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Tuesday
Apr032018

Is There a Famine in the Land?

One of the signs that God says will happen in the last days will be a departure from the scriptures. So much so that it will appear as if there is a spiritual famine in the land. The prophet Amos spoke this to Ancient Israel, but it has ramifications to any age and era. Once the people move away from reading and studying the Word of God, we begin to lose His leading and guidance in our land. It is not enough for Christians to go to church every week and expect to be saturated with God’s Word. We may get a good sermon, and the pastor may use lots of scripture to support the message, yet that is not enough. I attended an Easter service at a large church in my area. The message was very inspirational on how Easter affects every aspect of life. Thinking back on that experience would give me fond memories of a good sermon, but good sermons are not the Word of God. Sermons are usually supported by scripture but most pastors only use scripture as a point of reference to support their own commentary. Everyone needs a spiritual mentor and that isn’t something you grow away from, it is a lifetime of having people speak God’s Word into your life. However, if you are a person who never takes the time to study the Bible on your own but need people to interpret the Bible for you, or you are accustomed to having someone bring you a commentary on what the Bible teaches, that will never be enough. You will end up in confusion and be spiritually bankrupt. You will experience a famine of God’s Word as the prophet explains. 

"The time is surely coming," says the Sovereign LORD, "when I will send a famine on the land--not a famine of bread or water but of hearing the words of the LORD.        -Amos 8:11


The Bible is a book that always has more to teach you about God. Just like the mercy of God has an endless supply of grace, God’s Word has an endless supply of wisdom and knowledge. Our problem usually is with what we are chasing. We are always chasing something that keeps the Bible in a neutral place in our lives. You don’t hate it, but you don’t love it either. You spend more time doing things on Facebook or Snapchat or watching TV, than you do putting time into learning more about God and what His plan is for your life.

Would I say that there is a famine in the land?  Yes, I think we are selective when it comes to what is preached and studied. Our spiritual diet is simple. Digest only the things that put God in a positive light and don’t touch the areas where I have to make a decision between God and my dreams. Human famine doesn’t mean we don’t have any food; it’s just that the food we do eat is limited both in nutrition and in quantity. Spiritual famine works the same way. If we always focus on the prosperity of the Bible and never on His judgment, you will begin to starve yourself.  God’s word is both negative and positive, and you will starve to death spiritually if you don’t keep a balanced diet from the entirety of God’s word. A good example of this is Deuteronomy 28 where there are blessings and curses, and this is how God’s word teaches us to be in balance with Him.

Let’s not forget that our relationship with God should always be growing and expanding our knowledge about His kingdom. God’s Word is the basis by which we growing our relationship with God and it is not just a Sunday experience.

Keeping it honest and truthful…K

 

 

Thursday
Mar292018

When Speech is Hypocritical

Definition of Freedom of Speech:  “the right to express any opinions without censorship or restraint.”

One of the benefits of our technological age is the ability to post and promote ideas on the Internet and on social media. The downside is that there is now more pressure to conform to the norms of society. Today the presiding thought on guns is that they are bad, and if you don’t agree with those who either want to limit their purchase or eliminate them all together, your values are eschewed. How many times have you seen someone say or post something where in a day or two they are apologizing for their comments? Pressure from any opposition has made us afraid to say anything that could cause a disagreement or be accused of offending some group or person. It makes everyone pause to evaluate that our communication is not offensive speech. When did our right to speak our minds become politically incorrect? When did our right to freely speak our values and principles become an object of hate? Why can a young person like David Hogg speak his mind and it is celebrated as changing the world, while at the same time a person like Franklin Graham is condemned for speaking his mind about the Bible and truth? How come late night comedians can say anything they want in their mission to degrade our President and it is celebrated as free speech, while President Trump’s speech is usually seen as hate speech?  The one word that should come up more often in our conversations, as Americans should be the word hypocrisy.

Our lives are filled with hypocrisy, from the politicians in our governing bodies, to the lives of the people we work with, to our own family members who say one thing and do something different. It is hard to stay true to what we believe anymore because of the various ways we get influenced to change. Our speech is the easiest to be influenced and it takes a lot of discipline to correct its direction and filter its content. To believe it is wrong to gossip about someone, and then in the next breath we become hypocritical by speaking unkindly about someone, is a common occurrence with most of us.

This oftentimes happens in our spiritual lives as well. We are told by Jesus we need to pray for people who persecute us and are in opposition to our values as Christians. Yet, most of the time we are complaining about this opposition rather than praying for those who are doing the opposing.

Jesus said, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). He also said, “Do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you” (Luke 6:27–28).

