Category Archives: Discipleship
In what has been arguably the most bizarre presidential campaign in modern history, tomorrow, Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton will be POTUS Elect #45, and the future of the US, and even the world, is facing a dramatic turn of events. But, thank God, that in His sovereignty, the Elect of the Lord, have no need to fear, or panic – for it is our Lord who appoints His Divine choice as the leader of this country (and all others).
Now, in the midst of this day we are living – with a large amount of “Christiandom” wallowing in the permissiveness of carnality, or blatantly living in a love affair with the world; and, with a substantial amount thoroughly distracted by an unhealthy allegiance to patriotism that is dangerously close to spiritual adultery – we, as Christians, need to pause for a moment, in the midst of this political climate of division and distention, and ask the question: Are we ready for the days ahead?
Regardless the outcome, we face a potential firestorm of assault from both sides when their candidate loses… this will likely bring a tumultuous period from November 9th, til January 20th. But then, once Inauguration Day – and The First 100 days – arrives, something significant will take place. Either way, I am concerned for the American Church. There are urgent – even overdue – questions that each member, individually, and corporately, must come to terms with.
I submit to you the following concerns: if Hillary wins, the Church in America will face a time of tribulation like has never been seen in our young 240 years. I do not believe that most are ready for the judgement, and the persecution that this will bring. Alternately, if Trump should somehow pull out a victory, it is likely, for the most part, that the Church will rejoice, and quickly return to our worldly slumber, embracing our freedoms and liberties.
You see, it is time for the Church to step up. We – as aliens, sojourners, even ambassadors from another realm – are the moral compass for whatever nation we reside in. Martin Luther King Jr said in 1963:
“The church must be reminded that it is not the master or the servant of the state, but rather the conscience of the state. It must be the guide and the critic of the state, and never its tool. If the church does not recapture its prophetic zeal, it will become an irrelevant social club without moral or spiritual authority.”
We need to reevaluate our roles, obligations, and loyalties to any worldly systems of government or rule. We must come to terms with the very real truth that, as born-again children of the most high God, we are ambassadors sent from the Kingdom of Heaven, wherein is our eternal citizenship, to live as sojourners in this land called America. And, as ambassadors, we must grasp the depth of responsibility that we have to take our direction in all things – including our democratic progress – from our source of Life, that is: “every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” (See my blog on faith, hearing, and *rhema*)
17-20 months ago I was among a contingent of men of God who began to speak out a strong message of conviction that “a storm is coming, and we must be prepared.” Could the days ahead be this storm?? Are we ready for dark days?
I am greatly disturbed by the multiplicity of yard signs I see in my area that state: “America Needs Jesus” – Really? That type of thinking seems to shortcut Our Lord’s method, which was to “The Church”and commands us to “Go and make disciples.” Seems to me that what the signs need to proclaim is a change if thought-process to Christians, stating: “America needs the Church” … (it’s the Church that needs Jesus!)
If you’ve stuck with me this far, you may be asking “but how?” Dr Michael Brown recently said:
“What ultimately decides the state of the country, is the state of the Church. What ultimately decides the direction of the country, is the direction of the Church. [Therefore] are we going to devote ourselves to prayer, Scripture, making disciples, holy living, and reaching the lost?”
What is our “state” (or condition) – what is or direction? What are our priorities; what do we value greatly? These are hard questions we must prayerfully ask! We must address them from our pulpits (while we still can). We must seek Scriptural answers, answers that are “every Word that proceeds from The Mouth of God”, not with logic, rational, or careful human calculation.
If we ever expect to fulfill God’s commission to us as His Church, living by faith, pleasing Him, and impacting the world for His Glory – we must learn to hear His Voice, and His Voice alone, and by Grace, obey.
So Church, if Hillary is God’s choice for POTUS #45, then we will find ourselves neck deep in an anti-Christian environment like we have only read about in books! She will make all-out war on babies in the wound, and make criminals out of anyone who is not in agreement with her demonic and abominable assault on biblical marriage. She will spew her ungodly, liberal ideology from the rooftops, and make it the law of the land. So I ask: are you dressed in readiness? Don’t think for a minutes that our all-powerful and glorious God would not do such a thing – for He has before, and will again – if not now, then one day soon.
And what if “The Donald” should put in a change of address to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue? Will we collectively sigh a breath of relief, whipping our brow and declaring: “that was a close one”? Will we kick back, relax, and return to our safe, comfortable, quite, church-going lifestyle, wherein nothing changes about our allegiance, loyalties, devotions, or priorities towards God, because it doesn’t have to change – cause “we really dodged a bullet this election”? Again I ask: are we ready? Or have we wasted so much time, effort, and energy, being distracted by an agenda towards life, liberty, and the pursue of happiness, that we are actually laboring in our own strength to avoid the very things that Jesus promised His Followers: judgement (for refinement and purification), tribulation, and persecution. Is my lamp lit?
It is time to get ready. Time to give my time, energy, effort, and attention to the hearing of our Heavenly Father’s voice, and obedience to what we hear. It is found in abiding, and living by His life, not our own.
A storm is coming, I tell you! A storm like we have never seen in the west. Are we dressed in readiness with our lamps lit? Do we have the oil that we need to keep our lamps burning? Or will we be caught like a thief in the night unprepared, and naked – like a sheep to be slaughtered. The time is now, Saints of God. The time is now to prepare. If we are not wrapped in His Grace, and Abiding in His word, His righteousness, His love, His glory, and His very life, we are doomed. We must take shelter in the Secret Place, that we might thereby abide in the Shadow of the Almighty. It matters not who is POTUS #45 – what matters is our readiness. There is no other way.
May you find rest and peace in the confidence that our Lord and King is fully in control – for our Good, and His Glory.
I’ve known some really good people in my life. In fact, I have known some “non-believers” who were more pleasant to be around than some who profess Christ. Problem is, how good is good enough? The Gospel of Luke tells the story of Jesus encountering a young man who inquired of Christ, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”
As Jesus talked with this young man (Luke 18:18-27), we find that this man was far more “good” than anyone I have known in my 53 yrs of life. He confessed that he had never committed adultery, murder, stolen or lied, and has always honored his father and mother! (Who among us can honestly say that we have been that good?!? Personally, sadly, I am 0-5 on that list.) But Jesus said that was NOT good enough. In fact, we see in the opening of this passage that this fella also confessed Jesus was both God & Savior – I surmise this because 1) he asked of Jesus a question about eternal life… This strongly suggests to me that he knew Jesus was the Savior sent from God; 2) he knew He was God, for he called Him “Good”.
But, alas, confessing Jesus was both God & Savior, was not good enough either.
