Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Soul Suvivors!

I remember the day that the television show Survivor first aired! I so loved the concept from trying to survive on what you had with a bunch of other people, tossed over the side of a boat with only what you brought with you, not knowing what you will be faced with. For the longest time, as the series continued I wanted and wished more than ever to be a part of that series, to see if I had what it took, not just to survive from a survival perspective but as a social one as well. It takes a lot to make some quick decisions with people you don't know and often times, think way differently about things than you do. So how do you find a way to make it work under the guise of team work?

In fact, in my days as a corporate trainer for a large wireless communications company for customer service representatives, one of my first themes was the Survivor idea. To outwit, to outplay and outlast, was key to making it through the brutal 6 week training class. But it was a great idea to keep the competitive spirit alive and something fun to work on harnessing the team building aspect that has to come when you are willing to step outside of yourself and think about others as part of success. This goes against everything ingrained in us from birth, that it isn't about self survival but as a team, a family, a neighborhood, a community, and a nation.

Right now, in light of the judicial blunder that has taken place on Friday, it has caused a great division among the people in the US. Rightly so. There are those that are celebrating the Supreme Courts decision to go against everything our judicial system represents, against the Constitution of the United States of America in an effort to basically tell God, that for 5000 years, He has had it all wrong from the beginning.

This is the most catastrophic self-inflicted wound to America. The Supreme Court has violated the Constituion and the judicial system. They have by passed Congress and the President and between 5 justices, made a decision that will now have long reaching consequences. What they did by bypassing all the processes put in place to prevent such a breach of judicial powers in the branches of government is untie the definition of marriage to include equality for all. Did you get that?

Equality for all when it comes to marriage.

I'm sure the same sex marriage community will be rejoicing for days because to them, it was a win, but it really wasn't. They cheated, the Supreme Court, to make this ruling without going through the proper channels, but does that matter? Most would say Heck No!

But it does. You see I believe we have watched America as a nation, slide further into the state of culture collapse than ever before. You don't have to be a history major to understand the implications on a culture, when lawlessness happens. And three of the chief justices on the Supreme Court have said just that. But is anyone listening? Does anyone care?

Chief Justice John Roberts said, "Constitution had “nothing to do with” the majority’s vindication of marriage equality."

Chief Justice Thomas said, "Had the majority allowed the definition of marriage to be left to the political process—as the Constitution requires—the People could have considered the religious liberty implications of deviating from the traditional definition as part of their deliberative process. Instead, the majority’s decision short-circuits that process, with potentially ruinous consequences for religious liberty."

Chief Justice Alito said, "I assume that those who cling to old beliefs will be able to whisper their thoughts in the recesses of their homes, but if they repeat those views in public, they will risk being labeled as bigots and treated as such by governments, employers, and schools… By imposing its own views on the entire country, the majority facilitates the marginalization of the many Americans who have traditional ideas. Recalling the harsh treatment of gays and lesbians in the past, some may think that turnabout is fair play. But if that sentiment prevails, the Nation will experience bitter and lasting wounds."

Chief Justice Scalia said, "“A system of government that makes the people subordinate to a committee of nine unelected lawyers does not deserve to be called a democracy.”

Interesting how they have voiced their concerns by voting against this decision, because they violated all those people who have placed them in their position as Chief Justices to begin with. 5 justices on the Supreme Court, took it upon themselves on Friday, to make a universal decision for 320 million American's that basically said to the world, "this is what we think and believe is wrong."

This wasn't a win!

I guess people are simply too busy celebrating what it means to them, and even some well meaning Christians have joined in as well, but do you really see what has happened in the midst of your celebrations? That marriage is now undefined as deemed by the courts that everyone is allowed to marry those that they love, with no limits on that degree.

Do you understand what that means? I'm sure most could care a less as long as they get what they want and it doesn't impact them. Oh how far the world has fallen if they truly believe that lie.

Now it means that anyone can marry. There are no limits on the number of people who can marry, no age limits, no mental capacity can be challenged, nothing! It's equality for all!!! Let's celebrate that right?

Oh how my heart breaks for those who remain in complete ignorance if that is what they truly believe. The Supreme Court has now made it clear to the American citizens that the Constitution is invalid or open for reinterpretation as they see fit. The branches of government has been tossed out the window because the balances of power has been throw out. Now all kinds of laws no longer require the process that has been in place since the creation of the nation. Now it seems the line has been drawn in the sand and the persecutions will begin for everyone.

It will begin first with those who hold true to the traditions and foundations of the Bible. We will be now labeled as bigots, ignorant, intolerant, haters and even worse. Really where is all that so called "Love" you speak of now. So when anyone disagrees with you, we can be labeled, mocked, hated, by those that claim they are so full of love now?

Matthew 5:3-12 ~ " Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you." (NIV).

I mean I get it, I've seen the signs for some time, I mean seriously who hasn't. The church has been sleeping for far too long and now I believe it is the time to decide where you will take your stand! As a Christian, a believer of Jesus Christ, whatever your denomination, you can NO longer be a spectator in the world. We will have to make a choice as some are already doing.

But we should not be disappointed in what has happened to our nation because we had faith in a man made system. We wanted them to think like God does. But the God we serve and love, is constant, He never wavers, His promises are as true today as they were thousands of years ago in the Bible. The Bible isn't a bag of trail mix, where you get to pick and choose what you like, and leave the rest.

It is the infallible Word of God, absolute truth, non contradicting,in every way to those who read it and understand what it says. We have a choice to make today, who will you serve, man or God?

Acts 5:29 ~ " Peter and the other apostles replied: "We must obey God rather than men!" (NIV).

The results are clear, if you love Jesus, you will be hated by the world. Right now the Holy Spirit is calling you out! You have to decide for yourself, to stand with God or to stand with the world. Don't compromise, no matter how you feel!

Matthew 13, we are the seed, about to be tested to see where our roots truly lie, but take joy, there is still hope to be found in the Bible.

We need right now to take up a different kind of Survivor motto: One of the Christian perspective, where by choosing to follow Jesus, you will be guaranteed free airfare and 7 star accommodations for eternity. Cause in the end, it will all be about who you know and only those who call upon the name of the LORD will be saved. Only in Jesus Christ.

We now as believers in Jesus Christ, as soul survivors be the ones to OUT LOVE, OUT PRAY and OUT SERVE the evil that permeates the world right now, usher in a new age that will test the Christian and refine those who last into a pure believer ready to stand for Christ.

Who will you serve today?

Joshua 24:15 "Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, but as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord!" (NIV).

If you want to make a change in your life today and choose Jesus over the world, pray this simple prayer from your heart:

Father, I come to You, confessing my sin and asking for Your forgiveness. I thank you, Lord, for You have promised that if I will confess my sins, You will be faithful to forgive me and cleanse me from all unrighteousness. I want to turn from my sins and live in Your will. I ask that You give me the power through Your Holy Spirit to live the right way.

I thank You that Jesus Christ died on the cross, paying the price for my sins, and then rose from the dead. I accept Him now as my Savior, my Lord, and my Friend. Thank You for giving me new life in Christ. I surrender myself to You; make me what You want me to be. In Jesus' name. Amen!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Point of No Return

This is a personal post on my feelings and what I believe and in no way shape of form is my forcing or requiring any one to accept my beliefs or opinions. Those choices are for an individual to make but I hope I make some consider what has happened, and what I believe will happen in the days ahead.

