Friday, December 14, 2018

Understanding the “Whys” For The “Woes” Of Our Country

(Galatians 5:19-21)  The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.” 

When any people lose their moral compass – the result is social chaos.  It is wrong to think that people have become more sinful.  It is right to think that people are no longer ashamed of their sin.  And as Paul wrote in Romans 1:32,  Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.”  We wonder why there is so much violence in our culture and at the same time violence is portrayed on nearly every popular television show and movie. The act of killing has become more and more graphic.  One of the first video games I can remember was Duke Nukem, first released in 1991 running on MS DOS (Microsoft Disk Operating System – pre-Windows).  According to  today’s standards it is crude, but it was a seed planted. 

There is something that watching violence – playing violent games does to our thinking – it is thrilling – cathartic (provides psychological relief through the open expression of strong emotions).  It also “feeds” the flesh.  

This is a spiritual truth.  One that is not received by the “natural man” nor embraced by the carnal Christian.  (As I type this I come under conviction about what I consider entertainment.) I find myself making excuses for what I consider entertaining.  It is like overlooking profanity because the story line is good.  It is what I believe is at the root of the problems we see.  Man does not get better on his own.  That is why there is a Christmas

And with respect to what our focus should be – what we should be drawn to – what we should desire … (Philippians 4:4-9)  Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.CHARLEY 

Thursday, December 13, 2018

The Gift Giving Rule – If I Am Given Then I must Give

Here is the situation.  You meet with someone – and they give you a gift for Christmas – just some trinket – not expensive.  You were not expecting it.  You are maybe a little embarrassed.  So – you apologize saying – or maybe you just think. “I am so sorry, I did not bring you a gift.”  Then start thinking about how to rectify this inequity.  Most of us don’t give to get – so most probably the person did not expect you to give them something in return.  They gave you the gift because of their great affection for you and not because of what you can do for them or give them. 

In a similar way, God has given mankind a gift.  One that no one was expecting.  One that no one can match. God gave His Son to die – so we might live. (John 3:16) But He does want something in return – He wants our heart. (Matthew 22:37) “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind   (Psalm 51:16-17) “You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.” 

God shows us grace (getting something we don’t deserve) and wants our hearts in return.  Matt Redman wrote a beautiful song about giving God the gift that He desires.

I Will Offer Up My Life

Matt Redman 

I will offer up my life - in spirit and truth
Pouring out the oil of love, as my worship to you
In surrender I must give - my every part
Lord, receive this sacrifice of a broken heart

Jesus, what can I give, what can I bring
To so faithful a Friend, to so loving a King?
Savior, what can be said, what can be sung
As a praise of Your name for the things You have done?
Oh, my words could not tell, not even in part
Of the debt of love that is owed by this thankful heart

You deserve my every breath, for You've paid the great cost
Giving up your life to death, even death on the cross
You took all my shame away, there defeated my sin
Open up the gates of heaven and have beckoned me in

We'll bring an offering, unto You an offering
What can I, what can I, what can I sing as an offering, Lord?
Oh, what can I give, what can I bring, what can I sing as an offering, Lord?
Simply this I will offer up my life in spirit and truth
Pouring out the oil of love, as my worship to you
In surrender I must give my every part
Lord, receive this sacrifice of a broken heart

It is Christmas what gift will you bring for the great gift Giver – maybe a renewed dedication of your heart.  CHARLEY  

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

What Are You Trusting In To Make You Feel OK

(Psalm 20:7)  Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.” 

There are plenty of opportunities every day to worry about your life – your wellbeing.  Many people spend their lives hopping from one worry to the next. Like stones in a stream – hoping that they don’t slip and fall into the water.

I was writing an email to my grandson this morning – about trusting God – and Psalm 20:7 came to my mind.  We have a choice about what we trust in – who we trust in.  Might be ourselves, another person, a job, a retirement account, the government – or perhaps the God of heaven.  Obviously I want to encourage you to trust in the latter. But the truth is, we are prone to trust on one or more of the former.

When you trust in God and not in “horses or chariots”, things of man’s own doing, those other things are put into proper perspective.  Security is not so much about what you have but Who has you. It is an odd phenomenon – the more we trust in God – the less the other things seem so important.  They may be necessary but not as important.  And likewise, the more we trust in other things the less important trusting God to provide seems to be. Recall yesterday’s devotion about the rich young ruler.  He could not abandon the idea that wealth was the answer to life’s problems.  His trust was not in God but other things.  

Every person struggles with where to put their trust.  It is a constant – moment by moment thing.  Life is a trust test.  Woe be to the ones who do not know God as Father.  They are left to trust in those things that they will leave behind when their life is over.  If you are born again.  On that day you entered in to an eternal relationship with the Creator God. Your life is in the palm of His hand.   But don’t just listen to me – listen to Jesus! 

