Don't Fret, The Choice Is Yours

It is absolutely amazing to me how people blame God for tragedy. When something catastrophic happens, God gets blamed for causing it. Or He gets the blame for not intervening and stopping it. ("God, you could have prevented this!")

Could God have prevented 911 and the tragic deaths of nearly 3,000 people? Of course He could have. Could God have prevented the tragedy in Newtown a few days ago? Yes, He could have. How do I know this? Because the Bible says "Nothing is impossible with God." (Luke 1:37) Did God know about Newtown before it happened? Absolutely. God knows everything. He is omniscient. (All knowing)

The truth is...if God stopped or prevented every tragedy He would also intervene in your life! He would see to it that you went to heaven and not the tragedy of hell...whether you agreed or not. He would force you to serve Him and bless you...against your own free will. Every time you attempted to gratify your flesh (in a sinful manner) He would forcefully stop you to prevent you from sinning. And you would hate Him for that! Every time He wanted you near He would force you there. The point is you would have absolutely no freedom of choice.

The reason bad stuff happens on planet earth is because of Adam and Eve's God-given choice a very long time ago. God had given them the keys of eternal life. God also allowed the serpent to come and attempt to deceive them. They chose (of their own free will) to listen to the serpent. Could God have intervened? Definitely. But God offers the freedom to choose. God wants you and me to choose Him, after having been presented with the truth.

Listen to this very carefully. God never gives the freedom to choose without fully disclosing and explaining the consequences. He will never deceive. He makes it clear. Adam and Eve knew exactly what they had with God. They also knew what would happen if they chose another way. The result of their choice is all the sin, evil, and tragedy in the world today. But they, and all of mankind had to live with their choice.

The good news is that God sent Jesus 2,000 years ago to be offered on the cross for our sins and short-comings. He paid the price for all the sin that came about as the result of the choice made in the Garden of Eden. We still have a choice, redemption and salvation through Jesus, or our own way. You have the freedom to choose your destiny...Jesus or self...heaven or hell. God will never force Himself on you. He has given us His Word to make it clear, so that our choice will not be one based on ignorance. Those who choose Jesus will live forever with Him. Those who don't will live forever as well...except in hell without Him.

You can choose to reject Jesus if you desire. The choice is yours. But when you stand before God on the day of judgment this is a choice you will regret.

The next time you are quick to blame God for a catastrophe or a tragedy, think again. Think about your own life. Should He forcefully intervene and make you choose Him? Or should you have a choice? If you freely reject Him (and all He offers) there will come a day when you will  blame God for not intervening in your own soul's destiny. On that day it will be too late.

MY TOP BLOG POSTS OF 2012

It's Monday...Again!!

It's Monday morning.  A very busy week lies ahead and what are you thinking?  It's quite common for working people to be thinking "On no!  It's Monday.  Not again!"  Some are thinking "Where oh where did the weekend go?"  The answer to the last question?  It's gone!  However another weekend is on its final approach to your life and it will be here soon enough.  And between last weekend and this weekend is another work week.  It's kind of difficult to change that.  So let's see this brand new work week as a week filled with opportunities that begin today...Monday!

Yes, you still have to face the routine stuff in your work week that you face every week.  But do something different this week (starting today). (Read more...)


Time for A Vision Evaluation?

What on earth is a vision evaluation? It's just that...a vision evaluation! God has given you as a  follower of Christ, spiritual vision to help you fulfill your purpose and destiny. Vision is the God-given ability to see at least parts of your destiny fulfilled. Without vision, you cannot reach your destiny. Without vision your purpose is unclear (to you). A loss of vision results in a loss of focus...further resulting in an unfulfilled destiny.

What is destiny? Destiny is purpose applied and fulfilled. Your destiny is God's purpose for your life (Read more...)


Unity = Diversity Focused on Jesus

Recently I was pondering the subject of unity. Once we understand the purpose and power of unity, and how God responds to it, we better understand the operation of His entire Kingdom!

Unity is an incredibly powerful force. God uses unity among followers of Christ to perform His will in the earth. Unity does not take place when everyone agrees on everything. Unity is produced when folks focus on ONE thing. (Read More...)


Where Are The Godly Men?

There are many more men of God out there than we know. There are many more than we see with our eyes. You see, a man of God is not simply someone who preaches, or is the pastor of a church. A man of God is not simply an Evangelist or a Missionary. Simply stated (as I so often do), a man of God is a Godly man! Any man who is Godly is a man of God.

Why do I not see more men of God? Because most men of God don't realize who and what they are - men of God. The truth is, God intends for all male believers to be men of God. He can change cultures and societies through men who sell out to Jesus and live wholly for Him; men who uncompromisingly stand for the righteousness of God. However, if the enemy can thwart this, our cultures and societies continue to degrade and become more and more God-less. (Read more...) 


A Taste of Heaven

The sight of Christians worshiping in India, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Canada, and of course, our United States does something for me. I cannot accurately explain it, but something sparks inside of me when I see people of different color, language, ethnicity, culture and nation come together for one purpose - to uplift the mighty name of Jesus.

