Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The House Rules

Recently I had the opportunity to observe a two different circumstances in which the persons involved used the old "you can't judge me, only God can judge me" defense as a scapegoat to hide what they knew was the TRUTH. They did not direct this copout at me...I was just watching this from afar.

Anyhow, through these situations, God gave me pause to consider the words of Christ in John 5:22, in which He says "the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son"He then goes on to elaborate on the litmus test whereby the judgment of the Son comes to bear. That being whether or not the life a person lives honors the Son. After considering this for a time, I believe I've gotten a better grasp on the rules of the House. Below are some of the thoughts that resulted from my ponderings…do with them what you like…here goes…


1. Man can't judge me. This is true because you are in the same broken condition as me. Now, because you are also broken, you are well acquainted with the characteristics of brokenness. In other words, you can spot a messed up person from across the room as easily as I can. My machine may not malfunction in the same areas that yours does…but broken is broken. So, I should not be surprised if you can correctly identify my brokenness, in a way you are simply identifying yourself in me. That being said, this “identification” isn't really “judgment”, it is simply empathy. And it goes without saying that the reason I don’t like being correctly identified as broken, and rail against it, is likely because you are correct in your assessment of my machine. However, in order to pass a moral judgment, one party must have moral authority over the other party. We are both broken. Neither of us has a leg to stand on when it comes to morality. In other words, the day you are able to fix my machine is the day you can pass true judgment on me. Until then, the best you can do is say, “Hey you just proved you’re as messed up as I am…welcome to the club!”

2. God doesn't have to judge me. This is true because He has set up the rules of the House to work otherwise. It's His game...and if He desires to create an automated machine, well, that's His business. Just because His rules don't fit our game, doesn't mean we have the ability to change the rules. The House always wins.

3. The Son has the right to judge me. This is true because He, acting in love and grace on our behalf, made a way that no person HAS TO receive judgment at all. When God the Father flipped the switch and empower His game, He turned over the rights of judgment to the Son. The Son then responded by taking the Judge’s gavel and beating Himself to death with it. In effect, this turned the tables on who has the responsibility of judging me completely upside down…because the only One (the Son) with the right to judge me chose instead to self-inflict the sentence of my judgment upon Himself.

4. Only one remains from whom my judgment can come. The House (God the Father) has decided...I will judge myself. This self-judgment comes with two options…and two possible outcomes.
1. If my life honors the Son, then all the benefits of son-ship become mine.
2. If my life denies the Son, then I have condemned myself.  

These are the rules of the House. This is how He has ordained the game will be played. At the end of the day, God will receive all the glory because whether we choose condemn ourselves or honor the Son with our lives...God still owns all the chips. And let us not forget that He has already declared that all the players will bow at the feet of the Son eventually. We simply get to choose whether we do it the easy way or the hard way. Some will bow on their own accord...the rest will be forced to their knees. In the words of CS Lewis... Either we will choose to look at God and say "Your will be done" or He will look at us and say "very well then, your will be done".

Either way we choose, Christ will be honored. After all, either way, He has already won the game.  

Carry on Truth Seekers…

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Faith and Trust in Action

There are times we arre afforded the opportunity to pray alongside those who are struggling through trials. We are quick to step out in faith and stand on Gods word when we aren't the ones struggling. But what happens when the tables are turned? How does our faith add up when we are on the other end, going through the hardships that life throws at us? Are we built up and steadfast in The Lord enough to endure and press on with same faith we are so quick to tell others about? And why does God reveal His word in such ways to us? Why do we have to struggle in so many areas of this life? It almost seems as if we can never get a brake! You always hear folks talking about, "If it ain't one thing it's another.” Why is that?

Well the answer is right here in the Word of God. 1 Peter 1:6-7 says this:
In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. THESE HAVE COME SO THAT YOUR FAITH, OF GREATER WORTH THAN SILVER AND GOLD, WHICH PERISHES EVEN THOUGH REFINED BY FIRE- MAY BE PROVED GENUINE AND MAY RESULT IN PRAISE, GLORY AND HONOR.......

God will build us up and reveal His Truth to us, so that our Faith and Trust may only be in Him. Then, at some point, He will allow us to go through various trials to test our Faith. This testing allows us to see just how pure out faith really is.

There are many scriptures that reveal faith through the lives of those who believed enough to step out in it. James says Abraham was considered righteous by “what he did” when he presented Isaac as a sacrifice on the altar (James 3:20). Verse 22 says that both Abraham’s faith and his actions were working in conjunction together. Ultimately, his faith was made complete by what he did.

