Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Technological breakthroughs once reserved for double "O" agents in the James Bond films of the mid century are now coming daily by the dozens. We are living in a time when society cannot keep up with the latest and greatest. If you buy a cell phone today, tomorrow there will be another one that is smaller and provides more options. If you purchase the state of the art computer, in a month it will be outdated.

In addition to technology improving our way of life through entertainment, we are also seeing inventions that will make our daily lives easier, but we are trading something in exchange for this freedom.

I have formed the habit as most people have in the past few years of using a nice little invention to the point of abuse. I am talking about caller identification (caller i.d.). When the phone rings the first thing I do is check to make sure I recognize the number so that I am not blind sided by a telemarketer or someone trying to solicit money for a timeshare in some remote island the used to use for testing nuclear weapons. But, lately I have started to abuse this small little led display on the back of my phone. Now if I see someone call and I simply do not have the time to answer the phone I will let the answering machine pick up and I will call them back later.

As I was looking at the caller i.d. the other day I wondered what I would do if the call showed up as "Jesus Christ 777-7777". Would I pick up or would I let the answering machine get it? I would like to think I would pick up the phone with the excited enthusiasm of a young child opening a present on Christmas Day, but I know there have been many times in the past and sadly to say even now that I hear the call of the Lord and do not answer.

It is ridiculous to attribute the call of our Lord to the telephone, but how many times have you avoided His call and just thought to yourself, "I'll return His call later"? Sometimes in our lives we are in situations of shame and we are too afraid to answer for fear that He will be disappointed with us. And the hardest call of all to answer is the initial call when He is calling to invite us into a relationship with him. For many this is the hardest call they will ever have to answer. They expect a voice of reprimand on the other end, but instead they find a voice more soothing and loving than any they have ever heard in their lives, and they are assured that they are welcome and the sins of their past are forgiven.

As Christians we put more stress on ourselves and we are harder on ourselves spiritually than God is. We complicate our spiritual lives to the point where we are afraid to speak with Him because we are ashamed.

I tell you now, if your Faith Phone is ringing, answer it. If this is the first time your phone has rung then it is the most important call you will ever receive. No matter where you are in your spiritual life, do not be afraid to answer His call it will make all the difference in the world. Don't delay; there will come a time when your phone wont ring anymore and I pray that you wont let this opportunity pass you by.

"For many are called, but few are chosen."

Matt 22:14

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

In the second persecution in the Book of Acts, Peter and the Apostles are brought before the council for preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

“Did we not strictly command you not to teach in his name? And look, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this Man’s blood on us!”

But Peter and the other Apostles answered and said: “We ought to obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on a tree. Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses to these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him.”

Hearing this outraged the council and they wanted to kill them, but a Pharisee named Gamaliel stepped in to calm them down. He had Peter and the other Apostles sent from the room so he could speak with the council in private.

And he said to them: “Men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what you intend to do regarding these men. For some time ago Theadus rose up, claiming to be somebody. A number of men, about four hundred, joined him. He was slain, and all who obeyed him were scattered and came to nothing.
After this man, Judas of Galilee rose up in the days of the census, and drew away many people after him. He also perished, and all who obeyed him were dispersed.
And now I say to you, keep away from these men and let them alone; for if this plan or this work is of men, it will come to nothing; but if it is of God, you cannot overthrow it – lest you even be found to fight against God.”

Today the number of Christians is in the hundreds of millions and rising. Gamaliel in his wisdom knew that nothing of God could be destroyed and we are now seeing proof of this today. Over the centuries many religions and ideals have formed and have been swept away by the winds of time. But Christianity has flourished and spread throughout the entire world, reaching all who have a mind to hear it.
This is yet further proof that Christianity is not an ideaology started by men and ending with men. It is a fact that has been from the beginning and will be to the end.

“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.”
- Jesus (Revelations 22:13)

Sunday, February 27, 2005

I overheard a group of people talking this evening and their conversation caught my attention. One of the young men was talking about how he had changed his ways because of God. He was telling the others the things in life he had given up and the things that he now did for God on a daily basis. As I listened I began to realize, often is the thought of the new believer that there is something we must do to please God. Many are still under the belief that by acting good we are doing that, which is commanded of us.

