Saturday, May 30, 2015

Stop And Smell The Roses

I went for one of my long walks last weekend. My wife and I are blessed to live right next door to the Ice Age Trail and one of Wisconsin's state parks - Hartman Creek. I am trying to walk as many sections of the Ice Age Trail as I can.

There are many interesting things to see along the trail and I always have my camera with me. I walk and walk and walk but occasionally I will stop along the way to take some pictures.

One of my favorite things to search for during this time of year is the illusive Jack-In-The-Pulpit. They are out there but they can kind of hide amongst the other green spring plants and it's easy to miss them.

On my latest walk I entered an area where I thought I might find some, and I did! There, on the left side of the trail at the base of a tree, sat Mr. Jack. So I stopped and began taking pictures. When I had finished taking pictures of this solitary plant I took a look around. There was another Jack-In-The Pulpit! And another!! There were dozens of them!! What an incredible find!

Recently, I finished reading the Bible for the third time. It was exciting when I got near the end. I was excited! With only a handful of pages left, I told my friend at work how close I was to finishing! I was so excited! Did I tell you how excited I was to accomplish the reading of this magnificent book? I was excited!!

So, my friend says this to me.

"Usually I like to take my time reading through the Bible, study its meaning, and learn all that God wants to teach me."


But my friend was right. I had been so focused in finishing the Bible it is quite possible that I missed the very things that God wanted me to learn. That became doubly apparent after my encounter with my little plant friends. I wonder just how many people passed them by even though they were right there waiting to be seen.

There is so much knowledge and wisdom to be seen in the Bible as well. And this next time through I am going to to stop at the end of each chapter and go back and check out every note in my study Bible. It would be a shame to miss things that might be hidden along my journey through God's Word, even though they were right there to see.

We need to pause as we read the Bible and dig down a little bit. We need to discover those hidden treasures that might otherwise remain out of view. Won't you please join me?

"Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path." - Psalm 119:105

Stop And Smell The Roses - Mac Davis

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Fishers of Men

In the books of Matthew and Mark, Jesus tells Simon and Andrew that, if they follow Him, He will make them "fishers of men." Why would becoming fishers of men be of interest to a couple of fishermen? They were fishers of fish! And just how does one go "fishing" for men anyway? What bait should be used? How big would the hook have to be? Herein lies the story of one such man, or should I say "fish," and just how it was that Jesus was able to catch him.

As a fisherman myself there are several things you need to know in order to have a successful fishing trip. Without knowing what you are fishing for how can you possibly succeed? The following is a short list of things one needs to know in order to catch fish.
  1. Know where the fish are.
  2. Know what equipment you will need.
  3. Know what fish like to eat.
  4. Know when fish like to eat.
  5. Know how to "present" the bait . . . the lure.
I have discovered that fishing for men is no different than fishing for fish. You don't even need a license! And you can fish for them year round! In season and out of season. You just can't keep them or fillet them. It's strictly catch and release.

When God set out to "catch" me, He knew everything about me. My deep, dark secrets, all of the mistakes I had made. He knew what things interested me. He knew the things I craved and the things I thought about when the lights were out and I was all alone. Points 1, 3 and 4 in the list above were already taken care of. He still needed Point #2 though . . . the right equipment.

Enter a good-looking, well-constructed woman onto the scene. Right equipment? Check! Presentation? Check! God had everything in place to catch me and I was totally oblivious to what was going on. I couldn't even see the hook! That's because The Holy Spirit cannot be seen.

Unbeknownst to me, the new friend in my life was a Christian. And she was fishing, just like Jesus had taught her to do. And NOT the way the world teaches.

The day of my transformation was January 15, 2006. I was sitting in church with my wife, the result of a guilt trip my new friend had laid on me. Or should I say the Holy Spirit did. I heard a message that day from the pulpit that was exactly what I needed to hear and I became a believer in Jesus Christ right then and there.

Psalm 37:4 says "4 Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart." That is SO true. One of the first things I felt convicted about when I came to believe was not being a godly father to my children. I had failed them AND God in my opinion. But God is a God of many chances. And what do you think He would have me do? How about a volunteer with a youth group. My children were grown and out of the house but suddenly I had dozens of kids to guide and mentor. It was perfect. It was SO God.