Lastly, Jesus essentially says to the man “You want eternal life? Then allow me to be Lord & King of your life, ruling and reigning over even your most prized possessions.” In this, the man walked away sad, for he was willing to admit Jesus was God; willing to admit Jesus was Savior; willing to live a “good” – even very good – life; but not able to surrender the throne of His life to The Christ.
Isn’t that our problem really? We want a Savior (for heaven); we want a God (in heaven); we want to be pretty “good” so we can feel good about ourselves (a little heaven on earth); but it all comes to a grinding halt when we are faced with the reason the Savior came… To make a way that we might return to know His rule and reign in our hearts and lives; knowing intimacy with our Father; and knowing the indwelling of the Spirit – i.e.: “thy Kingdom come”
So, here is what every person (including the rich your ruler) wants: “a list of rules for inheriting eternal life!”
- Acknowledge Jesus is God
- Acknowledge Jesus is Savior
- Do not commit adultery (or even lust); do not murder (or even hate); do not lie or steal; honor your mother and father.
- Surrender wholey to the Lordship of Christ without reservation into all aspects of your life that He might, by the indwelling of His Holy Spirit, and His sovereign regeneration of your life, bring His Kingdom to rule and reign in you…. (grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone).
Sorry, I realize #4 kinda destroyed “my list” – but after all, isn’t that the point…
Let him who has ears, hear.
Sunday August 28, 2005 4:00pm EST – The national weather service had been saying for nearly 5 days that they were “greatly concerned”. Their concern turned to “alarm”, and went from serious, to grave! The course was fixed and the destination was clear. With an less than 24 hours till landfall, this was no longer a forecast with a percentage of likelihood… It was now a reality, and danger was imminent. A weather statement was issued like never before in modern history: “Catastrophic Hurricane Warning” – a Landfall in New Orleans with a strong likelihood of massive damage and significant casualties. A Mandatory evacuation order was issued. A Federal State of Emergency came from the nations capital: “Take immediate action now. Prepare for historic devastation!”
Some, even prior to this frightening alert, had heeded the advance warnings. Others had heard this and prior warnings, but failed to take action. Others simple scoffed the warnings. Many were prepared; a great many were not. And for those who were not prepared… or ill prepared… their loss was great, and unmerciful.
As a result of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the city, the landscape, the commerce, the economy, the population and the people of New Orleans were changed forever by the “single most catastrophic natural disaster in U.S. History.”
Consider this: when the 145 mile per hour category 4 hurricane cleared the city of New Orleans – 80% of the city was underwater; damaged exceeded $108 billion; tens of thousands were left homeless; over 1 million people we displaced by the storm; shelters, at peak, were housing some 273,000 citizens; the cities population was cut in half; and 1,833 people were left dead. No one was left unaffected!
Matthew 7:24-27 reads: “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall.”
What if I said a storm was coming? Would you heed the warning – both hearing, and taking decisive action? Or, would you hear the warning, but only talk about it, attending meetings about it, but never take any measurable action? Or would you scoff at the warning, and ignore it altogether? What will the result be, if a storm does indeed come? If you heed the warning, what would that look like? How would you prepare? What would you do?
What if I told you that the preparations that need to be made, would be every bit as beneficial during the storm, as they would be if no storm came at all? What if I can promise you that you had nothing to lose in preparing for the storm, even if a/the storm never comes? But it will come. Even if it’s small unexpected rain showers. Or just a spring Thunderstorm that passes quickly. Or a overly blustery fall day. Life sends us storms – almost daily. Yet, there may be a large storm brewing. Not unlike the reoccurring headlines on the U.S. West coast: “The Big One is Coming” – and the wisest of residents that live there, live prepared, all the time, every day – so we too, are called to live prepared.
Even if you doubt “The Big One”, you know that you will face storms tomorrow; next week; next month; and next year. And the preparation that I am proposing, will be that of a wise man who built his house upon the rock. And a house upon the rock, whether there is a storm or no storm, is the place our Lord has said that our house must be.
Our Lord does not propose to tell the building contractors among us – in this parable of the wise and foolish man – that we are to build some physical structure of a home, upon a granite slab; rather it is clear that the message of the parable is to take obedient steps of action, in response to what you are hearing from Him, regarding the spiritual foundation of your life. Matthew 6:33 teaches us that we are to so prioritize the spiritual aspects of His Rule & Reign, that all this “other physical stuff” will be added to us (taken care of) as a result. If our lives are firmly established upon the rock that comes from true Biblical faith, then there will be no preparation necessary when we hear the “storm warnings.” But I submit to you that many – if not most – among Christians in America – are living a religious brand of Christianity that is so shallow, they would sell their souls to the devil for a loaf of bread in time of need.
So what of me? And what of you? Are we living a life of true faith (that is: Hearing the Father’s voice; Believing what He says [in spite of ourselves]; and because of love, by grace, taking action, in obedient response to His words) that will allow us to not only survive the coming storm, but actually thrive spiritually on the midst of it. Being prepared looks like “the fullness of the obedience of faith”, manifesting in a great many ways including: intentionality in discipleship, commitment in relationships and community, self-sacrifice, grace empowerment, repentance, devotion, allegiance, love and much time devoted to intimate prayer with the Father that we might come to know His voice in all things!
Preparation looks like embracing the storms of life, and the prospect of “the storm” (whenever it comes, and whatever it looks like) with joy and thanksgiving, knowing that He who had begun a good work in you, is seeing it through to completion in Christ, in and through the storm. Preparation looks like being consumed with a radical extremist lifestyle of loving God, loving one another, faithfully being devoted to His Word, and establishing now – in advance of the storm(s) – where our allegiance lies!
This is the preparation we need. This is the life we are called to. It should not take the threat of a storm to bring us to this place of preparation that we have been called to since our conversion to Christ – nonetheless, prepared we must be:
“Be dressed in readiness, and keep your lamps lit. Be like men who are waiting for their master when he returns from the wedding feast, so that they may immediately open the door to him when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those slaves whom the master will find on the alert when he comes; truly I say to you, that he will gird himself to serve, and have them recline at the table, and will come up and wait on them. Whether he comes in the second watch, or even in the third, and finds them so, blessed are those slaves. “But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have allowed his house to be broken into. You too, be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour that you do not expect.” (Luke 12:35-40)
It is past time to prepare. We must trim our lamps, prepare our oil flasks (Matt 25:1-13), and be dressed in readiness. Not just because of storm warning, but because this is how our Lord and Kings has called us to live every day in His Kingdom.
“Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and you be caught by surprise like a trap. Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and to stand before the Son of Man.” (Excerpts of Principles Spoken by Christ, from Luke 21:34-36 NASB)
I am no prophet… moreover, some of my dearest CHRISTian brothers and sisters would struggle or even oppose my suggestion that I have a “Word from the Lord” regarding the new year: 2015. Others of you would think nothing of that phrase or suggestion, and eagerly read on to see what I sense the Spirit is speaking. For those who might struggle in any regard with this, let me assure you that I am not “making prophetic predictions” nor am I in some way attempting to “add to the fullness of the revelation our Lord” given us in the Scriptures. Let simply say, I am prompted to encourage the Body of Christ with the following thoughts and words for the coming year.
First, there are multiple references throughout scripture to the principles that direct the “Ecclesia” (the called out ones of God) to be “vigilant”, “alert”, “sober-minded”, “on their guard”, “prepared”, “diligent” and the like. It is with these general Scriptural Truths in mind, that I share the following thoughts for 2015.
Let me say as well, as my predominate awareness and experience is with the “church in the west” (or Christendom in America), that this is the primary audience that I have in my heart, as I write this. Let me clarify regarding this phrase: “Christiandom in America” – I am including here a group of individuals that range from those who would check “Christian” as the answer to the question “What is your religious affiliation?” – to those who would most assuredly, but humbly, say of themselves, “I have experienced a life altering encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ and have been redeemed, regenerated and restored to relationship with my Heavenly Father” – and everyone in between. Within this group, I believe, is found the True Church of Jesus Christ… the Ecclesia, as He called it – His called out and chosen ones – the “Sons of the Kingdom.”
In The Year Of Our Lord, 2015. It takes little effort – whether on Cable News Networks, or Internet News Feeds, or Cell Phone Breaking News Alerts – to witness that our entire planet is experiencing dramatic changes – as the pains of Child-birth. In some ways, we have never seen greater days! In other ways, there is so much hurt, pain, loss and devastation, that it seems we are in humanities worst condition in modern history.
Around the globe, CHRISTians are being martyred at an alarming rate. (The Center for the Studies of Global Christianity in the United States reports: “About 100,000 Christians die every year because of their religious beliefs.”) Persecution of CHRISTians around the world is alarming, and become far more blatant and commonplace. (Voice of the Martyrs reports that “The Christian Faith is illegal in 53 countries around the world”.) And here in the west, particularly America, we are quickly losing any hope of leaning on our “constitutional rights of religious freedom” that Our Lord has allowed to protect us for the better part of 225 years. There is no rational denial that we are seeking an increased rapid decay in Judeo-Christian morals – both globally and domestically – and we are fast approaching a day when “things will be different” than we have ever known in our lifetime, even here in the west. The assault on “Christian Religious Freedom” in America is rapidly on the increase – both from freedom to practice our faith, and freedom to speaking publicly (or privately for that matter) regarding our convictions of faith and belief.
Deceptive doctrines taught by false teachers is becoming rampant – and clearly taking on more of a “perversion of truth” than an the outright cultic foolishness of years gone by. Truth mixed with lies, and palatable intrigue, lead the list of deceptions – while taking Truths foundational to the Christian Faith and perverting them, as to both lead astray, and mock the very essence of their principle counsel.
Say what you will, but there is already a “great falling away” that is taking place in our midst, as the faith of many is being shipwrecked & derailed, with these perverted and deceptive doctrines; accompanying that, is a gospel message that is weak, fruitless and ultimately, inadequate to save.
“You know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. And let perseverance be perfect, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. Blessed is the man who perseveres in temptation [trial, testing], for when he has been proved, he will receive the Crown of Life that he promised to those who love Him. (James 1:3, 4, 12 NASB)
It is my personal conviction that this coming year will be a time of great trial and testing for Christendom in America. The time is near that we will begin to see greater persecution of those “true to their CHRISTian faith”, here in these very United States. To the Saints among us, I plead that we get established in our faith now. Settle your matters and affairs of assurance, trust and allegiance – for when then testing comes, it will be too late. If you are not grounded now in your faith in Christ – when hard times come, you will certainly sell your soul for a loaf of bread, or a bag of rice.
Be prepared. Be Alert. Be vigilant. Take time in prayer now to insure that you have oil in your lamps, and plenty of “oil to spare”. There will come a time when it will be too late to acquire more. I am NOT talking of stockpiling in the natural – but, rather, stockpiling in the Spiritual. There are 4 places the Holy Spirit will cause this to happen:
- in Scripture,
- in prayer,
- in true worship, and
- in godly, committed, accountable relationships with other faith-filled Saints.
We have, for the most part, experienced years of plenty, years of ease and years of comfort. If we are not solid in our faith – rooted and grounded in who Christ is, in whom we trust, and where we are placing our allegiance – then there is little chance that we will get solid when the times of trial and testing come. For it is in trial and testing that our faith is proven – it is in Christ, thought the Holy Spirit in us – in Scripture, Prayer, Worship & Fellowship – that our faith is built and established!
Won’t you join me now in falling before our Lord & King and crying out to Him to generously & lovingly, cause our individual faith to be rooted & grounded, solidly, in Christ as the one whom each of us trusts with all our heart, and pledge our sole allegiance to? And should storms of trial and test indeed come our way in the west in this year, 2015 – we who are the Ecclesia of Christ, indeed stand firm and honor our Lord & King!
If I am mistaken – you will have lost nothing, and still gained everything!
May it be so, Maranatha, Lord Jesus!
“She considers herself a Christian, but…” This line from a recent Atlanta news station article brings to light the antithesis of one of the greatest problems with modern-day, western, CHRISTianity. Whenever you find it necessary to follow-up your statement declaring your Christian “affiliation” with the word “but”, I can assure you that you are NOT of the CHRISTian “faith”, rather you are only loosely associating yourself with the christian “religion”. And, a loose association is guaranteed to result in one of 2 responses from the Lord of CHRISTianity:
1) His words: “I never knew you” (Matt 7:23); or
2) You will be vomit from His mouth (Rev 3:16)
It is unfortunate indeed that we humans, particularly in the west, have both misused and abused the term: CHRISTian. And what we are to do about that varies in speculation – but all who are concerned and aware, agree, something must be done.
There is little that can be done about those who insist & persist in associating themselves with a the watered-down, man-made, powerless religion of “christian” as nothing more than an answer to a question on a survey “What is your religious affiliation?” They will always have “buts” to include in their religious claims, as they associate themselves only with the kindness and love for mankind that CHRISTianity teaches, but refuse to get to know any more about the other substantial aspects of the foundational Truths of CHRISTianity. These folk are not a real threat to true CHRISTianity, as they are simply misusing the term – and most folks will see that for what it is: “an answer on a survey”.
