The beginning of trouble

Pride can kill anyone. Pride is the beginning of the end for relationships, or churches or friendships. Pride is especially deadly to your relationship with God. God has said in His Word, “be holy because I am holy”. So why aren’t we holy? Probably because of the notion that we are human and can attain any amount of holiness, but that is not what being holy means.

The real meaning of holy is this: to be “set apart” or “dedicated” to God. Being holy is part and parcel of being a Christian! It doesn’t mean that we are sinless or that we can’t have fun but we must be a part of the world but stand apart from the world by being dedicated to the work of God on this Earth. When you live a life with pride in yourself you are placing yourself on the throne of your life, in effect you declare yourself to be “god”.

Pride is a very subtle drug which can cause you very BIG problems. It may not happen at the beginning and it will likely be so easy at first, but you will fall from the platform that you have stepped up on. Pride can convince you that you are more than you are. More powerful, more handsome, more forceful as a preacher, more successful than you really are. Pride can put blinders on your eyes and it can harden your heart to the point that the Holy Spirit cannot get your attention anymore.

Truthfully, pride is the mother and father of ALL SINS. Why do I say this? Because it was pride which caused Adam and Eve to fall, it caused Saul to disobey God and lose the job of being King of Israel, on and on through the Bible. Pride could be the chief demon of Satan’s army.

God and His Holy Spirit together can give you the strength to resist pride and only with their help can you do it. When you feel pride beginning to bubble up, get into God’s Word and seek His wisdom. Pray for His guiding hand in all of your life. In teaching, in preaching, in life, in everything that you do make sure that it is Jesus Christ that you are following every moment of every day.

Read and study God’s Word and make sure that it is the Holy Spirit which is leading you in everything that you do and say. Because there is no way that pride can bring you down IF you are following Jesus and His wisdom every day.

Remember the Proverbs about pride:

Proverbs 16:18 Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall.
Proverbs 18:12 Before his downfall a man’s heart is proud, but humility comes before honor.
Proverbs 29:23 A man’s pride will bring him low, but a humble spirit will obtain honor.

How much more?

We are thankful and we were thankful yesterday, so how much more thankful will we be today? I have seen shoppers at stores who are waiting all night to get in when the door opens and some of them are pushing and shoving so they can be first in getting what they want and getting out of the store.

What happened between being thankful for God’s blessings and bounty and getting more stuff? How much more will we choose to get so we can be fashionable or in step with our neighbors? Do we really HAVE to have that new doodad that came out a few weeks ago? What about paying off your credit cards as a gift to yourself or your spouse? What about giving to your church or to the homeless shelter in town instead of spending over five hundred dollars on something that will be gathering dust in a couple of months? Does 4K resolution really matter that much when you are watching the Super Bowl in February? Does the price you pay for that resolution really bring you more satisfaction while watching any TV show?

All of these questions are the kinds of questions we should be asking ourselves long before we wake up at three am in order to be close to the front of the line this morning! What really is more important to you and your family? That is an even better question. Have you considered your relationship to Jesus in all of this too? I am a pastor and these questions do go through my mind about myself and about those who attend my church. I pray for all of the people out there who are traveling today and for those who are working today because they need God’s protection and His blessing, whether they realize it or not.

During the holiday season, which seems to have gotten off to a running start yesterday afternoon. Yes, many stores opened early, around four or five yesterday, just to get people out of the house and into the stores shopping. I don’t think I will ever get out there and into the thick of the lines and the crowds. It’s just too much!

God needs your energy and your presence in His family too and if more people would spend even ten percent of their time and money for His work, out world would be so much better than it is now! How is that possible? Because ten percent of the billions spent on gifts during this weekend could go a LONG way toward helping the homeless, both Veterans and non-veterans alike! It would also go a long way toward helping the hungry in the world too.

God can use your blessings in any number of different ways, but if you spend all of your cash on “stuff” and not on helping others, then what are you really doing? You are showing others that “stuff” is more important to you than serving God. During the holidays it seems that many people do just that and it makes me wonder what is keeping them from helping the church? What is keeping them from coming to church when they can get up before sunrise to get to a store and be one of the first through the doors?

Something to ponder during this Christmas season when we are supposed to celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus! He didn’t tell us to go and spend, Jesus said go and TELL others about Him!

So much yet so little…

madewholeinHeavenI have written about this topic before, but maybe under a different name or title. Why do we see “stuff” as our measure of success? Yes, I have heard the adage about the one who dies with the most toys wins, but it isn’t true! You could have all of the money, fame, toys, real estate that one person could never use all of it and enjoy it yet when your death comes you will not take any of it with you. Oh sure, you could be buried in your favorite car or your leather recliner if you wish, but when you are standing in front of God to give account of your life…you will be there alone if you don’t have Jesus as your Savior.

