Discipline

Who’s in the House

Who’s in the House

Ever feel like you don’t belong? Maybe you’ve struggled to fit in with a particular group of people, or you feel like an outsider in your own community.

It’s easy to feel isolated and alone in such situations, but as the apostle Peter wrote, “you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house.” (1 Peter 2:5)

You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

What does it mean to be a living stone in God’s spiritual house?

It means that we are all part of something much bigger than ourselves. We are part of God’s family, and we form a community of believers who are built on the foundation of Jesus Christ.

Just as individual stones are carefully placed to create a strong and stable structure, so God is placing each one of us in just the right place in His Spiritual House.

Embrace your role as a living stone

Remember, you have a vital part to play in God’s plan. Each one of us has unique gifts and talents that can be used to build up the body of Christ. Use those gifts to serve one another in love and to bring glory to God. In doing so, you will discover the joy and fulfillment that comes from being part of God’s House.

Posted by onthesolidrock in Discipline, Faith, Family, Trust
Hostility

Hostility

In the Book of Romans 8:7, we come across a powerful statement about the human condition. It says that the mindset of the flesh is hostile to God and does not submit to God’s law.

“The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.”

This verse shines a light on the internal struggle that exists within each of us—the tension between our natural inclinations and the desire to align ourselves with God’s will.

When the passage speaks of the mindset of the flesh, it refers to our human nature apart from God’s transformative work in our lives.

It is the part of us that is self-centered, driven by worldly desires, and resistant to God’s authority. This mindset creates a barrier between us and God, hindering our ability to fully embrace His truth and live in harmony with His will.

The good news is that through Christ, we have the power to overcome this hostile mindset.

Through the work of the Holy Spirit in us, we can experience a radical transformation of our minds and hearts. We can choose to align our thoughts, attitudes, and actions with God’s truth, surrendering our will to His and allowing His love to shape and guide us.

As you reflect on this verse, be reminded of the ongoing battle between your fleshly desires and the Spirit of God within you.

Recognize any tendencies within you that are opposed to God’s will and surrender them to Him.

Continually seek the guidance and empowerment of the Holy Spirit to transform your mind, renew your heart, and enable you to live in alignment with God’s purposes.

Posted by onthesolidrock in Daily Inspiration, Discipline, Faith
Choose Your Words Carefully

Choose Your Words Carefully

In Matthew 5:22, Jesus teaches us that anger can have serious consequences. This passage tells us that being angry with someone can lead to insulting them, which can then escalate to a more serious problems.

 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.

This is a reminder that we must be careful with our words and actions, and that we should strive to control our emotions and not allow anger to take over.

As believers, we are called to love our neighbors and even our enemies. We should seek to resolve conflicts with grace and kindness rather than allowing anger to fuel our responses.

This is not always an easy task, but with the help of the Holy Spirit, we can learn to respond to situations with love and patience.

We should also remember that anger is not always sinful in itself, but it is how we respond to that anger that can lead to sin.

Jesus’ words in this passage remind us that our words and actions have consequences. We should be mindful of how we interact with others; our words matter!

Ask the Holy Spirit to help you control your emotions and to respond with grace and kindness to those who may anger you.

May your life be a reflection of Christ’s love, and may you seek to bring peace to a world that often seems so full of anger and hostility.

Posted by onthesolidrock in Daily Inspiration, Discipline, Faith, Forgiveness, Trust
Deliberate Sin

Deliberate Sin

A serious warning and a call to accountability for believers.

“If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left”

Hebrews 10:26

While this verse may sound stern, it reminds us of the significance of our choices and the need for sincere repentance and obedience in our Christian walk.

The verse emphasizes the importance of our response to the knowledge of the truth. When we receive the gospel, we are entrusted with the knowledge of God’s grace and forgiveness through Jesus Christ.

If we knowingly continue to engage in willful sin without genuine repentance, we undermine the sacrificial work of Christ on the cross.

The author’s intention is to steer believers away from complacency or a casual approach to sin and to encourage a wholehearted commitment to holy living.

This verse calls us to examine our hearts and actions. It reminds us that our faith should lead to a transformation of our lives, as we align ourselves with God’s will.

Rather than taking God’s grace for granted, we are called to live in reverence and awe, knowing that our choices have spiritual consequences.

Embrace the responsibility of your faith and walk in obedience, allowing the knowledge of the truth to shape every aspect of your life.

Posted by onthesolidrock in Daily Inspiration, Discipline, Humility, Trust
Sword of the Spirit

Sword of the Spirit

The Apostle Paul introduces us to the powerful spiritual weapon of the “Sword of the Spirit.”

“Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God”

Ephesians 6:17

The “Sword of the Spirit” represents the Word of God, which is a vital part of our armor. Just as a soldier wields a sword in battle, we are called to use the Scriptures as a weapon against the enemy’s attacks.

The Word of God is living and active, capable of penetrating our hearts and minds, bringing truth, conviction, and guidance. It equips us to discern the lies of the enemy and stand firm in our faith.

As followers of Christ, it is crucial that we engage with the Word of God consistently. Studying and meditating on Scripture, sharpens our understanding and deepens our relationship with God.

I encourage you to hold fast to the Word of God as your Spiritual Weapon. Dive into Scripture, seeking its truth and allowing it to transform your life.

In times of doubt, temptation, or adversity, let God’s Word guide and strengthen you. Remember that the “Sword of the Spirit” is not merely a passive tool but an active force that empowers us to live victoriously in Christ.

Arm yourself with God’s Word, and you will find the wisdom, strength, and courage needed to navigate and win, every spiritual conflict you encounter!

Posted by onthesolidrock in Daily Inspiration, Discipline, Faith
Acceptance

Acceptance

The Bible verse we’re focusing on today is about accepting those whose faith is weaker than ours; an important reminder for all of us to show love and grace to others, regardless of whether we agree with them or not.

When we encounter people whose beliefs are different from our own, it can be tempting to argue with them and try to convince them to see things our way. But this verse reminds us to take a different approach.

Instead of getting into arguments over disputable matters, we should simply accept those who believe differently than we do.

This doesn’t mean that we should abandon our own beliefs or compromise on our convictions. Rather, it means that we should show respect and understanding to those whose beliefs differ from ours.

We should strive to create an atmosphere of love and acceptance, rather than one of division and disagreement.

At the same time, we should also be careful not to get bogged down in disputes over minor issues that are not central to our faith.

Instead, we should focus on the core principles of the Bible, such as love, forgiveness, and grace. These are the things that truly matter and that can bring us closer to God and to each other.

Romans 14:1 is a powerful reminder to accept those whose faith is weaker than ours and to avoid quarreling over disputable matters. Let us strive to show love and grace to all those we encounter, regardless of our differences.

Through our words and actions, may we build a more compassionate and understanding world.

Posted by onthesolidrock in Daily Inspiration, Discipline, Faith
Do the Right Thing!

Do the Right Thing!

While reading the book of James, you will come across a verse that may really jump out at you! James 4:17 says, “If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.”

This verse really got me thinking about my own life and the times when I knew what the right thing to do was, but didn’t do it.

I think this verse is a reminder that our faith is not just about believing in God, but it’s also about living out our beliefs in our daily lives.

We have to be willing to take action and do what we know is right, even if it’s not the easy thing to do.

This can be challenging, but it’s important to remember that our actions are a direct reflection of our faith.

It’s also important to recognize that not doing the good we ought to do is considered sin. This means that when we choose to ignore the needs of others or turn a blind eye to injustice, we are actively sinning against God.

It’s a heavy responsibility, but also a powerful reminder that our actions have real consequences, both for ourselves and for others.

Let’s strive to live a life of action, always seeking to do the good we know we ought to do.

Posted by onthesolidrock in Daily Inspiration, Discipline, Faith
Beyond Elementary

Beyond Elementary

As we consider Hebrews 6:1, we are reminded that our spiritual journey is not meant to be stagnant. We are called to move beyond the basics and strive for spiritual maturity.

It’s easy to get comfortable with what we know, but the Christian life is meant to be a journey of growth and transformation.

Moving beyond elementary teachings about Christ requires us to deepen our understanding of the Gospel and the Person of Jesus Christ. It involves not only studying the Scriptures but also cultivating a deeper relationship with God through prayer, worship, and fellowship with other believers.

As we grow in our understanding of who God is and what He has done for us, we will be better equipped to share the good news of the Gospel with others.

At the same time, moving beyond elementary teachings also means leaving behind patterns of sin and disobedience. Repentance is not a one-time event but a continual turning away from sin and towards God.

As we strive for spiritual maturity, we must be willing to confront our sinful patterns and habits and seek God’s help to overcome them. This requires humility, vulnerability, and a willingness to be held accountable by others.

The Christian life is not a static experience but a dynamic journey of growth and transformation.

As we seek to move beyond elementary teachings about Christ, we must deepen our understanding of the Gospel, cultivate a deeper relationship with God, and confront our patterns of sin and disobedience. May we all strive towards spiritual maturity and be a shining light for Christ in the world.

Posted by onthesolidrock in Daily Inspiration, Discipline, Faith, Trust
Watch Out!

Watch Out!

The Bible passage from Romans 16:17 reminds us to be cautious of people who cause division and create obstacles that go against the Biblical teachings we have learned. We must be careful of who we choose to associate with and the beliefs they follow. It is important to stay true to our faith and to seek guidance from trusted sources to avoid being led astray.

We can apply this lesson to our daily lives by being mindful of the people we surround ourselves with and the messages we consume.

It is easy to be influenced by the opinions and beliefs of those around us, but we must remember to stay grounded in our own values and convictions.

This can be challenging, but seeking the wisdom and guidance of those we trust can help us stay on the right path.

As we reflect on this passage, let us remember to be vigilant in guarding our hearts and minds against those who would lead us astray. Let us seek the truth and wisdom of God’s Word and those who have studied it deeply. By doing so, we can grow in our faith and become better equipped to navigate the challenges of life.

Posted by onthesolidrock in Daily Inspiration, Discipline, Faith, Trust
Results of Christian Apathy

Results of Christian Apathy

When a nation 𝗿𝗲𝗽𝗲𝗮𝘁𝗲𝗱𝗹𝘆 𝘁𝘂𝗿𝗻𝘀 𝗶𝘁𝘀 𝗯𝗮𝗰𝗸 𝗼𝗻 𝗚𝗼𝗱; that nation gets exactly what they wanted. We now are witnessing the results of years of “𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀𝘁𝗶𝗮𝗻 𝗮𝗽𝗮𝘁𝗵𝘆”.

𝗜𝘁 𝗶𝘀 𝗲𝗮𝘀𝘆 𝘁𝗼 𝗽𝗼𝗶𝗻𝘁 𝗳𝗶𝗻𝗴𝗲𝗿𝘀 𝗮𝘁 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗰𝘂𝗿𝗿𝗲𝗻𝘁 𝗴𝗼𝘃𝗲𝗿𝗻𝗺𝗲𝗻𝘁 𝗮𝗱𝗺𝗶𝗻𝗶𝘀𝘁𝗿𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗯𝗹𝗮𝗺𝗲 𝗽𝗼𝗼𝗿 𝗹𝗲𝗮𝗱𝗲𝗿𝘀𝗵𝗶𝗽, 𝘄𝗿𝗼𝘂𝗴𝗵𝘁 𝘄𝗶𝘁𝗵 𝗰𝗼𝗿𝗿𝘂𝗽𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻, 𝗹𝘆𝗶𝗻𝗴, 𝗰𝗵𝗲𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗻𝗴, 𝘀𝘁𝗲𝗮𝗹𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗺𝗼𝗿𝗲. 𝗪𝗵𝗶𝗹𝗲 𝘁𝗵𝗼𝘀𝗲 𝗮𝗰𝗰𝘂𝘀𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻𝘀 𝗮𝗿𝗲 𝘁𝗿𝘂𝗲; 𝘁𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝗶𝘀 𝗻𝗼𝘁 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗽𝗿𝗼𝗯𝗹𝗲𝗺.

A 𝘀𝗹𝗲𝗲𝗽𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗰𝗵𝘂𝗿𝗰𝗵; more interested in its own survival than with the advancement of a 𝗛𝗼𝗹𝘆 𝗞𝗶𝗻𝗴𝗱𝗼𝗺; a church more interested in 𝗮𝗽𝗽𝗲𝗮𝘀𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝘄𝗼𝗿𝗹𝗱 𝘁𝗵𝗮𝗻 𝗰𝗼𝗻𝗳𝗿𝗼𝗻𝘁𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗶𝘁; a church that 𝗰𝗮𝗻𝗻𝗼𝘁 𝗱𝗲𝗰𝗶𝗱𝗲 𝗶𝗳 𝗚𝗼𝗱’𝘀 𝗪𝗼𝗿𝗱 𝗶𝘀 𝘀𝘁𝗶𝗹𝗹 𝗿𝗲𝗹𝗲𝘃𝗮𝗻𝘁 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝘁𝗵𝗶𝘀 𝗱𝗮𝘆 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗮𝗴𝗲; a church that has 𝗯𝗲𝗮𝘂𝘁𝗶𝗳𝘂𝗹 𝗳𝗼𝗿𝗺𝘀 𝗼𝗳 𝗴𝗼𝗱𝗹𝗶𝗻𝗲𝘀𝘀, but which lacks any power whatsoever; 𝘁𝗵𝗶𝘀 𝗶𝘀 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗿𝗼𝗼𝘁 𝗰𝗮𝘂𝘀𝗲 𝗼𝗳 𝘄𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝘄𝗲 𝘀𝗲𝗲 𝘁𝗼𝗱𝗮𝘆.

