Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Even Demons Believe..........

Do you know what the difference between an Atheist and a Demon is?  Demons believe in God.  

Let's look in the book of James for proof.  James 2:
18 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! 

But let's not let the believers off so easy either.  It reminds me of a story by John Wesley. 

Being much concerned about the rise of denominations in the church, John Wesley tells of a dream he had. In the dream, he was ushered to the gates of Hell. There he asked, “Are there any Presbyterians here?” “Yes!” came the answer. Then he asked, “Are there any Baptists? Any Episcopalians? Any Methodists?” The answer was Yes! each time. Much distressed, Wesley was then ushered to the gates of Heaven. There he asked the same question, and the answer was No! “No?” To this, Wesley asked, “Who then is inside?” The answer came back, “There are only Christians here.” (1 Cor. 1:10-17)

Well if all those Baptists are in hell, why then is just being a good person not enough to get you into heaven? 

The problem is that most, if not all, religions are ethically based. Islam, Judaism or just plain old humanism all teach that to get to heaven you just have to be a "good person".  Follow the Ten commandments if you are Jewish, The Quran if your Muslim or just follow the "Golden Rule" to get to that Stairway to Heaven.  

I know a lot of people with "servant hearts".  People that do blood drives or others that are there for you any time of day rain or shine.  Many truly believe that this will get you into heaven.  They feel and many times rightfully so, that they do more good work than many so called Christians that they know. 

A big part of the problem here is what many nonbelievers see in believers.  They don’t see anything. I totally get it.  My mom wouldn't go to church because she thought the church goers to be hypocrites.  She said she drank beer with them on Saturday night and then they go to church on Sunday and act like goody two shoes.  And a lot of those beliefs that nonbelievers have about believers is true.  

James 2:1-7 says it best.  

The Sin of Partiality
My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,”have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor man. Are not the rich the ones who oppress you, and the ones who drag you into court? Are they not the ones who blaspheme the honorable name by which you were called?
I am not trying to take up for my mom.  Bless her heart; she really didn’t know what Jesus was about, much less church. But make no mistake, church is full of sinners.  Churches and the people in them should not judge people, just help broken people and we are all broken. Every Christian is a broken person.  
It’s actually taken me a long time to figure out church myself. 
I kind of thought that having good music and listening to good sermons makes everything good.  In reality, we miss the mark entirely if that’s our goal.  A real church attracts broken people with the truth and unconditional love. We share the grace of God with all.  That’s what a real church looks like.
My wish for you is that you find a church that “gets it”.  A church family that has real faith not a dead faith.  A church that shows no partiality and loves everyone without judgement. I am afraid that many of our churches and many of those sitting in the pews have a "dead faith".  
My next post will be about faith and works.  Christians and nonbelievers alike argue over this all the time.  It’s really quite simple when you get right down to it.  

I love to add a song at the end of a post that best demonstrates what I have been talking about.  I think Johnny Paycheck's Outlaw's Prayer fits today.   This song tells about a church at shows partiality and not loving all people.  It also tells where Johnny Paycheck stands in his faith.  Feels like the "living a good life"   way to heaven and at the end, says that he hopes he gets to see Jesus one day.

People with real faith are secure in their knowledge of their eternal life with Jesus. For those nonbelievers, I just want to tell you that Jesus loves you. He loves you regardless of race, creed, religion, sex, sexual orientation or whatever other way you want to classify people.  He shows no partiality, he loves everyone.  And just know that a true believing Christian believes this too and won't judge you.  

Thursday, June 4, 2015

God didn't Bless America

Sometimes I just laugh at how high and mighty we Americans feel about ourselves.  We have this great superiority complex and think that the world should bow down to us.  We go around patting ourselves on the back for all the good things that we do.

As far as I can tell, the only people that God chose were the Jews.  When Christ died for us, the way to salvation was opened to the Gentiles. Who do you say are Gentiles.  Everyone that's not a Jew.  We Gentiles that accepted Christ were simply grafted into the Jewish tree.

There's no mention of America there.  We are not even one race of people like the Jews, we are a melting pot.  A melting pot that includes peoples from all over the earth.  Our founding fathers were, for the most part, Christians. And for the first 150 years we claimed to be a Christian nation.  I think that this is where we got the notion that God blessed America.

