What It Really Takes To Be Fearless.

Have you ever gotten yourself in over your head? You said yes to something, maybe it was a job or something similar, and the next thing you knew, you were looking up at the surface of the water. Maybe you got your dream job but then realized that you had to work with people you were reasonably sure was related to Satan. You find yourself swimming in a tank full of sharks.

When I left my home, my old job, my family & friends to move to a new city and go to Bible school, it felt a little like starting a new life. I was launching out into the plan of God for my life & I was very excited for what the future held. I was certain that I was on the right path. I knew it was right. I emphasize this because it wasn’t too many days later, that the rear end started going out in my truck. Back in my hometown, I knew where to go for the parts. If I didn’t have the ability, I knew several people close by who could advise and help me fix it. Here, I didn’t know anyone and I didn’t know where the honest mechanic was. I ended up deciding to replace the truck but I didn’t know where the good used cars were sold. I checked the paper but there were not very many listings. I was stuck. I was hundreds of miles away from the community where I knew where everything was. Now, I didn’t know what to do.

The Fearless Path

One Saturday, I went to the store with my family. While they went into the store, I just stayed in the van and laid the seat back. I closed my eyes and I just sank. I was so consumed by this problem that I was beginning to get a little fearful. All the sudden, these words drifted up from my spirit. “Reckon on the faithfulness of God”. I had read that phrase in a book. I thought about it and the more I thought on it, the better things began to look. “Reckon on the faithfulness of God”. Then I began to remember. When God leads, He empowers. Remember Peter getting out of the boat & walking on the water? The main thing he was walking on was the word “Come” that Jesus had spoken to him. If God led me all the way out here to go to Bible school, He also empowered me to be successful. My faith began to surge. I had the realization that the car I needed was already here…somewhere. I just needed to listen, be led & find it. I believe with all of my heart that the provision for my life is found on God’s chosen path for me. I just need to stay on the path. God loves me too much to leave me shipwrecked. He wants me to succeed more than I even know. I immediately changed what I had been saying. I was saying that I didn’t know what to do. Now I declared that “My God shall supply all of my needs according to His riches in Glory by Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:19). The provision was there somewhere. We ended up just a few days later finding a really nice car that was way more than we had hoped for and it was a very affordable price. Remembering God’s love pushed fear out of my mind. My faith was strengthened. God is faithful.

There have been days on the job where problems were so abundant that it seemed like all I did was put out fires all day long. You get to the end of the day absolutely exhausted but it doesn’t look like there’s anything to show for it. In times like these, I have gone out to my car during my lunch break and again, I would lean the seat back & just thank God for the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit.

I learned a long time ago that the Holy Spirit is the difference maker. When I’m facing a situation and I don’t measure up, He makes up the difference. He strengthens me in every situation if I will follow Him. But its not just being strengthened, it’s being made strong enough. He is enough. He causes me to not only meet but exceed & be victorious in every situation. The King James Bible calls Him the comforter. Comforter = strengthener. He makes us adequate for the task. What task? The one you’re facing. He is faithful.

It’s through absolute dependence on Him that we can be fearless. I know that when I’m following Him and leaving nothing undone that I know I’m supposed to do, If it’s not enough, He makes up the difference. That’s why we can truly say “In all these things, we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” Rom 8:37).

I want to encourage you this week to look to Him for strength. He will help you with the smallest of things. He cares about the details of your life.

In what ways have you seen God work in your own life? Please testify by leaving a comment.

A Father’s Heart to His Daughters.

I thought long and hard about what to write today. I decided to write this post for my two daughters. As my youngest turns 21, my thoughts turn to the past. I was reminiscing about some of the fun times we’ve all had over the years and I also remember many times where we would just talk.  These “Talks” would often just happen and sometimes last for hours.  It wasn’t anything that was planned, they would usually bring up something that they saw or that had happened to them and it would be the start of a great conversation. Often we would talk about what was right and how to move forward.  I was able to instill into them some of the truths that I have come to know.  My girls would laugh because I would be in “teacher” mode and wouldn’t even realize it.

Hands & flowers

As their father, I don’t want to be there for them for the rest of my life, I want to be there for them for the rest of their lives. This isn’t likely to be the way things play out though, so – I wrote this post.

Ladies. As you’ve grown up you’ve had my voice in your ears and sometimes echoing in your head when I wasn’t around, giving you instruction, encouragement & correction. I decided that what I really wanted to write was something that could help you. Something from me that could help you be strong and encourage you. Something that you could go back to from me that would be here beyond me.

I’m not perfect but you already know that. Nonetheless, I have always tried to be the best example I could be. I am relentless in trying to make my words and my actions match. I have always wanted you to see in me, a living example of the things I’ve been teaching you. What I believe, I believe whole heartedly. I am convinced that I have found things in life that are worth passing on to you and I refuse to let you find your own way without telling you what I have already learned. I pray always that you have the ears to hear them and the strength of character to let them work in you too.

I want you to know above all else, how much I love you. I also want you to know that my love for you is unconditional and not based on your performance. Most of your choices are excellent and I can see wisdom working in you. A few of your choices have not always made me proud, but I believe in your right to make them. I have found also that many of the things you have done that I would not have done if it were up to me, ended up being right. It proves once again that I don’t know everything.

I have told you this before and I mean it. When everyone else has left you twisting in the wind, as long as I’m here, I will be the one standing behind you helping you. Together we will dig you out of whatever hole you find yourself in. I am always on your side and I will always help you.

I want you to know that I think you are pretty. You got your looks from your mom (thank the Lord).

