June 3 –Steadfast Convictions


“Praise the Lord. Blessed are those who fear the Lord, who find great delight in his commands.” Psalm 112:1 (NIV)
“They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord.” Psalm 112:7 (NIV)


There is a positive result seen in the promises of these two verses from Psalm 112. With no title to this Psalm, it is evidently a companion to Psalm 111. We consider the promises in these verses. The exhortation at the beginning of 112:1 is never given too often; our Lord is the LORD God and He always deserves praise. The exhortation is for all thoughtful persons who observe the way and manner of life that appropriately fears the Lord. God’s favor towards the God-fearing is a display of His character and encourages gracious feelings in others. We study the divine precepts while we endeavor to observe them, and we rejoice doing so. Our promises are: We will have no dread that evil tidings will come, and we will not be alarmed when they do come. If our hearts are fixed in our reliance upon God, any change in circumstances will barely affects us; our faith makes our conviction steadfast. When the worst should come to worst we rest and remain quiet, patiently, waiting for God.

Compare line by line Psalms 111 & 112 and see the greatness of God and its reflection.

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May 21 – Fear So to Not Fear


“Praise the Lord! How blessed is the man who fears the Lord, Who greatly delights in His commandments.” Psalm 112:1 (NASB)
“He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the LORD.” Psalm 112:7 (ESV)


The act of fearing the LORD is an emphasis throughout the Old Testament. The concept “fear of the Lord” occurs most prominently in the Old Testament’s Wisdom Literature such as our selected verse today. It is defined as the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 9:10) or, as the responsible attitude of all humanity toward God (Ecclesiastes12:13). When it is used it conveys either devotion or dread of consequential punishment. Such a devotional attitude is both fitting and pleasing to our Lord God. We can and should fear God in both ways. When faith believers are walking in the fear of the Lord, they are also in the comfort of the Holy Spirit. Such and attitude actually give us courage from our faith so that we are not afraid when bad tidings come our way. No one likes bad news but true Christians have no need to fear any news we receive. We have been given steadfast hearts, firm and trusting in the LORD. We can actually say, if we fear the Lord God, we really have no need to fear anything else in this world ⸺we are blessed because we fear only the Lord.

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April 20 – Wrath and Mercy


“O Lord, I have heard the report of you, and your work, O Lord, do I fear. In the midst of the years revive it; in the midst of the years make it known; in wrath remember mercy.” – Habakkuk 3:2 (ESV)

The book Habakkuk is one of the “Minor Prophets” in the Old Testament. Not minor is significance or message but in size. Some believe that Habakkuk wrote the book in two phases which he joined together. Chapters 1 & 2 record the prophet’s dialogue with God. Habakkuk questioned God regarding His method and purposes for Israel. The note at the end of chapter 3, identifies that it is written in the form of a psalm to be sung with stringed musical instruments. The prophet knew of God’s past dealings with Israel – by hearing and learning. He personally experiences an awe-filled respect at the power of God. He also uses this knowledge of God’s previous dealings to make a twofold petition. He calls on God to revive His way with Israel. He calls on God to make it known that even in His wrath, His mercy. He requests that God allow his mitigating mercy (cf. Ex. 34:6; Lk. 1:54). This is our promise: for both wrath and mercy are part of God’s nature. God loves us even when we have strayed from Him and turned our backs on His word. He will not turn His back on us.

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February 12 – No Cause, No one to Fear


“The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom should I fear? The Lord is the defense of my life; Whom should I dread?” Psalm 27:1 (NASB)

What would you be willing to do or give up to be completely free of fear, dread, and worry in your life? There are so many things that we fear. Physical conditions, financial situations, civil and political influences, and we could go on and on. We would not run out of items to put on such a list. But we have a promise that we find in this Psalm of David and it is a promise that we can have fearless trust in God our Lord and Savior. Fear does not come from God although we are instructed to “fear God” because He is the only one and our fear of God is due to His awesome power and sovereignty over all things. But because we belong to God we need not fear anything else. The Lord shows us the way and we have been saved by the Son of God who sacrificed and gave himself up for us. Truly, there is nothing or no one left with power to frighten us. God is our defense, we have no one left to dread. Let’s be aware that worry is how we dread in our life.