Many wonderful relationships came out of the time I spent with those kids. And God was true to His promise. He gave me the desires of my heart. Both of my kids now go to church each week with their spouses - a blessing indeed! Do they believe? I can't tell that, only God can. But the chances sure a better sitting in a pew rather than a recliner at home!

There is great joy in becoming a fisher of men. You should try it some time. I did. Oh, how I love to watch God pursuing these young people! They are a tricky fish to catch but God is a pro angler. He can even catch fish using old rusted equipment like me - a grandfather" to the next generation.

Have you ever noticed what letter a fish hook looks like. Coincidence? I think not!

"3 Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.

4 Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. 5 Jesus said to them, “Children, do you have any fish?” They answered him, “No.” 6 He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, because of the quantity of fish. 7 That disciple whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter, “It is the Lord!”
- John 21:3-7

Fishers Of Men - Billy Graham Evangelical Association 

Fishers Of Men - on Faith &

Monday, May 25, 2015

A Different Kind Of Memorial Day

It's refreshing to watch all of the posts on Facebook, honoring our soldiers who have sacrificed so much for our country. It wasn't always that way. I grew up in the Vietnam era. The American public greeted soldiers returning from war with jeers and riots. Our soldiers were spit upon and degraded by the very people who they were fighting for. A very dark time in this country's history. But today, thank God, things are a whole lot better in the way we treat our soldiers.

As I was reading the book of Revelation this past week I came across a passage of scripture that made me stop and take notice. The story was about a different kind of soldier. They were honored for their service and for making the ultimate sacrifice for the God they love and serve. I would like you to read this, keeping in mind the numerous Christians who have lost their lives because of their faith. It is a story of their ultimate reward.

"I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years." - Revelation 20:4

Most of cannot understand what goes through the mind of someone who has been asked to make a choice between denying Jesus Christ or dying. It is a testimony to those brave souls who did not struggle when a knife-wielding Islamic extremist cut their heads off. Their reward is in heaven as we have just read.

"For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain." - Philippians 1:21

We need to lift up our soldiers in prayer. Not just the brave soldiers that guard our country and protect it against all enemies - foreign and domestic. We also need to pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ. We need to pray for their families as well as their enemies. OUR enemies.

If we lived in a world without evil there would be no need for soldiers. Our young men and women would never have to go off to war. They would never have to die for their country or for God. They could stay at home and love their children and their spouses. They could play and work in an environment of peace rather than fear.

What will it take to one day live in a world without the bloodshed of human lives. Two things. We need to pray, as I have already mentioned, and we need to place our faith in God, the one TRUE God. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. We need to repent of our sins, receive Jesus, the savior of the world, into our hearts and live our lives for Him, not for our selfish desires.

Jesus already paid the price for our sins. Let us remember HIM this Memorial Day and also the soldiers in God's army, men, women and children, who have paid the ultimate price for their faith.

"34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” - Luke 23:24

The following is a very powerful video. It is also very graphic in nature - depicting a Christian family choosing Jesus over death. I offer it to you this morning because we often do not know these people who are dying for their faith. If we did, we might take action and pray. Otherwise we sadly just flip the channel, onto something else, ignoring the all-too-real threat many of our brothers and sisters face every day.

Pray. Pray for the fallen . . . and for those left behind.

Liena's Prayer - Voice of The Martyrs

Saturday, May 23, 2015


Have you ever searched for a four-leaf clover? When you first saw this picture did you look to see if you could find one? When I was a child I remember laying on my belly in the grass of a park, searching in vain for such an illusive rarity in God's creation. To this day I have never found a four-leaf clover.

They really do exist though. I have actually seen one. But what do we do if we should ever find one? Should we pick it.? Maybe save it in a book some place, because we have found something extremely rare. Or should we let it be?

Some people think a four-lead clover is lucky. The luck of the Irish you know. They like shamrocks. Shamrocks are in same botanical family as clover. The Word shamrock actually means "little clover." If you find one you will have luck, right? Wrong. I don't believe in luck. I believe in something better.
I'd like you to look closer at a piece of clover for a moment. There are many different varieties. Do you have any clover plants growing in your yard? Well-kept yards don't have much clover because many consider clover to be a kind of weed. My yard has lots of it. Go get some and take a look at it if you can.You will find something interesting.