I was in Saudi Arabia a few years back on temporary duty for the Air Force. One particular Friday a few of us gathered in the British Airways compound (a community within a community) for a worship celebration. It was during Thanksgiving so some of us Americans were joined by a host of folks from other nations to celebrate. We had a time of praise and worship that changed my life. In that little room I saw people from India, Pakistan, England, Germany, Africa, Saudi Arabia, the U.S. and other parts of this planet worshiping (with all their hearts) the same Lord I had come to know just 2 years earlier. Suddenly I had a thought (I know was prompted by the Holy Spirit)..."This is a taste of Heaven". Wow...a taste of heaven! (Read more...)


He Came

Black Friday, 2012 is now History! Time to celebrate! It's all over...right? Well...not exactly. Black Friday is the official kick-off for the entire Christmas retail shopping season. In other words...it's on! The official Christmas shopping clock is ticking toward that unavoidable deadline - Christmas Day.

Will you make the December 25th deadline this year? Gifts must be purchased. And not just gifts,   perfect gifts. What do you get folks who already have everything? Will you establish or add to your debt by purchasing these perfect gifts (for folks who have everything) on a credit card? (Read more...)

Over The Top

There was an incident in Luke's Gospel, Chapter 7 in which a woman (who was believed to be a prostitute) learned that Jesus was having lunch at the home of a Pharisee. What she did next was what we would call today..."over the top".

Somehow she gets in, finds Jesus, and weeping....wets Jesus' feet with her tears. But that wasn't all. She began wiping His feet with her hair! Was she done? Not really. She also began kissing Jesus' feet, and pouring very, very expensive perfume on His feet. The Pharisee who invited Jesus criticized Him for not supernaturally knowing the woman was a sinner. The truth is, Jesus knew exactly who and what this woman was. But He saw something in her actions that reflected His own heart. Jesus was blessed by this "over the top" treatment He received from her. What Jesus saw by this woman's actions, the Pharisee and His guests did not see.

What did Jesus see in her actions? What was it that grabbed His heart? I am convinced that the actions of the woman indicated a heart very similar to Jesus. How could this come from a prostitute? The truth is, it could have been anyone. It could have been you or me! It was her extravagance that connected with Jesus' heart and moved it. It was her "over the top" treatment of Jesus that touched Him. Why? Because Jesus' own destiny was to go "over the top" for all of mankind.

Let's talk about the woman first. It is "over the top" for a prostitute to burst into the home of a pharisee. It is "over the top" to be so broken that you wet someone's feet with your tears. Man, that's a lot of crying. It is "over the top" to wipe someone's feet (in brokenness) with your own hair. (Feet that were dirty and probably covered with animal dung from walking through the local streets.) It's "over the top" to kiss those same feet with your own lips, and then pour extremely expensive perfume on them; perfume that could have been sold for a great sum and the money given to the poor.

In the same way, Jesus went way "over the top" for you, me, and ALL of mankind. Think about it. Jesus, God the Son, laid aside His Kingly privileges, left His glory, and became a lowly human. That's "over the top". He, as the Son of God, and the Son of Man was tempted in every area, like us, yet without sin. (See Hebrews 2:18; 4:15) He went "over the top" when He was persecuted, beaten, bruised, and battered...in our place. He went "over the top" as He hung on the cross and gave up His own life so that all of humanity might live through Him. Conquering death, hell, and the grave, and rising three days later was a feat we would all deem as "over the top". Sending God, the Holy Spirit, to dwell within us and upon us until the end of the age was no doubt..."over the top".

It's clear to see how Jesus was touched and blessed by the actions of a prostitute who went "over the top" to acknowledge her love for the One who delivered her from seven demons; and set her free from the bondage of immorality! I understand why Jesus would say of her, "Truly I say to you, wherever the gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be spoken of in memory of her." (Matthew 14:9) This woman loved Jesus so much she went "over the top" in expressing this love.

The more I ponder this, the more I see the need for "over the top" expression of our love to Jesus. Jesus understands extravagance because it was His heart to go "over the top" for us. He is blessed when we go "over the top" in our expression of our love to Him.

Remember, Jesus has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and sound judgment. (2 Timothy 1:7) Thinking about how He expressed His love for me gives me the drive to go "over the top" in expressing my love for Him.


A Taste of Heaven

The sight of Christians worshiping in India, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Canada, and of course, our United States does something for me. I cannot accurately explain it, but something sparks inside of me when I see people of different color, language, ethnicity, culture and nation come together for one purpose - to uplift the mighty name of Jesus.

I was in Saudi Arabia a few years back on temporary duty for the Air Force. One particular Friday a few of us gathered in the British Airways compound (a community within a community) for a worship celebration. It was during Thanksgiving so some of us Americans were joined by a host of folks from other nations to celebrate. We had a time of praise and worship that changed my life. In that little room I saw people from India, Pakistan, England, Germany, Africa, Saudi Arabia, the U.S. and other parts of this planet worshiping (with all their hearts) the same Lord I had come to know just 2 years earlier. Suddenly I had a thought (I know was prompted by the Holy Spirit)..."This is a taste of Heaven". Wow...a taste of heaven!