After the ruling from the Supreme Court was handed down on Friday, it didn't come as a surprise to me. After so many states had already caved in on their positions to recognize same sex marriages in their states, and the recent programming changes like The New Normal and other television shows and networks, and a more aggressive campaign to accept a same sex lifestyle into our society like a slow bleed, I was not caught off guard. For quite some time, we have watched as our rights and freedoms have been changed, called into question, but those of a more liberal persuasion, calling those who have a different opinion over theirs, arrogant, bigots, intolerant and haters.

That hurts because it is not true. I don't hate anyone, and I am educated enough to know right from wrong despite what the mainstream seems to be doing. But that is changing in the world. Right is now seen as wrong and wrong is now being embraced as right. It doesn't make it right but the Bible has predicted this so that is why it comes as no shock.

Friday, was a day that I felt two things, first an overwhelming sadness that persisted well into even today, but it is getting better as God speaks to my heart. I felt on Friday that sadness was the result of the Holy Spirit inside the lives and hearts of believers as it broke for this once blessed nation. It broke as the world even more turned its back on the foundations this country was created on. It has utterly turned away from God and now has turned to beyond shaking a fist at God, but laughing, mocking Him, and turning everything we as believers in God respect, into fire and ash.

The second thing I felt was anger, not at homosexuals but at the Supreme Court, that took it upon itself to interrupt the law of God and twist it, without a law being introduced from Congress for them to vote on and act upon. They simply bypassed the judicial system of how laws are created in this nation and went against everything. It my eyes, they cheated. It doesn't make it right that people felt the decision was justified in some eyes, they cheated. Plain and simple.

It changed the America we knew to the America we now have. There is no going back.

One thing is certain, we have moved the hands of God's coming judgment on the world, just that much closer to coming. When that will happen no one knows, but it will come.

As believers in Jesus, I believe that we have seen and heard God's final warning before the collapse of our culture and our nation. Don't know what comes next, read Deuteronomy 28, it's quite clear and it will happen.

Just because unrighteous laws have been passed does not mean we have to obey them. We are seeing states and churches halting not just same sex marriages, but all marriages for now. In this case, no discrimination cases can come upon them for not performing a marriage. Now we await some defining and clarification to what does the Constitution hold for religious freedoms for churches and pastors. Since the Supreme Court now feels in control, it wouldn't surprise me to see them reinterpret that Constitutional right.

So what can we do as Christians, or as I like to refer to myself as a believer in Jesus Christ?

1. Pray. Now is the time to get serious about our prayer life. We have taken it for granted that prayer can't change anything but it can. It has worked in the past when God's people have repented, turned away from their sinful life, and seek His forgiveness. God is a God of forgiveness, grace and mercy but He will not allow us to continue to claim we belong to Him and continue to live in a defiant attitude of sin. As if we are begging God to do something about it. Make no mistake, God's justice will come, but He is restraining this judgment wishing that NO ONE will perish but all will come to repentance and turn to Him.

I am asking ALL believers in Christ to join with me in 31 non stop days of prayer, beginning July 1st for the entire month based on Ephesians 3:20 ~"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine according to his power that is at work within us."

Please make a solid commitment to set your alarms to pray for our nation, our leaders, the world and for a great revival and an awakening to occur at 3:20 every day. It's a simple request and one that I believe will begin to move in such a way, the world can't miss. We failed before in this great nation by believing this would never happen, but let us be faithful in this. Wherever we are at 3:20 am or pm or even both, stop and pray. Will you commit?

2. Don't panic, God is still on the throne! History has shown us that the church often thrives when it is in sharp contract to the culture. Consider the implications and struggles of the first century churches. They stayed with God despite what they faced. We, believers in Jesus Christ, can outlive, outlove and out pray this world only with the help of Jesus Christ. We can survive what has happened and come out of this stronger than ever before if we learn from our mistakes.

3. We need to Keep Calm and Carry On! Did you realize that this slogan came from WWII at a time when Britain was under attack and it was issued by Sir Winston Churchill? That is precisely what we need to do when the world is hoping we all cower and go back into our holes quietly or as some have suggested leave, go someplace else where you will be accepted.

4. We need to show this changing culture what true traditional marriage really looks like! What a biblical marriage looks like, not perfect but perfectly forgiven! We all make mistakes, and it will be those in this culture that will seek to magnify those mistakes, but our mistakes don't define us, as long as we repent and move forward in the forgiveness that can only come from God. Our marriages should be a testimony to non-believers and we need to live it the way God intended. We need to remember that all marriages have irreconcilable differences but that is not a reason for divorce. Those differences are what make our marriages strong and what initially attracted us to our husbands and wives in the first place.

5. We need to show the love of Christ to everyone!!! People are struggling with those same sex attractions and feelings, but they don't need to act on them. Just like all of us have struggles with some area of sin in our life, we need to understand separating our feelings from our actions. Just because it feels right, doesn't mean it is right. Everything needs to be held up to the biblical standard of what is absolute right from what is absolute wrong. Without it, we would have no law and everyone would see fit to do what feels right or wrong to them. But it doesn't make it right.

The one thing I have found tossed in my face has been the scripture, "Judge not, lest you be judged.: by most non believers and even some well meaning Christians. So how do you deal with that? Easy if you look at it in context that is conveniently removed.

Matthew 7: 1-2, "Judge not, that you not be judged. For with judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you." (NKJV). 

Matthew 7:1-2 "Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." (NIV).

Matthew: 7:1-2 "Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging, is the standard by which you will be judged." (NLT).

It simply states that we can judge if the standards we are using are biblical because those same standards are the ones God will use when judging us all. We are however, not to confuse judging others with condemnation. That is often where the line is crossed. But most times, people toss that convenient scripture at Christians but not applied to themselves either. Aren't those who are content with this recent ruling, judging those who stand on biblical standards to speak the truth whether they want to hear it or not. Most thing it means to be accepting of everyone and everything, but it doesn't.

So what does love really look like?

It doesn't mean accepting all things, but we must care about others, often times enough to be honest with them. Just as a parent disciplines a child when they do things that are wrong, in love to correct them and keep them from making those same mistakes, we don't simply accept everything our child does in hopes that they will one day realize that truth but in the meantime, will love us more in spite of our willingness to let them do whatever they want. That is NOT love.

Proverbs 27:5-6 ~ " Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses." (NIV). 

6. Lastly let us engage people with the Gospel. Everyone is searching for God and no one is beyond the reach of God, look at Saul of Tarsus who would later become Paul, one of the greatest disciples of Jesus. Anyone on the side of Jesus will face severe opposition. But we need to learn how to defend ourselves, to become either a victor or a victim. The devil will intensify his attacks on someone who is making a difference for Christ. Look at Job's example!

Remember as followers of Jesus Christ, we can't be snatched out of His hand, but for non believers, you are a sitting duck for Satan. He can blind their eyes so they don't believe and see the truth. So we must arm ourselves not just daily, but put on God's armor once and for all! We can't lower our guard for one minute because when we do, that's when we get hit! We have to stand against the wiles of the devil. He comes at us when we least expect it. It can come at the most inappropriate times like in the middle of church. Remember it is not a sin to be tempted, reject it immediately, we don't need to act on it, entertain it or give in to it.

1 Corinthians 10:13 ~ "No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it." (NIV).

There is always a way out when you are tempted. Sometimes the solution is the easiest like using the door. The spiritual battle doesn't let up until we get to heaven. Remember what Satan doesn't want you to know, that he was defeated at the cross.

1 John 3:8 ~ "He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil's work." (NIV).

God's powers are unlimited, Satan's are limited.

Colossians 2:13-16 ~ "When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of the, triumphing over them by the cross. Therefore do not let anyone judge you but what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day." (NIV). 