Many people seem to think that life ends when you breathe your last breath here and its true that your physical life does end. But, we are beings made up of a body, a soul and a spirit and after your body dies, the other two live on into eternity. Where they live in eternity is up to your decision now, while your body still lives! A life lived here of 80 or even 100 years seems to be a long life, but compare that to 1,000 years or even 10,000 years! Ten thousand years is just the beginning of eternity! Even after one million years, eternity hasn’t started good yet!

So, what you do with your Savior does matter! If you accept Him and repent of your sins, then your next residence will be a sure and wonderful place to live. Toys, grown-up or not, don’t follow you into eternity. Money doesn’t mean much when you live on a street which is paved with gold. The gates of the city of Jerusalem in Heaven are made of solid pearls and other precious stones which are not found here. Your soul is worth more than ALL of the money on Earth which is approximately 300 to 500 trillion dollars the last time I checked on Google. I know that wasn’t a scientific search, but as I said it is an approximate amount.

HELL-105818653518Consider the alternative: If you haven’t given your heart to Jesus or repented of your sins, then your eternity will be in the same place as the angels who rebelled with Satan. Punishment in a lake of fire which never goes out, for eternity. God doesn’t send you there, you do by making a choice of doing things your way and believing the lie that if you are good enough, God will let you in. Our religious lives and all of the works that you can do and the money given to the poor are not good enough! If you haven’t cleansed your heart by asking Jesus to come into your life and saving you and then repent of your sins so that you can become more like Jesus until your death, none of your religion or your position in the church will matter!

Why is society having so many problems?


In our society, particularly in America, stuff means more than God or a relationship with Him. How much can we live without Him? Not much really. We have enjoyed prosperous times in the USA since the late 18th century. Yes, there have been bumps and problems occasionally. Wars, civil and otherwise, have caused many of our problems and sometimes they have given our country a boost in confidence and pride. But, just in the last thirty years or so “stuff” has come to mean more to us than our Spiritual health. Think about it and learn from it. Seek God while we still have the time to do so and the freedom to as well.

Romans 8:23,28; John 3:16,17

I seem to have stung some people in the wrong way with this post and it wasn’t intentional. I really was pointing out our society’s love of stuff more than religious services or even getting to know about God Himself. He loves you more than you could realize and yet many people are so worried about specific words or hymns or whether there is going to be coffee served as you come into the sanctuary. Read the Bible, all of it, and get to know Him for His ways and His love that is expressed toward all of us!

No, He doesn’t condone sin and He doesn’t like any sins. A perfect and Holy God can’t, but you and everyone else need to get to know Him better and the only way to do that is by reading His Word. Even if you don’t go to a “perfectly home-style church”, you need to get to know Him before you put down the worship services that are at least trying to point you toward Him.

Do Christians or church-people fail, yes they do, miserably at times depending upon their generation and their culture. I happen to be one of the latter years of the Baby-boomer generation so I don’t understand some of the new generation that has come along. I do have a sixteen year old son who really doesn’t fit into the “norm” for his generation because he was raised around a mom and dad who grew up more in the seventies and early eighties. We all make mistakes and I have made my share, but my point is that if you will get to know God as He is in the Bible, regardless of the congregation around you, then you will find that He is a loving a compassionate Creator, One Who can be trusted and followed regardless of those around you.

The few, the proud, ….

The words in the title were heard in commercials for the Marines a few years ago. I haven’t heard this in a long time. Why?

I believe that it is because of the way that young men and women are being raised today and how they learn our country’s history today. In some classes they don’t teach the actual history of the United States of America, they teach a watered down, altered version which makes us look like criminals in our past.

Yes, it is true that some of the treatment that our fore-fathers gave to others was cruel and in-human. Especially regarding slaves and Native Americans, but if you and I could see and understand their way of life from this side of history, it would change the way we are today. I am not trying to make them into people who could do no wrong, but a lot of history has been changed or forgotten, even re-written in over 200 years.

The Marines were formed as a fighting force to protect our ships in waters and ports which were hostile toward “outsiders”. They were and are the maritime equivalent of our Army.

Why am I writing about the Marines on my site? Because my father was in the Marines during WWII and we have many young people in this service today. Do they need our praise and our thanks for their service? YES!! They most certainly do! All of the people in military uniform need us and our support and it is sad that when they come home we don’t help them get back into society like we should. Most seem to be forgotten or used as a way to get money for someone else’s use.