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February 2 – Truly No Fear


“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. ” – Psalm 23:4 (ESV)

In Psalm 23, which most people call the “Twenty-third Psalm,” we find our Good Shepherd being our protective shield wherever we go. Some of us have been where our lives have been at risk from nature and/or mankind. Others have faced a different kind of threat and have felt are deep in and under the shadow of evil forces, evil people. There is a valley of shadow for many who suffer from depression. David does not write ‘When’, he says “Even though I walk..” He knows because it is the way of life on this earth. David chooses and determines to NOT fear evil.  The promise from God is that He is with us. He protects us from evil and the evil one with  his rod. The rod was a club used by a shepherd as a defensive weapon.  The staff was for guidance and a help in hilly, rocky areas. It was also a comfort to know it could be a defensive weapon as well as used to carefully control the sheep which had a tendency to go astray. God is fully able to keep us safe from evil and comfort us in all situations.

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November 4 – The Essence of Starting

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Proverbs 1:7 (NASB)

A Hebrew word is used here, in the original language Proverbs were written in. The “beginning” of knowledge more literally is translated “the start.” The start of knowledge in our lives in Christ is ‘the fear of the LORD.” This kind of ‘fear’ is having ‘awesome respect and reverence’. The fools in our verse are those characterized by a slow and closed mind. They are thickheaded and stubborn and in their arrogant, coarse ways, reject God and His wisdom. One cannot gain knowledge of spiritual things unless one begins at the correct point. The word used for ‘beginning’ is also used to mean ‘the capstone’ or even ‘the essence.’ The essence of true knowledge is fearing God. Apart from Him a person is ignorant of spiritual things. In contrast, those who fear God will have wisdom and gain knowledge. It is fools who despise wisdom and discipline. They despise by trusting their own reasoning and hold in contempt, and ridicule something we experience and might make us shy of proclaiming Christ. The promise is, possessing proper fear the Lord, is to recognize God’s character and respond by revering, trusting, worshiping, obeying, and serving Him

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An Option When the Fork in the Road Leads to Desolation

From time to time we come upon a fork in our road that offers little hope for anything better than what we have presently. If there is any promise from the world it is more of the same desolation. The options while appearing to be different are not different. The common characteristics are many and each has touched on the serious angst that has our country and our world in turmoil.

Is there any hope for repair? Is there any hope for a return to conditions which are more comfortable and civil? Honestly, I think not. The changes in our society, in our country, in our world, have been going on without interruption since creation. Snippets of history will show ideas that the world has made changes for the better from time to time. However, the larger picture shows the trend of continual depravity and selfishness throughout history. Greed and despotism may be subdued for a time by righteousness but eventually the evil that is allowed to rule this earth will raise up yet another godless leader who has the powers to captivate large numbers under a web of lies and false promises. Eventually enslaved, the oppression begins and there is little that can be done. The process does not happen quickly and not even in large chunks but by increments that are hardly noticed.

The advance squads are here and have been working. For those who will look around and shake the spell off, the will see the changes and hopefully if they consider they will begin to understand and take serious notice. Civility is declining. Hope is failing. Faith is fading. Despair is on the uptake. We are in a new dawn. What lies ahead for this world is not pretty. Our country is in for some dark days and the global events which have already been set will evolve and manifest. It is just a matter of time.

God will not ever forsake us because we are his own – we belong to Him. He will never fail to fulfill any of his promises. He promises to not desert us and commands us to not fear because he is with us. He is our Lord and the only God. Believers who follow of the true Way* can rest secure that though they will suffer trial, tribulation and persecution, God is with them.

The question raised then, especially in the midst of this 2016 election of a president, is what our responsibility is. Without delving into yet another dialogue it is enough to say that neither political party has done much to stand up for the traditions that made our country strong. We need something else something that has a foundation that professes the sovereignty of God and builds its platform on solid moral principles. If it is time to dispense with our current two primary parties (and I believe as followers of the Way, this is up for serious consideration) then perhaps it is time to turn to a party that has the foundation and principles that align very closely to my beliefs as a child of God.

The preamble of the Platform for the Constitution Party is:
The Constitution Party gratefully acknowledges the blessing of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ as Creator, Preserver and Ruler of the Universe and of these United States. We hereby appeal to Him for mercy, aid, comfort, guidance and the protection of His Providence as we work to restore and preserve these United States.

