Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Do You Believe In Ghosts?

That is a classic line from the Wizard of Oz when the Lion was faced with going into the forest.  Did you know that we spent $9.1 billion in 2017 in the U.S. for Halloween? The number gets bigger every year – that increase is not just an adjustment for inflation.  People are infatuated with the macabre. With death and dying and life after death. (If you don’t believe it – just watch television)  The Bible speaks to the existence of demons – of supernatural beings residing on the earth.  Involved in the lives of people who are not sealed by the Spirit of God – born again.   (Luke 8:27-31) “When Jesus stepped ashore, he was met by a demon-possessed man from the town. For a long time this man had not worn clothes or lived in a house, but had lived in the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell at his feet, shouting at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, don’t torture me!” For Jesus had commanded the impure spirit to come out of the man. Many times it had seized him, and though he was chained hand and foot and kept under guard, he had broken his chains and had been driven by the demon into solitary places. Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” “Legion,” he replied, because many demons had gone into him. And they begged Jesus repeatedly not to order them to go into the Abyss.”   

Today, the reality of demons is often discounted – as no longer relevant.  But … the spiritual forces of darkness have not gone anywhere.  Not yet.  That is why Paul encouraged the Saints in Ephesians.  (Ephesians 6:11-12) “Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”  Although we cannot be possessed, we can be influenced.  I hope that this holiday will be a reminder to you that  you were once bound for hell – along with the demons – but now you have the hope of eternity in heaven -  a glorious future. And … that in that knowledge you will walk in the light as He is in the light.  This little light of yours – let it shine – let it shine – let it shine. CHARLEY  

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

The Importance Of Discovering Your Roots

How important is it to know your genealogy?  My biological father – now why would I make that distinction?  Because my parents were divorced when I was an infant and I was raised by another father. But, the second father was not in my natural lineage.  At any rate, my biological father did a lot of research on the Elgin family in the United States.  He managed to track our ancestors back to the early 1700’s when they first came to the U.S.  from Scotland.  Although it may be interesting, it really has no eternal significance.  If you recall seeing the pie-charts in the genealogy commercials, everyone of the people has an ancestry representing many people groups.  For some people, like my dad, discovering their roots is a passion – for others an obsession.  Almost as if in finding their roots, they will find some sort of redemption.  

If you recall, the Gospel of Matthew begins with the genealogy of Jesus – from Father Abraham to Jesus.  Those are probably some of the least-read verses in the New Testament.  What is interesting is how God – the Father – wove the lives of those people in that lineage together to fulfill prophecy and, at just the right time, for Jesus, the God-man, to be born.  Our redemption – our significance is found in Him.  The first-born of many sons and daughters.  If you are a Christian – then your natural heritage is not nearly so significant as it was before you were born again.  When Jesus told Nicodemus that Nicodemus must be born again, He was saying that the natural was not eternal – Nicodemus must be also born of the Spirit – as must ever person who has ever walked this earth.  

In 2 Corinthians 5, as a Christian, old things have passed away – all things have become new – we are born again.  So why are we so interested in our natural lineage – as if somehow it might save us – prove us as OK – as significant.  My new life began in September 1976 when I surrendered to Jesus as Lord.  When God sealed my heart with His Spirit and gave me a new life in Christ.  Everyone born on this earth can trace their lineage all the way back to Adam.  Most people are satisfied with knowing what countries their ancestors are from.  They spend money to find that out.  Then they cling to some aspect  like - I am 5% American Indian – I am 30% African – or I am 25% Scot.  (I really have no clue) But – I do know this – I am 100% Christian – I have been adopted – grafted in to the family of God.  My significance and worth is found in Jesus.  I don’t have to wonder if there is something wrong with me – or why I am the way that I am.  There was nothing good in my old nature – there is only good in my new nature.  Spiritually, I am genetically connected to God the Father, through the sacrifice of God the Son by the power of God the Spirit.

So Christian - every time that you see a commercial suggesting that you need to spend up to $50 a month because “It's amazing what our ancestry reveals about who we are.”  Let it be a reminder that you can keep your money because you already know.  CHARLEY 

Friday, October 26, 2018

What Does It Take To Be Good?

(Mark 10:17-22) “As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.’”  “Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.” Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.” 

This guy thought he had it all figured out.  Then Jesus turned his world upside down.  The young man had an idea of what it meant to be “good” and therefore worthy of eternal life.  Jesus said that “only” God was good. There is nothing we can do that will make us good – even if we obeyed every commandment.  (Which we would not) We, like this man, have things backwards.  Thinking  - “If I do then I will be.”  The truth is that I must “be” before I can do.  The young man may have done many “good “ things or not have done bad things in the eyes of his culture, but his heart belonged to the world – not God. 

