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Why Do I Hate Halloween??

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“He observed times, and used enchantments, and used witchcraft, and dealt with a familiar spirit, and with wizards: he wrought much evil in the sight of the Lord, to provoke him to anger” (II Chronicles 33:6).

Many have asked me about my stand for or against halloween and its observances.  Some have claimed that it is the worship of satan and his demons.  Some claim it is just a harmless vestige of some ancient culture.  What's the Bible say?

First, lets look at some historical data about halloween.  In North America, the yearly observance of Halloween amounts to a multi-billion-dollar industry, second only to Christmas…selling costumes, candy and food items, party supplies, greeting cards, tours of so-called haunted houses, and other forms of entertainment. But what is the history of this particular day? The story may surprise you.

More than two thousand years ago, a people called the Celts (Kelts) lived in what are now Ireland, Great Britain, and France. Among the Celtic people was an elite intellectual class known as the Druids, who served as religious priests, judges, lawmakers, and scientists. They had an elaborate pagan religious festival, along with certain rituals. Chief among these was the Fire Festival called Samhain (pronounced sow-en), observed at harvest time to mark the Celtic New Year.

The Celts believed that on this night the barrier between the natural world and the supernatural was removed, and the spirits of the dead were able to move freely among human beings. Samhain was the most solemn and important night in the Celtic year.

After the Roman Catholic Church brought Christianity to the Celtic peoples in the seventh century, some of their traditional folk customs were Christianized. In 835 A.D. Pope Gregory IV moved the church’s “Feast of All Saints” from the spring to November 1st to replace the observance of Samhain. All Saint’s Day, still observed today by many Christians, honored believers who had died. The night before, which featured a sacred vigil in church, became known as “All Hallow’s Eve,” or Halloween. But the old practices of the Druids died hard and were denounced by the church as witchcraft. This is how Halloween became known as a witch’s holiday.

Dressing in costumes and going door-to-door comes from a much later tradition in the British Isles, a practice not restricted to Halloween. Masked players would go from house-to-house, putting on a simple drama or musical performance in return for food and drink. Often these performances had Christian themes.

The “trick-or-treat” custom we know today is thoroughly American in origin. In the nineteenth century, when Irish and Scotch immigrants brought their Halloween traditions to North America, the night became an occasion for pranks and mischief. Vandals would go through the night, soaping windows, overturning outhouses, and pulling gates from their hinges. These pranks were playfully said to be the work of witches and ghosts, but by the 1920s the joke wasn’t funny anymore. The damage to neighborhoods was mounting.

To counteract Halloween vandalism, community clubs like the Boy Scouts began to organize alternatives that are safe and fun. Children were encouraged to go door-to-door and receive treats from homeowners and merchants, keeping the troublemakers away. By the 1930s, the practice was popular nationwide, and young voices crying, “Trick or treat!” were echoing through neighborhood streets.

In this way, a combination of pagan, Christian, and civic elements formed the Halloween celebration we know today. In recent decades, however, a renewed interest in the old pagan beliefs has blossomed in North America. Popular entertainment, including television shows like “Buffy: The Vampire Slayer,” and even “Sabrina, the Teenage Witch,” make occult themes and witchcraft seem fun and acceptable. The result is that Halloween today has become strongly associated with the occult and a preoccupation with the dead—two influences that Scripture and the church have always warned against.

You see, Satan is not a joke. He’s real. Though the Bible clearly states that God is the world’s highest authority, He gave Satan a certain amount of power. With God’s permission, the evil in this world is under Satan’s control. This is why the apostle Paul said, Eph. 6:12 “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.”

Satan was the first one in history to openly defy God. He also started a way of life that was self-centered and rejected God’s authority. That marked the birth of sin, which is nothing more than rebellion against God. Today sin affects the entire human race. We are all guilty, and therefore all deserve sin’s penalty. “For the wages of sin is death….”

I. It glorifies death. (I Cor. 15:26)

II. It honors Satan and demons. (I Cor. 10:20; Psalm 78:49; I Peter 5:8)

III. It is helping to destroy America. (II Chronicles 33:6, 10-11)

IV. It is not needed by young people. They need God. (II Chronicles 33:12-13)

[Author's note: Thanks Bob for historical background]

Give God Glory!

Psalm 29:2, "Give unto the LORD the glory due unto His Name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness".

Psalm 29:2 may well be considered the "Key Verse" for the entire Book of Psalms.

"Give unto the LORD the glory due unto His Name..." We are being reminded that we should live our lives so that it brings glory unto God! In fact, neglecting to give God the glory due unto His Name can be considered THE SOURCE of trouble in our world!

"Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, THEY GLORIFIED HIM NOT AS GOD (my emphasis), neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened." Romans 1:19-21

Are you glorifying God by the way you live and by what you say? Don't contribute to the source of trouble in this world, but contribute to the solution for this world - Give God glory! And that means God with all your heart, mind and strength; put God first in everything you think, say and do; and set out to honor Him in all your endeavors. When you pray, you give God glory. When you sing unto Him, you give God glory. When you obey Him, you give God glory. When you squelch the flesh, you give God glory. When you love out of a pure heart, you give God glory. "Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God" - 1 Corinthians 10:31.

I liked this on my friend's blog so I reposted it...Thanks Mike :)

God Will Win

Exodus 9:16 "And in very deed for this cause have I raised thee up, for to show in thee my power; and that my name may be declared throughout all the earth."

On June 27, 1876-more than 130 years ago-General George Armstrong Custer led his men . . . straight into defeat. What Custer thought would be an easy victory against a village actually turned out to be total destruction for him and his men at the hands of the Sioux nation and Sitting Bull. Despite the fact that the Sioux won the Battle of Little Bighorn, they lost the war. It was bound to happen. Why? Though I do not care for General Custer, he was defeated, but there were a lot more where he came from.

I do not care what "the score" may be right now; the truth is, God will win the war. He always does. But how He wins is up to you. God can work through you or against you; with you or without you; in this lifetime or in eternity. Whether you see it or you do not, God will win.

With God, there is no such thing as a "win-win" or a "win-lose" situation. One word describes God's record-WIN. God will win. He is the One Who raised up Pharaoh (Exodus 9:16). Do you suppose Pharaoh realized this? Did the Jews know this? God raised up Pharaoh for His (God's) glory and to show His (God's) power. God will win. Pharaoh might not have submitted to it, but some of his servants did. Exodus 9:20 says that Pharaoh's servants who feared God's judgment "made his servants and his cattle flee into the houses." God will win; it was just a matter of how. And these servants were wise enough to realize this.

Throughout Exodus 8-9, God makes known that He will win. Exodus 8:10 declares, "That thou mayest know that there is none like unto the LORD our God." Verse 22 repeats, "To the end thou mayest know that I am the LORD in the midst of the earth." Chapter 9, verses 14 and 29 say, "That thou mayest know that there is none like me in all the earth," and, "That thou mayest know how that the earth is the LORD'S." God won-He made it clear that He will win.

God will win. He will win today, and you can ask Pharaoh about that.

Rest in God

"Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it. For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works. And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest. Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief: Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time; as it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts. For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day. There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief." (Heb 4:1-11)
Included in God's promises is rest for His people. This rest not only begins with rest from the guilt and condemnation of sin (salvation), but it also can grow into rest from our struggles against the flesh and the world (sustainment). Verses 9-10 speak of this latter "remaining" rest. "There remains therefore a rest for the people of God." Those who are God's people became such by entering into God's rest from sin and guilt (verses 1-4). And having tasted of this, there still " remains...a rest for the people of God."

The entrance into this additional spiritual life-sustaining rest necessitates a ceasing from one's own works and one's own abilities. "For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works." (vs. 10).  To rest in the Lord for a growing life of godliness, service, and fruitfulness, one must be willing to renounce himself as the source or cause of the working. Previously, we saw that the Apostle Paul walked/lived unto God in this manner. "...but I laboured more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me" (1 Cor. 15:10).  It seems fair to say that Paul worked perhaps harder than any other leader in the early church. Yet, he acknowledged that his strength and power was from the grace of God, not himself or his abilities. This fits perfectly with another verse from Paul that simply stated, "Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God" (2 Cor. 3:5). Ultimately, such a life is explained as Christ Himself expressing His life in and through our lives. "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." (Gal. 2:20).
This ceasing from our works is to be as complete as God's ceasing from His work at creation. "And God rested on the seventh day from all His works...For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His" (Heb. 4:4, 10). God rested on the seventh day, because his "creation-work" was finished. We are to rest from our works, because we cannot add to the finished work of Christ for us. He completed our redemption upon the cross. "...he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost" (John 19:30). He has also fully prepared the works that He wants us to now enter into by faith. "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." (Eph. 2:10)

Are you tired of the struggle?  Are you weary in well doing?  So do you need rest today?  Simply "rest" in the Lord and stop relying on your own strength and abilties to accomplish anything.  God bless you!

