Archive for the 'Christians' 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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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.

20
Jan
13

The curse of Christian hypocrisy

Character can be thought of as what one does when no one else is around. It is easy to play the part when surrounded by people we are trying to impress or be one with, but it is quite a different story when there is no one around but God. Those who lead double lives are called hypocrites in the Bible. That is why we must strive to manifest the same virtues and conduct ourselves in the same manner whether in the company of many or no one but God.

Many years ago I served under a leader who was a dynamic teacher and appeared on the outside to be the model of Christian perfection. This man was charismatic and could motivate others to go jump off a cliff if needed. He had a beautiful wife, two precious little children and by every outward criteria, the perfect life.

Once this man took off his public mask, he was nothing but a fraud. He was an alcoholic, a cheater, a liar and a notorious womanizer. It disgusted me to see him jump in a phone booth and put on his superman outfit when doing a big meeting and then when it was over, turn into nothing but a pervert. In due time his conduct was confronted and he was stripped of all ministry responsibilities, went through a divorce and sent out to perform his tricks for the world.

God has no tolerance for hypocrisy. He is not looking for people who can put on a good show but then live nothing of which they preach. God has no need for those who advocate “do as I say but not as I do”. Contemporary Christianity is littered with examples of great men and women of God who won the hearts and wallets of many but in reality were nothing but hypocritical frauds. Entire ministries have been brought down by the unbridled greed and lust of those entrusted with leading them.

One of my longest running pet peeves is that of ministers naming their ministry after themselves. In my books, this is nothing but pure arrogance and a sign of pride vs. humility. Ministries are of God and thus should take the name of Godly attributes and not the name of person who started it. Part of what split apart the church in the First Century was the inclination by leaders to win followers to themselves instead of the Lord.

All believers needs to cleanse their consciences and seek to manifest the same qualities whether in the presence of others or no one but the Lord. With all of our hearts, we should cry out to God to help us manifest purity, simplicity, integrity and Godliness. God is not impressed by someone who outwardly appears pious but inwardly is dirty and ungodly. God would much prefer His people to be pure and humble while wearing rags than to wear flowing robes and be nothing but hypocritical frauds, fakes and counterfeits.

04
Nov
09

Some thoughts on stupid things and the people who do them

What exactly does the word STUPID mean?  Officially it means to show a lack of intelligence, perception or common sense, but unofficially it means most of what takes place around us both in the world and among Christians.

There is not a day that goes by where I do not stand in awe of the stupid things people (including me) say and do.  Whether this is because of the “dumbing down” process we all have been subjected to or whether it is lack of concentration or common sense I don’t know; all I know is that the “stupid meter” is reaching an all time high.

Some things are just plain stupid like going to a football game with a painted body and no shirt when it is 10 degrees outside.  Other things are not quite so obvious like driving 80 mph in a blinding rainstorm with no lights on. 

Many times what is absolute stupidity to one person is perfectly normal to the one doing it.  For many of us, the idea of watching cars race around a track is stupid.  But, for the millions of crazed NASCAR fans it is anything but stupid.  For many the very thought of riding a roller coaster, parachuting out of an airplane, skiing down a 14,000 foot mountain or shooting the rapids of a roaring river defines STUPIDITY.  But, for those who enjoy thrills, these things are perfectly normal forms of entertainment.

I don’t much care what kinds of stupid things people do in their private lives as long as it doesn’t affect me.  But, when one person’s stupidity poses a threat to my life or property, then I feel I have a right to be upset a little bit.  This is a daily battle while driving due to the massive number of drivers who live and die doing very stupid things.

God does not want us to be stupid.  I can say that with full assurance that I am right.  God does not want us to harm or injure ourselves in vain efforts to please our senses.  God does not want us to harm or hurt anyone else while trying to bring a thrill to our flesh.  Love dictates never doing anything that would present a stumbling block to another believer.  Thus, we do not have the “right” to do as we please if it involves anyone else.

This lesson is very hard for believers to grasp.  They want to enjoy their freedom in Christ but have a difficult time understanding how abuse of such freedom is in direct violation to the guidelines of the Word of God.  This is all brought up in great detail in Romans chapter 14 for it was a problem in the First Century Church and is still a problem today.

We may not like what others do and say, but we have no right to judge them unless what is done or said either directly harms us or is in direct contradiction to the written Word of God.  I may not like it that you jump out of airplanes to ski down a 14,000 mountain never skied before; but I have no right to judge you for doing it.  It does not affect me.  But, if you come set my house on fire to appease an inner desire to see flames; I will call the sheriff and have you arrested for arson.  You do not have the legal right to do something stupid if it hurts me. 

 

28
Jan
09

The Last Charge of God’s Light Brigade is Mounting Up–Are You In?

It appears by all indications that 2009 is the year something of profound importance spiritually is going to take place in this world. With leaders handpicked by those in the upper echelons of power, the world reeling under the pressure of recession and more and more people feeling like finally a man is in control in the United States who can change everything for the better; it certainly looks like a classic case of the enemy getting ready to play his trump card.

If this is true and the enemy is planning to implement his longstanding plan to institute a one world government, financial system and religion; those who know the truth from the Bible better get their heads screwed on straight quickly for there will not be time once events start happening at breakneck speed.

Neither I nor anyone else knows for sure what is going on in the hallowed halls of Washington, the plush offices of New York or the stuffy enclaves of Europe; but it certainly appears that all the individual pieces of the puzzle have been put in place and now it is time to start putting the puzzle together. Never before, in modern recorded history has there been such a confluence of power brokers along with crisis after crisis in need of someone to diffuse them as the present.

