Archive for January, 2013

30
Jan
13

Residing in the grace, mercy and love of God

Good morning Heavenly Father. Thank you for another day to love and serve you. For all you have done and continue to do for me my heart is filled with gratitude and humble adoration. You are the one true God, the creator of heaven and earth. All praise and honor is yours for you are indeed, Almighty God.

Without your grace and mercy I would have surely perished long ago. Your love and goodness sustains me. To you I owe my very life and my life belongs to you for you have paid the price to redeem me. Thank you for all you are, all you have done and all you will continue to do through and in your Son Jesus Christ my Lord and Savior. I love you.

The sooner we come to realize we are absolutely nothing without God is when we are released from the bondage of self will, self satisfaction and self dependence. Once released from the burden of being our own provider, master and savior, we can bask in the freedom that resides in fully trusting God to be our sufficiency and Redeemer and Lord.

We are nothing without God’s abounding grace. We have nothing without God’s abundance in our lives. We can do nothing without God’s power and strength. God is our reason for living and our reason for being. In Him we live and move and exist.

Almighty God, you are the one who fashioned me out of the dust of this earth and breathed into me my very life. It is your life which allows me live. You are the one who brought me from death unto life. Oh God, I would have no life without you. Oh Father, my life is not my own for you have paid the price to rescue me from sin and death.

With all my heart I praise you this glorious day. With all my heart I unabashedly proclaim my wholehearted love for you. With all my heart I lay down my pride and selfishness at your feet, and beg you forgiveness for ever thinking I could live without you. Thank you for your forgiveness, mercy, grace and love. I am truly humbled to be called your son and to call you my Father. In Jesus name, Amen.

With all of our hearts our daily cry should be one of humility and thanksgiving. With all of our hearts we should bow down before the creator of all that is good and thank Him for calling, saving and blessing us with life and the means to live it for Him.

We try so hard to do it all ourselves. We try so hard to prove how strong we are. In reality, God wants us to lay down our pride at His feet and be clothed in His grace, mercy and love. God lovingly desires that we allow Him to be our strength, our refuge and the love of our lives and joy of our hearts.

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29
Jan
13

Is ordination by man to his ministry or by God to His ministry?

A hotly debated topic is whether the public ordination service displays a person’s commitment to the group ordaining him/her or to Christian ministry. I believe the overwhelming majority of ordinations are by and to a particular group.

About this time in 1978 I was ordained. At the time, I believed I was being ordained to “The Christian Ministry”, but I quickly learned that my ordination was in reality to the ministry that ordained me. Instead of being totally committed to Jesus Christ and the ministry of His Gospel, I was slowly indoctrinated in what was expected me as a minister to the ministry that ordained me.

Even now, 35 years after having hands laid upon me, I still believe I was and am ordained to the Christian ministry. Unfortunately, the ministry that ordained me refuses to acknowledge I was even a part of their group let alone ordained by it. Because of this, what I believe my ordination is a matter between myself and the God I committed my life unto. Whether any person, government, ministry or church accepts my ordination means nothing to me. I am committed to God and not man.

In 1986 when it was time for me to depart that ministry due to it forsaking the truth of God’s Word and due to wrong teaching and application was hurting the very people it outwardly said it was helping, I was bombarded with threats of God’s retribution on my life and loss of eternal rewards. Any attempts on my part to defend my belief that my ordination was from God and not man were quickly and emphatically rebuked. I was “excommunicated” and told I was a heretic and infidel.

I believe, based on the Word of God, that ordination is nothing more than the public declaration of a person’s absolute commitment to Jesus Christ and the pronouncement of that person’s “ministry”. These ministries could be as teachers, pastors etc or any number of specific things listed in the New Testament that edify, help and minister to the Body of Christ.

I do not believe that ordination immediately gives a person reason to lord it over those he/she is responsible for. I do not believe that ordination is only a way to legally perform weddings and funerals. I do not believe that ordination is just a way to get a “Rev.” in front of your name. I do not believe that those ordained are the only ones qualified to teach, minister, etc.

I believe a person knows when they are ordained and whether they are ever officially prayed over and had hands laid on them is beside the point. I believe that it is possible for one ordained person to ordain another (spiritually not legally). I believe that the whole idea of ordination being a public declaration of one’s absolute commitment to a group or denomination is wrong. I believe ordination is God’s way of letting everyone know this person is 100% committed to Him and not man.

28
Jan
13

A few thoughts about friendship and what it take to maintain it

I have one brother and one sister. Both are substantially older than I am (by 13 and 8 years). Needless to say, relationships with my two siblings have been difficult, if not impossible, to maintain over the years. I was and remain the “little brother”.

Years have gone by with minimal or no communication. For a season just before and after our mom passed away we did function as a family, but soon thereafter things returned to their previous state. It does not bother me to have such a relationship with my brother and sister for that is all I have ever known.