I want you to see that your physical beauty is only a small part of who you are. The truth about physical beauty is that it’s fleeting. It doesn’t ultimately matter how many blouses, purses, or shoes you have. Eventually you will be putting them on an old person. Don’t build your identity on your beauty because it WILL change and then where will you be? Proverbs 11:22 says “A ring of gold in the nose of a sow – a fair woman and stubborn of behavior” (YLT). In the BBE (Bible in basic English) translation it reads “Like a ring of gold in the nose of a pig, is a beautiful woman who has no sense”. As you can see, the really important stuff about being attractive doesn’t come from the outside. The true quality of a person comes from the inside. Yes, a gold ring is pretty, just make sure everything behind it is awesome too.  This brings me to the next point.

I want you to understand that you not only can, but need to walk in personal discipline. Truthfully, most people don’t really care how you feel. They care about what you do. It’s your actions in life that will be rewarded and/or punished. Think about it. From your earliest school years all the way up to your job today, reward and punishment are based on your performance. What you do. This is important because you need to understand the power of your will. You can choose to act contrary to how you feel. Remember Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane? He didn’t want to go forward. When He said “Nevertheless, not my will but your will be done”, there were two wills at work there and they were NOT the same. He decided to submit Himself to His Father’s will. By doing that He illustrated for us that our will is FAR stronger than our feelings. We can choose to put on a smile and go forward with our day. We can be pleasant and friendly when inside, we don’t feel like it. We can be helpful and kind when inside, we may want to smack people. We can stand by faith when we feel like falling.  Author and speaker Andy Andrews says it like this “Self discipline is the ability to make yourself do something you don’t necessarily want to do, to get a result you would really like to have.”

Acting appropriately when you don’t want to will open you up to more and better opportunities than will be given to those who are lazy, selfish and have an attitude of entitlement. Keep that in mind because no one who ever accomplished anything significant did it by themselves. You will need the favor, guidance and the help of those who have gone ahead of you.

Above all, remember that the value of a thing is based on what someone is willing to pay for it. The Bible says in Leviticus 17:11 that the life of the body is in the blood. That means that the very life of God the son, was shed & spent to purchase you. To redeem or “buy you back” to God and out from under the curse that came from man’s first disobedience. This means that you are immeasurably valuable to God. He loves you, wants the best for you, has designed a wonderful path for you and has given you His Spirit to empower you to live it.

I also want you to remember that you stand in His circle.  Circumstance = the circle you stand in.  You have both been made the Righteousness of God in Christ Jesus.  Because of this right standing with God, you are standing in Jesus’ circle.  His circumstance is that of victor!  He’s given His victory to you!

As I write, I realize that I can’t even scratch the surface. There are many paragraphs that I have removed from this post to keep it reasonably sized. There are also some subjects that need their own post. We can’t give them the attention they require in this post.

Often I pray specifically for you two that you will have the wisdom, understanding & patience to walk your walk. I pray this according to Col 1:9-11.

A special Happy Birthday to my baby girl.  21 today!

I love you both with all my heart.

Dad

The Power of One Voice

Recently I was listening to an interview where Michael Hyatt was interviewing Stu McLaren. I discovered some pretty impressive things about Stu. He and his wife have created a charity that builds schools in places like Kenya & Uganda. As I was listening to Stu talk and the passion that dripped from every word, I was stirred. Stu is impacting the world with the power of one voice.

This morning while working out, I was thinking on these things and I remembered the story in the Bible about the man in the tombs who was possessed with demons. (Mark 5) The Bible says He was in the country of the Gadarenes. And the place he lived was called Decapolis. When people tried to bind him, he would break the bands. He ran around naked and would cut himself with stones. When Jesus showed up, He cast the demons out of the man and into a herd of pigs. The story tells that 2,000 pigs immediately ran down a steep place and drowned themselves.

News got out. The people came to see. What they saw was a man who they usually saw naked and crazy, sitting clothed and in his right mind. Once they heard the whole story, they asked Jesus to leave. They were scared and didn’t want him around.

The man who was delivered from this possession wanted to go with Jesus, but Jesus didn’t let him. Jesus told him “Go home to your friends, and tell them how great things the Lord has done for you and has had compassion on you”.

– The Power of One Voice. He went on his way, and made public in the country of Decapolis what great things Jesus had done for him: and all men were full of wonder – BBE.

In Mark 7:31 We see Jesus coming back through Decapolis. This time the people were not asking Him to leave. Instead, they immediately brought Him a deaf and dumb boy so that Jesus could heal him. Jesus had to take him aside from a MULTITUDE. Why was there such a radical transformation in the hearts of the people in this region? Could it be because of the power of one voice? A changed man with a message?

Jesus said to His disciples in John 12:24 That unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground & dies, it abides alone. If it falls to the ground & dies, only then will it bring forth much fruit.

“The purpose of influence is to “speak up for those who have no influence.” (Pr.31:8) It’s not about you.”   ― Rick Warren

God is calling you to something bigger. To bear much fruit. The one thing that needs to happen first, before fruit can be produced is that a seed needs to be planted.  No seed, no fruit.  The Great commission given by Jesus to His disciples before He was taken up into Heaven, was for all of us to tell people what God has done for us. To leverage our personal experiences with God to affect and influence as many people as possible. To exercise the power of our one voice with the message of hope.

If you have submitted yourself to the Lordship of Jesus, according to scripture, your old man has died. You are now a new creature in Christ Jesus. You are the seed sown by God into the earth to bring forth much fruit. With the Power of One Voice. With the power of your Voice.

Will you step up and take your place?

Four compelling reasons why Honesty is always the right answer.