Isaiah 40: 15-17 is clear as to how God feels about nations.

15 Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket;
    they are regarded as dust on the scales;
    he weighs the islands as though they were fine dust.
16 Lebanon is not sufficient for altar fires,
    nor its animals enough for burnt offerings.
17 Before him, all the nations are as nothing;
    they are regarded by him as worthless
    and less than nothing.

The last verse states that nations are worthless and less than nothing.

So who or what does God bless? God blesses his people.  If the people of a nation are followers of Jesus, by virtue of their obedience to God, the nation goes along for the ride. But make no mistake, it's not the nation that God is blessing.

The last 50 years have seen the American people turning away from God. We stopped prayer in schools, we allowed abortion, we simply thought that we could handle everything without God. When you separate yourself from God, you grieve the Holy Spirit and are no longer blessed. You may be saved, but you are missing the blessing.

Don't get me wrong, I love the United States, but at the same time I am sadden by what she is turning into.  Now there is a movement to remove "In God we Trust" from our coinage.  I personally won't be too upset, because why put it on your coinage if you don't believe it. "In God we Trust" is not just some words written on a dollar bill, it's a way of life.  And if you don't try to live that life, why tell people that you do trust in God.

Now some of you will start to label me as some right wing Christian radical preaching end times with some hell fire and brimstone thrown in for good measure.  And I am not trying to push my beliefs on you or judge you for your beliefs.  You and you alone answer for your own sins.  I'm busy dealing with my own.

Do I believe that we are in the end times?  The simple answer is yes.  Ah, ha, I was right you say.  I believe that the end times began when Christ arose from the grave and ascended into heaven. I can hear you laughing and saying that was over 2000 years ago.  2 Peter 3:8 says,

But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.

So, 2000 years ain't that big a deal to me.  James 4:14 tells us;

Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.

We are only here for a short time.  I know the names of my great great grandparents.  I know when they were born and when they died.  I don't know about their daily struggles and whether they were liked or not.  I never grieved over them, cause I didn't know them. Three generations is about it when it comes to how you were remembered.  I remember my grandmother and hurt terribly when she passed.   My grandkids have only seen her picture and have no knowledge of the type of person that she was.  

What does all this rambling mean?   Get over yourself.  Accept Christ and know what it's like to exist for eternity in heaven.

Now your preaching again, you say.  Not really, Max Griner, creator of The Empty Cross in Kerrville, Texas, says it best: " If Jesus is God, wouldn't you want to know".

On the subject of politics, the truth of the matter is, I don't care much for either the Republicans or the Democrats.  2 Timothy 3: 1-9 is a true picture of my feelings.

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.
They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over gullible women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these teachers oppose the truth. They are men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected. But they will not get very far because, as in the case of those men, their folly will be clear to everyone.

Pretty much sums it up for me. Whoa, you say.  This guy is just a doom and gloom fatalist. I had to go look that word up.  Here's what it means.
  1. Fatalism is a philosophical doctrine stressing the subjugation of all events or actions to fate. Fatalism generally refers to any of the following ideas: The view that we are powerless to do anything other than what we actually do.
That sounds like a guy that doesn't have any hope.  Does this sound like you?

That's the complete opposite of me. I want to share 3 verses with you that are a real part of my beliefs.  I am full of hope.

Matthew 28:19-20 

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

1 Corinthians 13:13

 And now these three remain faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Hebrews 11:1

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for, being convinced of what we do not see.

In closing, God didn't bless America, he blessed his people who happened to be Americans.  But as the people of this country fall away from Christ, his blessing will grow farther and farther apart.  

I would be remiss if in closing I didn't invite you to know Jesus for yourself. 

Lord Jesus, I want to know you personally. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. I open the door of my life to you and ask you to come in as my Savior and Lord. Take control of my life. Thank you for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Make me the kind of person you want me to be.

God Bless you.  

Here're one of my favorite hymns. I know Whom I have believed...

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Changed Our Prayer

Wow, it's been over a year since I have written here.  Lots of life has happened.  Some good, some bad, but through it all he's carried me.

