Where then is the restraint?

I don’t normally comment on political issues. At least I haven’t in quite a while. But today I have witnessed one of the greatest attacks on personal liberties during my lifetime here in the United States. COVID-19 has presented a lot of challenges, but by no means is this new. This world has witnessed plagues and pandemics in plenty. Several of which in the last 100 years. But for some reason, the government has ceased this pandemic as an opportunity to expand control over the people.

The United States has endured under the principles of liberty since it’s beginning. Which, overtime, has been expanded and granted to more people than have ever enjoyed freedom at any other point in history. But today, the proclaimed leader of this nation lashed out against those liberties. From forced quarantines last year, to mask mandates, it seemed like there was no end to the lengths some in our government would go for the sake of ‘public safety.’

This year has seen a radical media nearly criminalizing and borderline villianizing people who choose to not get a vaccine. Labels such as ‘the unvaccinated surge’ have appeared on websites and broadcast news sources alike. And now, the president is waging a war on unvaccinated people. Step by step he has expanded his mandates. And now, he has not only stepped over the line of constitutional authority, he has sprinted way beyond it. Mr. President, you have no right to tell a single person what they should put in their body. None. Zero. You can’t bully the public to follow your agenda. And neither can any other leader in the free world. These are tactics of fascist regimes, not democratic ones.

It is my hope that companies all over this nation, who value freedom and the US Constitution, will stand against these criminal acts. The Constitution was written to restrict and restrain the Federal government. If we give way to their power mongering here, where then is the restraint? And we can’t be fooled when they say, “you don’t have to get the vaccine. You just have to be tested every week.” Oh sure. Like forcing people to being subject to be swabbed every week is really that much better. And when does that end? When COVID is gone? What if that never happens?

It is hard to believe that we even need to have this conversation. It’s hard to believe that anyone would be in support of something like this. If people want to get vaccinated, that’s their choice. Just like if they don’t. It’s all about choice. You take that away and the government no longer serves the will of the people.

My friends, brothers and sisters, speak up. This is the time for vaccinated and unvaccinated alike to stand together against tyranny. We are all in this together. May truth and honor prevail!

Peace in Christ loved ones.

Trumpets of Victory

Lcamn.org

“And in that day a great trumpet will be blown, and those who were lost in the land of Assyria and those who were driven out to the land of Egypt will come and worship the Lord on the holy mountain at Jerusalem.”

‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭27:13‬ ‭ESV

There is a day coming, where all of God’s children will be gathered together. Even those who have been lost. Rosh Hashanah is a beautiful promise, for all believers, that victory is at hand. The Messiah will return, to gather His sheep, and destroy the ravaging wolf.

“Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.”

‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭15:51-52‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Not only will we be gathered, we will be made like Him. The greatest of all victories achieved. Death is overcome. Evil will experience the full weight of justice. And our corrupted physical natures will be replaced with glorious ones. Hallelujah!

In the spring, Passover marks the moment Jesus paid our ransom. The feast of Trumpets marks the day He returns for that which He so preciously bought. Come Lord Jesus! Your people are await your glorious return. We long for our eternal home. Until then, we will praise you. May the hearts of your people sing a joyful song.

Peace in Christ my brothers and sisters. He will return!

Where is He leading me?

Send Your light and Your truth; let them lead me. Let them bring me to Your holy mountain, to Your dwelling place.

Psalm 43:3 HCSB

As believers in Jesus, we pray a lot for wisdom and for guidance. Hopefully we realize that it will always lead us towards God. The direction He wants us to take in life is the place of light and truth that He possess. It’s holy ground. God is both with us and waiting in the place He wants us to go. In whatever guidance we’re looking for we must always seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33). Many of our questions can be answered by starting there. Seeking a new career? Wanting to know whether or not to ask someone to marry you? Contemplating moving and starting over somewhere new? Should I buy that? Should I give to that? Ask yourself, which of your options will lead you in the pursuit of righteousness? And, could lead others towards righteousness. God’s light will always guide you to the greatest service, to the deepest love, to the purest living, and to highest character.

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord.

Ephesians 5:8-10 NIV

Short-changing God

theversesproject.com

Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come into his courts.