Closer usually has three leaves. If you picked one of them off the stem and looked at it, what does it look like? That's right! It looks like a heart.

I have heard many descriptions of The Trinity. Christians believe that God exists in three parts - Father, Son (Jesus) and The Holy Spirit. They are three distinct entities, yet one at the same time. It's kind of confusing.

I heard one pastor describe The Holy Spirit as three candles. There are three individual candles, yet there is only one light. That's a good description. But consider the clover.

Three leaves, yet there is one stem - three in one, just like the Trinity. Three living parts of one plant, all linked together. And it's alive! Also, each of the three leaves is shaped like a heart, representing love. God IS love.

"8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. " - 1 John 4:8

There is a city near where I live named Plover. Do you know what their city's slogan is?

"The city with love in the middle"

The same thing can be said of clover.

So the next time you see some clover in your yard, think twice before ripping it up. It is a reminder of the God who created ALL things, not just clover. It is a reminder of who He is and how three Gods can be one.

"The works that I do in my Father's name bear witness about me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep. 27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. 30 I and the Father are one.” - John 10:25-30

Halleluiah - Cloverton

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

I Saw The Light

My wife struggled for years with her old sewing machine. She'd had it since high school and for the past decade or two she would always come up from her sewing room, frustrated.

A few months ago she brought her sewing machine upstairs to work on a pair of pants for her sister. I watched as she fidgeted with the power cord.

"What are you doing?" I asked.

"The light on my machine keeps going on and off. I have to hold the cord just so in order to keep it lit."

"Sounds like you have a short in the wire. I'll be right back."

I went downstairs and got a spare plug, snipped of the old plug and put on the new one and BOOM it was fixed.

My wife was SO excited! She gave me a hug and kept wiggling the sewing machine cord to see if it would go out. It didn't. When neighbors came over she would tell them the sewing machine story.

"For years I struggled with that cord! But then one day Bob saw my struggle and fixed it. I am so glad!!"

If only people were that willing to have someone fix their faith-lives! When I see someone struggling spiritually and try to offer words of wisdom I am often met with the cold shoulder. People just don't want to hear about Jesus. They're too busy struggling with their power cord.

Sometimes we have to get to the breaking point before we are willing to give someone else a chance to fix things. So often that is the case with our stubbornness and The Gospel of Jesus.Christ.

Some people just don't want to hear it. Others simply can't. They have not been chosen.

"44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him." - John 6:44

At the end of the worship service on Sunday the band began playing the old Hank Williams song "I Saw The Light." The pastor walked up and down the aisle, clapping his hands, encouraging others to join in. He came to a man on the aisle who was not clapping. The man had no left hand. Some people just can't clap. Or can they?

The pastor did just what he should have done. He moved on to the next row, still clapping. The on-armed man COULD have slapped his one remaining hand on his thigh but he didn't. Some people not only CAN'T clap, they often just don't want to clap.

What do we do when we encounter people in our lives who simply do NOT want to hear the Gospel?

As sad as it sounds, we have been instructed to move on. There is nothing quite so frustrating as to see someone struggling in their lives and they simply do not want to accept the cure. It is VERY hard to move on. Pray compassionately for them. And never give up hope.

"11 And whatever town or village you enter, find out who is worthy in it and stay there until you depart. 12 As you enter the house, greet it. 13 And if the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it, but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. 14 And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town. 15 Truly, I say to you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town." - Matthew 10:11-15

In the meantime, keep singing God's praises. And be thankful that God has called you! Praise The Lord!! You saw The Light!"

"12 Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” - John 8:12

I Saw The Light - David Crowder Band

Monday, May 18, 2015

Back Paddle!!

Forty years ago my best friend Chris and I did a lot of white water canoeing in northern Wisconsin. Those were the days. Not a care in he world. The only thing we had to worry about was how to get the tent set up without being eaten alive by mosquitoes!

We always searched for the more dangerous sections of the rivers to run. I'm not sure why. Seems like kind of a stupid thing to do, looking back on it from the downhill side of 60 years of age. But that was us, young and invincible.