Without question and with no hesitation I can say with full assurance that the man governing the United States gives every indication of being the perfect candidate for the antichrist. Up and down the line, he measures up to the criteria laid out in the Bible for this ultimate powerbroker. If he continues to succeed in what he has managed to get done the first week in power much longer, then I believe anyone who believes we are living in the “end times” must awake and honestly evaluate who this man may REALLY be.

In trying to put together the records given by Paul, Peter, John and Jesus along with the Old Testament prophets, it is very hard to develop an ironclad timeline of specific events which are to take place leading up to and during the final week of Daniel’s prophecy. There are certainly some things which are undeniable and indisputable, but there are also many other things which are very difficult to assign a specific time and place as to their occurrence.

Last March I had a dream which shook me to the very depths of my soul. I rarely receive dreams which have any spiritual significance, but this one did. The basic elements of this dream were that a cloud of darkness would overspread the United States and cause panic and fear and finally immobilize the masses and turn them into subservient subjects. I honestly thought at the time this cloud of darkness was either weather related or the effects of a nuclear attack.

I now know this dream of impending darkness dealt with the collapse of the American economy as it had been known. I now know that the darkness that is overspreading this land is that which is being caused by the deliberate dismantling of the free enterprise system (otherwise known as capitalism) and replacing it with a forced version of socialism and/or fascism. All that has gone on is going on and will go on is not by accident but by deliberate design to break down American families and businesses to the point they must abide by government dictates in order to survive.

All the trash talk about “economic stimulus” packages and the like is all a smoke screen to cover up the truth of what is really happening. All symbolic meetings such as went on yesterday in Washington are part of a cleverly conceived plan to convince the public that what is being debated and voted on in Congress is legitimate when in reality it is as contrived and illegitimate as anything promoted and developed by the devil and his human associates.

There is no doubt in my mind that we are eyewitnesses to the events which are ushering in the “last days”. There is no doubt in my mind that there is about to be a rapid fire succession of events which will appear to produce unparalleled peace and prosperity for a season in this world. There is also no doubt in my mind that those of us who wholeheartedly believe in the rapture of the church will soon be taken from this cesspool of iniquity called the world and transported to our eternal home in the heavenlies.

I am fully aware of the controversy surrounding statements such as I just made. I am fully aware that merely saying them arouses pure venom and hatred within some who vehemently deny any of these things will ever take place. I understand that others feel just as strongly that all is going to be fine and God will establish His Kingdom on earth via the hard work of His people preaching the gospel and building churches. To each they must establish what they believe and then abide by it.

As for me and my household, I look at the unrelenting trials and tribulations which have befallen so many good and honest believers recently as the final testing by God to establish who is worthy to be considered the remnant which will participate in the marriage supper soon to start. Those whose trust and confidence is in this world and/or their church or themselves will never receive the call to appear before the Lord in the air to be taken to the place where we will enjoy the wedding feast.

While the overwhelming majority of Christians will be somewhat aware that a few “freaks” have vanished from their company, they will go on living the same as before assuming their own abilities or the power of their government will save them from any horrible things that might arise. They will rejoice as they see apparent peace in the Middle East, harmony among nations and the restoration of prosperity again. To them, all will indicate they were right all along.

But, just when they say “peace and safety” sudden destruction will come upon them as labor upon a woman with child. Seemingly from out of the blue, peace will turn to war, harmony to discord and prosperity to poverty. As the world collapses around them, they will only then remember the words of those “freaks” who warned such a thing would happen. But, alas, it is too late and they must come to grips with the realization the great tribulation is upon them.

It is not too late to get your heart right with God and totally commit yourself to Him. It is not too late to once and for all break away from the systems of this world and find the freedom that comes to those who fully and totally trust in the Lord and not in man. It is not too late to bow down before the Lord and repent once and for all of everything that has prevented you from living in the presence of the Lord. It is not too late to fully turn your heart, soul and life over to Him who saved you and called you with a holy calling.

I beseech you to consider these words carefully and weigh them in your heart against the sense knowledge “hope” that somehow things are going to get better in this world through the works of men and women sold out to those who control this world. What takes place in this world in the days and weeks ahead is exactly what God will allow to happen which in turn will lead to the most dramatic seven years in the history of mankind.

As for me and my household, we are committed to doing whatever it takes to speak the truth in love so others can hear of what is coming. We are committed to no longer compromising with the world on matters of heart and loyalty. We are committed to placing our faith totally in God and with full confidence yielding to His sovereign will. We are committed to never turning back to the weak and worthless elements of this world. We are committed to serving Him with all our hearts until He calls us home.

I pray you take stock of your situation and make sure your heart is right before God and that the affairs of this life have not so beaten you down that you have unconsciously compromised your faith by yielding to the demands of this world. I pray you return to your first love and allow your heart to rest in the everlasting loving arms of your Savior and Lord. I pray you lay aside every weight and the sin which does so easily distract us and weigh us down.

I pray that in these final hours of these final days that each and every one of us neglect not the gift God has placed within us and instead stir up that gift into the flame of compassionate outreach to others who are falling away faster and faster each day. I pray that no matter what the enemy does to tear down, distract or apply pressure; we all stand fast in the faith, unswerving and unashamed of the Gospel of Christ Jesus which is our very life.

We only have a little time to put on the armor of light and raise the standard of Jesus Christ one last time to this dying world. Soon, and very soon, that light will be gone as those bearing it will be taken out of the way so the son of perdition may have “his day”. Soon, and very soon, those who remain will face the full force of a world gone totally mad for a season. The hour of our message being needed is NOW and so is the hour of our decision to rise above our personal woes and move out as God’s last brigade of light and hope to a world who desperately needs us.