We are not fighting for victory, but from victory. We are now under the power of Jesus Christ. It's time to Stand Our Ground!! I believe what we will see now, is a thinning of churches, those who were not true Christians, will walk away and those false prophets in the church will now be revealed and what is left will be the One True Church of Jesus Christ, a pure and unblemished Bride awaiting her Groom! When things look like they're coming apart, they are actually coming together!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Don't Give Them What They Want!

Oh how my heart grieves for what this nation has become and the celebration all over the nation over the Supreme Court's ruling on same sex marriage. It does immediately cause a righteous anger and a visceral response within believers in Jesus, and that is expected and is human nature. Just like the response the world was watching in anticipation for when a white teen opened fire in the AME church in North Carolina killing 9 people in an attempt to incite a racial war. Did it happen? Was the reaction of the church and community what the world expected?

Absolutely NOT!!! I'm sure people were expecting, all out rioting in streets and communities all over the United States, but that is not what they saw. They saw what believers in Jesus Christ have known all along, that our God is not dead, but alive! We don't serve some man made idol that was created from some fantasy. We serve the God, the Alpha and Omega, the Great I Am, and the Creator of all the Heavens and the Earth, The One True Supreme Court Judge.

Do you think this decision caught God unaware today? Absolutely NOT!

And while people are celebrating that they think they caught God off guard and that Christians have long been wrong in their attempts at righteousness and truth, God will not be mocked. There will be consequences to this decision, just as much as when we do something wrong, retribution doesn't always immediately come, but it will come. That is why I am go grateful I serve a righteous God of Justice in whom nothing will be perverted or twisted. God is still in control!

But unfortunately for now, this world and it's title deed has been given back to the ruler of this world, which is Satan. God still maintains sovereignty but he is allowing Satan to have free reign for now. Satan will always attempt to mimic what God has created, because Satan can't create anything. He only steals, manipulates and lies about what God has created and ordained. Satan provides an alternative truth in anything God has created.

That is why today, was such a victory for Satan, not for God. Not for believers of Jesus Christ. He has taken what God has created, that perfection of marriage, a marriage that will always be one man, one woman, and twisted it, perverted it, and caused people to want what they have never been able to have. It's just another victory temporarily for Satan, but not in God's eyes.

In order for Jesus to return, things have to get worse and in the last year, the twisted perversity's in the world are rapidly and exponentially sliding that way. It seems like there is no way to stop it. So what can we as believers in Jesus do?

Stand on that same faith we always have. The absolute truth that has been in the Word since God breathed it into life. We may not know what the future holds, but we know Who holds the future. The response therefore in this case is to not give them what they expect. It doesn't mean we roll over in defeat, in fact it means we need to get busy with God's business even more, because the clock just moved us ever closer to the coming of Jesus for His church. Imagine a world without the believers of Jesus in it? Scary place to be for certain.

We need to keep hoping, keep praying, and avoid hating in all of this. We don't have to accept it, because in God's eyes, we haven't been defeated. Consequences are coming for those who continue to defy the God of the Bible, to mock His Holy Name and to continue to push the evil into the world as a way of saying, "We don't need you God!"

Let us pray today, and ask God more than ever to show the world, believers in Jesus are NOT going to give you what you expect today. There will be no rioting from churches, there will be no looting or violence from believers in Jesus, instead more than ever, we will be determined to show the love of the God will serve, and remind people that just because sin in the regards to same sex marriage was approved today, it's not a license to sin in God's eyes.

We now need more than ever to pray for our leaders in government who remain blind to the truth as was evident today that Justice was blind and respond to help protect our religious liberties that will now undergo attack by those who will seek to strip it away as they have attempted to do today, but we serve a higher authority than man, and in our eyes, marriage is still between one man and one woman. It does not nor will it be redefined in the laws of God as anything different. Let us remain unified in our belief, strengthen our faith and continue to support our Godly men and women in positions of leadership within the church as the wheat now begins to separate from the chaff , the sheep from the goats and we will see which church leaders will stand with Jesus and which others will stand with the gods of this world.

Jude 3-25 "Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord. 

Though you already know this, I want to remind you that the Lord delivered his people out of Egypt, but later destroyed those who did not believe. And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their own home - these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgement on the great Day. In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire. 

In the very same way, these dreamers pollute their own bodies, reject authority and slander celestial beings. But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not dare to bring a slanderous accusation against him, but said, "The Lord rebuke you!" Yet these men speak abusively against whatever they do not understand; and what things they do understand by instinct, like unreasoning animals - these are the very things that destroy them. 

Woe to them! They have taken the way of Cain; they have rushed for profit into Balaam's error; they have been destroyed in Korah's rebellion. 

These men are blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without the slightest qualm - shepherds who feed only themselves. They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind; autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted - twice dead. They are wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shame; wandering stars, for who blackest darkness has been reserved forever. 

Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men: "See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones to judge everyone, and to convict all the ungodly of all the ungodly acts they have done in the ungodly way, and of all the harsh words ungodly sinners have spoken against him." These men are grumblers and faultfinders; they follow their own evil desires; they boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage. 

But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, foretold. They said to you, "In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires." These are the men who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit. 

But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. Keep yourselves in God's love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life. 

Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy mixed with fear - hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.

To him who is able to keep you from falling to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy - to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! AMEN"

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Are You Immune From Catching Spiritual Viruses?

Face it, we all do what we can to stay healthy. I mean who loves being sick. Sure people love to call in "sick" to get the day off, but not when we really are sick. It makes us miserable, grouchy, and often times impacts plans we have to forgo because we can't physically participate in them. Who loves being sick while you're on vacation. I would wager almost everyone would say NO ONE!

So why then, are we willing to put ourselves spiritually at risk to all the viruses in the the world today. I guess some would call them temptations. Just because you are a believer doesn't mean you are spiritually immune, in fact, you are the biggest challenge and target in the unseen realm. One day we will realize exactly what we are up against and it won't be pretty. Some have been privy to what is really going on when we least expect it and others dabble in things they have no idea what they are truly doing.

As believers it is our daily responsibility to ensure we have our antibiotics, our antibacterial wash, and plenty of supplies to ward off any attacks. But even with the best intentions, we fail. Sometimes, miserably and wonder how we managed to get sick.

It will always come subtlety just like it did for Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Imagine, they were perfect creatures, not like us, living in a perfect place, again not us. Yet Satan tempted them with twisting of God's Words.

When God told them they could do every single thing in Eden except for one, ANYTHING, why was the one thing they couldn't have enough to tempt them. Initially it wasn't. It wasn't until the serpent caught Eve off guard and twisted God's words in Genesis 3"1-5 in the NIV, 

"Did God really say, " you couldn't eat from any tree in the garden?"  The woman said to the serpent, "We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, "You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die." "You will not surely die," the serpent said to the woman. "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."

Isn't it interesting that Eve, wasn't concerned that the serpent was talking to her? It didn't freak her out, instead she was focusing on the thoughts going on in her mind, questioning whether she may have heard God correctly. Isn't that like the temptations we face?

It begins in our thought life, and then moves to our words or action. We don't just blindly say or do things, our thoughts give birth to sin! That is why it is so important to guard our thoughts. Our thoughts are influenced by what we see, and what we hear so it is imperative that we remain on guard and make sure the things we think about through what we see and hear are godly. We need to stop trying to justify our actions and believe they won't have an impact in our life. It may not happen right away, but overtime, those things build up and the things we look at and hear become more and more twisted in our thoughts and before we know it, we slip and fall.

The enemy loves to work in the lives of believers of Jesus because people in the world who don't know better are already doing the work of the enemy anyway. They are feeding on the lusts of the eyes and ears, fulfilling the selfish desires of their heart, living it up as they say, for tomorrow we might die right?