We have found a new church home and we know it's where God wants us to be.  Love oozes from that church family.  And they want to serve.  Have to tell you about Compass Church, in another story.

We change our prayers in a small way.  Instead of just asking for blessings, we began to ask God to allow us to serve him.  To put someone or something in our way that needs God's blessings.  We always ask that God uses whatever we do to glorify him.  That's it, we just asked that God give us things to do.

You know that old saying, "Be Careful What you ask for, You might just get it.", well all I can say is don't pray to God and ask for service if you don't mean it.  He will use you if you let him.  And you never know where it's coming from and when.  You have to be ready at any time to drop things and do his work.  That is extremely hard to do at times, but you will miss the blessing if you don't do it.

I can't wait to tell you about all the things that God has put in front of us.  But we have been on a real adventure for God.  It's exciting and tiring at the same time.

Right now, I should be doing some work for my new boss, work that needs to be done.  I truly believe that God sent me to this job.  There is no other explanation and I'll tell the story in the future.  I am doing work that I love.  I am working for the Natural Dog Company and we sell products for dogs.  

But the part of the story that I want to tell today is what God has done for us in the last two days.  A couple of weeks ago, we had a bad storm in the evening with 70 mph winds.  Our home was spared but we had lots of downed trees, all around the place.  My chain saw wasn't working and I was feeling burdened by the amount of work that needed to be done.  Not moving as fast as I was in my younger years.

A friend of ours that moved to Cincinnati a year or so ago, came to town to see about the home that they still own here.  I had no idea he was around.  He showed up last Sunday after church and saw all the tree limbs that were down.  Yesterday, he showed up at 5:30 p.m. with a chain saw and said let's get to work,  In the span of two hours, we managed to cut up most of the tress and we even burned some of the branches. True blessing from God.

And it's gets even better.  Got a call this morning from my daughter.  She has been suffering from  Crohn's Disease the past couple of years.  The treatment that she needs is very expensive and she couldn't afford it. We have been praying for her to get the treatment or to be healed.  Well today, she called and finally went to see the doctor to see what could be done.  They are going to work with her to make sure that she gets the treatment that she deserves.  God has washed us in love the past couple of day.  And I just had to tell the world.

Changing our prayer has opened up a new world for us.  And it's great to see God at work.  It's humbling and amazing.  As you know, if you have read any of my past posts, I love music and some video always sticks in my mind to go along with the post.

My new bosses's niece is married to Cory Morrow and I love his music.  Since she told me the connection, I have been listening to his videos on You Tube.  Found one that I really love.  It describes my life and life in general.   I love this song.

Hope you enjoy it.  If you change your prayer, be prepared to work.

Then get ready for the blessings

With love from God

Sunday, February 17, 2013

I don't have the answers.

Until you learn this simple lesson, life can be tough. Until you can turn it over to God, life can be tough. The hardest part is to really turn it over to God. We can say it all the time, and sometimes fool others but we aren't fooling God. Matthew 17:20: This is Jesus talking, He said unto them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have the faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move, and nothing will be impossible to you.

I am as guilty as the next of saying it, but not fully giving it over to God. I am dealing with church issues and they are a real burden to my heart. I pray about it and am still confused with what to do. That mountain is still there.  I know it's me that is causing my problem.

I love people but I don't love the way that people treat each other. And I truly get conflicted with passages in the Bible.

We all know the bible verses in the in the gospels about judging others. Luke probably said it best, verse 6:37. “Judge not, and you will not be judged, condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven.”

That's pretty short and to the point. But what if things happen that you just don't think are right? What do you do about quarreling, discord and anger in a church. What about that turning the other cheek thing that you read about in the Bible, what does that really mean. Instead of copying it down here, I am just going to direct you to a page that gives a good definition of what I think that Matthew means when he writes this passage. It's found in Matthew 5:39  Read this link.

That's a tall order especially when people speak hateful things or seem to be full of spite. God tells us to love those people and sometimes that a hard thing to do. Why? Because we are all human and our pride always seems to get in the way.

I found another link that I want you to read, because it states perfectly what I feel. It has to do with anger.