It is our natural inclination to think of righteousness – being right before God in terms of what we do.  But you know your own heart – that in and of itself, it is desperately wicked. (Jeremiah 17:9) The Bible says (2 Timothy 3:1-5) “There will be terrible times in the last days.  People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy,  without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good,  treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.” 

Now those same people may darken the doorways of churches every Sunday morning – maybe Sunday night and Wednesdays, too.  So what is my point?  Don’t be deceived by  others nor by yourself.  You can’t love God and the world.  You will love one and hate the other. (Luke 16:13) You can have money, but you must not love it.  Your flesh will want to – but if you love God with all your heart – there  is no room for anything else.  And when you do that – God, who is good, will change the desires of your heart.  (Psalm 37:4

Our quest for the “good” – for eternal life – for peace – for joy – for hope – it is found in God through faith in Jesus.  I have always thought it a bit odd that Jesus answered the man in the way He did, until I realized that Jesus shared “the” fundamental truth of life.  God, the Father, is the source of all good. It is only by being in a right relationship with Him that we can know what is good.  There is no good in us so there is no good that can come out of us except from the Father. Pretty simple, actually.

We can rattle off Matthew 22:37 – Love God with all – but actually doing it – well that is a horse of a different color. Our hope must be built on nothing less than Jesus and His righteousness. CHARLEY  

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Exercising Our God-given Right To Choose Wrong

(Luke 17:41-42) “As he [Jesus] approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes.”  I am certain that you know people, perhaps people that you care about, who have rejected the “right” to embrace the “wrong”.  As Jesus looked on Jerusalem – He saw a people who yearned for a Savior – relief from the troubles of this life – but rejected the “Way-Truth-and Life” to pursue their own “way and truth and life”.  A way that will only and always lead to sorrow and loss for them.  

That is the thing about free will.  We have the God-given right to choose wrong.  For the sake of discussion, let’s say that I am not referring to your choices, but to someone that you sincerely care about.  That you love.  In spite of what would be best and what would bring joy to their lives, they choose another way.  They want to hear nothing about God or doing what God says is right.  They are bound and determined to go their own way.  And they do.  They “sow the wind and reap the whirlwind.”  And when that happens – they wonder where God is and why these things keep happening to them.  Someone said “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different outcome.”  I know it will work this time – true I have 4 failed relationships, but I know that if I find the same kind of person in the same places it will work this time.  Why? Because I have decided that what I am doing is right for me. It’s my choice.

And like the song by George Jones says “Now the race is on. And here comes pride in the back stretch. Heartaches goin' to the inside. My tears are holdin' back They're tryin' not to fall. My hearts out of the runnin'. True love's scratched for another's sake. The race is on and it looks like heartaches And the winner loses all.”  

Oh how we hate to see those poor choices being made because we love the one making them.  Jerusalem rejected the Messiah and so do people today.  Jesus wept and so do we.  Not much has changed.  I was talking to a mother only yesterday and she shared about one of her children and their struggles in life.  We prayed and she wept.  Is there someone in your life who has chosen poorly like that?  The answer is faith in and following Jesus.  CHARLEY  

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

How To See The Spiritual Side Of This Natural Life

Martie and I were talking about all of the confusion and anger that we see all around us and concluded that there must be a spiritual aspect to it.  Something unseen at work that manifests itself in the seen.  It reminded me of something Jesus said and Paul wrote. 

As Christians, we are part of the kingdom of God.  Most if not all Christians understand that.  We live with a duplicity – the old nature and the new nature. Paul wrote (Ephesians 1:17-19) “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength..” 

Why did the Spirit prompt Paul to write that? Because, although we have a spiritual nature, it is not our spiritual nature that we use to understand the world around us, but our natural one.  If you find what is happening in our country confounding – non-sensical – perhaps it is because there is something – not natural – going on.  The world will discount that thinking because it is blind to the supernatural – living in the great deception of Satan. 

Paul also wrote (Ephesians 6:12) "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." Do you believe that the Word is Truth?  Then how would this truth apply to everyday life and events?  There is something going on behind the scenes.  It is like a television show or a movie.  You see what the actors are doing, but you don’t see the director, script writers, sound people, cameraman, and others standing behind the camera orchestrating what the actors are doing.  So you see the actors and react to that – not the ones controlling what the actors do and say.  