We got to the point where we didn't have to talk with one another when running through the rapids. Chris would pick which side of the rock to go around and I would steer the tail end of the canoe around to comply. We were a team. We watched out for each other.

There was a time when we were very confident of our abilities - OVER confident in fact. That overconfidence came to an end one spring day on a snow-melt, swollen #3 rapid in the Namekogan River.

Obviously we survived. My canoe, however, did not.

The point of my telling you that story is to ask you to never take your faith for granted. I have seen too many people profess a faith in Christ, get baptized, and then slowly fade away. They become overconfident, not only with their salvation, but with God's forgiveness of sin.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying you can lose your salvation if you truly believe. I am asking the opposite. If you continue to sin after professing a faith in Christ, do you truly believe?

I'd like you to read this passage from Paul's letter to the Colossians . . .

"If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

"5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 On account of these the wrath of God is coming. 7 In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. 8 But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. 11 Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all."
- Colossians 3:1-10

When we place our faith in Christ the old self is supposed to die. We should no longer be living like we did before we were saved. God has rules. The Bibles is full of them! And as much as we might like to change some of the rules we cannot do that. That would make US God and that is idolatry and blasphemy all rolled into one.

Back-sliding is a very real problem in the church. It happens slowly, then the next day we sin a little more. Out post-redemption life is a constant battle. We sin, we repent and we are forgiven. There is no forgiveness without repentance and the shed blood of Jesus Christ.

"4 For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5 and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6 and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt. 7 For land that has drunk the rain that often falls on it, and produces a crop useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God. 8 But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed, and its end is to be burned." - Hebrews 6:4-8

If we continue to sin after "believing" did we really believe in the first place. And if we didn't, don't we need to "believe again? And make it stick this time!!

I believe that Jesus died for our sins - past, present and future. But that does not give us license to still sin, thinking "I'm forgiven any way." No! We need to repent of all sins we commit in our walk with Jesus. If we don't we will grieve the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30).

We are Christians! We should be living like it. Living any other way is a mockery of the Cross. Don't let yourself fade away from what you once were. Live for Christ! Let Him be your every thought. Make no decisions without consulting Him in prayer. Confess all of your sins, even as you commit them. Become refined through trials and be transformed into the image of Jesus so that we can continue to learn and grow in grace, mercy and love. Beware of the slow fade and back paddle when you encounter it. We are here to shine a light, not to grow dim.

"19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent." - Revelation 3:19

Slow Fade - Casting Crowns

Saturday, May 16, 2015

The Commands of Jesus: Love Your Enemies

This is a tough one. How do we love someone we don't even like? Am I supposed to love the guy down the block who kicks his dog when he gets home from work? Am I supposed to love ISIS who cuts the heads off my brothers and sisters overseas? Am I supposed to love someone who kills a little baby in its mother's womb? Am I supposed to love someone who tells me that Jesus is a myth and my faith is useless?


There are no if's, and's or but's about this command from Jesus. "Love your enemies" seems simple enough to understand. So how do we do that? How do we love someone who trashes our God or cuts someone's head off? Good question. But, as always, God provides all the answers we need, right there in the Bible.

Most of us know who our enemies are. Yet, I have seen people change. How can someone who was once my enemy change? How does that happen? How do they get changed? I myself have changed. But how?

Look at World War II. Our two main enemies in that war were Germany and Japan. Today our nations are all friends. At one point in world history we were fighting each other, killing each other, torturing each other. Yet we changed.

I came across a video on Facebook recently that speaks to this topic about loving our enemies. Please watch it with me.

Compassion Is True Communication

It is difficult to watch that video and not be moved . . . not to have a tear come to our eyes, witnessing the power of compassion, mercy and grace given between two people whose countries were at war with each other . . . between two people who were supposed to be enemies. But the thing that changes us, the thing that does the changing, is love. Compassion? Yes. Mercy? Yes. Grace? Yes. All those things begin with love. Love for one another.

When Jesus died on the cross He had been tortured, beaten and spit upon. His disciples had abandoned Him and He was left there to die, basically alone. Only His mother and his two best friends stood and watched. He went to that cross willingly, for HIS enemies. Do you remember His words from the cross?

"Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing." - Luke 23:34

Do you have any enemies? How will you show compassion to them today? Or will you leave them alone and discover that WE are our own enemy? Love someone today. We are supposed to act like Jesus in our encounters with others. Try it. You will find that loving others, as Christ loves the church, is fulfilling, joyful, satisfying and TOTALLY within the will of God. And that is exactly where we are supposed to be.

I Am Second - Chris Plekenpol

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Save The Nipples!!

Do you have nipples? Just about everybody does. Do you like your nipples? Would you like to keep them? Then this story is for you! Read on!

A few nights ago I took a refresher course in CPR (Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation) and AED use (Automated Exterior Defibrillator) from the American Heart Association. Guess what. I passed! Now, if anyone has a heart malfunction in my vicinity I can help them out. Yay!

However, there were some "interesting" things I learned in my training that surprised me and everyone else in the room as well. One of them might be very important to you if you have any body piercings. Keep reading. Here are some of the things I learned.
  • There is a difference between a "heart attack" and "cardiac arrest." A heart attack is a blockage problem. Cardiac Arrest is an "electrical " problem. Read more about it here.
  • Use of an AED in cardiac arrest cases increases your chances of survival from 10% to over 30%.
  • If you are wearing a bra, whether ye be man or woman . . . it is coming off! The wire inside can short circuit the AED's effectiveness.
  • If you have a hairy chest, man or woman, it won't be hairy for long. We have been instructed to dry-shave it where the AED pads go.
  • If you have any body piercings that are within 2" of the AED pads (like nipple rings or studs), we have been instructed to remove them . . . by grabbing them . . . and ripping them off. That's right. Ripping them off!
That last little bit of information might sound somewhat extreme but, when the alternative is death, would most people really mind?

Sin in our lives is a lot like having a nipple ring. We might like it. We might think it makes us look cool. But unless it is removed we have no chance of survival. We're going to die and that's that.

The thing that sucks is, no matter how hard we try to be good or to keep our nipples in one piece, we can never stay clean enough by ourselves to have any hope of life after death.

There is some good news though. It is possible to be saved, body piercings and all, by placing your faith and hope in Jesus. He knows exactly how to save a heart that has gone bad. And He won't rip your nipples off!

I have nothing against piercings I guess. But then again, I kind of do. Piercings and tattoos are an outward expression of the inner self. They cry out "Look at me!" Shouldn't we really be saying "Look at Jesus?"

"7 “Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the one by whom the temptation comes! 8 And if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life crippled or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire. 9 And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into the hell of fire." - Matthew 8:7-9

Nothing But The Blood - Matt Redman

Monday, May 11, 2015

Holy Thermostat!

I heard a good analogy in church on Sunday so I thought I would share it with you. We are going through the book of Hebrews, talking about law vs grace. In this world there are some Christians who believe that since Jesus came to earth we are no longer under the law that was given to us in the old testament. That is wrong and here to testify to that fact is none other than Jesus himself.

17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." - Matthew 5:17-20

Jesus came to fulfill the law, not destroy it.

The law, called the Mosaic Covenant, was given to Moses on Mt. Sinai. We've all seen The Ten Commandments movie, right? There are other laws too about sacrifices and festivals. But what is the real purpose of the law anyway? Let me illustrate.

Let's say you're out west driving across the desert and you turn onto this long, straight road. There is no speed limit sign where you got on so you will just have to guess what your speed limit should be. How fast would you go if you don't really know what the speed limit is? 55 mph? 65 mph? Texas has the highest posted speed limit in the nation - 85 miles per hour. What is the law?

So you're going 65 mph down this long deserted road thinking that 65 is probably pretty safe when you suddenly see a speed limit sign that says 45 mph. What do you do? Do you slow down? Of course. Why? Well, because "the law" says you shouldn't be going faster than 45.

Not "knowing" what the law was made you drive one way. "Knowing" the law made you drive another. It is the law that shows us how we should act and how we should live our lives. The problem comes when we actually KNOW the law and still disobey it.

Do you always drive the speed limit? It's the law.