The statement on the sanctity of life:
We affirm the God-given legal personhood of all human beings from fertilization to natural death, without exception. The first duty of the law is to protect innocent life, created in the image of God. No government may legalize the taking of life without justification. Legalizing the termination of innocent life of the born or unborn, whether by abortion, infanticide, euthanasia or suicide, is a direct violation of their unalienable right to life. As to matters of rape and incest, we find it unconscionable to take the life of an innocent child for the crimes of his father.

I’ve not settled yet but I am close to making Darell Castle my choice on November 8.

  • On the ballot in 23 states.
  • Write in Status in 20 states including Texas and Illinois.
  • Write in Status pending in 4 states including California
  • NOT on the ballot in any legal way in 3 states including Oklahoma

https://www.constitutionparty.com/our-principles/platform-and-resolutions/

*There is evidence that the earliest name which follower of Jesus Christ was “The Way” or “Followers of The Way.” It was the followers of the Way that Saul has secured letters from the Jewish leaders in order to go to Damascus and roust them and bring them back bound to Jerusalem. Saul was dedicated to destruction of the so-called sect of Judiasm as he saw it. But Jesus met him on his way and Saul was converted to Paul and began to follow the Way. His own testimony in Acts 24:14-15 bears witness to this.

Faith Walking or Fear Walking

Take a moment to read this verse. If the English Standard Version is not your favorite version, find the verse in your version and read it there.

So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.  2 Corinthians 5:6-10 (ESV)

A packed verse, I’d say. To fully understand and to fully appreciate the truth and promises in this passage would take some time. We are not, at this time trying to do an exhaustive exposition of the verses – but we want to go in for a close-up on one powerful truth, one very powerful promise. We want to consider how then we should live today. Focus on this — for we walk by faith, not by sight— and consider how we conform to it.

Do we?

Sometimes we do, right?

How about the other times? No so much. Why not?

The process of being transformed by the renewing of our mind[i] is anything but an instantaneous process.  It is indeed a process full of victories and failures, of successes and disappointments. It is a cycle of being on track and then off again as we continue the journey from where we are to where God has planned for us to be. It is good to know that on the days we think we have made no progress; we actually have because we have persevered to that day. God has been with us and we have learned something, we have exercised some spiritual muscles and they have gained some strength. We have been in the battle, in the war and it is there we have found rest and peace in the midst of trial, tribulation and even persecution. The war just happens to be the process of finding our rest.[ii]

When it seems the progress has waned it is still there.  We grow as we keep our gaze fixed straight in front of us.  Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but we have this commitment, keep our eye on the goal which is the one God has directed for us—to Jesus and to maturity. We are expectantly in this together and I’m all in – I’m off and running and I’m not turning back.[iii]

The proposition is this, “Our progress comes when we actively choose to live by faith and not by sight.”

Walking by sight is, in effect, walking by fear. Walking by sight includes more than the sense of vision, it includes what we hear and what we read.  As we walk by sight we will make decisions that are influenced by what we see and hear and what we see generates fear, anxiety, doubt, and hesitation. It blinds us to the places of rest and it keeps us agitated trying to fix things. In the bigger scope we fear what we do not actually see but what we imagine in our mind’s eye. We create scenarios of what is going to happen in the world or in our country. Our imagination ultimately spawns fear. This reinforces our perception and shapes our understanding. The old worn out saying “perception is reality” is a horrid axiom but we tend to live as if it is absolute. We desperately grab and cling to what we see around us (sight again) and what we believe will protect us. When we find no lifesavers or escape routes we despair and lose hope. Fear Walking, as we are going to call it is the way to hopeless ness because it robs us of hope. Hope that will not disappoint us is hope that we acquire when we walk by faith. Faith Walking is rewarded by hope and produces more hope.[iv]

This is where we might get a bit far afield in this discussion – and we might get distracted from what we need to learn about walking by faith. But we need to understand what is driving our thought process. We need to know that what we consider important is what our treasure is. Learning where our treasure is will reveal to us where our heart is. This is a point of significant conflict, it is a battle ground. You know that war we mentioned previously?  Some will see and recognize the potential that exists and threatens a way of life that they hold dear – a life they want to continue enjoying.  This life has brought pleasures, comforts and rewards. It has been enjoyed for so long that we have failed to even notice the existence of a rot that has been taking place within it for decades.

