One Way

Ephesians 4:25 – Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.

Think of your favorite book, movie or song. Something you know like the back of your hand. Something you know every little detail about, something you care for deeply and invoke fond memories. Now let’s say you met someone and started talking and this book, movie or song came up. This person you met has the same passion for it as you do. What a great thing to have in common! Well the more you discuss it the more things don’t seem right to you. Their version seems to be from the same source material but the meaning has completely changed. How can this be?

This happens every day in the form of RELIGION. Men and women have taken the Word of God and manipulated it to fit their needs. Now, more than ever, our society chooses not to confront these people or religions. There is an attitude that “their God is really our God” and in the end “we’ll all be in the same place”.  A few years ago Oprah took on this view and stated publicly that there “can’t be just one way to get to heaven”, that God is more a state of feeling than Belief. Wow!

So why confront religions when most people who worship a God tend to be “good people”. 1 John 4:1 –  Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. I mentioned Oprah’s statement earlier and to cut to the chase, that is the most important reason to confront false religions. John 14:6 – Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. Many false religions claim Jesus but not in the way the Bible does. Many false religions speak of the same God but not in the way the Bible does. Many false religions speak of your salvation, but not in the way the Bible does.

Your Salvation is not earned, it is not conditional and it can’t be lost. It is a gift from God, but only through acceptance of His Son, Jesus Christ as your Savior. Just as it was written in the Bible. Not edited by another, not through some other form of consciousness and it certainly cannot be found in a hat. The Bible and its teachings, in its original form, is all you really need to get to know Jesus.

I read something a few years ago that I feel sums this up pretty well: RELIGION is humans trying to work their way to God. CHRISTIANITY is GOD coming to men and women through Jesus Christ. Are you letting Religion get in the way of the relationship you should have with Jesus Christ?

Debt Relief

Micah 7:19 – He will again have compassion on us; he will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.

With all the talk about debt lately, in monetary terms, it’s hard to feel real good about where we are as a country. The word Trillion is now the vernacular used to describe our situation. Debt is something we have all been through at one time or another. Some choose to deal with it, ala Dave Ramsey style, and others choose to immerse themselves further into their problems until their problems come to them.

What if you were one of those who continually lived beyond your means? amassing huge debt from credit cards, mortgage and cars. You knew that regardless of how much you tried there would be no possible way to repay the debt incurred. Then, when all seemed hopeless, someone you don’t know volunteered to pay every penny you owed? What a gift! What Freedom!

Well this has already been done for you . . . . but instead of paying your monetary debt, which is temporary, God paid your sin debt, which is eternal, by offering His one and only son, Jesus Christ to die for your sins. I know some have a hard time coming to terms with this sacrifice. Think of it as one of your parents jumping in front of a car to spare your life. That puts it into perspective, doesn’t it?

If you haven’t accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior then you really don’t know God yet. By accepting Him into your life you will begin a new life without the debt of your sins. What Freedom!

1 John 2:1-3 – My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments.

Singing a New Song

Psalms 33:3 – Sing to him a new song; play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts.

I have a friend (Lee) who leads our Jr. High worship band (Road to Damascus rocks!). Lee’s story is not too different than many, to a point. He began attending our church about 3 years ago. He and his wife moved to south Arlington and found Crossroads Christian Church. He was drawn to the worship music and the fact that our Pastor spoke directly from the Bible. However, like many people Lee came to church when he felt like it and when he did, it was in for an hour and back out to live his life as he saw fit.

So many of us go through the motion of “going to church”, much like going to the grocery store or even a movie. For that period of time, we are focused on the task at hand but when we leave it’s on to “other stuff”. Is this you? Well for Lee, he went through a season where all kinds of things weren’t going right. He realized that instead of just “going to church” he needed to center his life around God.

Lee dedicated his life to Christ and started serving in the media ministry. A short time later he began helping out with the Jr. High worship program. In the year or so since he began it has been very apparent that God is using him to reach others through his musical abilities. He recently composed a song and sang it during worship. Lee will be the first one to tell you that he didn’t do this on his own. Only through Christ Jesus can we all reach our full potential and accomplish things we never thought possible. There is no doubt that Lee has been a very talented musician for quite some time. However, it wasn’t until he stopped just “going to church” and started truly seeking God that he was able to fully realize the gift that he was blessed with.