(John 10:25-30) “The works I [Jesus] do in my Father’s name testify about me, but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” CHARLEY 

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Doing Good Things Is Just Not Good Enough

Do you remember the story about the rich young man talking to Jesus.  Let me refresh your memory. (Matthew 19:16-22) “Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?” “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.” “Which ones?” he inquired. Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’” “All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?” Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.”   

Do you treasure something more than God?  Going to heaven – eternal security – is not about doing good things in this life.  There are a lot of people that do good things that are bound for hell.  Why? Because they lack the most important thing – faith in the One who can save them from hell.  The young man loved money and what it assured him of on earth, thinking that doing good would assure him a place in heaven. He was, apparently, not willing to give those things up.  His idea of what it takes to please God, to purchase his ticket to eternal life.

We are approaching Christmas.  What was a celebration of Jesus has become a celebration of man.  The Bible says you cannot love God and money, you will “really” love one and hate the other. (Matthew 6:24) Our culture has abandoned the reason for the season in its quest of its own definition of good and right.  Be alert lest you do the same – believing that you can do what the Bible says you cannot do.  

Glorify God with your life – love Him with your whole heart.  CHARLEY

Friday, December 7, 2018

Three Kinds Of People – Which One Are You

As you know, there are three types of people – Spiritual – Carnal – and natural.

Very often it is impossible to discern between the last two.  Paul addressed the problem of carnal living with the church in Corinth.

(1 Corinthians 3:1-3) “Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly—mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans?

There are some who believe that there are only two states a person can be in – Spiritual or Natural (carnal). They believe that it is possible to lose your salvation and, once again, be hell-bound. I do not – I believe that once you are adopted – nothing can change that.  Like “All sales final – No Returns”.  As Christians, we were “bought with a price.”

(1 Corinthians 6:19-20) “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” 

Carnal Christians have yielded to their flesh – their old nature and no longer walk in submission to the leading of the Spirit.  Indistinguishable from those who are lost.  There are a lot of reasons why they choose to do that – none of them eternally good.  But, they are given over to their former way of life.  They may wear a smile on Sunday as they pretend to be spiritual – their hearts are far from God, and once out of the door – they take off the mask and revert to the life they prefer.  Remember the devotion from yesterday about discernment verses judgement.  Some times  when a friend or family member is living that way – their life choices become the “white elephant in the room”.  No one wants to talk about it – no one wants to offend the offender.  And if this is a child – the parent’s heart is so heavy.  We know what the “flesh” yields and it’s not good.  Reread the devotion from yesterday.

Our place is not to condemn but to encourage to repentance.  We can’t “fix” the one has stumbled in their walk with the Lord.  We can love them and encourage them but must be careful to not enable them by suggesting that the life they have chosen is OK.  Listen – this world is a dark place.  Those who used to sin in secret are now brazen – flaunting their sin – daring someone to say it is wrong – ready to condemn them as intolerant.  Actually it is God who is intolerant with respect to sin.  He will never say it is OK.  We all need spiritual understanding – spiritual perspective – spiritual strength – spiritual wisdom. That only comes from the Spirit of God. 

Oh – and if you choose to talk about the elephant that is lounging on your sofa – don’t expect to be embraced.  In your unwillingness to accept a carnal lifestyle as OK, you may face rejection as a penalty for standing for Truth and as a ploy to convince you to yield to the idea that carnal living is acceptable – at least for those you care about.

So what do you do – treat them as if they are carnal.  How do you do that?  The same way you treat the majority of the people you meet – work with – spend time with.  You are not “in their face” over their sin – but you don’t participate in it.  Remember – Jesus spent time with sinners but did not sin.  He was insulated not isolated.  Christmas is approaching – be salt and light to those who have wandered and to those who remain slaves to sin. CHARLEY 

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Knowing How To Confront Sin Without Judgement

Have you ever had someone say to you or you say to someone else “Don’t judge me?” Sometimes it is because you are being critical of someone – other times it is because that someone is feeling guilty or ashamed, or both, for what they have done.

So what is our responsibility as Christians with respect to other Christians and other people, for that matter, when it comes to addressing sinful behavior? Well, as my second Dad would say, “Let’s see what the Bible has to say about it.”

With respect to other Christians (Matthew 18:15-17) "If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that 'every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.' If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.”

Sin is not a trivial thing.  Today, you might well be told “It is none of your business!” But … as members of the Body of Christ – that is not what the Word says – it is very much our spiritual business.  Is this practiced much in local churches – I suspect not so much – I have never seen it - ever. Instead even blatant sin is tolerated so as not to offend.  If a Christian refuses to repent then they are living after their flesh and not the Spirit – you cannot relate to them spiritually less they repent – it is like being with a lost person. But …. Take care … 

(Luke 6:42) “How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

In Matthew 18 the assumption is that you, yourself, are clean before the Lord  - no sin from which you have not repented before you approach another Christian.  Jesus addressed those who might consider their transgressions is superfluous when compared to the egregious sins of another Christian. Don’t deceive yourself … 

The Apostle James wrote (James 2:10) “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.” That is not to say that the consequences of some sins are not greater than those of another. But we need to be careful that we don’t minimize sins – rank order them to find that some are above and some are below the line of acceptability.  (Luke 18:9-14) “To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.””

