Is your church part of the problem?


In many churches today, especially within a fifty-mile radius of my home, many visitors feel unwanted and unwelcome. Why is this? Mostly because our churches have become social meeting places rather than places to meet and worship God and Jesus. My church and yours should be places to fall in love with our Savior, but more often than not we talk more about politics and government issues and who should be added to our prayer list this week. Granted, many who are truly in need of prayer for healing and comfort NEED our prayers each and every day.

But the political issues in our government and how it is being run should be part of our prayer ministry, not a part of the commentary and debate in church or Bible study time.

Is the church part of the problem in America today? In some cases…yes it is. We are more concerned about the color of the carpet in the sanctuary and how it looks than we are about drawing more people into the church to hear about salvation through Jesus! So, what can we do about our relationship with Him? I mean, it is our relationship with Jesus which we are supposed to be giving away or at least showing people a Savior that they need to get to know!

Why are churches turning away from their “first love” and trying to be everything to everyone these days? It seems that some churches are trying to attract more people to church just for the numbers in attendance. Having a large number of people attending church is good, but if the message is more fluff than it is substance pertaining to salvation through Jesus, then the message is wrong!

Having 300 or more people attending church every Sunday is great but if you aren’t preaching the love of Jesus and the salvation which He died to provide for those who will believe, then you just have a full church. IF you aren’t following up with those who have attended your services to find out where their beliefs are or if they need prayer for specific problems in life, then you aren’t doing your job as a church. When I say this, I don’t mean that the preacher has to be the one following up with the people. It is the responsibility of those who are Christians in the church who should be doing this as well as the preacher!

Even a full-time preacher can’t reach out and touch every person who has visited your church or has asked for prayer. The only way that we, as a church, can take care of those in the congregation and those who have visited but haven’t decided to be a part of your church is for the deacons and the elders in the church to go to them and invite them back. If they are searching for Jesus, they will feel His presence in those who are inviting them back IF you are doing it in the power of Christ and with His love shining through.

Numbers and the amount which is given during the offering are not the way which measures a church and its commitment to following Jesus. Telling others about Him, mentoring those who are new to the faith, Bible study and helping others to grow in their walk with Jesus are the ways which the church continues to be the true church in the world today! Praying for each other’s burdens, listening to their concerns about being a Christian and living your walk with Him every day is the way to walk the walk so others might want to know Him too.

Many of these things are what our churches need to be doing but few actually are doing them and doing them effectively.

Belief and faith


The dictionary meaning of belief is An opinion or judgment in which a person is fully persuaded.

The dictionary meaning of faith is confidence or trust in a person or thing:
faith in another’s ability; a belief which is not based on proof: 

Which one do you have that can carry you through the ups and downs of life? Do you have faith which can move mountains and heal disease? Do you believe in the Person of Jesus your Savior who came to save you from yourself and your sins? Do you have confidence in the work which Jesus did to pay for all of your sins and save you from an eternity in hell? Do you truly believe that Jesus did what the Bible says that He did and that we owe Him our lives? Truly, if your answer to any of these questions is anything other than “YES!!”; then your soul is in mortal danger indeed.

God determined that humanity needed to be saved from their sins even before Adam was created and yet many of us still ignore our need for salvation. We seem to think that God needs our help in salvation for us or for anyone who asks for salvation. God doesn’t need anything from anyone! I mean, look at this Solar system! Our Creator placed all of the planets in their orbits and each star in the sky, so how could He need our help?

Faith comes to each of us in different ways, but according to the Bible, it comes through the hearing of God’s Word through preaching or reading it or even listening to an audio Bible. The Holy Spirit activates your faith in order to bring you into God’s family. If you need to know why God would want you in the family, ask Him. It usually has to do with your calling…your job which God has for you to do.

Don’t think that you can’t do anything for God because He has used many different people over the centuries for His purposes. He has also used many different types of people for His purposes, even some who didn’t believe in Him. He raised up the King of Egypt in order to prove that the God of the Israelites was more powerful than the gods of Egypt. God used the Babylonian empire and its king to punish Israel by placing them in bondage for 70 years.

Don’t think that God can’t use your talents and abilities because He gave you your talents. Even if you aren’t a believer, you may be used by God to bring someone into His family in some way. Belief and faith do go together and they work together to accomplish God’s purposes. Praise the Lord for He is good and His mercies endure forever.