Yikes, what a twisted world we truly live in! There is more to life than what we really see and hear, but we must have spiritual eyes and ears to know the truth. We must not fall into the trap or the lies of the world that would try to justify there isn't anything we can do to change things, because we can. But it must begin with us first. We are the biggest threat to the world, believers of Jesus! We need to ensure that we don't fall victim to the viruses of corruption, deceit, lies and temptations of the world, because we don't live here. Our home is in heaven.

We need to do a few things to ensure we don't fall into the traps of getting sick. So what can we do to beef up our immune systems spiritually?

1. Read the Bible every day! Even if it's just 5 minutes, crack it open and ask God to show you what you need today! The more you study the Word of God, the more you will be prepared to know the lies when the world tries to twist it.

2. Pray! It's the most powerful weapon we possess and the one we fail to use the most. If the enemy can get us to stop praying it takes the focus off of God, and puts it on us and what is happening in our life. Prayer puts us in immediate communication of God and we are spiritually transported into the very presence and throne room of God. Picture that, the next time you are praying!

3. Sing praise and worship songs to God every single day. In fact, I challenge you to spend the next 30 days incorporating at least 15 minutes or more of praise and worship music in your day. Try listening to some just before you head off to sleep. Power comes in our worship and it's the one thing angels can't do. I can imagine how they flock to churches just to watch what happens when we spend time singing them to our heavenly Father. Embark on the journey because it truly is life changing. The more you worship, the less struggle you will have in your spiritual walk. When we fall down, it will make us get back up a whole lot quicker!

4. Spend time in church! It's our spiritual booster shot! It helps get us through the time we have to spend in the world, and unites us with other believers. For those that find reasons to avoid church, get over it. It's not about YOU, it's about HIM! It's about us, standing together united in prayer, in song, and in the Word of God. It's about the sick and wounded coming to know more about our God, and trust me, there are people in church that are coming there for whatever reason, and they will be making judgments about the God we serve, based on what they see in us. What will they see in You? It's it about YOU or about Him?

We need to remember, that every single day we walk onto the battlefield not a play ground. We need to ensure we have all that we need to wage that daily war, just like a soldier or warrior would never step into a situation without his weapons, we need to ensure we have ours.

Ephesians 6:10-18 ~ "Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For 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. Therefore 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. Stand firm, then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints." (NIV). 

What does all the armor mean?

Belt of Truth: A dishonest Christian can't hope to understand the father of lies himself. Means integrity, a life of practical truthfulness and honesty!

Breastplate of Righteousness: practical righteous character and deeds of a believer.

Feet fitted with a readiness that comes from the gospel of peace: the gospel is the firm foundation on which believers stand and we need to defend and spread it to the world.

Shield of Faith: used to protect us from the assaults of Satan to penetrate the believer who places his trust in God.

Sword of the Spirit: Our only weapon and it is an offensive weapon, a specific word that needs to be spoken in a specific situation, therefore you must know the Bible intimately!

Pray in the Spirit: Without prayer, all the armor would be of no use. Perseverance and patience in prayer are essential. NEVER GIVE UP even if your answer doesn't come right away.

In fact in Revelation 5:8b  ~ :The twenty four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints." (NIV).

Our prayers are in heaven and God has kept every single one of them. If they weren't important, why does God keep them in golden bowls? Because they are precious to Him, like incense, something the high priests were required to offer up daily to God. We are meant to pray daily! It causes a reaction in heaven and God is never too busy to hear them.

So today, have you prepared yourself spiritually to avoid catching any spiritual virus? Time to suit up and prepare for battle. Oh and by the way, we win in the end, no matter what the enemy tries to tell you! Remind him of his future next time he reminds you of your failure!

Isaiah 54:17 ~ "No weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and this is their vindication from me. ~ declares the LORD." (NIV).

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Stirring Our Spiritual Waters in a Time of Drought!

I am in my season of being watered, splashed, bathed, and refreshed with the joy of God's water spilling forth in my spiritual life and allowing me to drink deeply from that well. The water that will keep you thirsting for more. It truly satisfies like nothing else.

I truly believe that in all our walks we find time where we can invite God in. Not just in our fleeting, hurried prayers but when we sense ourselves just beginning to stir as we sense the morning light beneath our curtains. God whispers our name. He offers us a Good Morning. Can you hear it?

As I stretch beneath my still warm covers, I offer my morning wishes to God. I wish Him a Good Morning even though He doesn't require rest. He's been working all night once more. Keeping my thoughts from spilling over into worry or anxiety for things I don't have answers to. I can sense Him smiling, because He knows me. He knows me better than I know myself. I can almost seeing Him nodding at me too.

I begin my silent prayers this morning and thank Him for the promise of His will in my life. I surrender my thoughts to Him and ask that they bless those whose words and actions will follow me throughout my morning. I ask for His eyes to see the needs of those around me. To hear the smallest voices asking for help in my day. To sense whatever purposes I am called to do today, that I will do it willingly with a thankful heart and shower people around me with His love today.

I pray this before I even hit the floor because I know at some point I will become weak today. Frustration or lack of patience in something may try to ruin my day that I had planned out. Yes, God smiles because He knows my shortcomings in my day even before I arise from my bed. He smiles because He knows that no matter what happens, I will maintain my faith. I will push forward in my pursuit and even though I fail I will not let it keep me down.

I will look up into His strong face and I will reach out my hand to Him and ask for help. I will ask for resistance to avoid falling again. This time, I will walk with Him and not be in such a hurry to run ahead. I like walking with Him, talking about our day, and having Him show me just how much He loves me in how He lets my day unfold before me.

I will thank Him for the opportunity to use me in whatever capacity He needs me to today to accomplish His plans. Today I will reach out and take that step of faith. I will meditate on His word today and I will seek Him with my whole heart. Do you hear Him calling you? What is He saying to you?

What would you accomplish if you knew that you could not fail? Please share those thoughts with me today and thank you for stopping by and feeling refreshed by His waters today!

"I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know Him better!" ~ Ephesians 1:17

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

To Infinity and Beyond!

I still remember the original Toy Story, and to this day it remains a classic favorite for me. Who doesn't love the story of Woody, the cowboy who has always been Andy's favorite toy, and in some cases heads the other toys from Andy's childhood. Thinking that would always be the case, Woody is thrown for a loop when on Andy's birthday, he gets a new toy, Buzz Lightyear, who when left alone with all of Andy's other toys comes to life but doesn't realize he is a child's play thing until the other toys manage to convince him, but that takes the majority of the movie. Woody and Buzz remain at odds while Woody deals with his jealousy of being the toy now left behind while Andy is spending more time with things about space and Buzz Lightyear.

At one point in the movie, Woody challenges Buzz to prove he is a real space ranger when Buzz's ability to truly fly is called into question.

Vowing to prove Woody wrong, Buzz climbs to the top of the post of the bed, eyes his target and shouts those familiar words, "To Infinity and Beyond!" and takes his leap of faith, which through a series of odd coincidences makes it appear that Buzz can in fact fly.

But Buzz learns a hard lesson when the neighborhood bully, Sid manages to capture both Buzz and Woody and he realizes as he attempts to fly that he can't and falls into a deep depression believing he has earned his fate in Sid's diabolical twist to destroy toys, while Andy searches in vain for his two long lost favorite toys! For most of us we know how it turns out if we have seen the movie.