The example our pastor gave today was of a thermometer. It basically does the same thing as a speed limit sign. A thermometer tells us how hot or cold it is. The purpose of the thermometer is to tell us something, not do anything about it. A thermostat, however, can actually change things. It can adjust the temperature up or down.

Jesus is our thermometer. He can take our sins and change them into righteousness through our belief in Him. It is through our belief and God's grace that we are redeemed. It is God's fingers on the thermostat, not ours. Our eternity is in His hands.

We cannot meet every "jot and tittle" of the law that appears in the Bible. No one can. We need some help. And where does that help come from? The Maker of heaven and earth.

"I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? 2 My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth." - Psalm 121:1

Listen to the bridge in this song. See if you don't hear a similar message from Casting Crowns.

Praise You In This Storm - Casting Crowns

We are blessed to serve a great God who saves. Have you been saved? Do you still try to live the law rather than live for Christ? Quit trying to BE holy. Surrender your heart to Christ and BECOME holy in God's eyes through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

A Religion of Convenience

"Far to many women are still denied critical access to reproductive health in child birth. All the laws we passed don't count for much if they're not enforced. Rights have to exist in practice, not just on paper. Laws have to be backed up with resources and political will and deep-seated cultural codes and religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed. (Cheers)"

That was an excerpt from a political speech. The speaker was addressing a large group of women. One does not have to think too hard to figure out who said it. Before we get into all that though, I would like you to take a look at a few key phrases in the above quote.

"Reproductive health" is the latest term the left is using to describe abortion. It sounds so nice. Everyone should be in favor of reproductive health for women, right? Let's re-read that first sentence, only using "abortion" instead of "reproductive health."

"Far to many women are still denied critical access to abortion in child birth."

Sounds a little different. But what IS abortion anyway? It is the termination, killing, of babies, still in the womb. Let's read it again, substituting THAT definition.

"Far to many women are still denied critical access to the killing of their babies in child birth."

Is it just me? Or does that sound morally wrong?

The speaker of the opening quote was Hillary Clinton. She was talking about Obamacare and the Hobby Lobby case where Hobby Lobby sued the U.S. government because providing abortifatient drugs was against the company's religious beliefs. The case went to the Supreme Court where Hobby Lobby won. Praise God!

This speech was given AFTER the Supreme Court ruled. Hillary wants the law she and Obama created to be enforced despite the courts ruling. Interesting. But that's not the scariest sentence in her speech. Read the last sentence.

"deep-seated cultural codes and religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed."

Hillary Clinton thinks our religious beliefs against abortion must be changed. How do you suppose she will do that? How will she change our religious beliefs? And why?!?

I don't want to be an alarmist, shouting "Fire!" in a crowded theater, but . . . DO NOT VOTE FOR THIS WOMAN, PLEASE!!!!

Hillary Clinton's Keynote Address - Women In The World Summit

(The comments in this blog are at the 8:27 mark in her speech)

There was a time in the world's history when a government felt that a religion's opinions needed to be changed . . . and millions of lives were lost in the process.

180 Movie

Most Bible-believing Christians will tell you that we are living in the last days. Scripture tells us that these times will increase in their lawlessness and ultimately we Christians will be cut out of the herd and persecuted because of our beliefs. Eventually we will be killed because of our faith. Did I say "eventually?" People are already losing their heads overseas because of their faith in Jesus. People are dying HERE for the same reason.

Pastors are being told not to speak out against homosexuality in their sermons or they will be charged with a hate crime. My friends, this is all prophesied in the Bible. It should not surprise us.

Thuth be told, it would not surprise me if Hillary Clinton won the presidency in 2016. The same country that elected its first black president could very well elect its first woman president. We like to be trend setters. That seems to be more important to us as a nation than religious liberty of the killing of babies for convenience sake. It's all about us and not about God. We seem to prefer convenience and selfishness over morality.

If Hillary gets elected and she then decides to “get religious people to change their minds,” what shall we "religious people" do? Will we obey the law she will want enforced despite the Supreme Courts ruling,even thoughwe would be disobeying the God we profess faith our faith and hope in? All this in favor of complying with HER beliefs?

