God IS In Control!

It's amazing to me that many Christians want to argue that God is not in control of the universe, which includes the planet we live on. It's also amazing to me that many Christians want to argue over just about anything! We each have our own views based on the knowledge we've accumulated, and anything different from our humanly, limited knowledge is just wrong. But the truth is, sometimes we are right and wrong! Let me explain.

On the one hand, God is not in control. And without having to do a whole "nother" teaching I'll explain. Basically, when Adam and Eve sold out to the devil (book of Genesis) they handed man's God-given authority to "be fruitful and multiply, and subdue the earth" over to the devil. Sin entered the world, and death entered through sin. Sin and death produced a fallen society that includes bad things that happen, even to good people: hatred, murder, sickness, pain, lust, greed, physical death, etc. And yes, there are many things we just cannot control. But God can.

In a very serious sense, the devil became the god of this world. But Jesus, the Son of God came 2000 years ago, and as a human (without sin), He offered Himself in our place to atone for our sins. Simply stated, Jesus took your sins and my sins upon Himself, and broke it's power over you and me. Our part is to sell out to Jesus, the One who took back the authority that was handed over to the devil 6000 years ago. And through a genuine, on-going relationship with Jesus we walk in authority over sin!

So for those who live their lives surrendered to Jesus, YES...God IS in control. Don't let anyone tell you differently. Here are some reasons God is in control of those who are His. Jesus said, "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end." (Revelation 22:13) Jesus says He is the "first and the last". And according to His own words He is "the beginning and the end". If Jesus is the beginning and the end it means that He started things, and will be the One who ends things. If He has the authority to start things and end things, His authority extends from first to last, beginning to end. Believe me, Jesus is in authority right now because He has crushed the power of satan through the cross, and His resurrection!

Here is another reason God is in control. "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." (Hebrews 13:8) Jesus has always been sinless. Even after He took our sins upon Himself, died, and came up out of the grave, He remained sinless. The authority with which He broke sin's power over you and me is the same today as it was 2000 years ago. Again, for those who choose to live life for Him walk in His authority today. Why? Because He is in authority. Yes, sin is still in the world, but through His authority, you have authority over sin. Paul even said "For sin shall not be master over you..." (See Romans 6:14)

And let me give you yet another reason God IS in control. "For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God." (Romans 8:14) Believe me, God is in control of those who are sons and daughters of God because they are led by the Spirit of God. It doesn't matter what the world is doing, or how bad it seems to be getting, those who are led by God represent the authority of God in the earth. Nations are changed by such people. Are you being led by the Spirit of God? If so, you are a son/daughter of God, and He leads your life. He IS in control.

The main drive for this post is the fact that no matter how bad things get in the world (and they are pretty bad now), God is in control of those who put their trust in Him. Perilous times are here, as prophesied by the Apostle Paul. But Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever. If your trust is in Him, your trust is also in the One who started things, upholds all things by the word of His power (see Hebrews 1:3), and will culminate all things at the end of the age!

Finally, get your eyes off of all the "stuff" going on in the world, and on Jesus, and His Word. Turn off the news, and put on the worship music. Get off social media and get in the Word of God. Pray in the Spirit and build yourself up on your most holy faith (Jude 1:20) That's what will cause you to NOT be moved by what you see and hear going on the world today. Instead you will celebrate the peace of God that passes all comprehension because God IS in control.

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Are We Effectively Training Our Children In The Way They Should Go?

I'm not trying to be negative, but let me share what's on my heart. This is not intended to be a "doom & gloom" message. I truly feel however, this is a timely and serious message that everyone (especially with young children) should pay attention to.

The truth is, we live in very troubled times. I have walked with Jesus long enough to begin to know God's Word, and to see it coming to pass in these last days. I have lived long enough to see how our society has deteriorated slowly over the decades. We live in a time in which the spirit of the anti-Christ has become rampant all over the world. And...it is getting stronger. It is easy, or maybe more convenient to brush off the reality of the last days we live in by saying "Things have always been bad." Yes, as long as sin has been in the world, things have been bad. But things are getting worse. Not just the stuff that is happening, but the stuff that is happening, aimed at God and His people. As we go through time, it will get harder and harder to live a moral, scriptural life as the world pushes harder and harder against those who live to testify of it's deeds, that they are evil. And never forget, the world is not stronger than God. But the world is stronger than those whose lives are not anchored into the Rock of Ages, Jesus Christ.

