Are you comfortable?


Does God call us to do things outside our comfort zone? Of course, He does! How would the gospel have gone to the four corners of the world during the first century if the followers of Jesus had stayed in their comfort zones? We wouldn’t have much of the New Testament if Paul had not written the letters to the churches that he did from prison. He was very much outside his comfort zone don’t you think?

LifeisGoodBeing comfortable in life is nice but most things that are worth having don’t come to us in a comfortable, easy manner. We have to work for them, bit by bit, saving a little at a time if necessary and stashing it away so that we can have those things. But, in our instant world today, everyone wants their satisfaction and their stuff right now! Nobody wants to wait patiently which is why following God’s plans for us is very hard to do. Why do I say that? It’s because God’s timetable doesn’t fit our plans.

His timing works according to His vision and purpose in our life. You see, He can see months, even years down the road so when you ask Him for something that He doesn’t allow you to have right now it isn’t because He doesn’t want you to have it. It could be that He has something better than what you think you want but it will come to you in His time, not yours. Could God give you what you ask for when you ask Him for it? Of course, He could, but it might now be the best that He had waiting for you…if you would wait.

We squash our own rewards when we try to get ahead of God’s plans and His purpose for your life. We move ahead like a child running ahead of their parent trying to cross the street, but when the parent catches their hand and stops them they look hurt because they couldn’t go the way they wanted. A child doesn’t see or notice the traffic or the truck that would’ve hit them but the parent does. That is what God is trying to tell us but many times we just run away from Him, as if we know better than God. Many people don’t realize that God loves us enough to let us fail, He lets us fall down and realize on our own that we should’ve waited like God wanted us to.

When we do learn that lesson, sometimes many years have passed. Why? Because we are all stubborn and hard-headed and it doesn’t matter what background you have or the culture that you come from! God has watched over your mistakes and allowed you to fail but not to the point of letting you get killed. Particularly if He has something in your future that He knows will bring much more glory to His Kingdom and maybe more of what you have asked for too.

Do you know anyone who has squashed an opportunity to do something great for God because they were scared or didn’t think they could do whatever it was? I do because it is me. I felt God’s call on my life over thirty years ago but like Jonah, I didn’t want to do that right then. I was too stiff-necked to realize that God didn’t give up that easily. When He has something planned for you to do and you feel His call in your life, don’t turn away from Him. He will make sure that the opportunity comes around again.

So don’t get too comfortable in the place where you are because God might have somewhere else He needs you to be!

He makes me lie down….


Psalm23Today I am speaking from a position not so unlike the title. I had a doctor visit this morning because of some allergies and a possible chest infection, so I am taking meds for it and I am writing to you from a bed. Before anyone asks or thinks about this, I am not in such health that I can’t get around but I am trying to listen to my doctor’s advice.

God does the same thing to us at times and just as the Psalmist wrote in the 23rd Psalm, He does make us lie down at times. Usually it is for our own good but sometimes it is to get our attention or to get us to hear Him like we should. God enjoys hearing our prayers and our needs, although He already knows what they are, but He also enjoys it when we are willing to listen to Him. Why did I put some of those words in bold-face? Because, many times we really DON’T listen to Him or even listen for His voice!

We say our prayers and end it with “in Jesus’ name, Amen” and then go about our business. I am not saying that we shouldn’t expect an answer when we pray sincerely about a need in our life or someone else’s, but ending it like that is like calling your Mom or Dad telling them what is happening, how you feel, and could you send me some money or help, thank you, goodbye!

How would you feel? I don’t know how you would feel but I wouldn’t answer that prayer or request at all, but I am only human. If you don’t ever let God speak to you when you pray, that is what it seems to me would possibly happen. Of course, that is looking at it from our point of view and our way of thinking and that is not how God thinks or feels at all. He knows what we need and when we need it, so He will likely answer that prayer anyway, but it may not be when you want it answered.

He is our Creator, our Redeemer and our Father in Heaven and just like fathers here on Earth, He likes to hear from us but He also likes to speak to us as well. Give Him a chance! You wouldn’t pick up the phone and call your Dad and tell him all the stuff that isn’t working in your life and ask for help in fixing it and then just hang up would you? It is likely that you wouldn’t get a very good call back after that either.

God, thankfully, isn’t like us with our petty hurts and feelings. He loves us so deeply that He sent Jesus to take the punishment for ALL of mankind, so we, meaning everyone, could have a relationship with Him IF we will believe in Jesus and His atoning work on the cross! He did it for us, all of us, and yet we as the human race have rejected Him for a long, long time. Even Christians make up their own “god” and rules which he will follow, thinking that by going to church their “god” will allow them to get into Heaven one day.