Jesus said (John 18:36) My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.” He also said (Luke 17:20-21)  “Once, on being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is in your midst.”” 

If you see things from God’s perspective – which you can only do by the power of the Spirit of God – you will not be quite so anxious about current events.  I did not say you would not be sad to see them taking place, but you will understand why they are happening.  And, hopefully, you will remember that God is sovereign , even in all of this mess.  Nothing can change that.  As dark as the days may seem, remember – “The kingdom of God is in your midst.” CHARLEY  

Monday, October 22, 2018

Understanding The Unintended Consequences Of Our Sins

Sometimes the Lord lays words on my heart that are a little too close to home.  Today is one of those days.  In the song “Even If” by Mercy Me, a verse goes “night after night, reminding the broken it'll be alright But right now, oh right now I just can't” It’s one thing to tell someone else to have faith – to walk by that faith – to abandon the old nature and embrace the new.  The teller must also be the doer.  Everything that I write, first applies to me then to others.

So, the Lord lays a truth on my heart and, when it hits close to home – I question, in my mind, whether I should, can, or want to address it with you – you being anywhere from 80 to 130 readers.  But ….  I know I must – especially on these occasions. So let’s get to it!

I shared some of my story on a separate BLOG - – some months back, so I won’t go into much detail – but one day when I was visiting my mom, I mentioned the idea of generational sin.  Not the idea that the following generations would be punished for their father’s sins, but that the consequences of those sins would reverberate through the generations.  The Bible says that we are each responsible for our own sins. But the suggestion that what my mom did would somehow affect her children was not received well.  As a parent, you don’t want to think that what you do or don’t do might impact your children in a negative way.  That your sins are not self-contained. The reality is …. our sins are not hidden from God and their consequences are not restricted to the one who commits them.

It’s one thing to be forgiven for my sins – it’s entirely a different thing to be relieved of the consequences of those sins.  The Bible does not promise that.  Sin forgiveness – yes – consequence avoidance – no!  The truth is that you will most likely be required to live with the consequences and so might those whom your sins affected.

That is what my mom did not want to receive and neither do any of us for that matter. Realizing the far reaching effects of my sin brings on guilt feelings and nobody likes that.  It was hard for her and for us to accept that choices – actions – sins – could have a negative consequence in the lives of those she loved.  Before I continue, let me make it clear, I believe that each of us are responsible for our own sins – each of us is born with a sin nature.  We don’t need anyone to teach us to sin. – it comes naturally.  But – we don’t live in a glass bubble.  The consequences of what we do, both good and bad, ripple out from our lives.  If you toss a pebble into a pond – notice that the ripples are bigger the closer they are to where the pebble stuck the water.  Same goes for the effects of sin and those who are closest to you.

Martie and I lived on a lake for a time.  If I was fishing and a boat passed by  - the wake from that boat caused waves and they rocked my boat.  On weekends – there were so many boats on the water and so much wake produced that the water became choppy making it impossible to fish.  That is what it is like when an entire culture is given over to sin – that is what it is like in our culture today.  So many ripples – so many waves – so much turbulence – so many consequences felt through the generations.  

So ….. back to the point – which is not to make you feel guilty – but to give you insight into just how far reaching our personal sin can be.  How significant it is that we have a Savior who is our Hope – and how our trying to avoid the consequences of our sins is hopeless.  

We all have regrets.  We all wish that some things about our lives and our relationships were different.  Our lives are proof that the world without Jesus is broken.  Accepting the truth that you cannot sin in isolation should help you want to draw closer to the Lord – perhaps see the world differently.  Maybe have the same compassion for people that the Lord has.  What I have written may not convince you.  Maybe it will remind you that sin is a big deal and has consequences – unintended consequences.  It may not convict you – but perhaps it will make you think – remember – and repent. It did for me! CHARLEY   

Friday, October 19, 2018

Living By Faith – Confounding To The World – Profound To The Body Of Christ

I was working at the current Harvey home yesterday, when the man from the Gas Company came to turn the gas on.  I was working by myself, as I do on occasion, and he asked me where my help was.  I told him that I was working alone that day and that was a segue for me to talk about Pathfinder Mission and God’s call to serve others.  He was intrigued and asked more questions.  I could tell by his expression and language that he was a Believer.  Don’t know if you have experienced it, but the Spirit resonates between Believers.  The spiritual connection is obvious but is unspoken and super-natural. He commented on the good thing we are doing and left by saying “God bless you in your work.” 

