Anchoring in the Storm

There is a lot of debate in the nautical world whether you should anchor a boat on the sea when a storm approaches. Some say “yes” and others say you’re crazy to. However, when faced with an impossible situation, it is often natural to want to throw an anchor overboard to ground yourself and keep yourself from drifting on the rough seas. The question is where do we put our anchors?

When faced with the storms that will inevitably hit our lives, do we run for high ground or do we run back to our “safe place?” That place where we always found comfort in the past. For some this is drugs, others alcohol. It could be the safety we find in the arms of another man or woman outside of marriage, or perhaps it is the internet pornography that is so easily accessible these days. Regardless, we need to be careful where we place our anchors.

When the storm hits, many times we have no warning and are not prepared for it. Take for example, unemployment. You get called into the office one Friday only to find that you are no longer employed. No warning…no sirens…no weather station telling you its coming. Now you have to determine how to tell your family. How to face the humility of telling your children that you no longer have a job. Your mind wanders to “how will I feed my family?” or “how will I pay rent?” The storm clouds are rolling in and the wind is beginning to pick up. The sky darkens above you and you begin to doubt your abilities as both a husband and a father and the next thing you know you are throwing down your anchor to weather the storm.

If this has happened to you, or you may be dealing with it now, I can assure you that God will weather the storm with you. You are never alone in the boat. Instead of anchoring yourself to the world, anchor yourself in faith and prayer.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Philippians 4:6

For some this is much easier than others. I myself find it easy to have faith in the dark times. I have seen first-hand what God can do if we allow Him to work in our lives. It was not always that easy for me. I found myself running from God when the storms approached and anchoring myself in the world instead of anchoring myself in Jesus. Somehow that never worked out for me and the storms only intensified. It does not come easily though. Like anything else in life, it takes practice removing the doubt in our lives. Doubt only comes from the father of lies.

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” James 4:7

You have to ask yourself, “where is my anchor?” Are you anchored to an addiction or perhaps you are just anchored to doubt instead of faith. Well, I can tell you that there is a way to weather the storm and break free of that anchor weighing you down.

The anchor of a U.S. aircraft carrier weighs over 30 tons and the links are just an incredible size and strength. Sometimes we allow our anchor to grow to ensure that we are firmly grounded in our “safe zone.” Once we are anchored, our sin only strengthens the chain that holds us there. Fortunately there is a solution.

I believe that most of you have heard the song by Zach Williams entitled Chain Breaker. In his song he talks about God breaking the chains of sin that bind us. My God is a chain breaker.God can also break the chain of the anchor that is holding you down regardless of its size or strength.

 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

No matter what storm you may be experiencing in your life today, God has already provided a safe haven for you. He sent His son to die upon a cross and shed His blood so that you no longer had to be anchored to sin in this world! He carried your sin and mine so that we did not have to. And He did all this before you were even born!

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

Can you ever imagine such love? Not in this world, but My God is love. He loves us so much that he would sacrifice His only son so that we may be free. What a wonderful gift. It is only by faith that you are saved. So when the storm approaches, be sure to anchor yourself in faith and prayer rather than the things of this world. You will see such a difference in how you are able to weather the storm.

Dear Father, I thank you for your wonderful grace and mercy. I will never be worthy of your grace but I thank you that you sent your Son to die upon the cross for me so that I no longer had to be anchored to this sinful world. I pray today that these words may touch someone as they have me. I pray that anyone that may be anchored in the wrong place, that You will reach out to them wherever they are and touch them and let them know that they are not alone. Send Your Holy Spirit upon them and strengthen them or convict them that they may turn the tide and find You waiting for them. I will continue to give You all the glory forever. Amen!