Of course the problem with that thinking is: we have made an idol in our own minds to be our god. It is not fashioned with gold or silver or carved from wood, but we have placed god in a box which limits him to a being which is more to our liking and comfortable. But…that is NOT God! He won’t share the throne or any of our worship and praise with that puny idea in our heads!

The Bible is God’s written Word and His way of speaking to each of us and we need to take it as literally the Truth from the Holy Spirit which is part of the Trinity. God did not mince words when He spoke the world and all of the animals into existence nor did He mumble when He gave the Ten Commandments to Moses! If you want to know God, read the Bible and learn from Him about Himself!

Independence…


In an earlier post on another of my sites this morning, I was talking about this idea of independence. Those of us who live in America have embraced this idea for most of our lives. We have watched movies and read about how our country fought for its independence many years ago. We have also been taught to be independent in one way or another in our lives, whether it is being this way from our parents or just able to do things “on our own”.

The biggest problem with independence, especially with men, is that we take it seriously. We act as if we don’t need anyone and sometimes we take that to the extreme. So much so that we even push our parents, our siblings, even our spouses away at times. Sometimes we will push so hard that we end up being truly alone and isolated. That is not how God created us to be.

ARealManwhoLeadsWe need each other. We need a woman as our spouse in order to have a son or a daughter to fulfill God’s command to “be fruitful and multiply”. We need friends, male friends. To keep us on track in our lives and in our relationships, with each other and with our families.

It is great that some men can go out into the wilderness and live, alone, with no other person to help them. But, after a while being alone is not good. Even “God said that it is not good for the man to be alone“. He did not create us to be alone, whether we are married or single. If you are Christian, seek out someone who is a Christian too. Men, start a Bible study group for men. Meet in each other’s homes or meet at church and bring pizza and some Coke or Dr. Pepper or something. Discuss what is going on your lives in context with your study, then pray about it. Make sure that each man in the group has the other’s phone numbers just in case you need to talk.

Because, you know men do talk to each other. We don’t grunt like apes or fight like dogs, we actually do have conversations which don’t center around which team is going to the playoffs. Men, whether you admit it to yourself or not you know that you need this and your son needs it too. Include him in your group, because sitting at home talking to mom is not the same as talking to Dad, even if it is during a Bible study session. It needs to be done during a Bible study session because you are the high priest in your home or at least you are supposed to fill that function according to the Bible.

Don’t neglect your duty as a father, a husband, a friend or as a spiritual leader in your house because who else can fill those roles if it isn’t you?

What about the rest of the family?


You know, in church and mostly in scriptures such as the New Testament, we only hear about Jesus but Mary and Joseph had other children too. Two of them in particular are highlighted in the New Testament and they are James and Jude. Both are half-brothers to Jesus and they became believers in Him as well as leaders in the church.

It is hard for us to realize that even though He was the firstborn son of Mary, that she actually had some other children too. James was the leader of the church in Jerusalem before his death and he wrote the book of James too. I a preaching this Sunday, tomorrow, from the first chapter of James and he has some interesting advice for us as Christians. Particularly about how we exercise our faith in Jesus and learn to be more like Him.

Even though he is referred to as the half-brother of our Lord, they were raised together just like any other children. To the community, they were brothers since few people knew about the Parentage of Jesus being the Son of God. Only his parents who raised him and Elizabeth and Zachariah and John knew Who He was prior to His resurrection. In spite of some of the “books” which were written about His life as a boy, which were false by the way, Jesus did not create small animals and bring them to life to play with. These books are nonsense and fantasy, nothing more.

James teaches us today that we must bear up under persecution and testing in our life to prove our faith in Him. Just as gold is purified when it is in the fire, we are brought to our best when we use our faith to strengthen our walk with Him, especially when we are under stress because of the world we live in. We are expected to exercise our faith just as we exercise our muscles, making it stronger and more durable in times of trial. Therefore, when trials do come we will be able to bear up in faith and lean on Jesus and His strength for our support.

Jesus did not say that we wouldn’t have trials in this life, He said when trials come and when you fast, be of good cheer because He has overcome the world and its troubles. We are to have faith in Him and lean on His strength and the wisdom from God’s Word, not on our own strength and wisdom. Jesus will give us the strength and the ability to get through our trials, whatever they may be, as long as we have faith in Him.

Dad, do you know God?


This is a question that some children likely ask at some point, many others probably wonder about it but don’t ask. My question is this: if your child asks this of you, what will your answer be?

