Tuesday, September 27, 2016

"S I N"

  I do a lot of counseling. Marriages, families and individuals. People come by and share their life struggles and they are real. Heartache, disappointment and sometimes rebellion troubles the souls. For the majority, their struggles seem so big and complicated they do not know what to do. Many times people speak that their situation is so complex that it is hard to explain. Many times individuals have sought out "professionals" and found no answers and they seem to grasping at straws. I guess one might say that I sometimes fall as a last resort! First or last, at least they come.
  Here is the thing. I know the answer to all situations before I am ever told what is going on. There are no letters before or after my name as I am a nobody. But I understand why things are the way they are. Our day and times is no different from the day and times of Jesus. The same problems He faced with people are the same problems we face today. The only thing that has changed is we have gotten better at covering up the problem with all these layers and that's what makes people confused or complicated. The problem up front and always: S I N! It's not anything else. One can listen to this action or these words spoken in a situation but the cause is s i n! In marriages, s i n separates people. In families s i n brings destruction and hurts. In individual lives s i n creates confusion and hopelessness. S I N is the enemy of man.
  Knowing the problem up front makes it easy when the circumstances are laid out. S i n is involved in every step of the way. People express what happened in certain situations and they don't know what to do from this point. It is rather a simple solution knowing the individuals are trapped and need the answer to overcome the power of s i n. People need saving from s i n and being held in its power. That's where the answer is simple. They need the gospel of Jesus Christ. It's that simple. God's power to save from s i n is found in the gospel (Rom. 1:16). S i n robs one of life. Jesus came to give life. When things get confusing and complicated you can bet s i n is the root cause. Once we can see the cause the solution is easy for those with faith. 
  Next time someone comes to you with all this swirling complexity they want to share realize up front you know the problem and the solution. S i n is overcome by Jesus Christ. Point them to Jesus. No gimmicks, no mastermind plan but just simple and plain words of Jesus and Him crucified!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016


  We recently had a congregational retreat. We try to do this every four years for our congregation but as time has moved us forward we have expanded into the lives of families, brothers and sisters from all parts of this nation. It takes two years of planning (which is why we only do this every four years) and physically wears me out. But that can be overcome! The blessings received are beyond the physical. People tell me to get others to help and I do on certain things but I guess as I am, with all my flaws graciously brought into Christ's love, I want to make sure it glorifies the Lord Jesus Christ and strengthens us. That's not saying others can't or don't do that. It's just me. Yes, sometimes my humanness gets in the way but I always keep things pointed to the Lord Jesus Christ. I can do better and I will!
  We had 242 people at this years retreat in Colorado at Snow Mountain Ranch. Many have asked about it and others have asked how to go about putting one together. I'm glad people ask but I have no real answers. You just do it with Christ as the center piece! Kevin Lawrence from Gideon, Missouri did our speaking and what an outstanding job he did pointing us toward fellowship with God. It's so encouraging to see humble servants of the Lord just preach/teach simply and plainly. There were other preachers (I believe 8) there from different locations and I can say I love them everyone. Many times preachers want to compete with one another or push their personal agendas or ways. Not one of these servants of God did that. Every man of God was kind and humble. They each pull from God's word to be their guide and not their personal opinion. I was thankful to the Father above for bringing all these men into my life and sharing in this retreat.
  Our next retreat will be in 2020 if the Lord will allow. I am prayerfully considering this process asking for guidance and strength. As I reflect on what we did and accomplished, it was good, very good. Families have time together that they may never have done as a family. Brethren get to be with one another and see each in the level of life. It is wonderful. There is too much world in our lives and not enough life in our lives! Someone asked why we traveled that far. It's simple. If we had something like this local, people would be trying to fit some schedule they had or some work they have on-going into this week. To travel away, completely out of the norm, focusing on life in Christ is center stage without any interference. Jesus would often slip up into the mountains to pray. I see the value! In all things, we need to be gaining a deep understanding of our life in Christ Jesus so we have something greater to share not only in our families but to the lost world around. Refreshing of the soul brings things into greater focus!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

"Does Jesus Really Make Any Difference?"