Many years ago a friend of mine at work had to supervise a project with a group of people he had never met before. I have no idea what went on during the fulfillment of that project but he came back shaking his head. He commented that he found it scary how easily some people would drift from law abiding to lawless when it was convenient for them to do so. Apparently he had some dishonest people in his group because among other things, they had stolen all of the toilet paper in the building.

Webster’s online dictionary defines Honest as Free from fraud or deception.

Now I personally have never tried to deceive anyone…except for that last sentence…and those other times. I think as a teenager, I made it a full time job to try to deceive my mom. She was pretty hard to fool though and truthfully; I wasn’t a very good liar.

Barefoot on a rock

So, why is honesty so important? Why is it wrong to lie when it’s convenient? After all, you may actually be sparing someone’s feelings by not being honest. Right? Whether you’re a Christian or not, I think there are four really good reasons for us to operate in honesty all the time.

Honesty is the fastest way to prevent a mistake from turning into a failure.  – James Altucher

  1. Conscience. when we lie or intentionally deceive, we violate our own conscience. We may “get away with it” but inside, we know what we’ve done. We will live with the guilt until we either repent, or harden ourselves to it. The primary way God leads his people is with the conscience. That’s why Paul the Apostle spoke so often about having a clear conscience (Acts 23:1, 24:16, Rom 9:1, 1Cor 8:7 – and many more). Hardening our hearts makes it nearly impossible for us to be led and directed by the Holy Spirit because we’re used to over-riding Him by ignoring our conscience. God will even lead you if you are not a Christian. This same leading we could also call a “conviction”. God will deal with your heart when you need to straighten out your relationship with Him.
  2. Trust. Consistent honesty builds trust. Trust is an investment that we make in one another. When you are honest, the trust others put into you is well founded and in your honesty, they find safety.
  3. Reputation. There’s a person I know that, while I like them quite a bit, I don’t trust them very much. On many occasions, they have left me hanging. They said they would do something and when it came down to it, they didn’t follow through. I’m sure they didn’t think it was a big deal, but what it did was undermine their credibility. They ruined their own word and destroyed trust. Today, if they were to promise me something, I would not fully expect them to keep their word. Because of this, I will not call on them for help because they might not be there. This matters to God too. Why would He call on someone to do something when this might be the time they decide, instead of obeying Him, to stay home, watch tv and be unfaithful.
  4. Sowing & Reaping. The Bible says we are not to be deceived about this. God will not be mocked. Whatever you sow, you will also reap (Gal 6:7). It’s important to understand that this does not say whatever a Christian will sow. It is a universal law that works for or against everyone. If you are not an honest person, you will not get honesty. If you lie and deceive, you will be lied to and deceived. On the other hand, if you make it a point to walk in honesty, you will find that people will be truthful to you too. This is a spiritual law.

I used to work with a guy who had a reputation for stretching the truth out of shape. One of my other co-workers coined the saying about him, “Take half of what he says and throw it away, then doubt the other half”. While we used to laugh about this, it’s really actually sad. This guy’s credibility is shot.

A person’s reputation goes places they haven’t been yet. Very often, your reputation will either help you get through doors to amazing opportunities or it will keep you out. You decide whether you have a good reputation or not by whether or not you consistently keep your word.

Have you ever had experiences with dishonest friends & co-workers? What about honest ones? I would love to hear your insights. Join the conversation & leave a comment.

I Mean It!

Years ago there was a Citi bank “Thankyou” rewards commercial where they were trying to express the power of “Thank You”. In the commercial a woman told a man that she loved him. He hesitated and a heart breaking look washed over her face. He finally replied with “Thank You!” and she, with a surprised and joyful look said “Really?” To which he responded “I mean it!”. The commercial ended with a happy note as Citi bank showed you how a heart felt “I love you” could be adequately answered with “Thank you” and a broken heart crisis was affectively averted.

Worship

Too many times I have found myself in situations and I am acting by rote. It’s almost as if I’m just performing by basic muscle memory. My mind is barely involved and my heart is no where to be seen. I am running on autopilot. Years of habit have kicked in and allowed me to mentally “step out” for a minute. I have noticed recently though, that it seems to be in areas that matter.

“What is uttered from the heart alone, Will win the hearts of others to your own.”
Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

We are creatures of habit and when we face situations over and over again, we learn what behavior is appropriate for these situations and we respond appropriately. When we first encounter these situations, we think about what response is needed and we choose carefully how to act or what to say. As time wears on though, we learn what response the situation requires and render it as needed. We can do this so often that the meaning behind the action or the word can become quite meaningless. It’s just what we do…in that situation. It’s just what we say…when that comes up.

I Love You Too! I say this with ease when I’m talking to my wife, my children, my mother or most of my relation. I have noticed though that sometimes, I need to step back and take stock of what I’m actually saying. Many times I have said this and it was just the appropriate response, but I don’t ever want to say this and not mean it.

As a man and a Christian, I believe in the power of my words. I know that my words matter and that with my words I am authorizing and restricting things, people and events in my life. Words represent and carry the contents of the heart. It’s with our words that we promise and it’s with our words that we make covenant. Our words are the audible expression of our hearts. They are precious and they are immeasurably important. We should never waste them. Our words can both break or mend hearts.

Our words are how we authorize God to work in our lives. Did you know that? In Malachi 3 The Lord told the priests that their words were stout against Him. They were complaining about having to serve Him. Jesus said in Matthew that with our words we would be either justified or condemned (Mat 12:37). Our words matter.

It’s so important that when we are using important words, that we also have our heart behind them. When I tell my wife and children how much I love and adore them, I don’t ever want them to go away without truly understanding that my whole heart is behind my words and that I truly mean them.