Psalm 96:8 KJV

This seems like a tall order. First, how do we give glory unto the Lord? Second, how could we possibly hope to give Him all He deserves? Isn’t this the purpose of our very existence? We are made in His image, to bear His name, and to honor Him by the manner of our lives. But how does that look? I think the Bible answers that for us.

O Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you; I will praise your name, for you have done wonderful things, plans formed of old, faithful and sure.

Isaiah 25:1 ESV

Whatever we do, one thing that is paramount is worship. Our praise for God should intertwine the activities we do throughout the day, from the redundant, to the exciting and new. His children should elevate God above and beyond in within all things they do. Praise should be a constant, both privately and publicly. We cannot hesitate to shout His goodness from the mountaintops and tell the world of the great things He’s done for us for others.

In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

Matthew 5:16 ESV

God deserves our service. He deserves our energies and our resources. Not only should our lips shout the glories of God, but our actions should display them. In our love, we show God. In our character, we show God. In the way we lay our lives down for our neighbors, we show God.

Truth is, God deserves far more than we could ever give. But that should never stop us from devoting each waking moment to sing His praises and to put His love on display. Have a blessed day brothers and sister!

Never Underestimate Mercy

sermoncentral.com

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

Matthew 5:7 ESV

Recent events in my family’s experiences have reminded me of the immense value of mercy. No one is perfect, therefore everyone messes up. We are all in need of mercy, from one another, and from God. There is no one who doesn’t need forgiveness. When people we know are going astray, don’t abandoned them. For when they return, they will need your open arms to further their healing and recovery.

God makes no room for an unforgiving spirit. That only comes from arrogance and a distorted view of our own “goodness”. It’s easy to look at the choices of others and drift towards judgement. But what God commissions us to is an attitude of compassion and prayer. We need to stop wasting our time with anger and frustration and spend more time pouring out our hearts in prayer for those who are not living the way they should. I have witnessed, time and time again, people’s lives being redirected through God’s goodness. No one is too far gone. Let’s all stop the gossip chains. Let’s stop wasting our voices bashing others. From our lips should come love and truth seasoned with grace and hope. Condemning others never lead to their salvation.

There will come a time when you and me will need mercy to be extended to us. I need it fairly often. I needed it in a big way just a few months ago. I am extremely grateful for those who have shown me grace, and that gratitude should punctuate and attitude of mercy in my own heart. A good thing to remember is that no one could ever hurt us as much as we’ve hurt God. Our sin rendered us underserving. It’s Christ’s sacrifice that opens the door for each of us to find mercy. Our sin gave Him lashes and drove the nails through His wrists and feet every bit as much as those who have hurt us. We too have broken the heart of God, and have received His mercy. If that doesn’t propel us to show grace then nothing will, and we will then be the most pitiable of all.

What Kind of Abomination are you?

desirejesus.com

That might seem like an odd question. It assumes the position that everyone is an abomination. Which is exactly the point I wish to make. Every single one of us is an abomination to someone. I know that sounds bleak, but it’s none the less true. According to the dictionary, an abomination is something or someone who causes disgust, hatred, or aversion. I am not saying that we are all hated and awful people. This is not a rant about humanity. The truth is, the life you choose to live will inevitably cause others to want to avoid you or disgust you. The only exception to this are those who are fake. They blend into crowds. They mold themselves to fit who they are with. They never stand for anything because to do so will result in someone being offended. For the rest of us, whatever we choose to stand for will place us in opposition to someone else.

An unjust man is an abomination to the righteous, but one whose way is straight is an abomination to the wicked.

Proverbs 29:27 ESV

Even the godly, and maybe especially the godly, are detested by some in society. As culture degrades, those who hold true to moral certainties and biblical truths, are seen as enemies of the majority. Think about all of those who hold to the value of every human being, born and unborn. They are labeled as sexist and disciminatory towards women’s rights. People who promote and cherish the way people are born are charged for discriminating against people who want to change their gender. Even promoting the sanctity of marriage between one man and one women is seen as so appalling and hateful and homophobic. Many in society will say that to claim Jesus as Lord and Savior and the only way to heaven is intolerant and closed-minded. To challenge the notion of moral relativism will make you a bigot in the eyes of some. The life of a godly person is a conviction for those who are not. Even for the person who does not behave “holier than thou”. To make the choice to try and live a holy life and pursue Jesus will make you an abomination to many. But what kind of an abomination do you want to be? Do you want to be detestable to the ungodly or to the godly.