𝗦𝘁𝗼𝗽 𝗯𝗹𝗮𝗺𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝘀𝗶𝗻𝗻𝗲𝗿𝘀 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝘀𝗶𝗻𝗻𝗶𝗻𝗴; 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝗰𝗿𝘆𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗼𝘂𝘁 𝗹𝗼𝘂𝗱, 𝗶𝘁𝘀 𝘄𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝘁𝗵𝗲𝘆 𝗱𝗼!

I hear a ringing in my heart and is goes like this:

“𝗦𝗶𝗻𝗰𝗲 𝗠𝘆 𝗽𝗲𝗼𝗽𝗹𝗲, 𝘄𝗵𝗼 𝗮𝗿𝗲 𝗰𝗮𝗹𝗹𝗲𝗱 𝗯𝘆 𝗠𝘆 𝗡𝗮𝗺𝗲, 𝗵𝗮𝘃𝗲 𝗰𝗵𝗼𝘀𝗲𝗻 𝗽𝗿𝗶𝗱𝗲 𝗿𝗮𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗿 𝘁𝗵𝗮𝗻 𝗵𝘂𝗺𝗶𝗹𝗶𝘁𝘆; 𝘄𝗵𝗼 𝗱𝗼 𝗻𝗼𝘁 𝘀𝗲𝗲𝗸 𝗠𝘆 𝗙𝗮𝗰𝗲 𝗶𝗻 𝗽𝗿𝗮𝘆𝗲𝗿, 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗮𝗿𝗲 𝗻𝗼𝘁 𝘄𝗶𝗹𝗹𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝘁𝗼 𝘁𝘂𝗿𝗻 𝗳𝗿𝗼𝗺 𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗶𝗿 𝘄𝗶𝗰𝗸𝗲𝗱 𝘄𝗮𝘆𝘀; 𝗜 𝘄𝗶𝗹𝗹 𝗻𝗼 𝗹𝗼𝗻𝗴𝗲𝗿 𝗵𝗲𝗮𝗿 𝗳𝗿𝗼𝗺 𝗵𝗲𝗮𝘃𝗲𝗻, 𝗜 𝘄𝗶𝗹𝗹 𝗻𝗼𝘁 𝗳𝗼𝗿𝗴𝗶𝘃𝗲 𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗶𝗿 𝘀𝗶𝗻; 𝗻𝗼𝗿 𝘄𝗶𝗹𝗹 𝗜 𝗵𝗲𝗮𝗹 𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗶𝗿 𝗹𝗮𝗻𝗱!”

Is it too late to repent, and turn your; so-called “Christian” Heart to God?

𝗜𝘁 𝗶𝘀 𝗶𝗳 𝘆𝗼𝘂 𝘄𝗼𝗻’𝘁 𝗱𝗼 𝗶𝘁!

Posted by onthesolidrock in Discipline, Faith, Holiness, Trust
Holiness – Can’t See God Without It! – Part 2

Holiness – Can’t See God Without It! – Part 2

Today is part 2 of our discussion regarding holiness. Let’s have a quick review of what we touched on last week.

 

Hebrews 12:14

Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.

 

These words from the Book of Hebrews seem to echo an Old Testament passage from Leviticus . . .

 

Leviticus 20:7-8

“‘Consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am the Lord your God. 8 Keep my decrees and follow them. I am the Lord, who makes you holy.”

 

Since holiness is pivotal to our faith, it becomes a primary concern for us to understand completely what this means.

 

The definition of holiness is this: to be pure, righteous, consecrated. When we come to faith in Christ, we become holy; purified by His blood, which He shed for us! Remember . . .

 

Holiness is a product of God’s Grace; none of us did anything to become holy. In and of ourselves there is nothing holy about us; but by faith through grace, we came to Christ . . . and He made us holy!

 

 

When we come to Jesus, we were, as the Bible declares . . . rescued!

 

Colossians 1:13

For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves . . .

 

We were rescued from a life of darkness and brought into a new place; the Kingdom of the Son. We are a part of a new family and the way this family operates is very different from the way we used to do things. God wants us to get to know Him and to become more like Him, and He is holy.

 

Last week we showed the difference between what we often call legalism vs. holiness.

 

Legalism: Following a set of man-made rules so that one appears to be holy before man; or as I refer to as “legislated righteousness.”

 

Holiness: Obeying God’s commands out of love, thereby bringing glory and honor to Him

 

When a person is truly living holy (used for God’s purposes only) something dramatic begins to take place in the life of that individual. That person begins to emulate the very lifestyle of Jesus!

 

Consider Jesus . . . we know He is holy. Do you recall some of the miracles He did; feeding thousands, healing the sick, the lame walk, the blind see, and so much more!

 

Jesus was, and is, wonderfully amazing! He still heals the sick, feeds the hungry, gives comfort to the suffering, and helps the weak and feeble. He is still in the business of being the Lord and Savior of all!

 

He does not do this alone; He uses those who truly have met Him and have chosen to follow His directives! Jesus was on a mission . . . do you recall what that mission was?

 

Luke 4:14-21

 Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. 15 He was teaching in their synagogues, and everyone praised him.

16 He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:

18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21 He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

 

Jesus read from the Book of Isaiah chapter 61; this is His mission and He has called us to continue His mission, until He returns! This is why we do what we do!

 

It is why we take missionary offerings; it is why we feed the hungry and give clothes to the needy. It is why we donate thousands of dollars to the poor in our community. How awesome it would be if all of us got involved, if all had the desire to serve Jesus!

 

I am about to say a few things that might feel a little “stingy” and as I have said many times, if I step on your toes, perhaps you shouldn’t have had them out there!

 

A huge problem today: many folks within the church who DO NOT TRULY KNOW JESUS are trying to represent Him to others! Instead of giving testimony to His wonderful works, they give testimony to their religion! Instead of inviting people to Jesus, they invite them to church!

 

Now do not get me wrong; please invite and bring people to church with you; but your responsibility is to lead them to a Savior, not a church. Remember, coming to church does not make you a Christian any more than taking your car to the garage makes you a mechanic.

 

We are called to bring people to Jesus, not a religion! Speaking to the Pharisees who were doing this very thing, Jesus said:

 

Matthew 23:15

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.

 

For those of you who have met Jesus; please do not be discouraged, but encouraged, to share your faith. Step up and be the ambassador that Jesus Christ has called you to be!

 

You must realize that your life is an open book; and people ARE watching!

 

2 Corinthians 3:2

You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone.

 

Remember, you and your life, the way you speak, the places you go, the people you surround yourself with; everything you do; even what you think you do in secret, is on display, and people are watching! Recall what Jesus said in Matthew chapter 5 . . .

 

Matthew 5:14-16

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

 

Some of you may remember the stories of King David; the Bible calls him a man after God’s own heart. He was a powerful witness to the faithfulness of God, yet when David sinned, he became a reproach. When you have an opportunity, read Psalm 51; it is King David’s confession of that sin and his repentance; Psalm 51 reveals the way out of sin.

 

Make no mistake though; the credibility of your witness for Christ is lost when sin rules in your life!

 

The world today has heard far too many “Christians” giving testimony to a life they are not living! This is the reason that so many view Christianity in such a poor light. People know what God is like and they will examine your life to see if your life reflects His truth, power and holiness; if it does not, then you will be considered a phony.

 

1 Peter 3:15

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect

 

I encourage you to be a witness for Christ, but to be effective; you MUST live for Christ as well!

 

I have seen so called Christians’ act in ways that betray that designation! Far too many neglect to feed the poor, clothe the naked, and give comfort to the suffering.

 

I have seen Christians fly into fits of rage, go on complaining rants, and don’t even talk about how they handle politics!

 

I have seen Christians complain when the church is in financial need, feeling like all they have is their own and will only give a smidgen, rather than be generous.  I have seen “good Christians” engage in gossip, to the point of obsession!

 

Yet these same “Christians” profess to know Christ, but their deeds deny Him!

 

Titus 1:16

They claim to know God, but by their actions, they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.

 

So, how does all this fit, with the topic of holiness? It has everything to do with it! Remember, holiness is being set apart for God and His purpose only. As followers of Jesus, when we forget that, and start living for our own desires, rather than God’s, we become unholy and we sin.

One of the most profound instances of a man coming face to face with holiness is found in the Book of Isaiah, let’s read . . .

 

Isaiah 6:1-8

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. 3 And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” 4 At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. 5 “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.”

6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7 With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.” 8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

 

Isaiah saw God! His first response was to declare that he was undone; literally meaning he would melt and dissolve! He confessed that he was a man who had unclean (unholy) lips and he lived among a people who were the same way and now he has seen the King of Kings!

 

Isaiah recognized he is a sinful man; and remember, it is what comes out of your mouth that makes you clean or unclean; that is why the first thing Isaiah knew, was that his lips were unclean; and he confessed that sin right away.

 

How about you . . . do you have unclean lips? What comes out of your mouth?

 

The first step toward holiness; is humility. The Bible declares:

 

Psalm 51:17 

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.”

 

And . . .

 

James 4:6    “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

 

There is something very pleasing to God, when our heart is broken, over our brokenness.

 

When Isaiah saw his heart for what it really was, he melted before God and was quick to declare that he was a sinful man. An old friend once told me; “Come clean with God and you will be Clean with God.”

 

When we come to the place of humility and “get real” before God, when hot tears of repentance flow down our cheeks, an amazing thing takes place!

 

When Isaiah confessed and declared himself to be unholy, God sent the seraphim and they took a hot coal from the altar of God and touched Isaiah’s lips; the part of his body that he saw as unclean!

 

The fire of God purged the sin from Isaiah! The seraphim said that his guilt was taken away and his sin atoned for!

 

Total and complete restoration! AND ISAIAH DID NOTHING BUT CONFESS HIS SIN!!!

 

Suppose you are in Isaiah’s place today, and you see the Lord; high and lifted up, the train of His robe filling the temple and He looks at you . . . what do you say? I am a man or a woman of . . .

 

  • unclean lips              
  • unclean mind            
  • evil hands                 
  • lustful eyes               
  • greed
  • anger                         
  • envy                           
  • bitterness                 
  • hatred                       
  • unforgiveness

 

Are you ready for the fire of God to purge the sin from your heart? He will; if you would only humble yourself, and acknowledge your own sinfulness before Him!

 

When you have this defining moment in your life; when you come face to face with the Living God; everything changes, and your life reflects the One who rescued you!

Posted by onthesolidrock in Discipline, Faith, Family, Holiness, Humility, Thankfulness, Trust, 0 comments
Holiness – Can’t See God Without It – Part 1

Holiness – Can’t See God Without It – Part 1

There may be no other word used in the Bible that congers up more confusion and misunderstanding than the word holiness. Sometimes when we think of holiness, we see visions of a stern and stoic group of people, living under harsh rules and regulations, devoid of laughter and mirth.

 

Many of us grew up with a skewed view of what holiness is, and many think being holy will cause so much discomfort that they choose to avoid getting to close to churches that espouse to be a holiness church.

 

I am hopeful we can shed some light on what exactly it means to be holy and why it will bring joyful exuberance to your life; more than you ever could have imagined!

 

The Bible reveals how very important holiness is; without it, we are in trouble!

 

Hebrews 12:14

Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness, no one will see the Lord.

 

In light of this, it is important to understand what this means, so much depends on it! The word used for “holiness” is this:

Hagiasmos     hag-ee-as-mos‘   –  purification, a state of purity; to be consecrated, sanctification

 

When the Hebrews established a system of sacrificing to God, they built a large temple in Jerusalem. All of the temple equipment went through a ritual of cleansing and was consecrated to God; that ceremonial cleansing, made those objects, holy unto the Lord. All of that equipment was declared to be “set apart” different from other items, because they were dedicated, and consecrated to God and His use.

 

Remember, God is Holy and CANNOT be in the presence of sin; to be in God’s service, holiness is NOT OPTIONAL! To be Holy unto the Lord, is to be set apart for God and for His purposes ONLY.

 

Holiness is a product of Grace; none of us did anything to become holy. In and of ourselves there is nothing holy about us; but by faith, through grace, we came to Christ . . . and He declared us holy!

 

God’s greatest desire is that we would enjoy close friendship with Him. He wants us to “hang out with Him” and He wants us to share His nature too. When we come to Christ, we were, as the Bible declares . . .

 

Colossians 1:13

For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves . . .

 

We were rescued from a life of darkness and brought into a new place; the Kingdom of the Son. We are a part of a new family and the way this family operates is very different from the way we used to do things. God wants us to get to know Him and to become more like Him, and He is holy.

 

There is a great deal of confusion over what true holiness is and we can easily get caught up in what we often refer to as legalism. I define legalism as “legislated righteousness.”

 

When we lay down a bunch of rules and regulations, declaring that holiness is granted, according to our obedience to these rules, insisting they be followed; that is legalism.

 

Jesus alone declares us Holy by virtue of being “washed” in His Blood!

 

The Israelites received the Law of God through Moses; yet following it to the letter never brought salvation. The law was a continual reminder of the sinfulness of the people who were to live by it!

 

Even today, those attempting to live under those laws, certainly feel a sense of condemnation hanging over their head. They cannot keep to the law entirely; try as they might, they just can’t do it; they live with an overwhelming sense of guilt and shame for being unable to.

 

James 2:10For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.

 

We soon find ourselves in the predicament Paul spoke of in his letter to the church in Rome . . .

 

Romans 7:14-20

We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

 

Does this sound familiar; perhaps is may very well describe the way you feel.

 

Too often, folks will want to “try to be a Christian.” It is in the trying that life often becomes so unbearable that they slip away, never feeling as though they will ever measure up to the standards that God has laid down for them to live by. Disillusioned and sad, they go away hurt and confused; some never recover from this!