What's in Your Hand?

Exodus 4:2 "And the LORD said unto him, What is that in thine hand? And he said, A rod."

Sometimes instead of man asking God questions, God asks man questions. His asking is not because He does not know; His questions are rhetorical, to make a point. In Exodus 4, God did not ask Moses about what was in his hand so that He (God) would know-He asked Moses so that Moses would know.

Often we picture Moses with a striking, powerful rod, along with his flowing beard and white hair. We associate the rod with his persona from pictures and characterizations. But Moses' rod was just a plain, ordinary rod any shepherd would have had. Can't you almost hear Moses answer God? "Um, a . . . rod?"

God's question to Moses is a good question for us today. What is in your hand? Whatever it may be, it largely depends on the abilities and responsibilities that God has given you. And it is up to God to make sure both the ability and the responsibility are balanced. You will never be a good steward of that which is in your hand until you know what it is. Likewise, if your abilities and your responsibilities are not balanced-that is, what you can do and what you should do-you cannot be a good steward of God's gifts.

What was in Moses' hand? A rod with significance, not because of Moses, but because of the God of Moses. The rod would not later part the Red Sea, nor would Moses. God parted the sea, and He did it through Moses and through a rod.

Notice the progress in the chapter. God first asks Moses about what is in his hand, and Moses calls it "a rod." In verse 17, God tells Moses to take "this rod," and then in verse 20, the Bible says, "and Moses took the rod of God in his hand." Was Moses' rod the rod of God? It was now!

The rod was in some ways a metaphor for Moses himself. God was teaching Moses about Moses by using his rod. You can either use what is in your hand, or you can abuse it. Later on, God used this same rod in Moses' hands to give water from a rock (Exodus 17). What happened later when Moses was the one using the rod, and he struck the rock instead of speaking to it? When he was obedient, God did what only He could do. When Moses rebelled, he abused the rod and only bad things happened.

Today, what is in your hand? It is not "a rod," nor is it "this rod," but it is God's rod!

The story is told of a master violinist who was to play a great concert with a very expensive European violin. The concert hall was packed as the crowd stirred with anticipation and excitement. The master violinist finally emerged from backstage and began playing his first arrangement. It was beautiful, stirring, moving, and exciting. When he was finished, the crowd erupted into applause-an ovation like none other.

After several minutes, when the crowd finally settled down, the master violinist promptly took the violin, stepped to the front of the stage, and smashed the violin against the stage! The crowd gasped and sat stunned-until the master violinist went to another violin case on the stage, pulled out the $5000 violin, and finished the concert. The violin he smashed was purchased at a pawn shop for $20! You see, no one came to the concert hall that night to hear a $5000 violin; they came to hear the master violinist.
With God, the ordinary things are made extraordinary; the natural are made supernatural. May God help us to realize what is in our hand today and let the Master use it.

The Bible's Most Misused Verse

"...Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." Matthew 25:40
The Bible is very clear that Christians should help those in need. However, many verses in the New Testament admonishing Believers to feed and clothe widows and orphans can be interpreted numerous ways in our modern society.

I came across an article written by Marvin Olasky who examines how Matthew 25:40 is used to justify both massive welfare programs and Church-focused ministries that meet the spiritual and physical needs of those in need. He explains:
Helping widows, orphans, the sick, and others who temporarily cannot help themselves, is fine, but anything more than that is an anti-biblical trap into which some evangelicals are falling.

Since the 1960s, Christians have debated the lure of the secular socialists to support Big Government welfare programs to help the poor, widows, and orphans. Unless we are careful, support of these programs can lead to a worship of government over God.
When looking at verses on this subject, Olasky notes that the Bible must viewed in its entirety. Arguments for expensive welfare programs are easily justified by picking one or two select scriptures. However, when all scripture is considered, particularly verses in Proverbs, Christians should be wary of secular socialist welfare programs.
Read the entire article of Marvin Olasky's view of The Bible's Most Misused Verse.

"I AM"

Exodus 3:14"And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you."

What would you ask God if you could ask Him three questions today and receive straight, clear, immediate answers? The truth is, you would probably ask the wrong questions. You are better of to let God answer the questions you should have today-and He already has.

Moses asks a good question in Exodus 3:11. "Who am I, that I should. . . ." Stated in a declaration, Moses says, "I cannot do this, God." And that was true; Moses had no power, no influence, and no way to execute God's plan. Previously to this, Moses had seen two Jewish men fighting, and he could not even get those two men from his own country to follow him, much less a whole nation.

But God never answers Moses' question; He does answer the question that Moses should have asked. In verse 12, God says, "Certainly I will. . . .", and in verse 14, He says, "I AM." Whatever may be your question of "am I", God's answer is "I AM." You may wonder today, "How am I _____?" God's answer is, "I AM." What am I to do about _____? "I AM." When am I _____? "I AM."

It is not about us; it is about God working through people like us. "Who am I?" or "Look at me" will both lead you astray. It is not as though you will impress God with what you have-He gave you everything you have.

For everything you are not, and for everything you need, God says, "I AM." That means He is the Eternally Existent and All-Sufficient One, the Creator of the universe. And you can trust His answer to your questions today!

Valuing Disposition Over Position

The following is excerpted from the sermon “Real Answers for Fundamentalists” by Jim Van Gelderen, March 2005:
“[It is said that young fundamentalists ‘value disposition as much as position.’] I have heard folks say of previous generations of fundamentalists that they had the right position but the wrong disposition. An unpleasant disposition could be Word-based and Spirit-led or it could be carnal and fleshly. Let me look at some unpleasant countenances that are Spirit-led. I want to ask you a question: what is the wrong disposition? A frown? Anger? Proverbs 25:23 says, ‘The north wind driveth away rain: so doth an angry countenance a backbiting tongue.’ When somebody comes to you, talking about your pastor, what God wants you to do is really look mean. Just put a huge frown on your face. You will be biblical! Do you see that, folks? Look at Mark 3:5, ‘And when he had looked round about on them with anger...’ Who are we talking about there? Jesus. Look at Revelation 6, ‘And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb.’ What kind of a disposition do you think His face will have that day? ‘And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away...’ Can you imagine Jesus cleansing the temple and afterwards his disciples said, ‘Man alive, that was a wonderful disposition’? Do you think He was smiling? Now folks, all I’m pointing out is that the dispositions are not the real issue. The issue is, did God lead you? Have you ever frowned at your kids? This may shock some of you, but I remember times where my father disciplined me and he wasn’t smiling. He was one of those old fundamentalists that had the right position but he had the wrong disposition. Isn’t that ridiculous thinking? When I stand in the pulpit I’m not thinking about disposition; I’m thinking, ‘Am I being led of the Spirit?’ Granted, God’s not going to give you an angry disposition for the rest of your life; it will probably be a very small percentage of your life; but there are times that an angry disposition is led of the Lord. A pleasant disposition can be compromise or it can be Word-based and Spirit-filled. The focus should be on God’s will and not on what disposition we have.”

Praying Specifically

Matthew 20:29-34 is the story of the Lord Jesus healing two blind men. These blind men were daily asking the wrong people for the wrong thing. They did not need money-they needed sight. As Jesus passed by, the men cried out, "Have mercy on us, O Lord, thou son on David (20:31)."  Jesus answers them by saying, "What will ye that I shall do unto you (20:32)."

Let me ask you a question: Didn't the blind men already tell the Lord what they wanted? They asked for mercy. Is that a bad thing? No. Is it specific? No. To ask for mercy is kind of ambiguous. Everybody needs mercy. Jesus wanted to know what kind of mercy.