I listened to as much of the conversation as I could before I had to throw my 2 cents in and this is what it amounted to.
I proceeded to tell them, “There is nothing you can do to please God aside from worshipping Him and giving thanks for your salvation through the shedding of Christ’s blood on the cross. Our vain attempts to please Him only push us farther away from the understanding of the truth. It is only when we stop trying (or give up) that He is truly able to be apparent in us. We must first be removed so that His light can be seen in us.” I told the young man to simply stop trying to do what you think God wants you to do and let Him do what He wants to do through you.
This is a strange concept, one that I have still not fully grasped, but I do find it works. When I truly surrender my will and allow Him to take over completely, I find that I am closer to Him than I ever am when I TRY to be a good disciple.

After I finished talking to them I sat there a few more minutes and listened to the conversation revert back to its original topic. It seemed I hadn’t gotten across to them, but then I realized something. It is a very hard thing to accept. It is hard to accept that nothing more is required of us than to simply believe. As humans we feel the need to “do” and not just “be”. It amazes me that so many are content to be lazy in life, but work so hard in their faith. Trying to earn your salvation is not faith. Don’t take me wrong, I know that “faith without works is dead,” but I am not talking about that. I am not telling anyone not to put their faith into action. I am saying that as humans inhabiting an inherent sinful body, we cannot possibly hope to be good little Christians by our own effort. The Spirit is given to us not only as a comforter, but also as a guide in life, that He may live through us. If we allow Him to live our lives for us we cannot fail, but if WE try to live our lives for Him we will fail every time.

Monday, February 07, 2005

(6)“As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, (7)rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.

(8)Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.” (Colossians 2:6-8)

We are to “walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith.” It doesn’t say that He will walk in us or be built up in us, because He already is. Often times as Christians we pray for a sign from above, we pray for Christ to fill us with His Spirit, but His work in us is complete. When we became believers He came into our lives, washing away our sins and filling us with His Spirit. He will never leave us nor forsake us. He is always with us, but we are not always with Him. Therefore Paul is reminding us that we must walk in Christ Jesus and be well established in our faith. By walking in the faith Paul means, letting the Spirit live for us. By taking ourselves out of the equation God is free to do His will in our lives.

The old cliché, “Misery loves company” is as true today as it ever was. People seek to steal joy from others and destroy that which they do not understand. Until their eyes are opened they will not see the truth and they will continue to exchange the truth for lies. Through science and reasoning they try to disprove God, making Him out to be an imaginary friend for adults. In their pursuit for knowledge they have been blinded to the truth. All the knowledge in the world will not replace God and all the wisdom of the ages cannot replace the truth. But no matter how high your intellect, at the end of the day, we’re all just sinners in need of salvation.

Monday, January 24, 2005

“Are you going to heaven?”
“How do you know?”
“Because I am a good person. I don’t think God would send a good person to hell.”

Amazingly enough there are still these people in the world. They believe they can purchase a ticket into heaven simply by being a good person. Even more now than ever before people are following this line of thought. They are either too afraid of offending someone or they just dont want to exhaust the time and effort of believing in God, so instead they decide not to believe in one particular religion or another and they simply believe they are good they will get into heaven.
Unfortunately these people are in for a rude awakening.

I am not politically correct when it comes to God and I do not make excuses for my faith. I am here to tell you the truth. Good deeds will not get you into heaven. I don’t care if you are the kindest, gentlest soul who has ever walked this planet. If you do not believe in the one true God and His son Jesus Christ, you are not getting in. It’s as simple as that. The price that Jesus paid he paid for us all. He paid the price so we don’t have. God took man out of the equation when he wiped our sins clean for us with the blood of Jesus Christ.