“Then he said to them, “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's.” - Matthew 22:21

I have a question for you. Who do you belong to? WHOSE are you? Are you an American? Or are you a Christian? You probably would like to answer, “I am both.” Well, I am telling you today that, one day, we WILL have to make a choice in that regard. We will have to decide whom we are going to serve. Will we “pledge allegiance to the republic” or will we obey our God . . . "one nation, under His authority?" I know how I will chose. Do you?

“15 And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve," - Joshua 24:15

We are living in the last days. Life will be getting tougher for all of us but especially for those of us who believe in Jesus. We must take heart because Jesus has overcome the world and so shall we, through are faith in Christ.

We make decisions every day. Do we base them in faith? Or do we practice "a religion of convenience?" Do we obey our governments laws when they specifically conflict with God's?

It is time, my friends, to make a decision . . . and choose today whom we will serve.

Overcome - Desperation Band

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Pass The Kidney Stones. PLEASE!!

It's a pretty little picture, isn't it? Looks like some rare crystal unearthed from some ancient ruins someplace. It's pretty alright. Pretty painful! I found out last week that a friend of mine has kidney stones. Kidney stones can be very painful as they try to work their way out of the body. Sometimes they get so large they must be surgically removed. But before they are they sure can cause a lot of pain!

Usually, when we get kidney stones, they are small and pass without notice. Other times they become too large to escape normally and must be removed, either trough the use of lasers or ultrasound, but sometimes a surgical procedure has to be performed to get rid of them and to stop the pain.

Think about the whole kidney stone process for a moment. Our kidneys act as a filter for our blood. Each day our two kidneys filter about 120-150 quarts of blood. We pee out "the garbage." That is, unless something blocks that process . . . like a kidney stone. Kidney stones can really screw up our lives and keep our bodies from functioning the way God designed them to.

Can you see where I am trying to go with this story? What if we took this whole kidney stone process and compared it to the lives we are living in this world. Can you see any similarities?

Let's say the kidney stone represents the sin in our lives. The role of our kidneys is played by God. He keeps us alive through the blood. He filters our life through his Word, through His love. He longs to have our bodies stay healthy. TO that end, He is trying to remove all of the impurities from our lives. He does this through the reading of His word. He does this through His Holy Spirit.

Sin can be a deadly thing if there is too much of it in  our lives. Wait. That's wrong. Sin can be a deadly thing if we have ANY of it in our lives. Romans  6:23 tells us that"the wages of sin is death." ANY sin, even the smallest sin, is more than enough to send us to hell.

God's is pretty strict, isn't He? It's called "just." He is a just judge, giving people exactly what they deserve. And we are ALL sinners. The outlook is not good for us without someone to save us. Hmm. Read this.

"God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it." - 1 Corinthians 10:13

If God helps us endure our temptations, wouldn't it also make sense that He would provide us with a "way to escape" our sin? It makes perfect sense to me . . . and guess what . . . He did.

God sent us His son Jesus, not only to live and walk amongst us, but He taught us, rebuked us and, in the end, He died for us. Jesus atoned for our sins, taking the death penalty upon Himself to save us from certain death. What a gift!!

But not everyone will be saved. In order to have your debt canceled you must place your faith in Christ.

"Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.

3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve."
- 1 Corinthians 15:1-5

That is the Gospel. If you believe that in your heart, confess your sins to Jesus and repent, you will undoubtedly be saved. No more kidney stones! What an amazing God to love us that much!!

I was more of a Beatles fan growing up than a Stones fan but I'd like you to check out the lyrics to this Stones classic.

Gimme Shelter - The Rolling "Stones"

"Oh, a storm is threat'ning
My very life today
If I don't get some shelter
Oh yeah, I'm gonna fade away,"

Our shelter in this life is Christ Jesus. If you don't know Him you will most definitely "fade away" when your time comes. It could be ten years from now. It could be 20. It could also be tomorrow. Have you seen the news lately? It could even be tonight. Think about it. Knock on His door. He has promised to answer but YOU must do the knocking. Please, get some shelter before it's too late.

Monday, May 4, 2015

A Holy Kiss

Night after night I watch all the news shows and their coverage of what's going on in various cities. Rioting, unrest, people yelling at each other, people looting stores as if that somehow makes up for some perceived wrong done against someone. Lawless, helpless, hopeless. Shootings, beating, abductions, you name the crime. What is going on in our world today.