What was it about this experience that prompted the Holy Spirit to say what He said? It was the fact that in heaven (just like in that room) people from every tribe, tongue, and nation will be gathered to worship and adore the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords forever and ever and ever.

Even now at gatherings when there is a parade of flags from the nations represented, I have to hold back the tears. It just touches my heart. Each flag represents a people group or groups, different from mine, devoted to giving worship and praise to the same God..the ONE and ONLY God. There is no doubt God is moved when the nations of the earth gather to worship Him. Why? Because it will be the same in heaven when we're all gathered before Him, blessing His heart.

He created the different nations to be different! Different  tongues. Different color. Different cultures. Different locations. Different environments. But...as we worship the ONE and only, the ONLY true God, we become as He is...ONE! He causes the diversity we represent from each nation and each person to become ONE Holy Nation before Him. We must retain our individuality because He died for each one of us. However, as we uplift our King, in His presence our diversities blend into one voice, no matter where we are located on the planet!

I believe this IS a taste of heaven. There is much about heaven I do not know. But I do know what He is showing us. Heaven will be filled with color (contrary to popular opinion)! There will be diversity. There will be individuality. But there will be ONE holy nation, composed of all the color and diversity and individuality. It will be indescribable! It will be incredible! How do I know this? Because I have already gathered with believing folks from a host of different nations to experience the oneness that is produced through worship of Him. I have already had a taste of heaven!

He Came

Black Friday, 2012 is now History! Time to celebrate! It's all over...right? Well...not exactly. Black Friday is the official kick-off for the entire Christmas retail shopping season. In other words...it's on! The official Christmas shopping clock is ticking toward that unavoidable deadline - Christmas Day.

Will you make the December 25th deadline this year? Gifts must be purchased. And not just gifts,   perfect gifts. What do you get folks who already have everything? Will you establish or add to your debt by purchasing these perfect gifts (for folks who have everything) on a credit card? Or will you simply tackle this undue stress by expending your hard-earned funds to get perfect gifts (for folks who have everything)? Add to that, traveling or hosting during the Christmas holidays. Wow! No wonder folks become too stressed to rest during the Christmas holiday season!

Should we reduce December 25th to nothing more than a deadline for the sake of our chaotic traditions? Will the true reason for this wonderful season in which we SHOULD rejoice over the birth of our Savior be obliterated by the attractions and distractions of commercialism?

The truth is no one knows the actual date on which Jesus was born. But an even greater truth (we must not miss) is that He came. He came. During the Christmas season religions all over the world at least acknowledge that He came. What an incredible time for we followers of Christ to demonstrate the real meaning of Christmas...Jesus Christ came! He was born as one of us to save us from our sins. My...what a gift!

I love the family gatherings. I love the food. I even like to give and receive presents. But I would let it all go in the twinkling of an eye if I knew that even in the least, it was causing me to miss the true meaning of Christmas...He came.

Just a few more questions. What are you teaching your children about the true meaning of Christmas? What does your Christmas Christ-follower demonstration look like to others? Are you rejoicing over the true reason for the season in the peace of God that passes understanding? Or, are you becoming caught up and becoming too stressed to rest?

Join with me as we enter the "official" start of this Christmas season. Let's "counter" the worldly traditions of commercialism and stress. Let's demonstrate the true reason for the season. The truth that Jesus came as the greatest gift...ever. Instead of stress and tension, make the choice for peace and joy! "And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior." (Luke 1: 47)

Where Are The Godly Men?

There are many more men of God out there than we know. There are many more than we see with our eyes. You see, a man of God is not simply someone who preaches, or is the pastor of a church. A man of God is not simply an Evangelist or a Missionary. Simply stated (as I so often do), a man of God is a Godly man! Any man who is Godly is a man of God.

Why do I not see more men of God? Because most men of God don't realize who and what they are - men of God. The truth is, God intends for all male believers to be men of God. He can change cultures and societies through men who sell out to Jesus and live wholly for Him; men who uncompromisingly stand for the righteousness of God. However, if the enemy can thwart this, our cultures and societies continue to degrade and become more and more God-less.

Men, God intends for you to be prime examples of living for Jesus at home and on the job - even in the ministry. If you could get an advance glimpse of the difference you would make in lives, you would stand up this instant - for Jesus!

So how do you become manifested as a man of God? As a born-again male, you must know what God says about you! Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:21, "He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." Jesus became sin on our behalf so that we might become the righteousness of God, in Jesus. So...if you truly know Jesus today...you are the righteousness of God! This is not something you feel, it is an immutable truth you must know and believe. Jesus did this, not you. So nothing you can do can take that away from you. One more time...you are the righteousness of God!

Why would a man of God not feel like a man of God? Why would a man of God not believe he is a man of God? Simple...because of the sin he allows in his life. Sin separates us from intimacy with God. Allowed sin makes a wimp out of a God-ordained warrior. (We need less wimps and more warriors in our world.) Sin produces guilt, that produces the lie "I'm not worthy to be a man of God." But listen, your worthiness is not based on your actions, it is based on what Jesus did for you! No, you cannot be a man of God and practice sin at the same time. But God, rich in mercy (and because He's redeemed you) gives you the choice. Choose right now to be a man of God!