I have 13 grandchildren, and one soon to arrive. I am a blessed Papa! But one of my greatest concerns is the world they will grow up and live in one day very soon. If you are concerned about the world, and the direction it is heading, let me ask you: What are you doing to prepare your children? And what are you preparing your children to do? Please forgive me if I sound a bit controversial. But are they more familiar with the latest Disney movie, TV show, gaming app, or video game than the Holy Scriptures? The Bible, the Word of God is the blue-print for life. Are you teaching them the Bible through family devotions? Do you pray with them regularly? I have to ask you these questions.

Listen to this: "Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it." (Proverbs 22:6) The "way he should go" is with God, through a real relationship with Jesus. When they are grown, and on their own, they will not depart from Jesus. When they grow up, they will have grown up in the Lord Jesus, and they won't be swayed from Him. It's that simple. They will continue to serve Him because their parents trained them from a very early age. Many  parents think the Bible is too complicated for very young children. But what amazes me is their ability to operate computers, tablets, and smart phones! God made young children to be very impressionable for a reason...to be trained in the nurture and admonition of Him! (See Ephesians 6:4)

The world "train" in Proverbs 22:6 means to "dedicate, initiate, and discipline" them to know and walk with God. It's great that they are going to church. But parents, are YOU training your children to live wholly for Jesus through a life totally surrendered to Him? Most parents consider it "over the top" to prepare their child to be a radical servant of Jesus. But, in these times, that's what will cause them to live for Him now, and NOT drift away from Him when they go out own their own. If many of the world's religions (who serve no risen God) train their children early on to serve and even die for their god, how much more should we Christians train our young to radically serve Jesus. Jesus should not simply be a part of their lives (and ours). No...He should BE their lives.

Parents, let me ask you another question. How do you stand with Jesus? Is He your life? Or is He a part of your life? "For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God." (Colossians 3:3) If He IS your life, then with the help of the Holy Spirit and God's Word, He can BE your children's lives too!

The good news is that Jesus stands ready to help you, through the incredible presence of the Holy Spirit. We can train our young people to radically serve Jesus, even in the midst of a crooked and perverse world. We must first understand that we are in the world...BUT not of the world. Only then can we convey this to our children. We must understand (as parents) that we are dead to sin, but alive to God...in Jesus. If we get that, we should convey this to our children. In order for your child to live for Jesus, they must die to sin. Of course, this happens when they receive Jesus into their life. From the beginning they must understand that Jesus died to sin for us, and now He lives to God. So with our lives hidden in Him, we are dead to sin and just like Him, we are alive to God. That's what makes us all His!

There's a verses in James that says "You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God." (James 4:4) Some very strong statements are made here, but they are true. My point is that if I (as a parent) am friends with the world, making me hostile toward God, that makes me responsible for doing the same for my children. I don't want to raise my children in such a way that they become hostile toward God, and an enemy to Him one day. No one in their right mind would desire to do this. However, NOT bringing up your children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord is doing the same thing. Something to pray about.

Yes, things are getting worse. However, for those who belong to Jesus, the most powerful, glorious times lie ahead. Those who are a part of the body of Christ in the earth will shine brighter than ever before, in the midst of the darkest of times. Please remember, no amount of darkness will ever overpower the light of those filled with Jesus. Where sin abounds, grace abounds even more. Our responsibility is to discern the times, and respond accordingly. Preparing our children for living a life for Jesus will never be more important and crucial than right now. Jesus is there for you. He stands with you. Stand with Him!

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Where Is The Love? (Part 2)

I just can’t seem to get away from John 13:34-35. Jesus said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 "By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." According to Jesus, showing love for each other is what reveals to the world that we follow Him. With that said, just the opposite of that (not showing love to one another) reveals to the world that we follow a god who is not genuine. If, instead of loving each other, we are divided, critical, and judgmental who wants to follow any god who produces that?