“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you

John 15:18 ESV

Jesus Himself warned His followers that it would mean the world would shun them. The world’s standards are not God’s standards. Holiness and righteousness are foreign and rejected by most. So if we truly follow Jesus, there will be people who do not want anything to do with us, or worse, hate us. It’s happening in the United States, and it is certainly happening around the world.

Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man!

Luke 6:22 ESV

Take heart brothers and sisters. To be like Jesus is to be counter cultural. To be like Jesus is to challenge the norms and the popular beliefs. To be like Jesus is to be different. And the world struggles with different. But that should not keep us from being heavenly minded and pursuing godliness. While you may get ostracized by some, you’ll win the hearts of others to the Lord. Our love will be an abomination. Our grace and truth will be despised. Our forgiveness and mercy will be hated. But the world needs us to be an abomination. For the light of Jesus shines in the darkness!

Be strong my fellow Christians! Shalom and may the peace of Christ be in your hearts.

 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

John 16:33 ESV

Turn up the Light

Oswald Chambers once wrote that, “When becoming Christ’s my individuality remains, but my primary motivation for living and the nature that rules me are radically changed. I have the same human body, but the old satanic right to myself has been destroyed.”

Far earlier the Apostle Paul wrote, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

And finally, the great pastor Charles Spurgeon is noted saying, “Christ first, me last, nothing but love in between.”

Devotion in the Christian’s life certainly plays out in different ways, but one common element should be evident in us all: that we are His, wholeheartedly, and our lives should show it. The Lord promised to make us springs of living water that overflow to those around us. He said the world would know us by our love. He said we are the light of the world. Lord Jesus, turn up the light in us. Give us undivided hearts and undivided lives. Be alive in us like never before.

Peace in Christ brothers and sisters

God overrides your insecurities

In the book of Exodus, God chooses to reveal Himself to an exile shepherd named Moses. In glorious splendor, God speaks to him as an unconsuming flame. The task God would call him to seemed insurmountable. For everyone reading the story, it would seem near impossible. Go to the most powerful ruler in the world and tell him to release his largest labor force. No one can blame Moses for how he responds. Several times he makes excuse after excuse as to why he’s not capable of the calling. And you know what? So do we.

Christ commissioned us to take the gospel to the ends of the earth. Many of us won’t even talk to our neighbors or coworkers about Jesus. Many of us won’t take the unknown path that God may be leading us in because we don’t feel like we’re able to. We make excuses all day long. We aren’t gifted enough. We don’t have the resources. Now isn’t the time. We aren’t worthy. Truth is, we’ve all said or thought things like these one time or another.

God didn’t let Moses off the hook, and He won’t let us off either. We’ve all been made for a purpose, and He’ll continue to guide us into that until we take our last breath. Some will make excuses the rest of their lives and never fulfill the meaning they were born. Some will enter into it late in life. Others will be prodigal sons and come home after living a life apart from God. Then there’s those who hear the call and walk straight into it. That’s who I want to be, but I’m afraid I haven’t for a good portion of my life.

No matter who you are, God can overcome your insecurities. No excuse we make is a valid one when it comes to following Jesus. If we don’t have the resources, God will provide them. If we aren’t gifted enough, God’s power is made perfect in our weakness. If we aren’t worthy (which none of us are), God’s grace abounds all the more.

Moses was used to do incredible things. But he sure tried to get out of it. I’ll bet he’s glad God didn’t let him off the hook so easy. I’m glad he keeps giving me opportunities to. How about you? When the burning bush calls to you, will you respond?

Wasting Gifts

God is good. His goodness can be seen everywhere we look. And he’s given so much to everyone of us. What’s your response to those good gifts?

Let’s start with time as our first gift. How do we use our time? Sure, we’re all guilty of wasting some of it. Vegging out on movies or tv shows here and there. Watching sports, scrolling on the phone, etc…But is the majority of it used for good and productive means? What does that even look like? It should reflect service in some way. Do things to help and benefit others. Giving back to society, providing for a family, spending quality time with those we love, and helping those in need. Most of all, we should have quality time worked in everyday where we are in prayer, devotions, study, and worship. Yes, those can and should be intertwined into all our daily activities, but there’s something to say for getting away to a quiet place with the Lord regularly. Time is precious, and we have no way of knowing how much of it we have. So we need to treat it like the treasure it is.