But, beyond that, what about those who are abusing the term – living a much closer association – likely deceived into believing that there is indeed substance to this self-affixed “Christian” label they wear? A brief word study will reveal that nowhere in Scripture (something that “misusers” know little about; and something abusers have only intellectual knowledge of) will you find a “CHRISTian” calling or labeling themselves, a “CHRISTian! No, in fact the very term is only in Scripture 3 times:
Acts 11:26 – “The disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.” In this passage the simple point that must be noted, is that the disciples DID NOT call themselves “CHRISTian”, but rather THOSE WATCHING THEIR LIFE called them CHRISTian. Critical distinction for those who have ears to hear.
Acts 26:28 – “Then Agrippa said to Paul, “Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?” Here, Agrippa, not a disciple, nor follower of Christ, MAKES REFERENCE to others as CHRISTian.
Lastly, 1 Peter 4:16 – “if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, instead, glorify God on this behalf..” Here the Apostle Peter lays out for us the deep Truth that the misusers and abusers don’t want to talk about – if, by your CHRISTIAN LIFESTYLE, you SUFFER – then Praise God that others are mistreating you because THEY have LABELED you as a CHRISTian!
Had a survey been offered to the early Church regarding their religious affiliation, they would have likely been given the choices to answer: “Disciple of Christ” – “Follower of The Way” – “Believer in Messiah” – or possibly – in the Jewish arena that they were in: “Heretic”. If these were our choices today – I am afraid most would check “other” or “none of the above.” Or… write in “Christian” (as if it is somehow different from the choices provided) – How sad is that?
So, what do we do? I propose that there are 4 approaches to our response to the misuse and abuse of the term “CHRISTian”:
1) Disregard it all together. Maybe it’s not a problem. Maybe I am overreacting. Maybe we need to just leave it alone. In the end we know that Matthew 13 teaches us in several different ways that the untrue among us will be separated from the true believers in the end.
2) Attempt to redeem it from our society. Maybe we should actively speak out about the misuse and abuse of the term CHRISTian (as I am doing in some ways herein), in an attempt to raise awareness to this problem. Or maybe, our redemption of the term should simply look like #4 below.
3) Call ourselves something else. In some ways this is a pretty radical approach – but John 6 teaches us (as does much else in Scripture) that those who the Father seeks – those that are His own – are Disciples who are True Believers. Not just fans. Not just followers. Not even merely disciples – nor just believers (there is another abused term) – but Disciples of Jesus, who Believe with a belief that has changed everything! Are you…. Am I… A “Believing Disciple of Jesus”?
4) Leave it as it was in the Bible. True Believers will not need to “call” or “label” themselves anything. If we are surrendering to the Life Of CHRIST in us – they will see it – they will know it – and THEY will “call us CHRISTian”!
Personally, I lean towards a whole lot of #4, with an emphasis on the principle truths of #3. May I live my life so surrendered to the Life of Christ – that I will be a Believing Disciple, active in both my belief and my discipleship – that those who watch my life, might say of me: “Now that, is a true CHRISTian” (Matt 5:16)
In a recent blog (“Believe!”), I made some bold statements in my closing paragraph:
“Reader, it’s time for some soul searching… what role does Jesus Christ really play in your life? Is He nothing more than your “favorite motivational speaker”? Or have you committed to following Him – yet still at a distance – offended at some of His audacity, and ready to “walk” as soon as He gets too close? Or, are you among those who would proudly wear your “Jesus is my homeboy” t-shirt, since, after all, you number yourself among the inner circle… but in your heart, do you believe all His outrageous and extreme claims – really?”
Yes, that’s right – I believe from the passage of scripture referenced (John 6:53-69), that there were those among the crowds, follows and even the disciples themselves (a group much larger than “the 12”), who were “just waiting to be offended” and “give Jesus the straight-arm, and walk away”. I believe there are those among us today, and I believe they are many.
Folks, I am gonna say it as clear was I can – and if you are waiting to get offended with Jesus, here is your big chance. Being a true believer in Jesus is NOT a Golden Corral buffet, were you can pick and choose your favorite foods and ignore the rest. No, not at all. Being a true believer in Jesus means being seated at the table that He has prepared for me, in the presence of my enemies (Ps 23:5a), and devouring with gratitude, every morsel of food set before me! How dare we come to the King’s table, and pick and choose what we will and will not eat?!? Imagine it: “Thank you King Jesus for this beautiful spread of organic brussels sprouts, artichokes, nutritious tofu with avocado dip, and such carefully crafted Limburger cheese fondue – however, I was hoping for mac n’ cheese, bacon, McDonald’s fries and one of those molten lava chocolate cakes from Shoney’s.” Jesus shakes his head in disappointment, as we push back from the Kings table, and leave… to our shock, He doesn’t run after us, or offer to heat up a can of Chef-Boyardee ravioli… He just lets us leave, tears in His eyes… and an increasing disgust in ours.
During this advent season we frequently read passages such as: “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:11) Newsflash: baby Jesus born that day was NOT just Savior… no, no – the Holy Spirit clearly wrote for us, that He is both Christ and Lord, as well. Oh how we get excited and love to load up our plates with that Golden Corral sweet baby Jesus, come to save us from hell, as He lies in that adorable bed of straw! We might even carefully and curiously indulge is a small helping of “Christ” (the anointed one) – after all, it’s good to have connections with “the big man upstairs” in case we need something – but we make it clear: “don’t get carried away, Jesus; just mind your own business, and we will get along just fine!
As for being “Lord” – heaven’s no! I ain’t looking for a Lord, King or Master – I’ve got that covered myself. So, baby Jesus, you just serve up my all-I-care-to-eat buffet of starches and fast food burgers, and let me rest in the false assurance of “when I get to gloryland”, but don’t serve me up any of that nasty food I don’t like – cause I will straight-arm you and walk away disgusted. (And then act shocked when You one day say to me: “depart from me, I never knew you.”)
Whatever you consider yourself to be, as it relates to this man, Jesus – I ask you: will you lay down your rights, your wants, your likes, loves and desires, for this man Jesus? Will you be awakened to Christ as He calls you to His table – prepared for you – and surrender to believing that He – this Jesus – whom you have called Savior – is both Christ and Lord? And no matter your preconceived notions about the food He is serving up at His King’s Table – it is light-years better than the picking and choosing of the buffet life you have made for yourself – serving up peace, hope, joy and rest, both now, and for eternity!
The same passage of Scripture (1 Tim 4) that begins with these words: “in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons”, ends, 16 verses later with these: “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.” In between is talk of things which are permitted, encouraged, taught, preached, lived, and forbidden.
But what are we to make of these words “Watch your life … closely”? Given the dramatic start of this passage, I have a suspicion that these closing words are of utmost importance. With that in mind, I ask myself, “what do they mean to me?”