Their asking demonstrated the Lord's ability--He could. His answer demonstrated His will--He would. Do not get so spiritual that you pawn off prayer as just a spiritual exercise to become close to God. "God knows everything already, so my asking is just a discipline." Does God know everything? Yes. Does God want me to ask, and to ask specifically? Yes! You are not close to God if you are not depending on Him--if you do not realize you need him and ask for what you need. If you spend your time analyzing prayer scientifically, your dependence will be destroyed. Depend on God and ask Him for what you need.

Prayer does not just change you; prayer changes things. Often we can miss the point by emphasizing the secondary matters of prayer. Praying longer, more fervently, on your knees, before the sun rises, etc., may be valid points, but if you are not asking God--if you have no sense of need--your praying is a sham. If you live with a sense of need, all of those things-time, fervency, posture-will take care of themselves.
  • Do you think the Lord knows what you need?
  • Do you think others may even know what you need?
  • The question is, will you?

Father's Day Prayer

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Lord, please bless our fathers,

these men who mean so much to us,

who are greatly responsible

for who we are and who we are becoming.

Bless them for having the courage

to do what's necessary to keep us out of trouble,

for making us do the right thing,

for helping us build our character,

even when it makes us angry;

and bless them for pushing us to do our best,

even when they just want to love us.

Bless our fathers for being our protectors,

for leading us through stormy times to safety,

for making us believe that everything will be all right

and for making it so.

Bless our fathers for quietly making a living

to provide for those they love most,

for giving us food, clothing, shelter

and the other material things that really matter,

for unselfishly investing time and money in us

that they could have spent on themselves.

Bless our fathers, Lord,

for saving some energy for fun,

for leading us on adventures

to explore the outer reaches of ourselves,

for making us laugh,

for being our playmates and our friends.

Bless them for being our secure foundation, our rock,

for holding on tight to us...until it's time to let us go.

Lord, bless these men we look up to,

our role models, our heroes, our fathers.

In Jesus' name we pray, Amen.

                                                ~Joanna Fuchs

God's Inheritance

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Genesis 48:21 "And Israel said unto Joseph, Behold, I die: but God shall be with you, and bring you again unto the land of your fathers."

Psalm 127:3 "Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward."

A common bumperstick on the back of RV's traveling across America reads: "I'm spending my kids' inheritance." Often when it comes to any spiritual inheritance for our kids, we would be better off if we did! Conflict and concern over an inheritance has always been the case. The Old Testament is full of examples: Jacob and Esau, Isaac and Ishmael, Manasseh and Ephraim.

God's inheritance is what informs any other inheritance you may leave your kids. In Genesis 28, Jacob was alone and scared. With a rock for a pillow, he falls asleep and God sends him a message through a dream. The message was for the God of his fathers to become his God-the God of Jacob. Anything else you pass on to your kids will be to their hurt and not to their good without Christ.

You may spend scores of dollars and hours of time giving your kids piano lessons, soccer games, or horse riding lessons. But you are ruining your kids if do not give them God. And you must give them God intentionally-that is, on purpose, by design. It will not happen by accident, nor will it happen just by taking them to church or bringing them to the Bill Rice Ranch.

Nothing is more important than leaving your kids God's inheritance. Jacob told Joseph, "Behold, I die: but God shall be with you . . . ." Jacob saw God as his God when he came to the end of himself and claimed God for himself. And this was the God he passed on to his son . May God help us, both with our own kids and the "kids" we may work with in ministry, to make sure we give them God's inheritance.

The Last Temptation Jesus Faced

"Save thyself, and come down from the cross."  (Mark 15:30)

The last temptation Jesus faced is the ONE temptation we face constantly: "Save thyself, and come down from the cross!"

Inasmuch as the cross is the place where Self is executed, Sin's power power broken, and Satan's defiance humiliated — it stands to reason that in a last ditch effort to reverse the curse which the cross has brought upon his head, the devil will thrash about endlessly with one goal in mind: to get you and I to abandon our post of trusting in Christ alone, and take up our own cause in our own power. "Save thyself, and come down from the cross."

The devil cannot touch us when we are on the cross, nor can sin's power sway us to pursue its many vanities while we abide in the Crucified One. And even our very selves are subdued in a submissive surrender, as the Lord puts to death all things within us that otherwise disqualify us for the Heavenly City. He is transforming us into His likeness. First there is death, and then, O blessed truth, there is resurrection! But, to experience it we must stay upon this Cross.

"Save thyself, and come down from the cross," the devil derisively taunts at us in those moments when we are slighted by someone, offended by another, or devalued yet by others. Someone does something, whether substantial or petty, and the devil jumps on the moment — "Are you just going to hang there and take that?" he asks with surly sarcasm; and then quickly adds his own suggestion of what we should do, "Save thyself, and come down from the cross!"

Defend yourself, justify yourself, advance yourself, exalt yourself, promote yourself, save yourself, pamper yourself, satisfy yourself, indulge yourself, prefer yourself — and the list goes on and on and on. This is the devil's plan for your life; he wants you to to be like him — a self-absorbed and self-deceived being.

Jesus, by contrast, has only one thing He would say to you in this regard — "Deny yourself," and then He adds, "Take up your cross daily, and follow Me."

Practically speaking, this simple truth has far-reaching implications. The Bible says that it is only by pride that contentions come. Pride is the citadel of Self, the throne room of our own selfish preoccupations and adorations. By embracing the cross of Jesus, and abiding thereupon — our affections are relocated away from our Selves, and placed rightfully upon our Savior. The peace of His presence then extends not only to us, but through us to others. And thus, slowly but steadily, His Kingdom increases in the earth.

For this cause alone you will hear ten thousand times in a day, the devil bringing his case in hopes of finding yourself a willing dupe for his dark employment — "Save thyself, and come down from the cross!"

Don't you dare do it!!

Keeping Track

Matthew 20:15 "Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good?"

Have you been keeping track? Do you know someone who is always watching the clock, counting the minutes of overtime? Do you think God ever pays overtime? Does He know what you are doing today?

Matthew 20:1-16 is a parable about hired servants. The master hires workers, and he repeats to each group that he will give them "whatsoever is right" (20:4,7). So the servants had the same pay, but some of the workers angry because the workers hired later received the same pay. The master in the parable has some searching words for the angry servants: "Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own?"

By way of application, our Master-the Lord Jesus-can do what He wants with what belongs to Him. If we were the ones keeping track, we would keep a different record than God, both in salvation and daily work. Think of the thief on the cross: at his last moment of life, he prays what is really an incorrect prayer, and yet he received what he did not deserve! Can you hear the attitude of the hired servants coming out? The truth is, the thief on the cross received what he did not deserve, and you and I get the same thing at salvation. God can do what He wants with what is His.

God's goodness should never be reason for your jealousy. Romans 12:15 tells us to "weep with them weep" and "rejoice with them that do rejoice." It is much easier to weep with the weeping because it looks big-hearted. To rejoice with someone rejoicing is a horse of a different color. We think he is the last person who needs our help.

God's goodness should be reason to trust Him. The hired servants in Matthew 20 were equally faithful to the opportunities given, although the opportunities varied. Is God a Righteous Judge? Yes, God is a Good God; He is a Righteous God. Hebrews 6:10 reminds us that "God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love . . . ." The fact of the matter is, anything we get beyond Hell is grace. We do not deserve salvation, and everything beyond Hell that God gives is grace. Are you keeping track, or do you think that you could trust God with that? Are you keeping track? Remember there is a God in Heaven Who is!

Don't Count God Out

Genesis 45:8 "So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God: and he hath made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt."

Do you know how you got here? I mean-literally-how did you arrive at this blog today? "Through facebook or an "IE favorite" shortcut," you may say; or perhaps, "I just goggled a subject and this blog showed up with a bunch of others and I randomly chose it, it was an accident!" No matter what the case is, you could tell me how you got here, right?  More than likely you may be wrong, because none of these answers actually "answer" the question.  Let's try another route...