Listen – we are not to revel in difficult situations that we find ourselves in – but I was reminded that our light will shine brightly when we walk through difficult situations by faith.  I was sitting in our travel trailer yesterday afternoon listening to the Blue Angels roar over me – over and over again as they prepared for the air show this weekend.  Frankly I yearned for quiet. Fortunately we have a friend here who opened her home to us – when we need it – and Martie and I reveled in the quiet of her home last night.  But … here I am this morning, writing this devotion and preparing for another day of restoration – this time with a good friend to help me.  

Martie and I live like we do by choice.  It is necessary to do what we do, but we could choose to do something else .. to live somewhere else.  But this is the thing – we are compelled by God’s call to serve others.  That means we must be willing to abandon what many consider to be vital to their wellbeing.  Paul wrote (Philippians 3:8-11) “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death ...” 

That is true for every Christian.  What that looks like in each person’s life may be different.  We are not wearing animal skins and eating locusts and honey, but in the view of many Americans we are not far from it.  The point today is that I want to encourage you to make your faith the thing that shapes your life and your desires.  One of our life verses is Psalm 37:4 “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”  That verse does not mean that God is some divine waiter – but when you make Him your first priority, He will change your heart and when He does that – what you want and think you need will also change. Sitting in a travel trailer might not be so bad!  He is all you need.  

(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.” CHARLEY  

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Christians Are A Work In Progress – And The Holy Spirit – Not You – Is The Job Foreman

We are living in a travel trailer parked next to a church – on a major highway – on the approach end of an airport.  The highway is under construction and has been for years.  For local residents, it seems like the work has been going on since they can remember, with no end in sight. Not too different from the process of sanctification that happens in a Christian’s life.  That change – that construction – just doesn’t seem to happen fast enough in other people – not in me – other people.

Don’t you wish you had the power to change someone – quickly.  I mean – change their behavior – cause them to do what you want them to do? I have thought that many times for our children and their children.  If I could only get them to see the truth of what I say and the danger and consequences of the choices they are making.  Unfortunately, their understanding only comes after they are suffering the consequences of their poor choices. If only I had the power to change them and get them to see so they could avoid the heartache that is sure to come. Of course, as a parent, your heart hurts for them. And sometimes, you may even wonder – “What did I do wrong?” – “I feel like a bad parent because I could not get them to change course.”

Martie and I were watching a church service last Sunday – we do that sometimes – holed up in our little missionary cave – and the preacher said “No one has to be taught how to sin, we are all born with that nature.”  It was then that I was reminded that what I wanted to see in my children and theirs was a change in their nature and then a change in their heart and then a change in their life choices.  (2 Corinthians 5:17) says if we are in Christ – born again – the old nature will decrease and the new nature will increase.  The most important thing you can do for your child is lead them to Jesus – but the choice to yield their hearts to God is theirs, not yours. Oh – and to clarify – our lives are no different than theirs.  My mom felt the very same way about me and the other 6 children in our family.  Our three children have all professed faith in Jesus.  And we all still make poor choices – all of us.  We have a new life that is under construction. 

So, today, I don’t want to change my kids or their kids – I want them to fully yield their hearts to the Lord and let Him do the supernatural work of sanctification.  You may have heard this before – my mom told me that her mom told her “When children are young, they step on your toes, and when they are older, they step on your heart.”  It is the nature of things.  “Nothing new under the sun ..” (King Solomon).  

The take away here – love you kids – you don’t have to like what they do. Pray for your kids. Be an example for your kids of what a Christian is supposed to look like – be like – behave like – love like.  Dr. James Dobson says values are “caught” not “taught”.  What do you value? God’s truth or the culture’s truth?  If they make poor choices – you don’t have to pretend they were good choices – you just keep loving the one who made them. (that phrase is what is called a double entendre). CHARLEY (Phil 4:13) 

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Choosing The Best Over The Good Requires Faith And Devotion

(Luke 10:38-42) “As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”” 

I am certain you are familiar with this story. Both of these women loved Jesus.  The distinction was what they chose to do when faced with the good and the best.  Preparing the meal was a good thing – food has a practical importance.  Sitting at Jesus’ feet and listening to words of Life – that has an eternal importance.  I suspect that Martha was so consumed with the practical that she was prepared to forego the most important with good intention.  But she missed it.  She thought she was being responsible  - she was, but she was missing an eternal opportunity.  Like the time that the disciples wanted Jesus to eat.  (John 4:31-33) “Meanwhile his disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat something.” But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.” Then his disciples said to each other, “Could someone have brought him food?”” 