When Jesus said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you”, who was He talking to? He was talking to His disciples (now you and me). His first priority was not that they love the rest of the world, but after God, they love first each other! Jesus knew people would be drawn to Him through those He loved, by their loving each other. Here’s a great example from the Word. Acts 13:32, “And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul; and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own, but all things were common property to them.” It goes on to say there was not a needy person among them. People sold their property and laid the proceeds at the Apostles feet. Folks opened their homes for meals, fellowship, and church!

Most people think that the early church was so successful because they met in homes, shared meals, and fellowshipped from house to house. There is always a push from some group or organization to go back to the methods of the early church to regain the power and influence the early church had. If we do it like they did, we will have the same power and influence they had. But that is not so. The early church folks did it that way because they loved each other and demonstrated that love unconditionally. There were no multi-purpose buildings, campuses, or church buildings. There were only small synagogues and homes to meet in. Out of supernatural, Holy Spirit, love they were motivated to open their homes, meet house to house, and share all things with one another. Can you imagine the effect this had on people? Many were drawn in by their love. Jesus said, “Love each other the way I have loved you.”

Jesus loved you and me by becoming one of us. He loved us by giving up His Kingly privileges and becoming God’s bond servant on the earth. He took upon Himself our sins, sicknesses, and pains. But He also demonstrated to His disciples His love for us for three and a half years! Then, He gave Himself completely for us. For you and me to love like Jesus is to minister the way He did! To minister the way He did is to minister in power and with influence that changes people forever. (1 Peter 4:8-11), “Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins. 9 Be hospitable to one another without complaint. 10 As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 11 Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

If we can restore that kind of love to God's church in the earth today, imagine the power and influence we would have in the lives of those yet to know Jesus. Yes, it would definitely stir up some stuff! But O the joy of the souls saved and the glory of God revealed....through you and me His church! Join with me (and thousands of others) who are praying for revival in our land. O how we need it!

Graveyard Shift? No, Not Me!

Having been in the ministry for a number of years now, and having worked in retail quite a bit, I've learned a lot about people. Most people live in cycles. You know, we do certain things at certain times of the day, week, month, year, etc. In all fairness, much of these cycles are developed around the rising and setting of the sun. Who can escape that, right?

But as I have learned to apply the Word of God in my life over the years, I've discovered that many of the cycles we naturally slip in to can be broken. Yes sir, they can! For instance, are you naturally "chipper" in the mornings? Or, are you a member of the "walking dead" till noon? Most people who are like Count Dracula (opening their eyes in a nano-twinkle early on), usually shut down just after a hearty dinner. On the other hand, the not-so-morning person seems to hit their stride about the time of the 11 O'clock (PM) news.

When I was in the military we held training exercises often. There were times I would have to work a schedule I deeply abhorred. Graveyard shift (12am - 8am)! I was so accustomed to my regular day shift routine it was hard for me to break out of it. About 5 am every morning (on graveyard) I was ready melt into a sleep-induced coma. Simply driving home from work was the greatest challenge of my graveyard days! But...I did it. I still hated it...but I did it! My point is there are times when we simply do what we have to do in order to accomplish a mission.

It's the same way with serving God. The truth is (just like the military) when you signed on with God, you signed on to be available to Him 24 X 7. We don't serve, obey, and trust Him only when it feels good to do so. We also don't do the above only when we want to, or only when it is comfortable for us. There are times we must obey God's Word, even when we don't want to! Jonah is a good example. God commanded him to go to Nineveh and preach the Gospel. God's plan would have an entire, evil city repenting at the preaching of Jonah! But Jonah didn't want to do it so he fled and ended up in the belly of a big fish! He eventually obeyed God and preached to Nineveh. There was a big revival.