In my youth leader days I often asked teens who were complaining about something, "So, what are you going to do about it." I am not above taking my own advice. So . . . I have done something about it.

Jesus was all about love and so should we be. There isn't a single situation on the nightly news that couldn't be solved or prevented with love. I'd like you to read a few verses from the Bible. What do you think God was trying to tell us?

Romans 16:16 - "Greet one another with a holy kiss."

1 Corinthians 16:20 - "Greet one another with a holy kiss."

2 Corinthians 13:12 - "Greet one another with a holy kiss."

1 Thessalonians 5:26 - "Greet all the brothers with a holy kiss."

He was trying to tell us that we should always love those we meet, especially our brothers and sisters in Christ. We need to take this message to everyone we meet.

Now, I am not suggesting that we walk up to a total stranger and kiss them on the lips. But I AM suggesting we greet everyone with a smile, a handshake, a hug and yes, perhaps even a kiss on the cheek. What the world needs now is love, sweet love. Almost sounds like a song, doesn't it.
Love is a rare thing these days.

I have made a Facebook page called "A Holy Kiss." I would like you to go there and "like" it. I also would like you to "share" it and help spread the word about how we should be greeting each other . . . with love.

A Holy Kiss

This world could be an amazing place to live if it wasn't for all the violence and hatred we've been seeing on TV. God has the answer. He's been offering it to us for thousands of years! When are we going to listen?

When I was in high school there was a song that played on the radio. It was a song about the violence that we were experiencing in our society in the late 60's. The answer that was being offering in that song was "love." That's is what this world needs more of these days.

So, what are you going to do about it?

What The World Needs Now - Tom Clay

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Sing Like Never Before

Well, I just got back from a Christian leadership conference. It's kind of weird, the way I'm feeling. On one hand I am feeling empowered, filled and refreshed. On the other I feel drained, convicted and humbled. All good things for a Christian.

It was good to be there with my brothers and sisters. It was kind of like being at church only it lasted 12 hours or so. I had many "take-aways" I will share with you here. Some encouraging, some scary.

1. Sing Like Never Before - Things are speeding up in this world. Biblical prophesy regarding the end times is beginning to be fulfilled. Things are ramping up. The persecution of Christians, The distancing of U.S.-Israeli relations. Earthquakes, wars, rumors of wars. Many feel that Jesus will return sometime in the next 10-15 years. That means time is short.

We sang a worship song today - 10,000 Reasons. There is a line in the chorus that spoke to me - "Sing like never before.

2. Preach The Word! We need to step up our efforts to reach the lost, to spread the Gospel, to become more bold than ever before. I often fail at this but I am going to try harder. There are just too many people who need to hear the Gospel! I need to try harder!

3. Pray more, and more effectively - Sometimes my prayers seem to be a laundry list of to-do items for God. Not good.

4. Read more - Prayer and reading are two ways that God communicates with us, through His Holy Spirit. Why would we not want to do both of those things as much as possible?

5. Learn to defend the faith better - When people ask us questions, will we have the answers? We are commanded to! When someone asks you "How can a loving God allow so much pain and suffering in the world ?" or the always popular, "How come bad things happen to good people? I'll be writing something about all these in the future. In the meantime . . .

If time is getting short, why are we sitting around doing nothing? We profess to be Christians but do we act like one? Either we don't really believe the end is near or we are simply too lazy to do anything about it. Probably the latter. We are like the disciples in the garden when Jesus went off to pray by Himself. He asked them to stay awake and keep watch. They failed just like we're doing.

"18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” - Matthew 28:18-20

Well, I for one am going to increase my efforts. I am going to send messages, lovingly confront people, engage the world more actively for Christ. How many of these five things will you commit to join me in?

Will you pray more? Will you read your Bible more? Those two are pretty easy to do. Start there! I encourage you to try improving in all five areas this week. I double-dog dare ya! It could mean the difference between life and death . . . eternal life . . . of eternal death . . . for someone you know. That's one good reason we should do something. There are only 9,999 more reasons to go.

10,000 Reasons - Matt Redman