Concern about the natural often interferes with the super-natural.  It requires faith to see past the urgency of the things of this world and embrace things spiritual.  Someone called me a few weeks ago.  He told me that he had retired early, but could not access his retirement until he met a certain age.  He believed he was called to ministry. A mutual friend suggested that he call me about working with me for a few weeks.  He had construction skills so I told him that I would pay him instead of hiring someone locally to do the work I could not do myself.  He told me that he would let me know by the weekend.  He told me that he had been called to pastor a small church and would not be coming.  A few days ago, he asked me if the option was still open – all of his plans had fallen through.  He added that his wife told him that he should have some here.  I had already hired local people. The work was done – the funds were spent.  (I never hold up helping the home owner [the reason we are here] in favor of waiting on someone to decide if they might come.)  I was saddened because I felt that he had missed God in his indecisiveness.  Choosing the good over the best. 

Like Martha – this guy was trying to be practical.  God presented a spiritual opportunity – not to be with me – but to exercise faith and trust Him and not the things of this world.  When God calls you – it requires faith in Him – not money in the bank – not a more convenient time – not once the kids are out of college – although that may be God’s timing – but no matter – when He calls – a decision in the heart is required.  God does not need to hear empty promises – God knows the heart.  Those promises just make it easier to cook the food and not sit at Jesus feet. 

So – what has God been saying to you? And what have you been saying to God?  God’s call is not the same for everyone in terms of geography or activity.  But it is the same insomuch as (love that word!) it will require faith and devotion to respond to the call.  

When we were serving in Mississippi, someone asked me if I liked being in Mississippi.  It was a place of devastation and despair.  I told them “There is nothing better than being in the center of God’s will for your life – geography has nothing to do with it. So I lovd being in Mississippi because that is where God wants us to be.” How about you?   CHARLEY (Phil 4:13) 

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Do People Know You Are A Christian By Your Love?

There is a song that we used to sing – “We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord … and they will know we are Christians by our love ..” Jesus said (John 13:35) “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” Love is central to our new life in Christ.  Paul said (1 Corinthians 13:2) “And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.”

It does not matter what you accomplish on this earth if love is absent.  As a Christian, it begins with love for God.  (1 John 4:19) “We love because he (God the Father) first loved us.” How we communicate that love is first, by being grounded and devoted to loving God.  That means we seek His will and not our own.  We embrace Him and not our culture.  Many Christians have a problem with this.  You can love someone who sins without loving their sin.  Our culture says you cannot love someone is you don’t agree that their actions (sin according to the Bible) are acceptable and right.  God says you can.  You must decide who you are going to listen to and obey. Don’t underestimate the power of the culture you live in.  Wanting to be accepted by the culture is a strong motivation to compromise your faith. Many if not most would prefer to remain silent rather than suffer rejection and criticism.  

How will people know you are a Christian? By standing on the Truth and not participating in the Lie.  By loving God and not being ashamed – even when the culture will try to shame you into going along.  Jesus said (John 15:18-21)"If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember what I told you: 'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. …. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me.” 

If we embrace God we will be light in a dark world.  Standing for “right” in the power of your flesh is impossible.  You are able to stand because you are a disciple and trust in the Lord and not yourself.  You have prepared yourself spiritually.  (Ephesians 6:14-18) “Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseveranceCHARLEY (Phil 4:13) 

Friday, October 12, 2018

How To Survive A Hurricane

So the third worst hurricane to make landfall, made landfall.  There was no diverting it to some other path.  All we could do was watch and wait.  Some people prepared – some did not.  Some people left – some people stayed.  It didn’t matter what anyone did, really – the storm was following its course and there was not stopping it.  Leaving destruction in its wake, the storm has moved on – like Katrina, Harvey and so many others – it is now a memory – fresh – painful for many – but still a memory.  And the thing is – there are more storms coming – maybe not this year, but they are coming – of that you can be certain. 

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.” Jesus is the source of peace in the midst of trouble.  Not FEMA. Not a Red Cross shelter. Not even a hotel far from the path of the storm.  Not alcohol. Not Denial. Not medication. Only Jesus.  That, my friend, is a spiritual truth.  The world will offer everything but Jesus.  We are rebuilding a home for someone whose home was damaged in Hurricane Harvey.  The house will be comfortable when we are done, but it’s just a house.  The main concern is the heart of the person who will live in the home.  When Peter and John were stopped by the lame man at the gate of the temple .. he was asking for money – a material solution to his plight – and certainly he needed food and money to buy it.  But Peter said (Acts 3:6) “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.” The man had a physical problem – but underlying that was a spiritual problem that needed a spiritual solution. 