 

When we try to be a Christian, we fall into a performance-based religion and we quickly realize that something is out of kilter here. While the mind and heart may want to change and fall in line with these new rules and regulations, something deep inside intuitively knows that this is not the “real” you.

 

We tend to base our Christianity on how well we perform it. Instead of “being” a Christian, we try to “do” Christianity; we put on happy Christian faces and say all the right Christian things, trying to assure folks we are certainly a Christian. We tend to wear “two hats” one when we are around church folks and another around worldly folk; the difference is glaring!

 

When it comes to God’s law, we know it is good. The whole purpose of God’s law was to show us what He is like. It is as if God is asking; “Would you like Me to be your God? If you do, then this is what I am like.”

 

The law of God, quickly reveals that we are nowhere near being like Him; those laws reveal just how far away from God we really are! Recognizing this disparity causes us great conviction and we humble ourselves and come to Jesus. The law of God helps us understand our need for salvation; it moves us toward salvation.

 

Jesus declares in John 6:44; “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them” Drawn to God, we come to a “flash point” and then in an amazing, God inspired act of grace, we come to faith and believe in Christ, rescued and brought into His kingdom. The law of God accomplished its mission!

 

Now, as we learn to live in this new kingdom, the law no longer has hold over us; or rather, it does not condemn us. Oh, it still stands, and it is still righteous, and it remains a strong reminder of what the character of God is like; but we are now on the other side of that law, and we are now safely in the kingdom.

 

  • Without the gift of Christ, the law stood in judgment of us and we were certainly condemned. The law stood as a reminder of our sinful nature and we lived in fear. Now, as a redeemed child of God, that fear is lifted, and we live in, and under, grace!

 

We can go back to that amazing passage in the Book of Romans we referred to earlier . . . the one where Paul struggled with sin. The following chapter is a celebration of life being lived differently.

 

Romans 8:1-11

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

5 Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6 The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. 7 The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8 Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.

9 You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. 10 But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. 11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.

 

So, we can clearly see that when we come to faith in Christ, we are set free from the law; it has done its work and we are now living by the Spirit . . . this is really good news!

 

Remember, the purpose of holiness, is to allow us to be in right relationship with God Himself; set apart for Him and His purposes ONLY. When we believed in Christ for redemption and we transferred into His kingdom, we became holy; not by anything we did, but by what He did. His sacrifice and His Blood washed away the stains of sin and we were declared holy!

 

Now here is the clincher . . . listen to these three passages . . .

 

Hebrews 12:14

Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.

 

2 Corinthians 7:1

Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.

 

1 Peter 1:13-16

Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. 14 As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”

 

In all three of these passages, the admonishment to be holy and to keep ourselves separated to God is clear. Unlike the articles used in the temple of God, we make choices and we have free will. Now rescued from the world of darkness, we have an obligation to stay in the Kingdom of His Son.

 

We are part of a family, God’s family, and there ARE rules to follow and new ways to learn.

 

These passages; written to us so that we would be mindful of the awesome responsibility we all have as followers of Jesus and that is to keep ourselves holy.

 

It is here . . . right here, where the issues of legalism and rule-making and breaking come into play. We not only have a responsibility to God, but to one another. In order to keep everyone on the same page . . . so to speak, we often make additional rules and regulations to live by; markers along the way to keep any wayward folks in check.

 

While rules and regulations have great value, they do not save. These man-made rules and regulations may keep you from getting hurt or hurting others, but they, in and of themselves, cannot save you, nor can they keep you saved!

 

Once the law propelled us to Christ and we were born again into the Kingdom of the Son, the work of the law was finished; its mission accomplished!

 

Under the Spirit, when we sin, we are no longer condemned, but convicted and there is a huge difference! Under the Spirit, we don’t want to sin; we are getting to know God more and more; Jesus is the One who extends His hand to us and says; “Come, follow me.” It is in the following, that we grow and find our place in the Kingdom of God. It is in the following that our lives begin to take on the likeness of Jesus.

 

I have often been asked by anxious people; “Pastor; is my lifestyle going to send me to hell?” The real issue is not lifestyle, but life. Anyone one without Christ is lost and according to Jesus, they are condemned already.

 

 “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already. . . “               John 3:18

 

The person who is lost will spend eternity without Christ, not because of a lifestyle, but because they have not come to Christ.

 

I say to that questioning soul; they need Jesus, redemption is only in Him. When Jesus reaches out His hand, and you decide to follow Him; your lifestyle will begin to look remarkably like His! Oh, and by the way, His lifestyle is holy!

 

Walking with Jesus is not for the fainthearted. It is not an easy walk and the way can be difficult. He quickly reveals areas of your life that need attention. He will want you to learn to trust Him; with relationships, finances, children, your future, your health and much, much more!

 

Keep in mind that you have been transferred out of the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light, and it may take a while before you get everything right; just remember, as a child of the King, you are no longer under condemnation, but you have been set free!

 

Let’s keep pursuing the way of holiness together and see where it leads . . . this is going to be good!

 

Next week, Lord willing . . . Part II

Posted by onthesolidrock in Discipline, Faith, Family, Holiness, Humility, Ministries, Prayer, Thankfulness, Trust, 0 comments
Do NOT Quench the Holy Spirit

Do NOT Quench the Holy Spirit

One of the things I love to do is preach! It seems to be the one thing that is always on my heart and has been burned into my spirit! I long to see the “church” come alive and experience all it should, and could be! Indeed, anytime people of faith come together to hear the Word of God proclaimed; amazing things can happen.

There is however, an element of great danger, for some who casually saunter into a place where the Word of God is declared . . . so much is at stake!

Every time we come together and share God’s Word; which by the way the Bible says is sharper than ANY two-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12) we have choices to make; some of those choices determine the fate of our eternal soul!

I have a background in metal working and there is a process by which you can make iron very hard. First, you need to get the iron extremely hot; and when the conditions are right, you quickly quench the iron bar, either in water or in oil, depending on the hardness desired.

There is a rather short window of time whereby the heated metal is thrust into the cooling medium; once this is done, the metal becomes quite hard.

Similarly, over hardened metal, can be softened again by heating and allowing the metal to cool slowly; this process is called annealing.

Spiritually speaking, the danger lies wherein the power of God, through His Word, is touching your heart. Often the heart is strangely warmed, heated by the Holy Spirit if you will, to the point of becoming altogether new; the composition is about to change.

Too often, it is at this critical point, the flesh rebels and quenches that fire; causing the heart to become excessively hard, and brittle. The Bible warns us about this . . .

1 Thessalonians 5:19-20

Do not quench the Spirit; do not despise prophetic utterances. But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil.

We live in a broken world that is dying and swirling in an ever-increasing state of despair. Hopelessness abounds and our own nation is getting angry, frustrated and on the brink of destruction!

People in our country are calling for revolution; should we not cry out to God for a revolution in the Church!

How did the church become so sleepy, so apathetic, so unconcerned about the current state of our world? It seems like we have been asleep at the wheel, only to begin waking up to a terrible mess, wondering how we got here!

It did not happen overnight; but rather by many years of complacency and disregard for the demands of the Gospel. The church once held a position of high esteem; those who joined the ranks of the church were, seen as upright and noble people; and getting your name on the rolls was important.

It is easy to join a church; go down to the river and be, baptized telling everyone you love God and believe in Jesus, take communion when it is, offered. Be sure to give a little bit of your income and smile a lot; imagining that is well with your soul, do this, and in most churches you will be, viewed as a spiritual person.

You now have now successfully acquired a form of godliness; you have respect in the church and with your peers. The growing numbers of people, whom you see, are just like you. A sense of self satisfaction grows, and you truly believe that you are quite safe and secure in Christ . . .

 

But what of the Power of God?

 

Listen to what noted preacher Charles Spurgeon; often referred to as the Prince of Preachers, had to say about this subject in a message preached Sunday morning, June 2nd, 1889:

I do not doubt that a form of godliness has come to many because it brings them ease of conscience and they are able, like the Pharisee, to thank God that they are not as other men are. Have they not been to Church? Have they not paid for their pew? They can now go about their daily business without those stings of conscience which would come of neglecting the requirements of religion.

These people profess to have been converted and they are numbered with Believers. But, alas, they are not of them.  Of all people these are the hardest to reach and the least likely to be saved. They hide behind the earthworks of a nominal religion. They are out of reach of the shot and shell of Gospel rebukes. They fly among the sinners and they have taken up their quarters among the saints. Sad is that man’s plight who wears the name of life but has never been quickened by the Holy Spirit.

 

What then is the power of God which is lacking?

 

True godliness happens on the inside, and works its way to the outside. The true power of God comes when a sinful wicked heart, infected with the curse of Adam, is “re-created” and made new, restored to its intended condition; now that’s the power of God!

 Remember the promises of God to Ezekiel. . .

Ezekiel 11:19  

I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.

 Ezekiel 36:25-27  

I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.

At the conclusion of Peter’s message in Acts 2, Peter gives the key to the Spirit-filled life, the way to be baptized in the Holy Spirit; it comes by repentance and baptism, and by baptism I mean being immersed, covered with Jesus.

 

The key is repentance! Without it, there will be NO SALVATION and NO SPIRIT-FILLED life. None!

 

We all want “Godliness with Power” we all want to live victorious Christian lives, but we cannot unless we have repented. What produces repentance?

2 Corinthians 7:10

Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.

 “Godly sorrow” produces repentance. I have to ask you if you have ever felt godly sorrow. Have you ever felt the need to repent, and then actually do it!

Because if you have not ever repented, you are NOT redeemed, and you are still in your sins, and are as lost as ever; even more lost, because you have deceived yourself into thinking you are redeemed, when in fact you are not.

Jesus said these stunning words . . .

Matthew 7:21-23

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’

The most revealing and frightening aspect of this passage is that the people were, so convinced that they knew Jesus; when in fact, He did NOT know them!

  • What can be said of you?
  • Are you holding to a form of godliness, are you the real deal?

Deep inside your heart you know the answer.

 

  • Will you resist still?
  • Will you quench the Holy Spirit one more time?

This is your chance; for some . . . this could be your last chance!

Dr. Martin Lloyd Jones puts it this way . . .

You do not decide for Christ, the sinner FLIES to Christ in utter helplessness and despair.

 His arms are open wide . . . run to Him!

Posted by onthesolidrock in Discipline, Faith, Holiness, Humility, Prayer, 0 comments
So . . . You are Not Being Fed?

So . . . You are Not Being Fed?

Having been in Christian ministry for over 25 years, I have seen and experienced just about everything you can imagine used as an excuse to leave a church.

I have seen the power plays certain folks have used to manipulate and influence the pastor or his leadership board. I have witnessed total fabrications to bring down pastors and leaders; some have worked and some have failed.

I recall years ago, going to an event in Chicago; it was a seminar titled; “Turnaround Churches.” It was a seminar designed to help struggling churches move forward after a difficult leadership breakup or church split.

Our church happened to be doing very well at the time I went to the seminar, and I felt somewhat out of place.

We were going around the room hearing horror stories of church splits and dysfunctions from various pastors, who had come from all over the country, to attend this seminar.

I recall sitting next to one pastor from a large Midwest church. I asked him what brought him to the seminar. He told me, that about a month ago, over 100 families walked out of his church! I was stunned; I thought to myself, it must have been a very serious moral failure of some sort.

I asked him what happened; I was not prepared for his answer. He looked at me with frustration and sorrow in his eyes, then said; “The families left because we chose the wrong color of carpet for the sanctuary.” That’s just crazy!

Having spoken to dozens of folks who have left churches for various reasons, one of the more prominent excuses I have heard over the years is this one . . . “I left the church because I was not getting fed by the pastor.”

This excuse places the fault squarely with the pastor and releases the churchgoer from any responsibility. When this excuse is given, it casts doubt on the ability of the pastor to give that person the type of “spiritual food” they want to consume.

It is a clear indication that the person making this accusation, possibly has come to the church as a consumer, not as a true follower of Jesus. It reminds me of this warning given to Timothy from the apostle Paul . . .

2 Timothy 4:3

“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires . . . “

After a great deal of consideration, I have concluded that the role of a pastor is not to feed the people, but rather it is to teach them how to cook! Let me explain my thoughts . . .

The pastor spends each week considering what type of dish to serve; sometimes he plans far in advance, making sure that all the ingredients come together in just the right fashion.

He works to prepare a single dish; tasty and full of spiritual nutrients; not loaded down with excessive sweetness; but balanced and appropriate for the day at hand.

Occasionally the dish will be heavy with items not usually served; but necessary. Just like trying to get children to “eat their greens” so a pastor may serve meals that look unsavory at times.

The dish is prepared and served, typically on a Sunday morning. Remember, it is only one dish; not enough for everyone to gorge themselves, but enough for everyone to get a taste; enough to make them hungry for more.

The idea is for the churchgoer to want more; a good pastor will invite them into the kitchen; showing them how to prepare their own meals, so they don’t have to go on a spiritual “fast” all week.

The problem with some folks is that they only get a taste on Sunday, they go away hungry (which is the point of the dish served) unwilling to take off their bib and put on an apron; they complain that the pastor did not feed them enough, when in fact that is really, not his job.

Now to be sure, some pastors cannot cook, and may need to go back to culinary arts school for a season. There are pastors who are serving a dish that is, rancid and inedible; if this is the case, it may be time to find a new restaurant.

Study the ingredients your pastor uses; are they listed in the Cookbook? If they are, then it may be that your palette needs a little cleansing.