Recently – as many times before – I was browsing the Facebook pages of my friends, and I saw some photos of folks whom I know to be followers – even disciples – of Christ, photographing and displaying actions and behaviors, that for some among us, would be considered – at best, questionable – and at worst, sin (or at least “self-serving”).
I am NOT the perfect human – but I am humbled that perfection, in the person of Jesus Christ, does indeed live in me! I am not perfect, but am called to be holy, as He is holy. I am not perfect, but I am called to be certain that any liberties that I might perceive myself to have, are not a stumbling block to my brother or sister, or a reproach, to the watching world.
Among the fruits of repentance is ‘self-denial’ for the sake of others, rather than ‘self-serving’ actions for my own pleasure. I might foolishly say: “I can’t help what others think of me – that’s their problem.” That may be true, however, I can control the image they are given, from which they formulate their thoughts towards me. Their perceptions will be, what they will be – yet, I can bear the fruits of repentance, by showing concern and forethought in my actions and behaviors that might aid them in making wrong perceptions. 1 Thess 5:22 comes to mind here: “Abstain from all appearances of evil.”
Sure, we can we debate alcohol, tobacco, tattoos, immodesty, cussing, and the like, until Jesus Himself returns. But the questions we must ask ourselves – in light of the Life that lives in us – is this: “Am I exercising my perceived rights to self-serving pleasures, or am I going to elevate myself to self-denial, in the name of ‘bearing fruits of repentance’ for the sake of my weaker brothers and sisters, and the Lord’s testimony to a watching world? Simply put… am I going to obey the admonishment of 1 Tim 4:16 and “Watch [my] life … closely. [that I might] save both [my]self and my hearers” and watchers? Or will I enter eternity rejecting the fruits of repentance, while singing that old nightclub *hymn*: “I did it my way”?
John 6:53-69 reads:
53 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves. 54 He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. 55 For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink. 56 He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also will live because of Me. 58 This is the bread which came down out of heaven; not as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live forever.”
59 These things He said in the synagogue as He taught in Capernaum.
60 Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this said, “This is a difficult statement; who can listen to it?” 61 But Jesus, conscious that His disciples grumbled at this, said to them, “Does this cause you to stumble? 62 What then if you see the Son of Man ascending to where He was before? 63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life. 64 But there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who it was that would [j]betray Him. 65 And He was saying, “For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father.”
66 As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore. 67 So Jesus said to the twelve, “You do not want to go away also, do you?”68 Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life.69 We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.”
Though the reading of the Gospel accounts, it is clear that there were 4 types of people that typically encountered Jesus:
1) Those that opposed Him
2) The massive crowds that came to see Him
3) The thousands that followed Him
4) Those that were His Disciples (Not just “The Twelve”)
In every town, there were massive crowds that came out to see Jesus. But when he left, they went home – anxiously awaiting his next “tour date” in their hometown. There were also those who followed Him, faithfully, from town-to-town, enduring much, to hear his next public teaching, and to see His next miraculous display. Among those the followed Him, were those who made up the group commonly referred to as the disciples – this group would have included several women – likely His mother Mary, the other “Mary’s”; his half-brothers; and from time to time, Lazarus, Martha, and several others. But then still, there was the inner circle of disciples, often referred to as “the twelve”.
Now, probably no one would suggest that “the crowds” were “saved” (however, I bet if they were asked on a modern-day survey what their “religious affiliation” was, they would say “Christian”.) But in reality, they were more like modern day “fans” of a rock band – looking forward to the annual “show” in their area, talking about them, and making reference to them, as if they know them personally – but they don’t.
A step of commitment beyond, was that of “the followers“. Indeed this is a title we often give ourselves when we speak of our “Christian Experience”, but that too takes a turn for the lesser in this passage, as clearly not all who were in the “crowds” were “followers”, and not all who followed were counted among His disciples, though they clearly exhibited a sacrificial determination to get closer to Jesus – but what was their motives, really? Many among us would call ourselves a follower, and rest well with that distinction, proclaiming ourselves to be a “saved Christian” – yet, hold on… Jesus makes yet another, seeming final distinction.
The Lord went on to call some of these followers, “disciples“. There can be no argument, that not all who came to hear were followers; and not all who followed, were disciples – and certainly to be a disciple, is a far more committed role in the “Christian Experience” than that of just a follower, as we see from the passage above, and many others in Scripture. Clearly those who were disciples – and maybe many of us – rest confident in being called and numbered among this “elite” group of devotees.
Think of it… I am a “disciple of Jesus”! Has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it. I am an apprentice of the Savior come from Heaven, being taught at the feet of the master Himself – being privy to parables explained and mysteries revealed. But wait… there’s more! Look carefully at the beginning of verse 64: “there are some of you who do not believe” – some of who? The crowds? The followers? No, the disciples!! Look at the verses just prior to this, and the one immediately following (60, 61 & 66): “Therefore many of His disciples,” – “His disciples grumbled at this” & “many of His disciples withdrew.” As frightening as it may seem, even being a disciple, does not appear to be adequate for salvation!
So if being among the crowd who hails Jesus as the best motivational speaker in the region – those who never miss hearing Him when he comes to town is not enough… if being so “inspired” by His teachings that you make great sacrifice to follow Him from town-to-town, is not enough… if committing to sit at His feet, and be listed among those crazy disciples is not enough… then the question begs to be asked “What in the world does this Jesus want from us anyway?!?”
Verse 64 provides the answer: “believe”.
It seems we have it backwards. We call folks to first “believe” (thereafter pronouncing them “saved”), then tell them to follow Jesus all the days of their life. And, if you really want to get carried away, you might consider becoming a disciple – but we treat true discipleship as if it is optional, and only for the “extremists” among us. However, the Holy Spirit teaches us in this very passage, that many among the crowds will begin to follow Jesus, and some among the followers will become disciples, and few among the disciples will become *believers*.
Is this not what our Heavenly Father is seeking… *True Believers*? Not casual fans – not even committed followers – nor just extreme disciples! He is looking for those who will be satisfied with none of that – remaining hungry for more – and willing to cast aside all caution – BELIEVE the radical, life-changing, history-altering message of the King, come to earth, to save His own from themselves, that they might return to Him with desperate, reckless, selfless, passionate abandon – surrendering fully to all His seemingly foolish and outrageous words, and yielding the throne of their lives, to His rule and reign, in their hearts, for all their days.
And when these *True Believers* emerge from the ranks of those being discipled to Jesus, then – and only then – will the watching world look at them, and with pointed fingers, with a bit of mockery – and, as they did in Antioch (Acts 11:26) – call them “Christians” – for in this way, they have become just like that crazy Jesus guy!