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Break Free From Your Prison

“Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit. Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.”  James 5:13-20 (NKJV)

We live in a world that is filled with heartache and strife. Everywhere you look you see poverty, war, disease, homelessness, starvation, and sin of every kind. It is easy to get caught up in all of it and lose our focus. James here is addressing the Christian Jews that had been scattered abroad according to God’s will. He knew that they were easily drawn away from the lord since they were living among sinners. They were persecuted, made to live in poverty, and sometimes even killed for their beliefs. They had been through so much already and he wanted to reassure them that they should not lose sight of God. Let’s take a look at what James was referring to here.

The original Greek word for trouble used here is kak-o-pa-theo which means to “endure or suffer hardships.” Here he is referring to hardships such as bereavement, disappointment, persecution, unemployment, financial troubles–all the things that we face daily. Later James will deal with sickness but for now he is referring to the hardships that you and I face everyday.

Everyone has trouble of some sort in their lives. Perhaps you are facing financial crisis or loss of a job. Perhaps you have recently lost a loved one or you’re facing a bully at school that is teasing you. Sometimes we suffer because of our own sins. Those things that happen when we stray from the presence of the lord and lose our way. The hurt, anger, confusion, and hopelessness that can plague us when we are not right with God.  Look at the parable of the prodigal son. He had to endure much because of his sin. Christians suffer for righteousness sake and sometimes our suffering just has no apparent reason. Whatever the case may be, there is one to whom you can turn in time of need and he will deliver you.

“You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” I John 4:4 (NKJV)

How are we to handle suffering? Well, some turn to drugs or alcohol to try and drown out the sorrow. Some turn their rage outward and persecute those around them while still others can turn it inward and become trapped in a world of despair. Most of us just complain about it and hope that it goes away. We complain that “God did this” or “God didn’t do this” or we simply blame it on other people. This only works to feed the cycle of sin.

The Word tells us that we are to rejoice about it.

“but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.” 1 Peter 4:13 (NKJV)

“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.” James 1:2-3 (NKJV)

We are also instructed to be patient.

Wait on the Lord;
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the Lord! Psalms 27:14 (NKJV)

So, we are called to rejoice and be patient but also to pray for our sufferings. James tells us to pray for the removal of the suffering if it be God’s will. Paul pleaded with God three times to remove the thorn in his flesh but it was God’s will that he should endure it so that, as Paul writes,”…that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9b (NKJV). Prayer is our open line of communication with the creator. He desires for us to draw closer to Him and to know of His great love through an intimate relationship with him. He wants to heal us and deliver us from the evil in the world but He can’t do that unless we offer up our prayers in faith.

James uses the example of Elijah to drive this point home. He states in verse 17 that “Elijah was a man with a nature like us.” Elijah was no different from any other man on earth, except Christ of course, but he was prone to the same temptations that we are. Yet he prayed to God “earnestly” it says. Not half-way or sometimes, but earnestly that it would not rain and it did not for three and a half years. Then, it says, he prayed again and the heavens poured rain.

So, what keeps us from praying faithfully like Elijah?

As we experience difficulties whether it be physical or emotional, we begin to build walls. We feel ridiculed, so we build a wall. We feel rejected, so we build up a wall—we think we should have it our way and when we don’t, we build a wall. Before you know it, we have built ourselves into a personal prison that prevents us from praying faithfully. These prisons can take on many forms. Each one drawing us farther away from our Father. The first of these is the Prison of Depression.

It is far too easy to get caught in this prison today. The economy is in the dumps, military conflicts are all over the globe, divorce rates are skyrocketing, and our children are faced with situations that challenge their beliefs everyday at school. This prison challenges our faithfulness. When we are depressed we become self-loathing and regretful. When we throw up our hands and say “Its just not worth it” God says…

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28 (NKJV)

When we become overwhelmed with everything happening in our lives and say “I can’t manage anymore”, God says…

And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19 (NKJV)

And when we reach our wits end and say  “I just can’t go on anymore” God says….