James is also clear that faith without works is dead…just as the body without the spirit is dead (James 2:26). True faith is indicated by the steps we take, rather than the words we speak. James 2:18 says, “Show me your faith by what you say and I’ll show you mine what I do!”

We know Hebrews 11 as the faith chapter. Everyone in this chapter had on thing in common; they proved their faith by what they did. When Abraham was called to go to a place that he would later receive as his inheritance, he obeyed and went. Even though he did not know where he was going, he stepped out in faith. Noah, when warned about things not seen, in his holy fear, built an ark to save his family. Rehab hid the spies, because she knew the Israelites were Gods chosen people.

Hebrews 11:1 states: Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things yet seen.  When the disciples were battling a storm in the boat, and Jesus came to them walking on water, Peter had faith that the figure walking on the water was Christ. Christ, it could be said, represented the substance of Peter’s faith. The evidence that Christ was Peter’s substance was manifested when he stepped out of the boat.  

In Luke 18:38 the two blind men heard Jesus was walking by and started yelling “Jesus Son of David have mercy on us”. Everyone tried to tell them to be quite but they refused. The substance of their faith was Christ.  The evidence that Christ was that substance was their persistence in reaching out and yelling, despite the crowd’s demands. 

What about the paralytic man and his four friends (Mark 2:4)? Those guys knew Christ was the only possibility of healing for their friend.  Christ, once again, was the substance of their faith. The evidence, in this case, was that in spite of the pressing crowd offering no way to get in, the men climbed on the house, dug a hole in the roof, and lowered their friend to Christ. 

Scripture demonstrates over and over that our faith is proven genuine by what we do. Just to list a few more: the woman with the issue of blood, Zacchaeus climbing the tree, the ten leapers healed, the official’s son being healed…the list could go on. 

We all know the familiar story of the two farmers. Both farmers prayed for rain so their crops would grow. One prayed standing in faith that God would answer. The other prayed standing in faith also, then he began preparing his field to receive the rain. Who had more faith? Of course, it was the second farmer.

We must have faith, and that faith being only in Christ. More importantly, however, we must trust in God’s provision with so much assurance that our faith is translated into action.

Faith and trust are two very important words to the Christian experience. However, while Faith and trust go hand in hand, they are not the same thing. The following is a good analogy for the difference between faith and trust...

Let’s say there was a well-known tight ropewalker that came to perform at the Grand Canyon, and you and I went to check it out. We had heard of this guy on the radio, the news, and read about him in magazines. This guy was the real deal. His plan was to tight ropewalk the corner of the Grand Canyon with no safety net. We were right up front watching when he turned to us and said, “Do you guys believe I can do this?”  
“Oh yes!” we told him, “We know you can! We have “faith” in you. We have heard about you on radio, and watched you on TV, and read about you in magazines.” 
He then said, “Not only am I going to walk the highline, but I’m going to do so pushing this wheelbarrow in front of me. I’ve added the wheelbarrow to the act for a couple of reasons. One, to help me keep balance, and the other…just to make it interesting.” He then looks and said, “Do you still believe I can do this?”
You responded, “Absolutely”.
But then, to your surprise, he said, “Awesome, then get in the wheelbarrow!”

WOW…Things just changed! I may have faith he can walk that tight rope, but do I trust him enough to do it with me in the wheelbarrow?

Guys, that’s the mindset of many Christians. We have faith that God can do anything. We have witnessed Him do it on many different occasions. However do we trust Him to do for us what we have seen Him do for others? We must get to a point in our relationship with our Savior that we trust Him in all areas of our lives. Not just when it’s convenient and comfortable, but in all areas, all the time. Today, lets make a commitment to draw into a closer, more intimate relationship with our Savior. Let’s seek Him for a deeper faith, let’s trust Him at His word, and prove that faith by what we do. 

Until next time, keep seeking the TRUTH.  

Friday, August 7, 2015

The Distant Christian

Good Day Truth Seekers,

It is an honor to share something with you that the Lord has laid upon my heart over the past few weeks. Often, in my life, when the Spirit begins to speak to me, He has to do it repetitiously until finally I take hold of what He is communicating. Allow me to illustrate what I'm saying. Let’s pretend I am driving down an unfamiliar county road and I notice a sign that reads “Reduced Speed Ahead”, followed by the new speed limit sign, which is then followed by the “s” (winding road ahead) sign. Ultimately, the moment comes in which I see the importance of yielding my attention to the fair warnings I previously encountered. I had neither reduced my speed, nor did I obey the direct sign that told me the new speed limit. By time a see the “s” sign, it is almost too late. As I enter the curvy section of the road, I panic and do what comes natural; I let go of the wheel and ditch my car in an attempt to save my life...all while screaming “God Help Me!!!”

