National Day of Prayer – My Prayer

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Today is the National Day of Prayer in the United States of America.  Now more than ever we need to beg and plead for our country.  Even more than praying for our country we need to pray for the hearts and minds of men, women, and children who have turned away from the one true God.  Maybe in words they have not, but their actions and new found beliefs show their true spiritual state.  We shouldn’t be surprised that people are turning away from the One True God and seeking out their own desires rather than God’s.  2 Timothy 3  gives us a clear description of what people will be like in the end times.

2 Timothy 3 1-5     “1But know this: Difficult times will come in the last days. 2For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3unloving, irreconcilable, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, without love for what is good, 4traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5holding to the form of godliness but denying its power. Avoid these people!”

There are many people that I know and love that have left the faith for Modernity.  It breaks my heart that they abandon their creator and throw his marvelous work of redemption aside and turn to vain religion.  They pick what they want to believe in scripture when all of Scripture is God-breathed. (2 Timothy 3:15-17  “All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, 17so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”)  

Why is it that culture seems to have more authority over people these days than Scripture.  I do not want to get into a battle but I will say this.  If scripture calls something sin….it is sin.  Culture does not decide God’s mandates.  God’s Word never changes.  Sin is sin.  Oh that we could have more men like Polycarp.

If you are unfamiliar with his name let me tell you a bit about this great man of God that lived approximately between 70 -150 AD.  Polycarp is said to have been discipled by the Apostle John before his death.  Now we cannot say that for sure but there is historical evidence that suggests this.  Polycarp came to know Christ at an early age however it wasn’t until age 86 that he faced being martyred  for his belief in Christ.  Polycarp heard the news that the Romans knew his whereabouts and were coming to get him.  Although his friends abandoned him, he knew he was to take a stand for Jesus Christ.  As he spent two hours in prayer before his capture he knew that he would be burned at the stake but was determined to not forsake the name of Jesus.

Upon being taken captive he was taken to a proconsul where Statius Quadratus interrogated him.  He was told if he renounced his faith and said that Caesar is Lord  that his life would be spared and he would be freed.  They taunted him and they tried to scare him with talks about being thrown to wild beasts which was not yet common practice in Rome.  All they were asking for was for him to say Jesus isn’t Lord.  Some of us would have simply been tempted to say it to get out of there, but not Polycarp!  They finally said they would burn him at the stake if he didn’t recant .  Polycarp told Quadratus that while the proconsul’s fire lasts but a little while, the fires of judgment (“reserved for the ungodly,” ) cannot be quenched. These were his exact words. “Eighty-six years I have served Christ, and He never did me any wrong. How can I blaspheme my King who saved me?”

At that the Roman soldiers went to nail him to the stake and Polycarp responded again  “Leave me as I am. For he who grants me to endure the fire will enable me also to remain on the pyre unmoved, without the security you desire from nails.” He prayed aloud, the fire was lit, and he remained there undaunted. God was glorified and we have his example.  His death gave Christians for ages to come the example of an unwavering faith & trust to endure anything that could come against them.

Now here we are in May 2013.  Our culture now tells us that we need to remain silent. It has become common place for hundreds of thousands of babies to be murdered each year.  The family unit for the first time is battling to remain the norm.   Culture has overtaken our churches our schools and our lives.  We are in this world but we are not of it.  Many of our own have recanted although they will not admit it and many others have turned away willfully and tragically.

My prayer this National Day of Prayer is not only for our country, which we should never give up on but my prayer is for the Christians that are toeing the line.  It is time to live what we know is right.  It is time to stand strong and say we will not recant.  We will not say that murder, homo-sexuality, liberalism (not just in gov’t), and other sins should be the norm.  We can not be satisfied to just say “these are the signs of the times.”  We know that is true but we must be vigilant and we must stand our ground now more than other.  Not because we hate those who do not belong to Christ, but because we are so freaking passionate about them not going to hell and spending an eternity separated from God.

We pray every night with our kids for our friends and neighbors not because we disagree with them or dislike them.  No, it is LOVE for them that fills our passion.  That is the difference between other religions.  I am not against Muslims, atheists  Jehovah witnesses, or any other religion or line of thinking.  I am for each person coming to know Christ.  I am for each of them because God loves them and sent His only Son to die and pay their penalty for sin.  Sin separates us from God but Jesus bridges the great divide.  God doesn’t want any to perish! (2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”  

So let us pray for repentance!  Let us pray for Christians to stand strong! Let us pray for an unwavering faith fueled by God’s love for us and for others!