Therefore, I encourage you to keep sampling the dish your pastor offers each week. Get involved with a small group and learn how to cook; how to prepare your own tasty dishes and share yours with others.

Come on . . . you can do it!

Besides, you look silly, sitting back there with your arms crossed and bib on!

Open wide . . . num num!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by onthesolidrock in Discipline, Faith, Humility, Trust, 0 comments
Blessed are the Meek

Blessed are the Meek

“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.”

  Matthew 5:5

We often read right over this familiar passage without fully understanding what this means. The work used for “meek” is:

Praus         prah-ooce’  mild, gentle, humble: – meek.

The best way to understand what this word means is to use an illustration. Many of us love horses. There is something spectacular about a horse. We have all watched the movies of the wild horses, the “Mustangs” running free across the plains.

These incredible horses are powerful, and beautiful. We love to look at them. As beautiful as they are, these horses, in the wild, are quite dangerous, and cannot be tamed or “broken” easily. In their “wild” state, they may be beautiful, and majestic, but they are quite useless until they are broken.

Once these horses are “broken” and learn to submit to their master, only then can all that power and energy be, put to good use. The horse is now under complete control of its master. Does this mean that the horse is weak? Of course not, it means that this powerful, majestic animal is now humbly under control of its master.

This is what Jesus had in mind when He shared this Scripture. Those who will humble themselves and come under the authority and control of God will experience great blessing.

Just like unbridled passion in a wild horse is dangerous, so is unbridled passion in the heart of a Christian dangerous, even more so.

A fire out of control becomes a wildfire, and wildfires are destructive, they burn hot and furious, and then die out quickly. What we need is a slow, steady burn, a fire ignited and fanned into flame under the direct supervision of the Holy Spirit of God.

If we look across the contemporary Christian landscape we will see many scorched areas where unbridled passions flamed, hundreds became disillusioned, and have become “burned out.”

We must learn to submit to our master, the sooner the better.

When Jesus spoke these words in Matthew, He no doubt was calling on a Scripture taken from the Old Testament Book of Psalms 37.

Psalm 37:1-11

Do not fret because of evil men or be envious of those who do wrong; for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away. Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun. Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil. For evil men will be cut off, but those who hope in the LORD will inherit the land. A little while, and the wicked will be no more; though you look for them, they will not be found. But the meek will inherit the land and enjoy great peace.

If we take a closer look at this Psalm, we will see some interesting “control” words floating to the surface.

Trust, Delight, Commit, Be Still, Do not Fret, Refrain, just to name a few. Jesus is emphasizing the importance of trusting in God, and NOT reacting to our human nature, which is to take things into our own hands, being unsatisfied, lacking commitment, always moving and going, fretting and worrying.

The greatest lesson ANY Christian can learn, is humility, and true humility will produce a person who is meek; controlled power.

Jesus said this later on in the Book of Matthew. . .

Matthew 11:28-30     

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

I have been reading a little on several techniques used to break a horse. Some of those techniques seem quite unreasonable, and even cruel. However, unless the horse can be broken, it is utterly useless, and still very dangerous to those around it.

One technique is to “hitch” or pair up a wild horse with a tame one. This procedure seems to work on some horses. The idea is that the older, more “meek” horse, will cause the younger, wilder horse, to settle down a little.

I suspect this procedure is at times as frustrating to the older horse as it is for the younger one, but in the end, favorable results often occur.

Perhaps it is wisdom to come along side of an older, more seasoned Christian, and learn humility this way. They have earned their stripes!

I was one of those “bunking broncos” and I wanted to run fast, hard and free! Brimming with fire and passion, I lit many fires in my wake. I could not understand why well-meaning, mature Christians were coming along behind me with a fire truck, putting out my fires! It exasperated me to no end!

I had to learn the lesson of humility, and I am still in class!

Remember, “meekness” is not “weakness” it is controlled strength.

Finally, for those who have given control to the Holy Spirit of God, the truly meek and humble, the Bible says; “They will inherit the earth.”

Psalm 24:1

The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it;

Psalm 2:8

Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession.

The inheritance that Jesus is talking about is not a home on earth, nor is it the mineral rights to planet earth; while we certainly have access to both! What Jesus is talking about are people; the nations! Heaven and earth will pass away but the souls of man are eternal!

Only the truly humble, only the meek will be able to bring others into the kingdom of heaven, not the proud and self-righteous.

The humble man or woman will be gentle, never condescending, they have an acute awareness of their own spiritual poverty, and are patient, and long suffering with those they encounter in this world. They treat them with an uncanny kindness, are gentle and mild in their conversations.

The meek begin taking on a striking resemblance to the Master they serve, trusting, hoping, and always persevering.

Those who are such will inherit the earth, and many will come into the Kingdom of heaven because of them!

Where are you in the process?

Yield to the Master, and simply take His yoke upon you?

Pick it up, and put it on, and partner with Him, saddle up with Christ, and get moving!

Posted by onthesolidrock in Discipline, Holiness, Humility, Trust, 0 comments
Foundations

Foundations

I continue to marvel over the amazing portion of the Bible we often refer to as the “Sermon on the Mount.” We find it in Matthew 5-7 and it contains the “nuts and bolts” of life in Christ. If you have not read this recently, take a few moments to carefully read is again; you will be glad you did!

At the conclusion of this “sermon”, Jesus shares one last illustration to drive home a very important point; let’s listen in . . .

Matthew 7:24-29

“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.”

When Jesus had finished these words, the crowds were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.

We vividly recall seeing the devastation left behind after powerful hurricanes reach landfall; the images displayed on our TV  screens reveal the power and ferocity of these storms.

While looking at the devastation, one wonders why there will be dozens of homes swept away, but invariably several withstood the howling storm, and survived. Could it be that those who had taken the time to build a super solid foundation were the ones to remain? I think it had a great deal to do with it!

Jesus is telling His listeners, you and I, that if we hear His words, and put them into practice, then we would be like a wise builder, who set His house on a solid foundation. When the screaming storms of life come, and they will, our house will stand, and not fall.

He then lets us know, that if we hear these words of His, and do nothing with them, then our foundation will be weak and vulnerable, and when storms come, the destruction of our house will be utterly complete!

I can imagine two home-builders on the Gulf of Mexico. One person is spending extra time and money to sink down concrete pylons an extra 6 feet deep; it is costly and time consuming.

Another person, wanting to move in before the summer gets in full swing, decides to cut corners to save time and money; he forgoes the deep foundations suggested, and installs just the bare minimum.

Sure enough, the person building his home scrimping and cutting corners, is sitting on the deck enjoying the warm breezes, sipping iced tea, and getting a good tan, while the other guy is still building. Finally, the builder who took the extra time completes his home, and starts to enjoy what is left of the summer.

The fall hurricane season is coming, and the waters are churning, evacuations are given, and both homeowners have to leave. The storm rages, and finally the floodwaters recede. As the two owners head back to assess the damage, there is only one home remaining; the other is nowhere to be seen. In the end, it was definitely worth the extra time and effort, to build well!

In the passage from Matthew, Jesus was essentially telling us how to build our “spiritual house.” He shows us how to lay a firm foundation; a foundation that will remain when the storms of life beat against it! There will be storms, and some of those storms will be fierce!

When building a spiritual foundation, we need to start somewhere; Jesus started the whole “Sermon on the Mount” with this statement:

Matthew 5:3

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

The beginning point in our foundation building process, is to recognize our spiritual need; our own spiritual poverty. Unless we come to terms with this, we will never be able to build any lasting spiritual structure. The acknowledgment of our spiritual need is vital.

The proud-hearted man or woman, who relies on their own intelligence, and abilities, will never have a lasting spiritual foundation. Many individuals see faith in God as a weakness, coming up with all kinds of reasons to avoid God.

The Bible is very clear regarding these kinds of folks:

Romans 1:18-22

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools. . .”

At one point in my own life, I was one of those people mentioned in this Scripture. I thought science held the key, that faith in an unseen god was weakness, and people of faith were simply ignorant. I was a subscriber to secular magazines like “Cosmos” and was a firm believer in Carl Sagan’s “billions and billions of years.”

After years of immersion in secular scientific thought, I could not reconcile how the intricacies of space and biology could have “just happened.” It was stunning to think that all of this incredible creation could have just fallen into place by random chance.

I became disillusioned with the scientific community because they seemed like they were grasping at straws. They had no real answers, just theories, and tall tales that were even more incredible to grasp and believe than the story that God put forward in His Word!

Like many others, I needed to come to the end of myself, the end of my intellect, and to the realization that I am at a loss, a big loss, to understand the principles of this incredible world in which I live. There MUST BE A GOD, and I MUST KNOW HIM!

Therefore, the starting point for every spiritual journey is the recognition that you are spiritually poor; and Jesus said, this was a good thing!

The recognition of this spiritual poverty causes you to hit “rock bottom” which is a very good place to begin to build!

How deep is your foundation?

I hear there is a storm brewing; be sure your anchor points are going to hold!

Posted by onthesolidrock in Discipline, Faith, Humility, Trust, 0 comments
Guilt Free

Guilt Free

There is a HUGE issue today keeping people from having a close relationship with God. This particular problem is often the very reason many folks stay away from churches and from God in particular.

The problem is, “Guilt” and “Condemnation.”

Most of us understand what a “guilt trip” is. Have you ever had a guilt trip laid you? You know; “I do everything thing for you, the least you can do for me is. . .” and you fill in the blank.

Some people are experts at this, and I will say that most of you reading this, may have even tried it a time or two; I know I have!

Guilt is a powerful motivator, albeit a negative one. A trip to the local supermarket and you find “fat free” cookies or cottage cheese; the label says: “Guilt Free.”

Products with the “Guilt Free” label sell like hot cakes, because people hate feelings of guilt, and want to be free from it!

What is guilt anyway?                 

Guilt: guilt is a state in which one experiences conflict at having done something one believes one should not have done (or, conversely, not having done something one believes one should have done). It gives rise to a feeling that does not go away easily, driven by conscience.

Whenever we have done something that is wrong, or if we neglect doing something we know we should do, our conscience feels guilt. It seems to hang in there for days, weeks, and even years, never letting go, always a reminder of something done that was wrong.

For some, this feeling is so ingrained, that it begins to produce behavior problems. For others, the only way to deaden the feelings of guilt is to turn to alcohol, drugs, or other things, finding temporary relief, only to feel even worse, as the affects of those stimulates wear off.

Many times the feelings of guilt are misplaced. A young person who has been verbally, physically, or sexually abused, mistreated by parents, relatives, or others; people who should have been there to protect them.

The young person often feels guilty for the violations committed against them. They feel as though they were the responsible party, and guilt is, heaped on! They go through life feeling as though they are responsible for everything that goes wrong.

My guess is that many of you understand this, all too well.

To experience guilt, real or imagined, is a powerful thing, and often it is a tool used by the devil to keep people away from God.

One of the greatest reasons I stayed away from church, as a young man, was that I had done so much that was wrong, I had committed so many “sins” that the idea of actually coming into a church made me feel afraid.

I was one of those guys who said; “If I walk into church, the walls will fall down.” Have you ever felt like that?

Those feelings of fear and trepidation are not necessarily a bad thing. As we approach the God of the universe, we know He is Holy, Righteous, that He is a God of Wrath and Judgment, no doubt about it!

Speaking of those without Christ Jesus said:

John 3:36

Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.

Jesus said, those without Him, without the Son, are guilty! Being guilty also brings another problem that goes right along with feelings of guilt, and those are feelings of condemnation!

Many, struggling with deep feelings of guilt, feel as though they are condemned. A person struggling under a load of guilt feels as though they are serving a life sentence, they feel hopeless, valueless, and feel as though there really is no good reason to live!

Again, people in this guilty, condemned state, often avoid church and God especially. Because God is Holy, Righteous, and would never have anything to do with them.

Those feelings of condemnation, are not entirely misplaced either; Jesus said this:

John 3:16-18

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.  Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”

Yet, in spite of this, we are inexplicably, drawn to Him, because we know that our only hope lies with Him. We begin to approach Him! We make a move toward God, even risking going to the church, and at the first meeting, we realize that the walls did not cave in!

Then, in an instant, you reach out to God, risking everything, and He touches you!

BOOM!

Instead of getting a backhand across your face, you get an embrace, waves of love cascading over your heart. God welcomes you wholeheartedly; like a long lost son or daughter; He gently wipes away your tears, your fears, and you know, you belong to Him!

Romans 8:1-2

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.

Hallelujah!

 You are free! The death sentence lifted!

 You are GUILT FREE!!!

 Somebody please say AMEN!

Now, for some of you that have already met this Jesus, you are reading this today and you find yourself with those same old feelings of guilt and shame.

You have walked with Jesus for a while, and somewhere, somehow, things just do not feel the same. You made a small mistake, then another, and another, and soon you begin to feel worse than ever before.

How can this be?

What is going on here?

How can you be free again?

Psalm 32:1-5

Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the LORD does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit.

 When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.

For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer.   

Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity.  I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD “— and you forgave the guilt of my sin.

Too many times when we sin as a Christian, we feel so bad about it that we refuse to acknowledge it. The last thing we want to do, is go to God and tell Him what we already know He knows!

Therefore, we avoid it. We put it off, and we begin to feel guilty, and shameful. It piles up, we begin to get sad faces, our bones begin to waste away, and inwardly we groan. We avoid the very One who can help us!

The Bible says to acknowledge our sin, don’t hide it, don’t cover it up, but just tell God what you did, say it out loud to Him, and tell Him you are sorry. He then forgives you! It is that simple!