Relationships of any kind take work to build and maintain, especially in our busy world. We all must decide which relationships mean the most to us and invest the time and effort to keep them strong. Siblings drift apart because there is no desire to stay in touch. Couples drift apart because they wake up one day and realize they haven’t really communicated for years. Friends fall away because of distance, children and other responsibilities.

Last month when I was sending out Christmas cards, I was somewhat dismayed to find only a very few people I had any desire to send a card to. There were perhaps 15 people who received a card and about 5 of them returned the favor.

Do we really need 500 “friends” on some social networking site to be happy? Do we really need 100 “friends” to show up for a special birthday to feel “special”? I hope we don’t for I have neither. I think I got 4 birthday cards and one present for my 60th birthday recently. When I look through my e-mails 95% of them come from one person.

There are many people locally we socialize with, break bread together with and consider “friends”. But, none of them are really any more than close acquaintances. Is this bad? I do not think so. I believe that in this lifetime, we should be extremely thankful to have one or two true friends who are closer to us than a brother or a sister. Any person who honestly has even one true friend should consider himself the most fortunate person on earth.

In no ways am I complaining about my lot. I am deeply thankful for many of you who I consider a genuine “friend” even though we have not and probably never will meet in this life. I DO HAVE two people I consider true friends and for that I thank God daily. But, I know that to maintain the depth of friendship, time must be allotted and energy expended to communicate, share, give, listen and bless each other.

Some of the happiest people I have ever met were couples who only had each other in this life. Many of these couples were married 50, 60 or 70 years. Since one of my true friends is my wife, I am deeply thankful and full of great joy!

27
Jan
13

Slaying the three-headed monster of fear, pride and condemnation

Each one of us is human. I know that comes as a shock to some of you, but it is the truth. Being human we are prone to make mistakes, think bad thoughts and at times drift away from the truth. Just because we do such things does not mean God hates us, it just means we are not yet perfect.

When Jesus Christ returns, He will transfigure us in a moment of time to be as He is which is PERFECT. Until that great and notable Day of the Lord, we will be as Paul in Romans 7 when he speaks of the wrestling match he faces daily with his old man. Although that old man is dead, we will lug him around until Christ comes back and gives us a new body.

I loathe excess time spent and an abundance of effort put into condemning Christians for things they do wrong, bad decisions they make and words they say that hurt or injure another. None of these things are right, but they do not mean the person is BAD. A bad person hates God, defies His Word and rejects the Gospel of Jesus. A Christian who does bad things occasionally is human.

I spent one third of my life wondering in the “dark night of the soul”, condemning myself for mistakes made 30 years ago and things done that were not Godly, righteous or loving. When I finally saw the light in 2005 it was the most glorious time of my life. Each day was a new adventure in understanding the mercy and grace of God and that His love is truly unconditional.

After hibernating in a spiritual cave for many years, I seized the opportunity to give and serve God again. Knowing that God did not hate me and that God still loved me energized me and allowed me to make up for lost time spiritually. Looking back, God gave me a few years without pain, without condemnation and without fear.

The three greatest enemies any Christian faces are condemnation, pride and fear. This three-headed monster destroys even the strongest Christians and lays them low in a grave of uselessness and wallowing in an ocean of self-pity. Fear stops a person cold and prevents them from moving. Pride opens the door to failure. Condemnation breaks a person’s spirit and makes them feel useless, alone and hopeless.

Fear, pride and condemnation must be eliminated and cast out of our lives through humility, honesty and unconditional love for our God. We are absolutely nothing in and of ourselves. The only good in us is what God has made us in Christ Jesus. When we finally believe this, we can quit trying to do it all ourselves while fighting the endless battles that fear, pride and condemnation bring.

Break the back of fear through faith. Break the stranglehold of pride through humility. Break the lie of condemnation through putting on the new man and living in Christ.

24
Jan
13

Do not allow evil to take over your life but rather allow the love of God to overcome evil

We watched a very interesting movie last night that succeeded in moving me to think long and hard about not only the subject of the movie, but life in general. The movie was called “The Conspirator” and revolved entirely around the trial in 1865 of a woman whose boarding house was used as a meeting place for those involved in the conspiracy to kill President Lincoln, the vice president and Secretary of State. It is a very compelling movie.

Starting with Abel and continuing unto the present, people have been wrongly charged and convicted of things they even unto death. Of course our Savior Jesus Christ is the greatest example of this but there have been countless others who had to lay down their lives in sacrifice or were unjustly accused of things they never did.

History is littered with examples of righteous people being portrayed as villains or charged with being ringleaders of insurrection or rebellion. Countless people have given their lives defending their families or nations from those intent on taking them over. Countess people have endured affliction and torture because they refused to compromise their beliefs or “rat out” someone they loved or served.

Various writers in the New Testament make it very clear that the righteous should expect to be persecuted. Never once are believers urged to physically fight those who despitefully use them. In fact, Jesus said to PRAY for those who seek to ruin our lives or even take them.