The Pharisee was just like the tax collector – born into sin.  He was convinced that clean living and good works made him right before God – but it is faith that does that – a broken and contrite heart – just like the tax collector.

Ok so here is where discernment and judgement come in.  Recognizing sin and calling it out as sin is not judging.  We are not the judge – we do not condemn – Only the Lord can and will do that.  But at the same time we are not to ignore sin.  By confronting Christians who are sinning – we are encouraging them to repent and trun their hearts back to the Father.  If you are rebuked well that will ultimately lead to your not treating them as Christians – that does not mean you don’t love them.  It means you don’t enable their sin by ignoring it or worse condoning it.  Remember – this is about Christians – not someone who is lost.  That is for another devotion … 

As I write this, I know that you have people in your life that are struggling .. who have turned away .. I know that some people – people we care about avoid us because they have wandered from the faith and living like the rest of the world.  We can pray for them.  Love them.  But we will never say “it is ok” whatever that might be.  And it may mean that we are separated from them, hopefully for only a season, but we cannot compromise our faith to make someone feel better about their sin.  It is very difficult at times – especially when it is family.  It is a struggle between the Spirit and the Flesh.  You need Jesus to not fall yourself. CHARLEY 

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Finding The Sweet Spot In Your Christian Life.

(1 Corinthians 12:12) “Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ.

(1 Corinthians 12:27) “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” 

When we are born again, we are given a place in the body of Christ. A role to fulfill.  I was thinking about being in the military – the Army specifically. Everyone wears the same uniform.  There is a code of conduct – rules and decorum that are to be followed by everyone.  But there are also military specialties – communications – aviation – infantry – armor – artillery – supply – transportation – and specific roles and areas of expertise in each of those. 

As Paul points out in 1 Corinthians – each Christian has a place or role as well.  The challenge is to understand it – embrace it and fulfill it.  Some Christians never get past wearing the uniform – as if that is good enough.  I am certain that you have seen people, specifically men, wearing hats that indicate they are veterans having served in one of the branches of the military. And, perhaps, even during a conflict.  I have the hats, but don’t wear them.  I am proud of my service – don’t get me wrong.  I served in Vietnam as a PFC radio operator with the Advisors in the Mekong Delta. I served in Desert Storm in 3rd Army Aviation Operations as a Major, flew 3 different helicopters (not in Desert Storm), Hueys, Cobras, Chinooks.  Was a maintenance test pilot in Cobras.  Commanded twice.  Received a Masters of Military Science from the Command and General Staff College.  Impressed yet? I cannot take credit for my abilities – I know that they all are a gift from God.  I may have honed my skills through diligence, but God created me the way He did – purposed my life for His glory – not mine. 

So back to the guys wearing the hats – I talked with one guy once who wore a Vietnam Vet hat.  When I asked where he served, he told me with some hesitation that he was on a ship off of the coast of Vietnam, but never actually set foot on Vietnamese soil.  I could see that although he wore the hat – he was unsure about talking to and comparing himself to someone who had waded through rice paddies. But, I did not judge him – he was willing to serve – where he served was up to the Navy.  There were Navy River patrol boats stationed with us. It could have been his assignment.  And listen – I am by no means disrespecting men and women who served but not directly in harm’s way.  I have the highest respect for them. In fact when we (me and my family) were on active duty I said “Washington cuts the orders but God makes the assignments”. (Proverbs 16:9

The bottom line – It does not matter if you are in a foxhole staring down the barrels of the enemy’s guns or are on a ship floating in the ocean out of range from any enemy attack – serve faithfully where God has put you.  We are not all the same – by God’s design. But – we are all part of the Body and serve the same Lord.  If you are on that ship – you are right where God wants you – so serve proudly and with every ounce of your ability.  Live in the sweet spot that God has prepared for you. To the glory of God. CHARLEY 

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

When You Face The Lions Do You Speak The Truth In Love – Or Not Speak At All?

I was reading some posts on Facebook early this morning – 4:30ish.  It was about a Christian singer who was on the show Ellen. I am certain that everyone reading this knows that Ellen is gay. At any rate the singer was put on the spot about what she believed concerning homosexuals – is it right or wrong.  The singer dodged the question.  The posts were critical saying that the singer had compromised her witness and influenced Christian followers of her music in the wrong way.

First – this singer absolutely knew that the issue of the rightness of the gay lifestyle was looming large on that show.  She should have been prepared before she walked into the lion’s den.  Second - That those how practice that lifestyle want others to accept it as an “OK” life choice. That anyone who disagrees with it being “OK” is a homophobe and a bad, intolerant person. My thought was – would any of those condemning the singer, if they had been in her place - what would they have done? My guess – few would have been bold enough to stand on the Word of God.