And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.2 Corinthians 12:9 (NKJV)

Made perfect in weakness—that point of brokenness at which God meets us, wraps His loving arms around us, and clothes us in His love. God most definitely can work in our lives if we only allow Him to do His work. So, the prison of depression can keep us from praying with faith.

Then there’s the prison of shame.

We will never be worthy of God’s grace. No matter what you do, you will never earn it. It is a free gift from God because of His great love.

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, Ephesians 2:8 (NKJV)

Satan knows this truth and tries to guilt us by shame and then we become trapped in this prison of shame. He reminds us of our past and tries to convince us that we are beyond saving. Satan will use every opportunity we give him to make us feel disgraced and ashamed. He says, “you’re not worthy” I heard a preacher say once, “If God had a refrigerator, you’re picture would be right in front.” We are ALL worthy!

God never reminds us of our sin. When we confess our sins and are forgiven, he throws them into the sea of forgetfulness.

He will again have compassion on us, And will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins Into the depths of the sea. Micah 7:19 (NKJV)

It is only the evil one that reminds us of our past mistakes and tries to draw us away from the Lord with them. We all carry regrets with us. Whether from childhood or yesterday, we can easily become trapped in the prison of shame but thankfully God gives us a way out through the cross. Only faith will allow us to break free from this prison. We must have faith and not doubt.

It is so easy for Satan to convince us that we belong in the prison of doubt. We seek answers from God in prayer and when we do not get it right away, the seed is planted. We want to believe but we are trapped in this prison of doubt because we cannot see all that God is doing for us.

How many times have you prayed for something and when God didn’t answer right away you became doubtful that he would give it to you or that he even heard you at all? This is when our faith is truly tested. We live in an “instant world” today. We have the internet, and as my kids always remind me, the internet is never wrong. We have satellite television with video on demand, even our cell phones can give us up-to-date weather information. We cannot however expect our prayers to be answered in the same instant fashion. And this can cause doubt. We are told to not doubt when we pray.

For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them. Mark 11:23-24 (NKJV)

The prison of pride is probably the most common one.

When sin entered the world, so did pride. We have all dealt with it in one way or another at some time in our lives. Some of you may still struggle with it even today.

We tell ourselves that we know better than God and therefore do not completely let go and allow God to work in our lives. This prevents us from having a true prayer of faith because in our hearts we think we know how to handle it.

Or perhaps we become impatient and take it back from God. When we lay it at the cross it should stay there. Christ cannot work in our lives unless we allow him to. We must open ourselves up and begin to pray again with faith.

Know that God will supply all your needs. It has been promised in the Holy Word of God! When we try to do it ourselves, we rob ourselves of the opportunity to draw closer to God and reveal Himself to us.

We can’t offer up a prayer and then prescribe to Him how it should be answered. It’s presumptuous for us to think that we know better than the One that created the heavens and the earth.

God often has to humble us in order to draw us closer to him. We should seek that humbleness and welcome it when God brings it to us.

It is never easy to be humble because it goes against our grain, but in order to give over complete control to God, we have to be able to submit all. This allows God to work in our lives.

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

Pride is probably the most common way that we create distance between us and God. We do not confess our sins to one another because we are afraid that someone may find out and judge us for what we have done.

Oh my—how embarrassing that would be!

Don’t you think Christ was embarrassed to be stripped, beaten, and nailed to a cross for everyone to see? They spit on him, laughed at him, and called him names all while he hung there naked so that you and I may be free. If he didn’t care what others thought, than why should we?

So what are we to pray for?

We are to pray that the suffering may be taken from us if—and here’s the important part—if it is God’s will to do so. I think we lose track of that sometimes and expect God to give us everything we ask for.

Things happen. It is simply part of living in a sinful world. But God can take anything bad and turn it to good for His kingdom.

He sometimes allows us to suffer because he desires for us to be closer to him, to bring us into a right relationship with Him, but he also desires for us to be happy. He calls us to endure hardships with patience for His name sake.