The ingredient that qualifies a man to be a man of God is integrity. I used the word "ingredient" because integrity must be part of the essence of the man of God. Its workings are from the inside out. Integrity cannot be duplicated by action; it must be an inward motivation, thus affecting outward conduct. What is integrity? Integrity is soundness of moral character. It is plain ole honesty. The man of God is not perfect and flawless, but he does walk in integrity. He adheres to moral character and honesty. A man of integrity understands that when no one else is watching, God sees. He loves His wife so deeply, that being unfaithful would simply break his own heart. He understands that no circumstance or no amount of peer pressure makes it OK to sink from God's eternal standard of righteousness. When he slips and falls, he immediately makes it right with God, gets back up, and moves on...living for God.

Man of God, are you struggling to be a man of God? Has sin caused you to be powerless? Stop sinning! Get back up! Pursue God! Move forward. You are still the righteousness of God...in Christ Jesus. You are needed, O man of God, to influence your family, friends, coworkers, and those who hunger for the manifestation of the God men. You can make a difference. The choice is yours!

Living Sacrifices

As a young child I used to think the word "oxymoron" was a special type of moron. I thought it meant a special class of morons (if you will).  You know...goobers, dorks, twerps...or something. But you'll be comforted to know I grew up! As part of my maturing process I learned the word "oxymoron" had absolutely nothing to do with the word "moron". I learned that an oxymoron is a figure of speech that combines contradictory terms. Examples: Jumbo shrimp, Dark light, Serious joke, Bitter sweet, Deafening silence, etc. I think you get the picture.

The Bible also uses a very particular oxymoron that applies to those who follow after Jesus, Those who live their lives soley for Him. Paul says in Romans Chapter 12 we are to present ourselves to God as "living sacrifices". There's the oxymoron..."living sacrifices".

Typically, a sacrifice is slain in order to fulfill its purpose. It has to die, not live. In addition, a sacrifice is offered in behalf of others. In the Old Testament animals were offered in behalf of the people. The animals were not guilty, but God required the death and shedding of the blood of the sacrifice to cover over the sins of the people. Again, the sacrifices were dead!

Over 2000 years ago God sent Jesus to whom John the Baptist referred to as the "Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world". Born of God and not man, Jesus was the perfect sacrifice for our sins. His blood was pure and did not just cover over our sins, but completely washed our sins away. He died in our place. And like the animals of old, Jesus was not guilty. He was innocent. He rose again 3 days later. Because he lives, Paul says those who follow Him are now "living sacrifices".

Paul said, "Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship." (Rom. 12:1) Why living sacrifices? Why even sacrifices at all? There is no need for us to offer sacrifices for our sins because Jesus has already dealt with them by the sacrifice of Himself. Contrary to the point of view that we present ourselves to Him to be cleaned up, we are already clean. I didn't say we were perfect or flawless, I said we are already clean, because of the blood of Jesus.

We are living sacrifices. Not dead sacrifices. Living sacrifices exist to be presented to God - alive! There is no other purpose for a living sacrifice. This is our spiritual service of worship. A living sacrifice is designed to bring worship, glory and honor to God...24 X 7. The only alternative is to be conformed to the world...to blend in with the world...to look like the world. There's a serious problem with that though. It is totally unacceptable to God.

A dead sacrifice has fulfilled its purpose. But a living sacrifice has an incredible future. Why? Because it has a destiny filled with God-ordained purpose.

If you are a follower of Jesus, present yourself to God...all the time. Have regular times of presenting yourself to Him as a living sacrifice. Make extra time to do so. Become radical about it. It is what you are created in Christ to do. It is your spiritual service of worship!

I am available for speaking/ministry engagements. Contact me at harvcel@gmail.com.



The Way I See It

The election is over. Barack Obama was re-elected to serve another 4 years as President of the United States. Did your candidate win? Did your candidate lose? Will your hopes and dreams for the next 4 years be based upon who was elected as President? Are you elated this morning over the election results? Or, are you depressed and disappointed?

The way I see it is, many people put so much stock in the election, it distracts them from the good part; that part that shall never be taken away from them. And when the results don't turn out the way one hopes and plans, depression and discouragement set in. Certainly we followers of Christ should be involved in our elections and even politics. And it is our duty to pray for those who are running and those who are elected - no matter what they stand for, or what party they represent.

But election of those who believe just like we do (or at least partially like we do) is totally in God's hands. Listen to the words of Isaiah, "For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.  There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, On the throne of David and over his kingdom, To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this." (Isaiah 9: 6 - 7) HIS government (the Kingdom of God) is the one that rests upon His shoulders. His government will continue to increase infinitely! And who will accomplish this? The fire and enthusiasm of God Himself! How encouraging is that!! God is in control!

The way I see it is, President Obama being re-elected is more for God's church in America than for America itself. I see more opportunity for the church under President Obama than under Mitt Romney.

