Friday, July 10, 2020

Don’t Be Blind To The Spiritual Reality – Be The Light

“Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists took it upon themselves to call the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, ‘We exorcise you by the Jesus whom Paul preaches.’  Also there were seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, who did so. And the evil spirit answered and said, ‘Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?’ Then the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, overpowered them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.” – Acts 19:13-16

There is a spiritual reality that the world does not know. That reality is based upon the Creator God. As born again Believers, we are part of a spiritual kingdom. In the case of the men described in Acts 19, they were religious but were not part of that kingdom.  The evil spirit acknowledged Jesus and Paul – but did not recognize those men. They were not spiritual men and therefore had no authority over the evil spirit. And they soon found that out.  Recall the story of Jesus casting out “Legion” (4000 to 6000), and these men were dealing with one spirit. So why share that story with you? Certainly not so you will cast out demons.

I was taking to a pastor friend in Haiti the other day about legislation that the president of Haiti signed into law. I won’t go into detail as they are not clear – but suffice it to say it is not good – but I will share what the Pastor told me the Church in Haiti was doing in response – “Yesterday about 200 pastors work (protest) in the streets of Jacmel against these laws, and we sent an open letters for the president to tell him we do not need these laws in our society.  If he does not repent,  in a couple of weeks all protestant churches in the whole country decide to invest (protest in) the street to say no.”

There is something spiritual going on. That is to say , something spiritually significant going on – because there is always something spiritual going on.  This is not the time for the Church to be silent.  Can you imagine the Pastors from the Church in the United States taking to the streets? Instead there is silence. Oh there are meetings, to be sure. Meetings to talk about understanding the problem – analyzing it.  It has never been more obvious than today that Christians are a minority in the natural – but are the majority in the spiritual.  What I mean is, that to say “thus saith the Lord” means nothing to the culture we live in if it goes against a common belief.  The measure of rightness is man not God. We accommodate sin because we don’t want to condemn the one who is sinning. In face of the Word of God, we embrace what God condemns so we can embrace the sinner.

 Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.” – Romans 1:24-32

Be careful. It is difficult when you know someone who is involved in some way of living that is contrary to the Word that you don’t minimize the reality that it is sin so you don’t have to acknowledge that sin in the person’s life.  You don’t want to make them feel bad. If the excuse is that they were born that way, I would say that is true.  We were all born that way – in Sin as sinners.  That is why we need Jesus.  I hesitate to say that people who continue in sin cannot be saved, I would say that God knows the heart and that we all struggle with sin in our lives – but we are not to continue in sin. The moment I was born again did not result in a complete transformed natural life, but it did result in a changed heart and a spiritual birth. And yet we do continue to sin, don’t we. To say that God is big enough or strong enough to help any of us with our sin is, well, nonsense and reveals our lack of spiritual understanding.

God loved us while we were yet sinners – Christ died for us – including the ones that crucified Him – but not all will be saved.  The Apostles spent their lives encouraging Christians to reject the old nature and embrace the new.  That is what the New Testament letters focus on.  How to live the new life we have been given. We must not be silent when we encounter wrong. But we must be compassionate toward those who are doing the wrong.  We must stand for right – as defined by God in the Bible – be a light and a voice in the midst of the chaos raging around us.

We should not make excuses for sin in our lives or in the lives of others. We should understand the impossibility of people who are not born again to overcome sin.  Understand, that until they yield to the Spirit by faith in Jesus, that they will not even be willing to acknowledge many sins as sin.  And even after they have spiritual understanding they, like all Christians, will continue to struggle with not embracing the natural in favor of the spiritual.  The world sees us a hypocritical because we are not perfect.  The world looks at the frailty of man and not the steadfastness, grace and mercy of God.  They expect us to be perfect, but we are not. But be careful that you don’t use that imperfection in the natural as an excuse to continue in sin. 

“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?  Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?  Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?” – Romans 6:1-2

Be the light! 

By Faith Alone By His Grace Alone And For His Glory Alone

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Seeing The World As It Really Is And Where You Fit

“[I, Paul] … do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers: that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.” – Ephesians 1:18-23

What I see happening in our country and around the world is certainly troubling - disconcerting. Pandemics and social unrest seem to rage.  But then I thought of Paul’s prayer in Ephesians. That the Church would have spiritual eyes to see and with that clarity of visions, a heart to understand.  Paul went on to remind us that …

we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” – Ephesians 6:12

The real issue is not COVID 19 or the social unrest. It is the awakening to the fact that the God has called us out of but kept us in a world that that is driven by sin.  We expect good to reign in a world dominated by the effects of sin.  In recent days, we have been shocked back into reality. God has been saying, shouting even, “OPEN YOUR EYES CHILDREN!”  We have become blind – insensitive to sin. Sin that the fallen world accepts as normal and good, even. And if you disagree, then you are labeled as evil yourself. But why would we care if we are rejected for embracing the Truth, unless we prefer acceptance by the world over embracing the truth and the Father – the Source of all truth. 

Shining a light in someone’s face in a dark room, hurts their eyes. It makes them uncomfortable.  They may even shout, “Turn that light off!” On the one hand the world wants harmony among people, but it is not just racial harmony – it is acceptance of all people no matter what their life choices are – nothing to do with gender or race. But the world wants to redefine what gender is.  The world wants to redefine when a human becomes a human. The Church is a thorn in the world’s side. Or at least it should be.  The Church should be a reminder to the world that the harmony they seek can be found, but only in the context of God’s truth and salvation through Christ.  That is if the Church is indeed being the Church. The problem is that in many respects the Church is indistinguishable from the world it is supposed to be a witness to.

Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” – Genesis 3:1

Questioning the Word of God. We know what God said, but did He really mean it? Isn’t it open to interpretation? An interpretation that will accommodate what we want to do. Desires that are born out of our sinful nature. Something we can put a spiritual coat of paint on and argue that it is part of God’s truth and revelation in these advanced times.  The truth is that the times have not changed. Sin has not changed. How we live, how we look, technology all that changes with the generations – but sin does not. And neither does God.  The Church – Christians need to wake up and take a look around. It is sin that is raging. It is the light of Christ that needs to be shining even brighter. Loving God and loving each other. If you ask a Christian to repent of not caring about the plight of other Christians in this country – you may well be told that they do care – but the care is as effective as seeing a starving child on a commercial on TV and feeling sorry for them.  But that’s it – feeling sorry for them is enough – it’s not.  You will not speak up for them.

Bear one another’s burdens and fulfill the law of Christ.” – Galatians 6:2

That verse applies to more than your circle of friends or the people in your family or local church.  God has given us a bigger group of “one-anothers” than that.  If a person’s heart has been sealed by the Spirit of God through faith in Jesus, they are your Brother or Sister. It does not matter what color of skin they have, how much money they have, where they live, what language they speak – they are family! Open your eyes – yield your heart.  I know a guy that whenever I see him he says “God loves you and so do I.” I hear the words, but wonder about the sincerity.  We have a lot of “coined phrases” – Christian-speak, that we use when speaking with others – but they don’t go very far – God bless you – I’ll pray for you – I love you.  Well how about adding this one – “I will lay down my life for you!” That one you might not be willing to say so readily. But you should.

So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?’ He said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.’ He said to him, ‘Feed My lambs.’” – John 21:15

If you really love God, He wants you to show Him – not just talk about it.  Talk is cheap. Sacrifice is expensive.

Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” – John 15:13

And if you are wondering – “Who are my friends?”, you have not been paying attention.

By Faith Alone By His Grace Alone And For His Glory Alone

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Behaving Like Mere Mortals

“And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?’” – 1 Corinthians 3:1-3

 One of the greatest challenges in the Christian life, I think, is making the transition from having a child like faith to that of being mature in the faith. When I speak or write to Christians, it often sounds harsh but that is because my words are received not as spiritual but as carnal.  The hearts of the hearers or readers, as it were, if not submitted to the Spirit will not receive spiritual truth as a balm, as a refreshing breeze, but perhaps as chastisement.  Very often the difference between criticism and encouragement is motivation. If I speak Biblical truth or write about it, the motivation is not to beat you down but to lift you up – to encourage you in the faith.

What do you think “behaving like mere men” means? I would suggest that it means that we are living like the rest of the world. Preferring the ways of the world over the clear declaration of God in His Word. Making excuses for why things are really “OK” or “not that bad”. When the Spirit has quickened our hearts that the “truth” we are embracing and pursuing is really a “lie”.

Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever.” – Romans 1:24-25

Those verses have to do with people have fully rejected God and have never embraced salvation through Jesus by faith. But when we embrace the world – the things of this world – the ways of this world – we are essentially doing the same thing. 

Part of the reason so many Christians are living like those without faith is that they have never been weaned from the bottle – from the “milk” of the Word – have never eaten meat – and don’t even have a desire to do so.  They are content with the bottle once a week.  In comparison to the human body, that is not normal.  If you were to see a child in first grade with a pacifier or a baby bottle in their lunch bag - you would think it strange. I can remember speaking at a church some years back and told the congregation that I wished I had spiritual eye glasses to give them. If they put them on and looked around the sanctuary they would be surprised, maybe even shocked, to see those who were still in spiritual diapers.  It is not because they were victims, it was because they made a choice.  They are content with the bottle. Do you remembering weaning your children? For some it was easy, but for many it was an effort.  They wanted their bottle- they wanted their pacifier – they wanted to be comforted and not forced to grow up. And that is the mark of a Christian that has been weaned?

 “for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” – James 1:20-22

 Not just taking the Word in but expressing it by the way you live and do. By the way you love and by what you love.  I realize that for many reading this, I am “preaching to the choir”, but I hope that it gives you pause to think about what is happening in the Church right now. Why there is an expectation that the Body of Christ would do one thing – the right thing – the Biblical thing - but it is failing at the doing. Why – because on the whole – it is not as Spiritual as it should be.  Many are being asked to leave the bottle and eat meat. Cold turkey.  Those asking for the Church to rise up are finding that the “Church” can barely stand on its own – spiritually. Like being trained academically – but never really having applied what was learned.  Never really went to work, if you will. It is revealing and saddening. If we ever needed the Lord before, we sure do need Him now.