Which gets me to the point of this devotion.  Are you – am I – willing to face the lions – our culture – and stand by what the Word says about sin and right living – certainly the Bible is clear about homosexuality – but also about a myriad of other sins. 

(Romans 3:23) “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Jesus died so that all sinners might be made righteous through faith and restored to God – born again by the Spirit.  

Paul describes what you see happening in our culture today in Romans 1 – (Romans 1:28-32) “Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.”

The challenge is – how should we live in a world that calls evil or sin – good and good – evil? What should we say – what should we do.  Love the sinner and hate the sin? We are not the Holy Spirit – the Holy Spirit convicts the world of its sin.  What we need to do is be salt and light in a dark world and culture.  That singer was “set up” by the person who asked the question. Of course they knew what the Bible says about homosexuality.  What they really wanted to know was – was she willing to compromise her faith to find acceptability in that place among those people with their beliefs. Are you?  It is not necessary to be confrontational – but it is to not be ashamed of your faith.  When Peter denied Jesus – he did so because he lacked the courage to embrace Him even to the point of being condemned with Him. When Peter stood before the religious leaders and proclaimed who Jesus is – he showed great courage.  Why – because of the Spirit in him.  

It is the same for us.  You have the Spirit of God in you … so I say live and walk in the power of the Spirit and not your flesh –Trust that the Lord will give you the wisdom to know what to do when you face the lions.  CHARLEY 

Monday, December 3, 2018

Are Your Really Willing To Lay Your Life Down

(Luke 19:23) “Then he [Jesus] said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. 

(Luke 14:26,27)  “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.”

This past Sunday the pastor of the church we attend in Texas said that his faith is much more than being associated with a denomination – he is a Christ follower.  Do you consider yourself a “Christ follower”?  A follower in the sense that Jesus laid out in the verses I quoted?  Are you really willing to deny yourself – your cultural conventions – the traditions of your fathers – the things that seem right and not to do them would be wrong?  

Martie and I are travelling that path.  What brought this thinking on was the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.  We plan to spend both with family – but … that is for two weeks out of the year.  The rest of the time we are in Texas serving other people.  People we don’t even know.  I am not looking for praise and admiration for what we do.  My hope is that you will see beyond family separation to be separated in your devotion from the things of this world and desire more what God has said is better.

What we do is not something that God calls everyone to do.  Some have criticized us for leaving our family.  That’s OK. Although other opinions of Christians are helpful in discerning the voice of God – their opinions are not the only factor – the Word – Prayer and Circumstances are also part of the equation. Ultimately – each of us is responsible to God for our choices and actions.  We rest in God’s sovereignty and confidence that when we follow – difficult as it may be – we are on the right path – nad He has noting but the best in mind for us.

You may not think about this much in terms of your own life.  You may not be asked to do what we do.  To lay down what we have laid down in order to serve Him where He sends us.  He may not send you anywhere – but expects you to be salt and light right where you are.  

A final thought. A sacrifice is not a sacrifice if it doesn’t cost you something.  If you give out of your excess – what is that? No, it must cost you.  That is where many Christians falter – it might be a relationship – a job – a hobby – past-time – lifestyle – a treasure - whatever – it is something that you value and would prefer to keep, but the Lord says – lay it down at the foot of the Cross.  Are you willing? You already know what it is. CHARLEY 

Friday, November 30, 2018

So You Want To See God’s Glory

(Exodus 33:15-20) “Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. 16 How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?” And the Lord said to Moses, “I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.” Then Moses said, “Now show me your glory.” And the Lord said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.”

Moses wanted some visible sign of God’s presence.  He asked to see God’s glory.  God said that He would reveal His goodness and His name would be proclaimed.  He said Moses would not survive if God revealed Himself in full.  I was thinking about that this weekend.  If we saw God in His fullness that would include judgement for our sins and we would surely die.  Man cannot stand and face God on his own and survive the encounter. (Romans 3:23) “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

God showed Moses His goodness but even then, had to hide Moses in the cleft of a rock as He passed by.  God has revealed His goodness to us as well – through His Son – Jesus.  Without Jesus and His sacrifice on the cross we would be subject to the wrath of God.  That is the thought for today. Think about who God is – who you are – and the great gift redemption through Jesus.  “Redeemed how I love to proclaim it – redeemed by the blood of the Lamb!” 

We are facing Christmas – everyone talking about how much money will be spent – how much debt will be incurred -  our culture has pulled Jesus out of the celebration – As for us - let’s remember that we are celebrating the incarnation of the Son of God – He was born so He could die for us that we might have eternal life by faith in Him.  Let His name be proclaimed in the presence of those around you.  

Pass Me Not, O Gentle Savior
Frances J. Crosby, 1868

Pass me not, O gentle Savior, Hear my humble cry;
While on others Thou art calling, Do not pass me by. 