How did Joseph get to Egypt? You could say, "He was a slave"; or maybe, "He got there because of his jealous brothers and they punished him for doing what was right." An important lesson in the life of Joseph, as given to us in Genesis, is to not count God out.  In Genesis 45, Joseph's brothers are scared silly because the little brother they sold into slavery was now a powerful ruler to whom they were appealing. Was Joseph sold into slavery? Yes, but God was behind it. He was not sold-he was sent. He was not taken-he was sent by God. Joseph emphasizes this in Genesis 45:8, and Psalm 105:17 reemphasizes it: "He [God] sent a man before them, even Joseph, who was sold for a servant:"

Do you feel that life is conspiring against you? Don't give "life" that much credit...It is God! Do not count God out of today! I have been in a church where I did not know of problems in the church, but God did. And the message that Sunday morning about unity was as specific and direct as if I did know. How? God knew! He was not ignorant-He even used an ignorant-of-the-problems preacher!

You do not know what is in the hearts of those around you today-you do not need to. Trust God and do not count Him out.  God has a track record; His record is consistent. And you can take that to the bank. Don't count God out of what is happening today. Perhaps you don't really know how you got here, but God does!

The Winsomeness of Jesus

[author's note: I rarely copy anything whole especially from a devotional but this was just such a good, simple albeit deeply stirring devotional.  I thought I would share it with you since it was such an encouragement to me.  It is written by G.H. Morrison]

And all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth. And they said, Is not this Joseph's son?  (Luke 4:22)

Christ's Manner Was Gracious
Our text tells us that the words of Christ were gracious words, and in every sense of the word gracious that is true. But the exact meaning of the terms which are here used is a little different from what we commonly imagine. His hearers were not referring to Christ's message; they were referring rather to Christ's manner. They marveled, not at the grace of which He spake; they marveled at the grace with which He spake. In other words, what so arrested them as they gathered round and listened to the Master was what I would call the winsomeness of Jesus. It is on that theme I wish to dwell. I desire to speak on the winsomeness of Christ. I shall try to unveil to you a little of that charm which was so characteristic of the Lord. And I shall do so in the one hope—to use the prophetic words of the old psalmist—that we may behold the beauty of the Lord.

Winsomeness Radiated from His Whole Life
You will note that this winsomeness of Jesus was not by any means confined to His discourse. It was in His speech that men felt the spell most powerfully, but it radiated out from His whole life. The moment He was baptized, on to the last agony on Calvary—at the marriage feast—at the table of Zacchaeus—out in the meadows where the lilies were—everywhere, in every different circumstance, men felt not only the holiness of Jesus; they were arrested also by His winsomeness. It was indeed this very winsomeness that was a stumbling block to godly Jews. It was so different from all that they had read of in the men whom God had sent to be His messengers. Had Christ been stern, and lived a rugged life, and dwelt apart in fellowship with heaven, they would have been swifter to recognize His claims. It was in such guise the ancient prophets lived. It was in such guise that John the Baptist lived. He was a rugged man of fiery speech, and he fared coarsely, and loved to be alone. And then came Jesus moving with delight among the homes and haunts of common people, and what I say is that this very winsomeness was a perpetual riddle to the Jews. They could not understand His childlike interest in every flower that made the meadow beautiful. They could not understand His love for children nor His quiet happiness in common life. Reverencing the old prophetic character as that of the true messenger from God, they were baffled by the winsomeness of Jesus.

Winsome in Spite of His Stupendous Claims about Himself
Now if you wish to feel the wonder of that winsomeness there are one or two considerations which are helpful. You have to think of it, for instance, in connection with the stupendous claims which Jesus made. One of the commonest features of the winsome character is a certain delightful and engaging diffidence. It is extremely rare to discover charm in anybody who seems a stranger to the grace of modesty. And though of course not for a single instant would I suggest that Christ was such a stranger, yet the fact remains that there never lived a man who made such amazing and stupendous claims. "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by me" (John 14:6). Tell me, was there ever heard from human lips such amazing and unbounded self-assertion? And the wonderful thing is that with a note like that ringing like a trumpet through the ministry, men should still have felt that Christ was winsome. The fact is that unless Christ had lived men would have called His character impossible. So to assert, yet all the while to charm, is almost beyond credence psychologically. And it is just this glorious self-assertion sounding through the ministry of Christ that makes His winsomeness to thinking men such a baffling and amazing thing.

Winsome in Spite of His Loyalty to Truth
Again the wonder of Christ's winsomeness is deepened when we remember His loyalty to truth. Christ did not say, "I speak the truth"; He said, "I am…the truth." Now it is one of the sad things about the winsome character that it is not always the most truthful character. There is often more of truth in the blunt man than there is in the charming and attractive man. The former takes a sturdy pride in telling out exactly what he thinks; the latter, by his very temperament, is in peril of prophesying smooth things. When truth is unpleasant, the winsome character is continually under temptation to conceal it. There may still be a compliment upon the lip, although there is a curse within the heart. And that is why men are generally readier to trust one who is bold and blunt and rugged than one whose distinguishing attribute is charm. They have a lurking conviction that the winsome man, for all his winsomeness, is not quite sincere. They question if he be really genuine when in every society he is so delightful. And this is the wonder of Christ's winsomeness, not that men felt it and acknowledged it, but that they felt it in One who stirred them to the deeps by His passionate loyalty to truth. "I am ... the truth," said Jesus Christ; and He lived that out to the last syllable. Not by a hairbreadth did He ever swerve from all that had been given Him from heaven. And the strange thing is that, with such sublime fidelity to Himself and His brother and His God, He should yet have been so infinitely winsome. "We beheld his glory," says the Apostle John, "and it was full of grace and truth." That was the wonder of it in apostolic eyes, and that has been the wonder of the ages. There are men who are splendidly truthful and not gracious. There are men who are finely gracious and not truthful. This was the wonder of the Son of God, that He was full of grace and truth.

Winsome in Spite of His Trials
The wonder of that winsomeness is deepened also by the experiences of Christ's life on earth. He was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, and men hid as it were their faces from Him. Had He always lived among the hills at Nazareth we might more easily have understood His charm. Dreaming His dreams there, where the world was beautiful, we might have expected a character of beauty. But Christ deliberately left that quietude, and flung Himself into the battle of humanity, and it is when we think how awful was that battle that we marvel to find Him winsome still. If ever there was a life to make one stern, it was the life that Jesus had to live. It was so hard, so misinterpreted, so ringed about with diabolic malice. Yet in spite of every lip that taunted Him, and every heart that hungered for His tripping, Christ never lost, whether in word or deed, the winsomeness that so attracted men. To be suspected as Jesus was suspected is not the common road to charm of character, it is not often that life blossoms out in an atmosphere of suspicion and of treachery. Yet every day Christ rose, there were the Pharisees, and there was Judas with his eyes of malice, and men said; "He is mad; he hath a devil"—and Jesus through it all was winsome still. Still had He eyes for the lilies of the field. Still was He happy in the home at Bethany. Still was He in love with little children, and happy-hearted and pitiful and courteous. It is this contrast between the outward lot and the infinite and inward grace of the Redeemer that makes so wonderful to thinking men what I call the winsomeness of Christ.

The Moral Beauty of Christ
Observe too, that to the very end Christ never lost that moral beauty. It did not pass away as the dew passes, under the burning heat of the high sun. I know few things in life more saddening than to meet again some comrade of our youth, and to discover how the years have marred the likeness which we cherished in our memory. As we remember him, in school or college, he was one of the most delightful of companions. There was a charm in him, a happy winsomeness, that made him a universal favorite. And now after the lapse of years we meet him again, it may be unexpectedly, and we discover, in an afternoon, that the years have robbed him of his best. He is no longer the happy-hearted comrade whom we remember in the golden days. He is irritable or heavy-hearted now, or he is worldly and cynical and bitter. Everybody called him winsome long ago; nobody could call him winsome now. He has gone out to his battle with the world, and the grim world has beaten him. My brother, Jesus Christ entered that battle, and for Him the struggle was terrific. And it grew fiercer every year He lived, till the last hour of agony and blood. And I shall tell you what convinces me that He came out victorious at the end: it is that on to the end He never lost the sweet and winsome beauty of the morning. No bitterness, even in the thick of it. No cynicism, even at the darkest. No cold suspicion of His brother man, though He knew man as he was never known. No forfeiting of deep and happy peace; no dimming of the mystic radiance, even when under the olives of Gethsemane the bloody sweat was dropping to the ground. With words of grace His ministry began, and there were words of grace upon the cross. With a deed of grace His ministry began, and there were deeds of grace in the resurrection garden. I want you to feel as you have never felt before the magnificent persistence of Christ's winsomeness, that you may be ashamed at what the years have been plundering from you.