But for those of us that believe in Jesus, we know that one day we will face an eternity when this life is over and it will take us to the one true infinity and beyond, Heaven and all that it offers. Yet some mock us, they tell us, Jesus isn't real, that the Bible is merely a book of fantasy and myths and that Heaven and Hell don't exist.

But why is that? Why such a degree of hate to get us to give up our beliefs? Why go to the extremes like beheading if this is all one big lie. Shouldn't they just let us be, and go about doing their own thing? We aren't radically violent in our efforts to share the gospel of Jesus with people.

The point is, that some people just don't like others telling them that their lifestyle choices are absolutely wrong, or that the life they are choosing to live bears consequences that one day lead to either eternal damnation or eternal life. Our lives are one of two things, depending on who you talk to, a battlefield or a playground.

For believers in Jesus, it is a daily spiritual battlefield while we watch the god of this world, Satan attempt to convince the majority of the people in it, that Jesus isn't God and who He said He is, and that Hell isn't real. That when we die, we simply cease to exist. It's over, there is nothing more.

But somewhere deep inside us all, we long to know what really happens when we die. There is an eternal element within us all the wants to know for certain. There are tons of historical reports of martyrs of the Christian faith or faith in Jesus Christ, that were and are still willing to die for what they believe. From Stephen from the Bible in the book of Acts to all 11 of the disciples of God, they were willing to die for their faith. I don't know about you but if it were all just one big lie, would you seriously go willingly into a vat of boiling oil, faced stoning to death, beatings of 39 lashes, crucifixion and beheadings just for a lie?

This is the most overwhelming evidence besides the Bible that Jesus was who He said He was and still is. He is the Son of God. You don't see Christian storming embassies all over the world, beheading people who refuse to believe in Jesus, or even flat out rioting all over the world because someone mocked our God in a blaspheming way. That is because we serve a God of love and forgiveness not a God who wants to force people into a submission in a religious effort to take over the world, killing those who refuse to bow down to Jesus. Why is that? What does that bother some people so much to hear about Jesus? To even hear the name Jesus, that they almost walk away with their hands over their ears in flat out refusal?

Because deep down inside, they know the name of Jesus contains power that is unmatched in this world. God has placed a homing device inside all of us for heaven, but ultimately how we answer that call is up to us. One thing for sure is that eternity awaits us all, the choice is where will you spend yours? For me, it's infinity and beyond in heaven with Jesus Christ!!! Remember You have a friend in Jesus Christ!!!

Romans 14:9-12 ~ "For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living. You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God's judgment seat. It is written: "As surely as I live," says the Lord, "every knee will bow before me; every tongue will confess to God..." So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God." (NIV).

Isaiah 45:21-24 ~ "Declare what is to be, present it - let them take counsel together. Who foretold this long ago, who declared it from the distant past? Was it not I, the LORD? And there is no God apart from me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none but me. Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no others. By myself I have sworn, my mouth has uttered in all integrity a word that will not be revoked: before me every knee will bow; by me every tongue will swear. They will say of me, "In the LORD alone are righteousness and strength." All who have raged against him will come to him and be put to shame." (NIV). 

Philippians 2:5-11 ~ "Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who being in the very nature, God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death even death on the cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (NIV).

Monday, June 22, 2015

Only A Prayer Away!

It's hard when bad things happen in the world, especially to us that are believers in God. The world wants answers and so do we. We want to know Why God Why? Where Is God When It Hurts? If God is a God of Love, why doesn't He do something? If God can do anything, why does evil still happen in the world? Can't He stop it? Why do good people have to suffer? Why do believers in Jesus need to suffer? How can this be happening to me?

So what do we say? The world even more now than every before is crying out for answers to these questions "Why?" Many people are asking the right questions, but too few Christians are providing them with answers because either they're not being taught or they're not listening.

Look at what is happening all over the world. In fact, it's hard for me to wrap my head around everything I've seen in just the last couple of years, from school, mall, movie and church shootings, to imminent threats of war on the horizon from Iran, Iraq and even Russia, to the persecution of Christians and beheadings in the Middle East, even to the US rejecting Israel's right to be recognized as a nation or as one of our allies. For the first time, since Israel has become a recognized nation in 1948, we, as a nation are walking away.

We must remember, we follow a God who defend us with the ultimate defense. We don't "join" a church, we come willingly. There is no membership requirements to gain entrance. Our God saves!!!

Our God doesn't nee us to riot, to besiege, to defend to the death, the Bible, Jesus or God!

Our God is alive!!! He takes care of Himself!!!

Our God is not threatened when someone mocks Him or Christianity or puts forth a picture of Jesus covered in human waste and declares it art! Christians don't storm embassies or behead people because Jesus' name was used in a curse word. We don't need to defend our God!

If we need to defend our God, then we got the wrong God!

Our God is enthroned and He is able and one day, by His power and His own might, He will settle the score. Until that time, we are Christians, living in a world that is hostile to Christ, towards the gospel and towards us!!!

So Where is God When It Hurts? If He is truly a God of Love, why doesn't He do something to stop all the evil in the world? 

2 Corinthians 1: 3-4 ~ "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God." (NIV).

God is enthroned in Heaven as we can see from verse 3 above. He knows where trouble is in verse 4. He shows us in every single situation we face, sometimes we know Him the most through our greatest difficulty. He is where it hurts. He is everywhere in any pain dealing with issues. If you have trouble, Jesus is there in the midst of it with you.

So why do we have a hard time seeing God in the midst of our trouble?

Have you ever misplaced or lost something, like your keys and searched everywhere for them, becoming more frantic and stressed out the more you look, only to realize you had them all along in your hand or someone points them out literally right in front of you?

Our emotions rise up so quick when we are in the midst of suffering, we are often blinded. God is right in front of you but you can't see Him. It's like Him saying, "Hello? I'm right here!!!"

Why do good people have to suffer? 

2 Corinthians 1:5-6 ~ "For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comforts, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer." (NIV).

Suffering brings awareness! Bad people face suffering too! God is simply using it to bring them to Christ. In the midst of our suffering, Jesus is there to comfort. It opens our eyes and awareness for our need for Him. When we face suffering as believers in Jesus, we often cry out, "God, where are You in this? Help me!"

Nothing happens without God being aware of it.

So why do Christians have to suffer? 

Because God breeds character into our life that can only be obtained through suffering.

Romans 15:4 ~ "For everything that was written in the past was written to each us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures, we might  have hope." (NIV).

True believers in some way, shape or form, will suffer trouble, that will bring glory to God. We should be praying, "may the sufferings of God abound in my life to bring honor and glory to God."

Hebrews 4:14-16 ~ "Therefore, since we have a great High Priest, who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a High Priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are - yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." (NIV). 

Meaning Jesus gets it. He understands what we are going through. If we are in need, we need to run to Jesus! Our eternal self always wants to know what will happen to us when we die, the question you need to ask yourself is "Do you have a High Priest, that will stand up for you when you die? As believers in Jesus we know we do.

When we get to heaven and stand before God and He calls your name, you will probably step forward with your head bowed in disgrace. He will simply lift your head with His finger and say, I know exactly how you feel, but remember that time, when you were going through that really difficult time, when you cried out to me in despair and help, you turned to Me, and prayed for my help. Now Gabriel, let's show her what is behind door number 1, just for her faith in Me!"

Okay, it might not happen like that, but in sufferings our faith is tested in a way that can't be tested any other way to see if it is genuine and true, not perfect! Whenever we suffer, God's comfort level will never be less than our suffering level, but greater than it. That is why the Bible says, He won't allow you to go through something that is too much to bear. God's comfort will be greater than the pain. You will still have pain, you'll still need to get through it, but Jesus will grab your hand to walk you through it.