If you attend church that’s great! But are you just putting in your time once a week? or even less . . . I wonder how God would bless you if you did as Lee?

Psalms 37:5 – Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act.

You think it’s hot here?

John 3:18 – . . . but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

Here in Texas we have experienced over two weeks straight of 100 degree weather. It has been utterly brutal. Just walk outside and you feel it instantly. The heat offers nothing but anguish and suffering, especially to those who have prolonged exposure to it. For the most part we all have a choice as to whether or not we are going to subject our selves to this “punishment”. I can choose to stay inside and enjoy the comfort of the A/C or we are lucky enough to have a few neighbors with swimming pools that offer instant relief from this oppressive heat.

 The same holds true with your salvation. Each one of us has the choice as to whether we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. By accepting this gift of grace we are assured of eternal life through Jesus’ Sacrifice. John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. Though many believe such, we can not attain eternity through just being a “good person”. Ephesians 2:8-9 – For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 

For some it’s hard to see Hell as a real place. It’s a place reserved for weird cartoons, Halloween or a mythical place akin to Atlantis. In a way I wish that were true but God formed a perfect world and Hell is a very real part of it. Mathew 25:31 – Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. I know many good people. I also know many good people who have not accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior. Psalms 73:27 – For behold, those who are far from you shall perish; you put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to you.  

Are you one of these people? Are you not sure what will happen to you when you die? Are you at a place in your life where you’re not fulfilled? If you believe in God and His Word then you must believe Hell is a very real place. Just like we have the choice to stay inside to avoid the heat you have the choice to accept Christ as your savior and avoid an eternity in Hell. It’s the best decision you’ll ever make!  . . . feel free to contact me to discuss this in your life

Romans 6:23 – For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The American Way of Life

Luke 12:46-47 – the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will cut him in pieces and put him with the unfaithful. And that servant who knew his master’s will but did not get ready or act according to his will, will receive a severe beating.

The American Way of Life, which is based on Judeo-Christian values, thrived for 200 years. Deuteronomy 4:7 – For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the LORD our God is to us, whenever we call upon him? As a Nation, we are now turning away from those values and becoming a shell of our former self. Isaiah 60:12 – For the nation and kingdom that will not serve you shall perish; those nations shall be utterly laid waste.

On this 235th Birthday of our great nation we stop to reflect on the founding of our country. We think of men like Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin, George Washington and many more.  Their vision set into motion the American Way of Life and a country that has grown into the symbol of freedom and democracy for the entire world.

The word Patriot is used to describe such men. Patriot – a person who vigorously supports his country and its way of life. While this definition certainly describes our founding fathers and the many men and women who serve in our Armed Forces, there was a time when it could also be used to describe the vast amount of our common population. Regrettably, the word Patriot is now looked upon by those who wish to turn away from the American Way of Life as a punch line or some political kook.

Of all the Judeo-Christian values that we are taught, Jesus held Servitude in the highest regard. Mark 10:45 – For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” The Patriots who fought and granted our country its literal independence did so without compensation. They served for the idea of a republic that saw all men as equal. They served for those who could not fight for themselves. They fought for a value system based on the Bible and the American way of life! Galatians 5:13 – For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

When we serve, we take the focus off of ourselves and direct it toward others. When we direct our actions toward the good of others and the general welfare, we are demonstrating our Patriotism. In his illustrious inauguration speech John F Kennedy uttered the historic phrase, “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country“. It still stands today as an encouragement to give instead of take, to serve in lieu of being served, a testament to the American Way of Life. On that same day, Kennedy also spoke these words, “…let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God’s work must truly be our own”. In retrospect I’ll take the latter over the former any day. If we simply live our lives as Kennedy expressed The American Way of Life will be preserved forever!

Psalms 28:9 – Oh, save your people and bless your heritage! Be their shepherd and carry them forever.

Saved!

Isaiah 12:2 – Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the LORD GOD is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.”

 . . . . before I even had time to think about it I had a team of Doctors and Nurses working feverishly to save my life. The commotion that ensued was overwhelming. However, the doctor assured me that they would take good care of me. At this point, I had put my life in their hands.

