Thursday, July 19, 2012

"It's That Time"

  What a week it has been. I am leaving tomorrow for Colorado as we are coming upon our congregational retreat there. It is a great thing to see. People are awaiting to go and spend time with their families while spending time with one another. The whole week will be spent rallied around the Lord and building our faith. Some are a little nervous as they don't know what to expect while others who went four years ago are so looking forward to it. At the present we have some 181 people that are planning on attending. That's a great group. Snow Mountain Ranch has given us such a good deal on lodging and meals to help at this time. My week has been filled with trying to get things ready, making sure my lessons are ready to go as well as the other things we will be doing together. Different members have pitched in trying to help. That's what the body does!
  After the retreat, Resa and myself are going to take a much needed time to recoup! We will take two weeks and head up to Wyoming/Montana. That means I won't be back writing until Aug. 13.
  Until then, let your heart be fixed on the Lord. Grow your faith/trust in Him. On the first day of week, don't approach that day lazy and with a tired, slothful attitude. You're worshiping God with God's own children. You're taking in His Supper with His body so rejoice. You're fellowshiping the Lord Jesus and the Father. Make it count. Make it from the heart. Make it your faith and not what someone else does or thinks. It's not about what is lacking in song, prayer or teaching but what is offered from a sincere heart of faith. You will find blessings as you bless the Father. Isn't that what saved people do?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

"The Bandits Church"

  While traveling I get to see a lot of different sights and events. One thing that always catches my attention is this place we could call "The Bandits Church." In one place, I could not believe how lit up the place was. Lights flashing, beautiful colors and a big, big building. "The Bandits Church" was actually built into the side of a mountain face into the rock. It was really impressive!
  It made me think, "What would happen if we started preaching/teaching every single week about giving? Sacrifical giving? What would the brethren do?" The complaints would certainly come. Here were people attending "The Bandits Church" for hours and giving of their means freely. It is an absolute joy for them to give. I have read that at "The Bandits Church" people are so thrilled to give, they even used their credit cards! What else caught my attention that the brief time we were sitting across the street, I noticed it wasn't the rich that was going into "The Bandits Church." Some were common looking and others looked like they were completely down and out on their luck. Music was playing and people that went in looked enthusiastic to be there. What are we speaking about? The casino! People rushing in offering their means voluntarily so "The Bandit Church" could build bigger and better structures bringing in top entertainers. "The Bandit Church" has money and those who leave don't! They have given their all only to leave broken and empty to who knows what at home. The love for wealth has deceived them but they seem to complain little only to go back and find more funds to sacrificially give to their god. The Scriptures are true: "But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction." (I Tim. 6:9)
  Where are we putting our emphasis in life? Too many complain about certain issues in the Lord's church but when it comes down to it, how do we offer our giving freely in other places and little given to the cause of the Lord? That should make us all examine our hearts!!! 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

"It's the "C" Word"

  While sitting last evening with a dear brother in Christ, he asked me why it was so difficult for preachers to take criticism. When one hears things like this, it makes you wonder what is about to hit you. But as he further explained that he recently went through some criticism in his service to the Lord. I could hear his words in sort of a shaky way. It was bothering his heart. It all seem to tie together that as he had been critical of preachers in the past, here he was faced with some criticism of his own and he was having difficulty handling it. He gained a new perspective of how to deal with his criticisms toward others as he was having to deal with it toward himself.
  I know we don't like criticism. It can hurt. It does hurt especially when people are just blunt and mean. I have been accused of that. I have been accused of being too blunt and mean-spirited. It makes me ponder things. Personally speaking, as this is my blog, my personal blog, I have never, ever known in my heart that  I was ever mean-spirited! That is foreign to me. Some perhaps may think when I get a little loud as being mean-spirited, I don't know but those who know me know there is not one ounce of meanness toward others in me. God is my witness. I know over the years that in preaching/teaching you will say things that aren't the best way and even things you wished didn't come out. Once it happens, you can't take it back. It makes you more aware of how you say things. People will criticize, "You're too loud!" You tone it down. "I can't hear what you're saying, speak up!" You rev it up. "I don't like your preaching as well as someone else's!" That's not troublesome and it makes me thankful for others. "You need to be this or that!" or "Stop being this or that!" It makes you reflect. In the whole, it can send you to the nut house if you don't know how to handle it!
  How do you handle it? You must realize who you serve. God or man? Man will be critical. Sometimes you need the criticism to help but those who love you will help you. I've had many good, faithful brothers and sisters help me over the years. Stand in the presence of God. Keep your heart directed toward Him and Him alone. Yes, you will make your mistakes and others will criticize you at times but if you will do what you do with all your heart in humility and honesty, all that matters is He knows!! Sometimes those who criticize are those who the word of the Lord touched and rather than deal with it, they find a way to divert it from penetrating their heart (Heb. 4:12). They criticize. Those the Lord touches, they help you get a little further down the road. Criticism...sometimes known as "Suffering 101!" It helps you develop when taken upward to the Lord.