The Importance of the Home
Now if you ask me what were the sources of this unequalled winsomeness of character, I think I should answer that they were chiefly two, and the first was the influence of home. We do not know much about the home in Nazareth—God in His wisdom has hung a veil on that—but we know enough from the Gospels to assure us that it was a home of happiness and peace. Martin Luther could never think of home without a certain shuddering of heart. There was no gladness for him in his Pater Noster, so loveless were his memories of his father. But Jesus, all through His stormy years, turned to His home with infinite delight, and clothed His deepest thoughts of God and man in the tender and sweet memories of Nazareth. There had He seen the woman sweep the house. There had He watched the hands that used the leaven. There had He learned, with innocent, childish lips, to run to the workshop and cry Abba Father. Out in the battle, with evil eyes upon Him, His thought went flashing back to happy Nazareth, and at the darkest He never lost His winsomeness, because He never lost the influence of home. There are homes where it is well-nigh impossible that the children ever should be winsome. There is so much bitterness in them, so much worldliness, so much unkindly and unguarded talk. There is so little of that gracious reverence that ought to encircle the great years of childhood, when the foot of the angel is still upon the ladder, and every bush is burning with its God. Out of such homes may come successful men, or smart and clever and fashionable women; but never, from such a barren childhood, is there built up the temper that is winsome. It takes a Mary to make a winsome son. It takes a home of reverence and of love. It takes a depth of fatherhood and motherhood that has never lost the hallowing of prayer. Men marveled at the grace with which He spake, and they said, "Is not this Joseph's son?" That was their difficulty, and, as often happens, at the heart of the difficulty was the explanation. They would have marveled less had they but known how quietly beautiful was that home in Nazareth, where those lips which were to draw the world stammered the first syllables of speech.

The Importance of Fellowship with the Father
But the winsomeness of Jesus had another source than the kindly influence of Nazareth. It was His knowledge of the Heavenly Father and His unbroken fellowship with Him. It was Charles Kingsley, was it not, who as he lay dying was heard murmuring, "How beautiful God is!" His heart was quieted in the dark valley by his vision of the beauty of the Lord. And no one, I think, can read the Gospel story and learn what Jesus saw of the divine, without echoing the words of Kingsley, and murmuring, "How beautiful is God." One would not call the God of Sinai glorious. He dwelt in the light that no man could approach, and He was infinite in holiness and majesty. But the God of Jesus is something more than that, as every page of the four Gospels shows us. He is not only infinitely holy, He is also infinitely winsome. He does not dwell apart in awful majesty; it is He who clothes the lilies of the field. His care is not limited to mighty empires; it is He who caters for the sparrow. And He makes the rain to fall on the evil and the good, and when we ask for bread He will not give a stone, and He has a ring and a robe and a sweet kiss of welcome for the poor battered son from the far country. Aristotle pictured an ideal man, and one of his marks was that he should never run. But the father, when he saw the prodigal far off, ran and fell upon his neck and kissed him. My brother, do you not feel the charm in that—the charm that has wooed and won through all the ages? There is more than authority in such a God; there is the grace of winsomeness as well. Christ felt, as man had never felt, the unsurpassable winsomeness of God. To that He clung with a faith which never faltered, in the teeth of everything that contradicted it. And I think it was that winsomeness of God, learned in the intimacy of a perfect sonship, that was one secret and unfailing spring of the winsomeness of our Redeemer. If God be holy, and nothing else than holy, those who trust in Him will be holy. His righteousness may make them righteous. It takes a God of love to make men lovable; a God of perfect grace to make them gracious. So that God in His infinite glory must be winning if men who know His name are to be winsome. It was that discovery which Jesus made. He walked in sonship with a winning God. All that He had ever seen at home was reinforced by what He saw in heaven. Until at last, reflecting as a mirror the sweet and kindly fatherhood of God, He lived in a winsomeness the world could never give, and at its dreariest could not take away. We cannot hope to repeat that. It is too high and wonderful for us. But at least we can pray, as the psalmist prayed of old, "Let the beauty of the Lord be upon us." And so it may be that as the days go by, not without many a pitiable failure, we too may come to show a little of the winsomeness of our Master and our Lord.


The following is excerpted from Christian NewsWire, May 6, 2010:

“It’s the feel-good novel about faith that millions of people love. And its warm and fuzzy depiction of God the Father is cherished by millions of Evangelical Christians who’ve embraced it as though it were gospel. This mass adoration has helped seemingly cement William Paul Young’s The Shack to the stratosphere of numerous best-sellers list--where it's remained for more than 100 weeks--a claim no other book can make. Yet it is infused with counterfeit Christianity, says author James De Young in his new book, Burning Down ‘The Shack’: How the 'Christian' Bestseller is Deceiving Millions, and its depiction of God the Father as an African woman who bore the scars of Calvary with Jesus Christ is just one example of its many dangerous deceptions.

De Young isn’t only a New Testament Language and Literature professor at Western Seminary in Portland, Ore., he’s also a former longtime colleague of Paul Young, and was his Portland-area neighbor when Young wrote The Shack. ... While writing The Shack, Young, a victim of child molestation, had recently embraced ‘universal reconciliation’-- belief identified as far back as the sixth century as heresy--which emphasizes that Jesus’ loving nature renders him incapable of eternally damning people. ... [De Young warns that the errors in The Shack] ‘strike a dagger into the heart of the gospel.’ ... ‘When I carefully read The Shack in January 2008, I was dismayed to find universalism still embedded, deeply and subtly, in it,’ De Young recalls.

In Burning Down ‘The Shack,’ De Young delivers a chapter-by-chapter evaluation of more than 15 heresies within The Shack. Chief among the errors is what Young left out. ‘A familiar, but deceptive maneuver is to give an aspect of a theological issue, while ignoring an equally important aspect that qualifies or limits the first one,’ De Young writes to explain Young’s obvious exclusion of Satan and Hell.”

Thanks to FBIS News Service for highlighting this article.

When All is Said and Done

[author's note - the following has been adapted/edited from a devotion by James Ryle]

"And some believed the things which were spoken, and some believed not." (Act 28:24)

Paul was unquestionably one of the best and most effective preachers who ever lived. Yet, not everybody believed what he said. Someone once wrote, "When all is said and done, there is a lot more said than done."  Having preached for awhile now I know this is true.

It is interesting to observe the dynamics at work in my congregation when I am preaching the truth of God's Word.   First there is a curiosity that inclines them to listen, which they do for a brief moment. If there is not sufficient reason to continue listening presented in those first minutes — the talk is over before it ever begins. Sometimes it seems that an audience will ignore all else if the introduction seems to apply to others rather than themselves.  A preacher needs to know how to get to the heart of the matter without delay.

After people decide to listen, then there is the eerie silence of uninterrupted focus. At times it seems you could hear a pin drop. People's minds are focused and their heart's are open. Truth is doing a deep work.

Then there is a shifting in the seats as people process what they are hearing; in some there is an internal debate, while in others there is a dawning awareness of truth. Ultimately, all preaching comes to the moment of decision. What are you going to do with what you have heard?  Sadly, there is such a working of the devil to make people feel too subconscious about leaving their seat for a trip to the altar...a trip signalling change.

Like Paul, all of us have our moments when we are effective in doing what God has us to do. And, we also have our moments when, no matter what we do, it doesn't seem to make any difference at all. It is interesting to note that, in Paul's case, some were persuaded, convinced, and believed the things that were spoken. But others, note how the Bible puts it, "some believed not" could just as easily read and some refused to believe a word of it.

I don't think this was a result that they could not believe; rather, they would not believe. Paul had indeed convinced even them, but their hearts refused to accept what they were hearing because they did not want to change. Jesus said, "And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil." (John 3:19)

And so it is that when all is said and done — and this World is no more — this simple verse of Scripture will serve as the judicial evidence of all humanity: "And some believed the things which were spoken, and some believed not." (Act 28:24)

What will be said of you in that day?

32,000 Became 300

Prevailing wisdom dictates amassing large numbers of people to engage in battle—whether spiritual, civil or political. The Bible story of Gideon demonstrates God plus even one equals a majority.