James wrote (James 1:2-4) “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” Your faith will be tested if you have a faith to be tested.  We may offer help with rebuilding to those who have no means to change their circumstance, but more importantly we offer Hope through faith in the One who is the source of all Hope.  

We are all going to face problems in this life.  The question is, “Where will we turn in times of need?”  

(Psalm 121)

“I will lift up my eyes to the hills— From whence comes my help?

2 My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth.

3 He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber.

4 Behold, He who keeps Israel; Shall neither slumber nor sleep.

5 The Lord is your keeper; The Lord is your shade at your right hand.

6 The sun shall not strike you by day, Nor the moon by night.

7 The Lord shall preserve you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul.

8 The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in; From this time forth, and even forevermore” 


Thursday, October 11, 2018

What To Do When The World Has Redefined Good

Living the Christian life in this culture is becoming increasingly difficult.  Let me say that not everything in this culture is evil, but there is evil in this country and in the world for that matter. It is becoming more and more important for Christians to understand and embrace what is “good” , as defined by the Creator and made clear in His Word.  Our culture, and the world, is offering an alternative truth – one that is contrary to God’s revealed truth.  The prophet Isaiah wrote (Isaiah 5:20) “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.” 

You see this is no a new problem.  The first stepping stone on the path that leads away from Truth is “People have the right to choose how they live.” God gave us a free will.  We were born with a sin nature.  That is our natural inclination.  The world’s alternative to the Holy Spirit are cultural norms, acceptance and laws.  Behavior of the people in a society is constrained by the pressures of those norms, what the culture says is acceptable and laws.  Man’s laws adapt to the moral course that a culture takes.  

The second stepping stone is “You do not have a right to say they are wrong.” Since the culture says the first stepping stone is on the right path, there is no “true north” anymore.  The ship can sail in any direction and it will be the right course.  No one has the right to say that a person’s choices are wrong.  If they do, they will be condemned as intolerant, wrong, and evil.  Even if that person is trying to rest the course of the ship to its God-intended course.

That is where we find ourselves today.  Our culture calls good (by God’s declaration) – evil and evil – good.  Speak out and you are accused of judging.  You suddenly are a “bad” person.  The temptation – say nothing – go along to get along.  Trade off acknowledgement that there is a Truth, that by definition of truth, does not change or waiver in the face of cultural changes.  

Listen – this world is no longer your home.  You feel like an alien in the very country you were born in because you are! (Philippians 3:20-21) “ .. our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the LORD Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.”  When you see something that is bad – according to the Truth – that is declared good – to speak out is not to judge but to give testimony to the truth.  Don’t expect the culture to embrace you – on the contrary you may very well face rejection.  

Be careful about wanting to be embraced and accepted by those who are lost.  (2 Corinthians 6:14) “Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness?”  

Let me leave you with this …..

(1 John 1:5-10) “This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.”

Those who have (spiritual) ears, let them hear … those who have (spiritual) eyes, let them see

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

You Can’t Lead Where You Won’t Go

You can’t lead where you won’t go – You can’t teach what you don’t know – You can only re-create what you are.  You may have heard your pastor preach on the Great Commandment and the Great Commission.  The Great Commandment is from Matthew 22:37 – Love God with all of your heart. mind, soul and strength.  The Great Commission is from Matthew 28:18 “Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” 

For many Christians – faith in Jesus is about personal salvation – that’s it.  A one way ticket to Heaven.  But there is so much more to our new life.  In the Great Commission, Jesus said to make disciples which is much more than “merely” being witnesses and leading people to Jesus. Important as that is – more important is the changed life that should result from the rebirth and conformance to being like Jesus.  A disciple should be indistinguishable from the One the disciple is following.  Jesus said (Luke 9:23) “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.”” Being a disciple of Jesus starts with the Great Commandment – Loving God and not yourself – being a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1) – “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.”  (Mark 8:35)

Here is the deal – you do what is important to you.  If pursuing God and the new life in Christ is not important to you, you won’t do it.  Talking about it and doing it are two different things.  The first is an expression of intent – the second is fulfillment of that expression. So – you can’t lead someone else to being a disciple if you are not willing to go there yourself.  You can’t teach someone about the precepts of God and His will if you don’t know and embrace them yourself. If you are not a disciple of Jesus – merely saved – then you cannot be an example of a disciple of Jesus to others – you can only show them what a marginal Christian looks like. 