Before you slash my tires let me explain. Consider the early church. It was born under the Roman government. At the time it was the most powerful government on earth. For the first 300 years there was unimaginable resistance to the spread of the gospel and the church. Millions were persecuted and executed for their belief in Jesus. It was one of the toughest times in the History of the church; and it was only the beginning. The church flourished however, and God moved through His people adding to the church daily! Opportunities to influence the world with the gospel were infinite. Darkness seemed to rule. But those who were carriers of the Light, overwhelmed the darkness simply by the lives they lived for Jesus. They were committed to ONE thing...spreading Jesus. National government wasn't a factor because they were prepared to die spreading the gospel. Are we there yet?

The way I see it, the next 4 years contain more opportunities for God's people than the previous 4. You can look at all the negative and be discouraged. Or...you can see it the way I see it. God hasn't changed. He still rules. He reigns through those who live on this earth.

I'm not sure about you (I certainly care though), but I believe I'm here for "such a time as this". I am convinced more people need Jesus than ever. But if I am to reach even one of them, I must live for Him. The voice of our God resounds through yesterday's election results saying, "Rise up! Live for me! Hunger and thirst for me...and I will move mightily in and through you!"

Actually, I am very excited about the next 4 years. What will they bring? Let me answer this question right here on the day after the election.....SOULS. Let's do it!


For speaking/ministry engagement information contact me at harvcel@gmail.com. 

Amazed

I am always deeply moved by the lyrics of the song "Amazed". The lyrics say in essence, "Lord, I'm amazed by You, how You love me." What is so amazing about Jesus loving me, is that He loves me just the way I am!

No one knows me better than Jesus. However, no one else knows me better than me! Yes, He knows everything in my heart...some of which I don't even know yet. But I know more than anyone else about what is in my heart (outside of Jesus). I know what He delivered me from and where He brought me from. In addition, I know where I am. I know what I struggle with. I know the things in my heart that break His heart. I know the things the please Him, and I know the things that displease Him. I know I have been brought a long, long way. But....I know I have quite a ways to go!

Some of the things I know about myself are not pleasing to me...let alone the God who knows ALL. But what amazes me most about my God is that He loves me! He loves me just as I am, but His plans are not to leave me as I am. He loves me with an everlasting love; a love that empowers me to live for Him. His grace is amazing. But it is because of His amazing love that His grace is amazing!!

Yes, I stand amazed at the love of my Jesus.....the love He has for me! I discovered this amazing love 34 years ago this month. His love still amazes me. Hardly a day goes by without my being amazed that the Creator of all the universe loves me with an incredible love that will never run dry. It just keeps on and on and on! Lord, I truly am amazed by you...how you love me!

Nothing or Everything?

Many folks have been taught that salvation is all about your final destination. You know...ending up in heaven instead of hell. But ending up in heaven (and not hell) is only a part of salvation. The truth is, salvation is all about your soul. 

Listen to Matthew 16:26, "For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?" Key word: SOUL. If you take a closer look you will see these two questions posed by Jesus have exactly opposite answers. "For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?" The answer is NOTHING. The next question asks, "Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?" The answer is EVERYTHING! To gain the whole world and lose one's soul profits a person absolutely nothing! This is because his soul is eternally lost. In order to save your soul one must give Jesus ALL......EVERYTHING! 

Ministers, churches, and whole denominations have taught for ages that a quick walk to the alter, a shaking of your hand by members of the congregation, and a water baptism are all that is needed to insure you a place in glory after leaving this life. At this point you are a Christian and will go to heaven - no matter how you live out the rest of your life. This produces a mindset that believes it is all about your final destination...and not your soul. The truth is, salvation is about your soul, and to save your soul you must give Jesus everything!

This is why being saved is more than praying a quick "sinner's prayer". Being saved is about total surrender to Jesus - as not only Savior, but Lord as well. Yes, Jesus saves. But Jesus also rules. He rules only those who completely surrender their lives to him.

Understand that when we are born into this life, our souls have already been forfeited. This is a result of the fall of man in the Garden of Eden. (See Genesis Chapter 3.) Our souls were forfeited, and you and I didn't even have a choice. However, now through Jesus Christ we do have a choice. We won't be forced. But if we decide to choose Jesus, He requires giving ALL to Him. Only then can He live in and through you and me.

Finally, many folks don't want to choose Jesus because they know they will have to surrender all to Him. They want to be in total control of their own lives. We have the freedom to do this. We can choose not to give EVERYTHING to Jesus. But the result will be according to Matthew 16:26, "For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? (NOTHING) Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?" (EVERYTHING)
                                                                                                                

I am available for speaking engagements in services, conferences, workshops, and revival meetings. You can contact me at harvcel@gmail.com. Thanks!

What Is Truth?

Many folks today are looking for the truth. But what is the truth? One person says this, while another person says that - and the two contradict one another. In these days of elections many promises are made in order to win votes. The sad part is that most politicians never intend to keep their promises. They are made strictly to swing the vote of the people. Candidates exalt themselves by tearing down their opponent with mud and lies. The truth is twisted and even concealed.

Jesus had to appear before Pilate after He was arrested. While there, Pilate questioned Jesus as to who He really was and His purpose in coming. Jesus answered, "I have come into this world to testify of the truth. And everyone who is of the truth hears everything I say." Pilate sarcastically responded, "What is truth?" and walked away.