Well, perhaps the tail end of the fictitious story is a little ridiculous but if you will follow where I am going, you may be able to relate more than you realize.

A few weeks ago I had the privilege of hearing David Markham speak a message that was “on-point” with what the Spirit had already spoken into my own life. David’s told the story of how Peter, time and time again, spoke of the love he had for the Lord. The 26th chapter of Matthew records him saying “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you”. We later read that the soldiers come to arrest Jesus and Peter draws out his sword and with all his might, cuts off the ear of servant of the high priest. Jesus immediately rebukes Peter and heals the servant as they take Jesus to present him to Sanhedrin. Peter then begins to follow Jesus and the guards, but only from afar.  What is interesting about his actions is this; just a few hours earlier he was telling Jesus how he would never disown him, even if it meant death, but he is now following Jesus from a distance. Just close enough so that no one would surely be able to identify Peter as a Christ follower. In David’s message he went on to bring to light the times that we, who are “in relationship” with Christ, are often found to be the same as Peter, warming his hands by the fire and disowning Christ. Maybe, eventually David will have the opportunity to publish his message and you will have the chance to let it challenge you as it did for me. This is when I knew that it was time to listen closely to what the Spirit was speaking. After all, I found myself in the same scenario as aforementioned. This was not the first time over that past few weeks that this has been brought up. After pondering further what the Lord was trying to communicate, this is what I believe him to be saying.

I believe that we all can identify with Peter...much more than we want to. We have all been in a particular time in our life where we have chosen the world, and it’s desires, over the Lord. Unfortunately, this only gets easier to do the more times it happens. At first, you feel the conviction, but after a few times, it really is not that big of a deal to you anymore. Is this not what happened with Peter? The Word says that after Jesus’ death, Peter went back to fishing. Let’s relate. Often we have our transforming experience of salvation, we encounter the Lord, and begin to follow Him closer and closer every day. We are spending time in devotion and letting the Sprit perform It’s life changing work in our lives. But then something happens, we begin to pick up some of the old things we used to do, hang around the old crowd, or in my case, get so busy and caught up in the whirlwind of life that our relationship with Christ suffers. My father-in-law has an acronym for the word BUSY...

                                                   B-U-S-Y: Bound Under Satan’s Yoke. 

Once we create a busy life we are more prone to becoming distant, and when that happens, we become vulnerable to the enemy. Eventually, we will get to a place where we will say in our hearts that we love the Lord, when our lives tell a completely different story. It brings you to a place where you wonder… How Did I Get Here? I know I am saved, I know that I love Him, so why do I feel so distant from the Lord?  Why is it that I find myself being more reactive to my circumstance instead of being proactive by seeing God’s signs of direction? I believe that it always comes back to the basic disciplines of being a disciple: Pray, Fast, Study, and Follow. When I find myself in that distant place, I can always go back and find one or more of these four disciplines is lagging behind. It is difficult to only participate in only one of these and not disregard one, or all, of the others. Prayer and fasting normally go hand in hand, but they both demand that you study the Word. Once you read the Word of God the only thing left to do is faith it out and follow.

You see, we are not that much different from Peter after all, we often find ourselves loving the Lord, but only following Him from a distance. The great news is, not all was lost for Peter. After Jesus’ death, He returns and finds Peter and the other disciples fishing. Once Peter realized it was Jesus on the shore, he jumped out of the boat and swam to him. This paints a beautiful illustration of a great reunion of a man who was distant and leaves all he has to be back, hand in hand, with his Savior. Maybe you have read this and can relate; you are not where you once were in regards to your relationship with Christ. I can assure you, you are not the only one who has felt distant. The great news is that all you have to do is pick up where you left off. I encourage you today, if you have found yourself Bound Under Satan’s Yoke, take a step back and realign your priorities. It might save you from having to ditch your car in a panic.  

Be Blessed and Thank You for reading.


Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Houston, We Have a Problem!

There is a great schism in the American Church today. When I say “Church”, forget denominations, I am talking about everything that belongs to the Church of the Living God. When I was young, growing up in the late 70s and 80s, the church house was a revered and special place. Unfortunately, not everyone attended church, and the majority of the attendees were women...faithful women who covered their households in prayer, in church work, and in ministry. Although many of the men I knew, at that time, did not attended church, nor spoke publicly about things of the Lord, when they were confronted with the Gospel they would usually say something like, ”I know, one of these days I’m going to come to church”. Everyone I knew at least had a default respect for the Church.