God used a fascinating battle strategy which surely increased Gideon’s faith. He reduced an army of 32,000 to 300 soldiers and soundly conquered a superior force.

“And the three companies blew the trumpets, and brake the pitchers, and held the lamps in their left hands, and the trumpets in their right hands to blow withal: and they cried, The sword of the LORD, and of Gideon. And they stood every man in his place round about the camp: and all the host ran, and cried, and fled. And the three hundred blew the trumpets, and the LORD set every man's sword against his fellow, even throughout all the host:” (Judges 7:20-22a).

Lessons we learn from Gideon

1. Gideon followed divine instructions and carried out God’s strategy.

2. While Gideon was weak and inadequate at times, when circumstances demanded valor and vitality he rose to the occasion.

How can you apply these two lessons in your life?


I thought I would share this email that I received with you, my readers.

One of the biggest problems in the Church is that some Christians are way too trusting. Jesus warned, "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves." (Mat 7:15). Far too many of the sheep do not heed our Lord's words. Even when believers are cautioned about certain false teachers, they blow off the warning and blindly follow these wolves.

You've probably heard this many times: "The Bible says not to judge." What the Bible actually says is that we're not to judge a person's heart or motives. "But he that is spiritual judgeth all things," says Paul, "yet he himself is judged of no man. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ" (1Cor 2:15-16). According to Paul true followers of Jesus are of the same mind. When you have the mind of Christ you have spiritual discernment. Christians (who are walking with Christ) have the authority to judge people's words and actions. How do you know if someone is a false teacher? Go to the scriptures! In 2 Timothy 3:16-17 Paul says: "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works."

No doubt some Christians will continue to complain that "judging" is unbiblical and play the Mat. 7:1-3 card: "Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?" What they fail to understand is that the Spirit of God abides in regenerate Christians. Hence we have the mind of Christ! As for the unbeliever, Scripture clearly teaches that the natural man [unregenerate] "receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned" (1 Cor 2:14). So the unregenerate person does not - cannot - understand the things of God. Amazingly, a growing number of self-professed Christians think the things of God are foolishness.

The good news is that believers who read and study the Bible are not easily taken in by apostates. But even mature believers can have the wool pulled over their eyes if they stop being Bereans. It was for this very reason that John penned this warning: "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world" (1 John 4:1).

Read More Here

Jesus & Little Children

Matthew 18:3 "And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven."

If I were going to teach you something important, I would not have a child show you. For example, if I were going to teach you how to mow the grass, I would not have my 5-year-old daughter show you how. However, when it comes to the important things about the life and the life to come, the Lord Jesus illustrates with those you would not expect-little children.

The disciples ask the wrong question in verse 1: "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" The question of whom is "better than" is the wrong question-it is a false standard, an inferior benchmark that will lead you astray.

The Lord Jesus used kids as an example for salvation. Why is a child an example for salvation? His ignorance and inability are to his advantage. An adult without Christ knows just enough and is just able enough to miss God's way to Heaven. Once we are saved, we are not much better than that sometimes. We trust Christ alone for salvation, ask Him to save us, but then we think we can "take it from here." That is not square; that is not right. That is what the Bible calls "wood, hay, and stubble." (I Corinthians 3:12-13)

Kids are also an example of greatness. It is not how great the person, but how great God shines through. That is a very general statement with very practical applications. You may try to get through your day by your personality; you may try to muscle your way through your day based on your internal determination. But God's way is illustrated by the innocence and humility of a little child.

I heard Evangelist Paul Levin tell a story of a revival crusade he held. Someone asked about the service, and Paul Levin said-about the four people who trusted Christ-, "We had 3 ½ people saved." The inquirer said, "Oh, I see. You mean you had 3 adults and one kid saved." "No," Dr. Paul answered, "We had 3 kids and 1 adult saved." The children had the rest of their lives to live for Christ, but the adult had only half to live for Christ.

The Lord Jesus used children to teach very important truths, and may God help us to learn them well.  May we approach God with the innocence and humility of a child but then grow in spiritual maturity as we learn more of our Heavenly Father.

How's Your Week Been?

Genesis 41:52 "And the name of the second called he Ephraim: For God hath caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction."

"How has your day been?" Has anyone asked you that before? The most common answer is "good," but most people don't really mean it! The truth is, you don't know completely how your day or even how your week has been. Remember Joseph? One day he is highly favored of his father, and the next he is in a pit. One day he is rescued and sold as a slave to a very rich man, and the next day he is in prison because of that man's wife. However, God gives him favor, and he becomes second-in-command under Pharaoh.

Joseph summarizes his life-the good and the bad-in Genesis 41. "God made me to be fruitful in the land of affliction." Why was this true? Because Joseph was doing what was right. If your standard is how good the weather is, if people like you, or if nothing bad has happened, your answer is most likely different from Joseph. A "nice" day is not the same as a day with significance.

The reason Joseph's life was significant and "good" was based on his determining to do right which resulted in, first of all, God's timing. Genesis 41 accounts of the butler forgetting his promise to Joseph and then remembering him. But that was God's timing. In other words, Joseph could have confidence in God's timing because he had determined to do right.

Joseph's determining to do right also resulted in God's enabling. Joseph told Pharaoh as much in Genesis 41:16 when he says, "It is not in me: God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace." So Joseph's estimation of his life was "good" because of God's enabling and God's timing.

So how has my day been? Ask me five years from now. My estimation of a day or week might just be amended by history. History has a way of showing us God's footprint.

"God has made me to be fruitful"-that was Joseph's standard of success. He considered God's will, not his own; God's timing, not his own; and he did it all with God's enabling, not his own.

Who Are You Speaking For?

Matthew 16:17 "And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven."

Have you ever heard your parents when you're the one talking?  I can't tell you how many times I've been talking to someone and hear my father's voice...of course, he's not in the room or even the same state.  Even stranger is when I know I'm laughing and again hear my father's laugh.  Who are you speaking for today? The truth is, you are speaking for someone other than yourself. Peter was speaking for God Almighty. His declaration came from God Himself. That is something truly amazing. But is being filled with the Spirit a general event, or is it moment-by-moment?

Compare Matthew 16:17 ("My Father which is in heaven [hath revealed it unto thee]") to Matthew 16:23 ("Get thee behind me, Satan"). Wouldn't you know it-Peter was speaking again. But was it Peter or Satan speaking? The answer is "yes." He was not thinking right; the Bible word is "savorest" in verse 23. Peter went from speaking for God to speaking for Satan in a matter of moments.

Just like in Matthew, today there are two opposite sources. You can speak for the Lord or for Satan. God will not take tritely our speaking for and of the Savior. It should be obvious that the source is not you; it is your Father in Heaven.

May God help us to make sure the words we say come from our Father above and not from the Enemy.

A Bad Memory

Matthew 16:8-9 "Which when Jesus perceived, he said unto them, O ye of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves, because ye have bought no bread? Do ye not yet understand, neither remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets ye took up?"

Do you have a bad memory? Has your bad memory ever been an embarrassing thing? Maybe it is an old friend whose name you can't remember, or a pair of  lost glasses you search all over for (only to find them planted firmly on top of your head). A bad memory can be embarrassing!

In Matthew 16, Christ was attempting to teach a lesson-a lesson He never finishes. He teaches lesson two, but lesson one never comes. You cannot find the lesson of the leaven in this chapter. The lesson of today (leaven) became the lesson of yesterday (faith) because the disciples had a bad memory.

The disciples had no bread. They quietly assumed that was the lesson. But do you think Jesus was really worried about bread? Of course not. "Little faith" and a short memory go together. The Lord says in verse 9, "Do ye not yet understand, neither remember . . . ." It is easy for us to really let the disciples have it on this one, but we are not any better.

We can miss God's lesson and provision tomorrow if we do not learn God's lesson of today and yesterday. This is something that is oftentimes not obvious to you and I. But we cannot afford to get through today without God's provision. Thank God for what He did "back in the day," but we need Him now. Let what He has done strengthen your faith for the future.

Your future is completely in God's hands. You can't see the future, but you can look in the past and remember what God has done. Put your faith in the God Who was more than able before and is more than able today.