It is amazing to me that standing before him was the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Yet Pilate could not hear the voice of Truth, because he did not believe in Him. And even finding no guilt in Him, he walked away still searching.

Jesus said, "If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free." (John 8: 31 - 32) Notice Jesus spoke the preceding words to some Jewish folks who had just come to believe in Him. The key to knowing the truth is knowing Him and His Word. To know His Word is to hear and know what He says. Jesus speaks nothing but truth (because He is truth). Jesus said to the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders, "You don't understand what I say because you don't hear what I say." In other words, if they would believe in Him, then they would hear Him and understand the things He spoke - which is the truth.

Now...what is truth? I think this is a good question. I also think Jesus is eager to answer it for anyone who truly hungers and seeks the truth. From John 8: 31 - 32 the word in original Greek is Aletheia. Aletheia means: truth, as the unveiled reality lying at the basis of and agreeing with an appearance. This word also means: the reality pertaining to an appearance. Let me say it in plain English: The truth is the way things really are!  It's that simple. The way things really are.

The Words that Jesus speaks are the way things really are. This is truth. To abide in the Words of Jesus is to abide in the truth. One who abides in truth is not deceived by empty promises and lies from the enemy. One who abides in truth is free from the deception of the enemy. The key as Jesus said is to believe in and follow Him.

There was a time when much of what we did in this country was in some way anchored to the truth of God's Word. This was the standard of our conduct, the standard of how we raised our children, the standard of how we did business, and even the standard of how we served people in government. Now people are led to believe truth is relative. Relative? Relative to what? Whatever turns your crank! With no concrete "Godly" standard anything goes. The problem with this is there is more deception ruling people's lives than ever before.

If you're looking for something concrete. If you're looking for a solid standard that stands throughout all of time...look to Jesus. He said if you'll simply trust in and diligently follow after Him, you WILL know the truth...and the truth will set you free!

Failing Does Not Make You A Failure

Everyone of us has failed at something. And all of us have failed many times! But does that make us a failure? Of course not. Failing does not make you a failure. Failing is a part of life. 

In the Bible, Peter is considered to be a successful pillar of the church. He literally followed Christ for 3 and a half years (while Christ was on the earth). He was used mightily, along with Jesus' disciples to proclaim God's kingdom in the earth. God gave Peter a supernatural revelation of just who Jesus really is (the Christ, the Son of the living God). Peter, along with James and John briefly saw Jesus in His glorified form. Peter was used incredibly by the Holy Spirit to bring Jesus outside the Jewish realm to the rest of the world. I could write paragraph after paragraph about how God worked through Peter. He was truly a great man of God.

But Peter failed Jesus miserably. The night Jesus was arrested Peter said he would never deny Jesus...that he would even die with Him if necessary. That same night Peter not only denied being a follower of Jesus 3 times, but he denied even knowing Jesus. Jesus said this would happen and when it did, Peter went out and wept and wailed loudly and violently. Peter had denied the very One he loved the most. Not only that, he denied the One who loved Him. Did this make Peter a failure? Absolutely not. Why? Because Jesus never stopped loving Him!

This is key. Jesus never stops loving you and me...no matter what we have done. Many people feel unworthy of knowing or serving Jesus because of their failures. Again, failing does not make you a failure. God and God's Son Jesus love you with an unfailing love...no matter what.

Luke Chapter 15 tells us about a young man who failed his own father miserably. He asked for his inheritance early and went away and blew it all. After spending all his money and having no where to stay he went to work feeding pigs. In no time he went from living "high off the hog" to desiring to eat the food of the hog. In his lowest moment he came to his senses. Now considering himself to be a failure, he returned to his own father believing he was no longer worthy to be considered his son. Instead, perhaps his father would make him a hired hand. At least then he would get decent food and shelter. When he returned his father was waiting for him. His father ran to meet him and greeted him with hugs and kisses! The father ordered his servants to bring out a new robe to place on him, new sandals, and a new ring to place on his son's finger. They were ordered to prepare to celebrate a feast! This young man failed his father and acted very irresponsibly, but because of his father's love he was welcomed home and restored!

You could never be a failure. Know why? Because God loves you with an everlasting love. No matter what you have done His love will never fail you. No matter what you may do His love will never fail you. Yes, I know you have failed and so have I. Just come to Jesus. He loves you with an unfailing love that will never give up and never run out!


No Offense Intended. Please Hear God's Heart.

Here we are just a few weeks away from the elections. The airwaves are filled with mud slinging. After just a couple of minutes of watching the news I feel I need to go take a bath!

Even FaceBook is ablaze with negative, degrading, criticizing comments about the President and his party, as well as his opposing candidate and party. I've never seen it quite this intense....thus far. We could truly label this year's election The Great Divide!

Not only the news media, but the social media has become a virtual cesspool of negative and derogatory words launched at the very folks our Lord Jesus came to suffer and die for. It seems to me that Christians (followers of Jesus) have become entangled in the same war of sludge and filth.  What a shame!

