the mind. "Whatever is pure" with free from defilement. There should be no impurities or contaminated thoughts. Purity always clears up confusion because when confusion is present, something contaminated is mixed in the thought process. "Whatever is lovely, good repute"...are speaking to how you see things. Lovely, not ugly needs to be in our minds. When one is controlled by bitterness, resentful feelings, that's ugly and the mind will dwell on those. Whatever you think on will lead you to acting! If one dwells on how they have been wronged, their mind is not dwelling on lovely! One cannot move forward because the hurts lead the way in the mind. "Good repute" is where you speak well and listen for the good. That will affect your thought process. "Any excellence, worthy of praise"...should be where our minds are focused. People who speak of their past and how bad they had it growing up, dwelling on their terrible home life! Is there anything excellent and worthy of praise in that? That's what psychologists try to get people to do, go back to their past. We are in Christ and our whole status before God changed the day we entered Jesus. Whatever happened prior to that, it was buried with your old self in baptism!
Our mind set will determine much of your spiritual growth. It takes no effort to not think and let everything else dwell in the mind. We need to let the things that are true, right, honorable, pure, lovely, good repute, excellence and praiseworthy dwell daily in our thinking. The result? God's absolute guarantee...

Thursday, January 15, 2009


"For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that is in you you as well." (II Tim. 1:5) The faith of a mother and grandmother can reach into the depths of their children and grandchildren. Since becoming a grandfather, my perspective of grandparenthood (and parenthood) have changed drastically. God's word comes into greater focus and the understanding is better. Here is a mother/grandmother that took a little boy Timothy, and molded his faith to be deeply trusting in the Lord. Paul was well aware and it apparently came forth in Timothy's life. I only wish more of our mothers/grandmothers would do the same with their children. To have someone speak of a mother/grandmother and their sincere faith is such a noble and admirable statement. But greater yet, the impact of the faith of a mother/grandmother that affects the heart and soul of children/grandchildren.
A little boy, when asked what a grandmother was put it this way: "A grandmother is a lady who has no children of her own, so she loves everybody else's. Grandmas don't have anything to do except be there. If they take you for a walk, they slow down past leaves and caterpillars. The never say 'hurry up.' Usually they are fat, but not too fat to tie your shoes. They wear glasses, and something they can take their teeth out. They can answer questions like why dogs hate cats and why God isn't married. When they read to you, they don't skip words or mind if it's the same story again. Everyone should try to have a grandmother, especially if they don't have television, because grandmas are the only grownups who always have time for you." What a wonderful prospective of a child.
I read a story of a lady that overheard a woman showing a view of the beautiful fall colors to her elderly mother. The daughter said, "Isn't it wonderful of God to take something just before it dies and make it so beautiful?" As the two looked at the beauty of the leaves, the mother stated, "Wouldn't it be nice if God did that with people?" The daughter looked at her stooped, white-haired mother and said so softly, "Sometimes He does!" Wow, the impact of a mother on the life of her daughter. The impact of faith a mother/grandmother has in the life of her children/grandchildren.
If your mother placed within you a faith in God, a trust in His word and ways, give the Lord thanks. If your grandmother led you in the ways of righteousness and faith in the Lord Jesus, whisper words of thanks to God. Godly mothers/grandmothers are a treasure. I believe the daughter was right: sometimes God takes something before it dies and makes it so beautiful - a white-haired, stooped little mother or grandmother who deeply loves the Lord for example!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

"Teach Us To Pray"

The disciples of Jesus asked, "Lord, teach us to pray just as John also taught His disciples." (Luke 11:1) Maybe we need to be asking, "Lord, teach me to pray"? The disciples of Jesus heard Him teach with authority, perform great miracles and stood in awe of His presence and power, yet they made a simple request, "Lord, teach us to pray."
The greatest failure in the lives of many is the failure to pray. John was a man of prayer and a teacher of prayer. Jesus, the Son of God, was a man of prayer. Prayer is the most fundamental way one relates to God. God's word relates to us giving us direction and insight. Nothing we do should take place of prayer. Prayer is crucial because prayer demonstrates our relationship with God, our faith reaching to Him with Him being the center of our being. Many pray only when in trouble or want something. That exposes the relationship as little and maybe on the verge of idolatry! Prayer shows our trust, our love and assurance in our relationship with God.
The disciples of Jesus were not asking Jesus for technique or a formula for prayer, saying the right words at the right time. Listen one more time what they requested, "Lord, teach us to pray." It was not, "Lord, teach us how to pray." There is a major difference. It seems there are tons of books written on prayer, cd's on prayer, tapes on prayer, retreats on prayer and bible studies on prayer. Many times we are disappointed because most deal with formulas or gimmicks, which cheapens prayer. Prayer is not repeated words, finding the right words but a deep inner faith reaching out, trusting, relying and looking to God and He knows it!
Prayer is nothing more than humbly being allowed into the presence of the Almighty God because Jesus brought you there. Prayer is more than speaking to God. Prayer is more than listening to God. Prayer is being in the presence of God! Prayer is life! Prayer is confession! Prayer is submission! Prayer is our helplessness, looking to the Lord! Prayer is obedience! Prayer is life, the spiritual life of God working within! Prayer is God's power! I personally do not believe in prayer!!! I believe in God to whom I pray. Maybe we need to take a look at our relationship to the Lord by looking at our prayer life. Therein, you will find how solid your relationship is with Him and your faith in Him. Now, that's kind of revealing, isn't it?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