Monday, July 16, 2012


  How easy is it for us to get bent out of shape at one another? You know those who really seem to irritate you to no end, who constantly get on that last nerve of yours or they just simply bug you because they are who they are? We think at times that people really need to grow up. After all, Paul told the Corinthian brethren to "Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong." (I Cor. 16:13) Wake up and grow up was his message!
  When we reflect on others or get irritated at others we seem to expect more of them than sefl! We look for opportunities to correct others but not sefl. We want to make sure others get the message but not sefl. Sometimes we do want to correct sefl but more correction is needed for others.
  What's the solution? Paul said it best. "Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you - unless indeed you fail the test?" (II Cor. 13:5) We need to stop being so critical of others and examine sefl. We need to see sefl growing in respect to the Lord and expect sefl to be changing into His likeness. It is Jesus who rescued us. It is Jesus who transferred us. It is Jesus who stands between us and God. It is Jesus who will take us home with Him eternally. We need to start trying to help others by walking with the Lord ourselves. Many miss a good and powerful message from the Lord because someone misspells "sefl"! They just can't get past the mistake. It looms in their mind. The result, no maturity, no progress and a lot of picking things apart, which many times we might have misapplied just because of the ridiculous misspelling of "sefl"!!! 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

"Trust In Jesus"

  Jesus always spoke truth. Over and over He would state, "Truly, truly...". In speaking truth it could offend some. Sometimes Jesus wasn't soft and tender but rather straight forward. One thing He always could be depended upon, to speak what was good and truthful to help people.
  Jesus always knew what He was speaking about and what He spoke about consistently was His eternal heavenly Father. He knew His Father well from before the world was to living as man in a joy-filled and holy fellowship with Him through the Holy Spirit. There was such oneness, such a loving communion and profound understanding of His Father. Jesus showed His love for His Father by doing the will of the Father. He spoke of that a lot!
  When Jesus spoke to His disciples that when you have seen Me, you have seen the Father (John 14:9), He wasn't boasting. When Jesus said if His own would have known Him, in turn they would have known the Father (John 14:7). What was His point? To assure them and us that He is who He said He is and He can be trusted!
  Just think, there once was a time in the life of mankind where a mother or father could point to Jesus the man and say, "You see Him? That's God!" His life was under constant scrutiny. But bottom line, you need to learn to trust Jesus. Read the gospel accounts looking to see Jesus! When you learn of Jesus, you will learn of the Father. Trust Christ! He will show you God.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

"Religion and Love"

  It's rather amazing those who claim Christ, speak of His love for mankind yet love is not a big part of their lives. Religion is! Their belief in God is! But where is love? Just look at our attitudes toward those we don't like. Look at how we speak against them but we know what the Scriptures teach about love. "If someone says, 'I love God,' and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one how does not love his brother who he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen." (I John 4:20) Simply put, you cannot love God and not love your brother. IMPOSSIBLE! "Love your enemies..." (Matt. 5:44) says Jesus!
  Love, the sacrificial doing of good toward another, is what God is after. Doesn't God do that to the most horrible of people by allowing them to enjoy His goodness by sun, rain and other necessary things? God's always been after us practicing this kind of love. "If you meet your enemy's ox or his donkey wandering away, you shall surely return it to him. If you see the donkey of one who hates you lying helpless under its load, you shall refrain from leaving it to him, you shall surely release it with him."  (Ex. 23:4-5) In Deut. 22:1-2 we find: "You shall not  see your countryman's ox or his sheep straying away, and pay no attention to them; you shall certainly bring them back to your countryman. If you countryman is not near you, or if you do not know him, then you shall bring it home to your house, and it shall remain with you until your countryman looks for it; then you shall restore it to him."
  The Exodus text uses "enemy" while the Deuteronomy text uses "countryman" or sometimes translated brother. But what both these texts have in common is no matter who we are dealing with, help!!! That's what God-given love does. Love doesn't have a special place for those close to one and everyone else is repelled, especially your enemy. Love does no wrong to a neighbor, to anyone (Rom. 13:10). To love only those who love us, who are close to us, who agree with us is not a religion God is involved in. To embrace a belief system in God like that is to make a decision about the God you worship and that's where our belief system is tested. If our Savior and God calls us to love our enemies and says His children do the same, we cannot love just those who love and agree with us (Luke 6:35-36). We are called to walk in the steps of Jesus, be changed into His image and reflect the very nature of our Father.
  How do you view those who hate you? If you saw an enemy in need, would you think they are getting what they deserve or help with the need? Hmmm....makes one reflect on what kind of Father we really claim as our own, doesn't it?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

"Praise God!"