I'm sure I have your attention now. Before I continue with this post, I want you to notice that I use the word "we" and "us" quite a bit. This is because I am guilty of what this post is addressing. However I am tired of it, and realize it is NOT God's way. Please read on with an open heart and rise up with me to show forth the genuiness of the God who has saved us from darkness.

Does the United States need to change? Absolutely. Can we continue the way we're going? Absolutely not. But change will not come as a result of wrestling with flesh and blood (slinging mud). Criticism does not promote change nor will it fulfill our hopes. Change will only come to America as hearts are changed by the Spirit of God. When we truly cry out to God on behalf of our nation (ourselves), we leave no room for criticism. On the contrary, we open wide the door for God to show Himself strong and mighty by changing hearts.

Politics has become the arena in which we have given ourselves permission to ignore the principles of God's kingdom. Principles like (Ephesians 4:29), "Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear." And this one, (Col. 4:6), "Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person."

My questions are these: Are you praying about this upcoming election as much as you are posting the negative stuff? Are you praying at all? Is God so weak that He needs us to criticize others to help Him accomplish His will? Our God is THE ALL-POWERFUL God who reigns from eternity to eternity. His will be done!

We as God's people (those who are called by His name), must stop the criticism. We must humble ourselves and pray! II Chronicles 7:14 says not only must we humble ourselves and pray, but we must also turn from our sins. When we fervently pray, the promise is that God will hear us from heaven, forgive our sin, and heal our land!

A follower of Christ should know that criticism is a form of judgment to others that opens the door for more intense "return" judgment. Jesus said, "Do not judge, and you will not be judged." Proverbs 15:1 says, "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." Only a true Christian walking in the love of Jesus Christ will return a gentle answer for a harsh word! 

Please forgive me if I have offended anyone. That is not my intention. Perhaps we all need to be rattled somewhat before we can be spiritually awakened. But that is just it. What America and the rest of this world needs is a spiritual awakening! Jesus give us eyes to see, ears to hear, hearts to receive, and motivation to do what you are saying in these latest of last days by Your Spirit!

The Straight & Narrow

It's a Friday morning and I've been stirring around for awhile. As a matter of fact, there is something stirring in my heart that I want to blog about! By the way, blogging is one of the things in my life that I really enjoy doing. So make me enjoy life even more by taking the time to read on!

I cannot tell you how many times over the years I've heard the Christian walk described as "the straight and narrow". This of course comes from Matthew 7:14 where Jesus said, "For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it." If we truly understand this verse, we perceive other crucial truths such as: we are not of this world, the world hates us, the one who endures to the end is the one who will be saved, love not the world, and many more. In addition, an understanding of "the straight and narrow" unveils the truth that we are on a journey passing through this world, and what we do here affects the rest of our eternity.

Quite often we have opportunity to be discouraged over the direction of the world. We should be concerned, but not discouraged. Here is what Jesus said, "Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it." (Matthew 7:13-14)

Think about this. In both scenarios above, we must enter through a gate first. After we enter through the gate we find the way. Understand that the way does not lead to a gate, but it is just the opposite. The gate leads to the way. The way leads to an end. Natural birth (as a natural baby) is the wide gate Jesus speaks of. We are born into the ways of the world. The way of the world which is broad and wide leads to destruction. Jesus said many people find this way. Why? Because they are born into it. Quite honestly, it is very easy to find destruction!

On the other hand Jesus said, "The gate is small, and the way is narrow that takes us to eternal life, and just a few find it." In order to find eternal life, we must enter another gate...a very small gate. This small gate is Jesus. This is being born again of the Spirit of God. When a person accepts Jesus, they turn out of the broad way and enter the very small gate. Many don't see this gate, or they ignore this gate because entering it means giving up all the broad and wide ways of the world. Once a person enters the small gate, everything they are and everything they do is against the ways of the world. So the gate of entry is not only small, but the way is also very narrow. The good news is that this straight and narrow way leads not to destruction, but to eternal life!

Worldly religions proclaim other ways to reach God (other than Jesus). Some even proclaim many ways to reach God.  But Jesus said in John 14:6, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me." Jesus also said in Luke 13:24, "Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able."There will come a time when many folks, after seeing that Jesus is truly the way to the Father and to eternal life, will seek for the small gate but they won't be able to find it.

My prayer is that you have found that small gate and are on the narrow path that leads to life. No one ever said it is an easy path, but it will be glorious! If you have found that path, stay the course, and do not be discouraged over the ways of the world. Simply pray that you can help many people find the small gate which opens to the narrow path that leads to an eternity of living with our incredible Savior, Jesus Christ!

I am available for speaking engagements. Please e-mail me at harvcel@gmail.com or srhutto@ymail.com. I'd love to encourage you!

Are We Doing The Right Thing? (Part 2)

Part 1 of this post ended with me saying, "This may be a little controversial for some, but let me say we shouldn't look for opportunities to convert someone. No...we should look for opportunities to make a disciple!"