Regardless of how you may feel about the Armed Forces of America, they protect our country in ways that most will never know about. In places many people can’t even find on a map. Then they come home with scars which may not show on the outside, but they constantly deal with the effects of those scars every day and every night. Our police forces and those in the fire service deal with the same scars (PTSD), but we don’t pay much attention if any to them either. I was an EMT/Firefighter for five years and it took more time than that to get past the anxiety and nerves when a siren would sound close or an explosion would go off nearby. I can’t imagine what a veteran would feel after being in REAL combat at a fireworks show.

I was a member of the Air Force at one time, but I never was deployed overseas. I had to get out of the service because of a medical discharge and I am not going to elaborate on that here. The point of this post, even if it is on a religious site, is that we should honor our Veterans and treat them with the respect that they deserve. God watches over them each day whether they know it or not and He sees the aches and pains that they have to go through, mentally and physically. I started this out by talking about the Marines but I feel that all of our military men and women deserve a better and more honorable treatment than they get and that goes for the men and women who serve as police officers and firefighters and EMT’s too!

I am stepping down from my soap box now, so please read and study your Bible. Learn about the love that God has for you because He really does love you more than you can love yourself. Learn about our country’s true history, not what is taught in schools or universities. Seek out the truth in history and in the Bible because the Truth will set you free.

Love wins….

Your life and mine have been influenced by love at one time or another. It could be when we were small children and we could tell that our grandma loved us by the way she spoke to us or played with us. Love is expressed in many ways and in many different cultures. Some are very affectionate, some are not. Parents are this way too. Some express their love for their children and their spouse by gifts, some by physical expressions such as a kiss or a hug. The best way to show your love toward someone is by being present. Be there with them during special occasions or just be with them period. Don’t be an absentee Dad or Mom, because that makes your children feel like you don’t care. This is especially true with your spouse. Be there when they come home, physically and mentally. It is too easy to be there in person but “zone out” into your own world when they are talking to you.

Why am I writing this on Easter Sunday? Because, we need to be present physically and spiritually in our relationships with God too! Don’t show up once a week, listen to a sermon, sing a couple of songs and then forget everything that you heard as soon as you leave! Some people even leave their Bibles at church during the week! How can you read and study God’s Word and get to know Him better if you don’t read His Word?!

I used an illustration this morning and I am not sure it sunk into everyone’s mind when I did it, and it went something like this: How would you feel if you only saw your spouse for about an hour one day per week? They never read your letters or poems which tell of all that you have done in times past or what is happening right now. Would this relationship be a good one? I don’t think that you would be in a relationship like that for very long, do you?

But, this is how many people treat God when they go to church. They visit for an hour or so, listen to the sermon and maybe read a few verses in the Bible. The sing and pray along with everyone else and then they go their separate ways until the next time. What kind of relationship is that? It really isn’t a relationship at all, but “Christians” do this to God every week. Why? Pride, selfishness, fear, apathy…these have infected the church and its people and this began a long, long, time ago. This is not something new. It isn’t something that is only happening in the 21st. century. This has been building up for a long time.

True, there are some Christians who are very dedicated to serving God and reading His Word, praying for others and for each other. These are the ones that you read about in the Scripture where it says that God has saved Himself a remnant. There are many who think that they are saved and in good standing with God but they are not. Sometimes, I wonder if I am in that group who thinks they are saved but aren’t. I think that is Satan trying to take my joy away from me, which he does easily if you listen to him much.

Some days, it is hard to only hear what God is saying but if you read His Word and learn how His voice sounds then you can discern His voice from another’s. Love shows through all of the areas in your life and mine, especially where God is involved in it. God is love and Jesus was God’s perfect expression of His Love for us, but many people don’t look at it that way. Many people today try to say that we are bigots and hateful preachers for preaching the Truth from God’s Word, instead of coating it with sugary words and making it say one thing or two that God did not say. This is happening in churches today, and many of those churches have large congregations. People like to be told that they are OK and that God loves them just as they are.

He really does love you just as you are, but He also wants your life to change when you open your heart to Him so that others can see a difference in your life and they want what you have! Telling someone their sins that they are living in are OK with God when they are not is just plain and simply a LIE FROM SATAN. Seek Him out while you can because your sin will show up very plainly when you are standing in front of God at your judgement! Without Jesus and His blood covering your sins and making you as righteous and Holy as Jesus is, you will go into hell because you turned away from Him while you had the chance or you were fooled into thinking that you were saved when you really weren’t.

Think about it while you can.

Life, what will you do with it?