By now, the rot has reached deep into the roots and far up into the branches. It has invaded and poisoned practices and commitments that once were sacred and holy. The rot is so very perverse and has so deeply imbedded itself into our society that it is spoiling the true treasures we should hold dear. The rot has caused our own reasoning, our own understanding to replace the precepts and commandments given to us by God. We stop agreeing with God because such agreement costs us something we do not want to give up or do.

We can now identify traces of it everywhere as it sends out its runners to pollute and establish what is false as truth. The arguments for embracing the rot will always end up at a point where the meaning of God’s word is reassigned, redefined, and even rewritten to support the rot. The rot rejects anything from God that holds our life accountable to Him and makes us uncomfortable or requires us to give up some pleasure or presumed liberty. And because we do not want to totally jettison God all together, we must recast our understanding of God so that instead of being created in the image of God, we recreate God in the image of the rot. This is handled well by leaders of our assemblies, the ones set over us to shepherd us become the ones leading us away from the truth and faith and into a place of living fully by sight and reason. If our faith conflicts with the way we see things, the faith must change. We must adjust what we believe our faith to be suitable with what we see.  We are dressing ourselves up for destruction and judgement and we do not care. Instead of growing together in the Spirit, we have given over to the rot which has been infecting and splitting the gatherings of believers. Some believers, Fear Walkers, merge into the world to protect what they fear they will lose, and others choose to remain Faith Walkers, to be set apart and not succumb to the rot.

Here we will parenthetically set out some historical facts to help us understand why believers are set apart for specific purpose.

[ To set the identity of those who profess to believe in Jesus Christ apart from common labels, we will avoid the common label “Christians” and will identify believers by the term first used for them. They were known first as followers of Jesus, it was a true Jesus movement and officials and themselves referred to them as “Belonging to The Way” or “of The Way.” Because at the very beginning all believers were Jews who were still a part of Judaism, The Way was considered a Jewish sect or a part of the Jewish religion.[v]  Those that belonged to The Way gathered together in private homes. It was the pagans in Antioch that first used the adjective “Christian” to describe and identify the believers of Jesus.[vi] It was intended as a derogatory term.[vii]

The word “church” was used to identify a body of believers of The Way much before any building was constructed as a specific meeting place. It may well have been in the mid-3rd century that first building was exclusively set aside to be used as a gathering place for meetings of The Way.[viii]   It was hardly the intent of the early churches to become what they have today with the gatherings splitting into varieties with distinctive affections method and hierarchy. For God called first out a people to purify for himself, a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. We were all the church and the church was whoever was meeting together in homes at Philippi, and at Ephesus, and at Galatia, and at Thessalonica and eventually at New York and at Chicago, and at Longview. Wherever a gathering of believers were, that was where the church was. For some perspective on the early church and how it transformed when it became government approved see this blog post[ix] ]

The result of the rot has been worse than a wrecking ball as this malformation of what God calls us to let rot come in. Sometimes it has done its damage without the gathering even being aware. Can it be imagined that today any minister or leader in a gathering of believers, perhaps the gathering you are a part of, would stand up and say, “Where do y’all think all these dreadful fights and arguments come from? Do y’all think they just happen? Well, think again. They come about because you want your own way, and fight for it deep inside yourselves. Y’all get all lustful for what you don’t have and some are even willing to kill to get it. Y’all want what isn’t yours and mean enough risk violence to get your hands on it. Y’all wouldn’t think of just asking God for it, would you? No, you wouldn’t, and just why not? Because you know you’d be asking for what you have no right to. Y’all spoiled children, each wanting your own way.” James 4:1-4

Our Faith Walking and our confessions quickly fade away when we switch to Sight Walking or Fear Walking. What we with our own eyes we believe more than what we might just have experienced because of faith. Our great example is our brother Peter who saw Jesus walking on the surface of the Sea of Galilee. It was by sight and it generated fear. This had to be a ghost for no person could stand on and walk on water – especially the surface of a tumultuous body of water. The disciples were in a boat crossing to the other side of this lake which was about 5 miles across. Jesus had not come with them this time as he wanted to spend time in prayer. The wind is against them and pretty strong. The waves were significant but not dangerous. It was sometime after 3 a.m. and the boat was about three fourths of the way across. When they see this what they think is an apparition. Peter recognizes Jesus approaching the boat, he is overcome with awe and to make sure that this person walking on the unsettled surface of the lake was Jesus he says, “If it’s really you Lord, tell me to come to you, right now.” Jesus had just confirmed that it was him but Peter wants more assurance because what he sees has actually put fear into him. Jesus says just one word, “Come.”