If you keep it hidden, then guilt does its work of bringing feelings of condemnation, hopelessness sets in, depression follows, and we have a defeated Christian, and the devil rejoices!

You become like a Lion without teeth, powerless prayer, poor Christian witness to the world around you, withdrawn, you stay to yourself.

The devil has you right where he wants you. The devil will continue to, systematically destroy you, until you are, totally crushed!

Do not let him get away with it. Go to God right now and settle it. Tell God, in plain words what you have done. If you cannot remember everything you have done, tell Him so, He knows!

Get your teeth back!

Take back, what the devil tried to steal, and be guilt free again!

 

Posted by onthesolidrock in Discipline, Faith, Holiness, Humility, Love, Prayer, Trust, 0 comments
Forgiving From Your Heart

Forgiving From Your Heart

Do you remember the parable of the unmerciful servant? Peter wanted to know how many times he should forgive; the answer may not have been what he expected. Let’s check it out.

Matthew 18:21-25

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?”  Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.

 “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.

 “The servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.

 “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.

 “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’

 “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything that had happened.

 “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.

 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.”

This is a familiar parable, one that you have no doubt read many times. To put this in context, just prior to this parable, Jesus talked about what to do if a brother sins against you, and after hearing this brief teaching on dealing with a brother who sins against you, Peter comes to ask Jesus a rather interesting question.

“Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?”

I’m not sure, but I think Peter may have had a rather short fuse, and when it came to forgiving, he probably struggled a bit. When he asked the question, I think Peter was looking for a limit here. You know, “at what point can I refuse to forgive?” Jesus’ answer was not what Peter had expected!

To explain forgiveness to Peter, and to you and me, Jesus told a story. In this story, I think we can find a few truths that may help us, when it comes to forgiving from the heart.

This parable primarily has to do with forgiving a financial debt, but the application of this story applies to many different situations in which someone has trespassed, or sinned against you.

In the parable that Jesus told, the king wanted to settle accounts, and was calling in the debts owed.

When this particular man came before the king, he was unable to pay his debt. The fault was clearly with the man, and not the king. For whatever reason, the man could not clear his debt, and king, was now “stuck” with it.

Now there appears to be two problems:

The first is now the king is upset, and rightfully so. He has a debt that he should not bear. It was not his fault, and he has every right to demand it! He is frustrated, hurt, and betrayed, the trust he had toward his servant is broken.

The second is that the man, who failed in his obligation to the king, is now in danger of being, sold into slavery, even placing his whole family in jeopardy.

As the story goes, the man fell on his knees before the king, begging for patience, promising to pay it all back, just give me more time! The king looking at this display of emotion, felt compassion for the man, and forgave the whole debt! In one fell swoop, the king took care of both problems.

In forgiving the man his debt, the king released himself from the right to demand what was due, absorbing the cost of the debt, and the debtor was free from the need to repay something he was unable to.

We can learn two lessons here, which will help us not only to forgive, but also to be forgiven.

Granting Forgiveness

The first lesson has to do with granting forgiveness. The king saw the despair of the man who owed the debt. He seemed totally unable to repay what was owed.

Jesus said that the king had “compassion” on the man. Unless the king would have experienced compassion, I doubt very much that he would have been able to forgive this man his debt.

As you and I experience debts or, “SINS against us, it is very unlikely that we will ever truly forgive another for those sins, unless we have compassion.  Without compassion for those who have sinned against you, the debt remains.

Sin has affected all of humanity. Not one person is exempt from it! Sin rears its ugly head in many, many forms; lying, stealing, cheating, murder, adultery, greed, lust; the list is long!

If you have lived longer than a day, someone has probably sinned against you, and if you are blessed to live another day, it will likely happen again. We live in a sinful world, and sin happens! When it happens to you, what will you do with it?

Recall the Lord’s Prayer:

Matthew 6:9-14

 “This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.

 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.

The greatest temptation that any of us ever will face is the temptation to, not forgive.

We have been forgiven much by the Greatest King that ever lived! Our Great King, saw the terrible plight we were in, and while we were unable to correct the wrong we had done, He forgave us all our sin!

Remember, unlike the parable Jesus used, we were not going to be, sold for the debt we owed, we were going to die for it! The wages of sin is death! God has forgiven us much!

We must forgive those who sin against us, to hold their sin against them, is to negate our own forgiveness!

Receiving Forgiveness

The second part of this lesson has to do with receiving forgiveness. This part of the lesson is tied to the first part.

To receive forgiveness is to be willing to forgive.

The man in this story was no doubt thrilled with the cancelled debt. He was truly distressed before the King, and was on his knees begging for patience and mercy; the King had compassion, and forgave the whole debt! I imagine the man was so grateful!

However, not long afterwards, that man encountered someone who owed him far less than what he had owed the king, and he demanded the whole amount, even having the man arrested and put into prison!

Of course, when the King found out about it, He was furious! The King ordered the man who refused to cancel another debt, thrown in prison.

The problem was that this man did not recognize or remember how much debt the king forgave him. He was forgiven much, much more, than the man who owed him very little.

Any sin inflicted upon you by another, will pale in comparison with the sin you have inflicted against God.

Yet God has forgiven you of all your sins! Why would you hold something against another? Why would you throw away your own good fortune at the expense of another? How foolish!

If this man would have taken the time to remember the depth of his own forgiveness, he would not have demanded the small amount someone owed him, and the outcome of this story would have been quite different.

Have you ever sat down and considered what Jesus has done for you? I mean, have you considered what this Great King has done on your behalf?

How badly do you want God to forgive you of your sins, bad enough for you to forgive others from the heart?

Perhaps you struggle with compassion. Ask God to show you what He thinks of those you cannot forgive; ask Him how much value He places on them. Look at others from His perspective, and you will begin to get a sense of what is at stake.

Remember, if you cannot forgive from your heart, you have not forgiven, and you are still in your sins.

You will know that you have forgiven from the heart when you pray this way:

“Father, I forgive this person for the sin inflicted upon me; and please Lord, I am asking that you forgive them too.”

 

Posted by onthesolidrock in Discipline, Faith, Holiness, Humility, Love, Prayer, Trust, 0 comments
Burning UP – Or Burning OUT

Burning UP – Or Burning OUT

As I have been traveling and speaking; talking to different pastors, and leaders of various churches, I have been hearing some people talking about, and experiencing what they term “burn-out.”

Have you experienced this? It usually begins subtly; a growing dissatisfaction with the Christian service that you have been doing in and through the church. Passion for people begins to ebb and wane.

You may even begin to experience a slow, somewhat unnoticeable, hardening of the heart. It shows up when you find your eyes dry, during an experience that used to bring tears. You begin to notice a lack of compassion, your temper seems to quicken.

Your concern for the lost people of the world begins to weaken, passion for their salvation slips, and quite frankly, if they get Jesus, fine, if they don’t. . .Oh Well!

Love for God seems to cool as well, and love for others, is simply getting downright cold!

What I am talking about is, commonly called “burn-out.”

Some sobering statistics from Focus on the Family regarding pastors:

  • Fifteen hundred pastors leave the ministry each month due to moral failure, spiritual burnout, or contention in their churches.
  • Fifty percent of pastors’ marriages end in divorce.
  • Fifty percent of pastors are so discouraged that they would leave the ministry if they could, but have no other way of making a living.
  • Eighty percent of seminary and Bible school graduates who enter the ministry will leave the ministry within the first five years.
  • Seventy percent of pastors constantly fight depression.

If this is reflective of professional men and women who are in full time ministry, it certainly reflects those in laity as well! Those of you, who have families, jobs, and busy schedules, can easily fall into this “burn-out” category.

But what about Jesus? Did He experience this? Jesus certainly grew tired, even weary, but He did not experience “burn-out.”

There is a great difference between burning up and burning out!

If you light a lamp, and watch it burn, it will begin to “burn-out” when it gets low on oil. In order for it to continue to burn, there must be a replenishing of the oil, otherwise the lamp will “burn-out” and grow cold.

So it is with us; if we are not replenished, if we separate ourselves from spiritual renewal, and fellowship with the Holy Spirit, then our lamp will grow dim, and we will become dissatisfied with our service to God. It will become a duty, not a blessing, a chore, rather than an act of love.

We need to become more like Jesus, and less like the world we live in. The world is full of self-serving ideals, which in the end, come up short.

We often compare ministry results against the backdrop of the contemporary world in which we live, and we grow dissatisfied. We want results, and we want them now! We want fruit, and we want it now!

When we realize that our Christian service may take months, perhaps years, before we see the results, we get frustrated, and instead of trusting, and waiting upon God, we take matters into our own hands. Sometimes we will over extend ourselves to the point of exhaustion!

If we begin to operate in our own strength, and in our own wisdom, our “oil” begins to run low, and will eventually run out! The problem began when we took matters into our own hands. This “turning” from God happens so subtly, that it is almost unnoticeable!

It is time for the church, and those who have come to Christ, to return to Him, to learn from Him, and to become like Him. He found renewal in being with His Father. He took time to get away, and pray; we need to do the same!

If we spend time with God, the true God, then we will walk in a state of continual renewal, we will not have to go on special retreats hoping to “connect” with God, and be renewed. It will become a part of our life; we will “often” go away to lonely places and get rest, physical and spiritual rest.

Then, like Jesus, when the crowds come, and encroach upon your “retreat” your eyes will well up with compassion, you will feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and heal the sick, and it will not be a burden but a joy!

You will begin to burn up, not burn out. Passion will rise up! You will be a flame!

Listen to the words of John Wesley; when asked how he drew the crowds:

“I set myself on fire and the people come to watch me burn” (John Wesley)

And revival preacher and author Leonard Ravenhill says;

“You don’t have to advertise a fire.”          (Leonard Ravenhill)

We need to get back to the basics of Christianity. Ours is a mission of faith, trust, and reliance on the Holy Spirit of God, and not on fancy programs, slick slogans, or our own wisdom and strength! When we operate on our wisdom, we reap what the Scriptures say we will reap:

Proverbs 16: 25

There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.

Jesus told us straight out. . .

John 15:4-6

Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.

The true source of “burn-out” is a lack of fellowship with our God. Take time, MAKE time, to sit with the Father, talk to Him, and let Him refresh you, replenish you, and send you!

I for one, refuse to burn out, I will however, do all I can to keep oil in my lamp, so that I will burn up, not out!

 

Posted by onthesolidrock in Discipline, Faith, Holiness, Trust, 0 comments
Come Now, Let Us Reason Together

Come Now, Let Us Reason Together

There seems to be, two different types of people emerging after an encounter with Jesus; one kind recognizes that the journey may get tough, sacrifices will need made, but the joy of following the Savior is greater, the rewards of a life spent following the master are worth any amount of sacrifice!

These folks find joy and peace in the midst of great pain and suffering. They always seem to be moving forward, gaining strength day by day, being built up in God’s holy Word! They begin to produce fruit for their labors, and people around them begin to come into the Kingdom of God too!

For the other group, they exhibit a “dragging” of the feet, so to speak, an unwillingness to obey the clear teachings of God. Jesus begins to take them on a journey, and they quickly realize that the way is steep, and they are carrying too much baggage, and He tells them to drop some of the “things” they carry, but they refuse!

Jesus decides to take a turn, and they realize that the way is unfamiliar, and out of fear, refuse to go!

For this group, service to God becomes a burden, rather than a joy. Obedience to God’s Word becomes frightfully difficult. It becomes a duty, and no longer done from a position of love.

It is unfortunate, but many people fall into the second category. For those who will resist the call of God on their lives, for those who refuse to obey the clear teachings of the Bible, the words from Isaiah seem quite appropriate!

Isaiah 1:5-6  

“Why should you be beaten anymore?  Why do you persist in rebellion?  Your whole head is injured, your whole heart afflicted.  From the sole of your foot to the top of your head there is no soundness– only wounds and welts and open sores, not cleansed or bandaged or soothed with oil.”

According to this verse, there are consequences for rebelling against God. You will wear yourself out! Your whole being will suffer!

It is not uncommon for those resisting God, who walk in rebellion to Him, to face increasing depression, fits of rage, anger, and could even become physically ill.

Yet God is patient, He waits for those who are in this “sea of rebellion” to come to their senses. When they do, God gives this incredible offer:

Isaiah 1:18-20

 “Come now, let us reason together,”

       says the LORD.

       “Though your sins are like scarlet,

       they shall be as white as snow;

       though they are red as crimson,

       they shall be like wool.

 If you are willing and obedient,

       you will eat the best from the land;

  but if you resist and rebel,

       you will be devoured by the sword.”

       For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.     

I just love this Scripture; God says; “Come now, let us reason together.” It’s like God has just poured a cup of coffee for you, and invites you to the table, One on one, to see if there can be a solution. God is awesome!

So . . . which type of Christian are you?

Whatever the case may be, a sold faithful walk with Him, or a dragging of the feet; take time today to respond to His words; “Come now, let us reason together.”

Posted by onthesolidrock in Discipline, Faith, Holiness, Humility, Trust, 0 comments
Do You Love Me?

Do You Love Me?

Without a doubt, God has shown His love to us repeatedly! We can never wear out the Scripture in John 3:16; “For God so Loved. . .”

And what about these. . .

Ephesians 5:1-2

“Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

Colossians 3:12  

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”

1 Thessalonians 1:4     

“For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you. . .”

1John 4:10

“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”

Through these Scriptures, and hundreds more like them, it becomes obvious; God loves us! Indeed, the whole of the Bible is a Book of love, an expression of God’s love towards us!

The question is not; “Does God love us,” but rather; “Do we love Him?”