“When pure sincerity forms within, it is outwardly realized in other people’s hearts.” ― Lao Tzu

 

It’s that way with my Lord sometimes too. I find myself saying things in prayer and it’s just “what I do”. I don’t want my relationship with Him to be that way either. I want to always be fully present with Him. When I say I love Him, I want it to always come from the very depth of my heart. I never want to just “Phone it in”. I remember Pastor Keith Moore saying on a recorded message one time that the Lord ministered to him in a time of prayer and said “If you are not enjoying our time together, don’t think that I’m enjoying it either”. The Lord wants a relationship with us where our hearts are involved, because His heart is involved. He loves us with all His heart. He desires for our times together with Him to be full of love, full of heart and very meaningful. Sometimes we allow our relationship with Him to grow a little stale. We say things but our heart is not in them. Our relationship with Him may not matter to us as much as we say it does. Let me let you in on something though. It matters to Him. It mattered so much that He fully gave Himself for us. But it didn’t end there. It continually matters to Him…even right now. He takes His relationship with you so seriously that when He gave Himself, He never took it back. His giving of Himself is not over and will not ever be over.

The Good News Bible says it this way

Heb 7:25 And so he is able, now and always, to save those who come to God through him, because he lives forever to plead with God for them.

He is forever our High Priest. It is through Him and by Him that we have access to this Life, to this Love, to this God, who is Love.

This week I invite you to take stock of where you are in your relationships with your family and the Lord. Have you been fully present? Set aside some time this week to reach out to your family to tell them how much they mean to you and really mean it. Take some time in prayer this week and purpose in your heart to spend some quality time with Him. When we humble ourselves before Him, He shows up in His heaviness.

If you don’t have a relationship with Him and want to know more, Click Here.

Thank you for reading what the Lord puts on my heart to write. If this has helped you in any way, I’m so glad. I appreciate you more than you know. If you think this can help others, I want to encourage you to share it. I want to be a good steward of what the Lord has put on my heart and I want it to reach and help as many people as possible.

Five Steps You Can Take To Safeguard Yourself Against Online Porn.

Several years ago we started a subscription to a popular satellite T.V. network.  Included in our initial subscription were a couple of premium channels.  They were a value added bonus for signing up that we would later need to start paying for if we wanted to keep them.  The night our subscription began, I sat down and started flipping through the channels only to discover that we had ALL the channels.  From what I could gather, apparently the satellite company had to install a block in order to keep the subscriber from receiving certain channels and they had not done that yet.  I began surfing through all the new stuff.  You don’t want to settle on anything until you have seen everything that’s available.  You don’t want to start something you would probably enjoy only to find out that you missed something that you might have enjoyed more.  As I was surfing along, I started running across channels I did not need to see.  I’m a man.  Men are visually stimulated when it comes to sex.  There are a lot of things that I can see and it might not ever register in my mind that I saw it.  There are other things that I can see for just a millisecond and I am consciously aware immediately that I saw it.  The naked female form is one of those.

Be Faithful computer graphic image card

As I was bouncing through the channels, I ran across several in a row that “Snagged” my attention.  I got up, went to my wife, handed her the remote and told her to put a parental block on everything that was rated R and above, and that she was to be the only one who could unblock any program.  If I needed to see something, I would come get her to unblock that program.  We needed to keep that block on the TV for a few days because it took that long for the satellite company to block those channels.  That did two things.  It removed access and created oversight.  I know that for the most part I probably would have been fine, but I am not deceived.  I also know that I get tired and I would be a fool to think that I would not be tempted.  The simple answer was to create accountability.  There were a couple of times before the satellite company put the blocks in place that I had to go ask my wife to unblock a show, but by doing this, she was made aware of what I was watching and could question any of the programs.

While the Internet is a truly remarkable tool, It is also shark infested water.  While there are those out there who don’t see the harm in pornography, in reality, it corrupts our thinking toward the opposite sex and is actively destroying marriages all over the world.

In order to break free and stay free of the traps of pornography in this digital age, you have to first and foremost want to be free.  If you don’t really want to, or don’t really see the need, then any measure that someone else tries to force on you will not be successful.  However, If you’re serious about it, here are some practical, actionable steps that you can take.

  1. Remove internet access from your home. While this may seem a little drastic, it’s really a matter of how serious you are and whether or not you have help at home.  Accountability really helps in this fight but if you live alone you may need to restrict your internet access to the public library.
  2. Get the computer out in the open.  There was a time that I set my laptop on an end table in our living room and that was the primary place I would use it.  This gave me automatic oversight because everyone else frequented that room, and no one could do anything questionable on that computer with out running high risk of being caught.  I also did it so that my wife could see that I was serious about oversight and that I was willfully submitting to her accountability.  It also gave an example to my daughters of a dad who was practicing what he preached.
  3. Have a “Barge In” policy.  We have an office in our house.  It’s a converted bedroom.  This is where the desktop computer is.  It’s the most powerful computer in the house so I use it for stuff that’s heavy on graphics like video editing.  I have always told my wife and daughters that if I’m in the computer room with the door closed, they have the right to enter without knocking.  I want that for me and for them.
  4. No Net after Nine.  I heard a statistic in Bible school that most men are tempted to view pornography between the hours of 10 & midnight.  If you have struggled with this and seem to fall over and over again, make a rule for yourself that you will not get online after 9 p.m.   It’s much easier to avoid the temptation if you don’t go near a computer.
  5. Get an accountability buddy.  Ask the Lord to lead you concerning this.  It’s important that this person be someone you can truly trust.  Someone who is available and will help you with out judging or condemning you.  In order for this to be effective, you must make a solid decision to be honest with them.  It’s really pointless without honesty.