Let me at Thy throne of mercy, Find a sweet relief;
Kneeling there in deep contrition, Help my unbelief.

Savior, Savior, Hear my humble cry,
While on others Thou art calling, Do not pass me by.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

God’s Uses Imperfect People To Accomplish His Perfect Will – Are You Willing?

There are two common mistakes made by Christians.  1) It is a mistake for me to look at my forgiven past and conclude that God has no use for me in the kingdom.  2) It is also a mistake for me to use my forgiven past as an excuse to continue in sin.

The reason that God included the stories about sinners becoming saints – the unusable becoming useful is that He wants us to know that there is hope for us – hope for even me.  Of all of the things that God could have revealed to us in His Word – He chose those things that you read about in the Bible.  Everything has its purpose.  No words are wasted.  God paints a picture of human nature without Him and the transformed life with Him. He reveals that He can take what is broken and rejected and use it for His glory and our good.

Like many of the people who served God in the Bible, we have things in our past that we regret.  That we are ashamed of.  Perhaps that we are convinced preclude any possibility that we are “really” acceptable and even useful to a holy God.  There is not one person born on this earth who is untouched by sin.  We are born into it.  But … praise God … we have been born again by the Spirit (John 3) and are covered by the blood of Jesus.  (2 Corinthians 5:17) “Old things are passed away and all things have become new.” We are jars of clay – cracked pots – imperfect on the outside but made perfect on the inside. (Matthew 23:25-26) "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.” 

So since your past is forgiven – your future is full of possibilities and opportunities to serve God and be a light to those around you.  But there is a danger.  We can believe that because we have been forgiven – the fact that we continue to sin is “OK” with God.  He will always forgive us – so no worries.  When you stop pursuing God – associating with other Christians who are pursuing Him – praying – worshipping – reading the Word – yielding to the Spirit’s leading – you will suffer spiritual atrophy.  You will drift away – you might find yourself worse off than before.  Like the frog in the pot your goose will be cooked. Paul – in Romans addressed this. (Romans 6:1-2) “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?  By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?”  

And so, my friends, consider where you are today.  If you need to – confess your sins to the Father – find forgiveness – turn your life back to Him and let your life be a beacon of light that points others to Jesus. And if you are already doing that – shine on to the praise of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  CHARLEY 

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

The Secret To Being Content No Matter What

(Philippians 4:11-13) “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” 

I recently had some t-shirts made for the ministry with Phil 4:13 and the words “Jesus Strong” on the back.  We are doing and serving in the name of Jesus for God’s glory.  Just like we are to live our everyday lives – every Christian not just some.  

Many if not most of the Christians I meet are discontented.  Life has not gone their way – the way they had planned.  Problems at work – problems in the family – problems with their health – money – at church – in their relationships.  We all would like to live the care-free life on earth – but it is not going to happen.  Even those who have made it big – financially – are discontented.  It would seem the finding and staying content is impossible.  Well … it is.

It is if you are looking to the world, your circumstances and other people to find it and keep it.  Paul’s view toward life on earth was seen through the prism of his faith.  It did not matter what happened – good or bad – plenty or wanting – he was content by virtue of his faith not his circumstances. 

The Word of God is the Truth and as 2 Timothy 3:16 says – it is profitable for Christians because it shows us how to live our new life in an old world by faith – not dependent upon our circumstances.  

It is easy to become bitter and cynical if you count on the “world” to bring contentment.  Contentment is a heart condition brought on by faith. If you are not content you have a faith problem – it does not matter what your circumstances are.  Listen – we all struggle with it – but we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength. CHARLEY 

Monday, November 26, 2018

Remembering The Time When You First Believed

God is saying to His people, “You are not in love with Me now, but I remember a time when you were.” He says, “I remember . . . the love of your betrothal . . .” (Jeremiah 2:2). Am I as filled to overflowing with love for Jesus Christ as I was in the beginning, when I went out of my way to prove my devotion to Him? Does He ever find me pondering the time when I cared only for Him? Is that where I am now, or have I chosen man’s wisdom over true love for Him? Am I so in love with Him that I take no thought for where He might lead me? Or am I watching to see how much respect I get as I measure how much service I should give Him?OSWALD CHAMBERS

Andrae Crouch wrote the song “Take Me Back”  It is about someone who has let the fire go out in their relationship with Jesus.

“Take me back, take me back dear Lord -- To the place where I first received you. Take me back, take me back dear Lord where I first believed.

I feel that I'm so far from you Lord, But still I hear you calling me. Those simple things that I once knew, their memories keep drawing me.

I must confess, Lord I've been blessed but yet my soul's not satisfied. Renew my faith, restore my joy and dry my weeping eyes.”

Is your love for God still fresh, like the day you prayed to receive Christ as your Lord? Or, have you become casual in your relationship with Him. Do you still acknowledge His divine nature and His sacrifice and the unbelievable grace and mercy that God poured out on your life with unbridled devotion to Him? Or do you treat your relationship as “no big deal”, you are a Christian .. you love Jesus .. but you are no fanatic.