  Do you praise God? I mean do you each day praise the name of the Lord and give thanks to His name? These questions might sound a little odd because we don't speak like this too much. Just listen: "Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of the lip that give thanks to His name."  (Heb. 13:15) I see people write things that speak "God is good!" but most of the time when that is said, it is because of a prayer we have had answered the way we wanted it answered or good came out of something difficult. But what about when we are told no by God? Do we praise Him then? When things don't work for what we think is our desired outcome, do we praise Him then?
  No matter what we face in life, no matter what life threatening diseases or hurts that come to us, it does not change the fact that God is still for us and His promises and faithfulness to us are not changed one bit because of a difficult circumstance! "For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come." (Heb. 13:14) That's the verse that precedes the one above. What city are we really part of? This earthly, temporary, painful and sometimes difficult arena? Is this where we have pinned our faith and placed our hope?
  We need to praise God. Through Jesus, because of what He has accomplished for us, we should give thanks to His name continually! How much praise have you given Him today?

Monday, July 9, 2012

"Do We Know What We Do?"

  As Jesus was hanging by His hands and feet with nails piercing, pulling and His breath difficult, the words came from His mouth that are rather astonishing: "Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing." (Luke 23:34) Read that again and put a little thought into it. How could He speak such words with such insults, slamming and scouring's? What does He teach with those words?
  One thing that stands out to me is man, religious man, can do horrible things to the Lord and Savior thinking they were doing the will of God! They believed themselves in fellowship with God while killing His Son. Blind! Just simply blind with no clue to their real spiritual condition. As the people jeered and cheered before this point, they asked for a murdering insurrectionists freedom while killing the true Prince of Peace!
  That takes us to looking at us. Are we the same? Do we opt to slaughter others with our Barabbas preferences? Do we look to reach out and preserve with the thoughts of mercy and peace? Do we blindly speak of love for the Lord while destroying our brother? Is it us too who do not know what we do? There is the way of Barabbas and the way of the Lord!
  We look at our homes and what do we see? The way of Barabbas or the way of the Lord? How do you treat your mate? Your children? How are we on our jobs? Are we the Barabbas 'ralliers' or the Lord workers? When our lives are looked upon, what do people see? The Barabbas connection or the Jesus connection? I've said a lot and maybe it's time to sit and re-evaluate what we really are doing both in our personal lives and to our brothers and sisters. Could it be we are so blind that we think we are servants of the Lord while we know not what we do?

Thursday, July 5, 2012

"The Ridiculous"

  No longer does it shock me to see the ridiculous statements and ideas of people. Sometimes it is just flat out hypocritical! For years the saying has been for our children, "Say NO to drugs!" They hear it at school and find it on bumper stickers. Then our airwaves are flooded with ads that when you need help with certain things, take drugs!! What a conflict of interest. That leads us to airwaves filled with lawyers that if you took this drug or that drug and had this reaction, get in touch and we will bring a lawsuit against them. A new one hit the other day when Sketcher's shape-up shoes have caused back pain in some and lawsuits are arising.
  The endangered Indiana bat received $6.3 million in 2007 to help preserve it. In Florida, millions of tax-payer dollars were spent to make a canal for endangered turtles to make their way from the water to the land and back again. 
  I was reading a news release about the ACLU how they protest against crosses wanting them removed from all military cemeteries. Anything to do with the cross in a public sense is called infringing on the rights and the preservation of our rights! 
  All these causes and all these statements may sound noble to some but what they do is spend our money and hold the majority hostage. All of these things blind us to real life and living. Why don't people get up in arms about aborting a baby? An unborn child, with no say so, created in the image of God and yet the most precious thing to God, a soul, is left with no protection. The life of humans seems of little value in the mind of many. It makes my mind shift to the words of Jesus when He spoke: "You blind guides, who strain our a gnat and swallow a camel!" (Matt. 23:24) Jesus knows man well, very well!  

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

"Bless God!"