Since we are all alive if we are breathing, then we are all living right now…today, but have you considered what tomorrow might bring your way? Have you even thought of what will happen or may happen in an hour or two? We are not gifted with that kind of sight, thank goodness! We can’t see into the future even a few minutes from now regardless of where we are or how much we may like to see the future. So, how are you living your life right now, this very instant? Have you ever thought of that or even considered it at all?

Life is something that we live one tick of the clock at a time or one blink of your eyes at a time. Just fractions of a second stand between you closing your eyes in a blink and then opening them again and it only takes a fraction of a second. But, there are times that just that tiny fraction of a second could make the difference between having a wreck in a car or not. But, we can’t stop blinking or driving or walking because that is what we do while living!

Faith in God’s provision brings us through those milliseconds of time when we blink. He will see us through and bring us out the other side. I know it doesn’t sound like much, but consider all of the milliseconds that people experience every day, every month, every year and you realize that we all live faithfully in God’s grace whether we believe in Him or not! Isn’t that great? He loves each of us THAT much regardless of our faith or belief in Him.

Some of us are given much in goods and things that the world sees as our blessing from God. In the eyes of many people of the world, outside America, each person in this country is wealthy. Most of us have a place to live that is warm or cool according to the season, many of us have food on the table or in the house every day of the year, many of us have jobs which pay us a nice wage or if we happen to own a business it may be doing well enough to provide us everything that we need in this life. The problem with looking at our “material wealth” from the perspective of those outside of our homes or our businesses is that they don’t see or feel the loneliness and fear and helplessness that comes with being “well off”.

Many of us don’t even consider ourselves well off in wealth at all. Business owners have payroll and insurance and overhead expenses like utilities and such. Homeowners and those in business have insurance and grocery bills, utility bills, cable bills, dental and clothing bills, tuition bills, etc. So much so that after you take out all of the money for bills and life, there isn’t much wealth left at all! But, to those who live in Africa or India or Turkey or China or North Korea our way of life and the apparent wealth that they see is far above anything that many of them will ever attain.

That is why America and Americans are not on the lists of people who are liked or loved, because we are seen as a culture and a country that has it all. Everyone else wants what we have, up to a point, but they also want to bring us down a notch or two if possible. The biggest realization that the world needs to find out about is that we can’t fill that spot that has always been empty or hollow. No amount of money or stuff will ever fill that empty part of your soul until you realize that Jesus is the One that does fit in that spot! Once you understand that, all of the stuff that most are holding onto for dear life just doesn’t matter! Yes, you still have to have money to pay your electric bill and your other bills, but the i-Pads and the i-Pods and the phones and computers and any other amount of things which this season tries to tell you that you HAVE TO HAVE…they don’t matter at all!

Jesus said that your life is like a puff of smoke and compared to eternity it really is! Your life doesn’t matter much unless Jesus and belief in Him is a part of your everyday existence. No amount of time or effort or money invested or given to any charity will make an eternal difference unless you are doing it with faith and the love of Jesus in your heart.

Why all of the violence?

We see it and hear about it on the news every day. It is in the movies and TV shows. So why are we so enthralled with violent games and TV shows? Honestly…I don’t know. I don’t understand the love of violence, but it has been in our culture for a very long time it seems. We have had many wars in the past and if you go back just for the lifetime of America, we have been involved in many.

So, why can’t we just get along? Is it pride or arrogance that keeps us from having peace? Is it our religious differences between cultures which causes most of this madness? Is there a solution to all of the killing and violence?

All of those questions are valid and the answer to some of them is yes we can get along, yes it is pride and arrogance that causes some, if not all, of the divisions in the world. The religious differences have been around for many hundreds of years and in some cases it really is our problems with tolerance that causes our hatred and violence between people of different faiths. The solution to these problems is not one which will be accepted by all though. There are three faiths which center around God in the world and they have a lot of cultural baggage between them. Radical beliefs which polarize them because of a minority claiming them as beliefs which they want to force upon most, if not all, of the world.

It has been this way for many years. A minority that holds radical views of their religion which doesn’t reflect the beliefs of the majority but they get noticed because of their attacks on others and their voices are usually the loudest too. Even Christianity has some radical congregations or groups which teach views which most Christians look on as not representing the church at all. The solution to our violent problem will not come from us though, it will come from Jesus Himself.

There has to be a change in the way that we live our lives and how we serve others and the church. That change has to begin within each of us first. Speeches don’t do it, revivals which last for a day or two won’t get it done. If the change is not brought into each person’s heart by Jesus and a commitment to Him then there will be no possibility of change which will last. Talking about it won’t help, listening to tapes won’t help but the Holy Spirit can change each of us from the inside out.

Seek Him out while He may be found.