As you can see, the problem is not really the internet.  The real problem is isolation.  The enemy is always more affective in any temptation when he can get someone isolated and away from accountability and positive influences.  Just remember. Real freedom comes from a change of heart, not just a change of habit.  When porn is kept secret, it’s being protected.  Only when your heart is right and you really want to be rid of it will you make the choice to drag it into the light, become accountable and submit yourself to oversight.

If your serious, God can help.  Ask Him to show you what you need to see and to teach you what you need to know.  He will.  He’s faithful!  If you’re not sure about where you stand with God, I’ve created a pdf explaining all that God has done to reach you and how He has given you open access to Himself.  You can download that PDF by clicking here.  I’ve also created a short video to explain what to do and walk you through the process.  You can access that video by clicking here.

To learn more and to get additional help with porn addiction, please check out the sites below.

http://www.xxxchurch.com/

http://www.covenanteyes.com/

http://www.fredstoeker.com/

I just want to take a minute and thank each of you who reads and participates in my blog.  I appreciate you all more than you know.

I have struggled recently to post consistently because of my job demanding so much time.  After prayerful consideration, I have decided to change my primary post day to Monday.  I have found that I have more time to prepare quality content and get more engagement when I have posted at the beginning of the week instead of the beginning of the weekend.

I would ask you again to share this if it has been helpful and if you think it could help someone else.

You Have What It Takes To Make A Difference!

God desires for His people to walk by Faith, to walk in continual victory, and to testify of that victory in order for others who don’t know God, to hear the testimony and desire a relationship for themselves.

hold fast

Heb_10:23 Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)

If you are a Christian, what makes your witness affective is your personal testimony. When you begin to share what God has done for YOU, then you put yourself beyond the realm of argument. You were there! You are a first hand witness to what happened and that gives your witness credibility.

I bring this up because it’s so important for us to understand the part we play in God’s plan. He desires for us to be influential in our world. In the Unites States, we’ve enjoyed a Government that had great respect for God, Christianity and Israel and because we as believers have had it so good, we as believers have grown complacent. We have been shielded from the suffering and persecution that Christians endure around the world. Because we have not experienced that kind of heat, many American Christians don’t pray or read their Bibles regularly and many have even quit attending church regularly. In this country we seem to have a Low Impact Christianity. This low impact Christianity has created a group of Christians that often endure the Sunday sermon through a hang-over from Saturday night.

The Supreme Court has announced a change in the policy of the United States Government that puts the 14th amendment on a collision course with the 1st amendment. We are now seeing Christian business owners persecuted, sued & fined because they refused to violate their conscience.  Jesus said persecution would come – (see John 16:2).

The reality is that some will fall away because of persecution. Those who are not fully persuaded will abandon the truth they have heard when persecution arises. (Mark 4:16 & 17).

Unlike so many other religions where someone can be born into it, Christianity is chosen. It’s a personal decision. You can not legislate the hearts of men.  I have firmly held beliefs concerning God & what’s right and wrong.  No law brought on by legislature or judicial interpretation can change that belief if I will not let it go.  That’s why Paul admonished Timothy, the writer of Hebrews admonished the Hebrew Church, and Jesus admonishes all believers to HOLD FAST.

2Ti 1:13 – Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.

Heb 10:23 – Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)

Rev 3:11 – Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.

Each of us makes choices based on evidence. In a sense, we all have a personal court room where testimony is heard and witnesses are allowed to speak. We make choices based on the evidence seen and the testimony heard.  A good example of this is my friends at Quality Comfort Air.  I chose them to put in my furnace and air conditioning based on the evidence provided and the personal testimony of those who are first hand witnesses of their fine work. I have not been disappointed. We all do this.  This very thing is why the BBB and Angie’s List even exist.  Do you read online reviews before you make a purchase? We use reviews to help us make better, more informed choices.  The court that matters most in this hour is the personal, judgment bench where each individual judges truth and makes choices based on the evidence that convinces THEM.  This is where the witness and personal testimony of Bible believing Christians matters most. Don’t be shy about talking about what the Lord has done for you. Don’t be afraid to allow the Lord to take your scars, suffering and victories and use them to give some lost soul new hope.  By living a life pleasing to God and using your personal testimony, you can help win one heart at a time and when we do that, the Holy Spirit will confirm the Word with signs following.

If you are not a Christian and want to know more, click here.

Possess Your Vessel Like A Boss!

Holy Spirit's Instruction - Wood textureMany have realized that having a relationship with God is right and they want to do what’s right, but they struggle living a life that is pleasing to God. They fail to see the truth concerning their own salvation. The purpose behind it and the will of God concerning them. They struggle in the low life of trying to resist sin on a carnal level which means by sheer willpower. Battling the wrongful desires of the body strictly in the carnal, natural realm will lead to frustration as you are beaten over and over again. Not that many people have the natural willpower to stand up to a strong pull of the flesh for very long in any area, let alone in every area. If you have not made Jesus the Lord of your life, then this is the realm that you live in and without Christ, you have no expectation to do any better.

Scripture says in Ephesians 2:12 (KJV) That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world.

If you do have a relationship with God through the Lord Jesus Christ, you have a different set of circumstances. The scripture below is written to Christians. People who have received Jesus as their Lord and submitted themselves to Him.