I am writing this because of a recent interview I saw on “The O’Reilly Factor.” Mr. O’Reilly was interviewing Dr. Tim Lahay and Mr. Jerry Jenkins (the authors of the famous “Left Behind” series). During the course of the interview Mr. O’Reilly asked Dr. Lahay if a good person could get into heaven. Dr. Lahay replied with a simple ‘no, not if they didn’t have Jesus in their lives’. Apparently this was not the answer Mr. O’Reilly was looking for and he wanted to debate on the subject. Mr. O’Reilly like so many others in our society today has a problem with a Christian claiming that Jesus is the only way to God and therefore the only way to heaven.
We are living in a world where various religions are accepted openly and freely, that is unless you are a Christian. Tell someone you are a Buddhist and they seem fascinated, but the second you say to someone, “Have you heard about Jesus?” the conversation is over. Our faith does not suit today’s generation because we do not allow that you can believe what you want. It is much easier to not believe in God, live a good life and hope that is enough (just in case there is a heaven).
On the other hand we have those who are genuinely confused because there are so many faiths out there, they are not sure which one is the real. So many of us started out like this, but the people I am referring to are the ones who would rather stay in the dark than exhaust the effort to educate themselves and learn the truth. It is easier to stay in the world, blind to the ways of God than it is to actually search for Him.

I will close with this simple verse:

“I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
- Jesus (John 14:6)

Sunday, January 16, 2005

It’s easy to look at someone who is strong in Christ and forget that they also began as a baby in the Lord. When we trust in the Jesus and accept Him as our Lord we are automatically saved but we are not automatically full of faith. In our day and age our faith is tested daily and sometimes to the point of failing us. We are faced with trials and tribulations, sorrows and disappointment more times than we can count. Often times our faith pulls us through and other times we question whether our faith is in vain.
My faith (or lack there of) used to be a great stumbling block for me. I felt that I did not have sufficient faith to pull me through and as a result I felt like a bad Christian. As I turned to scripture for help in my daily life God lead me to examine his servant Peter a little bit closer.

Peter is said by many to be the greatest of the apostles and the Catholic Church believes that their Pope is a direct descendent of him through apostolic procession. According to the Catholic Church, he is the rock upon which Christ has built His church. We must take a closer look at this man and realize he wasn’t always the mighty Christian that he became. In the beginning he was weak, unsure and his faith was lacking. In essence he was just as we are when we begin our journey.

And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!” And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” Matt. 14:28-31

Many times as Christians we are able to deal well with situations in our lives, but sometimes we reach a point where it seems hopeless, our faith falters and we cry out, “Lord save me!” Just as He did with Peter he does with us as well, “immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him.” It doesn’t say that eventually He reached out to help him, but immediately. When we cry out to Him, He is faithful to help us, to save us from the mess we find ourselves in.

As we move on in Peters walk with Jesus we see on the night of Jesus’ capture by the temple guards, Peters faith falters once again.

Now Peter sat outside in the courtyard. And a servant girl came to him, saying, “You also were with Jesus of Galilee.” But he denied it before them all saying, “I do not know what you are saying.” And when he had gone out to the gateway, another girl saw him and said to those who were there, “This fellow also was with Jesus of Nazareth.” But again he denied with an oath, “I do not know the Man!” And a little later those who stood by came up and said to Peter, “Surely you also are one of them, for your speech betrays you.” Then he began to curse and swear, saying, “I do not know the Man!” Immediately a rooster crowed. And Peter remembered the word of Jesus who had said to him, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” So he went out and wept bitterly.

Under persecution for associating with Jesus Peter was fearful for his own life. His faith was weak and he denied Jesus, not once but three times. It is interesting to note the degree to which he denied him, “Then he began to curse and swear.” Fear had taken its grip on Peter and cast a black shadow over his faith, but when he realized what he had done he began to weep bitterly. He wept because he knew that his faith was weak and had caused him to deny Jesus.

As we move into the Book of Acts we see a whole new Peter. We see a man whose faith can heal the sick and even resurrect the dead. Was it the Holy Spirit he received on the day of Pentecost that strengthened his faith or was it something else? I tend to believe it was seeing Christ resurrected and finally being able to see what Jesus had been asking him to believe all along. He finally saw that Jesus was and is the Son of God and our Lord and Savior.
This stands true for us in our lives as well. Until we can truly say without any doubt, “Jesus is the Son who was sent to us to deliver us from sin,” we will never be truly faithful. And without faith we open ourselves up for attack from Satan and the trials and tribulations of life. We are given the Holy Spirit to help us through the hard times, but it still requires faith on part to put our trust in Him.

God Bless

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Rising from the middle of the desert like a mirage emerges a city, an unlikely spot for a metropolis. An oasis of metal and glass, forming structures adorned with neon lights and billboards. I am witnessing the modernization of a culture that only 12 years ago was free (in part) of the material things of this world.