So we are to pray for patience as well but James also tells us to lift our prayers in praise. Our Father inhabits the praise of His people. We should never forget that everything we have comes from the Lord. Thank him for the air you breathe, the food on your table, the roof over your head. Remember to thank him for his saving grace and for saving us from the eternal flames.

Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. James 5:14 (NKJV)

Imagine what would happen if there were more prayer in medicine. God gave man medicine to help him, but he also gave us the power of prayer. Prayer can become medicine and that’s one prescription that you don’t have to stand in a long line for.

I believe that God created the community of believers because He wanted us to fellowship together, worship together, laugh and cry together, and pray together.

He didn’t intend for us to be alone. In the Garden, God created woman so that man did not have to be alone. We are to be a communal people; Lifting one another up in prayer.

James is calling us to action. We are to pray for one another and sing praises to God for His many blessings. We are to pray for the lost that they may be found and we are to pray for one another that we may be strengthened in the Lord. It is our responsibility as children of God to pray for the lost.

There is only one way to break free from your prison and you cannot do it by yourself, but thankfully God has given us a way out. Ready for this?

Christ went to the cross, bled, died, and rose again that you may be free from your prison. Let me say that again—Christ went to the cross and died that you may never again be imprisoned by sin.

God sent His Son so that you and I no longer had to live in our prisons. He unlocked the cell and has paid the price. All we have to do is step out of our prisons and come closer to Him.

God gave us one another to help us accomplish this. What would you do for your family? Would you lay hands on them if they were sick, Would you praise them? Do you pray for them? Then why should the Family of God be any different?

Deaf Father, I think you for your undeserving mercy and grace. I think you that you have compassion on a sinner such as I and while I was still a sinner, your Son died upon the cross for me so that I did not have to live in sin. I pray that you would use these words to perhaps reach someone that is trapped in a prison today. Reach out and touch their lives in a way that will leave no doubt that You are on the throne! Lord, you are the great healer so I humbly ask that you touch all those that are afflicted either emotionally or physically today who are reading this. Wrap your loving arms around them that they may begin to experience what you desire for us to be. I will continue to give your son all the glory forever. Amen and Amen!

Facing the Bullies in our Life

Have you ever felt bullied? I don’t mean “picked on” once in a while but rather continual chastisement for whatever reason. This is a problem that I am all too familiar with. Fortunately, there is a way to handle bullies that will end their reign in our lives.

As a child, I had to endure the daily torment of others. It is as if children have a special sense of who is different and they pounce on them like a lion–devouring them. I was made fun of, chased on the playground, pursued nine long blocks home every day while insults were hurled at me. I was pummeled with rocks, beaten, humiliated, and laughed at. I had no way out and no one to protect me so I just dealt with it each day and quickly came to understand that I was never going to be worthy of friends. The summers were long and lonely, counting the days until I had to return to the daily torment.

This kind of behavior can certainly influence the way a person thinks and sees themselves later in life. It will often times drive them into a “self-medication” mode early in life and they soon spiral out of control. My heart aches daily for all the children in the schools that have to endure that same things that I had to as a child. My daughter often comes home and tells me how someone pushed her or made fun of her at school. It breaks my heart and “dad mode” kicks in and off to the school we go.

The Israelites were bullied by the Egyptians for over 400 years. They were enslaved and made to labor day and night. God, however, stood up for them. He protected His chosen people. He allowed it to happen in order to bring them to a point where He could work with them. Much like the potter with the clay.

Yet you Lord are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.    Isaiah 64:8 (NIV)

Our Heavenly Father does this with us sometimes in order to bring us to a place where we are more “pliable.” Sometimes it is only in our times of true brokenness that we are able to be used for His will. As humans born into a sinful nature, it is easier for us to take control of our own lives rather than have the faith that is needed to allow God full control. But only by doing so can we ever experience God’s plan for us…and He does have one!