Hebrews 2:9-10 ~ "But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and  honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for who and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering." (NIV).

What this means is whatever you are going through, Jesus can say regardless of what it is, He knows exactly how it feels.

1 Peter 5:8-10 ~ "Be self controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast." (NIV). 

Hardships always open us up to Jesus. It can't work any other way.

Without the storm, Peter would have never seen Jesus walking on the water, or would he have gotten to walk on the water himself. It's in the times of difficulty we can find our faith.

Suffering and affliction creates ministry! Your faith is built up when we suffer and see others suffering.

Psalm 34:19 ~ "A righteous man may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all;" (NIV).

Romans 5:3-5 ~ "Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character, and character hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God ha poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, who he has given us." (NIV). 

Our God is bigger than whatever we are going through. When we live for Jesus, people will hate us!

James 1:2-4 ~ "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." (NIV).

People hate absolute truths when it bothers them but they want absolute truths when it benefits them such as engineering a rocket or car.

Those who are profound hypocrites have not gone through real sufferings. That is why we need to embrace trials and sufferings.

Philippians 3:10 ~ "I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death." (NIV).

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 ~ "But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weakness, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." (NIV).

If someone is going through a difficult time, ask them how they get through it. It is often said we learn more through what others are going through.

Is this really happening to me? 

Do you ever wake up after going through something extraordinarily difficult like the death of a loved one and wonder or hope, that it was simply all a bad dream? That it really didn't happen. It's can't be real? For just a brief moment until you are reminded that it isn't just a dream.

This is the human side of us, trying to reason with the spiritual side. Our faith must undergo testing.

2 Corinthians 1:7 ~ "And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort." (NIV).

Your end, is the first step into an absolute eternal realm.

Satan's false doctrine is two-fold. (1) to get you to believe that Jesus can't be God, and (2) that there is no such thing as Hell.

To get you believe this is the doctrine of demons, to believe that there is no consequences for what we do, therefore, live it up!

Take a look at the Hubble Telescope pictures to see some amazing stuff. God reveals His glory. Wouldn't it be funny if one day, God opened up the heavens, and said, "Here I am!" and then a picture was taken? LOL!

We know Jesus is real and one day He'll return just as the Bible has promised. He won't come as a thief in the night to the believer who knows what signs to discern and look for, but to the non believer, he will come like a thief in the night and they won't believe anything that is happening around them is a sign from God. So take heart, Jesus Christ has overcome the world, and He is only a prayer away!!!

Friday, June 19, 2015

Dads are the Real Superheroes!

In light of all the recent movies lately from Batman, Superman, Ironman and even Captain America, I believe we lose sight on who is the real superhero in our lives. Fathers! Father's are most effective in the parenting when they not only "show the way" but "go the way" themselves. And trust me, the world needs more real superheroes in godly men!

You can't help but look around the world and see the impact in the lives of those who are missing father figures in their lives? If parents aren't influencing the lives of their children, then who is? Peers, public schools, media, television and the internet!

I'm not just talking about kids you father, but in some cases men who step up to become role models for kids who need a father figure in their life. We need men who can step in and bring them up because they are already filled with a sinful nature. We need to show them how they can live a life worthy of something more.

What does a Super Dad look like?

He is one that stays married, devotes his time and energy to his marriage, his wife and his children and most importantly follows God in everything he does. God is his benchmark!

Almost every social ill can be traced to the absence of masculine leadership. 22 million children live in a fatherless home. Kids who don't have a father figure in their life, are far more likely to use drugs and alcohol, drop out of high school, commit violent crimes, attempt suicide, get pregnant in their teens and wind up in prison.

Almost everything can be traced back to a broken family. We need more men to stand up in their commitments as a father.

But in order to do that, we have to go back to biblical principles and we seem to be watching the world right now as if it is a social experiment that has gone horribly wrong. Just look at the recent shootings that are happening all around us that are simply slowly becoming the norm.

Our children are a gift to be nurtured and cared for, for the Lord. They are not ours to possess and control.

Children growing up in a fatherless home, are looking for a father figure in their life, often times however, find the wrong examples, men who are far from being godly!

Husbands hold the key to a successful marriage, as well as being the key to a successful family.

In Ephesians 6:4 ~ " Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord." (NIV). 

It is interesting to note that this particular passage of scripture is directed to men, because it seems that women are already nurturing to their children. It is something that almost instinctively do naturally.

What is means is not to provoke them repeatedly in such a way, that they grow angry and hateful, to provoke them.

One way fathers can inadvertently do this is playing favorite with your children. You need to watch your words like, "Why can't you be more like....?"

We can see clear cut examples of why this doesn't work from the Bible, in regards to the sibling rivalry between Esau and Isaac. How each one was favored by a different parent. In the example of Joseph and his 11 other brothers, how well his father expressed his affection to Joseph over the other sons so much so that they sold Joseph. Even Daniel was favored by Samuel in the house of Jesse, his father but his 7 other brothers were rejected by God. He was the least of his brothers that he wasn't even brought before Samuel initially.

Children will carry this pain throughout their whole life.

Not complimenting them. Children need self affirmation and more from their parents than anyone else. Trust me, I can speak from experience on this one. My mom, gave it to me, but I craved it from my dad who withheld it from me based on how he was raised from his parents. Affection and compliments were not something they displayed. How much I craved that attention from my own dad even 51 years, but I am realizing that God never disappoints to show me just how much He loves me and isn't afraid to show me on any given day.

Children need to know and hear that they are loved. But be careful, balance is key, often times some are overly complimented so much so that they develop overinflated egos. Don't be overly critical. Remember a father's goal is not to knock them down but to bring them up!

If having a prodigal child means you're a failure as a parent, then God is a failure as God. This simply isn't true. Too many times a father will look to what his child does long after they leave home and when they fall away from God, a father or even mother will blame themselves. Remember God isn't done with them yet. He will bring them back in His timing. All you can do is pray and love them, it's the one thing they can't run from, no matter how far away they try to go. They need to know they have a home to return to and a father who loves them unconditionally.

To the best of your ability, raise and model your life after the ways of God. Look for teachable moments in your day. Watch their favorite television shows or movies with them and offer a biblical perspective.

You need to create a thirst in your child's life for God. and that comes through modeling that faith that creates a desire for them to be like you and want what you have in their own life. As fathers, children need to understand that external boundaries are set in place not to limit them, but to protect them.

Even when raised in a godly home, children can still rebel. Sometimes it merely shows that they are beginning to think for themselves. In the story of the prodigal son, they may escape your presence, but they can't escape your love and prayers.

Think about these statistics:

If both parents attend church regularly, 72% of their kids will remain faithful to God.
If only the dads remain faithful to attend church regularly, 55% remain faithful.
If only moms remain faithful to attend church regularly, 15% of kids remain true to their faith.
If none of their parents attend church regularly, only 6% remain true to their faith.

What this shows is that it is important for you to attend church regularly together as husband and wife, and not just drop your kids off at church. One day our children will be gone. No one plans on their children proceeding them in death, but often times it happens.

We are in a race in this life in which we need to pass that baton of our faith to our kids to continue on in a legacy! The door is always open to prodigal sons and daughters. It's never too late to change and you can begin today.

Let's make sure as fathers and dads that we do that job well. It's the highest calling God has placed on our lives and in our hearts. Happy Father's Day to those who are raising up children who are following in the footsteps of God. May they be blessed and honored as we celebrate them this Father's Day!  

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Are You Willing to Surrender?