Reader, it’s time for some soul searching… what role does Jesus Christ really play in your life? Is He really nothing more that “favorite motivational speaker”? Or have you committed to following Him – yet still at a distance – offended at some of His audacity, and ready to “walk” as soon as He gets too close? Or, are you among those who would proudly wear your “Jesus is my homeboy” t-shirt, since, after all, you number yourself among the inner circle… but in your heart, do you believe all His outrageous and extreme claims – really? He is calling you to believe! Believe with all your heart! Believe without reservation! Believe with reckless abandon that “Jesus alone has the words of Life, and that He is the Holy One of God”! Believe!
“Recap” of Inspirational Thoughts and Quotes from 2013 From My Facebook
Part 3 – July-September
I might have said a few things that I learned of the Lord in 2013 that will be impactful for the Kingdom. I have shared some of them here. Also, I have listed numerous quotes that impacted me, from local pastors to great Saints of old, including Tim Conway, Spurgeon, Chambers, Corrie Ten Boom, Pastor Jeremiah Stingl, Pastor Tom Myers, Pastor Don Morrison, Pasture Scott Mitchell, Pastor Alan Trippe, Major Ian Thomas, CS Lewis, Sparks, Phil Powell & many others. I know with confidence, these Saints, and I, would all say, in sincerity, that if any of these words are impactful, it is because they are not our own, but the Holy Spirit’s. I pray you find blessing herein. ~ Gary
CHRISTIAN: We have reached an all time low when we call areas of sin in our life, the fulfillment of God’s promise to us!! Wake up from your slumber, Follower of Christ – our Lord doesn’t bless us with sin!! Abstain from wickedness; run from the appearance of evil; do not get friendly with the world, nor the things of it! Make your life-source the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. Alternately, if you’re are finding the desires of your flesh gratified (and calling it blessing or promises fulfilled) then you are not living by the Spirit. God says “Whoa to Us!” Isaiah 5:20; James 4:4; Gal 5:16 – Gary Kienel
Inspired by my “Band of Brothers” (You know who you are), with specific content from Scott Mitchell & Phil Powell. On this day, I do thank God for being born in America, but not like many might be thankful – nonetheless, we have been afforded much because of the sacrifice of many of America’s Founding Fathers, likewise, I have been afforded even more, by the Founding Fathers of Israel & Christianity – may I live a life of dependence upon Christ alone, that is worthy of the foundation they have laid!
“My In-Dependence Day”
Because the Lord God has made me independent from the tyranny of self-rule
& free to be subject to His benevolent sovereignty;
I therefore celebrate this day, and all days, as “Dependence Day”;
I am totally & joyfully dependent upon my King Jesus.
His Kingdom is a nation of the King, by the King and for the king,
and it will endure without end.
May God bless and raise up His Church,
as we kneel before Him in repentance & submission.
– Gary Kienel
Most will reject this statement, others it may anger, however, to those who have ears to hear: “it’s not about America”. It’s about the Church. We are, by and large, so distracted by prayers for “America” that we can’t see clearly to pray for ourselves. A far, far greater concern than that of the condition of the physical nation, must be our concern for a spiritual people, that is “The Church”. She is not well. She must come to repentance. She must get on Her knees in submission; subject to Her King. We are the ones we need to be praying for; we are the ones who need to come to repentance.
Our prayers for America are not answered because we are praying amiss, with wrong motives! It’s not about our 401-K, our “well-being”, our national security or even our liberties.
The statistics are staggering, if we look with eyes to see: It is our mistresses, girlfriends & wives who are getting abortions. It is our eyes that frequent pornography. It is our marriages ending in divorce, hatred & bitterness – all the while calling it freedom. It is us, living in sin, claiming grace. It is our perverted & permissive compromise of the very Word that has brought us salvation, that causes us to embrace sins, debauchery, whoredom and abominations. IT IS US, CHURCH, WHO NEEDS PRAYER LIKE NEVER BEFORE.
Once the church is who she is called to be, those around her will be affected by God as He sees fit, even America. I implore you Saints, don’t be distracted by prayers for America, but be focused on prayers for the Church! She is the only hope for the World. For She is the visible image, of the invisible Sovereign Lord God, to the world!
Oh God, have mercy on me… – Gary Kienel
The mandate of Biblical Discipleship as modeled by Jesus, requires 4 things of the discipler (mentor) and the disciple (apprentice):
3) Intensiveness &
We are not only to teach with words (which we MUST do), but we also must MODEL it with our daily lives! How else will we see fans of Jesus, become followers of Jesus? How else will followers of Jesus, become disciples of Jesus? How else will disciples of Jesus, become believers IN Jesus? How else will those believers in Jesus be seen by the watching world and called, with complement & criticism: CHRISTIANS?
The world is watching… let’s make disciples!! – Gary Kienel
WARRIORS OF THE MOST-HIGH LORD GOD: We are in a war. There are those among us with bull’s-eyes on their backs. You know who you are. Tragically, we are witnessing an increase of causalities to our left and right – casualties like we would have NEVER imagined. Stand firm. Remain vigilant! Be on you guard. Some are being wounded in such a way that they are no longer able to fight. Others are being eliminated entirely from the battle. Sexual compromise, doctrinal lies & permissiveness abound. We are loosing our comrades to the desires of the flesh, the lure of the world & the attacks of the enemy, like never before. Too much alarm cannot be sounded! This warning is not for someone else…. IT IS FOR YOU! Remain diligent to the camaraderie of your fellow soldiers; hold steady & firm to the instructions of the warriors that have gone before us; stay in constant two-way communication with The Commander-and-Chief; remember often, the Ultimate Price that has been paid to insure the Victory on our behalf. – Gary Kienel
“When we hear God say, ‘You will have no other gods before me,’ we think of it as a hierarchy; God is always in first place. But there are no places. God isn’t interested in competing against others or being first among many. God will not be part of any hierarchy. He wasn’t saying ‘before me’ as in ‘ahead of me.’ A better understanding of the Hebrew word translated ‘before me’ is ‘in my presence.’”
– Kyle Idelman (Gods At War)
Recently a sister in the Lord posted a comment about how it seems that it has recently become the “cool thing” for Christians to cuss. Another sister in the Lord followed up with a comment that took this thought further and included references to drinking, promiscuity, tattooing and more. I had the following thoughts on such interesting statements as these:
The points that these sisters have made are thoroughly Scripturally solid – even if many of you take personal offense at the tattooing inclusion – bear with me, while I say this another way, quoting those who are far more respected than I.