On which side are you?


There has always been an attraction between people who have opposite types of personalities and sometimes interests too. The problem with this is that even though opposites are attracted to each other, sometimes very strongly, they don’t mix very well. In the physical world opposites usually don’t mix much if at all, like fire and ice or oil and water.

Different religions in the same house can work if the couple is determined to make it work. Being in opposition to the world’s system or on God’s team is a particularly diametric position which much of the world will not tolerate. The reason is simple, the world’s religions outside of Christianity won’t accept the Bible’s truth, even though it comes from the Creator Himself.

So…which side are you on? Are you living with Jesus in your heart? Walking with Him at least once a week or a couple of days during the week is the least that you can do because He sacrificed His life to give you the opportunity to be with Him in eternity.

Are there sides to this spiritual war that we have no eyes to see? Yes, there are. Satan has been at work in our world for thousands of years. This is evident by all of the problems in our world including the wars and disease and hatred which we see evidence of every day. The evil in mankind’s heart and mind got there by the temptation of Adam in the garden and the ability to lie and steal is inherent in man without anyone teaching it.

You can call it black and white or good and evil or the dark side and the light, but it is a spiritual battle that has been raging for longer than the Earth has been a planet. Make sure of which side you are on.

Differences between truth and ?


Pilate asked Jesus, “What is Veritas?” The word means truth, but he had the Truth standing in front of him at the time. Our world today defines truth as whatever you decide is your truth. No one wants to acknowledge the possibility of a Truth which can’t be questioned. But, the reality of truth is that God’s love is also an absolute truth as well.

In fact, truth and love could be classed as the same in the economy of God’s eternity! So which life would you truly enjoy? One that is based on God’s love and truth of salvation or one that is defined by your idea of truth? A life where mankind is the defining element of love and truth and their place in the world is flawed.

We try to define our world today by our individual ideas and “truths” which are only relevant to us as individuals. So, how can our world survive when there are millions or billions of truths which are conflicting with and against each other? Actually, our society can’t survive on individual truths which can’t possibly align with one another. We also have many different cultures within cities, let alone the cultures in a nation. With so many perceived differences between us like skin color and cultures and religious too, how can we get along?

Why can’t we get along in this world where people are connected through cell towers and the Internet? The connections between people don’t work well through the distance in between us, especially relational connections such as friends and family and loved ones. Even when we have phones capable of letting us talk face to face there is still distance and the connection just doesn’t make up for that.

Even when the letters were written and sent to us or to our family, it still doesn’t feel quite right. The problem today is that we are so used to distant relationships and texting and messages until when we are together, face to face, we don’t know what to say. It is easier to text than it is to actually talk…and that is sad. We can type in a browser or a message box many words to say to each other but when we are in the same room…talking is awkward. It is almost like we have forgotten how to have a real conversation face to face.

Technology in our world has made the world much smaller compared to the speed of the old style of mail or reading the newspaper. Although technology has done this in the past twenty-five years or so the world is the same, the people are the same, but we don’t actually SEE each other the way our parents or grandparents did. We don’t sit down at the table to eat with the family, we may sit together in a restaurant but we each have a phone screen lit up in our face. But…do you see people talking TO each other in that scenario or is it just one or two talking and the rest are texting others or maybe each other?

The TRUTH is that we are not made to live this way. Apart even when we are together, separate but living in the same house, nervous in a room with family and friends, does any of this sound familiar? Even Paul, who wrote most of the New Testament, said in many of his letters that he would rather be there in person. Personal contact between him and his children in the churches was more important to be spoken to face to face. Even he was apologetic about the way that he had to advise them.

Please, try to get to the truth of your relationships and be personal with your family and friends because life will be so much more enjoyable if you have relationships with them rather than the phone and the messages.

The True Christmas Story


In days past the story of Christmas has been told many different ways. Sometimes it involves a man with a beard of white bringing presents and toys, but in this blog, I usually speak of the birth of Jesus, so here is His foretold story, before He was born.

Luke 1

Introduction

1 Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, 2 just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. 3 With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4 so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.

The Birth of John the Baptist Foretold

5 In the time of Herod king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. 6 Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly. 7 But they were childless because Elizabeth was not able to conceive, and they were both very old.