By Faith Alone By His Grace Alone And For His Glory Alone

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

No Jesus - No Peace - Know Jesus - Know Peace

“He [Jesus] left Judea and departed again to Galilee.  But He needed to go through Samaria. So He came to a city of Samaria which is called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied from His journey, sat thus by the well. It was about the sixth hour. A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, ‘Give Me a drink.’ For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food. Then the woman of Samaria said to Him, ‘How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?’ For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.” – John 4:3-9

We normally focus on the woman at the well in these verses. But I want to focus on the phrase “For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans”. I was told once that Jews would not travel through Samaria they held so much disdain for the people.  The trouble between the Jews (inhabitants of the Judah, the southern kingdom) and Samaritans began immediately after the division of the northern kingdom (Israel) and Judah, the southern kingdom (Jerusalem), as Samaria was the capital city of the northern kingdom (with Jeroboam as her first king). Rehoboam assembled an army to make war against Israel to reunite the kingdom, but God intervened through His prophet Shemiah (1 Kings 12:21-24). The animosity was passed from one generation to the next.  The divide between the people was great – and seemingly impossible to resolve.

Ethnic groups, people of different nationalities continue to struggle with division, hatred even.  My point is that as bad as that problem us in this country, it is not isolated to this country. It is born out of the sinful nature of man. And, since its source is sin, the only solution is spiritual. I remember a line in “Ground Hog Day”, when the weather man and the director prayed for world peace right before they drank in a bar. That really seems so antithetical as I type out those words. World peace is a pipe dream. That will only happen when Jesus returns. Until then, the sinful nature of man rules the nations. Peace and conflict ebb and flow through generations. The lack of physical conflict does not mean that there is not hatred abiding in the hearts of men and women.  People are mistreated because their faith is different, because their customs are different, because their skins is a different color – because they are not like the ones who oppress them.  Often, their only choice or to conform or die. The extreme is sometimes they are not given that choice to live. That is called genocide. Genocide is the intentional action to destroy a people—usually defined as an ethnic, national, racial, or religious group—in whole or in part. It is happening in the world today.  If they can’t make you like them, they will do away with you. 

That is man’s solution to the problem of people being different.  Peaceful coexistence is a myth – apart from some intervention. Force will not change a person’s heart, but it can change their behavior. There is a saying, “You can make me do it, but you can’t make me like it.” In a simple sense like making your children clean their room or saying they are sorry to their brother or sister.  Laws carry a consequence for not obeying them – at least that is their intent and result if applied fairly to all. But that doesn’t happen either, does it?  But the intent of laws is to control behavior – wrong doing – protect the public interest. But laws don’t change hearts and really limit behavior for some.  That is one reason why the prisons are full.

So what to do. God chose to intervene. To not change behavior first with laws but to change hearts first. Hearts that would want to adhere to what is right and good because they want to, not because they have to.  He sent His Son to establish a new order of things where people loved Him and others more than themselves.  Where they did not demand that people must be like them physically, culturally, ethnically, naturally but that they would be bound together through their spiritual commonality. Their faith in Jesus. Having the same Spirit. So how did that work out? Not perfectly. The problem is that those same people still struggle with their old nature – their sinful nature. People – Christians – still struggle with separation in the Body of Christ because of the natural that rails against the spiritual. 

Does that mean that all is lost – that it is hopeless? By no means! What it means is that the Church must recognize the problem and repent. Both the Samaritans and Jews. Their must be a heart change. The country is looking for a social change.  Some are turning to violence to make people change their minds. It will not change hearts. As a society that rejects God for the most part, it can only treat the symptom not the illness.  And what is the role of the Christians in this country? Repent and show the world what “Right looks like.”  Not by self-effort, but by the power or the Spirit – through unity and love. Not because we have to but because we want to.

if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” – 2 Chronicles 7:14

That verse has been used to apply to our country – but I think it is more appropriately applied to the Body of Christ. Only the Spirit of God can bring unity in the Body of Christ, and that can happen only when Christians rend their hearts and yield them to the Spirit. Stop making excuses and repent. There is a song by the Beatles that goes, “All we are saying is give peace a chance.” I would change that to “All we are saying is give JESUS a chance.” We are not going to change the world – that is not our job – our job is to let the light of Christ shine through our lives and relationships and lift Jesus up.

Peace I [Jesus] leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” – John 14:27

By Faith Alone By His Grace Alone And For His Glory Alone

Monday, June 29, 2020

Holding On To The Old – Resisting The New

"But even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their [the Jews] heart. Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.” – 2 Corinthians 3:16-18

It can sound so presumptuous to say that we have a greater spiritual revelation – those of us who have placed our faith in Jesus the Messiah. The truth of the matter is, that we do. There are those who struggle in their quest to know the creator God – Jew and Muslim, who both look to father Abraham but they both reject the idea that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14:6) acknowledging the Jesus did exist but relegating Him to the place of teacher or prophet – but certainly not God incarnate.  It is that veil that is removed – the veil that makes us spiritually blind and lame. It is that revelation that brings about spiritual transformation. Recall when John the Baptist confronted the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism …..

do not think to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” – Matthew 3:9-11

The promise given to Abraham was a spiritual promise – not a natural one. But it is in our nature to try to understand what the Lord reveals to us in the natural sense.  That is at the root of the health and wealth Gospel.  Your physical and financial condition are not indicators of a heart right before God. There are many people that are physically healthy and materially wealthy that are not spiritually healthy and wealthy.  Jesus did not come to reveal the way to greater earthly treasure.