You can't really deal with anger unless you can understand the concept of righteous indignation. I've got to tell you, I struggle with this. I just want to ask you to read the 4th chapter of Ephesians. Paul is talking to us here, especially in verse 26.  “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold.

Jesus never once became angry because of what people did to Him. He got angry because of what people did to each other in his name and because of the rejection of the truth of God.  It's ok to be angry but not out of spite.  And all too often, anger turns into spiteWe are all guilty.

So what are you to do? Here's another verse that came come up in a conversation like this. Matthew 10:13-15. 13 If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you. 14 If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet. 15 Truly I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.

Can you substitute church for home in this verse. I think you could. So what's a person to do? Are we to just dust off our feet?  We all know the answer. We all know that we don't have the answer ourselves. We are commanded to turn it over to God. I prayed before writing this.  I believe in God's promise.  I am really trying to turn this over to God. It took me all this time to tell you that I don't have the answer myself. 

I know a preacher asked a lady in the church, do these people love one another? She just said no.  That hurts.  I cry, then I pray.  

Even more hurtful to me is to not even try to have Vacation Bible School.  We don't have many kids, so we just give up. Besides, we can make some money by renting the building out that week.  It seems that we have lost our faith...  That really makes me sad.  This one is the mountain that I want to move.  Remember that mustard seed....or maybe I need to dust my feet off.

Ever heard the song, What if Jesus comes back like that?  Think this is a good place to play it.



Thursday, December 20, 2012

Are you ready for Finals?

Tis the season. I think most college students dread finals.  I know that I did.  A whole semester’s worth of work is supposed to be summed up in a three hour exam.  To make matters worse, more often than not, you usually had the two hardest finals on the same day.  Days leading up to finals were hectic.  Cramming, study sessions and more cramming were just a part of life. 

Tis the season.  Have you ever thought that Christmas brings finals to our churches?  Before you think that I have finally gone crazy, think about it.  Who shows up in our churches on Christmas?

The Christmas Christian shows up in our churches for the Christmas service.  Much like the groundhog on Groundhog Day, the Christmas Christian makes a quick appearance before going back into hiding till Easter.

This Christian shows up two times a year.  Our churches will be full this weekend.  People that you haven’t seen since Easter are back.  While you glad hand them and tell them how wonderful it is to see them, they are looking just as hard back at you. 

Think about it. You only have two times a year to let those people know if you have been naughty or nice.  While you have them for that hour, can they see Christ in you?  I know you are going to be nice to them.  That’s a given.  The real question is whether they see someone that really cares about them.  Are you showing genuine love for your fellow man? 

In reality, you are probably thinking about going to grandma’s later on in the day.  Besides, since they don’t show up that often it really don’t matter all that much.  You’ll see them later in the week at the grocery store and tell them how glad you were to see them at church on Christmas. 

Have you ever really wondered why these folks only show up twice a year?  These people are Christians.  And you know that they are not so vain as to believe that showing up at Christmas and Easter will gain them some favor with God.

Alas, but I am afraid that some regular churchgoers do believe just that.  And that’s a shame.  We miss out on some of the best opportunities to tell people about Jesus, because we have already decided that they aren’t really interested. We believe that they show up, just to be seen.

So it’s just my silly thought that Christmas and Easter are finals for those of us that consider ourselves regular churchgoers.  We need to take all that the pastor has taught us and demonstrate our knowledge and love of Christ.  And we need to show the Christmas Christian that we are real.  

So if you happen to go the church this Sunday, look around.  You will have a great opportunity to witness for Christ.  And if you miss this opportunity, you’ll have another opportunity in the spring.

Be ready for Easter.  These finals are real important.  They are a matter of eternal life or death.  So study hard.

God Bless you.  I hope you have a Merry Christmas. 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Good Grief Charlie Brown, They called me an Evangelical

All this time, I never dreamed that being called an evangelical was a bad thing.  I also didn’t know that there were several definitions of evangelicals and then, you have to separate the fundamentalists from the evangelicals.

Fundamentalists have been described in Wikipedia as a group that aggressively attacks their liberal enemies while evangelicals concentrated more on outreach and conversion of new members. 

