Archive for the 'Christian Life' Category

08
Sep
13

Cheer up, we will understand it all by and by

In my younger years I used to love strumming the guitar and sing simple songs (I wasn’t very good at all). One of the first songs I learned how to play became one my favorite songs due to its message. Over the years when I led a fellowship or meeting I many times had everyone sing this song because it was simple, short and encouraging.

Recently I was amazed to find out there are MANY verses to this song instead of the first verse and refrain I had heard all my life. Once I saw the complete song, I knew I would have to blog about it because some of the verses are truly awesome. Without further ado, may I present to you, the complete song “Farther Along”.

1. Tempted and tried, we’re oft made to wonder
Why it should be thus all the day long;
While there are others living about us,
Never molested, though in the wrong.
o Refrain:
Farther along we’ll know more about it,
Farther along we’ll understand why;
Cheer up, my brother, live in the sunshine,
We’ll understand it all by and by.
2. Sometimes I wonder why I must suffer,
Go in the rain, the cold, and the snow,
When there are many living in comfort,
Giving no heed to all I can do.
3. Tempted and tried, how often we question
Why we must suffer year after year,
Being accused by those of our loved ones,
E’en though we’ve walked in God’s holy fear.
4. Often when death has taken our loved ones,
Leaving our home so lone and so drear,
Then do we wonder why others prosper,
Living so wicked year after year.
5. “Faithful till death,” saith our loving Master;
Short is our time to labor and wait;
Then will our toiling seem to be nothing,
When we shall pass the heavenly gate.
6. Soon we will see our dear, loving Savior,
Hear the last trumpet sound through the sky;
Then we will meet those gone on before us,
Then we shall know and understand why.

There are several contradictory claims for the authorship of this song. The words and music are frequently attributed to W. B. Stevens, although others have attributed the words to W. A. Fletcher

If there is anyone out there who has never had these questions come up in their mind, I wonder how much of a stand for God is really being made. Anyone who boldly proclaims the Gospel of Jesus Christ and faithfully stands firm in that Gospel SHALL suffer persecution, affliction and tribulation, many times while watching people who despise God seemingly live the “perfect life”.

Unless we live for more than what this life has to offer, we will spend much of this life in misery, jealous of others success and questioning our very faith. We live, stand and speak God’s Word not for the physical rewards in this life but rather because God says to do it with the hope that farther along we will understand why.

I pray that having these words to this simple song handy can bring you comfort during times of distress, joy during times of sorrow and confidence during times of uncertainty. Always remember that just because we don’t understand the whys and the wherefores of things today doesn’t mean we won’t have an epiphany tomorrow. Cheer up my brothers and sisters and live in the sunshine for God has assured us that we will understand it all by and by.

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03
Apr
13

Is your relationship with God religious or real?

A person’s relationship with God is extremely personal. In fact, it is the most personal relationship we will ever have in this life. The true measure of a person’s faith is directly related to their relationship with God. It can be said that the deeper one’s relationship is with God, the more fulfilling and greater their life will be.

Every day, people all over the world pray to their god. Many of these prayers are ritualistic in nature and reflect nothing of the person’s heart who is praying them. These prayers make a person look religious but lack the personal aspect that separates religion from true Christianity. In fact, the word “godliness” takes this into account.

Despite what secular dictionaries may say, godliness should be viewed as a real, true and vital spiritual relationship with God that sits in direct opposition to religion. Just because a person looks religious and can recite countless prayers from memory does not guarantee they have a vital spiritual relationship with God.

A successful relationship of any kind takes open and honest communication by both parties involved. Unfortunately, when it comes to people’s relationship with God, most think it is all about them talking TO God instead of talking WITH God (and God WITH them).

Almighty God, the creator of heaven and earth longs for His children to open their hearts before Him while allowing Him to minister to them. Almighty God, who is Holy and to be revered, wants us to acknowledge His greatness yet bask in His love and goodness.

When we pray, we must not only talk to God but we must allow Him to talk to us. We must not only share our hearts with Him but we must open our hearts to Him and allow them to be filled by Him. A young child tends to prattle on and on when talking to an adult about all the things they did and want to do. An older child tends to say very little and only pretends to listen.

Somewhere between these two extremes lies the state that defines what a real, true and vital spiritual relationship with God really is. God desires that we talk openly to Him as our Father but He also desires that we be quiet and listen to what He has to say to us as our God. If we do all the talking we have no time to listen. If we do all the listening what is said rarely is understood or heeded.

There is a song that came out a few years ago that in my mind sums up the point of this blog. If you have a few minutes, I believe this song will bless your life even if you have heard it (like me) countless times.