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

So, Moses and Aaron were dispatched to bring God’s people out of Egypt. We all know the story of how God hardened the heart of the pharaoh and then rained down plagues on him and his people and was finally convinced to let them leave. Now by this time the Israelites numbered over 600,000. This number only reflects the men so in reality there were probably closer to 2-2.5 million people including women and children. They made up almost half of the population of Egypt during that time.

God marched the Israelites around the edge of the mountains and circled them back to encamp on the banks of the Red Sea. They were led by a cloud during the day and a pillar of fire by night. When they arrived at the Red Sea, they found that the pharaoh and his army were pursuing them and they became afraid. They began to complain to Moses about their situation.

Isn’t that just like us? We don’t get what we think we need or we are put in a situation that looks hopeless and we begin to complain. Remember that the Israelites were camped in an area that gave them no way out. They had mountains on two sides, the Red Sea on another, and the world’s greatest army coming after them. They were locked in with no way to escape.

The Israelites were so used to being bullied that their natural reaction was one of chaos. They were conditioned to think of themselves as less than a person and to believe that nothing good could come of their lives. They needed an intercession from God to make them believe that someone did find them to be more valuable than anything. They were a “chosen” people just like we are. Here is Moses’ response to their complaining:

Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only be still.” Exodus 14:13-14 (NIV)

Moses tells them to just relax and allow the Lord to do His work. “…you need only be still.” So the angel of the Lord and the cloud moved from in front of them to behind them coming in between them and the Egyptians. It must have taken a tremendous act of faith for the Israelites to “be still” in that situation. Faced with a regretful and hateful pharaoh and his army pursuing them to drive them back. But that is what is required of us in order for God to work in our lives…faith.

We need to remember that no matter how the devil tries to bully us, there is always someone on our side that will fight for us. God will protect us from whatever we face, if we only allow Him to do so. He will position himself between us and the problem. We have to give up complete control and allow His work to be done through us. Just as he used the Israelites situation to bring about belief, He can do the same in our lives. Only God can turn a negative into a positive!

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.” John 10:28-30 (NIV)

Remember that bullies only have power and control in your life if you allow them to. Satan can only bully you if you allow him to. Stand strong and turn to your faith in God as your refuge. This world is only temporary and one day we will all be in the presence of our Deliverer to sing praises to His name. Don’t be bogged down with the things of this world but rather “be still.”

Dear Father, as I approach your Throne of Grace today, I want to thank you for looking out for me all those many years. I look back now and can see your plan unfolding. I thank you for your mercy and Your grace. Your love will endure forever and I look to that whenever I am feeling down about my life. I pray that you protect all those that are faced with bullies everyday and that you bestow upon them the peace that surpasses all understanding. I pray that you may reveal yourself to them and remind them to just be still and know you are God! I will continue to give you all the glory. Amen.

 

We are Commissioned

“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. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”          (Matthew 28:19-20)

I want to take a few moments today to look at the Great Commission. I think that most of us know this and probably many by heart. This is when Jesus commanded His disciples to go out into the world and make disciples. So what does that look like in today’s world?

First I think we need to look at a very key word, “GO.” Jesus did not tell His disciples to just “kick back here, sit in the shade of a camel and wait for them to come to you.” No He told them to “go and make disciples.” It is much easier today than it was 2000 years ago. We don’t have to track miles across the desert to the next town. Instead we can simply post on social media and…voila…done. But there is something to be said about the journey and not just the destination.

I have seen many churches over the years that have either lost sight of this or were not sure how to make it happen. I mean no judgment. Please do not misunderstand me. This is simply my impression after long talks with boards, pastors, deacons, and laypeople. I think that many interpret this as a call to go out and make new Christians. Although that is what we are called to do, this goes beyond that. We pay our tithe so that someone else can go do it. Missions is a very important part of ministry, but we were not called to be timid.