Maybe it is time to rekindle the fire that once burned so brightly in your life.  To remember just how magnificent your salvation is .. and how great our God is.

Perhaps your prayer today, and every day for that matter, should be ….. "Take me back, take me back dear Lord -- To the place where I first received you. Take me back, take me back dear Lord where I first believed.” CHARLEY 

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Do You Like Where You Are?

Were you ever asked the question “What do you want to do with your life?” Maybe you were in high school and you were at a fork in the road – college or no college.  Whatever the choices, often times we make those type of decisions as if they were ours to make and our faith – God – really had little to do with it.  In a way, that is correct.  It is not so important what we do as it is – Who we do it for.  The thing to remember is that there are Biblical principles for the way we live, love and work.  (Colossians 3:23) “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters   As a Christian, there is never a time when you don’t belong to God.  There is never a time when you should set your spiritual nature aside and entertain your old nature and the world.  Not even if you work for a boss you don’t like or in a place where you would prefer not to be.  (Ephesians 6:7-8) “Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people  Maybe you don’t like where you work but you need the money.  Every day you go to work dreading it.  Or maybe you have decided that, in order to survive, you need to be like the people you work with when you work with them.  It is not true, that is you old nature talking to you. There is never a time when you don’t belong to God.  

We are to let our light shine, especially in the dark places.  The place you work needs light just as much as any place else on earth.  If you are doing something you enjoy – that’s great – but maybe you aren’t.  Don’t let your circumstances steal your joy.  You are a foreigner in this world – ever since the day you were born again.  Your life should be a reflection of the God you serve. Maybe, just maybe, you are right where God wants you to be.  I will share this again – I have been asked if I liked serving in disaster areas.  It is very hard – physically, emotionally, relationally, and even spiritually.  I thought about the question and answered, “No one has ever asked me if I liked being here. There is nothing better than being in the center of God’s will for your life. Geography has nothing to do with it. [and I might add, neither do circumstances.] So I don’t like being here -  I love being here because this is exactly where God wants me to be.” So where does God have you?  Are you resentful or is your light shining brightly in the midst of it?  CHARLEY 

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

When It Has All Been said and Done

We are traveling to Phoenix, Arizona for Thanksgiving with our son, his wife and my brother and his family. On the way we stopped in El Paso for the night.  *It is a 11 hour drive from Houston, TX  to El Paso, Tx!). Martie wanted to go to a restaurant that we frequented when we were assigned here 30 years ago with the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment – Aviation Squadron.  Listen I am a person who runs at full steam ahead.  God points me in a direction and I go.  I don’t think much about time and how much has elapsed.  But today, I did. 

Don Moen wrote a song – “When It’s All Been Said and Done”.  One verse says “When it’s all been said and done – there is just one thing that matters,  Did I live my life and live for truth – Did I live my life for You?”  Most of my years on this planet are gone – I am on the back side of the life span curve. How am I going to spend what is remaining.  Will I live for God or put the events of my life on the shelf – and the memories framed on a wall.  Or will I continue to serve God in the way He shows me with the capacity – health and finances that He has given me?  I know the right answer – I want to live the right answer.  I want to fulfill my God-given purpose in my generation (Acts 13:36) “After David fulfilled God’s purpose in his generation, he (David) slept with his fathers  I often use that verse to explain the inexplicable – why I didn’t die when I should have – why I survived what should not have been survivable.  It was for God’s glory not my longevity.  That is OK with me.  Would it be OK with you?

Why am I writing this today?  Because I want to encourage you to consider your life. How you are living it and who you are living it for. How are you spending your life?  Spend it well.  Spend it on what will last.  You are a child of the King – the creator God.  Use your life to bring glory to Him.   CHARLEY 

Monday, November 19, 2018

How To Deal With Disappointment

Have you ever really wanted something, but you were denied that something? We all have and probably will.  The question is – “How will you handle disappointments?” Will you be sad – angry – bitter – resentful? I imagine all of us have felt those feelings at some point in our lives because what we wanted to happen didn’t.  Maybe our fault or maybe the fault of someone else or maybe no one’s fault or sometimes God intervenes and says “no” or “not now”. I have been dealt many disappointments in my life and have felt those feeling I listed.  And this thing I have learned.  How I respond to life – no matter what form it comes in – depends upon my spiritual condition – not my determination to do right.  

By the way,  … I am addressing the new nature, Christian, you  - not the old nature, worldly, you. 

I think it is safe to say that many if not most Christians don’t take their faith seriously when it comes to day to day living.  Their faith is reserved for the crisis events of life.  When they are in a “jam” physically, financially, or relationally.  The rest of the time – the majority of the time they are living on the energy of their old nature.  The Apostle Paul wrote this (Philippians 4:11-13) “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him [Jesus] who gives me strength.