"Happily Ever After"

This last weekend my granddaughter jumped up in my lap at the house and said, "Grandpa, let's write us a start!" I began making of some type of 'fairy tale' that stretched out there and my granddaughter would add her part. We sat there for while just adding more and more until we got to the end. I asked her if she would end it and she said, "Sure...and they lived happily ever after!" After we were finished, she looked at me with her beautiful blue eyes and asked, "Grandpa, do people really live happily ever after?" At first I immediately wanted to say 'no' but then it made me think. Is that really 'fairy tale' stuff?
My mind shifted to Job and all the difficulties he went through, remaining faithful to the Lord. Listen to how his situation ended, "The Lord restored the fortunes of Job when he prayed for his friends, and the Lord increased all that Job had twofold...The Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning..." (Job 42:10,12) Does that sound like 'happily ever after' to you? I think Job made it to heaven after his death, don't you? Does that sound like 'happily ever after' to you? Paul was an old man when he wrote these inspired words, "In the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord , the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing." (II Tim. 4:8) Does that sound like 'happily ever after' to you? The promise from Jesus says, "He who overcome, I will grant him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne." (Rev. 3:21)
This life offers sickness, distress and troubles. We all have to go through them. But they are temporary. The promises of God are eternal and we are told the outcome of our lives in every situation if will hold to the Lord by faith. The evil that touches us will be overcome. Trials come but they too are temporary. Even the passing of a loved who died in the Lord is just temporary.
Maybe we need to rethink our attitude toward this 'happily ever after' idea and see, it is true! Just as many of the children's stories we read end with 'and they lived happily ever after', Jesus says about us in being faithful to the end, 'and we will live happily ever after'! Now that's food for thought.

Monday, January 12, 2009

"What Have We Lost?"

I want you to think. What have we done? Are we forgetting about the holiness of God and our holiness because we are tied to Him? Peter speaks of holy behavior like God (I Pet. 1:15-16) and living holy and godly lives (II Pet. 3:11). We know God doesn't dwell in "temple made with hands" and He is all present and all knowing. We know the church is not a building but the people. When we speak of the Old Testament, we dismiss a lot of it because it is a nothing more than a shadow of things to come. Many think the Old Testament is graceless and I am afraid we have taken it to the point in the mind of some, unspiritual. Where does all this leave us? THERE IS NO LONGER ANY PLACE THAT IS HOLY!
We have made everything so mundane, so laid back that we have forgotten about the holiness of God. Because we know our buildings/locations we assemble in are not holy, we have taken out there is no holy place for God, no special place of His dwelling. I heard someone say, "Ah, but every place is special and it's precisely for that reason that the New Testament will have no regard for the holiness of special location." What shallow understanding we have of the New Testament. Sleeping attire in a bedroom is totally appropriate but pajamas, shorts, holes in jeans at the holy assembly of God's people? We need to rethink our approach of our holy God. We are His holy people and His holy dwelling is in us! That should spur as to watch what we wear and how we live. When we assemble as His people, what should be the foremost thing present? HOLINESS! We have little understanding about His holiness in relationship to us. Too many are becoming so laid back that we need to be more "contemporary" and consumer friendly that we have forgotten the God who purchased us and called us into a holy relationship! We speak of joy and being more open as we assemble but rejoicing without trembling is not worship!
I am not speaking of people cowering before Him, afraid of Him and gloom and doom atmospheres! I am not trying to dictate what we wear. We are too laid back. We have seem to lose reverence for God. In fact, how little today we hear about reverence and holiness. When we come to the assembly of the saints, that should bring about a holy fear, a godly reverence. We are the living temple and His Spirit dwells in us. As the body comes together, that should make us more mindful, more in tune that He is holy and we are His holy people. It should lead us to understanding, "The Lord is in His holy temple, let all the earth keep silent before Him." We need to realize there are holy places and the assemblies are one of the holiest of places because the holy people of God assemble there.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

"A Word About the Cross"