Peter is out of the boat and making his way on the surface of the water toward Jesus. His walk has suddenly become a walk by faith. We have no idea how many yards he walked. He is actually doing the impossible because he has faith. Jesus called him to come and he believed and he was Faith Walking…right up until he switches back to Fear Walking. He looks around and is astounded and recognizes that he is now attempting the impossible and he fears the outcome. He sinks. Jesus has to save his sorry soul or Peter would have drowned.  That is the way it always is. When we depend on what we see we become not Faith Walkers but Sight Walkers which become almost immediately Fear Walkers.

Is it faith or is it fear that directs our path these days. Fear, I’m afraid has many by the throat and is choking the life out of them. The reaction to the fear is to rush to solutions that seem tangible and embrace them without consideration of their faith. Fear walkers will strive to find a solution that will make things great again, will restore the life they have enjoyed and is now crumbling around them. Some will not even see the crumbling and although they will still be driven by Fear, “Fear is one of the most primal of all motivations.  It drives people to do things they would never even consider under normal circumstances.  It blinds them to truth, makes them cling in desperation to any hope that presents itself (even hopes that, in clearer-headed times, they would recognize as dangerous), and lash out viciously at any perceived threat to that hope.  It makes them see friends as enemies and not realize enemies are pretending to be friends.”[x]

Their solution is to hold fast to their confession of hope without wavering and trust Him who promised because He who promised is faithful. He Himself has promised that He will never leave us or desert us.

[Now, let me make it clear, that these comments are made for the benefit and in the context of those who are believers and followers of The Way – those who believe the Truth and have the Life because they have the Son of God. Those who have chosen to not believe have no real faith there is no one to put their faith in until they recognize their need, repent, confess, believe and receive the free gift of eternal life offered by Jesus Christ. He is the only Way, to God the Father.]

The danger we face when Fear is the motivator of our thoughts and decisions because we are not walking by Faith is that we fall into the trap (set by the devil himself) of believing that God cannot fix our world by Himself. Fear walkers believe that fixing the world and ridding it of all its wanton evils requires our involvement because for some truly ungodly reason Fear walkers believe God is not inclined or able to accomplish their will and what they (the Fear Walkers) want and believe they need. Fear Walkers fail to understand that with or without them, God’s will is always accomplished without fail. What He promises, He will do, what he has spoken He will deliver on.

Fear Walkers may cling to a way of life and a way of government and to a country that they believe has been established by God especially for their pleasure and blessing. They believe this because the establishers were, for the most part believers in God. Some were even quite devout followers of The Way. And because the establishers believed that a Creator God was responsible for all things and believe that God governed the affairs of mankind and because this belief was evident in the sayings and writing of our country’s establishers, our country, the United States of America was therefore established as a Christian nation. The degree, to which that assumption is true, or not true, depends on so many other assumptions and presumptions and interpretations it is safe to conclude that the question is not settled. We can be fairly certain that while America’s establishers were not pagan atheists and likely not even agnostics, they were not all devout men of strong spiritual character. It is unlikely that the majority were any more Faith walkers than much of us are today.

So with these conclusions what responsibility does the body of people of The Way have to their country? Does The Way in America have a different responsibility to American than The Way in France? How about The Way in Japan or Korea? Perhaps the responsibility of The Way in China, Venezuela, Congo or Argentina to their respective country is different because of the history of those countries. Certainly we would be a bit amiss to think that Japan or China or Congo are Christian nations or had a Christian beginning.

Would it be so very horrible to think that The Way in America is special with a special calling to preserve a special way of life because it had such a special beginning?