The miracle of birth, whether it is a boy or a girl, is amazing. God takes a little from both of you and makes a new person who is not you or your wife but is entirely a person with a real personality, some more than others! This fact alone should push you in the direction of getting to know God more personally than any other.

I mean, before your first child is born there was just you and your spouse. You loved each other and lived your life, but when that first child comes along, boy does everything change! There are diapers, and formula, and worry about what is in this food, reading labels, making sure of their sleeping environment, the list could go on and on.

My point is this: if you didn’t know God before, then you NEED Him in every situation now! Not that raising children is bad but you do need His strength and guidance in any and all situations while raising them. They need to see God reflected in you every day, not the frustrated dad or mom coming home from work.

God created each of us for a purpose, sometimes it is being an example to our children. Actually, if God has gifted you with children, then being an example for them IS your purpose, everything else fades into the background. Your example to them and to the world is important because even if you don’t make an impact in the world, your child or children may have more of an impact than you could. So, make your example a good one.realsalvation

About Dad and Father’s Day


My father died in 2001 from a heart attack. My grandfather died in 1995 due to untreated COPD, although he never smoked as far as I know. I think it was due to his hobby of woodworking and breathing sawdust for many years. These were the two father figures in my life. One who was with me while growing up and one that wasn’t.

fathers-day-002I spent many hours, days even, being angry and hurt while I was growing up. Especially during my teen years. I felt betrayed and tossed aside by my dad, and my grandfather as good as he was didn’t know how to help me. I now realize that I wasn’t tossed aside by my dad, and my grandfather was at a loss about how to handle my feelings.

My real problem was that I got conflicting stories about our relationships. Sometimes it went one way and everything was OK. Then, later it would change and there would be frustration and bitterness mixed in with other feelings and being a teenager didn’t help. We would go to church and I would hear about the love of God and how we are supposed to emulate Him in our lives.

Then we would get home and things were…different. Nothing like what I had heard in church. There was no abuse or anything like that, but God’s Word wasn’t spoken of or read in our house until my grandfather was over 80. I would find him reading and studying the Bible then, but that didn’t happen while I was younger.

In many ways I would like to thank my father and grandfather for showing me what NOT to do in this life. So that when I became a father myself I would tell my son that I love him and I began reading the Bible when he was small. When he was 12 I became the pastor of a small church, so he got to see me preparing for sermons, praying and studying God’s Word.

Fathers have a lot on their shoulders, sometimes grandfathers do too. The only One Who can help the ENTIRE family to muddle through the teen years and come out still smiling and being a family is Jesus. Having that foundation in my life and my family’s life has helped me so much while raising my son. Since my family was broken before I even knew what a family was, I had no idea how to be a dad.

Thankfully, my wife and I had given our lives to Jesus before our son was born, although we were busy with work and I had gone back to school before I knew we were even having a child. Our life with Jesus suffered because of our work during this time because while I was in school, I worked in the lab at the hospital on the weekends. Sunday was my wife’s only day off, so many weekends during that time neither of us went to church. I do regret that, but it can’t be changed now.

God loves all of us and He doesn’t want us to live our lives without Him, but there are so many who choose to do this. Why? Because, love can’t be forced upon someone. God knows us better than we know ourselves because He has known us since before we were born, even from the beginning of creation. Just as any father on Earth, God wants a relationship with us. Seek to learn more about Him by reading His Word and praying for Him to reveal its wisdom to you for your life.

Have a wonderful Father’s Day!

Education and indoctrination


These two words should not go together but in our time and the system that our children are taught in, from high school on through college, they are almost synonymous. Which is truly sad. One of the most famous philosophers of the last century, Bertrand Russell, said this: “Education should aim at destroying free will, so that, after pupils have left school, they shall be incapable, throughout the rest of their lives, of thinking or acting otherwise than as their schoolmasters would have wished” (The Impact of Science on Society)

Today, there are many in government who think this way as well. That we don’t know how to raise our children and it is the community or the government’s responsibility to teach them what they should know. Poppycock!! God gave parents the responsibility to teach our children from His Word, the Bible, so that they will know Who He is and what He expects of them! The government, city, federal or state, has no right to tell your child how to think or what to think!!

Even the teachers and supposed “educators” in secondary schools are not supposed to indoctrinate your child to the point of making an automaton out of them. God loves each person, boy or girl, and He knows exactly what they can accomplish and what they will accomplish with His strength and His Word in their hearts. Why do I say this? Because it needs to be said!! It seems that few people are willing to say anything against education or the institutions which we pay for by sending our children to them.