Huddle up!

In the game of football much of the game’s outcome depends upon what is said and done during the huddle. Of course, the talent that each player brings to the team counts a lot as well, but if each player listens to the plan and follows it, the plays will go as well as they can, depending on how the other team interprets your formation and your strategy.

In life, we have a much harder problem because our enemy can see into our minds just as well as God can. Satan and his cohorts can get into your mind and manipulate you in ways that appeal only to you and your desires. This is why we are instructed to put on the “full armor of God” so that we can be more successful in our life while following Christ. The full armor of God is shown to us in these scriptures:

Ephesians 6:11-18 King James Version

11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;

15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;

16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.

17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:

18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;

These pieces of armor are only good if you place your life inside of them each day. Neglecting to do any of this can cause you to stumble, which we all do, but make sure that you get up and pray asking God to strengthen you and give you the wisdom and courage to follow Him every day. God emptied Himself into human flesh in order to make a way for us to become His children. He gave His life on the cross so that we would not have to go through the punishment and pain associated with a life that rejects Jesus as Savior.

Some people see God as being outside of the universe and outside of time and He is, but He is also present here. Some may say that with all of the evil in the world, where is God? Think of it this way: without an ultimate, pure, and Holy God there would be no option for evil. In some ways, the idea of a balance is right except when you look at an Asian Yin/Yang symbol there is good and evil on both sides. That is not how the world is nor is it how God designed it to be, there is good and evil…period.

The picture below shows what I am talking about. There is only one or the other, they don’t mix and there isn’t a little of one on either side. We are given a choice and many choose one side or the other, you can’t stand on the middle line and claim both. Yet, many people try to actually live on that line until they find that theScreen shot 2012-07-23 at 10.49.14 AMy can’t live there. You have to choose one or the other, you can’t wobble over here one day and then change sides and to back to the other.

God loves us that is why we have a choice in life simply because you can’t force someone to do something, like love you. Trying to make someone do something which they don’t want to do would be similar to giving a cat a bath or putting water back into a bottle while it is being poured out. Unless the cat has been trained to allow you to give them a bath, you will be needing medical attention before the bath is over!

We are God’s creation, made in His Image or as it is said in Genesis, “let us make man in Our image” since God is a Trinity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. We are the only part of creation which God actually used His hands to mold and shape the clay from which He fashioned mankind. Some may wish to ask “when will evil be taken out of this world”, the only answer that I have for that comes from the book of Revelation. At the end of the millennium of Christ’s reign on Earth, there will be one last battle and Satan’s forces will be crushed. Then the White Throne judgement will occur and all of those who sided with Satan and did not seek Jesus in their lives will be cast into the lake of fire for eternity. That will be the end of evil as we know it.

Seek Jesus out in the Bible and learn of Him, ask Him into your life and ask for His forgiveness, then follow Him until He comes again or until the end of your life. Yes, there will be trouble and trials, even with Him in your life, but the reward in Heaven will be so much sweeter!

Each person matters

It doesn’t matter whether you are rich or poor, homeless or live in a mansion or a penthouse, all of us matter in our lives to Someone. The person that we matter to may be our spouse or friends, co-workers or partners, we may even matter to some office or position that we hold but the most important Person that we matter to is God. Yes, I said that each of us matters to God! He cares even if we didn’t get an answer to the prayer that we prayed last night or last week. He has cared about you since before the Earth was created because He has known you and known about you since then.

You are important to Him because He created you for a purpose that only you can fulfill, a job that only you can do and nobody else. Do we realize this in our lifetime? Sometimes we do if we are paying attention to His voice. If not, then we will trip along through life, ignoring that little voice that part of our conscience or whatever you want to call it…until we truly NEED Him! Then we will call out to Him loudly and insistently. Will He listen to these prayers? Yes, and He may use the outcome of them to touch your heart again, just to get your attention.

You do matter to God. Believe it or not, He has always had an interest in this little speck of dust and all of us who are made of its substance. He has been able to see you and your family from far back in time before you were born and yet He has always had a purpose and a place for you. All that you need to do is believe in Him and follow His lead, live your life for Him so that others can see Him through you. Why you may ask? Because He paid a price for our atonement, for our sins and frankly it is the least each of us could do!

The world today, particularly outside the Christian faith, thinks that we as Christians should just shut up and go away. One day, God will call all of us to Heaven and then you will see the kind of world that you have without us and His influence in it. He will still be in control, but it will be a world under judgement at that time and not one that will be hospitable to anyone. Seek Him out while there is time, while there is life in you to do so because when your life is over here, eternity begins whether you like it or believe in it or not!