I know each and every sermon I preach, every lesson I teach, somewhere I bring in the cross and the Christ of the cross for our forgiveness and justification. Perhaps by being in Jefferson City so long, people have grown to know that taking it for granted. Our lives are to be built around the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. Those are not just repeated words, they are words of freedom, power and newness!
Some time back, a preacher came and visited me asking me by being here so long, how did I find lessons/sermons to preach. I shared with him that "The Book" is full of sermons/lessons and one can never exhaust them but one thing for certain is I never move away from the cross. He looked puzzled, then said, "I guess I better start preaching more on the cross. About two months later, this preacher contacted me and said, "Well, I have finished all the lessons I could find on the cross! Where do I go from there?" I listened with a sadness because I realized he had no clue that the cross, the resurrection of our Lord and Savior was the center of our lives, not just a simple lesson preached. Jesus is the beginning, the middle and the end! Jesus is our life!!
We need to allow the cross to have it full implications. God knew us to be sinners from the beginning. The death, burial and resurrection was not something thought of on the fly. It was formed in the mind of God before there was a world. I have a difficult time of understanding that and one day I will be able to ask Him but it shows us the great insight, wisdom and power of God. Here is what I want you to hear: the cross of our Lord did not create the love of God for us. The love of God for us has been from the beginning. The cross only manifested, made the love of God known to us in a way so we could see that love! Whatever we see in ourselves, our failures or even in the sin of others, we cannot make sin to say more than the cross!!! The cross speaks louder than any sin we have or will ever commit. Please get that! Let me shout it: THE CROSS SPEAKS LOUDER THAN ANY SIN WE HAVE OR WILL EVER COMMIT! Our sin might shout out, but the cross thunders! We stumble badly at times, but the grace of God through the cross increases even greater. Our sin might whisper, lying and confusing us but the cross speaks out the truth and drives away all darkness. Only the sincere, penitent, forgiven sinner can understand this.
Go assured that God is for you! He didn't send His Son on our death mission, to speak of His love He always has had for us, to watch us walk into an eternity of fire and worms! He came to save us through His Son and for those who believe and accept that salvation, pure and undefiled, they find the full assurance of forgiveness and willingly please God, running to Christ for refuge. There we can rest, fully assured that we stand clean and justified in the presence of the God Almighty, our Creator, Father and Judge!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

"Understanding Why"

He was an humble man, or so it seemed. His kindness was touched by many and his service was unselfish. He was dedicated to the Lord in every regard! I loved the man. For years he had served as an elder in the Lord's church, gently tending the flock. He matched every character of I Pet. 5:1-4. He was one of the few men I had met that truly was a shepherd to the flock and all the flock knew it!
One day he had to step aside from his service in the capacity as a shepherd. He was moving to a new location. The congregation mourned over his departure. I too felt the loss but at the same time I was thrilled that another group of my brethren would be able to share in his kindness and love. It wasn't but a couple of months after his moving I received a phone call from his wife. He had two children married and his third child was a daughter that was 16. His wife was hurting, fighting through pain and tears trying to speak with me. She said, "It's Hank! I don't know what to do." As I questioned, she put piece by piece together for me and told me Hank had come home from his job, packed his clothes and left her and his daughter. I was speechless. Why? For the last five years, Hank had been secretly involved with another woman in this city to where they moved! I was floored. There were no words coming to mind. This shepherd of God's flock, this brother that was an example of humility and love suddenly bolted? It didn't take me long to take a drive, some 6 hours away to see them. A dear friend of mine went with me. We timed it to be at his house when he arrived home from work. His wife had told me he was coming by for the last of his things. We were all sitting, talking and fighting through the tears when he arrived. He was shocked! He quickly exited into his room, picked up a few things and came out. I asked him to sit and talk. He said talking was out of the question and if I was going to share Bible with him, he already knew what it said. He had been through a school of preaching, knew Greek and Hebrew and was well versed in the Bible. I asked him why he was doing this and his response, "Because I am tired of pretending! This is who I am, not some nicey, fake Christian!" Off he went never to been seen again or heard from.
Things like this just hit us like a ton of bricks. Why does it happen? Recently I have witnessed people who claim to love the Lord just do something so contrary to the teachings of Christ. We ask why? I know the answer and it might shock some. They have harbored evil in their hearts for a long period until one day the evil over-rides their conscience to make a bold move. Once the move is made, there is no turing back, no justifying. They simply throw off all the restraints of the Lord so they are free to do as they have always wanted. All those years of so called service to the Lord was nothing but a sham! Their heart was not really in it. They may say it was but one does not suddenly bolt on the Lord and do things so contrary to His will without something going on in the heart for years. They just learned how to play the game of hypocrisy. The Hebrew writer warns us to take care that we do not have an evil, unbelieving heart (Heb. 3:12). If we have to be warned, it means the capacity is there within us. Judas is a good illustration of how one can fake it for years and be exposed at his depth of sin. It happens in the church more often than you think. It comes back to one simple teaching from God, "Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life." (Gal. 6:7-8) There has been a lot of years of sowing to reap the ungodliness within the heart of a person to make them make such bold moves. I have witnessed preachers, elders and what was thought of as strong members and deacons just do things so ungodly. Remember, no one, not one single person on this planet will mock God, faking, thinking they are getting away with anything. Just watch and when something happens that shock us, there you will find what they have been sowing to and it has been going on for a long time!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