Yes, it would be very horribly wrong to think that.  For in truth we are more bound in our responsibilities to our brothers and sisters in Korea and Venezuela than we are to the reprobates who lead this United States of America. We have a greater responsibility to serve and help followers of The Way in Syria, Iraq, and Iran than we do to preserve our own way of life. When has The Way in American ever been excused from the responsibility given to it by the Lord Jesus Himself when he said, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20 (NASB)

It never has.

 


[i]  Romans 12:2 (ESV) Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

[ii] http://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/is-the-christian-life-peace-or-war

[iii] Philippians 3:12-14 (The Message) I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.

[iv] Hebrews 11:1 (ESV) Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

[v] Acts 9:1-2 (ESV) But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.

[vi] Lexham Bible Dictionary, Copyright 2016, Lexham Press.

[vii] http://www.ecclesia.org/truth/christian.html

[viii] http://www.christianitytoday.com/history/2008/november/why-and-when-did-christians-start-constructing-special.html

[ix] https://prandersonblog.wordpress.com/2016/08/07/from-the-setting-of-the-sun-it-will-always-rise-again/

[x] From The Five Pilgrims “Fear: A Path to the Trump-side for Evangelicals”, C Phillips, August 19, 2016 http://thefivepilgrims.com/2016/08/19/fear-a-path-to-the-trump-side-for-evangelicals/

Do Not be a NameOnly Christian

This post is a bit about my story, my walk. I accepted Jesus Christ when I was 11 years old. I spend my early years wandering away from Christ. At 19 I began my walk with Jesus and it has been on and off. God has been with me the whole way even the many times I strayed and did not follow and had little faith.

I have generally had reservation about how boldly or forcefully I should be when talking about my faith. After all, we don’t want to offend, do we? We (I) therefore am guarded of what I say and where I say it when it comes to talking out loud to others or writing in my blogs or Facebook notes about what I believe and why I believe it.

Another factor that has added to my reticence is that I do not take criticism well. I do not take scoffing well. I do not take rejection well at all. I never have. There were enough occasions early in my Christian life that my effort to testify and witness to others met strong and even hostile resistance. That was never any fun. Often in those days I would try to engage a non-believer and it generally ended up that the ones I was able to engage were feisty people who enjoyed the battle of wits and enjoyed tripping me up with questions I could not handle. The result on my part was a feeling of failure, defeat, discouragement and inadequacy.

So, after a while I sort of eased up on my search for engagement about my faith. I would still encounter the opportunities but those times it was mostly because the other person knowing something about my profession of belief in God and Jesus Christ would initiate the engagement. These too generally ended up as arguments and battle of the wits.  I still would walk from these times feeling like a failure and defeated. I just did not have what it takes to be successful at “soul-winning.” And,  that of course simply added to my inadequacy and pushed me further away from trying.

Deciding that God had not called me to personal evangelism I settled on believing that he gave that gift to others.  It certainly was not a gift he had given to me so he must have given me something else.  After all, the Word says,  And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ;”  (Ephesians 4:11-12) 

I was not really happy with this conclusion because, at the time I was in school, a school that was founded by a robust evangelist and winning souls for the Lord was simply something everyone was expected to become proficient at. At every corner along my journey and several stops between the corners I would be reminded, encouraged, instructed, exhorted and simply told that the Great Commission was mine to fulfill so it would be best if I just got to it.

“What a kind of loser You must be?” That was what I would ask myself. My answer was simple. “Total loser” – especially when it came to cold calling, broadside witnessing. And it was not for lack of training or instruction. I had the best instruction from one of the best schools with tools and examples of successful soul winners all around me.  But all I got from all that was a huge fail and I got a gigantic pack of guilt strapped to my back. I started to dread anytime I would be in a class, service, meeting that was about soul winning and especially when I knew that we would have some practical Christian work to practice at the end of the session. We would split up in 2, 3 or 4 person groups and fortified with our Bible and pocket full of tracks we would be sent out.  I hated it. I became very good at letting whoever I was with do all the talking while I “supported with prayer” from the sideline.

I want to make it clear that I was not afraid to share my testimony. I was not afraid to tell another person what I believed and why I believed it. I even was good an admitting I did not have every answer and was still learning. I actually really loved sharing my faith in situation where I did not feel threatened. Given the opportunity to talk to one or more, even a congregation of non-believers I could do it with boldness and confidence. At least as long and there was no hostile heckling or scoffing or ridicule coming my way.  When that would happen, I would slam shut like an oyster ready to nurse the little grain of sand out of sight from everyone else. I developed techniques to avoid the unpleasant feeling of failure and defeat. I became quite good at them as well. Those methods actually helped me to gain a profound knowledge and understanding of the Word of God.