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline (II Timothy 1:7)

We do indeed need to seek out the lost and show them that their lives need not be so empty. That there is more for them than what this world can offer. We lead others to know the love that we ourselves know and experience everyday in our lives. We lead by example and by the Word of the Spirit through us. We do not lead others to know Christ as their personal savior so that we can have the recognition, but rather so that God can be glorified!

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Discipleship is such a key part of Christianity. I remember when I first became a Christian. I thought to myself, “now what?” What was expected of me? What tools was I going to need in order to make this stick? Discipleship is more than just leading someone to Christ, giving them a bible, and then saying “Read this. Tylenol for headaches–Mydol for any cramps. Let me know if you have any questions.” We are expected to pull that new Christian along side of us and journey with them through the darkness to find the Light.

In a book entitled, One Conversation at a Time, D. Michael Henderson reminds me that we just need to follow the example of Jesus. How did He do it? “…one discussion, one conversation, one heart-to-heart discussion at a time” (Henderson, 6). Jesus walked across the land during His ministry on earth and spread the Good News one conversation at a time. Think about how many people He came in contact with on a daily basis. How many posts do we make on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram? How many of those reflect the true nature of God in our lives?

What are we willing to do for those that have come to know Christ? How do we lead them? We are all responsible for them. A word of encouragement or even praying for them daily. Being a new Christian in today’s world is not easy. We are bombarded daily by ads and pop-ups that tell us we can have more. Remember when Jesus was tempted three times? Was He not offered the world by one that could not deliver? We have to protect those that are in our lives from this same temptation.

“My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.”   (John 17:15)

You need only to look to the news to see how twisted the world is. Satan may be loose now, but we know in the end he will be thrown into the lake of fire and he is trying to take as many with him as he can. The question is, what are we willing to do about it? Why do you think Christ sent the twelve out into the world to make disciples? How did they know how to do that? They watched Jesus Himself do it with them. They had an awesome example. What example will you set today?

Dear Father, I thank you for your awesome mercy and grace. I thank you for all that you have protected me from over the years and for all those that you have set in my path to guide me where I needed to be. I ask now that you use Your words here today to touch someone’s life in a profound way. In a way that they may have no denying the power of the Cross. I humbly ask that you use me how You may so that your kingdom may be glorified! Be with each person that reads these words that they may be encouraged as I was in writing them. I will continue to give you all the glory! Amen.

Complacency-Lukewarm Christianity in Today’s World-UPDATED

 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. Revelations 3:15-16

I have had several conversations with people over the last several days regarding Disney’s decision to include a “gay scene” in their cartoons and movies. While most are taking a stand against it, others are “going with the flow” or accepting it as what is necessary. Since when is sin “necessary?” Just curious. Did I miss the memo?

During a conversation I recently had, we were discussing how many theaters were pulling the new movie. I mentioned how Disney was going to have a hard time making its money back from production if it was pulled and boycotted. They then said, “Oh well. That’s just the way the world is headed.” I was taken back coming from someone that attends church regularly and even teaches the children of that church. I am not sitting in judgment here so please do not misunderstand me. That is a conversation for this person and God…not me. But it made me think about how complacent we have become both as Christians and as a people.

We live in a world where we are bombarded daily that we need to be tolerant and accepting of others. I accept all people for who they are but I do not have to believe in their actions. We should not be afraid to speak out against the sin. Jesus taught tolerance and love yet confronted evil everywhere He went. He went up against the Pharisees precisely because what they stood for was wrong and in the end, He was persecuted for it. Should we not at least be prepared to do the same? Love the sinner…hate the sin.

Complacency is precisely why the “world is headed” the way it is! Have we so watered down our beliefs that they have become lukewarm like the church at Laodicea? John warned them against spiritual indifference and called for courage under persecution. Christ is calling us to be warriors for Him. We as Christians need to rise up and say enough is enough…take a stand for Christ and stop being so afraid of confrontation that we allow the world to be what it is.

Where will your seed fall?

Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them. Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy.  But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word;  but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. Mark 4:15-19

UPDATE:

With all that is happening in the world right now I thought it would be a good time to re-visit some of my earlier posts. This one speaks volumes and we need to take it to heart. God has not called us to be afraid to face the world but rather to be a light unto the world just as He was. There is widespread hate, battles for acceptance by all groups, and every kind of false prophet you can think of trying to show the way.

We need to be careful in these end times that we do not fall into the traps of the world but rather stand firm on the Word of God. We must everyday put on the full armor of God in order to battle the forces that work to devour us.

And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved. Matthew 24:10-13 (NKJV)

Many churches have grown cold already with the widespread acceptance of homosexuality into their churches. It is one thing to accept the sinner and quite another to accept the sin for the sake of acceptance from the world. God called us to be different from the world and to be a beacon of hope for the lost. How can we do this when we have made a bed in the den of the very wolves that will one day come to devour us?

I am truly disheartened by the posts I see on Facebook. I see people posting “likes” and little “love” hearts for posts that are, quite frankly, inappropriate. I hear words used that are profane and demeaning toward other groups. The sad part is that we do it all in the name of God and say “Well, I grew up with them so that is okay.” No it is not okay!!  This makes us no better than the people that we are trying to love into the kingdom. These are the things that do not honor God and we are allowing ourselves to be funneled into their world. This will bring about the complacency that God warns of us.

The hatred of the world is like a magnet and we must be careful not to allow ourselves to be pulled into it. Facebook and other social media makes it so easy to get wrapped up in the hype and before you know it, we are taking part in the same activities that we are condemning. Doesn’t that make us a false prophet? Does that not make us the very means by which we cause our own destruction?

We as Christians must be careful to watch every thing that comes out of our mouth. This starts with having the right mindset. My mother always told me that if I didn’t cuss away from home, I wouldn’t cuss at home. How very true those words are. We need to ground ourselves in the Word of God and allow it to direct our paths. Jesus did not stretch out His arms on the cross so that we could spit on His sacrifice with our worldly desires. Next time you become outraged at the hate and feel the need to post something about it, remember that even unto death, Jesus asked for their forgiveness.

Dear Jesus, thank you for putting this message on my heart today. I ask that you watch out over the leaders of our world and direct their paths so that Your will can be done on earth as in heaven. I ask that you be with each and every one that reads this post and may the Holy Spirit be able to speak to them as He has me. Lord, I seek your forgiveness for my inability to resist the temptation to partake from the table of the world. Please give me the strength and stamina I need to continue to battle the enemy when he comes to me in sheep’s clothing.

 

Keeping the Faith When You Feel Lost

Each morning I get up, shower and shave, feed the dogs, the fish, and Taz , our guinea pig. I try to remove all distractions that get in my way of communing with God. I read my devotional, spend time in prayer and meditation and then the madness begins. Getting the kid dressed and off to school on-time, fighting traffic to get to work, dealing with subordinates that are challenging, and yet I still manage to keep my head above water. All the while battling the growing impatience in my life.

The truth is I fight with the same things everyone else does daily. I fight the urge to have road rage, to yell my head off because someone did not use a turn signal, to get frustrated with someone that I have shown the correct way to do things at least a dozen times, and the list goes on. Let’s face it. It is difficult to keep your sanity in today’s world.

I am thankful that I serve a God of compassion, mercy, and grace. It is during these times that I try to let Him shine through me and my actions. I am not always able to do it, but that is when the God’s forgiveness and mercy comes in. He has promised time and time again that He would not allow me to go through this life alone. In Isaiah He said,

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” Isaiah 43:2

Throughout all of this, perhaps like some of you, I still feel lost every day. I feel as though I am just wandering around aimlessly waiting for God to show me what He has in store for me. This is by far the greatest test of patience for me. Some days I feel as though I am going to explode with all that is in me. All the ideas I have for outreach, the overwhelming need to help others that are oppressed, the empathy that I must endure for those that are suffering, and the desire to disciple those that have come to know Jesus as their personal Savior so that they do not get lost again. When will God give me an outlet?