1 Thessalonians 4:1 (KJV) –  Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more.

Receiving the teaching of Paul will allow you to please God. This means by faith. Scripture says in Hebrews 11:6 (KJV) But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.   Also, it shows that if you will please God, obstacles and hindrances will be removed that would slow or stop your progress allowing you to abound more and more. Hebrews 12:1a (KJV) says “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us…”  When you walk as you ought and please God, you will be seeing Him manifest in your life more and more which means increasing in the things of God. Increasing in influence, abundance, anointing, spiritual gifts, effectiveness and usefulness to the Father. Greater manifestations of God in your life and family will begin to happen.

1Th 4:2 For ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus.  3 For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication:   4 That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour;   5 Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God:   6 That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified.  7 For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.   8 He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given unto us his holy Spirit.

Paul in his writing to the Church at Thessalonica wrote in chapter 4 of the 1st epistle, 1Th 4:4 That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honor; Paul is speaking to the CHURCH at Thessalonica. He’s talking to Christians. Those who have believed on Jesus as their Lord and have submitted themselves to His will. He’s NOT speaking to those who have not confessed Jesus as their Lord.

He’s telling them that EVERY ONE of them should know how to possess his (or her) vessel in sanctification and honor. This is something that every Christian in the Thessalonian church should know how to do. This reflects what God expects from His church as a whole. EVERY ONE. We should all know how to possess our vessel in sanctification and honor.

When I look at the word “possess” in the Greek, the definition speaks specifically of – acquire (by any means; own): – obtain, possess, provide, purchase. The word in the definition that sticks out to me is the word “Own”. The one who owns something is the one in charge. In other words, being in control of, or being the boss of.  Then looking at the definition for “Vessel” in the Greek, the words used are vessel, implement, equipment or apparatus. Paul is telling the Church at Thessalonica that they need to own and be the boss of their equipment and not let their equipment be the boss of them.  Believers should not be letting their flesh run their lives!

The one who owns something is the one in charge. In other words, being in control of, or being the boss of.

Paul’s thought is continued in the next verse.1Th 4:5 Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God.”  The word Concupiscence means to desire what is forbidden. Lust = Strong longing.   The people who don’t KNOW God have given themselves to desire and longing for forbidden things. The difference maker in this situation then is God himself. Those who know Him can possess their vessel in sanctification and honor but those who don’t know Him can’t, and probably don’t want to.

1Th 4:7 For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness. 8 He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given unto us his Holy Spirit.

The word “despiseth” used here is a little vague. In the Greek it means to set aside, dis-esteem or to neutralize. It’s actually exactly the opposite of honor.  Paul is warning them that to set aside and to ignore God is to neutralize His power in your life. They have the ability to stop the power of God by not valuing it.  Despise here means to lightly esteem and dishonor God. That is what we do when we intentionally set aside what we know to do in order to yield to the strong pull of our body.

Verse 8b. But God, who has also given unto us His Holy Spirit.  There He is – the difference maker. The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit is what strengthened Jesus when He struggled in the garden of Gethsemane. The Holy Spirit is the difference maker. Jesus called Him the Comforter.   In his book “Home, a short history of an idea”, Author, Witold Rybczynski says:

“The word “Comfortable” did not originally refer to enjoyment or contentment.  It’s Latin root was confortare – to strengthen or console – and this remained its meaning for centuries.  We use it this way when we say “He was a comfort to his mother in her old age.”  It was in this sense that it was used in theology: the “Comforter” was the Holy Spirit.”  

One of the primary things that the Holy Spirit does in the life of the believer is to strengthen and console them.  Equipping them to overcome.  Please understand that the Holy Spirit has never gotten involved in anyone’s situation – ever – where there was not way more than enough power for them to completely overcome.  There is no situation that is so big that His power is not enough and FAR SURPASSING.  Don’t take Him lightly and by so doing, actually neutralize His power in your life.   Jesus said in John 14 that the Holy Spirit will lead and guide the believer into all the truth.  He can show you exactly what you need to see in order to give you the motivation to overcome.  He will not do this though if the believer ignores and sets aside the things that He reveals.  Jesus said in Matthew chapter 7 that we can actually take away the effectiveness of the Word of God by simply believing a tradition of men instead of God’s promises.  We limit the Holy Spirit’s ability to work in our lives when we set aside and value lightly His instructions.

Real help is found in walking in the light that you have.  Many people have already heard enough, They just haven’t been a doer of what they know.

This is a little long but we’ll unhook here and pick this up later.  If this has helped you at all and you think it can help someone else, please share it.  Also, Please join the conversation and leave a comment.

The Whole Story…You Probably Don’t Know It!

Usually when I write my blog posts, I seek God about what to write because I understand that truthfully, anything good is going to be because He gives it to me. I like the way Rev. Keith Moore said it, “Without Him (God) your feet couldn’t find the floor in the morning”.  It’s the God given inspiration and anointing that makes anything I write worth reading. Often, there are specific things that have caused me to want to address an issue. Sometimes I get inspired because I have witnessed someone struggling in an area of their life and I want to help. Or maybe I’ve struggled, gained the victory over the struggle and want to share how the Lord helped me. Sometimes I write because people have reached out to me and asked me to address certain things. Because of these reasons, I often find myself writing as if I’m actually talking to a specific person. Even if I’m not, I sort of create an avatar or a representative of the people I’m writing to in order to enhance the flow of the way I write. I have received a little push back in the past because some people didn’t like the way I have said certain things and they thought my emphasis should have been different. The bottom line is that they didn’t have my perspective. I always endeavor to understand their perspective and I believe we should at least consider all feedback and ask ourselves the question “is it valid?” Usually, the ones being critical, had they moved a little closer and asked a question or two, would have no doubt had a better understanding of my choices. Where there is no understanding though, there will usually be misunderstanding. People fill in the blanks for themselves. We can only hope it’s with the truth.