I want to take you on a journey with a man called Peter, along with a couple of other men, James and John, commonly referred to as disciples, or the “inner three.”

These men walked with Jesus; actually walked with Him in the flesh, they shared meals together, and spent dozens of nights around the campfire talking with Jesus. If anyone knew the heart of Jesus, these men did, if anyone could love and obey His teaching, these men would.

The Disciples were very much like us. By that I mean, they were not stunning models of obedience and passion, but were quite human, and showed signs of their ‘humanness” all along the journey.

They were fishermen, physically strong, hard working, simple, yet very determined men. These men responded to the invitation from Jesus; “Follow Me.” It was at that point, that these men had an encounter with Jesus, and made a decision to follow Him; just like you did.

These men had many of the same struggles that you have.

Peter, James and John, were closest to Jesus, these men saw Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration, they were there when Jesus raised dead girl, and they were there when Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane.

If anyone could get their walk right with Jesus, it would be these guys. Yet these men struggled understanding God’s will, and had trouble obeying Jesus, here are a few examples;

James and John wanted to call down lightening to destroy some people who did not welcome Jesus. Luke 9:53-55

“. . . but the people there did not welcome him, because he was heading for Jerusalem. When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?” But Jesus turned and rebuked them.”

James and John apparently got their mother to ask Jesus if they could sit at either side of Him in heaven . . . rather arrogant don’t you think? Matthew 20:20-22

“Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favor of him.

  “What is it you want?” he asked.

 She said, “Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.”

 “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said to them. “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?”

 “We can,” they answered.”

While standing on the mount of transfiguration, at one of the holiest, and most reverent times in the Bible, as Jesus stands there with Elijah and Moses, Peter blurts out; “It is good that we are here, I will build a shelter for each of you.” What was he thinking!     Matthew 17:1-4

“After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.

 Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.”

At one of the most critical times in Jesus’ life, while He is about to be arrested, Peter pulls out a knife, and slices a man’s ear off! John 18:10

Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.)

 In the Garden of Gethsemane James, John, and Peter fell asleep! Matthew 26:40-42

 “Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”

 Peter swore that he would die with Christ if need be, but in the end denied knowing Jesus three times! Matthew 26:69-75

Now Peter was sitting out in the courtyard, and a servant girl came to him. “You also were with Jesus of Galilee,” she said.

 But he denied it before them all. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said.

 Then he went out to the gateway, where another servant girl saw him and said to the people there, “This fellow was with Jesus of Nazareth.”

 He denied it again, with an oath: “I don’t know the man!”

 After a little while, those standing there went up to Peter and said, “Surely you are one of them; your accent gives you away.”

 Then he began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t know the man!”

 Immediately a rooster crowed. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: “Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.

As we can see by these examples, the disciples were anything, but stellar, and most of us are not either.

An interesting meeting took place after the resurrection of Jesus; found in John 21:1-19

 Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Tiberias. It happened this way: Simon Peter, Thomas (called Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. “I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.

 Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.

  He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”

      “No,” they answered.

  He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.

 Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards.[b] When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread.

  Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.”

 Simon Peter climbed aboard and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.

 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?”

      “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”

      Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”

 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me?”

      He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”

      Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”

  The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

      Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”

     Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.  I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”

In this remarkable story, Jesus reaffirmed His love for Peter by His actions. He could have criticized Peter, ridiculed him, and said; “I told you so!”

Sitting by that fire, Peter experienced what I call blazing, majestic, overwhelming, relentless love, coming from the risen Christ!

The issue that Jesus was trying to bring to Peter’s attention was not that He (Jesus) loved Peter; that was now very evident. The question was; Peter, do you love Me?

Today, Jesus gently lifts your gaze, to meet Him, and asks you; “Do you love Me, more than these.”

What is your response?

Posted by onthesolidrock in Compassion, Discipline, Faith, Holiness, Humility, Love, 0 comments
“One Thing You Lack”

“One Thing You Lack”

As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.”

 “Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”

 Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.

 Jesus looked around and said to his disciples,How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!” Mark 10:17-21

There are several other locations where this encounter is recorded as well. In Matthew 19:20 the man is identified as being young, and Luke 18:18 describes him as being a ruler.

So, from these three passages we can easily deduce that this was a young, wealthy, man of influence, perhaps he was training to become a Pharisee, or was the member of the Roman government; we really don’t know for sure.

Typically when we read this passage of Scripture we talk about money and the power that it can have over individuals; this passage reveals much, much more than we may have anticipated!

This passage reveals to us the characteristics of a person that did not qualify that person to be a Christian.

So let’s look at the characteristics of this young man that were not enough to constitute salvation.

Sincerity

It is easy to see that this man was sincere. Here was a wealthy young man of an elite background, and in full view of everyone, he ran to Jesus and knelt before Him. He did not care if anyone was looking. He must have thought that Jesus Himself held the answer to the question he was seeking.

It is quite possible that this young man believed that Jesus was the Messiah; why else would he risk his reputation by kneeling to Him.

Over the course of ministry I have seen hundreds of people kneel and pray to God for salvation; most are as sincere as this young man. They come risking everything, kneeling and asking God for the way of eternal life; but like this young man, sincerity is not enough; Jesus Himself asked for more!

Righteousness

This young man was a righteous man. Jesus reminded him of the commandments; You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.” yet this young man had kept them all!

He never committed murder by killing anyone; he honored his father and mother; was not a thief, nor did he give false testimony or defraud anyone! He was a young man who kept the commandments of God faithfully; what more could he do?

People today are no different; far too often we think if we just live a good life, then we somehow will gain access to heaven and eternal life; that is simply not true! It was not enough for this young man and it will not be enough for you either!

While living a righteous and good life is to be commended; and doing a lifetime of good works may get you a plaque on a wall; it will by no means cause you to have eternal life.

God’s Love

The Bible declares in this passage that “Jesus looked at him and loved him.” As Jesus was looking over this young man, kneeling in the dirt, hopeful eyes locked with His, He had compassion.

God also has compassion for us too. The Bible declares that God Himself is love; and the most quoted verse in the Bible; John 3:16 says it best:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

However, God’s love for us; His amazing love for us, does not, in and of itself, bring about the salvation of our souls. God looks in love at this young man, and still there is something more required.

So, if being sincere; recognizing Jesus to be the One with the answer; and being a righteous, good and moral person, and sensing God’s own love for me is not enough for salvation to be complete; what am I missing?

Becoming a Christian, as evidenced in this story, is to believe Jesus to be trustworthy enough to surrender control of our life to. Not partial, or selective control, but ALL control.

To put it bluntly, a Christian is a person who believes in Jesus strong enough to follow Him!

This particular young man had considerable wealth, and it turned out to be his “one thing.”

Jesus said to him; One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

Jesus knew that in order for this young man to find salvation, he would have to relinquish control of his wealth. Apparently it had quite a grip on his heart; and for this fellow, it was the “one thing” that prevented this young man from eternal life.

The conclusion of this story with the wealthy young ruler ended sadly, as the Bible says:

One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.

 Jesus looked around and said to his disciples,How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!”

This story is not really about money, but about that which keeps us from following Jesus.

Jesus could easily say . . .

“How hard it is for the bitter to enter the kingdom of God!”

“How hard it is for the jealous to enter the kingdom of God!”

“How hard it is for the self-reliant to enter the kingdom of God!”

“How hard it is for the unforgiving to enter the kingdom of God!”

What “one thing” stands in the way of your salvation?

Perhaps it is time to get rid of it and start following Jesus!

Posted by onthesolidrock in Discipline, Faith, Holiness, Humility, Trust, 0 comments
Ask, Seek and Knock – Do It!

Ask, Seek and Knock – Do It!

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.

“Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”  Matthew 7:7-11

This is a very familiar Scripture that many of us have read dozens, if not hundreds of times. We often refer to this Scripture when talking about prayer, as we should!

This section begins with the admonition to ask, seek and knock. As we read this, we get the feeling that these are not simply suggestions; perhaps the words carry just a little more weight than that!

Jesus does not frame these words with any kind of condition associated with the request; He simply says to; ask, seek and knock! Therefore, these three words come with an expectation that you will do it.

Jesus further indicates that those who ask, seek and knock, will receive, find, and gain entrance. Again, there is no hesitation in Jesus very straightforward statement here.

He says that if you ask, you will receive, if you seek, you will find, and if you knock, the door opens for you. I find this to be very exciting indeed!

In the following verses, we get a partial idea of where the answers to the asking, seeking, and knocking are coming from. Jesus begins verse 9 by asking the crowd a rhetorical question:

“Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake?

I can see the crowd laughing as he makes this statement; some parents are no doubt planning a practical joke on their kids later in the day!

Jesus then contrasts the crowd; sinful humanity, against a holy and righteous Father; by saying:

If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!

We see that “good gifts” come from our Father in heaven. James echoes this truth in the Book he wrote:

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17

So, we see clearly that Jesus is saying if you ask, seek and knock, then God Himself will respond with good gifts.

I have heard it said by well meaning Christians that we need to be careful what we ask God for, we might just get it! I think that is an ugly statement, one in which we think that God our Father, who is incredibly good and holy, who has our best interest at heart, would somehow give us a bad gift!

I think that if I am knocking on a door that is going to lead me astray, God will not open it.

When God opens a door, gives a gift, or reveals Himself to His children, according to Jesus, it is going to be good!

Now to be sure, we can go beyond knocking, and go get a crowbar and force open a door that God is unwilling to open for us.

Remember, He knows what is best, and if the door will not open by knocking on it, it is best to leave it shut.

So go ahead; ASK, SEEK, and KNOCK . . . this is going to be good!

Posted by onthesolidrock in Discipline, Faith, Family, Holiness, Humility, Prayer, Trust, 0 comments
Count the Cost

Count the Cost

Jesus calls everyone who would follow Him, to count the cost; it is quite high. While the gift of salvation is free to receive, the cost of following is steep! One must consider the ramifications of following the Lord before jumping in.

Jesus said that those who choose to follow Him must deny themselves; this means putting others ahead of you, it means a life of service given to those who may or may not like you, much less, love you!

Jesus even went so far as to say that you must pick up your cross and follow Him.

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?”    Matthew 16:24-26

A cross was the very instrument used to kill Jesus. The cross was the first century equivalent of the electric chair, only much, much crueler.

When they led Jesus away for crucifixion, the Bible says, He carried His own cross; and since He did, so must you!

Following Jesus will cause you to lay down your life; it is a willing decision on your part to place your life, your will, your preferences, and all your hopes and dreams, into His hands, trusting Him with the outcome, whatever it may be!

It is a requirement of following Him; for some it might mean laying down your wealth. For others it might mean that your reputation is, put on the line; yet for others it might mean serving somewhere obscure with little or no recognition; and yet for others, it may require your very life; the decision is His to make, and it is your cross to carry!

What is your Cross . . . everyone who follows Jesus, gets one!

If you don’t have one, then there is a pretty good chance, you don’t belong to Him!

Posted by onthesolidrock in Discipline, Faith, Holiness, Humility, Trust, 0 comments
Watch Out For – Hypocrisy

Watch Out For – Hypocrisy

Jesus never condemned sinners; He did however denounce and deplore hypocrites!

A hypocrite is a person who excuses his own sin, while condemning the sins of others.

The hypocrite does not see his own hypocrisy, because he cannot see, or refuses to see, the flaws in himself.

The one who cannot see their own flaws, rarely if ever, seek mercy. Since he does not seek mercy, he has no mercy to give; and since he is always under God’s judgment, he passes judgment on others.

If we are to be seekers of holiness, we cannot remain as hypocrites; or better stated; hypocrites cannot find holiness.

The first step in pursuing holiness is to admit that we are not as holy as we appear to be; this first step is called humility.

As we draw near to God, each one of us will become aware of the sins in our own heart. The Holy Spirit is not revealing these sins in order to condemn us, but rather to establish humility, and to deepen our knowledge of our own need for more grace.

Anyone choosing to follow God, will humble themselves before God, asking God for grace to deliver them from the sin that has entangled them.

For those who will try to excuse their sin, the title hypocrite is, justly deserved. Jesus used a parable to highlight this very issue.

“To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector.  I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”  

“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted. Luke 18:9-14

Holiness is not about obeying a set of rules and regulations; that only breeds more hypocrisy. Holiness is about getting rid of pride; which enables us to come to terms with the true condition of our heart.

Have you humbled yourself before God, lately?

Posted by onthesolidrock in Discipline, Faith, Holiness, Humility, 0 comments
Abide in Me

Abide in Me

The word “abide” simply means to remain, or stay put; Jesus used the word in the context of vineyard work. The vine that remains grows, and that vine begins to produce fruit.

Abiding gives us the idea that we are continuing to grow and mature, and just like the vine needs to produce fruit, so do we!

If we don’t produce fruit, then we are not growing and are taking up precious resources from those who are, and we risk being cut off by the Master Gardener!

 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.  He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.  You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.  Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.  If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.  If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.  This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.   John 15:1-8

The first step in learning to abide has to do with faith. When we read the command “abide in Me,” and it is a command, not a suggestion; we know that this is something we can do! God never commands that we do something that we cannot do.

We see this command, and by faith, we begin to abide . . . we stay put in Christ, and as we do, we feel the love and security that comes from staying in Christ. Answers to prayer begin to abound.

As you continue to abide in Christ, you become even more aware of God’s Word, the authority, and power, associated with it, and you begin to realize that with this great gift, comes tremendous responsibility as well.

You will begin to find that something more is required than simple faith; obedience is required. Hear the words of Isaiah . . .

Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.

If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land; but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword.” For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.Isaiah 1:18-20

We need to be willingly obedient in order to “abide in Him.”