There were several reasons why Jonah didn't want to obey God (see the book of Jonah in the Bible). But my point here is that even when God commanded Him, he didn't want to. It's no different for you and me. God's Word is His blueprint for our lives. Yet there are times when we don't want to abide by His Word. Sometimes it makes us uncomfortable. Sometimes we fear the rejection of our peers. Sometimes we simply want to go with our flesh instead. But ALWAYS it makes us effective for Jesus when we obey God's Word. I can imagine Jonah felt pretty good when he finally obeyed God, preached the Gospel, and the city of Nineveh repented at his preaching! I certainly would.

Always remember, we must conform our flesh to God's will as we renew our minds with His Word. It is always the flesh, because of an un-renewed mind that will many times resist the Word of God. In the military I hated the exercises. I hated graveyard shift! It made me very uncomfortable. Yes, I had no choice but to participate, but I still didn't want to do it. However, the result was that we were prepared for what a potential enemy might throw at us.

It's more comfortable for you to sleep in instead of rising early to pray. It's more comfortable for me to cradle the TV remote tenderly for hours when I could be dedicating that time to my God. It's not always comfortable for us to uphold Godly living standards in the midst of our work place. But we must! We must live by standards that are not of this world. Some people will not understand why. Some will reject us. But like the city of Nineveh, there will be those who observe us, listen to us, and embrace the message of Jesus. It starts with a firm commitment to obey Him instead of ourselves. It starts today. How about you?

Where Is The Light?

What I'm about to say will probably offend some Christians. This is not up for debate. There is too much of that on social media. This is my heart, and I know is the heart of Jesus. That's what this Blog is all about!

It's past time for we believers (Christians, followers of Christ) to awaken and come to the realization of who and what we are! Sure, we're "blessed and highly favored". And yes, we are "King's kids". Of course, we are a "royal priesthood", a "holy nation", and "God's own possession". We are very quick to let each other know these things, because that's what the Bible says about us. But there is something else the Word of God says about us. And if it's the Word...it is true. We are the "Light of the world"!

Jesus proclaimed, "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden." (Matthew 5:14) We are the light of the world. So where is the light? One of the closely related meanings of this word from the original language simply means "to make manifest". As followers of Jesus, we are on this earth to make manifest the life and love Jesus offers to all mankind. Jesus died for the whole world, no one excluded. And we the church exist to make this incredible news (and much more) known to those who have yet to receive His love and life. The church is commissioned by Jesus to be the light of the world.

Here's where it gets a little sticky. I've noticed over the years a nasty trend among Christians. As the world pushes harder and harder against the things of God, Christians tend to push back more and more. This is not of God. Here's what I mean. A company, business establishment, or corporation makes it known they support an ungodly agenda. So Christians push back. "We will boycott you." "We will hit you where it hurts...in your pocket book." They don't talk like Christians so we reject them. They don't act like Christians so we cut them off. But they're not Christians, and nowhere in God's Word does He say the world will act just like believers. And just so it's clear I'm not talking about establishments or businesses that are illegal or any who outwardly promote sin. I'm talking about every-day establishments we frequent, and then choose to punish them because their agenda (which is born of the world anyway) opposes God's Word. Where is the light?

There are many establishments and businesses I believe Jesus would see as an opportunity to make contact with young millennials. How do they feel when they (steeped in the world's agenda) hear Christians saying "boycott, boycott"? How would you feel if anyone threatened to tinker with your livelihood? I think we born again, Spirit-filled Christians ought to deliberately frequent such places in order to make contact with someone who may never enter the church.

Jesus help us to wake up! We quickly cry boycott, but at home we watch movies we know Jesus would NOT approve of. Movies that drop the "F" bomb in practically every breath. Movies that take the name of our holy God in vain and spew out vulgarity and immorality as if God Himself accepts it. It shouldn't be so! Where is the light? You are the light of the world.

Quite frankly we the church don't need to change anything until we do one thing...repent. It's time. It's time for the light (that Jesus says we are) to shine again. It's pretty dark out there and the light of the church has dimmed. We need to repent of what we have done in secret so the light of Jesus will be made manifest through us publicly to a very dark and hurting world.

I'm convinced of one thing. We live in the most opportune time ever for the church of Jesus. We have the commission. We are the light. What will you do? God sees all, and He knows all. Nothing can be hidden from Him. I ask you again, where is the light?