GavelMany years ago I was in an apprenticeship to become a printing pressman. The man who was training me was a really good guy and he became a trusted friend. We would often take breaks together and during these breaks, we would discuss all sorts of things. Fairly often we would discuss the state of the company we worked for and diagnose all of the shortcomings it had. We would say things like “Can’t they see?” or “Are they blind?” while griping about the management and their utter failure to see the messed up things we were seeing. Then it happened. The pressman who was training me, the one who had become my friend, was asked to take over the management of our department. I was very happy for him and pretty excited for us. I mean, here was a guy who knew our daily struggle. He understood our problems. For the first several weeks of his time as my supervisor, he was literally tied up in meetings nearly non-stop. We rarely saw him and didn’t really have much time to talk. He was no longer hourly and also no longer took breaks with us.
It came as a little bit of a shock to me though, when the opportunities would come up to address some of the things we used to gripe about during our break times, and he would not change anything. He made the same decisions that he used to complain about when someone else was making them. I didn’t understand. He’s a good man and he’s honest. Why was he being such a hypocrite?

I later had an opportunity to talk to him and what he told me has stayed with me all these years. He told me that he hadn’t seen the whole picture. Once he became responsible for the department and began to see the things that were REALLY important, it changed his perspective. Once he learned the management rules he had to abide by and had to work within the framework that I didn’t see, there was little he could actually do that was different than what was being done.

We ought to get out of the judging business. We should leave it up to God to determine who belongs in one arena or another when it comes to eternity. What we are obligated to do is to tell people about Jesus, and that’s what I do.

Tony Campolo

I have found that to be true in my own life more times than I care to count. I have seen people from a distance and how they were acting didn’t make any sense to me. If I didn’t watch myself, I would find myself judging them. Then if I had a chance to get a little closer, my perspective would begin to change. If I got close enough to the situation, I would usually see exactly why they were acting the way they were and why they had made the choices they made. I would then realize how unqualified I was to judge their situation and how important it was for me to, in the legendary word of *Matt Foley, motivational speaker “Shut my big Yapper!”

I have hurt people and damaged relationships over the years because I would speak when I had no place to speak and judge before I had any real perspective. This is VERY foolish. Proverbs 29:11 says “A fool bringeth out all his mind, and the wise till afterwards restraineth it” (Young’s Literal Translation). The King James Version says it this way, “A fool uttereth all his mind, but a wise man keepeth it in till afterwards.” In other words, what we see here is that usually the fool will be the one running their mouth. I have been this guy. I’m sure you have too. I hate it when I suddenly realize that I was being a fool and allowing my enemy (Satan) to use my mouth to hurt or discourage other people. I am not qualified to be their judge and I need to endeavor constantly to keep this perspective. This is true humility. When the Bible speaks of Meekness, it doesn’t mean weakness. This is what it’s talking about. Humility.

“By judging others we blind ourselves to our own evil and to the grace which others are just as entitled to as we are.”
― Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship

In John 9 we see an interesting story about a man who was born blind. Because he was blind, he was a beggar. Everyone in the vicinity knew him as the beggar. One Sabbath day Jesus spit on the ground, made clay, put it in the man’s eyes and told him to go wash in a certain pool. When the man did, he was completely healed and had sight.

Once the rulers of the day heard about this, they got ticked off. They reasoned that according to the Law of Moses, no one is supposed to work on the Sabbath day and Jesus made clay on the Sabbath day so He surely can’t be from God. They began to try to discredit the miracle. Religion built on form will do this though. It tries to minimize the true move of God because it didn’t happen in a way consistent with the bylaws of the organization. Really! How much clay can spit make? It’s not like He filled up a truck bed full of it! Their perspective was built on forms, rules & regulations instead of a true relationship with God. Seriously, a man blind from birth just saw the world for the first time because of Jesus!

Later, we find that through a long line of questioning, the man who was healed made the rulers so angry that they excommunicated him. He was “thrown out of church” so to speak because he asked them the question “will you believe too?”. Jesus found him later and through a short conversation, revealed that He (Jesus) was the Son of God. The man believed on Him and began to worship him. Now listen to this, this is important. Here’s the point. Jesus then says:

Joh 9:39 And Jesus said, I came into this world to be a judge, so that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind. 40 These words came to the ears of the Pharisees who were with him and they said to him, Are we, then, blind? 41 Jesus said to them, If you were blind you would have no sin: but now that you say, We see; your sin is there still.

The point Jesus is hammering home here is that when you and I judge, we are saying “We see”. We are saying that we see, know and understand the difference between right and wrong in the situation. If we do actually see, then we are announcing that we are accountable in this area. We know what’s right. We know what’s good.

James 4:17 says “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin”. That’s why when you judge others, you are actually condemning yourself. You see the difference and know right from wrong. When you blow it, you have condemned yourself. And if we don’t actually see even though we say we do, we’re revealing how much pride is running our lives because we’re pretending to be more spiritual than we really are.

Have you ever heard anyone say “I just don’t understand how they could do that _____”. What these people are saying is that they have never faced that decision, struggled with that problem or been tempted in that area. Now consider this. Maybe it’s the mercy of God that they have never faced it. Maybe, if THEY had to face it, they would just cave in and make all the wrong decisions. Maybe the reason you have never been tempted like someone else has is because God knows that if YOU faced it, you would immediately fall, so He in His mercy is holding it back from you. See how stupid being judgmental is?

“In all affairs it’s a healthy thing now and then to hang a question mark on the things you have long taken for granted.”
― Bertrand Russell

So what’s the take away? Here are three ways we hurt ourselves when we judge others.