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” – Matthew 6:19-21

When the veil is taken away – the kingdom of God is revealed. We were blind but now we see.  Jesus said that our entire focus, our priority should be on loving God – devoting our lives to God and then that devotion will reveal itself by our love for others and the lack of love for the things of this world. Our struggle is that our tendency is to want to do both.  Accommodate our old nature and its devotions and be devoted to serving God at the same time.  We doubt that devotion to God alone is sufficient for us to get along in this life. But what is really going is that we do not want to give up our dependence upon the things of this world.

But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” – James 1:6-8

Jesus challenged those who came to him wanting to know how to find eternal life or wanting to follow him.  He saw their hearts and the devotion in them and knew that their hearts were divided.  That they wanted the benefits of being a child of God while they enjoyed the devotions that they had in their natural life. Even our natural devotions to our families. The fifth commandment says to honor your parents. It is called the commandment with a promise. But that honor cannot be greater than the honor we give to God.

Now great multitudes went with Him. And He turned and said to them, ‘If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. …. So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.’” – Luke 14:25-27,33

 Our love and devotion to our family looks like hate when compared to our love and devotion to God. 

Then another of His disciples said to Him, ‘Lord, let me first go and bury my father.’ But Jesus said to him, ‘Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead.’” – Matthew 8:21-22

Or how about this one. 

So Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. You know the commandments: Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor your father and your mother.’  And he said, ‘All these things I have kept from my youth.’ So when Jesus heard these things, He said to him, ‘You still lack one thing. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.’ But when he heard this, he became very sorrowful, for he was very rich.” – Luke 18:19-23

Jesus addressed the last six commandments with the young man, how we relate to other people – but the young man was lacking with respect to the first four – the first four enable us to accomplish the last six.  (See Exodus 20:3-17 if you need a refresher) He loved money and the natural life it provided for him.  More than he loved God.

In the same way – our temptation is to love what this natural life has to offer – the values taught by man that are contrary to the Word of God. We are very likely to ignore the spiritual in favor of yielding to the natural. We who have had the veil removed though salvation by faith in Jesus, must resist the temptation to re-hang the curtain so we don’t have to bear the presence of the Spirit in our lives.  What old things are you holding on to? What new things are you resisting because of your worldly devotions. We all do it. God knows it. Yield to the Spirit and let Him do His work in your life. You are not a failure – it is part of the spiritual transformation in every Believer’s life. We are not perfected, but don’t be satisfied with your imperfection.

By Faith Alone By His Grace Alone And For His Glory Alone

Friday, June 26, 2020

Close Enough Is Only Good For Horse Shoes and Hand Grenades

“ Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, ‘Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?’ Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment.’” – Matthew 22:36-37

Ever played horse shoes? You get one point for being close to the stake, two points for a "leaner", the shoe leaning against the stake and three points for a ringer. With hand grenade - say an M-26 fragmentation grenade - the effective bursting radius is 3 meters. If you within 9 feet when it explodes, you are going to get hurt.  That is what is meant by close enough.

Looking at my own life, I see a constant struggle in my heart with being Close Enough.  The struggle is doing what Jesus said to do. Love God with “all”.  It is so much easier to love God with “some” There are so many things that vie for a place in my heart. Most of them not inherently bad but things that would nudge God out of His rightful place. Righteousness as defined by me.  So long as I am willing to embrace my old nature – those things that would demand my devotion and trust – I am settling for a new life that is Close Enough. I may even prefer that others ignore that and consider me to have “arrived” spiritually, when I have not.

I can compare my new ways – caused by my conversion or by my own will – to my old life and think – “you’ve come a long way baby!” Perhaps even find a reason for personal pride instead of giving the glory to God. If I should want to compare myself to other men, I might be tempted to be impressed with myself. Others might and do praise me for what I have accomplished. But man’s praise can prove to be lethal to a right heart before God.  It can whittle away at your devotion to God and you can begin to think too highly of yourself. I have known people that crave words of affirmation from others.  I watch their expressions when they are praised by others. There is nothing wrong with recognition. But there is something that is spiritually deadly when we need men’s praise to have a feeling of worth.  Each person is so important to God that He sent Jesus to die for them.

“… they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.” – John 12:43

Every Christian is far from perfect in their flesh, but stand perfected spiritually before God, the Father because of Jesus.  The organization I work with, Houston Responds, has a campaign called “Far From Finished.” It has to do with encouraging the local churches to help the thousands of families that still struggle with the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey and Tropical Storm Imelda. But I think that “Far From Finished” is an appropriate description of where all of are in our faith walk and sanctification as well – the process of being conformed to the image of Christ.

Don’t be satisfied with Close Enough.  So many are.  They are satisfied with being saved and sitting in the “cheap seats” in heaven, but God intends for you to be sitting in the best seats. It all depends upon you.  If your spiritual life seems to have run out of gas (or oil) then it is not because God has forgotten about you.  It is because you have chosen to embrace the world. You have decided that Close Enough is Good Enough.  I can encourage you to press on but you have to decide to take the next step and not be satisfied with Close Enough.