 

 

Apr 18, 2013 - Holiness, Life, The Bible, Worship    1 Comment

Parental Advisory

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Yesterday I got into a conversation with another Christian about music.  He asked me if I had heard one of the latest albums to hit the store and went on and on how creative and awesome it is.  When I pulled it up on Itunes there was a parental advisory explicit content next to ever song.   One of the great things about technology is that you can choose to purchase/download a “clean/edit version” or the explicit.  When I asked my friend which one he usually purchases he quickly said “the original” which is the explicit.  I honestly was taken back.  Even good moral non-Christian people have more sense than listening to songs full of F bombs, and a plethora of four letter words.

What about our Biblical mandate?  What?!!!  But this is real life!  Aren’t we supposed to be “all things to all people”?  Yes we are…but joining in with the things of the world is a travest interpretation of weak minded Christians that paves the right of way for sinful living.   Christians are called Christians because they are supposed to look like Christ, not like the world.  And when it comes to what my ears hear the Bible has a lot to say about what should and should not go in them.

Philippians 4:8 says  “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”

Now for sake of argument I was going to copy & paste some lyrics from this “incredible” album.  I actually started to but couldn’t even bring myself to put them on paper for you to read.  Why?  Because they are vulgar, they dirty, and there is absolutely nothing true, honorable, right, pure, lovely or admirable about them.  They are not excellant and they are not worthy of praise.  If anything as I read through the lyrics online my heart broke for the thousands of people that listen to this stuff.

“But Jeff you are judging people…!”  I can hear the outcry already.  No, I am simply stating that the lyrics and the Biblical mandate are from Infinity East to Infinity West.

What we listen to does affect us.   You can say that you can filter it all day until you’re blue in the face but you can never argue that it is beneficial for renewing your mind.   Romans 12:2 commands us to “Be transformed by the renewal of your mind.”  Colossians 3:5 tells us to “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you; sexual immorality, impurity, passion, and evil desires.”  Make no mistake about it.  The music you listen to, the speech you listen to is feeding you heart and your soul.  Its either nourishing you or poisoning you.  How can you listen to cussing, cursing, sexually explicit, demeaning,  and defiling music and still put to death these things?  You can’t.

“Jeff, why are you making such a big deal about this stuff?”   Because scripture makes a big deal about the heart & mind of the child of God.  Proverbs 4:23 mandates that you “keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.”  I am not Pius.  I am not puffed up or proud.  I am a sinner just like everyone else but I have made this my prayer and hopefully you will make it yours as well.  Psalm 51:10 “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.”  God help us to be a set apart people unto holiness. 

 

Some Verses to chew on today

2 Corinthians 7:1  (ESV) 7 Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.

 

1 Peter 2:9 (ESV)  9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

 

2 Timothy 2:21 ESV  Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.

 

Proverbs 16:17 ESV  The highway of the upright turns aside from evil; whoever guards his way preserves his life.

Kingdoms

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Shortly after becoming the Director of Worship Arts at Sunnybrook Church one of our associate pastors answered a call to move on to another ministry in a different state.  We celebrated with him that he was answering God’s call in obedience.  Unfortunately that left a hole in our ministry which needed to be filled.  Because of my background in Biblical Counseling I accepted the responsibilities of taking on the counseling ministry along side of my worship ministry.

Over the last few months I have dealt with more people who are in identity crisis.  What I mean by that is that they do not know which Kingdom they belong to.  Simply by coming to church on a Sunday does not mean that you are part of God’s Kingdom.

I see people who are literally battling demonic entities and are scared out of the minds living in one kingdom and then coming to church to find a magic cure for their problems.  This is not Hollywood and there are no special cures, no ceremonies, no activities that can rid a person’s life from the  activities of the kingdom in which they live.

I have been talking in very general terms but here’s the reality.  I get phone calls that would scare  the average person.  I talk with people who have seen members of their family possessed, levitating, etc.  I hear stories of people being bruised by objects flying across the room.  I have heard people describe the terror of living in a home that is “possessed.”   Demonic activity is real.  Demons do exist and they like Satan are out to steal, kill, and destroy.

Believe me, I am not making light of these situations.  I know that these activities are real.  Scripture even tells us that “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”Ephesians 6:12

You see the truth is that there are two kingdoms.  The Kingdom of God, and the Kingdom of Satan.  Now let me remind you that one is the CREATOR and one is the created.  When I talk to people that are not part of the Kingdom of God my objective is not to rid their lives of the spirit activity around them.  My goal is to get them to see that there are two kingdoms and God allows things to happen to make them aware of the fact that they are not in the Kingdom that God wants them to be in.

We tend to stroll through life ignoring the fact that we are in a battle!  Christians wake up!!  Put on your armor!!  Remember Ephesians 6 and its instructions.