Now and again, we all need to consider our new life and our purpose on this earth.  And if we find that we are lacking – we need to repent and get back in step with Jesus – loving God and loving others.

“O to grace how great a debtor daily I'm constrained to be! Let thy goodness like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to thee. Prone to wander Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love. Here's my heart, O take and seal it, seal it for thy courts above”  CHARLEY

Monday, October 8, 2018

Prayer Changes Me

Henry and Richard Blackaby’s devotional guide, Experiencing God Day by Day:  “Prayer is not designed to change God, it is designed to change us.  Prayer is not calling God in to bless our activities.  Rather, prayer takes us into God’s presence, shows us His will, and prepares us to obey Him.”  (p. 280). 

A friend included that quote in an email recently.  He was asking for prayer as he prepared to go back to Haiti to teach pastors from rural mountain churches in Western Haiti for 2 days.  That is the same area where Martie and I served for the last year we were in Haiti.  I met Eric several years ago and encouraged him to go there.  But I was not the real reason he went – he went because God sent him there.  God uses the saints to encourage each other through His Spirit.  But it is God who makes eternal differences in the lives of people.  I planted, Eric is watering, but God will bring the increase. (1 Corinthians 3:6

Prayer helps us to focus on the eternal and on God’s will. Unfortunately many Christians don’t see prayer as vital to their spiritual health.  Prayer is about alignment – aligning our will with God’s will. When our children were small I can remember holding their face in my hands and looking into their eyes to make certain I had their attention.  Our heavenly Father does something similar .. but just because we are looking does not mean we are listening. Dr. Henry Blackaby also said “Some people say ‘Don’t just stand there – do something’.  But God is saying ‘Don’t just do something – stand there’” 

Spend time with your Father today.  Listen to Him – wait for Him – trust Him and then obey Him.  The prophet Samuel said “Obedience is better than sacrifice.” (1 Samuel 15:22-24)  “Has the Lord as great a delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices. As in obedience to the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice.” 

Please pray for Eric Searcy and his trip this week for physical endurance, spiritual strength and wisdom.  CHARLEY

Thursday, October 4, 2018

What You Should Do When Someone Needs To See Jesus

I met a man the other day, I may have mentioned him in previous devotion.  He is bound to a wheelchair.  Unable to walk or use his arms, he can move his head and his thumb.  He uses his thumb to control the wheelchair.  He has a portable speaker that he uses to amplify his voice so he can be heard when he talks.  He is the kind of guy that you might see and then try to avoid because being around him makes you feel a bit awkward.  In Matthew 25, Jesus told the parable of the Sheep and the Goats in which both asked the same question of the Lord – “When did we see you?”  I had to step into his “space” to talk with him.  After talking with, let’s call him Bob, I discovered that inside that crippled body was a very intelligent – caring person.  We happened to be at a gathering of a noisy group of people.  You know how it is.  So many people having separate conversations – the “din” intensifies until you can hardly hear anything distinctly.  In order to talk to Bob, I had to move further inside of his space. 

Now the others in the group were cordial enough, but no one was attempting to talk to Bob any longer than to say a polite “hello”.  I wondered how often this happens to Bob. My guess – this was a typical experience for him.  After a while, Bob told me he was hungry.  Bob was there on his own. He asked if I could get him something to eat.  There were snack foods on a table.  I told him that I would point at the food and he could nod his head if he wanted some of it.  Bob proved to be hungry!  The next thing I was asked to do was to feed him.  “Lord when did we see you?”  “When you gave me something to eat, to drink, when you talked to me – when you did it to the least of these, you did it to Me.”  

I am sharing this with you, not because I want to impress you with my spirituality, but to encourage you to be ready.  The point is that you never know when the Lord is going to show up.  When you will be given the opportunity to show the love of God through an act of kindness and compassion.  Listen. It would have been easy to ignore Bob.  All I had to do was turn my back after I said “Hello – nice to meet you.”  To find someone less “needy” to talk to.  I knew that I was supposed to talk with him and to help him.  Even to feed him.  And so do all of us who are sealed by the Spirit on God.  