You think you are not like Paul, the super saint? I beg to differ with you!  You are exactly like Paul – at least potentially.  Born a sinner – saved from Sin – Sealed by the Spirit. Now where we do often differ from Paul is that we are not totally committed to following Jesus and fully trusting in God. Paul had plenty of reasons to be resentful – bitter – hurt because of the way he was treated.  To overcome disappointments you don’t have to be Paul – just look to Jesus like he did.  The other day I whacked my left forefinger with a hammer – not on purpose.  It really hurt – but there was a job to do.  I didn’t quit – I pressed on with the work.  The reason I remember I hurt my finger then is because the nail is black and blue now – as a reminder.  

When you are hurt by disappointment – you should acknowledge it – you will probably be reminded of it – but you should also respond to it in the context of who you are in Christ.  Remember what your priorities are, or should be, in this life.  I am often reminded of scripture when I face adversity of any kind.  As a result – my response to disappointment has softened. Jesus said (John 16:33) “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Don’t let the disappointments that will certainly come your way discourage you. Take them in stride and trust Jesus.  

What does God expect of you – Christian? (Micah 6:8) “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” And your old nature is not going to help you do that. CHARLEY 

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Don’t Beat The Donkey - When Your Plan Doesn’t Seem To Be Working Out

Martie and I are taking some time away from rebuilding homes in Houston so I can write a book.  Something that we are confident that God, wants me to do.  Sorry if that sounds outrageous to believe that the God of the universe wants me to write a book – frankly I am as surprised as you are. At any rate – we have – err had – a plan.  We were going to drive to stay with friends on the coast of Northern California starting the first of November – this is the 17th. But, we are committed to finishing what we started here in Houston, so when we encountered delays in finishing the current house – our book-writing schedule slipped.  We were supposed to leave this week – we did not pass the city inspections for the work we paid to have done by licensed contractors.  The contractors all said – they had never had these specific problems before. Now it is Thanksgiving week.  The chances of getting the final inspections finished next week are remote – out of reach.  Our plan is falling apart! 

What should you do when your plans don’t work out like … well, you planned.  You want to follow the Lord’s leading.  You think you are following the Lord’s leading. But – then – the plan starts to fall apart.  I wrote about King Saul yesterday – 1 Samuel 17.  He chose to take matters into his own hands – forget God, Saul could make it happen on his own.  That is a slippery slope.  When we were in Haiti, I led a mini church service one night – it was called “Church on the beach”, although this time we were meeting in a house that was not on the beach.  At any rate, there were a number of people from the U.S. serving in various capacities in Jacmel, Haiti who got together each week.  Very often they talked about how difficult life was for them.  I shared the importance of walking by faith – by the Spirit of God and not on your own power.  In fact – I told them that if they had come to Haiti and God had not called them to be there – they should go home.  Serving in Haiti was just too difficult to do what they were doing on their own – in the name of Jesus.  Let me say – that is not what they wanted to hear. 

(Proverbs 16:9)Men make plans in their hearts, but God orders their steps.”  God is sovereign.  Even when things don’t go the way you planned.  Are you willing to rest in that?  You should not do something in the name of Jesus if Jesus is not in the game.  If you are acting alone – trying to do something apart from God for the glory of God.  (Acts 19:13-17) “Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, “In the name of the Jesus whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.” Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. One day the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know about, but who are you?” Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding. When this became known to the Jews and Greeks living in Ephesus, they were all seized with fear, and the name of the Lord Jesus was held in high honor.” 

Don’t lose sight of the fact that, as a born again Believer, you are spiritual and able because of Jesus.  When things don’t seem to be going your way – don’t push it – don’t try to make it happen.

So what to do.  Did we miss something?  Is God trying to tell us something? Martie and I have been praying about this.  I have been resisting the temptation to act on my own - although I must admit, I have considered it. I was reminded of Balaam and his donkey. Balaam was going where he should not.  His donkey refused to go, so Balaam was beating the donkey.   (Numbers 22:31-34) “ Then the Lord opened Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the road with his sword drawn. So he bowed low and fell facedown. The angel of the Lord asked him, “Why have you beaten your donkey these three times? I have come here to oppose you because your path is a reckless one before me. The donkey saw me and turned away from me these three times. If it had not turned away, I would certainly have killed you by now, but I would have spared it.” Balaam said to the angel of the Lord, “I have sinned. I did not realize you were standing in the road to oppose me. Now if you are displeased, I will go back.”” 