"A Word To Parents"

Here I am, 54 years old and still trying to learn what it means to be a father! All my children are grown and married and I have been blessed with 3 grandchildren. As my children were growing up, I made a lot of mistakes and still do. I can remember some things I messed up with Tawn, my oldest. I had never had a girl before, much less a teenage girl, so I had no practice runs! It was 'on the job training.' Terrill came along in growing up and I had never been a father to a son, much less a teenage son. I made mistakes with him too as I had to learn as we went along. Terrance was my third. I made mistakes with him too, trying to be a better father, but often failing. But in all the above cases, I can say I honestly tried to the best of my ability with the little insight I had.
Listen, we parents mean well. Sometimes we are selfish, demanding, impatient and at times, overbearing. Things we ask of our children may see so unfair in their eyes, but we do mean well! I only wish our children could realize that we never mean them injury or harm but only want the best for them. Maybe our children need to be reading this!! Parents love their children and want to see them make wise, sound choices that lead to heaven.
Listen parents, your children do not need a mother or father who is indifferent. What a lonely world some parents make for their children by showing little interest in the lives of their children. I know of fathers that the only time they speak to their children is when they chastise them. Other than that, there is little communication between them. What a lonely position a child is placed in. And parents wonder why their children pal with problem causing kids. Let me assure you, parents who communicate little with their children need to realize their children will find someone, even if its problem kids, to share their lives with. I have witnessed girls who show up with horrible choices of boys simply because the father is too busy for their girl and she found someone showing interest in her life. You young parents, things may be well right now as you have little ones, but they are going to grow up and you have some issues you will face, so you better be dealing with some things now! Parents, children do not need a home run like a boot camp either! The barking out commands and demands that put such a strain on the heart of the child is what will make them loose heart! And parents wonder why their children want to leave home! Children do not need parents that are 'loosy goosy' standing for nothing! That's a horrible environment for children to be in. Children don't need to be friends with their parents, they need a mother and father who keeps their word, who gently directs and encourages, disciplines when necessary and shows mercy at the proper times. I realize sometimes it is difficult to learn the line of balance but we need to be striving to learn that line. Some parents are so 'loosy goosy' that they allow their children to dictate how the home is run. It will ruin everyone. Some parents allow their children to throw fits, have a bad attitude and simply overlook it as part of growing up. If that is allowed, it will come back and haunt you down the road. Training...our children need training just like parents need training.
Yes, I made my share of mistakes and will probably continue but I can say this, my children seem to love to come home! Home does not seem to be a bad memory for them. Their home life I pray was cherished. I don't tell them about my mistakes because they know them too well but I love them and I will continue to love them, correct them if they are wrong and above all watch them raise their children, hopefully with the godly principles their mother and I laid down.

Monday, January 5, 2009


The new year has begun! I am amazed how quickly time is passing. The older I get, the more precious time becomes. Time is a creation of God. It binds us under its influence and it is something that can never be regained. We always want to know what time it is in order to make decisions on how to move to our next avenue in our lives.
God's word tells us there is a time for everything. Actually, there is an "appointed time for everything." (Eccl. 3:1) God has made everything appropriate in its time. God set how long man would live, from living hundreds of years in age to what we see today. God has taken time and used it to make each of us have an appointment with death. We all will share in that. God has also set of time for Christ's return! What is more amazing is to know that God has written down the days we are to spend on this earth, even before we were born (Psa. 139:16). God controls time, our time and time will overtake each one of us.
What are we to do with our time? "Therefore, be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil." (Eph. 5:15-16) We need to use our time wisely. We need to make the most of our time and not waste it. I look at my children and sometimes I ache for the little hand to reach up into mine, holding tightly for security. Time has taken that away. Take advantage of your time. Use it wisely to benefit spiritually. Time has no affect on spiritual matters! Take time with your family! Enjoy them and train them in the ways of righteousness because the days are evil. Above all, remember that today you are one day closer to eternity than yesterday! It's time to awaken, be alert and put on the Lord Jesus Christ, making no provisions for the flesh and its lusts! (Rom. 13:14). Make proper moves while we still have time!!!