I'm sure you have realized that man's plan is not always God's plan. As a matter of fact, man's plan is never God's plan! Man has a tendency to manufacture what we think is God's plan, but it is really man's version of what we think is God's plan. This comes from a simple misunderstanding of the Scriptures. Not that the Scriptures are complicated, but man tends to modify the Scriptures to fit within the frame of man's mentality, when what we should do is renew our minds with God's Word, (or simply change our thinking to God's way of thinking)

Jesus said, "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." (Matt. 28: 19 - 20) We call this the Great Commission. Our understanding of the Great Commission is that we go out, convert people, and then we make disciples of them. But is this really Scriptural? I'm willing to stick my neck out and say NO!  According to Jesus we are to go and make disciples. Certainly this process includes evangelism (conversions), but not exactly the way man has made it to be. Hold on to your hat as I tell you this. No where did Jesus say we must make converts first! He just said go and make disciples of all the nations. Man has separated evangelism from the process of making disciples. Did Jesus ever say that discipleship has to begin with a freshly born again Christian? No He did not. But before you think I am a heretic read on.

I think you will agree Jesus is our prime example. He spent 3 and 1/2 years making disciples out of the 12 disciples, preparing them to be the 12 apostles. He demonstrated, taught, and mentored these followers of His. Were they saved? No. Were Jesus' intentions for them to be saved at the proper time? Absolutely.

I simply love Jesus famous "Sermon on the Mount". This powerful teaching is what we call the Beattitudes. Who can deny that this wealth of instruction from the mouth of Jesus is the lifeblood of our daily walk with Jesus as His followers. But were those folks gathered around the Mount of Olives that day born again at the end of his message? No. Was Jesus making disciples? Yes. Many of those folks later became born again, and some didn't.

As I said earlier, Jesus is our prime example. Too much emphasis is put on winning another soul to Jesus. Instead, our emphasis should be on making a disciple. For some that will mean preparing the way of the Lord in their hearts as we share God's kingdom principles with unbelievers. Others will be primed and ready to accept Jesus at first contact. But in either scenario making disciples should be the focus.

When evangelism is separated from the process of making disciples, many people will say the sinner's prayer and not truly be saved. And many who make a quick decision may fall away. This is because man's idea of evangelism is conversion, not discipleship. But when hearts are prepared by the Word of God through the discipleship process, the result will be commitments, not decisions. Making disciples starts as Christians connect with lost folks in practical ways and means, sharing the principles of God's Kingdom. Jesus called this the "Gospel of the Kingdom". And Paul said, "Faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the Word of Christ." This faith Paul speaks of is not the faith for that newer, bigger, and better house. But faith to receive Jesus into one's heart.

I recently read an article about a young man who was saved. An older Christian man took him under his wing and began to disciple this young man. This went on for many months. Day by day he was taught the principles of God's Kingdom.  About 5 years later this young man had planted around 8 churches that were blossoming for Jesus. He was being used mightily by God. He was well-grounded in God's Word. Sounds pretty good to me. It brings up the question one more time, are we doing the right thing?


I am available to speak in churches, conferences, workshops, special meetings, and groups. For more information you can contact me atharvcel@gmail.com.

Are We Doing The Right Thing? (Part 1)


I've been pondering something lately. Well, I guess I'm always pondering something! Life is much more interesting when you ponder stuff. I mean there is always something to ponder, right?


This time I am pondering the church. Not so much the "body of Christ" church organism, but the church organization church. This is specifically what I am pondering: It seems to me the church is mostly organized to push Christians to live right. Is this bad? No, not really, but too much time, energy, and money is spent on trying to get Christians to stop living like the world! I mean, come on, if you're not of the world, why act like the world?

Let me break this down a bit. Across the board, it seems that most messages/ministries are designed to urge Christ-followers to stop doing what they know they shouldn't be doing anyway. It seems to me most of the energy is expended on warning believers about the wiles of the world, or even other denominations, groups, or leaders in the universal body of Christ.

As a youth pastor a few years ago, I remember having to spend most of my time and energy teaching teenagers to stop doing those things Christians don't do! Let me say again, I heartily agree this is part of ministry of the church...but it shouldn't be all of it!

Looking back, the Scriptural thing would have been to choose a very few who were serious about Jesus, and spend much more time with them, teaching them the things of God's kingdom. It's natural to feel we shouldn't neglect anyone who at least comes. But are we truly neglecting someone who could care less about Jesus, at the expense of NOT making disciples, as Jesus instructed? Jesus said, "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." (Matt. 28: 19 -20)

Based on God's Word, my opinion is that the church should be making disciples. We must understand that a "making disciples" mentality is based on the word "Go". Too often we base our ministry on the word "come". I'm sure you've heard the line from the movie Field of Dreams, "If you build it, they will come." But Jesus says, "If you GO, they will COME"! Not everyone should go overseas, but everyone should go. We must understand that it requires going in order to take what we have to others. We must go out of, and into. We go out of our homes...into our jobs. We go out of our homes...into our schools. We all go out of our churches...into the world. We go NOT to live like the world, but to live for Jesus and to live like Jesus!

This may be a little controversial for some, but let me say we shouldn't look for opportunities to convert someone. No...we should look for opportunities to make a disciple! I will explain that clearly, but not in this post!  You'll have to wait for part 2 coming shortly!

I am available to speak in churches, conferences, workshops, special meetings, and groups. For more information you can contact me at harvcel@gmail.com.