  I give thanks to God for our nation. Why were we born when we were? Why were we born where we were? Why was I (you) placed where I was place? Being born a century earlier, I wouldn't be writing and already in eternity! Thank you Lord for my life!
  While sitting at a special event last evening, a group began to sing our national anthem. People began to stand up, hats were taken off, hands were placed over hearts and it was quiet.  People reflecting while the song continued. People joined in singing. Then it hit me...what a wonderful thing to see people so thankful for our freedom, our nation and remember those fallen so we could be there and enjoy. What about God? I wondered if someone had started singing about the Lord and His greatness, would the hats come off? Would hands be placed over hearts and the lips begin to sing praises to Him? Would there be quiet and reflecting? I know the answer and so do you. We have shifted and not for the good.
  I am so grateful to some of my personal friends who have lost their lives for my freedom in this nation. I will never forget them. I am thankful to the families that lost loved ones and their loved ones were away for a long period for my betterment. One day I will leave this world, this nation and will no longer be part of it. I will be in eternity! Forever set in whatever state the Lord has set. Nothing to ever change, EVER! It causes me to bow my head, thank the Lord for His greatest gift of all because my freedom on this earth was not what was at stake but my eternal destiny and for that, I stand in awe, place my hand over my heart and sing praises to His name forever. Thank you God for our nation but more than that, thank you for my salvation for eternity that was paid at the highest price of all!!!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

"The Message"

  "Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people." (Prov. 14:34) What hits your mind when you read God speaking such? Our nation is a nation in trouble. It is a nation divided and steeped in sin. We see the disgrace which people act. It seems things are like a simmering pot, boiling just waiting to overflow. I don't think I'm exaggerating. The political scene is red hot and people are falling in line. I read comments made on facebook and other places and see how angry and divided people are. The camps of strong opinions are being set up and they are backed up by hard feelings. People in the Lord's church are listening, siding and finding themselves caught in some of the rage. Some may not even know it.
  Politics are just one front! We see it when sports teams win a championship. The rioting and destruction take place. Why are so many out of control and wanting an opportunity to express themselves in violent, destructive ways? Is this a disgrace?
  We begin to hone in on the church of our Lord. Look at the splits, the division and at times destruction between one another that you wonder if the Lord can be found anywhere. What is happening to us? The cry comes the church is dying so we use the world's methods to draw people in and get their attention. It causes more division. I still read that God's power to save anyone is found in the gospel (Rom. 1:16). God's wisdom, power, righteousness, holiness and redemption is in Jesus Christ (I Cor. 1:30).
  What are we to do? Lead people to Jesus! Teach that the way to the true life is found by giving up your own (Matt. 10:39). Point that our citizenship is in heaven (Phil. 3:20). Show people the outstretched arms of Jesus on a cross, His raising from the dead for hope now and the future. Speak the truth in love. Let's get out the real message of our Savior and stop allowing our nations disgrace to enter our thoughts, our words and actions. Spend time speaking where all the treasures of true wisdom and knowledge lay...Christ Himself (Col. 2:3). Let's be a people who believe that our Lord is coming back and tell others He is returning. There is only one remedy to our nation and in the church...JESUS AND HIM CRUCIFIED! Speak Him loud and clear.

Monday, July 2, 2012

"A Little Heavy?"

  It was Jesus who spoke that we need to carry our own cross and follow Him (Luke 14:27).  I find myself not liking the cross I carry at times, don't you? Each of us is in a different circumstance, a different place in life and sometimes they can be hard. The pounding people take with their health, finances or in their own families can be difficult. Marriages strained. Bad attitudes in the work place. The brothers and sisters in Christ don't act like at times as brothers or sisters in Christ should. (It makes one wonder what "Word" they believe?) People gossip, slander and speak openly to anyone that will listen to their disdain or justification of an action they have taken. It all takes its toll on the sincere of heart trying to follow Jesus.
  But wait! What is all this looking at me? Just re-read what I wrote. What do you see? It's all about me (you)! Jesus said to carry your cross and come after Him! We aren't in this alone. It's not about us. It's about Him. When His knees buckled on this earth, falling to the ground praying so fervently for His life to the Father, yet He paved the way of endurance and strength. Jesus the Lord went to God as our forerunner to bring to each of us an assurance that we can make it too! Stop looking at everyone else. Stop allowing the things in this world to distract you. Those days when your cross becomes heavy, stop looking at you and the weight you carry. Let the Lord help! Let the Lord do the carrying for you and know this above all, He endured and made it to show us we aren't in this alone and we can make it too! "Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." (Heb. 12:2) Yes, the cross part of our lives can be brutal but the Savior of our lives gives us such hope and promises. What you do is determined by one thing: where are you looking for your endurance today?