Now let’s look at another huge gift: salvation. Maybe I should phrase this as access to salvation, because some reading this may not have tasted the goodness of God’s salvation in Christ’s atoning work. Some are still carrying the burdens of sin, worry, depression, anger, and addiction, among other things. The salvation that Christ made available is alive and powerful. It’s freedom, in this life and the next. It’s a new life. A new way of doing life. A new outlook. A restoration back to our original purpose. If God didn’t give us a single good grace in life, He still would have given us more than we deserve in the salvation of the Son. But so many have spoken the words, called on the name of Jesus, and are still not walking in that freedom and newness. We waste our salvation by not walking in that salvation. We waste it by not sharing it, both by telling others and by proclaiming it through our actions. Salvation is something that is meant to be shared, not kept to ourselves. We are, after all, the lights of the world when we choose Him.

A third gift is placement. You’ve been given people, family, friends, teachers, students, community members, neighbors, and even strangers. You’ve been placed where you are and when you are for a reason. The people in our lives aren’t always easy but that in itself can be a gift. We are all molded by the people around us and it’s up to us whether that molding is making us more or less like Jesus. Sometimes it’s the hardest people and the hardest situations that can make us the most like Him. We also have the opportunity to pour into those people (yes even the difficult ones). Jesus said to love those who hate us and bless those who persecute us. We waste our placement in this world by allowing others to sour us or harden us and by refusing to lay down our lives for others or by seeking ways to be served by others. We can’t take those in our lives for granted.

A forth gift is the world itself. There is so much beauty all around us. In the mountains and plains, deserts and lush forests, there’s so much for us to enjoy. Do you slow down enough to take it in? We waste the gift of nature when we neglect opportunities to take care of it. We waste it when we don’t slow down and just let it pass us by. We waste it when we don’t praise God for all the ways nature provides for us. For the rain, the snow, the breeze, the sunshine. It’s all part of God’s common graces.

Lastly, let’s get more personal. We all have gifts, as in things we are predisposed to and passionate about. For me, it’s writing, drawing, teaching, and certain outdoor activities. How about you dear reader? You are gifted. You have passion. You are creative. So create. Follow your passions. Develop your talents. And do so in a way to point others to the one who gave you that talent. Talent is wasted when it has the aim of self promotion. It’s best spent when it is spent in His honor. Spend your gifts bettering society, bringing beauty, sharing truth, and revealing God’s glory.

When we stop and think about it, we really have been given so much. And these things only scratch the surface of God’s gifts. How dare any of us live as ungrateful. We all probably need to be much more intentional about not wasting these amazing gifts. I know I do. Pray for me and I’ll pray for you.

As always, peace in Christ’s brothers and sisters.

What do you cherish most?

I heard a great message a while back by Max Lucado about what we cherish in this lifetime. The message posed some pretty challenging questions like “What are you the most grateful for?” or “what do you thank God for the most?” and “what do you invest most of your time in?” These are all excellent questions and immediately got me thinking. Then an illustration was given to really bring the message home. Max said, “Take a sticky note and put it on all the things that you value, but only put them on the things that will be burned up in the end. What remains should be the answers to the questions asked at the beginning.”

So then I thought, what in my life can really be impacted by eternity? Eternity does not consist of my job, my car, or my house (and everything in it); eternity consists of the hearts of my family members, the heart of my wife, the hearts of my kids, the hearts of my friends, the hearts of strangers, and of course, my own heart. These are what I should cherish, praise God for, keep watch over, be the most grateful for, and invest the far majority of my time with.

Job put it very well when he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb and naked I will depart” (Job 1:21).

Money Can Buy
A bed but not sleep
Books but not knowledge
Food but not appetite
Finery but not beauty
A house but not a home
Medicine but not health
Luxuries but not comfort
Pleasures but not happiness
Religion but not salvation.
-unknown

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Matthew 22:37-40 (NIV)

Peace in Christ my brothers and sisters!