Let’s be honest. We all have our moments of being hypocritical. Let’s go one step further. I was asked today about how to love our political opponents when we know their character and their worldview is utterly wrong morally, spiritually, and is hypocritical. I think the point is that we love people in the same manner of speaking as God does. He does not have more love for a Republican than He does for a Democrat. Some policies of either party may be more Biblical than the counterpart, but that does not influence how He loves or forgives us, regardless of our political persuasion. That may not rest well with some of you, but love has to work in the worst situations, with the worst people, or it is not love. Forgiveness has to work for the worst horrendous offenses or it doesn’t work at all. This is where that word hypocrisy becomes so much more relevant. We are more prone to being hypocritical when the pressure is on and we are faced with loving a liberal, or forgiving the arrogance of the ungodly.

Let us not waver or be influenced by others or the culture, whether it is in how we commit to something or the manner by which we speak. Let us be influenced by God and allow Him to convict us about staying true to what we know is morally and spiritually right.

Matthew 5:37  "Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil."

Keeping it honest and truthful….K

Monday
Mar262018

Christianity Is About Him, His Message, and His Kingdom

My wife and I along with another couple and a few single folks are heading to Cape Verde just off the coast of West Africa. Our plans are to host a Pastors’ and retreat for mostly bi-vocational pastors and their wives who are working full-time jobs and pastoring a local church. Most of these pastors are poor and don’t have any time to spare between working a full-time job and pastoring a local congregation.

Our hope is to bring encouragement by treating them to a weekend in a nice hotel while instructing them in how to be a Christian leader in their communities.

Several times during the weekend we will have meetings where a message will be shared. As in the United States churches are so independent from other churches and we are separated by theological doctrines and practices. So our first message of encouragement to the pastors of Cape Verde will be centered on our calling as Christians. That calling is not about our churches, our denomination or our theological positions; our calling is fixated upon Him, His message, and His Kingdom.

One could argue that our beliefs as a church do set us apart from others who may not believe exactly like we do, but is that a core belief of His Kingdom?  The Bible is quite clear that our division will only destroy us and will not contribute to a strong unified front to bring the message to the world.

Matthew 12:25-26 “ Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand. 26 If Satan drives out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then can his kingdom stand?"

Jesus also said that one of the best advertisements for His Church is that we have love for each other.

John 13:35 "By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Okay so division is not His message nor is it a core belief about His Kingdom, so why do so many churches live within the boundaries of division when it comes to other Christians?

Many people I know would say that division is necessary if there is heresy involved within their beliefs. I would agree with that, however, most of our differences have little to do with heresy, but more to do with our differences of opinion on doctrinal issues that do not change the idea of salvation in Christ alone. There may be some fine lines here, but I know I had to undo a lot of theology I learned as a young believer. I know believers today who won’t budge off of their denominational training, even when there are no Lutherans, Baptists, Pentecostals or Catholics mentioned in the Bible. The fact is that most denominations teach doctrine from their own traditions and much of it comes from some reformer in their distant past. It gets so convoluted that some people actually think that Jesus somehow is a Christian and just the mention that He was a Jew, and will return someday as a Jew, makes them angry. The Bible is a Jewish book, and Christianity is a continuation of Biblical Judaism. This is why I say our calling as believers is not about our churches, our denominations, our theological traditions, or our ministries. It is not about the size or success of our ministries because those are the influences of this world they are not a concern with God. God calls us to Himself, His message and His Kingdom. God has always been concerned about the heart and our capacity to place Him first in what we love.

My encouragement to those pastors in Cape Verde will not be found in the praise for any success in ministry, but in their capacity to love and obey God. Our emphasis as Christians often has been misplaced with our priorities placed on the wrong things. Easter is a great time to reflect on the meaning of the cross and the empty tomb. It is a great time to once again return to Him, His message, and His Kingdom.

Keeping it honest and truthful…K

Thursday
Mar222018

Evil Isn't Stopped By Laws

With another school shooting at Great Mills High School in Maryland we will hear more rhetoric about gun control. There was also a fourth bomb explosion in Austin Texas a few days ago, and the bomber was identified and died after blowing himself up following a chase by the police. This is the kind of terrorism that will make way for copycat bombers to do the same kind of destruction in other parts of the country. This has always been one of my arguments about gun control, whereas bombers can live another day to plant another bomb, gunmen are usually dead the same day they attack a school. Evil does not have one method (guns) to kill people and that has been the argument from those who oppose the gun control legislation.

There are two solutions to the school shootings, but before I go there, let me say that these shootings will not stop because we are passing more legislation - they will only increase. CNN reported that there have been 16 school shootings since the beginning of the year, and while that may not be an accurate number, it is one too many. Evil is present in our society, and evil cannot be legislated against like a traffic law, so all the noise about gun control is pointless because it won’t change anything. All the so-called smart people arguing their case for more gun control are simply dead wrong.

Three things can stop evil: 

 

  1. Prayer:  Psalm 5:11-12 But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let themever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them that those who love your  name may rejoice in you. 12 Surely, LORD, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield 
     
  2. The Blood of Jesus: Revelation 12:11 And they have defeated him bythe blood of the Lamb and by their testimony. And they did not love their lives so much that they were afraid to die.”
     