27
Feb
13

I am ashamed by how far I fell and humbled by how much God loved me to rescue me

In 1969 God rescued me from many things, including emotional and genetic flaws.  I know this and as long as I believed it, I was able to walk for God withstanding the ups and downs associated with living.  With time, I drifted away from the reality of what happened in 1969 and slowly migrated back to the way I used to be emotionally and subjected myself to the genetic weaknesses bred into me.

We are who and what we are due to a combination of genetics, environment, experience and instruction.  The enemy knows this and devotes massive resources to research and watch God’s people so as to find weak points to aim his fiery darts at and to exploit via temptation or pressure.  It is no secret that the enemy knows us, not by what and who we are on the inside, but by what and who we are on the outside.

Our enemy, satan, patiently waits for a time when he thinks he can beat us.  Even during times of peace and rest he is lurking in the shadows laying traps, planning schemes and setting up things to steal, kill or destroy us.  Jesus Christ knew this and dealt with it every day of His life.   It would serve us well to know and do the same.

When I look back on what took place in my life between 1969 and 1984 it is no mystery how and why I fell so far as to even consider taking my life.  In the course of 15 years, the enemy slowly wove a spider web of deceit and lies that in due time, out of both ignorance and stupidity, I got caught up in and trapped by.  It was not God’s fault I ended up where I did, it was my own because I knew better.  But, because God knew my heart still belonged to Him, He delivered me.

If someone with 15 years of intensive Biblical research could fall prey to the slyness of the enemy, what about someone with only a casual knowledge of the Bible or none at all?  If someone who knew all about the devil’s schemes fell for them anyway, what about someone who doesn’t even know or believer there is a devil?

Suicide is the ultimate goal of the enemy.  As the god of death, he wants nothing more than to kill a person, especially if they are a child of God.  For the enemy to succeed he must set a trap custom made for the victim and the victim must willingly be led as sheep for the slaughter into that trap.

There is absolutely nothing in this life I am more ashamed of (and I have plenty to be ashamed of) than that I put myself in a position where unless the Lord personally intervened, I would have allowed the enemy to kill me.  I could have kept this a secret for no one knew what happened that day except me.  But I have known for nearly 30 years that one day I was expected to share my testimony for the sake of others.  Guess what, you are the people who get to hear my story.

The next two days, God willing, I will lay out what led up to the events of November 22, 1984.  I cannot adequately write this in my normal 500 word blogs so if you have the time and patience to read what I have to say, I think it will be worth it to you.

If the following song had been in existence back in 1984 it would have summed up my life at the time.  It wasn’t but it is now.  “In the storm” by Casting Crowns continues to be in my personal top five favorite songs and I leave it with you today.

 

 

01
Feb
13

Worn out by the struggles of this life

I recently heard a song that truly reached into my heart and pulled it closer to God. No, this song was not extolling the virtues of God like you would think. Instead, this song honestly communicated the state of confusion, despair, pain and hopeless millions of Christians have sunk into due to relentless attacks and/or pressure in their lives.

The song “Worn” by 10th Avenue North is one like no other I have ever heard. It is the first song I am aware of that truly portrays how many believers feel, whether for a day, a week or perpetually. I think all of us need to realize there are countless of our brothers and sisters in Christ facing struggles that knock them down, pin them to the mat and seek to knock them out of the game.

My heart has always gone out to those who are struggling like a drowning person in the ocean. Compassion dictates reaching out and giving them a helping hand instead of preaching at them or condemning them for being weak or human. It has always been a source of pain in me to see a fellow Christian being beaten to a pulp by life, and believe me, there are plenty of people out there who are in this state.

Perhaps this is why I have no place for the sanctimonious “holier than thou” or “better than you” attitude manifested by so many within the Body of Christ. It rips my heart to shreds when I see believers harden their hearts and refuse to allow their bowels of compassion to move toward those facing the worst battles of their lives. It just should not be like this.

Haven’t we all been through times when the pressures of life or the demands that arise from a particular situation relentlessly smack us over the head with a log? Haven’t we all been reduced to a state of hanging on for dear life as the enemy continually throws one punch after another at us? Haven’t we all faced the strain that comes with an ongoing physical, financial or emotional crisis?

Many times all someone needs is the assurance that things will work out and there will indeed be an end to the storm battering them. Many times all someone needs is the reassurance they are not alone but there is someone standing with them in prayer who will not judge, condemn or ignore them.

I remember vividly the times in my life when I was hanging on by a thread, crying out for help and no one would respond. I survived only because I believed God would save me or I would be no more. As I listened to this song, it brought tears to my dry eyes because I have been at the place this songs talks about and God has always pulled me out of it somehow. Please take a moment and allow this powerful song to work in your heart as God sees fit.

http://youtu.be/UUEy8nZvpdM

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.

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!