By Faith Alone By His Grace Alone And For His Glory Alone

Thursday, June 25, 2020

The Purpose Of Christians Gathering

And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” – Hebrews 10:24-25

COVID 19 has changed the ebb and flow of our society.  Things that we used to do, places where we used to go – that has all changed. We used to think it strange when women in other countries walked around with their faces covered up to their eyes and now it is a common sight. You can’t even enter some places of business without a masks on you face. Church doors were closed. Do you remember when you are a child and were taught to fold your hands and say “Here is the church and here is the steeple, open doors and see all of the people.”?  For a few months when the doors were opened, there was no body home at the church.  Because the Church had left the building. Now most are looking through the windows – streaming services over the internet.  It can become so much like another television program. Even Zoom meetings lack the relational connection that you have in physical meetings.

For many Christians, the highlight – perhaps the only day of the week that they figuratively light their spiritual lamp is on Sunday, when they gather.  God created us to be relational. We are wired to want to be around other people. For probably 99% of us, living in isolation has a dilatory effect on our spiritual stability.  We are told to love one another, encourage one another, pray for one another, lay down our lives for one another. That is not just about having an attitude but personal relationship.

Having “me:” time with the Lord is important. In fact, personal interaction with the Lord must be the starting point, foundation, of personal interaction with others.  We should not get the cart before the horse – where our spirituality is solely dependent upon being around other Christians. But it is critical to your spiritual health.  I remember hearing a story about Chuck Colson.  Chuck Colson, “Once known as President Nixon's "hatchet man", Colson gained notoriety at the height of the Watergate scandal, for being named as one of the Watergate Seven, and pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice for attempting to defame Pentagon Papers defendant Daniel Ellsberg. In 1974 he served seven months in the federal Maxwell Prison in Alabama, as the first member of the Nixon administration to be incarcerated for Watergate-related charges.” (Wikipedia) Chuck was born again in 1973 before he went to prison, and while in prison conceived the idea of a ministry which would be called Prison Fellowship which has become an international evangelical Christian ministry.

The story goes like this.  Chuck and another man were chatting in Chuck’s home.  The other man said “I don’t really need to be around other Christians – I am fine with it being just me and Jesus.” Chuck didn’t say anything, but walked to the fire place and took and ember out with the tongs and stared at it. Still saying nothing. After a few minutes of silence, the ember’s glow grew faint until it was gone. Then Chuck said, “That is what it is like when a Christian is removed from the fellowship of other Christians. The fire goes out.” He was not saying that we lose our salvation. He was saying that there is a synergy, a spiritual dynamic, created through the gathering of Christians.  One that you cannot duplicate or derive any other way. 

Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” – Matthew 18:19-20

I have quoted verse 20  many times in support of the idea about fellowship and prayer. But actually the scripture in its context has to do with dealing with a sinning Christian.  As Christians, as temples of the Holy Spirit, we take the Spirit wherever we go – by ourselves or with others.  Whether there is a spiritual dynamic in being with other Christians depends upon the condition of our hearts.  I can put a heater in a cold room, but if the heater has no flame, the room will remain cold – and so will the heater.

My point, there is more to it than merely coming together. Our hearts must be right before God.  The assembling of Christians can be like going to a filling station – where cars that are low on fuel can be refueled.  It can also be like a car repair shop where cars that are in disrepair and be repaired. I am not advocating that you ignore the dangers of assembly when COVID is back on the rise. I am reminding you of the importance of Christian fellowship – something that God intended at the point of creation.

By Faith Alone By His Grace Alone And For His Glory Alone

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Spiritual Snippets from Chapter 3 Verse 16

I shared chapter 12 verses 1 and/or 2 with you yesterday.  It was a bit long – I also post this on Facebook and I know that some Facebookers don’t like long – no apologies – The great thing is you can always stop reading and scroll to the next post that catches their eye.  I am really not posting a copy on Facebook for the masses, but for some who may need to read something that might inspire them, stir their spirit, remind them of who they are in Christ and Who they are to reflect to the rest of the world.

So today – I want to share a number of 3:16 verses from various Books in the new testament.

John answered, saying to all, “I indeed baptize you with water; but One mightier than I is coming, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” – Luke 3:16

John the Baptist baptized people as a sign of their personal repentance from sin – their decision to turn away from sin.  But Jesus came to baptize with the Spirit of God – “You must be born again”. I repented by faith and was saved by faith, sealed by the Spirit – it was not an earthly act of faith – like a new year’s resolution – but a heavenly one – eternal – spiritual.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” – John 3:16

He that has the Son has life, he that does not have the Son does not have life – eternal life.  God, the Father, sent Jesus, the Son, to redeem us. But we must receive Him by faith. There is no other way. People can deny the Truth, but that does not change the Truth.

When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him.” – Matthew 3:16

Jesus was the first born among many Brethren. Was it necessary for Jesus to receive the Spirit in the same way that we do? The Spirit descends upon us on the day we are born again and empowers and seals us, adopting us as God’s own children.  Jesus had to face everything we have to face.  I don’t pretend to understand the deep spiritual aspect of what God did through Jesus and how exactly He did it – but I believe it by faith.

Simon, to whom He gave the name Peter” – Mark 3:16

When we are saved we are made new – old things have passed away - like receiving a new name or identity.

Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as of many, but as of one, “And to your Seed,” who is Christ.” – Galatians 3:16

The promise was through Isaac but it was a spiritual promise that could only be fulfilled through Jesus – and we are part of that Promise.