Now, let’s fast forward to today. In my own little corner of the world, I DAILY converse with people who not only have no history or knowledge of the church, but they have no FEAR or RESPECT for the church either. Lines have clearly been drawn between the Church and the Secular world and, at the present, I see these lines only becoming clearer and more pronounced. In one way, this has the possibility of being good for Christians, because we can easily see those we need to be praying for. However, it is also a sad reality because we can see the degradation of our society, right before our eyes. 

Things have indeed changed in the last several years. Today in America, the mega-church is the archetype of what most churches would like to become. The smaller, local church is being reduced to minimalism, evidenced by many church closings around the nation. The mega church has become very alluring for its ability to provide ministry in a way that small churches can only dream of. There are MANY larger churches in America that preach the gospel and provide ministries that are wonderful examples of Christ. However, if the TV programs provided by “some” of the extremely large churches in America are any indication, we have allowed the secular world to influence the Church. Unfortunately, instead of us being conformed to the “likeness” of Christ, we are becoming conformed to the “likeness” of the world. Admittedly, there is nothing wrong with big or small churches, per say. My concern is that anytime our focus is on numbers, growth, and gratification of self, we stand to lose our true focus. We can become enamored with the pursuit of success and adopt tactics that will promote a “numbers measured” success. We must be reminded and encouraged that Jesus told us there was a large path that many find, and a small path that very few find. I want to see the church grow the right way!

Allow me share an illustration that examples the divide between what I refer to as the “modern” church and the “true” church. A few sermons ago, my Pastor told a story concerning one of his good friends in the ministry. This particular minister is pastoring a church up north. He shared with us that his friend called recently to share that one of the “mega” churches in his area had begun a campaign to reach people by boldly proclaiming that God’s number one goal is to “make the individual happy”. Personally, I have heard this very thing on various religious TV programs. This is a prime example of how many churches out there are trying to reach people by promising earthly happiness and material treasure. Now, God does want us to be eternally happy, but as you are well aware, real life is full of troubles and trials and temptations. I find this teaching particularly disturbing in light of the fact that all one has to do is flip on the news and see Christians being martyred all over the Middle East. The idea of “now happiness” that is pervading our society is just one example of how the ideas of the world can creep into a body of believers.

One of the surest ways to stunt spiritual growth is to adopt the methods of the world into our churches.  The scripture clearly provides guidance on how we are to conduct ourselves with an “in it, but not of it” approach.  I would like to say that the standard for the American church is not the American church, but rather, it is the living Word of God.

The concern of the world infiltrating the church is not a new one…let’s look at Ezra 4. 

1When the enemies of Judah and Benjamin heard that the exiles were building a temple for the Lord, the God of Israel, they came to Zerubbabel and to the heads of the families and said, “Let us help you build because, like you, we seek your God and have been sacrificing to him since the time of Esarhaddon king of Assyria, who brought us here.”

But Zerubbabel, Joshua and the rest of the heads of the families of Israel answered, “You have no part with us in building a temple to our God. We alone will build it for the Lord, the God of Israel, as King Cyrus, the king of Persia, commanded us.”

Then the peoples around them set out to discourage the people of Judah and make them afraid to go on building. They bribed officials to work against them and frustrate their plans during the entire reign of Cyrus king of Persia and down to the reign of Darius king of Persia.

Does this passage of scripture not shake us to our very core? Here we have an example of the “world” approaching the Jewish people and wanting to participate in the building of the temple. Surely, if they had been allowed to participate, their ideology would have crept in and tainted the work. The enemy would have slowly but surely damaged the work of God. We see that after being denied the chance to participate, the enemies of God then set out to stop the work completely. We do not need to be caught unaware of the enemy’s methods. My friends, we should be encouraged today that “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus”.

Here is the finality of my point. The world has changed. Just as Paul recognized the need to adapt in order to further the message of Jesus Christ, we too need to be ready to change and flow with what God is doing. However, Paul also taught us that the message NEVER changes! The TRUTH never changes and is never compromised. We must go forward with Truth, in boldness and clarity. When the world tries to change or compromise the gospel…that is when the truth needs to shine the brightest. ”Let God be true and every human a Liar”! Rest assured that if we refuse the world’s methods and “advice” for our churches, they will not be happy, nor want to participate. You may even be persecuted for it. But that is ok with me! We are charged to deliver the truth, and that truth is The Lord Jesus Christ. Child of God, let the light of Christ shine in you today, for the entire world to see!

Be blessed and keep on seeking and practicing the TRUTH!