Sure, I knew the Bible and was on the way to becoming an in-depth biblical scholar. I would have too but I did not quite reach that goal and I watched others in my family and other of my friends do so instead. But that is a different story.

So what now?  Those days are nearly 50 years ago. In that span I have taught many hours of adult Sunday School classes and have filled the pulpit a good number of time when needed on Sunday Morning worship with a sermon.  While I was doing that, I knew I was doing my part. Maybe not winning the souls directly but I was doing the “make disciples” part. Or, was I? I could prepare insightful lessons. I cold deliver them in a way that engaged and did not bore the classes. I was complimented on a regular basis. I put 4X to 6X the hours in preparation for each hour in presentation.  And I loved it.

I began to question the fruit. Was it there? Were lives being changed and was that even something I should be concerned about? I just never really understood why after several years of teaching the same class of adults, I just did not see significant change in the class members lives. Was it something I was doing wrong? Doubt became a companion and when that happens, it stifles Joy. My joy and my enjoyment diminished but I pressed on and tried to shake it off. God was working but it was not in a way that was easily evident. Who was i to question how God uses me?

Then, in 1992 something went wrong. I was derailed. A near train wreck which was not fatal  exactly but I was off the track and I never really got back on. There have been a few exceptions over the years – especially when we attended a new church – but I have not re-engaged in even the “make disciples.” It is something that disturbers me. It creates questions and inner struggles but by now at 66 I have learned how to brush those nagging feelings aside. I do it very well. Just not well enough for them to go totally away.

At the same time, and all the time God has been faithful and He has never given up.  For over the past 18 months or so, I have have been on a new track, and progress is evident. I have become more bold to speak the truth out with confidence and without fear of scoffers or ridicule. I know that they might be there from time to time. In fact I know that the chance of it is far greater now than 45 years ago. The scoffers and naysayers have grown in number and bolder too. Respect for religious liberty is eroding away and today it is even more likely that if I speak the truth from the Word of God that I will offend someone. But, I do not shy from that as I did then. I still do not seek to offend but I do not care if I do offend when it is the truth that I am speaking or writing.

As believers we are entering a greater storm. We are facing a greater challenge. We are less accepted and there is far less tolerance from active non-believers. They have become more aggressive and while there is still much talk about “live and let live” and about “coming together on what we can agree” the reality is that Christian are becoming more hated in this country. The soft cushion of freedom granted by the Constitution is being stripped away. We do not have leaders who honor God or even pretend to for votes as we have had for so long.

As Christians we need each other more than ever and we need to shed the dependency we have had on a “NameOnly” Christian life. NameOnly Christians are people who profess Christ but have not accepted Christ in faith believing and surrendered to Him as both Savior and Lord. They have gone through the motions, the classes, received the affirmation and been through the ceremonies but they remain on the outside of the Family of God.  They say they are Christian but their lives manifest more affection for the things of the world and the ways of the world and the attitudes of the world.  They willfully tweak the meaning of God’s Word so that it will fit their lifestyles. They want the benefits of being called Christian but they do not want to pay the cost.

NameOnly Christians have not come all the way to the foot of the cross and looked up into the bleeding face of Jesus and asked Him to forgive them and cleanse them of their rebellion and rejection and sin.  They do not look to Him and His word for specific guidance in how they should think, speak and act. They want to mold their Christianity to fit what they want first rather than be transformed by the renewing of their minds. The argue for fairness and acceptance and love of others and it becomes their perceived way to the Father. But Jesus has said that there is only one way and that is through Him. He is the only way, the only truth and the only life. If the bible says something that does not seem fair, then it must not be right because Jesus would not be unfair. NameOnly Christians judge the Word of God by what fits their sense of fairness.

