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.