It is not uncommon in our culture to see KFC or Taco Bell but in a world that is deeply rooted in its religion it looks very out of place. Much like the United States you can see where God is slowly and methodically being replaced by greed. In the U.S. we have kicked Him out of our schools, our businesses, our courts and many have kicked Him out of their homes. At this rate, it wont be long before He is kicked out of the churches?
Replacing Him with science the U.S. has turned their backs on the very foundation that our freedom was built upon.

In a Middle Eastern country far from my home I am witnessing the same thing happening. I went to a mall the other day that is bigger than any I have seen in my home town, and the sad thing is it was only one of 3 malls in a 10 mile radius and even more than this it was the smaller of the 3. In the span of 12 years I have been to this country close to 10 times and I have been witness to the birth of capitalism and the death of God (or Allah as they call him). A country once strong in its faith (misguided as it may be) is turning away from its very foundation and I cannot help but think about my own country.

It saddens me to think that there will be a day soon when I will not even be able to worship God in my own home. It will be a crime to share the story of Jesus Christ with anyone, and as Christians we will be forced into hiding. If you think this won’t happen, then I have to tell you, “It’s already happening!” The world is moving ahead and leaving God behind (or so it thinks). Its time we wake up and see what’s happening in the world around us. So many are in the world, but how many actually take a step back to look at the big picture. I do not want to be Chicken Little running around saying, “The sky is falling!” but Prophecy is being fulfilled every day. The revelations of the Holy Spirit are given to us as a warning of trials and tribulations ahead, and a promise that a New Hope will follow with the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. I do not claim to know when and I am not claiming that it will happen soon, only that I am seeing the world changing and it scares me that so many do not.

And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all nations, and then the end will come. – Jesus (Matt:24:6-14)

But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. But as the days of Noah were so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.
Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left. Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. –Jesus (Matt:24:36-42)

But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape.
But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. –Paul
(I Thessalonians 5:1-6)

God Bless

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Lets take a look for a moment at a tribe in the farthest reaches of the rainforest. There are still people to this day who have not been influenced by outsiders, who have not been exposed in any way to the gospel. What’s interesting to note is these same tribes that have not heard the gospel all believe in a god of some sort. They worship gods in the form of creatures or humans and often erect statues to worship. Is it coincidence that all mankind has a desire to worship a deity? God is at the very core of humanity and our subconscious knows what our conscious often denies; that there is a Creator.
All cultures worship God in one shape or form, unfortunately most do not know God or his son Jesus Christ.

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them.
For since the creation of the world His attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.
Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man – and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. Romans 1:18-23

We are exposed to God daily. Every time we look in the mirror, or gaze upon the face of a child we are seeing His handy work. Every sunset and sunrise we see was, created by Him for us. Only a Creator could design an environment that is so delicately balanced, that the slightest change could eliminate all life on earth.

There is a Creator, and everyone throughout the world knows Him, whether they accept Him as God or not. Mankind searches for God in all cultures, because we are all seeking to fill the hole in our souls that can only be filled by Him.

I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
- Jesus (John 14:6)

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Each New Year brings its own new problems into the world.  More wars to be fought, more sorrows to endure, more hunger, more poverty, more natural disasters, more hatred at the hands of men and women everywhere.  Everything new under the sun, but there is one thing that doesn't change; the unwavering promise that God is with us.  The knowledge that He will never forsake or leave us is anchored in our being.  We are born again into a new creation.  We are filled with a higher understanding; a more acute knowledge of good and evil; we see things in a new light.  The blinders are taken from our eyes and we begin to see the world as it really is. 

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold all things have become new.         II Corinthians 5:17

We need to awake from the spiritual slumber, which has overtaken us, and remember that we are no longer our old selves.  Sin is the nature of man, and it will always be with us, but as Christians, it shouldn't be the driving force in our lives.  In this New Year we need to strive to be better Christians.  Take hold of the promise that has been given to us as Christians and be led by the Spirit and not by our own desires. 

While losing weight, quitting smoking, exercising more, watching less television, spending more time with the kids, working harder, and a myriad of other things are good resolutions, but lets face it, ninety percent of all resolutions are broken within the first month.  With the help of the Holy Spirit let us make this our New Year's Resolution:

Therefore as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.          Colossians 3:12-13

Happy New Year and God Bless!