To remain in Christ is to live a life of obedience to His Word; doing anything less will cause you to be a vine that produces no fruit; and according to Jesus, you will be, cut off!

Posted by onthesolidrock in Discipline, Faith, Holiness, Humility, 0 comments
Beware of the Selfishness Trap

Beware of the Selfishness Trap

We need to be careful that we do not fall into the “Selfishness Trap” mentioned in the following passage of Scripture. As you go about your life in Christ, be generous. What people need the most, is your time and attention.

“But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God– having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.” 2 Timothy 3:1-5

As followers of Christ, the Scripture above ought to be, turned on its head!

We should be; selfless, generous with our money (tithe more, tip well) be humble, kind, obedient to our parents, grateful, holy, loving, forgiving, encouraging, self controlled, merciful, loving the good, honest, prudent, modest, loving God, and exemplifying Him in all things, walking in great power!

Make a fresh commitment to live this way today . . . and every day; you can be sure, the world around you will take note, and God will too!

Posted by onthesolidrock in Discipline, Faith, Holiness, Humility, Trust, 0 comments
Learn the Word

Learn the Word

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.   Colossians 3:16

The Scriptures call us to become students of the Word of God. We MUST apply all of our abilities to this task. We live in a day and age of information; we have access to computers, bibles, books, commentaries, etc.

If there ever was a generation that is WITHOUT EXCUSE for learning the Word of God, it is this generation.

You MUST engage yourself in the study of God’s Word. To avoid this most elementary part of Christianity shows your lack of desire to, really know, the God you say you love!

Posted by onthesolidrock in Discipline, Faith, Holiness, Humility, 0 comments
Martha, Martha

Martha, Martha

Martha’s idea to invite Jesus to her home was turning out to be a problem for her. This was supposed to be a good thing. The Son of God is in my home! We had better get the best dishes out, the choicest drink and food; prepared just right! Everyone had better be on their best behavior too!

Mary, Martha’s sister, knew what was most important, and was not about to be moved. She decided to sit at Jesus’ feet and listen to the Words of Life He would speak. She hung on every word! Martha was missing out, distracted by the busyness of preparations.

Martha was so distracted that she even complained to Jesus; “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”  She now wanted her distraction to be everyone else’s distraction too, even Jesus!

Jesus was quick to set Martha straight, showing her that what Mary was doing was the best thing. Not that dinner preparations are not important, but sitting with Jesus is even better!

When faced with a distraction that threatens to pull your focus off Jesus, do what Mary did, and just sit still, and listen to Jesus. Rest assured that you are doing the right thing; the distraction will wait.

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”  Luke 10:41-42

Posted by onthesolidrock in Discipline, Faith, Family, Holiness, Humility, Thankfulness, Trust, 0 comments
Godly Sorrow

Godly Sorrow

“Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.”  2 Corinthians 7:10
 
“Godly sorrow” produces repentance. I have to ask; have you ever felt godly sorrow? Have you ever felt the need to repent, and then actually do it?
 
Because if you have not ever repented, you are NOT redeemed, and you are still in your sins, and are as lost as ever; even more lost, because you have deceived yourself into thinking you are redeemed, when in fact you are not.
 
Jesus said these stunning words . . .
 
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.”     Matthew 7:21-23
 
The most revealing and frightening aspect of this passage is that the people were convinced that they knew Jesus; when in fact, He NEVER knew them!
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Roaring Lion

Roaring Lion

Satan has considerable influence in our society. His malevolent intentions are evident the world over.

It seems with each passing day, the darkness of the devil’s evil persuasion is poisoning the hearts and minds of humanity in ever increasing proportions.

We must remain vigilant and on guard, keeping our minds clear of distractions, otherwise we fall into sin, becoming ineffective in our prayer, and even becoming a tool in that hands of our enemy.

 

“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”

Posted by onthesolidrock in Discipline, Faith, Holiness, Ministries, Prayer, Trust, 0 comments
Bitter or Better – You Get to Choose

Bitter or Better – You Get to Choose

Anger is an emotion we all have, and how we express it is very important. Uncontrolled anger quickly turns to rage, a form of abuse.

Anger, when properly controlled helps shape new ideas, it is a healthy mechanism used to set boundaries and keep us from over reacting to situations. You may recall Moses becoming angry many times, as he encountered difficult people, and God used those moments to help shape the man Moses, and indeed an entire nation of people.

Uncontrolled anger turns to rage, and rage is very destructive, often becoming addictive. Anger in and of itself, is not bad. When we are faced with a situation that causes us to become angry, we need to talk it out, find solutions, set boundaries.

Unresolved anger turns to bitterness

The Bible tells us;

Ephesians 4:29-32

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Did you catch that? “Get rid of all bitterness  . . .”

Let’s look at this word for a moment.

The root word used for bitterness is:

Pikros             pik-ros’          (piercing); sharp (pungent), that is, acrid – bitter.

Bitterness is a powerful explosive

I grew up in Cameron County, a rather remote area in North Central Pennsylvania, the heart of the Pa. Wilds. Residents are familiar with the term Picric.

Early in the settlement of Cameron County, there was an abundance of Hemlock; it was everywhere. The hemlock trees were debarked, and the hemlock bark processed to produce tannin, in turn used in the process of tanning hides.

Picric (bitter) acid helped pull the tannin out of the hemlock bark. Since there was an abundance of Picric acid, also used to produce the powerful explosive TNT, factories sprung up across Cameron County in the 1800’s.

So . . . “Pikros” or bitterness is a powerful explosive, and the Bible says to get rid of it . . . all of it!

Bitterness usually manifests in three ways, bitterness toward God, toward others, and toward oneself.

Bitterness towards God

Bitterness towards God can happen many different ways, and I have seen it happen many times. A precious loved one is taken away, and there are no clear answers.

Someone prays for a healing, and the object of his or her prayers is suddenly gone!

Someone is faithful to God, serving the church, generous in giving, yet end up losing their job, the house is now in foreclosure, and they are about to lose everything!

The natural question in situations like these are; “why would a loving God allow this to happen?

It is easy to fall into the trap and begin to question God’s love, His mercy, and His wisdom. Perhaps you have been there!

You begin to feel angry at God, and you begin to shrink back from Him. You see God blessing others but you feel cursed and wonder why God is passing you by. I have heard people say; “when is it my time to be blessed!”

Your anger towards God grows, and you become resentful, and question everything God does, you even begin to question the very existence of God. A prime example of this, is found in the Book of Acts.

Acts 8:9-23

Now for some time a man named Simon had practiced sorcery in the city and amazed all the people of Samaria. He boasted that he was someone great, and all the people, both high and low, gave him their attention and exclaimed, “This man is rightly called the Great Power of God.” They followed him because he had amazed them for a long time with his sorcery. But when they believed Philip as he proclaimed the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Simon himself believed and was baptized. And he followed Philip everywhere, astonished by the great signs and miracles he saw.

 When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to Samaria. When they arrived, they prayed for the new believers there that they might receive the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit had not yet come on any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.

 When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money and said, “Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.”

 Peter answered: “May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God. Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord in the hope that he may forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin.”

Simon had a bitter heart because he saw the real power of God being used in common everyday folks and he wanted it!

Bitterness towards others

The second way we become bitter is towards others. This usually begins with an offense and a hurt that is not forgiven.  Often this takes a lifetime to develop and can start at an early age. A child, abused emotionally or physically, finding no way to express the pain; become angry, and resentful to their parents or toward others.

I have seen families devastated when a cherished family member passes away. Heirlooms divided unevenly, the estate, managed improperly, and someone gets hurt, resentment sets in. As time progresses, the hurt festers, and bitterness of heart, overtake the person and they become toxic.

When a family lives with a bitter person, life can be almost unbearable! The bitter one cannot truly love, rarely if ever says the words “I love you,” unless spoken with an unhealthy dose of sarcasm.

The bitter person cannot find it within himself or herself, to express hope and encouragement to anyone, life revolves around them and their pain. The bitter heart always sees itself as the victim, the one who is always hurt, and if not hurt now, will most certainly hurt again soon.

The bitter person is almost always angry about something, works hard at producing guilt feelings in others, and when those they must live with distance themselves, more anger and guilt comes rolling out. A bitter person is full of poison and is toxic like picric, an explosion waiting to happen!

Bitterness to oneself

The last form of bitterness expresses inwardly, toward self. Some people see themselves as ugly, sinful, and disgusting. They have committed crimes against God and man, and simply cannot forgive themselves.

They feel as though God could never forgive them for the things they have done. I have encountered many a person with this affliction; when asked; they often say something like; “I hope God will forgive me.” They have not yet believed that God could, or would forgive them.

For this person, God’s forgiveness is just a bridge too far. Many times this person will do works for God, hoping somehow to earn His forgiveness and love!

Bitterness of heart settles in, and in the end, without forgiveness received, the person’s eternal life is lost; a sad end indeed.

The Bible warns us about bitterness;

Hebrews 12:15

See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.

Bitterness will defile many if left unchecked and if you are reading this today, and you know you have the symptoms of bitterness; then let’s get healed of this disease today!

Get free of bitterness, once and for all

To get started, we deal with bitterness toward God. The first step is to realize that we live in a fallen world; a world full of sin and destruction. Remember, bad things happen to good people, and just because we are Christians, does not exempt us from the brokenness of this broken world.

The Bible does give us hope though:

Romans 8:28

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

While there will be pain and suffering in this world, God is working in ways we may not see clearly. In the midst of great pain and suffering, ask God to lead you, hold tight to His hand.

As we encounter painful experiences in this broken world, rather than despise God, let’s ask Him if there is anything that can be discovered from this? Not that God instigated the pain, but rather, can God help me through this and help me learn something too, perhaps something to help another.

Remember the Scriptures . . .

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 receive from God.

Many reading this have been through tremendous pain and suffering, yet you still love God! Could one of the blessings be that there is a way for you to comfort others who may be heading into a season of suffering?

Do not become bitter toward God, He is not your enemy, He is your salvation, trust Him, fall into His arms and love Him, let your bitterness toward Him dissolve!

Secondly, let’s deal with the bitterness toward others. Remember to make your anger temporary; recall Ephesians 4:26 “. . . do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.”

Do not allow your anger to cause you to sin; make up your mind you will not do it!

Forgive and forget! Now I know this sounds simplistic, but it works. For someone reading this today, you have kept a running list of every hurt, every offense, and you have learned to nurse them; holding them dear, not realizing that the very thing you clutch to your heart is killing you and is a contagion to those around you!

First, forgive them. That means letting go of the right to retaliate! Give the outcome to God; let Him be the Judge, and the One who has the final say. In your forgiveness, be sure to get rid of all malice, give it up!

Stop wishing harm to those who harm you, stop it!

Once you have made up your mind to forgive; then forget. By forget I mean that you will never bring up the offense again.

A man was meeting with a marriage counselor and he said; “please help me, my wife is historical, she’s absolutely historical!” The doctor said; “Don’t you mean she is hysterical?” “No,” the man replied; “she is historical and is always bringing up the past.”

We will not forget the incident, and the scar may last for a lifetime, but when we forgive, we leave it alone and determine not to bring it back up.

One more thought on this; if you are in an abusive relationship and you have within your power the freedom to leave, then do so; God calls us to live in peace. I have known people who feel it is their duty to live in an abusive relationship, to suffer great pain and humiliation, only to end up bitter, resentful and lost; this is not God’s plan.

It is one thing to suffer for Christ and quite another to suffer for man; you must discern between the two, and make a decision.

Finally, let’s deal with bitterness toward oneself. To tackle this one, you need to believe God’s Word. If you do, then there is real hope, if you do not, then you will suffer a long life of bitterness and die without Christ.

Those who suffer bitterness toward themselves often wallow in self-pity. Many, who struggle in this way, have what we often refer to as a besetting sin, the one thing that always trips them up! They tend to live in a cycle of sin and self abasement.

The Bibles says something wonderful;

1 John 1:9

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

Remember that God has provided everything you need for salvation, including the gift of forgiveness. If you have sinned, then confess it to God, tell Him about it! Once you do, then forgiveness comes, it’s over, and He will remember it no more.

Avoid not forgiving yourself, this makes you become as God in your life. Are you stronger, wiser and more powerful than God? I don’t think so! Let it go!

So, let’s get rid of all bitterness today! Make this the first day of a life without bitterness.

For those of you who have experienced bitterness of soul, this is not easy; it will cause tears and great pain. Bitterness has been part of your life, and living without it will be a frightful thing at first. However, to live with it, will cost you your soul, because there will not be one bitter soul in heaven and if you do not deal with it here, you don’t get to go there!

Time to cast bitterness into the sea

For some of you, you have accumulated a mountain of hurt, so much pain and suffering! You have carried it for years and years; it is time to bring it to God.

Mark 11:22-25

“Have faith in God,” Jesus answered.  “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them.  Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.  And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”

It is time to cast off the mountain of bitterness; when you, by faith, release this burden to the Lord, He will cast it away into the sea, and sweet water will begin flowing into your soul!

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Pray Upside Down Series

Pray Upside Down Series

For many years I have been trying to put together a series of Bible Studies designed to help the Christian understand their true position in Christ.

Finally, I have set aside the time and put them altogether, The studies were born out of my own desire to understand the power of prayer, and how this meshes with our relationship to Jesus.

My experience in pastoral ministry took place in rural Pennsylvania; nestled in the mountains of Cameron County, the heart of the Pennsylvania Wilds.