Never Hungry

Matthew 15:32 "Then Jesus called his disciples unto him, and said, I have compassion on the multitude, because they continue with me now three days, and have nothing to eat: and I will not send them away fasting, lest they faint in the way."

Here in Matthew 15 is the wonderful story of Jesus feeding the multitude. Thousands of people are following him, and Jesus had compassion on them. We often find this is the case with the Lord when He is around multitudes. Christ then made a declaration in verse 32: "I will not send them away fasting. . . ." This declaration was not isolated to a situation involving food; rather, it is a declaration of God's character. The Lord was expressing will: "I will not send them away fasting."

Did you know the same is true with you? Christ will never send you away fasting-you will never come to the Lord and leave hungry. Matthew 5:6 says, "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled." Have you ever heard someone say, "Well, I am just not being blessed by the preaching"? It is not the Lord's fault; the Lord's character is to not send you away fasting. The multitudes left that day better than when they came.

In the book of Matthew, you also find a separate, but similar, event of the Lord feeding a multitude. In both cases, did the disciples have enough to feed the multitude? No. In their hands, they had only a few loaves and a few fish. But In the hands of Almighty God, He made a feast for thousands.

If you give, God has obligated Himself to provide for you. That is, you cannot give what you don't have; givers have to be supplied. The wonderful conclusion of the feeding of the multitude is that they were filled, and they had more leftovers than they had in the beginning. The most empty you can feel is when you think only of yourself and your needs. When you think of others and give yourself, the Lord will fill you.

The Lord's character is to not send you away fasting, and that is also true regarding the needs of those you may work with in ministry. You do not have to be brilliant, have all the answers, and ask just the right questions to help people. It is God's Word that discerns the thoughts and intents of the heart (Hebrews 4:12). God's Spirit using God's Word can cut to the quick and lovingly point out specific needs. The Counselor-God Almighty-is the One Who illumines and brings conviction. Once He does, you can help a person like that.

God's character was to not send the multitude away fasting, and His character and desire are the same today. He is the Bread of Life, and He is sufficient for today.

You Are Not Alone

Have you ever found out that you were not alone when you thought you were? More times than I care to admit this has happended to me. A couple of times recently, I thought I was alone, but quickly found out that I was not! One morning, as I was walking through the auditorium to the office muttering to myself lost in thought, when suddenly, I heard a noise and looked up to see one of our men working in the church staring down at me from off a ladder. Boy, was I embarrassed and caught talking to myself (again)!

Genesis 32:1-2 "And Jacob went on his way, and the angels of God met him. And when Jacob saw them, he said, This is God's host: and he called the name of that place Mahanaim."
In Genesis 32:1, Jacob thought he was alone because he always had been. The name "Jacob" means supplanter (or trickster), so even the things God had promised to him-like the birthright-Jacob was used to scheming and conniving to get. The truth is that God is able to do even more than we can do by scheming and conniving. If Jacob would have let God take care of providing what He had already promised he would not be in this situation getting ready for a "showdown" with a long upset brother and what has been a ruined relationship with his brother. But now, Jacob is between a rock and a hard place. He could not scheme and had to be honest enough to realize that he was not alone. He meets God's messengers-a host of angels-and calls the name of that place Mahanaim.

I named my oldest son after a friend that I served with in the military that died in combat in Iraq.  My daughter is named after my wife's grandmother.  Names are important.  So here we find Jacob giving this place a very significant name. The name of the place in Genesis 32:2 means "double camp." That is interesting because Jacob was camped there, terrified of his impending meeting with his brother, Esau. Jacob no doubt had become a man of fervent prayer. But Jacob was not alone; God had a camp there. He knew he was in trouble and God had sent help precisely because he realized his need.

I know I have said this before but sadly so often we Christians give people a hard time by saying, "The only time you ask God for help is when you are in trouble." The truth is, we are always in trouble! Sometimes we are just smart enough to realize it and ask God for His help. God helps people like that-people who are in trouble and who realize they are not alone.

Christian, your "camp" is not the only camp today. God's hosts are around, too. If we knew or could see them, we would be encouraged. Although you might not see them like Jacob did, you can rest assured that you are not alone. There is a "double camp"- you and the hosts of God. And that is exactly what you and I need every day.

Deprogramming Fundamentalists

In his book A New Kind of Christianity, emerging church leader Brian McLaren proposes that a 12 Step program to “deprogram” Biblical fundamentalists from their old way of thinking may be needed. “Even for those of us on this quest, breaking out of centuries-old habits won’t be easy. ... No wonder those of us who want and need to change our approach may need to form twelve-step groups to deprogram our thinking” (pp. 85, 86). He uses the genteel pronouns “us” and “our,” but McLaren is doubtless thinking of die-hards who take the Bible seriously and interpret it literally and are opposed to his “new reformation” agenda toward a church that is “less rigid.”
He has targeted the children and grandchildren of fundamentalists. In other books, McLaren likens fundamentalists to Pharisees. He says, “the exclusive hell-oriented gospel is not the way forward” (A Generous Orthodoxy, p. 120, f. 48). He thinks salvation might be a process rather than an event (p. 229) and says that the practice of “accepting Jesus as their personal Savior” is not getting “the gospel right” (“The Emergent Mystique,” Christianity Today, Nov. 2004). He calls the literal, imminent return of Christ “pop-Evangelical eschatology” (A Generous Orthodoxy, p. 267). He says that we cannot “prognosticate the eternal destinies of anyone else” and that pagan religions are “not the enemy of the gospel” (pp. 92, 63). He rejects the substitutionary atonement of Christ, the infallibility of the Bible, and the eternal judgment of hell.

These are the types of “centuries-old habits” that McLaren wants Christians to break out of through psychology and group therapy, but his emerging Christianity was prophesied in Scripture 2,000 years ago, and wise men will not be deceived. “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables” (2 Timothy 4:3-4).

- Fundamental Baptist Information Service

My Response: The self proclaimed emergent church in our day is not a new and improved religious concept as its proponents advertise but rather it is simply a re-emergent belief that attempts to redefine the HOLY GOD of the Bible and make HIM more palatable to those who want permission to live as they please. Was not that the motive behind the molding of the golden calf in Moses day?

This Laodicean generation wants to worship GOD when they want to, how they want to, and where they want to. Though many would never admit it, they are repulsed by the commitment that grandma and grandpa's GOD required. Is it any wonder that many are drawn to those who will help them re-mold their god into one which allows a less stringent life-style. Away with a life of discipline, self denial, and devotion. The god of choice is one who endorses a life of religious convenience. Surely HE would not expect us to make personal sacrifices that could somehow be inconvenient to make.

Am I surprised by those who detest the "ole time religion" so much that they feel that a 12 step program (similar to alcoholics anonymous) may be needed to rescue the children and grandchildren from those of us who unashamedly embrace it? No, not really. Those who bow and dance before golden calves are susceptible to any form of foolishness.
What does concern me is that our generation of Christianity is so shallow, that some who presently identify with us will no doubt be attracted to and possibly ensnared by this deceptive philosophy. Apostasy has persuaded an ever evolving church that it's not cool to be old school! The old paths are increasingly viewed as being inferior by a hip-hop crowd that has been weaned off of the bible and replaced by a me-first driven spirituality.
The contemporary mindset loves "a Jesus" who is non-judgmental, does not exercise wrath toward sin, does not send unbelievers to an eternal fiery hell, does not require repentance and the new birth, puts no obligations on people, endorses any and every kind of new bible translation, accepts worldly music, and doesn't like traditional Bible churches. It’s a live pretty much as you please type of Christianity which worldly minded people prefer and they'll follow virtually anyone who will give them that kind of god to worship. In reality, many do not want the GOD of the Bible.

The pressure that has been thrust upon us is do we redirect our course and follow the winds of change lest we lose some of the people we love, including our children and grandchildren? To simplify it even further, do we need to cater to people or do we honor the God who has saved us even if we have to suffer the consequences?
Here's my response to such questions. Though it grieves my heart to think of losing people, I'm more fearful of losing our LORD's favor and intimate presence. I remind us that as a church we are never exhorted to be successful but rather we are simply instructed to be faithful to GOD. The successful ministry can not always be measured by how many "noses" and "nickels" one can brag about counting. I say in the words of 2 Timothy 3:14, "continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them."

