Friday, February 28, 2014
The irony that the words "In God we Trust" is printed on American money is this: They are both a lie. This motto was placed on United States coins because of the increased religious sentiment that existed during the Civil War. Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase received numerous appeals from devout Christians all over the country, urging that the United States recognize our trust in God on United States coins. Let's fast forward to the present day. In March of 2013, the atheist group Freedom from Religion Foundation along with 19 other plaintiffs filed suit in US District court stating "...having “In God We Trust” on currency constitutes “proselytizing, discriminatory and a per se establishment of monotheism.” Regardless of the legal basis of the lawsuit, it does indicate a movement that is nonetheless, not surprising. The decreased religious sentiment brewing in America can be proven statistically, and the numbers are shocking. For believers like me, I am not surprised but rather, reassured that where we are morally and prophetically in the stream of time aligns with the truth found in the bible. (2 Timothy 3:1-4) This was foretold to be so.
What I find most disturbing, and this is a blanket statement of sorts, is the silence from the Church as a whole. Instead of rebuke there is retreat, instead of condemnation; complicity. The reasons for this are cyclical in nature. Should the Church speak out against these trends with conviction, it would suffer the consequences that our increasingly secular media's hand has in this nation's pulse. Mass negative attention could equal further decline in membership, so the silence continues so as to not awaken the giant that is American opinion. The fact is this: Now is the time to be determined. Our defense for Christian virtue is imperative. This is spiritual warfare. Suit up.
Boldness is needed now to discover sheep and reap the harvest of believers that are essential to further advance Bible truth. Lives are at stake. We are not exposing the unpopular and difficult parts of scripture because, let's just go ahead and say it - our faith is under fire by the very nation that at one time harbored our beliefs. Being a Christian, we sign up for adversity and hate, intolerance and judgement by a world that does not see us as its own. The time for being soft because of negative consequence needs to come to a screeching halt. And perhaps there is basis that this would further impact the increase of our numbers. However, the ears that would listen would be ready for boldness, solid in the Faith, and vessels for a fine use having received and accepted our message at a time when our way of life is most unpopular. (2 Tim 2:21,22) Our Lord is concerned with our value, not volume. He does not need weakness -he needs workers. Planting our seeds during stormy weather is going to be the norm my friends. Are you are waiting for a more convenient time to be a Christian? That train left the day Christ laid his life down for your sins. He let us know it was the hard way - so we have to stop trying to make it easier.
Please hear this: If your expectations are that one day, all of the difficulty and adversity in our faces will lighten up and our way will be smooth and peaceful, you would be right - that day is called the Kingdom of God. Until then, we must go forth with the assurance that our message will be heard by those called to his own. We are useless in our silence. Pray as if everything depends on God, but act like everything depends on you.
Thursday, February 27, 2014
The most successful of people in their field have important common traits among them. According to an article published last month by Entrepreneur.com, these are as follows:
Tolerance of Ambiguity
Ability to break the rules
To be successful in this life, and in this context, if you want to be rich, unless it arrives on a silver platter in a silver spoon - get ready to put some work in. "Most entrepreneurs I know believe they will change the world," says Jay Friedlander, a professor of sustainable business who works with entrepreneurs at the College of the Atlantic and at Babson College. "There's an excitement and belief in what they're doing that gets them through the hard times." The work of our Creator is much the same, and it is within you right now.
In recognizing God's plan for you, many will never be able to reach the pinnacle of the results that are possible through the power of Holy Spirit in your life. The riches we seek are difficult to envision outside of the tangible. However, for those who God calls to action, the traits of success and the tools and resources necessary are there all along. For many, it is how we utilize our inherent talents and gifts and abilities for the greatest good. For our walk with God, our perception is our reality. “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” (Isaiah 43:18-19) Satan has done an amazing job at hijacking the gifts we possess to further an agenda that is contrary to God's eternal plan. I am not saying in any way that success is sin, or that a wealthy Christian is any less faithful than the next. But note the reasoning now behind a verse that we have heard so often: "I'll say it again--it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God." (Matt 19:24). When I think of what this means to me, I realize that the most dangerous thing money can buy is this. Distraction.
Please hear me when I say this. YOU CAN CHANGE THE WORLD. God is now gathering, and using his people for a work that is larger than our imperfect eyes can see. It is truly a walk of faith when abandoning worldly pursuits puts our flesh at odds with our Spirit. However, I know that there are those amongst us who feel that there is a plan and a purpose larger than what we are comfortable with assuming. Have no fear. As a Christian, your purpose was written long ago. "For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." (Eph 2:10) A tool of the Devil is doubt. Being sinners, Satan can piggyback on this doubt all the way to the bank. How so? Just by convincing us of a very big lie; That we are just too sinful and insignificant to be used by God to advance his Kingdom.