The Apostle Paul, who was quoting both the prophets Isaiah & Ezekiel, when speaking to the People of God, told us that “we are to come out from among ‘the people of the world’ and be different & be separate”. It is clear, to anyone who is willing to be honest with themselves, that, as this same Paul warned his son in the faith, Timothy, the pastor at the church in Ephesus: “in the latter days, people will turn away from the faith, and go astray, and abandon holiness & sound doctrine, and do as they please” – we see this in all manner of worldliness and ‘darkness’ currently appearing in the lives of those who claim to be in the “Light” (I am not saying live in “perfection”; I am saying that for a true Christian to “justify” or “excuse” sin in their life is either deception or rebellion).
There was a time, when rightly so, many of the things that “Christians” viewed as “un-Christian”, were taboo; most of these things – from foul language to drunkenness to fornication, and yes, maybe even tattoos and immodest attire – are now being embraced, justified, excused, and in some cases even promoted from pulpit, as “acceptable” among god’s holy people. God Himself spoke to Moses and said to God’s people: “set yourself apart and be holy, as I am Holy.”
And one more sobering quote from the Apostle James, speaking to those who would identify themselves as Christians: “You unfaithful people. Don’t you know that embracing things of this fallen world is hostility towards the God whom you say you love? Living in this way makes you an enemy of God!” Yes the bar for living as Children of God, that is, Children of Light (ie: “Christian”) is very high, but it was The Lord God Himself who set the bar so high (and has graciously granted us the power of the inhabiting Holy Spirit to walk in this Holiness).
Do not be misled thinking I am suggesting that we, as God’s Holy Children do no fail, sin and fall short of the goal; for I am not speaking of those who “struggle” to reach the bar that God has set, but rather, I am writing this to those who “deliberately choose” to live below it, and argue that it is acceptable by God to live there! – Gary Kienel
“When a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark, you don’t throw away your ticket and jump off – you sit still and trust the engineer.”
– Corrie Ten Boom
“C S Lewis said: “The real problem is not why some pious, humble, believing people suffer, but why some do not.”
“After all, the Word of God says: “All who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” (2 Timothy 3:12)
“Understanding that suffering and persecution come in a wide variety of appearances; the question begs to be asked: If you & I, individually, are not suffering persecution, in some manner or another, for the sake of Christ & His Kingdom, then why not? Could it be a lack of desire for godliness?!? #LookingInTheMirror” – Gary Kienel
“The Grace of God will never give you “permission” to return to a place where that same Grace of God has given you “remission” from!” ` Gary Kienel
Saint of God, are you intimately experiencing the apparent injustice of the seeming success and advancement of the heathen in your life? Read Psalm 37 slowly & thoroughly. It is a game changer!
“Do not fret because of evildoers, Be not envious toward wrongdoers. For they will wither quickly like the grass & fade like the green herb. Trust in the Lord and do good; Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord; And He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, and He will do it. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light & your judgment as the noonday. Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who carries out wicked schemes. Cease from anger and forsake wrath; Do not fret; it leads only to evildoing. For evildoers will be cut off, But those who wait for the Lord, they will inherit the land. Yet a little while and the wicked man will be no more; And you will look carefully for his place and he will not be there. But the humble will inherit the land & will delight themselves in abundant prosperity. The wicked plots against the righteous & gnashes at him with his teeth. The Lord laughs at him, For He sees his day is coming. The wicked have drawn the sword and bent their bow to cast down the afflicted and the needy, To slay those who are upright in conduct. Their sword will enter their own heart, And their bows will be broken. Better is the little of the righteous than the abundance of many wicked. For the arms of the wicked will be broken, But the Lord sustains the righteous. The Lord knows the days of the blameless, And their inheritance will be forever. They will not be ashamed in the time of evil, And in the days of famine they will have abundance. But the wicked will perish; And the enemies of the Lord will be like the glory of the pastures, They vanish—like smoke they vanish away. The wicked borrows and does not pay back, But the righteous is gracious and gives. For those blessed by Him will inherit the land, But those cursed by Him will be cut off. The steps of a man are established by the Lord, And He delights in his way. When he falls, he will not be hurled headlong, Because the Lord is the One who holds his hand. I have been young and now I am old, Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his descendants begging bread. All day long he is gracious and lends, And his descendants are a blessing. Depart from evil and do good, So you will abide forever. For the Lord loves justice & does not forsake His godly ones; They are preserved forever, but the descendants of the wicked will be cut off. The righteous will inherit the land & dwell in it forever. The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom, And his tongue speaks justice. The law of his God is in his heart; His steps do not slip. The wicked spies upon the righteous & seeks to kill him. The Lord will not leave him in his hand or let him be condemned when he is judged. Wait for the Lord and keep His way, And He will exalt you to inherit the land; When the wicked are cut off, you will see it. I have seen a wicked, violent man spreading himself like a luxuriant tree in its native soil. Then he passed away, and lo, he was no more; I sought for him, but he could not be found. Mark the blameless man, and behold the upright; For the man of peace will have a posterity. But transgressors will be altogether destroyed; the posterity of the wicked will be cut off. But the salvation of the righteous is from the Lord; He is their strength in time of trouble. The Lord helps them and delivers them; He delivers them from the wicked and saves them, Because they take refuge in Him.”
– Gary Kienel
Spoken by God through the prophet Isaiah nearly 3,000 years ago, who could have imagined the disgusting degree to which this perversion of Truth would become standard fare among those who claim to be “saved” – “born again” – “walking in the light”?!?
“Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!”
Wake up “Christian” – evil is evil! We are called to uphold holiness; calling anything less than holiness “good” brings upon us the “woes” of God Almighty, and brings reproach upon God’s name! Remember, it’s not just with words that we call evil good and good evil, it is even more so with our actions, behaviors and the things we embrace. Let him who has ears to hear, hear, & be awakened to Truth. (Isaiah 5:20)
– Gary Kienel
“Jesus promised His disciples three things: that they would be completely fearless, absurdly happy, and constantly in trouble.”
– G.K. Chesterton
Oh that we mere humans would quit trying to define God by our understanding of things. Isaiah 55:8-9 is foundational for all faith in God: “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.”
The greatest hindrance to our trusting & believing in God is our foolish insistence that we understand Him, and He measure up to our standards… that is, “our ways, and our thoughts”. The greatest step that you can take towards faith in God is to accept that His ways, and His thoughts are so far above ours, that we cannot understand them – but we can “accept them” without understanding them.
Move past your doubts, your fears, your thoughts & your ways – believe!
– Gary Kienel
When Jesus said, “repent” for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand, he spoke the word “repent” – it was recorded in Greek as “metanoia” which means: “To change your mind”. Change our mind from what? Wrong thinking? Thinking about what?
When Jesus spoke the word “Kingdom”, it was recorded in Greek using the word “basileia” which means: “the right or authority to rule & reign”. Rule & reign over what? My life?
Consider for a moment, that what Jesus was saying was: “Change your mind, from your own rule & reign over your life, to the rule & reign of God over your life.”