  3. The Holy Spirit: 2 Thessalonians 2:7 
    For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one whonow holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way.

 

 

Now these three introduce spirituality into this conversation, but that is what will be needed to place a perimeter of safety around schools for the protection of our kids.  

Of course this discussion won’t be considered valid because we have to keep our schools free of God, and violence is a legislative issue, not a God issue. However, churches in every community where schools are located could easily have prayer meetings established to pray against any evil intended to harm our kids. That could go on without permission from anyone.

One thing is for certain, "evil will never be stopped by laws." Evil is beyond our ability to eradicate it, only God can do that!

The second solution is more secular, and is highly controversial. It is placing our schools on the equivalent of ‘high alert’ and having them protected by armed guards. State legislators and city officials need to appropriate funds to help each school have a professional guard on duty during the school day. He/she needs to be highly visible as being heavily armed and wearing protective body armor. If there is a budget issue for this, then let the state deploy the National Guard to have these armed guards at every school in the state. Israel does this as a part of their education. Every school has armed military guards to protect the children while in the school, and when there is a field trip, the guards accompany them so they are protected at all times. So unless we get serious about protecting our kids outside of a lame gun control argument, then shut up about gun control. Gun control is a political argument and will not help protect our kids. The only way shooters will be deterred will be by making our schools a hard target against any maladjusted person wanting to use the school as a shooting range. This is a common sense approach to keeping kids safe, but of course common sense is something our parents had, so today we are stuck with common confusion.

Keeping it honest and truthful…K

Wednesday
Mar212018

When the Walls Fall Down

In the fifth chapter of Isaiah there is a song about a vineyard. It is a vineyard God planted with the finest of seeds hoping for a premium vine. Instead it grew a wild vine and the grapes were worthless for the grower’s use.

Here is what the prophet said the vinedresser was going to do:

Now I will tell you what I am going to do to my vineyard:

I will take away its hedge, and it will be destroyed;
I will break down its wall, and it will be trampled.
I will make it a wasteland, neither pruned nor cultivated,
and briers and thorns will grow there. I will command the clouds
not to rain on it.”
The vineyard of the Lord Almighty
is the nation of Israel, and the people of Judah
are the vines he delighted in. And he looked for justice, but saw bloodshed;
for righteousness, but heard cries of distress.

This is a song that declares God’s provision over His vineyard will be removed. He will take down the hedge of protection against predators who would eat the vines, and leave it open for anyone to trample upon the fruit.  He will remove all maintenance to the vineyard where no pruning or cultivation will occur. He will also allow the weeds to overtake the fertile ground of this vineyard.

He will then not allow any rain to fall upon its dry soil, so all what is left of the vine will die from not receiving the proper nutrition.

Then the prophet goes on to describe that the vineyard is God’s people.

So let’s fast forward to today. Could this story/song be applied to our own land?  Could America be in a very similar predicament? Has God removed the hedge of His protective hand upon this land because we have denied Him access to our laws, our education, our moral practices, or our churches in some cases?

In essence we have kicked God to the curb, and have not even considered He has a solution to many of our problems. It was the arrogance of ancient Israel that brought God’s judgment upon the land, and it will be our arrogance that will do the same.

Some of you have told me that what I write is hard, and not easy to receive. Do you know what? I do not write anything that is not already written in the scriptures. No secret there, so if people say it’s a hard saying, well it only means that the scripture people normally read is the nice, easy to accept stuff. However, the majority of the scripture is warning against the human nature that is moving in a direction that is apart from God.

So where is the hope in this story? There is always hope and there is always a positive ending to what God writes about, but it comes when people repent and return to God with their whole heart. Many of the messages we hear today in Christendom are one part spirit and one part Dr. Phil. In the early days of Israel they had high places that were used for worship. God was against the high places, because the practices that were done there were one part spiritual and one part heathen. 

 High places, very simply, were places of worship on elevated pieces of ground. High places were originally dedicated to idol worship (Numbers 33:52; Leviticus 26:30

My point is simple. If we continue to allow the wall of his protection to be down, we refuse His help to bring His spirit to weed our gardens, and then allow all kinds of ideas and philosophies to dwell in our lives, what kind of nation will we have?  In fact, let’s throw in the withholding of God’s Spirit, the rain, on top of everything else He has orchestrated; do you think we are prepared for the kind of land we will be living in? In other words, God is not all about love. There is a side of God we forget about today in the modern church because it doesn’t sell too well with the crowd. However, when God withholds Himself and His blessings, then I think what you have is His judgment. Where is the hope in this and how do we restore it? It’s simple. Let’s get ourselves back to God and that starts by our repentance and our surrender to Him. Die to self, pick up the cross and follow Him. That’s how we have hope again.

Keeping it honest and truthful…K

 

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