8 Once when Zechariah’s division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God, 9 he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 10 And when the time for the burning of incense came, all the assembled worshipers were praying outside.

11 Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. 12 When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. 13 But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. 14 He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, 15 for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born. 16 He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. 17 And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

18 Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.”

19 The angel said to him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. 20 And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their appointed time.”

21 Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah and wondering why he stayed so long in the temple. 22 When he came out, he could not speak to them. They realized he had seen a vision in the temple, for he kept making signs to them but remained unable to speak.

23 When his time of service was completed, he returned home. 24 After this his wife Elizabeth became pregnant and for five months remained in seclusion. 25“The Lord has done this for me,” she said. “In these days he has shown his favor and taken away my disgrace among the people.”

The Birth of Jesus Foretold

26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Highest. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

34“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37 For no word from God will ever fail.”

38“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.

Mary Visits Elizabeth

39 At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, 40 where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 In a loud voice, she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43 But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”

Mary’s Song

46 And Mary said:

“My soul glorifies the Lord

47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,

48 for he has been mindful

of the humble state of his servant.

From now on all generations will call me blessed,

49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me—

holy is his name.

50 His mercy extends to those who fear him,

from generation to generation.

51 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;

he has scattered those who are proud of their inmost thoughts.

52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones

but has lifted up the humble.

53 He has filled the hungry with good things

but has sent the rich away empty.

54 He has helped his servant Israel,

remembering to be merciful

55 to Abraham and his descendants forever,

just as he promised our ancestors.”

56 Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home.

The Birth of John the Baptist

57 When it was time for Elizabeth to have her baby, she gave birth to a son. 58 Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown her great mercy, and they shared her joy.

59 On the eighth day, they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him after his father Zechariah, 60 but his mother spoke up and said, “No! He is to be called John.”

61 They said to her, “There is no one among your relatives who has that name.”

62 Then they made signs to his father, to find out what he would like to name the child. 63 He asked for a writing tablet, and to everyone’s astonishment, he wrote, “His name is John.” 64 Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue set free, and he began to speak, praising God. 65 All the neighbors were filled with awe, and throughout the hill country of Judea people were talking about all these things. 66 Everyone who heard this wondered about it, asking, “What then is this child going to be?” For the Lord’s hand was with him.

Zechariah’s Song

67 His father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied:

68“Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel,

because he has come to his people and redeemed them.

69 He has raised up a horn of salvation for us

in the house of his servant David

70 (as he said through his holy prophets of long ago),

71 salvation from our enemies

and from the hand of all who hate us—

72 to show mercy to our ancestors

and to remember his holy covenant,

73 the oath he swore to our father Abraham:

74 to rescue us from the hand of our enemies,

and to enable us to serve him without fear

75 in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.

76 And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High;

for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him,

77 to give his people the knowledge of salvation

through the forgiveness of their sins,

78 because of the tender mercy of our God,

by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven

79 to shine on those living in darkness

and in the shadow of death,

to guide our feet into the path of peace.”

80 And the child grew and became strong in spirit, and he lived in the wilderness until he appeared publicly to Israel.

I know that this post is long, but the story before the birth of Jesus is important. God sent His Son to us all and it is important for us to know Who sent Him in the first place. Please don’t miss this story because Santa and presents and debt are not the reason for this season, Jesus’ birth truly is the Reason.

Who do you say that I am?


WhoDoYouSayIamIt is a question which Jesus asked of His disciples and it is one which all of us need to answer in our own hearts as well. Have you considered what your answer would be? Is He your Savior or just a great prophet? Is He the Son of God or an imposter like so many of those who had the name Jesus (Joshua, Yeshua) at that time? Who is He in your heart and in your life? Do you even believe that He existed?

Many questions to answer but the real truth of it is that Jesus is the Son of God, foretold to come by being born of a virgin, of the lineage of David and He was born in Bethlehem. So much conflict and strife in a city in the country of Israel. Fighting between relatives, since all of those around Israel are also descendants of Abraham through Ishmael. Yet, all of this conflict was foretold in the Bible, not just in the book of Revelation but in other, much older prophetic books like Isaiah and Daniel.

So, who is Jesus to you? Is He your Savior and Messiah? He is to me because without His Spirit helping me with these words, I couldn’t come up with all of these writings!