In Jeremiah's day, some defiantly said "we will not walk therein" referring to the old paths. But GOD said that the old paths "is the good way" and if we would walk therein "ye shall find rest for your souls". That's good enough for me. I sincerely hope its good enough for our children and grandchildren. Is it good enough for you?


There was a certain Professor of Religion named Dr. Christianson, a studious man who taught at a small college in the western United States.  Dr. Christianson taught the required survey course in Christianity at this particular institution. Every student was required to take this course their freshman year, regardless of his or her major.  Although Dr. Christianson tried hard to communicate the essence of the gospel in his class, he found that most of his students looked upon the course as nothing but required drudgery. Despite his best efforts, most students refused to take Christianity seriously.

This year, Dr. Christianson had a special student named Steve. Steve was only a freshman, but was studying with the intent of going onto seminary for the ministry. Steve was popular, he was well liked, and he was an imposing physical specimen. He was now the starting center on the school football team, and was the best student in the professor's class.  One day, Dr. Christianson asked Steve to stay after class so he could talk with him.  "How many push-ups can you do?"  Steve said, "I do about 200 every night."  "200? That's pretty good, Steve," Dr. Christianson said. "Do you think you could do 300?" Steve replied, "I don't know.... I've never done 300 at a time."  "Do you think you could?" again asked Dr. Christianson.  "Well, I can try," said Steve.  "Can you do 300 in sets of 10? I have a class project in mind and I need you to do about 300 push-ups in sets of ten for this to work. Can you do it? I need you to tell me you can do it," said the professor.  Steve said, "Well... I think I can...yeah, I can do it."  Dr. Christianson said, "Good! I need you to do this on Friday.. Let me explain what I have in mind."

Friday came and Steve got to class early and sat in the front of the room. When class started, the professor pulled out a big box of donuts. No, these weren't the normal kinds of donuts, they were the extra fancy BIG kind, with cream centers and frosting swirls. Everyone was pretty excited it was Friday, the last class of the day, and they were going to get an early start on the weekend with a party in Dr. Christianson's class.  Dr. Christianson went to the first girl in the first row and asked, "Cynthia, do you want to have one of these donuts?"  Cynthia said, "Yes."  Dr. Christianson then turned to Steve and asked, "Steve, would you do ten push-ups so that Cynthia can have a donut?"  "Sure!" Steve jumped down from his desk to do a quick ten. Then Steve again sat in his desk. Dr. Christianson put a donut on Cynthia's desk.  Dr. Christianson then went to Joe, the next person, and asked, "Joe, do you want a donut?"  Joe said, "Yes." Dr. Christianson asked, "Steve would you do ten push-ups so Joe can have a donut?"  Steve did ten push-ups, Joe got a donut. And so it went, down the first aisle, Steve did ten push-ups for every person before they got their donut.
Walking down the second aisle, Dr. Christianson came to Scott. Scott was on the basketball team, and in as good condition as Steve. He was very popular and never lacking for companionship. When the professor asked, "Scott do you want a donut?"  Scott's reply was, "Well, can I do my own push-ups?"  Dr. Christianson said, "No, Steve has to do them."  Then Scott said, "Well, I don't want one then."  Dr.. Christianson shrugged and then turned to Steve and asked, "Steve, would you do ten push-ups so Scott can have a donut he doesn't want?"  With perfect obedience Steve started to do ten push-ups.  Scott said, "HEY! I said I didn't want one!"  Dr.. Christianson said, "Look! This is my classroom, my class, my desks, and these are my donuts. Just leave it on the desk if you don't want it." And he put a donut on Scott's desk.

Now by this time, Steve had begun to slow down a little. He just stayed on the floor between sets because it took too much effort to be getting up and down. You could start to see a little perspiration coming out around his brow.  Dr. Christianson started down the third row. Now the students were beginning to get a little angry. Dr. Christianson asked Jenny, "Jenny, do you want a donut?"  Sternly, Jenny said, "No."  Then Dr. Christianson asked Steve, "Steve, would you do ten more push-ups so Jenny can have a donut that she doesn't want?"  Steve did ten....Jenny got a donut.

By now, a growing sense of uneasiness filled the room. The students were beginning to say, "No!" and there were all these uneaten donuts on the desks.  Steve also had to really put forth a lot of extra effort to get these push-ups done for each donut. There began to be a small pool of sweat on the floor beneath his face, his arms and brow were beginning to get red because of the physical effort involved.  Dr. Christianson asked Robert, who was the most vocal unbeliever in the class, to watch Steve do each push up to make sure he did the full ten push-ups in a set because he couldn't bear to watch all of Steve's work for all of those uneaten donuts. He sent Robert over to where Steve was so Robert count the set and watch Steve closely.

Dr. Christianson started down the fourth row.. During his class, however, some students from other classes had wandered in and sat down on the steps along the radiators that ran down the sides of the room. When the professor realized this, he did a quick count and saw that now there were 34 students in the room. He started to worry if Steve would be able to make it.  Dr. Christianson went on to the next person and the next and the next. Near the end of that row, Steve was really having a rough time. He was taking a lot more time to complete each set.  A few moments later, Jason, a recent transfer student, came to the room and was about to come in when all the students yelled in one voice, "NO! Don't come in! Stay out!"  Jason didn't know what was going on. Steve picked up his head and said, "No, let him come."  Dr. Christianson said, "You realize that if Jason comes in you will have to do ten push-ups for him?"  Steve said, "Yes, let him come in. Give him a donut."  Dr. Christianson said, "Okay, Steve, I'll let you get Jason's out of the way right now. Jason, do you want a donut?"  Jason, new to the room, hardly knew what was going on. "Yes," he said, "give me a donut."  "Steve, will you do ten push-ups so that Jason can have a donut?"  Steve did ten push-ups very slowly and with great effort. Jason, bewildered, was handed a donut and sat down.

Dr Christianson finished the fourth row, and then started on those visitors seated by the heaters. Steve's arms were now shaking with each push-up in a struggle to lift himself against the force of gravity. By this time sweat was profusely dropping off of his face, there was no sound except his heavy breathing; there was not a dry eye in the room.  The very last two students in the room were two young women, both cheerleaders, and very popular. Dr. Christianson went to Linda, the second to last, and asked, "Linda, do you want a doughnut?"  Linda said, very sadly, "No, thank you."  Professor Christianson quietly asked, "Steve, would you do ten push-ups so that Linda can have a donut she doesn't want?"  Grunting from the effort, Steve did ten very slow push-ups for Linda.  Then Dr. Christianson turned to the last girl, Susan. "Susan, do you want a donut?"   Susan, with tears flowing down her face, began to cry. "Dr. Christianson, why can't I help him?"
Dr Christianson, with tears of his own, said, "No, Steve has to do it alone; I have given him this task and he is in charge of seeing that everyone has an opportunity for a donut whether they want it or not.. When I decided to have a party this last day of class, I looked at my grade book. Steve here is the only student with a perfect grade. Everyone else has failed a test, skipped class, or offered me inferior work. Steve told me that in football practice, when a player messes up he must do push-ups. I told Steve that none of you could come to my party unless he paid the price by doing your push-ups. He and I made a deal for your sakes."  "Steve, would you do ten push-ups so Susan can have a donut?"  As Steve very slowly finished his last push-up, with the understanding that he had accomplished all that was required of him, having done 350 push-ups, his arms buckled beneath him and he fell to the floor.

Dr. Christianson turned to the room and said, "And so it was, that our Savior, Jesus Christ, on the cross, plead to the Father, 'Into thy hands I commend my spirit.' With the understanding that He had done everything that was required of Him, He yielded up His life. And like some of those in this room, many of us leave the gift on the desk, uneaten. "  Two students helped Steve up off the floor and to a seat, physically exhausted, but wearing a thin smile.  "Well done, good and faithful servant," said the professor, adding, "Not all sermons are preached in words."

Turning to his class, the professor said, "My wish is that you might understand and fully comprehend all the riches of grace and mercy that have been given to you through the sacrifice of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He spared not His Only Begotten Son, but gave Him up for us all, for the whole Church, now and forever. Whether or not we choose to accept His gift to us, the price has been paid."

"Wouldn't you be foolish and ungrateful to leave it lying on the desk?"