“that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man” – Ephesians 3:16

We live our new life by faith in the power of the Spirit. When we forget that – our old nature rises to the surface

Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind.”  – Philippians 3:16

To be of the same mind means that we will be united in purpose and deed. What unites us if the Spirit of God.  As a friend of mine used to say, “When the ‘I’ in UNITED gets out of place, it becomes Un-Tied.

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” – 2 Timothy 3:16

The Word is “God Breathed”, the same word used for the Spirit of God.  The Word is spiritual manna – read or heard – it sustains us – feeds our spirit – enables us.

For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there” – James 3:16

The world is in turmoil and moving away from the precepts of God every day at what seems to be an accelerating pace.  Confusion and evil are a natural consequence of this falling away.

Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace always in every way. The Lord be with you all.”  – 2 Thessalonians 3:16

Know Jesus – Know Peace – No Jesus – No peace

By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” – 1 John 3:16

Do we consider others to be more important than ourselves? Do we have compassion for others – even if personal gain is replaced with personal loss and sacrifice?

So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.” – Revelation 3:16

We cannot ride the fence with our new life in Christ on one side and our old life on the other – with our hearts hopping from one side to the other – picking and choosing what parts of the Bible we want to believe and obey – choosing what parts of our old nature we want to hang on to.  Do not deceive yourself into thinking that somehow God winks His eye and overlooks your sin. Don’t treat sin as if it is of no consequence – like some sin is tolerable from God’s perspective – it is not. 

By Faith Alone By His Grace Alone And For His Glory Alone

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Something About The First Verses Of Chapter 12

“I urge you therefore, [brothers and sisters], by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”  – Romans 12:1-2

I have noticed in my reading of the Word of God that there are some significant verses that rest on the same chapter and verse of certain books in the Bible. I can be a little weird sometimes – in fact one granddaughter said I was the king of the planet weird.  That may help you gain insight into how my brain works! At any rate for the next couple of days, I want to share a few with you. Today it is the first couple of verses in chapter 12 of Romans, Hebrews, and Luke.  My hope is that it will cause you to consider your new life in Christ in a deeper way – perhaps for the first time and for most – as a refresher.

To start, to bring context, I must deviate slightly by quoting John 17:14-17.

I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.” – John 17:14-17

To begin – we must remember that we have been called out of the world.  Our tendency is to first identify with our natural selves – who we  are nationally, ethnically, regionally, economically, or even denominationally.  In the context of our natural distinctives. It is natural for us to do that. Consider who I am naturally before I consider who I am spiritually. It is an indicator of our hearts devotion. A validator of the struggle that the books in the New Testament, in specific, the epistles – letters to the churches address.  Some people speak and teach the word of God as if it is merely a story about people in some other place and time.  In fact – it is a book of lessons for all generations.  Lessons that describe the nature of man and the struggles that Christians will endure in every generation until Jesus returns.

In John 17, Jesus, in His conversation with His Father, the One who sent Him to save those who would be saved by their choosing, Jesus said that we are not of this world.  Do you believe that?  Do you live like that?  Are your devotions to God and the Saints – no matter who they are  - what color they are – how poor they are – what language they speak – or – are your devotions to the natural. Do you believe that you have been sanctified by the Word of God and sealed by the Spirit of God? Set apart in the world to be a testimony of the Grace and Mercy and Power of God? That is the context in which you must consider the verses I am about to share.

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” – Hebrews 12:1-2

As Christians we will struggle with the temptation to sin – to return to that which is natural for us – we run this race – live this new life by the power of the Spirit and a submitted heart. We have to keep our focus on our faith in Jesus and not on the world around us.  This world of ours is in turmoil.  It is not the first time nor will it be the last.  Christians have been, are and will be complicit in the sins that rage.  Why? Because they choose to embrace the world – and often use the Word of God to justify what they do.

Meanwhile, when a crowd of many thousands had gathered, so that they were trampling on one another, Jesus began to speak first to his disciples, saying: “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.” – Luke 12:1

Some Christians and evangelical denominations embrace the natural and justifying it by corrupting the Word of God. Just like the Pharisees.  Great wrongs – social injustice has been condoned and encouraged by those who call Jesus – Lord thinking that they were justified and acting righteously.  But what they did was from the flesh.  From their sinful nature.  And when confronted with the truth, by the Spirit in their hearts – many seek to resist the Spirit – ignoring the reveled truth and justify their actions rather than confess their sin and repent. Remember, the Pharisees crucified Jesus and felt justified in doing so. Religion, without God, is dangerous, malicious, and dividing.

I urge you therefore, [brothers and sisters], by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” – Romans 12:1-2

Living the Christian life, successfully, requires a daily – perhaps minute by minute – effort. The influences of the world and our old nature are constant – they never let up. Like leaven in the loaf – yeast – is starts in the hearts of each of us and then spreads. We must rededicate ourselves every day as living sacrifices to God. And what does that mean? To abandon our devotion to the natural and embrace the Truth – God’s intent for mankind – what we can only find in this world by the supernatural – by faith with hearts fully devoted to God.  That means rejecting our natural affections – nationality – race – economics – what the world has declared to be right that is contrary to the Word of God. 