What must I do to be saved? It all starts when you “Repent” – Kinda changes everything, huh?
– Gary Kienel
“Yes, God is Love; but He is also the King. His Kingdom is a kingdom of love, but it is, nonetheless a Kingdom. To remove His Kingdom from His Love, creates a god in our own image, perverting Him into a Santa Claus or fairy godmother. To remove His Love from His Kingdom creates a cruel taskmaster, yielding slaves that can never achieve the requirements of the master. Oh but the good news is the King Loves! But before you “amen” this with your “like button”, remember, the only response to a loving king, is loving obedience! For these two neither can be separated – obedience without love is fruitless legalism, and love without obedience is self-indulgent permissiveness. God’s perfect way? A wholly compassionate father ruling & reigning over His obedient children who are madly in love with their daddy!” – Gary Kienel
Pity the one who is able to walk lukewarm & casual without obstacle or difficulty. “For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son [& daughter] whom he receives” (Heb 12:6) – Gary Kienel
James chapter 1 teaches us that there are 2 responses to every trial:
1) we allow our faith to be tested, demonstrating our trust in God’s rule & reign supreme, and we come forth as Gold, that we might receive the crown of Life, or
2) we allow temptation to stir the lust within us to doubt God’s rule & reign, and trust in our own lordship, which give birth to sin, who’s intent is to bring death.
Today, I choose faith… who’s with me?
(2 Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. 12 Blessed is a man who perseveres (endures) under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. 14 But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. 15 Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.)
– Gary Kienel
“By Grace; Through Faith; [Not BY Works, but FOR Works] have we been saved.” The same Grace that saved us by no effort of our own, is now displayed in us & through us “as a result of” – even the very purpose for – our having been saved. In other words, the purpose for redemption/justification is restoration resulting in sanctification! (Ephesus 2:8-10) Whoa to the one who after partaking in redemption, fails to position himself, through restoration, for sanctification, thereby making a mockery of the very Love that redeemed & justified him. Let him who has ears to hear, hear. – Gary Kienel
SEPTEMBER 13 (3:33am)
To whom it may concern: My heart breaks for those “precious and dearly loved, called out children of the most high God” who have strayed from The Path.
Some have wandered far off and don’t even know it. Others knowingly have set their course (and their hearts) to lands far far away. Still others have stumbled and been knocked off course and are roadside wondering what to do. For many, an ever-so-slight course correction will return you to the straight and narrow.
To some, I whisper: “You know.”
To other I scream: “Wake up!”
Some will not hear either; others will have a sudden enlightenment, and find rescue!
But to all His own, I assure you:
You cannot go too far;
You cannot go too often;
Your failures need not be fatal;
Your shame, which is good and necessary for a season, will not keep you from Him!
For He, our Lord, is a rescuer & a restorer of His own – after all, you know His voice!
He cries out: “It’s never too late! Child come home!” as He leaves the 99 and comes lovingly, with determination, after you, the one.
Whether knowingly one step off the Way in the midst of a solid journey – or deliberately running hard away from the path altogether – you will never outrun Him, nor be out of His reach, or beyond his love.
This promise is for His own, alone!
You are precious.
You are called.
You have been chosen!
You are set apart.
His faithfulness & goodness will sustain you!
He will – in fact He did – rend heaven & hell for you.
Child Come Home!
– Gary Kienel
Saints. Mistakes will happen. Sometimes errors in judgement; sometimes overcome by our “evil desires within”; and sometimes with sincere hearts seeking our Lord’s will. Sometimes it is a mix of two or all three. Whatever the case, we have a few promises from our Lord regarding “mistakes”, and despite the commonality of the first promise, I don’t want to gloss it over: “All things work together for good, for those who love The Lord, and are called according to His purpose.” Additionally, in the other extreme case, we have a similar result, and can say, as Joseph said: “that what [the enemy] intended for evil, God intended for good.”
Now I am not suggesting that because of God’s sovereignty, we can be apathetic or careless in our decision making; but what I am doing is making much of the truth of scripture’s teaching that we (born again saints of God), can rest assured that we have been “given a new heart & a new spirit” and have had “His Spirit placed in us” and we are, therefore a “new creature in Christ!”
So, you find yourself “awakening” from a condition of “oops, what have I done?” Consider your response carefully. If, as I shared above, you are in this place because the “evil desires within your flesh” rose up and you gave into them – then repent and rejoice! Repent not from just the giving in, but also repent from the evil desire within you! Then, rejoice! Rejoice that you were awakened to the mistake! Rejoice that God was not asleep at the wheel when this mistake was made, and that what was intended for evil by forces other than our Lord, were (past tense) intended for good by our Lord; additionally, rejoice that He has promised to work it for good in your life (you chosen lover of God)! Be encouraged to not too quickly blow past or through the repentance phase. You should not die there in your guilt & shame, but neither should you gloss over it as if it matters not that a mistake has been made.
As for errors in judgment. We are in Christ, yes – but, unfortunately we are “under construction” regarding our “mind” being transformed. So there are times we will just plain “get it wrong!” Again, repent & rejoice! Repent for the wrong thought processes that led you to a wrong conclusion & ask God to fix your mind of self, and make it the mind of Christ. Rejoice then, for you were awakened to your mistake & your wrong thinking… You could have stayed in that place & even died there – what joy that we have been graced to be awakened! God has intended & can work this too for good!!
So you say, but Gary, I prayed, I sought The Lord. I even fasted. I sought counsel. I thought my heart was right in the direction I went, but alas, I see now, it was a mistake. Good news! Yep, you got it: repent & rejoice! Repent for missing the mark, even though all indications were a “green light” – ask for wisdom as to where you went wrong; He will show you, for he promises wisdom to those who ask, and He who has called you is faithful! Then, while listening for wisdom, rejoice! Rejoice that your weren’t lost in your mistake and that He awakened you! Rejoice that He promises to work ALL things for good for you because you love Him, and are called by Him!
What I am saying is, no matter the reason you, as a lover of God, called by Him, with a heart for His kingdom, find yourself on the “other-side” of a mistake, you should simply, yet thoroughly, repent; then with excitement and courage, stand up, dust the dirt off of you, and with rejoicing, go again for God!
Mistakes will come, Saint. But for us, it is a matter of “rejoice when you face trials of various types” (and these mistakes are indeed trials of the flesh), for they are granting us the privilege of repentance, and the command to rejoice!
– Gary Kienel
“Christ can never be known without a sense of awe and fear accompanying the knowledge….No one who knows Him intimately can ever be flippant in His presence.”
– A.W. Tozer
“My problem with sin is that I don’t hate it enough!”
– Pastor Tom Myers