“10Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11Put on the full armor of God,so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

If you are reading this and are not a Christian do not be mistaken.  This isn’t a battle cry of violence.  It’s a battle cry of righteousness, peace, love, & joy.  It is a reminder that there is a Kingdom of Darkness, and a Kingdom of God.  Pick your side.  But I will let you know the outcome is already won and the battle belongs to the LORD!

 

Jul 25, 2012 - Leadership, Life, relationships    No Comments

Leading is Serving

 

Each day I read a devotional called Our Daily Bread. This morning was a great reminder that if we want to be leaders we need to be the best at being servants.  Check out Mark 10:43-45

43 But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant,44 and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else.45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Here in the passage Jesus pulls His disciples together and tells them that the ideology of  heaven and earth are completely different.  If you want to be a good leader no matter what you do, no matter what your job, business, or ministry,  you must lead by example and that example is that of a servant.  Jesus was and is the ultimate leader.  Jesus came not to have everyone serve Him rather He came to serve others and to give His life as a ranson for many.

For those of you in ministry please hear me.  We must serve and love those who we shepherd.  True love is laying your life down isn’t it?  God may not ask you to lay down your life literally for those you lead but He is definitely calling us to serve and love them.

So for whoever you are and for whatever reason God led you to read this, these are His words not mine.  True leadership involves loving, serving, and giving of yourself.  Lead well my friends!

Jul 25, 2012 - Uncategorized    1 Comment

Confession

 

As you can tell I have not blogged any entries since I started coming off my anxiety medication.  Well, about three weeks into coming off the medications my family and I knew that I am someone that really needs to be on them for the sake of those people I love.  For some reason I was embarrassed that I had to go back on them as if something was wrong with me mentally.  Yeah, yeah I know, we all know that already.

So I went back on the meds and after about a month on the meds I am doing great.  I still have my anxious bent and quarks but over all I am doing good.  I am walking each moment in trust in my sovereign God.

Jun 6, 2012 - Life, Panic Attack    1 Comment

Top 10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well, it has officially been ten days since I have been completely off of my anxiety meds.  Here are the top 10 things I have noticed.

  1. I always think I am funny….now I really think I am.  Gotta be honest…I’m funnier off meds.
  2. I get angry easier.  I have to be extra aware of my emotions.  My highs are higher but my lows are lower.
  3. I have been more tired than usual while getting this stuff out of my system.  I was told that I might have trouble sleeping.  That has not been the case as of yet.
  4. My appetite has gone down.  Usually at night I feel like I am so hungry and I eat a bowl of cereal.  That has lessened and hopefully it will help me cut a few pounds.
  5. I have a new sense of accomplishment.  I came off of the stage Sunday and really had a sense of pride that I didn’t have to depend or rely on drugs to allow me to be in front of large crowds. (Christ in me is really enough!!)
  6. Brain zaps…I was told about these and now am experiencing them.  When I close my eyes or blink there is a sense of being shocked a bit in my head.  If you never have had this experience…you are blessed.
  7. I have not had one anxiety attack since coming off the meds.
  8. Did I mention that I think I am funnier?
  9. I get a little sappy when I hear an old song that triggers a memory.  My emotions are brighter, crisper, and more colorful.  What I mean by that is that instead of being even keel all the time I am experiencing more emotions, joy, laughter, and actually feeling them  instead of being drab.
  10. Lastly I know that in all honesty I have to be more spirit filled.  If I am going to not allow myself to succumb to emotions I have to walk in the power of the Holy Spirit

Two Brains?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the greatest things about being a daddy is getting to train our kids up in the Lord.  I love laying on my boys beds talking about the Bible and spiritual topics.  My seven year old and I were talking about why we sin.  It all started when I asked him why he decided to do something he wasn’t supposed to do.  He said it’s like there’s two brains daddy.  One brain tells me I shouldn’t do it but the other one says I should.  He wasn’t too far off.

Check this out:  Romans 7:21-25 NLT

21I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong 22I love God’s law with all my heart. 23But there is another powere within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. 24Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? 25Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.

So my son was really close.  As a young kid he realizes that there are a lot of times that he wants to do the right thing but there is something battling his mind which often times he allows to take over his actions.  Paul poses this question: “Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?” His answer…”Jesus Christ”.

So here is my question I pose to you.  Are you free from sin?  How do you reconcile what John 8:36  says when Jesus says “So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.” ?  If we truly are no longer slaves to sin and have been set free then we truly are free.  Sin no longer owns us and death has lost it’s sting.

So yes it is brain against brain, will against will, and desire against desire.  Regardless who won yesterday you are free and you are forgiven.

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