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” – John 13:24-35

We would like to change the world – but that is not going to happen. We will not eliminate the effects of sin – only Jesus’ return will do that. So long as there are those who reject God and embrace their sinful nature – there will be injustice.  The world wants peace.  The world wants justice.  The world wants harmony and equality.  If that was achievable by human effort – Jesus could have stayed in heaven.  But it isn’t and He didn’t.  The world is socially and morally corrupt. The world needs Jesus – but wants what He has to offer and not Him.    So what should I do as a Christian? Reveal the glory of God through my transformed life – how I live and how I love. By demonstrating unity with other Christians that defies the failures of the natural world and peoples. It is all about Jesus and all about Grace.

The next day John [the Baptist] saw Jesus coming toward him and said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!’” – John 1:29

The world needs to see Jesus in us individually and corporately, so God will be glorified and that some might be saved.  Let your light shine.

By Faith Alone By His Grace Alone And For His Glory Alone

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

A Christian’s Role In A Crazy World

“Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.  You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven..”  – Matthew 5:11-16

I have been writing a good bit about the social upheaval around the world and the importance of unity in the Body of Christ, of late.  Jesus said that we are to be salt and light. What makes the salt – salty and what makes the light – bright is not what is happening – around it – but what is happening – in it. If we look at the world and allow the world to influence us –  our attitudes – our behavior then we are just like the world – there is no difference. We make decisions about what is right and what is wrong – what is truth and what is not based upon what the world does and says.  If we look at the goings on in the world and draw conclusions about our brothers and sisters in Christ, then we have made a tragic mistake.

If I decide that my attitude toward a Christian is based upon what the lost do – I have misled myself and sinned against another Christian.  If I don’t see other Christians in the same light that God see me – I have missed the essence of the faith. We are all made one by the transforming power of the Spirit of God and faith in Jesus as the Way, Truth, and Life. If we see other Christians in any other way, then we have a carnal understanding of who we are in Christ.

Our unity is to be a testimony of our spiritual nature, salvation in Jesus and the power and glory of God. Our unity should defy the division that is so rampant around us outside the Body of Christ and not reflect it. Failing to preserve unity in the Body, the salt loses its saltiness.  The light is dimmed to almost being put out.  It does us no good to stand with the world against what is wrong with this world if we cannot stand with each other. We want to stand with those who are clearly carnal in their belief and separated from God, yet we cannot stand with each other. Think about that!

Don’t watch a world in turmoil and draw conclusions about Believers – brothers and sisters in Christ.  The lost have no hope – they are grabbing at straws, lashing out at injustice – and their response unrestrained quickly evolves to chaos. I do see the light of Christ on display around our country – it is a testimony of our faith – but we cannot fix a world that is headed for destruction, although we might influence it with the fragrance of Christ – God sent His Son to save all – that in knowing that only some would be saved. Not by His choice, but by man’s choice. For most people seeking answers, it is anything but Jesus. For Christians it is only Jesus.  The answer found in changed hearts and not restrained or placated anger.  Eventually suppressed anger will find its way to the surface. It may be because of an unwarranted death – perhaps a pandemic – economic turmoil –  what ever the “trigger” might be – the revelation is unresolved anger and fear.

Don’t expect the world to embrace Christians when they have already rejected Christ.  What does salt and light look like? What does the world need to see?  What it has needed in the past and will need in the future. Unity when there is every natural reason to not be united.  Love when there is every natural reason not to love. Peace when there is every natural reason …. I think you are getting the idea. Joy, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness, self-control…. All of that from the power of the Spirit of God in us and hearts fully submitted to Him. A testimony of the power of God in the life of a human being in spite of what is happening around them

Should Christians be involved in social activism? I think so, but always, always in the context of who they are in Christ and with a demonstration of the fruit of the Spirit. Should they protest against injustice – yes – but in the context of who they are in Christ and with a demonstration of the fruit of the Spirit.

I can do nothing spiritually right if my heart is not right, spiritually – if my relationships in the body of Christ are not right. If I try to do good in the power of my flesh – out of the strength and wisdom of my natural self – my old nature – I am not longer salty – the light of Christ no longer shines – I am just another voice in the crowd. Paul wrote that we are to .. 

Bear one another’s burdens and fulfill the law of Christ.” – Galatians 6:2

But the law has two parts – first, and most important, love God with every fiber of your being and then second – love others. If there is division in the Body then we have not accomplished the first so we should not even try to accomplish the second.  And if you are thinking that disunity in the Body does not affect you – you don’t understand how the Body works.

But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it, that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.” – 1 Corinthians 12:24-26

Change in the world begins with a change in the heart.

By Faith Alone By His Grace Alone And For His Glory Alone

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

The Sin Of Not Caring

"Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side.”  – Luke 10:31-32

 I read a post this morning asking why Christians who are white should ask for forgiveness for sins against people of another skin color – including Black that they did not commit. I don’t think the point is that they, me included, are being asked to repent of those sins. What we are being asked to do is repent of the sin of “Not Caring”.

 There has been great injustice done to people of color (any color than white) since, well since there were people of different colors. A struggle for racial or color dominance. If I think less of you then I can somehow raise myself up by standing on your back.  Not everyone felt that way or feels that way. But what is more common is the sin of not caring.  We may not participate and feel somehow superior to those who do, but, at the same time, it doesn’t directly affect us so it is not our problem.  That may be the prevalent thinking in your circle of relationships – but it is not Biblical.  The priest and the Levite – both spiritual to some extent, espousing God’s tenants in word, failed to demonstrate them in deed.  They didn’t care about the man in the ditch – even though he was the same color.  They didn’t care.  They didn’t have time. It was not their fault that he was in the ditch. That he had been mistreated. 