(Image courtesy of TheSurrenderMovie)

Sometimes life deals you such an incredible surprise it truly feels like a gift. When we arrived at church last night we were not prepared for the speaker that Pastor Jack Hibbs of Calvary Chapel Chino Hills invited last night in what is called Sessions. It's an informal interview like setting where we talks to people about their faith. Sounds like nothing new right?

Only last nights guest was Major Damon Friedman, an active duty officer for the "Air Force Special Tactics who has been decorated with three Bronze Star medals, one with valor for acts of heroism in a combat zone - who was sent to "The Valley of Death" to extract soldiers who had been in constant battle for nearly a year. This was no ordinary mission. The threat was high, as over 40 Americans had been killed in action by the Taliban enemy. He was inserted with two Special Forces teams into an extremely hot landing zone encompassing over 200 Taliban fighters in the surrounding area. The enemy forces executed over half a dozen complex ambushes with rocket propelled grenades, heavy machine gun fire, and small arms fire from higher ground.

He immediately brought fire from the sky with bombs bursting and blasting the enemy. For over the next 72 hours straight, he fought for his life. Faced with reality that he and his men were outnumbered, he made a command decision - a deal with God. That if he was able to return home safely with his men, he would commit his life to following and serving God. But he never realized the battles that he would face when he returned home to U.S. soil would prove to be the most difficult in his life." (TheSurrenderMovie.com).

What he discovered is that returning service men and women have no real options for dealing with the horrors of what they have seen and faced in the war on foreign soil. The more time they spend away from their families, the more difficulty they have in trying to assimilate back to life as it was before they left. There are many programs out there for dealing with the effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, but they lack was is really needed to help heal all the broken places in their lives they can't even speak about. They all lack God in them and that is the only thing that can replace their black hearts that return from the war and the things they carry with them in their minds.

What he has learned is that our returning service personnel are turning to things for self medication. Whether it is through drugs, alcohol, abuse, sex, or forms of violence. These in turn do nothing to help but merely make things worse for them and their family. This leads to self destruction, in which every 65 minutes, a veteran takes their own life. That means every day, 22 of our returning men and women are taking their own life. The enemy is taking advantage of this as well. They are sharing that they don't have to kill them on foreign soil, they are killing them off every single day on ours through their actions of suicide.

Is this what our service men and women are left to deal with alone?

This doesn't even apply to just our service men and women, but anyone who is dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, it applies to our First Responders, people dealing with the horrors of abuse and human trafficking, those involved in violent crime or natural disasters and the body count is continuing to rise. So what can we do to change things?

Major Damon Friedman is working on a ministry outreach program called Surrender that enables people dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder to truly get the help they need by talking with people who know what they are going through and have gone through and provide an option that offers the only hope they are looking for in a right relationship with Jesus as their Commander in Chief of their lives, to serve Him with their lives and exchange those broken pieces for a transformation in their life they are looking for.

His first project is TheSurrenderMovie, which is a documentary of the lives of 7 men and women who have served and are currently serving in our armed forces who have found that redemption in their broken lives only through Jesus. They are hoping it will change the lives not only of those dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Disorders, but to impact those of us who are the friends and family of someone who has served or are serving and that means just about every single one of us. There are 2.1 million service men and women who are serving and returning home who need our help. So what can we do?

The first thing we can do is pray. Pray for those who are dealing with PTSD. Pray that God will change their lives and give them hope again. Pray for Damon Friedman to get this project and ministry off the ground.

The second thing is to consider donating to help get the movie off the ground. You can learn more about the project and the film by visiting their website at TheSurrenderMovie.com. You can also find them on Facebook and learn what is happening on the different phases of the project. Imagine the impact we could have if every single one of us helps in whatever way we can. It can truly be life changing and hopefully we will reduce the number of veterans who are dying simply through the lose of hope from 22 to 0 through the efforts of this project. Time for us to enlist today!

To learn more about Major Damon Friedman, The Surrender Movie or how you can get help for someone dealing with PTSD, please click on the links below:

You can find The Surrender Movie on Facebook. 

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Is There Life After Death?

It seems like every time I open my Facebook page or another social media site, I am hit with the notifications that someone I knew is facing the death of someone they knew or loved. Oh how my heart truly goes out to them. It is hard to allow such grief consume me, because for me, it isn't personal in the regards that it hasn't happened to me directly. I can only pray that the God I know and love, will reveal Himself to them, so they know He is with them through it all, and will bring them through it no matter how difficult it is. We can rest in His strength and His peace that He will provide to those of us that call upon Him as our personal Lord and Savior.

But for Christians, while we know the presence of our fiends and loved ones will be deeply missed here, we know that this is simply a "See you later!" not a goodbye, especially if they were a believer in Jesus Christ. It is only a temporary separation that won't last forever.

So I thought I would share what the Bible says will happen when those we love who are believers in Jesus Christ, die according to the Bible in hopes it may bring them comfort in the knowledge that we will see them again very soon!

The statistics for death are pretty impressive, in fact 1 out of every 1 person will die.

There is a story of a man who was walking through the cemetery one day and came upon a tombstone that said, "Pause now stranger as you pass by; as you are now, so once was I. As I am now, so you will be, so prepare for death and follow me."

The man read it, thought about it for a moment, and then he said, "To follow you is not my intent, until I know which way you went."

The Bible is pretty clear that one day we will die.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-2 ~ "There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die." (NIV).

Hebrews 9:27 ~ "Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment,"(NIV).

Psalm 90:3-6, 12 ~ "You turn men back to dust, saying, "Return to dust, O sons of men." For a thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by or like watch in the night. You sweep men away in the sleep of death; they are like the new grass of the morning - though in the morning it springs up new, by evening it is dry and withered. Teach us to number our dies aright that we may gain a heart of wisdom." (NIV).

Only those who are prepared to die, are really ready to live.

Statistics show that those of a religious faith who believe in life after death, are healthier, suffer less stress and depression, are less likely to attempt suicide and are likely to live longer. 84% of people believe in life after death, 82% believe in Heaven and 73% believe in Hell. .

For a believer of Jesus Christ, death is not the end, it's a continuation in Heaven.

John 5:25-29 ~ "I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will lie. For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted to Son to have life in himself. And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man. Don't not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out - those who have good will rise to live, ad those who have done evil will rise to be condemned." (NIV).

There are 4 profound truths found in those scripture verses.

1. Death is NOT the end of existence.

2. There is a final judgment.

3. There are 2 forms of existence beyond the grave and 2 destinations in which you choose.

4. The kind of existence or destination that we go to depends on our relationship with Jesus.

Let's take a look at those truths from John 5:25-29.

1. Death Is Not The End of Existence. 

We are eternal creatures and our soul lives on forever.

2. There is A Final Judgment.

Acts 17:31 ~ "For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead." (NIV).

2 Peter 2:8-10 ~ "for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard. If this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials and to hold the unrighteous for the day of judgment, while continuing their punishment.This is especially true of those who follow the corrupt desire of the sinful nature and despise authority. Bold and arrogant, these men are not afraid to slander celestial beings" (NIV).

Matthew 12:36 ~ "But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned." (NIV).

One thing we know for certain is that God is fair! Justice is coming and everyone will be held accountable because God is in control!!!

People who forgive live longer.

Romans 12:17-21 ~ "Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written, "It is mine to avenge, I will repay," says the Lord. On the contrary: If your enemy is hungry, feed him' if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." (NIV).

Every wrong committed in the world will be paid for either through repentance and forgiveness in Jesus or in the final judgment with God for non believers. God will hold them accountable. They won't escape it.

3. There Are 2 Forms of Existence Beyond The Grave. 

A resurrection for the just and unjust is coming.