Each day I pray that He will use me to be a light in someone’s darkness, to show someone how Jesus can be the life preserver in their chaotic life. Even now as I sit here and write this, I am filled with sadness that I have no outlet. I try to fight back the tears that are welling up in my eyes thinking of all the lost opportunities. Does this mean I have lost my faith? Have I lost faith that God will use me or perhaps that He already has and I just do not know it? It makes my head hurt to think about it.

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

The good news is that God has a plan. Not a plan for me to fail, but rather one for me to prosper. That is a promise I can stand upon. One that all of us can stand upon. At those times when we are feeling the lowest and the devil has managed to give us a spirit of fear, anxiety, and timidity, we must remember that God does not make empty promises. He would not waste a gift of the Spirit on us without a plan to use it. That brings me joy to know that when the time is right, He will reveal to me what He would have me to do. Although I do not know His plan, I can believe that He has one and that we all work for the glorification of Christ in and through our actions and thoughts.

Dear Father, I thank you for the opportunity to come into your presence this morning. I think you for the opportunity to speak my heart in the hopes that it may give someone else the hope they need to continue on. I pray that you use this as you may and that you use me as you may…in Your time. When you are ready…so am I. Thank you dear Father for being my light in the darkness and for saving me from the world in which I lived. I give you all the praise and glory forever. Amen

 

Are My Prayers Heard?

Where do we find God? Where is He when we need Him most? Is He near? Why can’t I feel Him? Does He not hear me anymore? These are questions I think every Christian asks at some point or another. Perhaps you have been asking these very questions? Are you going through a rough patch and wondering where God is? Good news…..He is the same today as He was yesterday and will be tomorrow!

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8)

Since the Word of God is infallible, that is a promise you can stand on! But perhaps we are just not recognizing Him when He answers our prayers. Are our prayers pure in heart or motivated by selfishness? If you are praying for God’s will to be done and you mean it in your heart, then they are pure. God hears the prayers of the righteous man.

The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. James 5:16b

I believe that we get so caught up in the details that we lose track of the fact that God will deliver. We go into it with expectations and that is all we can see. When we pray for patience, perhaps God puts someone in our path to test our patience in order to teach us patience. Perhaps you have prayed for God to use you but cannot seem to find out how. Maybe he has been putting that same homeless man outside of your office building or on the same corner day after day to teach us outreach. The truth is we never really know what God has in plan for us but we need to remember that he is never late and he hears our prayers.

I heard a great sermon last night about commitment. It was powerful and truly stirred my soul. Have I been committing to the wrong things in life? I am committed to allow God to use me however He sees fit and with that comes the knowledge that it could be absolutely anything. He could choose for me to be homeless tomorrow or to be jobless. Whatever it is I have to accept as His plan and be joyful. That’s not easy sometimes because, let’s face it, we are human.

 Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. I Thessalonians 5:16-18

When Jesus walked the earth, he did not avoid those that were in need but instead went to them. They were broken and He met them and made them whole. He has and will continue to do the same for us. He promised to never leave nor forsake us (Deuteronomy  31:6) which means that no matter where we are or what we are facing He is there with us facing it too. We may not always know when He is answering prayer for us, but we can pray for wisdom (James 1:5) and He will give it to us. Remember that just because you may be going through a rough time, does not mean that God is not answering your prayer. He just may not be answering it the way you want Him to.

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. James 1:5

Dear Father, Thank you for this opportunity that you have given me to share what you have put in my heart. I ask that you may use this to reach someone that is struggling. Let Your words be a light in their darkness. I pray that you also teach me how to be more in tune with what you are providing for me when you answer my prayers. I may not always get what I want but I always get what I need. Thank you for your son Jesus and the stripes that healed me. Amen.