These were the thoughts that passed through my mind in a manner of seconds while I was being treated for my recent heart attack. Sure I walked into the hospital of my own free will (thank the Lord) but once I laid down on that table I was theirs. I was now turning my life over to people I had never met before and relying on them to see me through this.

After thinking back on this moment it really isn’t too different from a person giving their life to Christ. In many cases, people that give their life to Christ are going through a crisis. When all else has failed, they turn to Christ. They make the decision to put their life in his hands and trust in Him. Proverbs 3:5 – Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. . . . . . . . .  It’s the best decision they will ever make.

When we are forced to take a “leap of faith” it’s so much easier to do. While this is great, I can’t help but think of those who are not in “crisis mode” but still need to submit to His will and His Word. Is that person you? Have you been thinking about this but just aren’t sure? well you’re certainly not alone in this. All I know is that since I turned my life over to Christ it has become immensely more fulfilling. Has it exempted me from the trials that life brings? Uh . . no . . . but my relationship with God through Jesus Christ puts everything in perspective.  I want this for you!

Two weeks ago I put my life in the hands of those I didn’t know, praise the Lord I’m here to talk about it. Six years ago I put my life in the hands of the One who gave it to me in the first place. If I had to choose one or the other, I would pick the later everyday even knowing the former wouldn’t work out.

Acts 2:21 – And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’

Why me? Why now?

Romans 5:3-5 – More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Why me? Why now?  . . . . . Two Fridays ago much like any other day I went to the gym. I jumped on the Elliptical and proceeded to “run” my 3+ miles. Later that night I was “privileged” to be a part of a Church lock-in for 7th grade boys. We played dodge ball and rough housed like you would expect with 7th grade boys. I managed 2 hours of sleep that night. I turned 49 the week prior and for a guy this old I’ve held up pretty well. I eat well, I’m active, my Cholesterol is good and other than a little stress at work my life is wonderful! How quickly things can change . . .

The following Monday I didn’t feel well so I went to see the doctor had a check-up/physical. I was diagnosed with high blood pressure and went on my way. A mere 24 hours later I was being told by an emergency physician that I was having an acute Heart Attack and I was being rushed into surgery. He was right, within 48 minutes of entering the Emergency room I was being wheeled into my recovery room. They saved my life.

However, the questions brought on by this event, that have filled my head and heart have been too numerous to count. In regard to my health, we made a list of questions to ask the Cardiac Specialist and the first one was . . . Why me? Why now? . . . . This question applies to my demographics but also to my faith. Psalm 73:16 – But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task,. Here I am a pretty healthy guy and BOOM! I’m one bad decision away from being dead. Had I decided to drive into work that morning that may have been the outcome. Thus far 2011 has not been a banner year for me, no matter what I do I just can’t seem to get on top of things. So again I cry out to God for answers to things I have no way of knowing.

In the end, when we’re faced with life’s dilemmas, we must rely on our faith in God’s Word to see us through these periods. We must look to the good that comes from such events to bring about His purpose, build our character and strengthen our faith in Him so we may share it with others. There is no greater purpose in life.

In the weeks to come, I will have more to say about this event and the little things that has God pointed out. I closing, I thought the fourth verse from Jesus Loves Me was very appropriate here. It’s a great reminder of His sacrifice and how we should approach everyday of our lives  . . . . .  God Willing!

 Jesus loves me! He will stay, close beside me all the way.

Thou hast bled and died for me, I will henceforth live for Thee.

Psalms 94:19 – When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul.

Life, Liberty and the pursuit of God’s Word

2 Corinthians 3:17 – Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord [is], there [is] liberty.

Liberty – 1: the quality or state of being free: a: the power to do as one pleases b: freedom from physical restraint c: freedom from arbitrary or despotic control  2:a  a right or immunity enjoyed by prescription or by grant : privilege b: permission especially to go freely within specified limits

This coming Monday we’ll celebrate Memorial Day. We’ll honor the numerous men and women who have fought and given their lives to protect our Liberty. A quick rundown of that number goes as follows (killed in battle): Revolutionary War – 4,435; Civil War – 140,414; WWI – 53,514; WWII – 292,131; Vietnam War – 47,369; War on Terror – 4,615.