The person that God puts in front of you may not be physically handicapped like Bob.  Most people are not.  But many people you meet are struggling in life – crippled by sin – by life’s circumstances – poor decisions – consequences of living under the influence of their old nature.  Not able to walk in the Spirit – emotionally – spiritually crippled. You need spiritual discernment to see them, an obedient heart to minister to them and they need faith to be healed.  Ministry to others is often in the form of a very simple thing – but at the same time, can be a very powerful thing.  We all have spiritual opportunities – every day. As Jesus said “Those who have eyes (spiritual eyes) let them see.” Jesus didn’t heal everyone, He did minister to many.  So be ready my friend – your opportunity to show someone Jesus is just around the corner. Your heart will tell you it is right when the time comes – so don’t look around to see if anyone is watching, don’t look at your watch to see if you have the time, look up and give thanks to the Lord for the opportunity to be Jesus to someone. CHARLEY

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Let Your Light Shine – Is There Enough Light To Convict You Of Being A Christian?

(Matthew 5:13-16) ““You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.””

As a born again Believers, we have the “light of God” – the Holy Spirit in us. That light and His transforming power should be evident to everyone we meet.  Not only by what we say or don’t say, but by what we do and don’t do.  Jesus charged the disciples – which includes us – to let our light shine in the world.  We are to be witnesses so that God will be glorified.  Jesus said (John 13:35) “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”  Years ago we sang a song at fellowships – “They Will Know We Are Christians By Our Love”.  I think there are two main reasons why there is a lack of light in a Christian’s life. 

First. The Christian is not pursuing their faith and they are still spiritual infants and are indistinguishable from those who are still lost in the world. (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.” 2 Corinthians 5:17 says “old things are passing away and all things are becoming new”  That is true for the heart that is devoted to God.  But Spiritual transformation does not happen when your heart remains devoted to the things of this world.  You growth is stunted – your light is hidden – your witness non-existent.  

Second.  The Christian is afraid of being rejected by the culture they live in – afraid of the social and/or financial loss they might incur if they let their light shine and make what they believe to be Truth – Biblical Truth – known.  Jesus told the disciples, (Matthew 10:34-39) “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn “‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’ “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.”  Most of us have a herd instinct.  We want to be around other people.  We want to be accepted by those people.  For a Christian – that can mean that they must not make their beliefs evident – they must be silent – even when what is acceptable to the “herd” is clearly contrary to the declaration of God.  They only way to overcome that is by having a strong faith – a heart for God. (see #1) 

I am not sharing these things try to “guilt” you into something.  I want you to understand your new nature and life – how we are to live.  Dr. Francis Schaeffer wrote a book some years back “How Should We Then Live” which addresses this very thing.  How should Christians live in the context of the world around them.  I don’t want you think, after reading this, that you will just have to try harder.  On the contrary. What I hope for is that you will decide to “faith” harder.  Read Proverbs 3:5-6 and Joshua 1:8-10.  CHARLEY

Monday, October 1, 2018

Rightly Understanding The Times – The Darker The Night, The Brighter The Light

(1 Chronicles 12:32) “And of the sons of Issachar, men who understood the times, with knowledge of what Israel should do, their chiefs were two hundred; and all their kinsmen were at their command.”  These were some of the mighty men of David – warriors – men with hearts for God.  Men who understood the times. As Christians- we too, must understand the times that we live in.  It is important to have a clear understanding of the difference between the natural and the spiritual – your new life in Christ and the way that the world is going.  An example would be the misconception that the United States is a Christian nation.  It is not.  Founded on Biblical values – absolutely!  But the majority of the people in this country are not Christians.  As such, you should not be surprised when people do things that are clearly contrary to God’s revealed will.  People who are lost may do good things, but that does not mean they are acceptable to God because of their good acts. Read Ephesians 2:8-9

As you read the following verses, think about the country you live in.  These verses describe the depravity of people and their propensity to go their own way – denying God and embracing the idea that they, themselves, are at the center of all things.  That they can decide what is right and what is wrong.

(Romans 1:21-32) “For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles. Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen. Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error. 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 do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.” 

My goal here is to get you thinking and seeing the events and the world from your new nature.  To understand the times.  The mess you see today, all around you , has a spiritual root.  Paul wrote about it for our benefit – so we might understand the times with discernment.  The problems don’t get better by themselves – in fact, they get worse.  The only thing that will change the course our culture is on is to change the root – a new root - that would be Jesus.  I coined a phrase some years back.  “The darker the night – the brighter the light”  The darker the days get around us, the brighter the light of Christ will should shine through us.  Now is not the time to hide your faith under a bushel – Let it shine – Let it shine – Let it shine.  How do you do that?  Next time.   CHARLEY