God sent Jesus to Earth to redeem the whole human race from the sins of our mutual ancestor, Adam. I know, if you don’t believe the Creation story from the Bible then we are descended from apes through evolutionary means. But, hear me out in this wise: Adam disobeyed God in eating from the forbidden Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and we are partakers of that sin nature. We, meaning all of humanity, have always sought to be “like god” in some way!

We have searched for and are still searching for ways to extend our lives beyond our normal lifespan or to fix age-related diseases which our bodies have in one way or another as we get older. I contend with arthritis myself and would like nothing better than for a cure to be found, but that will likely be when I get my body in Heaven. We cannot be gods of any kind in these finite bodies of ours and God didn’t make us for that purpose.

We are His creation just as the animals and the angels and the planets and stars and galaxies are His creation. All of the universe which we can see and the parts which we can’t see are also His creation! God is ruler and sovereign over all and He doesn’t have to give us anything or even answer our prayers, but He does. His judgment is final and true and yet people want to question the Bible and its authenticity.

Jesus is the Son of God, the second Person of the Trinity and He came to pay our price for our sins. God’s Word calls Him many names such as Wonderful Counselor, King of Kings and the Prince of Peace among many others like the Root of Jesse and the Son of David and the Righteous Branch. He is our Savior and Lord and the only way to be saved from our sins is our belief in Him and the atonement which He accomplished for all of us! Don’t deny Him as your Savior, accept Him and follow Him into eternity because following Satan into eternity is going to be eternal punishment.

The time we have


eternityIn every person’s life, no matter who you are, there is a certain amount of time. Only God knows our length of days in regards to our life, but when you and I wake up each day, each of us has 24 hours in that day, 1440 minutes or 86,400 seconds. We have an allotment of time given to each of us by our Creator, whether you believe in Him or not when we are born. How we use that time and whether we use it selfishly or for Him is our choice.

What have you done with your 1,440 minutes today? A number of those were spent sleeping since our account resets itself at midnight, so depending upon how late you sleep or how early you get up determines how many of those minutes you have to do something with. There have been songs written about time and how it slips away from us or how we should be cherishing our time with those we love. What about the time which we have to serve God?

After you have given your heart to Jesus, your time becomes more useful in God’s economy and for His Kingdom. How many minutes have you given Him today? Did you thank Him for waking you up this morning? Did you thank Him for your breakfast and your other meals today? What about the safe trips that you have made around town or on the highway, did you thank Him for watching over you at those times? God loves you and He does watch over us each and every day, but do you think about Him or thank Him for the good things which happen in that day?

That is the part of life which I think is the most useful because when you live every day in a thankful mood toward God, you notice things which you really are thankful for. Getting up in the morning, getting around the house, going to the supermarket or to Walmart, and doing all of this in safety without incident, those are accomplishments which deserve thanks to the One Who gave you the ability to do them!

We all have time and the same amount of it each and every day that we live. There is no day which is too short nor a night too long because no matter where you live or the time zone that you live in, the day is still the same. Savings time or standard time, the day is still 24 hours long regardless of your feeling that you need more time to finish a task or not.

Give God the glory and the praise for the time that you have with family and friends because each minute which goes by is gone for good. You can’t get it back and you can’t add to your day tomorrow to make up for any time which you feel was lost today. Consider this when you think about how fast time goes by and the family which you have is growing up and will soon be off to college or a career. It goes by so fast and you can’t rewind time.

Christianity and religion


These two words are not the same thing. Religion covers many different types of worship, while Christianity is only one of the many. Why am I writing this piece? It seemed like a good idea at the time.

So, which are you following….Jesus the Christ or a religious observance of a lifelong habit?

We can make a religion about anything and we can be religious about anything and it doesn’t have to be a true religion at all. It can be a hobby or your family or your job, it can also be going to church because you have done it all of your life. Sunday morning comes and you do what you have always done, eat breakfast and get ready for Sunday school and church.

But, what will you do when that isn’t enough? What will happen on the morning or the night when Jesus comes for His Bride, the church, and you hear about the devastation on the news the next morning? What about your faith and belief in Jesus then? Will you be angry at Him or with yourself because you didn’t read the Bible and didn’t take the messages seriously?

These are questions which need answers and need them NOW!! Why? Because, He could come tomorrow or tonight or next week, we just don’t know the day but there are no other prophecies which need to be fulfilled before He comes to get the church! If you don’t want to believe me, that’s fine, but what will you do when you find that your habit of going to church wasn’t enough?