We are stepping back.  We are willing to not go to California. Especially if we are going to miss God’s will if we do it on our own.  I will still write the book – I just don’t know where.  Perhaps right here in our travel trailer.  But this I do know – I need to trust God and not myself.  How about you?  CHARLEY  

Friday, November 16, 2018

Speaking When The Spirit Gives Opportunity – You Don’t Choose The Time Or The Place

You never know when God will bring someone across your path that needs a word of encouragement.  Yesterday we went to dinner with a friend.  The waitress was very attentive and friendly.  She commented on my sense of humor – which can have its plusses and minuses at times – but she seemed to appreciate it. It was then that she started talking about serving others – outside of the restaurant – and very often people did not seem to appreciate or value her efforts.  That sometimes people who serve need to be served themselves – but other people assume, since they serve, they don’t need help – encouragement – or even a word of gratitude.

Sound like a strange conversation to be having with a waitress?  Actually it was a revealing conversation with a young woman who happened to be a waitress.  I suspected that she was a believer and was interested to know so I asked her a question.  “Are you familiar with the story about Jesus and the lepers?”  (Luke 17:11-19) She said “Yes.” So I asked “How many of the 10 came back and thanked Jesus for his healing?”  She said “One.” Ok – now I knew that she was a student of the Word. That changed the whole context and direction of the conversation.  I couldspeak spiritual truth to her.

That opened the door for her to share about how she has drifted away from her faith and doesn’t read the Bible as much as she used to.  That discussion is a long way away from “What kind of dressing would you like on your salad?” I told her that we should not expect gratitude as the reward for our service to others.  If you use the example of the lepers – that will only happen 10% of the time.  So if gratitude is the reason you do for others – you won’t be “doing” for long.  

I asked he if she uses the internet – like duh! She is a millennial! Of course she does, so I gave her the web address to my BLOG and encouraged her to go there to be encouraged in the Faith.  

The point is that you never know when the Lord will bring someone across your path.  You will miss it if you are not ready for it.  Driving home, Martie commented that the Lord had orchestrated her serving us.  I believe that.  Are you ready to speak hope and encouragement into someone’s life? Do you think about where you are before you speak or do you keep in mind Whose you are when you speak? An Ambassador for Christ (1 Peter 3:15).  A witness (Acts 1:8).  A minister. (The I didn’t go to seminary type of minister) (2 Corinthians 5:18) Someone on a mission.  – Yes that would be you!  CHARLEY  

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Waiting On God Requires Faith. Waiting Is Not Easy But It Is Absolutely Necessary

(1 Samuel 13:7-14) “[King] Saul remained at Gilgal, and all the troops with him were quaking with fear. He waited seven days, the time set by Samuel; but Samuel did not come to Gilgal, and Saul’s men began to scatter. So he said, “Bring me the burnt offering and the fellowship offerings.” And Saul offered up the burnt offering.  Just as he finished making the offering, Samuel arrived, and Saul went out to greet him. “What have you done?” asked Samuel. Saul replied, “When I saw that the men were scattering, and that you did not come at the set time, and that the Philistines were assembling at Mikmash,  I thought, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not sought the Lord’s favor.’ So I felt compelled to offer the burnt offering.” “You have done a foolish thing,” Samuel said. “You have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you; if you had, he would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time. But now your kingdom will not endure; the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him ruler of his people, because you have not kept the Lord’s command.”” 

Martie and I are about to start a respite – a sabbatical for a couple months.  We cannot start until we have finished the home we are working on.  The mission that God has given us.  At the moment, we are waiting for the final inspections to be completed.  There have been delays.  The date that I had planned to leave by has come and gone.  In the meantime, I have been trying to figure out a way that we might do both.  Oversee the inspections and leave for the time away.  Seemed reasonable. That is until the Lord brought the verses in 1 Samuel to my mind! 

The prophet Samuel had told King Saul what the Lord had said.  But Saul became impatient.  The time that Samuel was to return had come and gone.  His soldiers were getting restless. Things were not going the way that Saul had envisioned.  He had to do something.  So he did and suffered the consequences.  I once heard a comparison between King Saul and King David. Saul loved God with a half heart and David loved God with his whole heart. 

Saul had a half-hearted faith.  He would trust God some of the time – those times when things went Saul’s way.  But for the other times – he would trust himself.  That is where I found myself.  Things were not going my way so I had to do something.  Dr. Henry Blackaby said “You have heard the saying – “Don’t just stand there – do something”.  But God says “Don’t just do something – stand there.””  Trust God.  I am certain of what God wants me to do – but I must be willing to wait on Him. 

I suspect that many of you reading this, struggle with the same temptation.  Saul’s men were starting to scatter. How could he expect to prevail if his men scattered.  He did not remember Gideon who prevailed with 300 men 100 years before him.  He did not remember David standing before Goliath as Saul’s men quaked in fear.  We often think that we must do something or the outcome will not go our way.  We trust in what we see and not in God who we cannot see. That is because we have lost our spiritual vision. We love God half-heartedly.

Perhaps there is something going on in your life right now.  Something that you are unwilling to trust God for.  Something that God started but you feel compelled to finish and not wait on Him.  It takes faith in God to wait on God.  Just as I asked the Lord to strengthen my faith – I realize that He is using this very issue to do that very thing.   CHARLEY