God’s Word should be the primary Book of knowledge and wisdom in education and if the atheists don’t like it, then they can send their children somewhere else! I am tired of the political correct police knocking down parents and teachers for trying to teach children about their Creator. If they were teaching from the Koran or any other religious book, nobody would bat an eye or even care at all. But, if you try to bring Christianity into education and there is one child whose parents aren’t believers, then the whole school is taken to court and this is WRONG!!

Until the latter part of the nineteenth century, the Bible was the beginning book, the one that was used to teach reading and history and morality. For proof see this link. Until 1948, time set aside for prayer in schools was OK. Then the Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional to do so. From that point on prayer and Bible reading in public schools was doomed, until 1963 when this decision was made in the Supreme Court:

Supreme Court bans individual school prayer (Murry v. Curlett) and Bible reading in public schools (Abington Township School District v. Schempp). 

Just a few years after that, the number of pregnancies in school began to increase and the SAT scores of our youth began to decrease. If you look at the history of America from 1963 on to present day it seems that much of our problems in society could be traced back to that moment in time.

 

If my people….


14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14

What would really happen if Christians, not just in America but all over the world, took this to heart? Could a change happen? Would we be determined in our worship enough to keep on being humble in His presence until something..everything began to change? I would hope so.

The world sorely needs this to happen everywhere, in all countries, even those who don’t follow God nor believe in Jesus as the Savior! Especially in those countries! The church, the body of believers in countries where persecution is a daily practice, is growing just as it did in the early centuries after Jesus’ death and resurrection. Some would ask, “Why?”, and the answer to that is this: when persecution comes the church leans on and depends upon God more than ever before.

So, why can’t we depend on Him when we aren’t being persecuted? We should be thanking Him and praising Him for living in a country where persecution is not so bad yet! We should be getting out into the streets and telling people about Him, so why aren’t we? Because we are afraid.

We are afraid that the people will see us as freaks or religious nuts. I would rather be a nut in God’s basket than a huge rock in Satan’s fortress!

Yes, we are afraid to let people see that we actually believe in something or Someone! Why? Because we don’t want to be lumped in with all of those “deplorables”! What is so bad about being seen as a true believer in Christ? Many seem to be afraid of being seen as a fanatic. The disciples were fanatics! The early church would be considered fanatical in their beliefs, so much so until they were killed and tortured in ways that are hard to imagine today.

God loves you and He doesn’t require you or me to be a fanatic with our faith, but He will give you the strength and the words to go with it if you will. You don’t have to walk around carrying a cross or stand on a corner yelling about the end of the world being near, but in the world that we live in people still need to hear the message. Many don’t come to church, so the only way they will find the message is to put it out on the web or be a nuisance enough to get your message on the news.

Jesus told His disciples to go and tell the whole world about the gospel and they did. It seems that the church has drawn back from being the voice of Jesus in our world. We will shine the light in our community, but taking it with us into our workplace or into the city and the towns nearby is another thing. We are supposed to be the feet of Jesus too! By taking His gospel with us at work, at school, at home, into restaurants (fast food or otherwise), people will see our faith, if they don’t want to see it they don’t have to look or listen.

We should turn our lives and our hearts back to belief in Jesus and serve Him in every way that we can, especially at home teaching our children Who and why we believe in Him! Because as soon as they leave home for college, their minds will be open to many things and if Christ isn’t in their hearts and minds, then something or someone else will get in there.

What can I say?


We don’t get along, but we try. Some days are better than others, so I pray about the rest of them. God, I need your strength today and everyday. I know you love me and care for me, but sometimes it feels distant or false. Why do fathers and sons have problems like these? I think it is because we are too much alike in so many ways that we grate on each other’s nerves, like rubbing two pieces of sandpaper together. God, please help us to get along better. Amen.

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I don’t like to air my own problems on this page, but I need some prayer warriors to lift me and my family up. I don’t want this to tear our family to shreds. God, please send your Spirit to heal this rift soon.

Think before you act..


In many ways I feel that I have failed my son. He has seen and heard me raise my voice far too many times and there is no real fix for this. The damage is done already. So now, he will do the same thing later in life.

Your tongue can get you into more trouble than it will ever get you out of, the problem is that you usually don’t figure this out until it is too late. The title says “think before you act”, which is true but it also means before you speak too. Sometimes, that is hard to do. Some of us tend to let our tongue get more use than our brains and that is a very bad thing, especially for a pastor.

Which is why I blog a lot here. Sometimes these posts are for my benefit more than anyone else. Although, I do hope that those of you who read these posts get something from them. If there is any consolation through this site it is that I read all of your comments and if there is a prayer request in them, I do honor it in my prayers.

I pray that this next year or two will bring a revival in our country and hopefully in the world. We must get back to faith in Jesus.Strength