NameOnly Christians are dangerous as long as they cling to their own way and their own understanding and refuse to fully acknowledge God in all their ways. True Believers in
Christ are going to be tested. So will the NameOnly Christians. The test will result in a lot of pruning and casting aside. The world and the prince of this world has already organized his forces and incited the movements to persecute True Believers. God has already promised to be with us all the time and we truly do not have to be afraid. Some True Believer may pay the ultimate sacrifice for their faith. Many in countries run by Muslims have already lost their lives by losing their heads or being hung or burned alive or summarily executed just because they profess Christ and refuse to forsake Him.

As True Believers we need to recognize the world we live in and not adapt to it but to allow the Word to renew our thinking and our mind and and we must not not shy away from our calling. If we have been duped into believing and accepting what the Word of God clearly has called sin, we need to call it sin too. It is not about how much sense it makes or how it jives with our personal sense of justice. It is only about the absolute truth given to us from God in his revelation as recorded in the Bible.

True Believers need to cleanse themselves of all the effort to walk in the light and in the world at the same time. It does not matter if the world calls us haters and intolerant and whatever kind of despicable names. We do not return evil for evil but instead we love those who hate us and say spiteful and hurtful things about us and to us.   It does matter if we reject the pure Word of God and call it something else. What God’s word meant in 60 AD, it means in 2016 AD. It has not changed its intent and meaning. People have changed their intent and meaning so many times and have tried to justify it by rearranging what they say the Bible really means. The grass withers and the flower fades but the Word of our God stands forever. Stand with it, stand on it, do not waver. God is with you True Believer and you do not have to fear what the world thinks of you or says about you.

America is not on a path to be Great Again. Actually it has not been so Great for quite some time.  The result of bad decisions to move away from honoring God and instead worshiping the created rather than the Creator has already transformed America so much we have two despicable fraudulent liars running to President. Don’t hope that we will return to something that has been gone for a long time and we are just now recognizing the seriousness of Godless leadership.

It will become more and more difficult to stand on the precepts of the Word of God.  It will become more and more challenging to hold fast your confession of hope and faith. God will always be with you and He will give  you the grace you need. Surely He will help you, surely He will uphold  you with His righteous Right Hand. Do not be afraid, God is with you wherever you go. He Himself has said that He will not desert you, nor will he forsake you.What can mere man do to you? Nothing. Even if they take you life and even if you are put to death because you profess and believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God and Creator of all things, you will not die for you possess Christ’s resurrected life that is eternal.  He died so that He could secure it and give it to you and secure you with His spirit.

Amen.

Hallelujah!

Surely is Most Assuridly

‘Do not fear, for I am with you;
Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you, surely I will help you,
Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’ Isaiah 41:10

When facing a serious challenge how confident can you be that God is there with you and that He is ready, willing, and able to help you?  Our challenges come at us at anytime from anywhere and most often without giving us the time we need to prepare for them. They come in a variety of severity. They may be financial, physical, mental, emotional, or a combination of any or all at one time.

The challenges that I face – well let us call them what they are, the trials and testing that I face tend to leave me in a state of disorder and I do just exactly what God has told me not to do, I spend a great amount of time anxiously looking about me trying to find our where it came from. I want to know and understand why – even though I have been instructed to no lean on my own understanding. I want to know what I can do to ease the pain or the confusion or the depression that sets in on me. Isaiah 41:10 is a verse that I look to every day,  every morning. I use it to remind myself of something I should never forget. I never need to fear because God is with me. He is my God and He promises to strengthen me according to His word.

God, however, knows me and the weaknesses and the limitations I have and so he underscores his promise with the word “surely” twice.  He will most assuredly help me after strengthening me. I have no cause, no reason to not believe that all the help I need to walk through this day will be there from God – even if I do not feel it, I know it is there. And, even more he stresses that he will assuredly uphold me with His righteous right hand. Wow! Why then do I doubt that my challenges are surmountable?  Why do I view my self as defeated when the Almighty God will strengthen me?

I know the truth even when I do not feel the truth. This world is in a downward spiral morally and spiritually and people who govern and people who influence policy have turned their back on God even though the still call out His name as if they know Him. Surely, God will help us, surely He will uphold us with His righteous right hand because he has said it. God cannot promise something that He will every fail to accomplish. The very nature of God is pure perfection according to His own will.

Today, I choose to believe that he will surely be all that I need and all that I need will be supplied according to His riches in Christ Jesus. No matter what is happening in the world or in my life or in my body, God is my strength and my song and He has become my salvation.