  1. We hurt them and cause damage to our relationship with them.
  2. We condemn ourselves because we state and go on record that we know the difference.
  3. We cause God to resist us because when we judge, we are walking in pride and yielding to the enemy.

It’s so important to ask God for help in walking in humility. As the scripture states, He gives grace to the humble. (James 4:6 & 1 Pet 5:5).

What steps have you taken that have helped you to avoid being critical and judgmental? Please leave a comment and join the conversation. Also, if this has helped you and you believe it can help someone you know, please consider forwarding it.

 

*Matt Foley, Motivational Speaker, was a fictional character portrayed by Chris Farley on Saturday Night Live.

Four Things You Should Know About Temptation.

I was recently encouraged by some dear friends to address the issue that men face concerning pornography.  I haven’t said much about it directly mainly because I was not sure how strong I wanted to be about it.  In the last ten days or so, I have been studying and reading quite a few statistics.  Covenant eyes recently released a report containing a lot of statistics about online pornography.  64% of Christian men view online pornography at least once a month.  15% of Christian women view pornography at least once a month.  To me, this is alarming.  While I think there are many Christians that are concerned for the direction of their country and are praying for their country, I think this may be hindering the prayers.

2Ch 7:14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

We all face temptation in some form or another. It comes to every single one of us. Even Jesus faced temptation.  Now when any temptation shows up, it tells us a few things.

  1. The first is that we are dealing with something that we know is wrong and we know that we shouldn’t eat it, say it, do it or view it. The word Tempt comes from a Latin word that means “to try” as in “to be put on trial”. That tells us that the temptation doesn’t originate inside. It starts when you are put on trial. Think on that for a minute because it means that you are being baited from the outside.
  2. The second thing it tells us is that there’s something in us that wants to go forward into it, otherwise it wouldn’t be a temptation. There’s something on the inside of you that is attracted to the temptation. Now I want to stress something here. There are some people, who would look at a man being tempted to view pornography and condemn him for the temptation itself, but I have to stress this, temptation is not sin. It isn’t right for anyone to be persecuted or punished just because they are tempted. The Bible is very clear that even Jesus was tempted. The Bible says in Hebrews 4:15 that Jesus can understand and feel our weaknesses because He was tempted in ALL POINTS like as we are. It finishes the verse though by saying that He is yet without sin. That means that temptation is not a sin. Sin only happens when we yield to the temptation. When we “Enter” into it. It’s the yielding to it that’s the sin. Being tempted doesn’t mean you have failed or that you are a bad person.
    Dealing with what’s inside.
    External rules and restrictions may stop the manifestation of the problem but will not address the real issue. The real issue is a heart issue and a man doesn’t necessarily need pornography to sin. The sad truth is that our society offers a variety of visual triggers that can send a man’s imagination down the wrong path. That’s why the real change will need to come from inside. With the decision to change and the continual maintenance of the thought life – (See Rom 12:1-2). A person will find it a whole lot easier to resist when they are continually renewing their mind with the Word of God.
  3. There is a third thing that the presence of temptation tells us.  1 Corinthians 10:13 tells us: There is no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tested above that you are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that you may be able to bear it. That means that you are not alone in being tempted.  In fact, what you are experiencing is common to mankind.  There are boatloads of men who are dealing with the same thing.
  4. God didn’t intend for you to bear up under the temptation. He intended for you to escape it.  Think about Joseph for a minute.  Potiphar’s wife was hot for him and day after day she was throwing herself at him and day after day he refused.  One day he went in to the house to do business and everyone was gone but her.  She really put the pressure on him that day.  She grabbed him and began to really press him to have sex with her.  Joseph knew that at that moment, it was not time to set down on the edge of the bed and talk this thing out.  He RAN, and she held on to his coat, so he ran out of it and left it behind.
    When temptation comes, it’s important to not allow yourself to be deceived into thinking that you are stronger than you really are.  If you think this way, you will fall over and over and over again.  You have got to have an honest and humble estimation of yourself and realize that in order to stand, you sometimes need to flee.
    God is faithful and He will not allow you to be tested above what you are able. Many people do not believe this. They think that the temptation that they experience is an irresistible temptation. That can not be true. To say that is to say that God is not faithful.  This level of ability to resist and escape is not the same for every person though. Not everyone can resist and escape the same level of temptation.  Because of that, God does not allow certain temptations to come on certain people. He knows that they do not have the capacity to resist it.  That tells us something very important. If you are facing a temptation, it’s because you ARE ABLE to handle it, resist it, and escape it. God will not allow a temptation to come to you that would cause you to immediately cave under and fall. If a temptation shows up on your doorstep, it’s because God knows that you are mature enough to face it and win! You have inside you the grace that it takes to be victorious. That’s why when we fall, we are without excuse. Sadly though, too many people aren’t used to resisting at all when temptation comes. It’s not the standard operating procedure for most of us, but the simple truth is that really walking by faith is a walk of continually denying the flesh what it wants.  The flesh wants to freak out when things go wrong, or when you’ve stumbled, but walking by faith means “Holding fast to the profession of your faith without wavering, for He is faithful that promised” Heb 10:23.  When you need that profession of faith in your mouth the most is when you’ve fallen.

There is a lot to say about this and I want to talk in the coming weeks about practical ways to stand & not fall when it comes to temptation.  Let’s just consider this the beginning of the conversation.  I would love to hear your thoughts about this topic.  Please join the conversation & leave a comment.  Also, consider sharing this post if you found it helpful and know someone else who might be helped by it also.