Revelation 20:4-6 ~ "I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the Word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years." (NIV).

What is the "first resurrection"?

True believers in Jesus Christ who die, go immediately into the presence of God. They go straight to Heaven.

2 Corinthians 5: 6-9 ~ "Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. We live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it." (NIV).

Jesus told the thief on the cross who asked Him to remember him when Jesus came into His kingdom and Jesus replied to him, "Today, you will be with me in paradise!" (NIV) (Bold emphasis is mine.)

Death died when Christ rose!

1 Corinthians 15:55 ~ "Where, O death is your victory? Where O death, is your sting?" (NIV).

God gives us victory over sin through putting our belief in Jesus Christ and Him alone.

What Kind of Body Will We Have in Heaven?

1 Corinthians 15:42-44 ~ "So it will be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it will be raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown in a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is an natural body, there is also a spiritual body." (NIV).

At the point we arrive in Heaven, we will never die again. We will be full of glory and power. You won't be disabled in Heaven or in any pain. Not sure of how old we will be because the Bible isn't clear on that. Heavenly bodies are the earthly life of a believer perfected. Our minds and memories will be clearer than ever before.

We will get the ultimate upgrade!

We know that our resurrected bodies will be like that of Jesus' resurrected body.

1 John 3:2 ~ "Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be had not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is." (NIV).

When Jesus rose from the dead, He wasn't in Spirit, but in a physical body that His followers could recognize. He allowed people to touch Him, He ate fish. He didn't float, but it was different how He moved because He could appear without using a door and He ascended to Heaven. Not sure if we will fly, but it would be amazing if we could!

Will We Know One Another In Heaven?

Absolutely YES!!! Our knowledge will be perfected.

1 Corinithians 13:12 ~ "Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known." (NIV). 

We are the same person in Heaven as we were in earth, but perfected in all aspects and without the effects of sin any longer. Jesus even told His disciples, "It is I!"

So rest in the comfort, that if you know someone who have moved on to their permanent home in Heaven as a believer in Jesus Christ, this absence we feel right now, is only temporary, and we will see them again, never again to be separated by death!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Smoking or Non Smoking?

I remember those days fondly whenever you went into a restaurant and your hostess would ask you if you wanted "smoking or non smoking?" I am so glad that isn't an option any longer when dining in most locations, but it is still very relevant to where we will be spending our eternity!

I know that there are some that believe that nothing happens to us when we die except for turning into a worm buffet. But that is not the reality the Bible teaches. Even for those of you that refuse to believe in the Bible, I hate to break it to you, but the choice in where you will spend eternity will be based on your choice here. When you die, it's simply too late to make your smoking or non smoking choice.

Heaven and Hell are very real places. While God did create both, He never destined for man to spend his eternity there. That is why the choice remains up to you. God will never send anyone to Hell but they themselves will make that decision
Just like in the choice regarding in which section you will sit when dining, the same choice is made when we either accept Jesus Christ or reject Him. Even a non choice is rejecting Him. While you are debating the merits of making your decision at some later point in your life, if you were to die today, you have made your choice.

Contrary to what we used to kid about in high school, that Hell would be for hanging out with all the other sinners of the world, those that didn't want to give up all of life's pleasures and we would be spending an eternity in Hell with our friends, partying, is a sad delusion.

Part of Satan's greatest deception is to get you to believe that Satan and Hell doesn't exist. Simply a made up fairy tale designed to get people to make choices to give up their preferred lifestyle here on earth and attempt to live a righteous life by following Jesus. And you know what it's working out really well.

Today more people are turning from following Jesus in light of living for themselves. Making their own choices, living a life that is pleasing to them. No more rules of what is right and wrong, but times are a changing and in their minds, the rules need to be rewritten to accommodate this new way of life. Now more than ever, people are growing increasingly hostile to those who maintain a moral standard and absolute truth to what is right and wrong. Standards we gleaned from the Bible when this country was formed. God's law is our measure of what is right and what isn't. For most people, they don't like to be told what to do, and what they are doing is wrong. They haven't lived their life enough on their own terms to get what they want out of life.

How sadly mistaken these people are! If money, success, fame, fortune, notoriety, power, whatever you put there, would make people happy, why are so many opting to chose suicide instead. Look at Hollywoods up and coming elite and see how far people are reaching out in despair to a world that offers nothing to fill the hole inside of us for something more, than this world could ever offer.

The only way to fill that need, that emptiness inside is with a relationship, not a religion, with Jesus. People think you have to stay within the lines when it comes to religion, but we opt for a relationship instead. We will NEVER be perfect, no matter how hard we try. Our thoughts will betray us, our words will escape us when we least expect it, and our impulses and feelings will lead us back to a place we had hoped we'd never struggle with. That is simply sin. It exists all around us, and only until the day, the earth is reestablished and renewed will that struggle ever go away. Even as believers in Jesus, we still struggle, we still sin, but we have the ability to ask and seek forgiveness and try again. We don't have to wallow in that pit any longer.

Here's something to consider. Why is it that the only persecution facing the world today when it comes to religious beliefs are only those who believe in Jesus Christ?

You don't see people being put to death for their belief in Muhammad, Buddha, or Confucius or even for believing in nothing. Why is that? Have you ever thought to consider that?

Why kill innocent people simply because they believe in Jesus Christ? If Jesus didn't really change lives, why would people be willing to die the most horrible deaths imaginable simply for the sake of not giving up their belief in Jesus?

Because He does change lives!!! There is power in the name of Jesus! And only those who put their faith and trust in Him, will spend their futures in Heaven. Hell is reserved for those who don't. So the choice in where you will spend eternity remains with you today. Do you know where you will be spending eternity? What will you chose today, because you didn't come to this post today by accident. God has a plan and purpose for you and by reading this article, you now have a choice to make. Choose Jesus and Heaven or reject Him. Smoking or Non Smoking?
The choice is YOURS!

John 14:6 ~ "Jesus answered, "I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."

If you want to chose Jesus, it's simple! Simply say this prayer in all sincerity:

Father, I come to You, confessing my sin and asking for Your forgiveness. I thank you, Lord, for You have promised that if I will confess my sins, You will be faithful to forgive me and cleanse me from all unrighteousness. I want to turn from my sins and live in Your will. I ask that You give me the power through Your Holy Spirit to live the right way.

I thank You that Jesus Christ died on the cross, paying the price for my sins, and then rose from the dead. I accept Him now as my Savior, my Lord, and my Friend. Thank You for giving me new life in Christ. I surrender myself to You; make me what You want me to be. In Jesus' name. Amen!  

If you have prayed that prayer in all sincerity, I want to welcome you to the family of Christ. You may not "feel" any different, but you will begin to see changes in your life in powerful ways. I would encourage you to do these things.

1. Begin praying. Establish that relationship with God. It is the most powerful thing you can do as a believer in Him and He delights in hearing from you. You never have to wait for Him.

2. Get a Bible and begin reading it. I would suggest starting in the Book of Matthew and read to the end and then begin at Genesis. You will discover just how much you've been missing out on when you see what God will do in your life.

3. Find a church you can get encouragement from other believers and it's a great place to study the Word of God. It helps you get through the days you don't go to church. For me, it's like a spiritual vitamin B12 boost!

4. Tell others about your decision. You will find those who support you, but you will also face those who aren't happy with your decision either. Hold fast and keep praying and reading your Bible. For some people, they are simply waiting to see if you have changed or not. Give them time, and continue to pray for them. It's one of the biggest pleasures to lift the needs of others up in prayer.

Most of all Welcome Home!!

John 16:33 ~ "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." (NIV).