  Does Jesus really make any difference to us? Let's be honest in our apporach. Church division, marriages crumble, arguments among brethren, hatred, strife, bitterness and hardness of heart seem to abound in the lives of many who claim Jesus Christ. 
  We have people pursue their own ideas in the body of Christ and the next thing you know people part ways. People stating they would never have anything to do with certain ones again. The Supper is taken while hatred is in the heart toward others. Does Jesus really make any difference to us?
  Marriages can be difficult at times but for many, hurt feelings and hateful words become the norm and slowly two start drifting apart. Infidelity results and the blame is placed on the other. No one accepts responsibility for their own actions. Cutting words are used to let the other know how they feel. Hearts become embittered and hard and then it happens...divorce. Does Jesus really make any difference to us?
  False accusations are brought up and some seem to be waiting to hear such, especially if it involves one who they already don't like. It's licked up like a cold cup of water on a sweltering day. They dig into it from a source that spews bitterness. Sides are joined and lines are drawn. It's a time bomb ticking. Does Jesus really make any difference to us?
  How many times have you sat and read from God's word? How many sermons have you heard? How many times does Jesus call us to be tenderhearted, forgiving as He has forgiven us? We read and know yet we do the opposite. It is shrugged off as nothing but it is everything! Does Jesus really make any difference to us?

Friday, September 2, 2016

"It's All In The Mind Set"

 The Lord calls us to set our minds on the Spirit (Rom. 8:6). The Lord calls us to seek things above continually (Col. 3:1). The Lord calls us to set our minds on the things above and not on the earth (Col. 3:2). Set, to fix it! To continually draw our minds upward where Christ is seated. It is a matter of spiritual life and death. It's that serious. And we wonder why the things we face on this earth take us down so easily. 
  Heaven is bent on getting us to eternity. God planned on our forgiveness through Jesus but that's only part of it. There has to be a way to be forgiven so we can stand in the presence of a holy God. Jesus provides us with that. All our sins, ALL OUR SINS were taken away and that's the covenant of God. Where does that leave us? We need the power to take us to the end and that power comes from God. The power to forgive and the power to overcome painful situations, God has done it all! 
  The Lord calls us to live by faith. Set your minds! Fix it and let your minds not just dwell but be fixed seeking when we encounter situations. When someone upsets us, what do we normally do? We dwell on how we were hurt. The more you dwell on it, the more angry you become. As the mind dwells on the situation we start slowly falling apart spiritually. We are easily agitated. When the opportunity presents itself we say something or do something to show how upset we are. The situation becomes worse and sometimes it can become 'unmendable'. Where did it start? Someone not setting their mind on the Spirit and seeking Jesus where He sits. Our lives take a downward spiral. We become weaker especially dealing with that person or situation. Misery sets in. The spiritual is lost. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace...we have to look no further than those three to realize none of those are in our lives when we encounter a difficult situation and set our minds on the situation. The Lord would lead us into love, joy and peace and the rest of His life listed in Gal. 5:22-23. The Lord's power is there to help and we choose to set our minds somewhere else. Keeping the Lord our of your situation will leave you weak and helpless because He is not going to walk in the world of your mind set on the things on this earth. The Lord is calling us upward! He's is power. He's the provider and when we don't set our minds there is nothing He can do. Bottom line is we refuse His help by not setting our minds.
  I've noticed over the years when something goes wrong for people, it seems to be all they think about and talk about. You can encourage and point them but generally the response is, "I know that", and it's left right there. That makes matters worse. To know and still not respond by faith is the worst place to put yourself. 
  It takes faith and discipline to set your mind but the result of your response, whether good or bad, will be your choice. God's trying to help. God has helped. God's power is in our reach. It all boils down to where we set our minds. Where you set your mind on a daily basis determines everything!!