Being in church because your grandmother says you should go is not going to save you. Sitting in a pew and listening to a sermon, and maybe reading the verses which the preacher tells you to read is not enough. Going through the motions of being a Christian to please other people’s idea of who you are doesn’t cut it with God! HE can see your heart, your true self and He knows if you are REAL or not.

God sent His Son to live as we live, to teach His disciples the way to know God and to be saved by belief in Him and then die on a cross and rise again on the third day. After His resurrection, He taught them for another forty days and then told them to go into the world telling others of the gospel and baptizing them in His name. They did their part even when they were stoned, beaten, whipped or locked in prison and then most of them were killed while doing what Jesus had told them to do.

The only disciple which died of natural causes was John who wrote the book of Revelation. Will you read and believe in Jesus the Christ, your Messiah and Savior? Give your heart to Him and seek your salvation through belief in Him and follow Him every day until He does return!

IamtheWay

Which gift do you have?


When we become Christians and allow the Holy Spirit into our hearts to change us from the inside out, God grants us each at least one gift and possibly more. So, which gift do you have? In the Bible they are called the fruit of the Spirit but we all exhibit at least one of these nine gifts: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Paul said that “against these there is no law”, so which fruit do you have?

In truth, we should all exhibit each of these to a certain extent. If you have truly given your heart to Jesus and allowed the Spirit to come into your heart and change you into the child of God that you are supposed to be, then at some point in your life, whether it is daily or weekly, you should express at least one or two of these. Yes, the world around us does not like Christians today and many of them don’t want to hear about Jesus or see any expression of these gifts, but that shouldn’t keep you from using them.

These gifts are, many times, the evidence which separates believers from non believers. I don’t mean to imply that people of other faiths can’t be loving or joyful or kind because anyone can exhibit those traits in their life, they are not unique to Christians. The difference is that we can do so even in trials and heartache because we have hope in Jesus! He went through many heartaches in the time that He lived on Earth so our Savior knows what it feels like and He cares for you and me!

The spiritual gifts which Christians have is part of our salvation through Jesus, what we use them for and how we express them is part of our service to Him. Pray about your life in Jesus and ask Him what you are to do with your gifts.

Humor, it is a difficult concept.


It feels strange writing words which I heard first in a movie about the Federation of Planets and Star Trek. My blog has nothing to do with science or fiction, but I thought I would start off this way, if for no other reason than to get your attention.

joyHumor and laughter have been proven to be beneficial to our health, mostly in ways that doctors can’t really explain. It does release endorphins which ease pain and it has been shown to help in healing with some cancers and other injuries such as surgical and other breaks in the skin and bone. Here is a quote from one of many sites which give the benefits of laughter: “Laughter decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease. Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.”

In the stressful times that we live in, sometimes humor is not appropriate and it may cause hurt feelings and anger. Used wrongly, anything good can cause problems, even humor or religion. So, how do we live our lives daily in light of the effects of our beliefs or the effect of laughter? Some might say that you have to live circumspectly. What the heck is that? It is a big word meaning “cautious” living. The definition of it is this: Near synonyms are prudent and cautious, though circumspect implies a careful consideration of all circumstances and a desire to avoid mistakes and bad consequences.

Why should we be cautious in our living on a daily basis? Because today everyone that you meet has a small movie camera and a recording device called a cell phone. Anything that you say or do in front of people is very likely to be posted at some point whether you like it or not! But…Jesus told us to take His Message to the world! So, how can we do that?

One person at a time. I know that is limiting in our reach to those who don’t know Him, but in any town or city today there isn’t a huge crowd of people who will be receptive of His salvation message. Many of them will call it “hate speech” and try to have you arrested or maybe beat you up like they did Paul and Silas. Yes, in these days that we are living in now, life and living is getting to be a hard to understand prospect in light of our mission given to us by Jesus.

God loves each person, regardless of their belief or lack of belief in Jesus or even whether they believe that God exists. Yet, we are supposed to take His message to the world as best as we can. Whether we do it by means like this or by going in person and telling others about our Lord and Savior. One person at a time is the best way to go, maybe two if you can get them to listen. Jesus said to His disciples: Go into all the world; and that is what we should be doing, every day.