Let me get personal for a moment. I should be the last one who God would call for anything but late for dinner. I could look back in utter disgust at the things I have done. But I don't. I have deserved every single solitary second of the cost of my errors. My debts have been paid. I have walked a path so consistently founded on confusion that I cannot even write down where all I have been in my life. Now, I know where I am going. Through the darkest hours that I created for myself, through the decisions I made knowing the outcome would be disastrous, and through the misery that has been my life...until I had the courage, the vision, the tenacity, the passion and the self belief and flexibility to break all the rules and answer the call by picking up the phone that has rang in my soul all of my life. And it is He, on the other end of the line. All I had to do...was answer it. He had been waiting on me the whole time.
God is hiring. Pick up the phone. Answer his call.
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
The title of this message is meant to draw one to open it - The purpose of this message is to address the reality of what doubt can do, and why we need to rid ourselves of this corrosive influence when it presents itself.
On levels having little to do with our Faith, doubt is almost always, never good. If I really doubted that my car was going to make it the grocery store, it would be on my mind the entire ride there - a constant voice of "you might not make it" alive in my head. Replace car and grocery store with soul and God's Kingdom in this scenario, and the seriousness of the damaging effects of doubt in our lives becomes a little clearer. It is not how He wants us to live, because it is not the way to life.
-Aporeo (Greek) Literal meaning: "To be without a way" English translation: Doubt.
Making our way successful impresses upon us the importance of removing doubt from our lives. Faith is its nemesis, and fear is its sidekick. All our enemy needs is a foothold to let the rust that is doubt take root in the spiritual armor protecting of our lives (Eph 6:10-18). How fitting that in the armor of our defenses, Faith is the shield. With the shield we can "resist all the flaming darts of the evil one". Imagine going into battle, weighted down with all the protection in the world, and forgetting your shield. What would be going through your mind as the arrows of your enemy approached? I can tell you. Doubt and Fear.
Our awesome Creator wants us to serve him with conviction and strength and courage. We present ourselves able and ready when we are prepared to do so with the Spirit of Faith, and the product of that faith evident in the way we walk and serve Our Lord. Please understand, he wants to utilize each and every one of his possessions in ways that will bring honor to his name, light to this world and hope to the hopeless. But we have to take courage knowing that all the conquering has been done for us long ago on Calvary. We are not preparing for a battle THINKING we could lose, brothers and sisters. We are readying for a battle KNOWING we will win. Remove doubts by building your faith now. Resist the temptation to entertain this world that loves to place seeds of doubt in every nook and cranny that we can possibly imagine. Know that the promises he tells us are real and true. And never believe that you are not loved, wanted needed or appreciated by your Lord. He does not doubt his love for us - nor should we.
Monday, February 24, 2014
If you are in a situation where you feel that your religion has made all the difference, and you are holding on to all that fine tuned doctrine and rhetoric like it's the last jar of snake oil...this message is for you.
My testimony is difficult so for me to define in terms that one would relate to completely. I believe the power of the Holy Spirit and its manifestations in our lives are unique to the reasons we receive it, and how we receive it. Spending the worst days of my life tied to a religion that made one believe that it, and not Jesus, was the only truth in this world took a toll on me. It did so because religion never could prepare me for the level of faith that I was to find I needed in Jesus Christ and the word of God to work through me. Expecting change from the outside-in is a great way to spin, and spend 20 years in the land of futility. It has taken most of my life being refined by fire and ice, in seasons I never thought I would make it through; It took me to literally my last breath and heartbeat on this planet to have faith enough to give up, give in and pick up the burdens that Christ left for me to carry so the world would know I was his own. The moment I realized that every decision, every poor choice - every tear I swore was wasted on a pain that was all my own was just His way of bringing me to the point of being so far down and so broken that I was finally humble enough to just say take me Lord - the fire refining me became the fire within me. That is where I live today.
Most of all, I am thankful. Thankful that he saw within me a purpose and reason to live no longer for myself but for him. Thankful that he placed someone amazing in my life at just the right time ( I mean down to the very minute and second she was needed) that has made a difference I can only repay with my love, trust and devotion. Thankful that he made sense out of the years I only saw as wasted and miserable, sinful and fleshly - he is now going to use my sins to make certain others can be washed clean. Thankful that he even noticed me enough to see anything good in me worth salvaging for his name. Thankful that any lingering questions I had about God, His Son and the power of His Holy Spirit were answered in a way that will change the course of my life forever.
Most of all today, I am thankful that I know God cares. He cares enough to take the time in his unmeasurable universe to set in play a motion of events spanning the whole course of my life that all came to a head and made perfect sense the moment he poured His Spirit on me with approval, understanding and love, introducing me to the rest of my life. Thirty years of religion could never do what one moment of his love did.