The deaths above represent the cost for the United States to be the Home of the Free!  The second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence begins as follows; We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. Over the last couple of years, but dating back many more, our Government has grown substantially. While we can argue that point all day I do not think anyone will argue that ethics in business and government are becoming more rare every day. John Adams said, Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”  

The decline of leaders, who live by principal (God’s Word), rather than by personal gain, can be directly attributed to the increase in Governmental control of all aspects of our lives. We have the freedom to what we want, but now more than ever, what we want is not according to the Word of God. As our ethics fail and we turn away from God and His Word we will continue to lose our Liberty. So while sometimes it may seem like a lost cause, YOU have the power every day to follow God’s Word and receive the Liberty that He first granted and our fallen soldiers have fought so dearly to protect.  . . . . . God Bless America!

Romans 8:2 – For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.

There is no Tomorrow

James 4:14 – yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.

 Tomorrow, a word we use often; a place in time that we will never be; often, the root of worry and uncertainty. Last week our pastor was speaking about “Our Call to Ministry” and the suffering that goes with it. During his sermon he made this statement, “The only promise we have is today”. This prompted me to think about “Tomorrow”. For such a small word Tomorrow has so much meaning and prompts so many different thoughts. Regardless of how cliché it might be to say, “There is no Tomorrow”, it’s a very real statement.

I think for many, in our pursuit to be relevant, we look to tomorrow to be the person we failed to be today. So what are YOU living for today?

When we base our lives on things (material possessions, notoriety, wealth, etc.) that are temporary, it’s no wonder that we look to tomorrow to be a more fulfilling day. James 3:16 – For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.

 When we base what we are doing “today” on the Word of God and strive to live the servant life that Jesus did, we are much more fulfilled in everything we do. 1 Kings 12:7 – “If you will be a servant to this people today and serve them, and speak good words to them when you answer them, then they will be your servants forever.”

 The Bible speaks of the Word of God as a Rock, a solid foundation. When our lives are centered around US and OUR STUFF nothing seems to fit together. When we live our lives for Christ, EVERYTHING we do is built and made better upon His solid foundation, Today and yes even Tomorrow!

 1 John 2:17 – And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.   

Conformed?

Romans 12:2 – Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Last weekend I had the opportunity to see parts of two movies. The first, The Haunting of Molly Hartley, I saw only the last 30 minutes or so. In the end, this young co-ed became the Valedictorian of her School and the final scene was portrayed as very bright and uplifting with “Molly” delivering a speech on how her generation was going to change the world for the better. The caveat to this ending is that in she became a “demon”. Not the ending I was expecting . . . .

The second movie was Toy Story 3. I saw bits and pieces of this one and about the entire last hour. In the end, Andy, who is leaving for college, decides to give his beloved toys to a neighborhood girl. The toys themselves sacrificed their own safety to help the other toys escape danger. Lastly, Woody the Cowboy, Andy’s all-time favorite toy, who Andy was going to take with him to college, stows away with the other toys to be played with by the little girl.

Our world is full of great and wonderful things. The advancements we have made in media / technology are indisputable. However, in social matters and what is and isn’t acceptable, our world is falling apart. There are no longer any boundaries to what we’re subjected to. In the first movie the ending I described was portrayed to be HAPPY!?!? A girl was just transformed into a Demon and you would have thought it was the ending to Snow White. Is this really what we want to teach our younger generations? Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.- Proverbs 22:6. In Toy Story 3 the ending was full of selfless acts for the benefit of others. The greatest among you shall be your servant – Mathew 23:11. I also need to add that in one scene Woody was in a box looking out, the light was coming through the cut-out handle and reflected off the Gold lettering of an NIV Bible. All-in-all Toy Story 3 was a great movie and there are plenty more out there like it. I’m just amazed by the amount of other media trash, which is now considered mainstream, that we have to sift through to find the good stuff.

Have you conformed to what the world is delivering to you and your children or are you making the effort to expose them and yourself to the things in this world that still honor God?

1 John 2:17 – And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace – Acts 20:24