 Bear one another’s burdens and fulfill the law of Christ.” – Galatians 6:2

 So you might ask, like the lawyer asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor – my one another?”  In an attempt to justify not caring. So Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan, recorded in Luke 10. For Christians, the problem that has been revealed is one of not caring. Not embracing other Christians because they are different.  They are saved by the same Jesus – but they are different – and persecuted.  They are laying in the literal ditch and the churches that have Christians that are predominately white, walk on by, just like the priest and Levite.

I am using the term “Christians who are” out of deference to something I heard Pastor Tony Evans say.  “To say Black Christian is incorrect. You see Christian cannot be modified with an adjective.  All Christians are the same.  There are Christians who have different shades of skin color, live in other countries, speak in different languages, practice different styles of worship – but that does not modify their nature or their spiritual ethnicity.” (loosely quoted)

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” – Galatians 3:28

“….. since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all. Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.” – Colossians 3:9-13

Something I noticed when we served in Haiti.  Some Christians who were white would spend a lot of money to come to a nation that is comprised of at least 95% black people.  They came to share the Good News and rejoice when even one would be saved in their sight. And yet these same Christians would return home to their churches who were waiting anxiously to hear the report of ‘Victory’. These same churches that were not willing to cross the road in their own towns and cities to help the man in the ditch. And were not sorry that the man was in the ditch.  Do you see an inconsistency there?  Please do not interpret my words to mean that there are no Christians who are white who don’t care, who are not like the Samaritan who showed compassion. Because there are … many .. thousands.

As I told a friend the other day .. like Elijah, you may think that all is lost, but God is saying there are thousands who have not bent their knees to the sin of not caring that you don’t know about.

What you see happening in the world and in the Body of Christ has a spiritual root. It is a result of the sinful nature of man. It can only be resolved through repentance for the Church and salvation for the lost in this world.  But it will not be eradicated until Jesus returns. For the Body of Christ to be what God intended, there can be no “sin the camp.” And there is. Lord help us!

By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” – John 13:35

By Faith Alone By His Grace Alone And For His Glory Alone

Monday, June 15, 2020

Some Christians Are Just Wearing The Jacket - Appearances Can Be Deceiving

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.”  – Matthew 23:27-28

After I returned from Vietnam in 1970, I started classes at a local Junior College. I became involved in an organization named Chi Gamma Iota or XGI. It was an on-campus organization catering to students who were veterans.  Most had served in Vietnam. You may recall that the Draft was in effect so there were a lot of veterans going back to school.  While in Vietnam, I was assigned as a radio operator to the Military Assistance Command - Vietnam (MAC-V) , Advisory Team 68 on the Vinh Long Province in the Mekong Delta. Each unit has a distinctive patch.  So – when I saw a guy standing in the hallway wearing a fatigue jacket with the MAC-V patch on the right shoulder ( the right should patch indicates the unit you served with in combat), I approached him. “What team were you with?”, I asked. He looked confused. He responded, “I don’t know what you mean.” “I mean what MAC-V advisory team were you with in Vietnam?” To which he replied, “Man, I wasn’t in the Army, I bought this jacket at the Salvation Army store.” I was surprised and dismayed.  That jacket and that patch meant something – it was something that bound people together through a common experience.  He was an imposter.  He thought the jacket was cool – I thought the jacket was a declaration of who he was.

So why am I telling you that story? Because it reminded me of why there is such turmoil in the Body of Christ. Why the light of Christ that should be burning brightly in a world that is desperately trying to keep from drowning is so dim. For many Christians – “just wearing the jacket” is enough for them. They never actually serve.  They never actually go beyond the safety of their religious space.  They have never deployed to a combat zone.  They hold on to their biases and fears but want to appear to be the “good and faithful servant” to the world – but more importantly to their other Christian friends.

My goal is not to be harsh or berate Christian, but to being understanding about why the Body of Christ is fractured and largely impotent.  Oh, I am thinking about a number of military analogies – but  I will not go there.  But I will share what the Apostle Paul said

And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. You therefore must endure  hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.” – 2 Timothy 2:2-4

We are so busy living our own lives, drawn to those who live like us, look like us, do what we do, drive what we drive, play like we play, that we ignore the plight of other Christians that are not like – do not look – do not live – do not speak – like us. In that regard we are merely wearing the jacket – and feel righteous and justified with ourselves. And if we are not certain -  well we just ask someone who is wearing the same jacket. Unless that person is someone who has worn that jacket in the spiritual battle that rages around us.

Do you hear God speaking in the midst of the turmoil in this country?  Look past the press – the Facebook posts – and try to see what is behind all of this.  People are desperate for change.  The Church is on this planet to show the world that Jesus is the answer – but in large part – the church is indistinguishable from the culture it has been called out of.  Salt that has lost it’s saltiness.  What Jesus was accusing the scribes and Pharisees of. Jesus said:

You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.” – Matthew 5:13

Embrace your calling.  Embrace your mission.  Embrace your brothers and sisters in Christ – not just in thought but in deed. Embrace your new life in Christ.  Yield your heart and life to the Lord. Stop walking on the other side of the road. Let your light shine!

By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” – John 13:35

By Faith Alone By His Grace Alone And For His Glory Alone