We have all been wronged in this life. Some of us have been wronged many times and in ways that made life very difficult. Nowhere in the New Testament are there any instructions to hunt down those who wrong us to hurt or kill them. Please look at Romans 12:17-21:

Recompense no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.

18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.

19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath; for it is written: “Vengeance is Mine; I will repay,saith the Lord.”

20 Therefore: “If thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink. For in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.”

21 Be not overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good”

Those people “overcome by evil” cannot overcome evil with good. Those people intent on giving place unto wrath, are incapable of manifesting the love and forgiveness that represent the cornerstone of the love of Christ.

Those who spend a lifetime seeking revenge for a wrong committed to them or their loved ones are doomed to lifetime of turmoil, uncontrollable anger and dangerous acts of violence. In the name of “closure”, people turn into vigilantes whose only aim is to make someone pay for the perceived evil they did. Let us vow to overcome evil with good instead of being overcome with evil.

23
Jan
13

Why I love God more and more each day

I have been a Christian for nearly 44 years. When I think of all I have seen, heard and done during that time, I am truly amazed I am still here. Long ago and far away I should have either been forced out of the ministry by pressure or lured out by distraction and/or temptation. It really is quite a miracle that after so many years, I still love God as I do and seek to serve Him with all my heart.

When I pause to remember the incredible events that have shaped my life, I am humbled beyond words. God has guided, cared for, protected, helped and blessed me more times than I could possibly recall. God has instructed, reproved, corrected and taught me more things than I could remember in ten lifetimes. God has never walked away from me and has never left me alone and helpless.

God has forgiven me over and over again and has never held my mistakes against me. God has scolded me as a good Father, counseled me as a big brother and helped me as the Savior that He is. God has led me through the valley of shadow of death and protected me from those who sought my destruction. God has always been there when I have cried out to Him.

Over the years I have turned and walked away from God many times. I was young, foolish, stubborn or ignorant. Despite what I have done, God has remained faithful and has never left me nor forsaken me. This mercy on His part brings me to my knees for it is beyond what any man can conceive. The mercy and forgiveness of God is far greater than any sin we can commit.

Over the years I have climbed upon the mountaintop and screamed “Praise God” to the world and I have slithered on my stomach across parched and barren valleys surrounded by danger and death as I cried out “Why has thou forsaken me?” In time I have come to understand that God never has forsaken me, NEVER.

Looking back on my life, I see many times when there was no way out of a situation, but amazingly I did indeed get out because God provided a way when there was none. I can recall times when I literally had no money, my very physical life was nearly over, every person I counted as a friend had left me and there appeared to be nothing left for me in this life.

Yes, I can remember those times but I also remember that somehow God brought me through them and has led me to the current hour of my life. He is still my God and I am still His child. Through the good times and the bad, He has remained faithful to His Word whether I believed it or not. How can help but to love, praise and live for such a wonderful and loving God?

22
Jan
13

Dealing with stress before it knocks us out, blows us up or ruins our lives

Simply put, stress is mental, emotional or physical strain caused by anxiety or overwork. This strain, or pressure, many times produces tension, trauma or even a fracture. A bone can have a “stress fracture” which is a small break in a bone caused by repeated physical strain or heavy pressure. Medically, stress is the root cause of a wide array of afflictions, some minor and some life threatening.

Relentless pressure produces stress. That is just the way things work. Many times there is little we can do about the stress that comes with daily living. But, there are things we can do about the stress that arises from anxiety, which is far and away the more dangerous kind of stress.

When a person crumbles under the heavy weight of stress (pressure), there is a good chance they will breakdown either physically or emotionally. Back “in the day”, this was known as a nervous breakdown. Now days it is simply known as being stressed out. A person under extreme stress is unpredictable, unhappy and unpleasant to be around.

As difficult as it is to do, we must learn how to “let go and let God” help us during times of stress. Whether it be music, sleep, meditation, physical exercise, reading, watching a movie or a long walk in the woods; each one of us needs to know ourselves well enough to know how to vent the pressure before we blow up. A pressure cooker does a great job cooking, but it needs a vent to release steam or it would blow up.

People can only function under extreme stress for a season before that stress causes them to fall apart, break up or explode. Since none of these things are pleasant, it behooves us to find and faithfully do whatever it takes to try and avoid unnecessary stress and have a way to vent stress when it builds up in our lives.

Many times all we need is a long drive or a short vacation to relieve the stress seeking to tear us down. Many times all we need is to get away from the pressure long enough to restore our faith in God’s ability to provide and willingness to take care of us. Many times all we need is a time to safely vent the building steam and then we will be able to handle the pressure cooker of life once again.

Stress arising from physical maladies, mental anguish or emotional pressure can be devastating or it can make us better people. When we learn the art of handling stress before it breaks us, we are not only able to help ourselves but those around us.

Before stress blows you up, please take some time and get away from the situation long enough to remove anxiety, calm frayed nerves, restore a broken spirit and refresh a broken down body. Even Jesus made a habit of taking time to be alone with God and we should definitely follow His example!