Now even that definition is convoluted because it goes on to describe three different types of evangelicals. 

Quoting Wikipedia again:

1.The traditionalists, characterized by high affinity for certain Protestant beliefs, (especially penal substitutionary atonement, justification by faith, the authority of scripture, the priesthood of all believers, etc.) which, when fused with the highly political milieu of Western culture (especially American culture), has resulted in the political disposition that has been labeled the Christian right, with figures like Jerry Falwell and the television evangelist Pat Robertson as its most visible spokesmen.

 2. Centrist evangelicals, described as socially conservative, mostly avoiding politics, who still support much of traditional Christian theology.

 3. Modernist evangelicals, a small minority in the movement, have low levels of church-attendance and "have much more diversity in their beliefs".

Wow, I have to have a dictionary in order to read a dictionary. 

What is a “traditionalist evangelical”?  Reading that definition, I don’t have a clue.  I personally have never heard of “penal substitutionary atonement”, so I had to look it up. 

According to Theopedia: “Penal substitutionary atonement refers to the doctrine that Christ died on the cross as a substitute for sinners. God imputed the guilt of our sins to Christ, and he, in our place, bore the punishment that we deserve. This was a full payment for sins, which satisfied both the wrath and the righteousness of God, so that He could forgive sinners without compromising His own holy standard.”

I don’t know how you could be a Christian without believing Christ died for your sins.  So now I am starting to sound like a traditionalist. But wait, that makes me part of the “Christian Right”.  Who are those folks?  Are they associated with those crazies that blow up abortion clinics?   I hope not.  But what if I don’t agree with Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson?  Guess I have to know what they believe first. 

But I do believe in my constitutional right to vote.  I am sure that I would vote for a Christian over a non-Christian given the opportunity.  Does that make me part of the Christian Right or is that just one of my American Rights? 

That being said, I think I would rather be called a centrist evangelical.  Socially conservative, but staying out of politics.  Or at least, keeping my politics to myself.  I don’t want people to think that I am crazy.  Hold on, what does “support much of traditional Christian theology” mean?  What part don’t I support?  I know that I support “penal substitutionary atonement”.  Will that belief, preclude me from being a centrist?  I am getting lost. 

Maybe I will just be a modernist evangelical.  Sounds pretty good to me.  Don’t go to church much and I can believe what I want.  Wow, that sounds like the majority of people that I know, yet the definition says that this is a small majority of the movement.  Thinking about it, I do like to go to church and I believe what the Bible says.  Maybe I am not a modernist at all. 

I really don’t fit into any of the three definitions of an evangelical.  Maybe I am a fundamentalist.  Let’s look. 

First of all, we have to back up and define this “liberal enemy” that fundamentalists are attacking.  Is this the guy that just voted for Obama or is it somebody that just doesn’t agree with your beliefs about Christianity. For example: You believe in a strict literal translation of the Bible and another person believes otherwise.  Is that person a “liberal enemy”?  I don’t know and I bet you don’t either.  And the reason I don’t care is because I am not about having a label attached to my beliefs.  I don’t think that I am a fundamentalist either. 

Charlie Brown:  I believe in evangelism.  Jesus told us in the great commission to go and reach people for him.  That should be my goal. 

The media might paint me as a religious zealot that goes around bible thumping and preaching hell and damnation if I was to speak publically about Jesus.  And nothing could be further from the truth, at least in my life. 

As a recovering alcoholic and a supporter of the 12 step system, I adhere to the belief that the only way to help myself is to help other alcoholics that ask for my help.  I mean get down in the dirt help.  I mean helping that other alcoholic with whatever means necessary. 

Jesus taught his disciples to do the same.  Jesus taught love and understanding, not hate and prejudice. 

People throw around names and labels without knowing what they are truly saying.  I find that I don’t really fit into any of the above definitions of evangelicals or fundamentalist, but that’s ok.  Call me what you want.

I shouldn’t worry about the labels; I should worry about whether you see Christ in my actions.  In the end, that’s the only thing that matters. 
Listen to the following song by Johnny Cash.  I think it more than appropriate. 
Heck after listening to the song, I might just be a Methodist...