A small community with big problems

 Like many small rural communities, the one my wife, Sherri and I served, had its fair share of problems. Having lived in the community for many years, we knew in detail the problems associated with the town; problems of drug abuse, alcoholism, suicide and sexual abuse. These issues were far more common than folks there care to admit.

As pastors in this community, we saw firsthand the hurt and pain the devil had inflicted upon the community, and we began earnestly to pray for the deliverance of this town.

For many years, every Sunday morning, Sherri and I would head to an overlook that provided a stunning view of our little town, and we would pray there.

On one particular occasion, I went alone and began praying over the town; what happened that day would change my life forever!

An encounter with God on the mountain

I stood where I could see the whole town and began praying against the powers and principalities that had been enslaving the people in my community.

Determined to see a breakthrough, I was passionately praying aloud, fists punching at the sky as if pounding on the devil himself!

It was then the most unexpected thing happened; the Lord seemed to draw near, I could sense His Presence, and while I was praying, He asked me a question. To the best of my recollection, here is how the conversation unfolded.

The Lord said to me; “Rock, what are you doing?”

I was somewhat taken aback, it seemed obvious to me what I was doing, so I answered the Lord; “I am praying.”

He said in the kindest way possible; “Why are you praying like that, punching at the sky?”

I was not sure what He was getting at, and I really did not know how to answer, so I responded; “This is how I do it.”

There was a pause, and then he asked me another question; “Rock, where are you?”

I am getting even more confused now, and all I could do was to say; “I’m here, Lord!” There was another pause, and then He rephrased the same question,

“Rock, spiritually where are you?”

I responded by saying, “I’m with you, Lord.” It was then that the Scripture from Ephesians 2:6 (And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus) came rushing to my heart.

The Lord asked me again; “Rock, where are you?”

 I responded; “I am seated with Christ in the heavenly realms” What the Lord said next would forever change my life and ministry!

The Lord said to me; “Rock, stop praying with your fists pounding at the sky, as if you were fighting an enemy that you are in subjection to. Start praying from your true position in Me.

God taught me to pray Upside Down

Instead of praying with a down-side up mentality, pray from the up-side down; from the heavenly realm where you are seated; the battle is not over your head, but is under your feet.”

Wow, stunned by what had just taken place, I realized that much of my prayer life took place without recognizing the authority with which one could pray.

I learned that I do have authority and that I can pray expecting powerful answers. That day on the mountain changed everything!

 It was out of this encounter with the Lord on that mountain, the idea of Praying Up-side Down and consequently the name of our ministry; Faith Up-side Down came to fruition.

The Faith Upside Down Bible Study Series will help you to understand the truth of who you are in Christ and you will discover the powerful position you have, and your prayer life will take on new passion and power!

You can check out our new series at Pray Upside Down.

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Give it Away

Give it Away

Our world has a growing disparity between those who have much and those who have little. The society sees this, and cries inequality and demands justice!

 

The answer that quickly comes to the mind of some is the “Robin Hood” answer; take from the rich and give to the poor! We romanticize the story of Robin Hood, the outcast hero outsmarting and outwitting the snobbish, wealthy overlords, gathering their hoarded riches and giving to the poor.

 

Yet, this tactic of pressuring the wealthy, to give to the poor, seems unfair. Many wealthy people have earned their money legally, working smart and hard to get it. Pressuring them, even extorting them, into giving it to an oft times dishonest government to spend, seems as repulsive as Robin Hood stealing it!

 

As Christians who champion the teachings of Jesus, why we do we relegate the care of our neighbors to the government? Here is an idea, how about just giving your own money and wealth away, and doing it on your own accord.

 

To highlight the joy of giving to my congregation, I hatched an idea; we would pray and take the Sunday morning offering as usual; however, whatever amount came in, we would give it ALL AWAY the next Sunday! I talked it over with the leadership team of our church and they wholeheartedly agreed!

 

We received the offering that morning, and for our church, it was awesome; we took in just over $1600. So the next Sunday, we took 80 envelops with $20 in each one, making sure that everyone who came received an envelope; if you were old enough to walk, you got one!

 

I preached a message on giving, and the Scripture lesson was from Matthew 6:1-4

 

“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.

“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

 

I challenged the folks to; secretly get the $20 bill into the hands of someone you felt could really use it. We would find out later that some folks used the money to put together a meal for a family; another bought the fixings for a steak dinner and gave it to a family. One young boy, about 8 years old, saw an elderly woman in the grocery store and he secretly slipped the $20 bill into her purse.

 

The stories of that day filtered in over the next few months and it was awesome!

 

Additionally, it really made no sense from a practical point of view, to give away the offering; our church could have really, really used it then; however God more than compensated what we gave away!

 

As followers of Jesus, we have the title of ambassador, and we are to represent the Kingdom of God to the residents of this broken world; why then would we willingly give that task to a broken government; let us do what God has called us to do!

 

Go ahead, get generous and bless a family. If you have enough money to take your family out to eat; then wait an extra couple of weeks setting aside a tip near the amount of your dinner and bless the waiter or waitress; the expression of joy far exceeds the $75 tip!

 

Pray and ask God to reveal the name of a family that could use a blessing; and then follow through.

 

An amazing blessing is to take one or two hundred dollar bills and put them in a “Thinking of You” card and write a quick line: “I wanted you to know that you have been on my heart, and I see your need, I hope this helps” ~Jesus

 

Oh, and remember, your time is more valuable than money, your willingness to befriend someone and walk with them through life, is a blessing that is priceless!

 

Remember, you are an ambassador and have the authority to use His Name!

 

Go for it!

 

Be a blessing and be blessed!

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A Stroll in the Woods – Lesson 3 – Smorgasbord

A Stroll in the Woods – Lesson 3 – Smorgasbord

One of the things I found a little unnerving on my recent hike to the Red Moshannon Viaduct, was the dense terrain that I had to walk through. The area was new to me, as I had never been there before. On my way back to my car, I got somewhat turned around, or uh, you might say, I was taking the scenic route . . . Oh, I’ll just tell the truth, I WAS LOST! There . . . I said it!


As I was walking through this dense, sopping wet forest, I noticed many blackberries, huckleberries, and then I began to see large rotten trees and tree stumps torn apart, then it dawned on me, there were bears rummaging through this area, and I was walking through their kitchen!


Black Bear

I started to feel uneasy. The rain was pouring down; the ground was silent to my steps, and I anticipated coming face to face with a black bear at any moment; possibly surprising the bear, and hoping it was not with a set of cubs, making the encounter even more dangerous.


So I proceeded with an increased level of scrutiny as I took each step, looking this way and that, being very careful as I picked my through.


It reminded me of an old passage in the Bible; the passage in Genesis, shortly before Cain killed his brother Abel. Both had brought offerings to God, Abel’s offering was acceptable to the Lord, but God was not pleased with the offering Cain brought.


Cain got angry and jealous of his brother and began to think ugly thoughts; God spoke to Cain and said; “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast?  If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” (Genesis 4:6-7)



We live in a world where “sin is crouching” at every turn, looking to ensnare anyone who falls into the temptation trap! Satan cannot make you sin, but he is very good at setting a tempting table; a smorgasbord for you; and as you pass by, he whispers in your ear . . . “Oh there must be something on this table for you, try a little something, so tasty!”


The Apostle Peter described the devil as a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.  We need to be careful as we negotiate the crazy world we find ourselves immersed in, the dangers out there are far worse than encountering an angry bear!

To coin a phrase used by an old friend, Phil Burkhouse, author of a weekly outdoor column, Wandering Aimlessly; “You be careful out there.”

Posted by onthesolidrock in Discipline, Faith, Humility, Thankfulness, Trust, 0 comments
A Stroll in the Woods – Lesson 2 – Stuck in Mid-Air

A Stroll in the Woods – Lesson 2 – Stuck in Mid-Air

As I was walking through the woods on my way to the Red Moshannon Viaduct, I came across a rather odd-looking site; a leaf stuck in mid-air! I took a picture of the leaf, as it dangled in the air, four feet off the ground.


As I studied the optical anomaly, looking for the solution to the magical dangling leaf, I saw it, a single silky strand, barely visible to the naked eye!


The leaf, released from its lofty perch, sent on a mission to add to the beautiful tapestry of the forest floor. While en-route to the desired destination, a single thread captured it in mid-air, effectively ending the desired journey and the hopeful outcome.


A single spider thread is only about 10 microns thick, that is four ten thousandths of an inch! Yet, as small as that single thread is, it has great strength; a single spider strand is 5 times as strong as a strand of steel the same diameter!


As I stood there pondering this amazing sight, I realized that it only takes a little “sin” to stop a person’s spiritual journey with Jesus. Just as the little leaf stopped in mid-air, so too does the Christian’s journey suspend in time, until the minute thread, cut loose.


Only when we call out to Jesus, declaring we have made an error in judgment, does He stop and cut us loose. It is the confession of the deed, which sets us free. If we choose to ignore the issue at hand, we will remain stranded and more silky thread will be applied, and the bonds grow tighter and tighter, choking the very life out of us!


When walking through dangerous places with Jesus; it is best to keep your eyes on Him; you will be less likely to be enticed off the trail. The Good News; if you do fail, call out quickly to Him, even if you feel embarrassed, or ashamed, tell Him what you did, and how sorry you are. He will come quickly and free you from the snare.


1 John 1:9

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

Posted by onthesolidrock in Discipline, Faith, Holiness, Humility, Trust, 0 comments
A Stroll in The Woods – Lesson 1

A Stroll in The Woods – Lesson 1

Annually I like to take a weekend and spend it in solitude, deep in the mountains of Pennsylvania. I do this to reflect on God’s Word, to clear my mind and heart, seeking God’s direction for the year ahead.


This year, I chose to hang my hammock and pitch my tent, on a secluded spot on Sandy Ridge, Pa. It was a gorgeous spot overlooking the scenic valley below, surrounded by forest.

My humble home on Sandy Ridge

I decided to take a day to hike into an area I had always wanted to see, the Red Moshannon Viaduct. My grandfather used to pick cranberries there.

Red Moshannon Viaduct

Reuben & Helen Pifer with 119 quarts of Cranberries

My devotional for the morning, prior to my hike, was one of my favorite passages in the Bible, Matthew chapter 5, 6 and 7; we often refer to this section as the “Sermon on the Mount.”


This part of the Bible contains the “Nuts & Bolts” of Christianity. Jesus really laid it out here; I recommend that you read it . . . all three chapters, and then read it again, a little slower, savoring all the nuggets along way; then read it one more time for good measure. I guarantee you will want to go back to this passage, repeatedly, I know I do!


In chapter 7, verses 13 and 14, Jesus says this: “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.”


As I headed down over the side of the mountain to reach the Moshannon Viaduct, I found myself paralleling Interstate 80. As I headed down over the bank, I was about 100 yards from that massive highway; the cars and truck roaring by; careening to destinations unknown to me.

I-80

I was picking my way through the soggy, dense forest, now on a deer path traversing a 50-degree slope, pushing through thick, wet mountain laurel, stinging twigs slapping my face, brushing off mosquitoes, slipping from time to time! Only 100 yards away was a smooth, flat, easy highway; people whizzing effortlessly past me.


I sat down to rest, and then I realized that this must be what Jesus was talking to me about earlier. Getting on the interstate is easy, and once you get on it, it’s pedal to the metal and off you go!


So many today are flying through life, roaring to new jobs, bigger homes, adding relentlessly to a retirement fund, breathlessly chasing dreams, running fast and hard; all the while unaware at the end of this broad highway, according to Jesus, there is nothing but eternal destruction.


The other option is not so much a road, but a path; this road has a Gatekeeper, and His Name is Jesus; there is no other entrance-way; you MUST go through Him. Once you meet Him, He takes you on a journey. Jesus leads the way, looking back and with a grin stretching from ear to ear, He says; “Come, Follow Me.”


The way is often precarious, the twists and turns can be both frightening and exhilarating. There is danger, mysterious intrigue, and profound wonder, as you follow the Son of God. The narrow road is full of sights and sounds that those, only 100 yards away, never see.


The destination of this road less traveled is life . . . life never ending; it does not end in destruction, but continues; on and on, it is eternal, forever and ever!


If I have wet your whistle and you want to enter this narrow way, then consider Jesus. If drawn to the gatekeeper, and by ANY means, run to Him, and get in on this journey.


I can’t wait to see what’s around the next bend . . . Hey Jesus, wait up . . . I’m coming!

Posted by onthesolidrock in Discipline, Faith, Humility, Thankfulness, Trust, 0 comments

Hornets’ Nest

Hornets’ Nest

I recall one hot summer afternoon when I was about 8 years old my dad, mom and me, went looking for some chokecherries so mom could make some chokecherry jam!

There were a few chokecherry trees not far from our property, so we took a couple of small buckets and off we went. We found a tree loaded with them, but the first few branches were high of the ground, so dad hoisted me up, then handed me the bucket, and I scurried up into the tree.

Wild Chokecherries

I was carefully plucking chokecherries, when suddenly; I felt a sting on the back of my neck, then another, and another! In a matter of seconds, I felt stung repeatedly!

I dropped the bucket and started yelling to dad as I made my descent as quickly as possible. When I got to the last branch, I jumped into dads arms and we ran away as fast as we could!

When we got home, mom attended to my stinging wounds; stung about a dozen times or more.

A hornets’ nest, tucked in the tree; unnoticed by us, and disturbed by my presence, the hornets attacked me!

White Faced Hornet

Watch out for Hornets in the wild

I am so glad that my parents rushed me home and took care of my stinging wounds, applying pain-relieving ointments and cold cloths to the afflicted areas. I am sure the temptation was for my dad to knock down that hornet nest and make them “pay” for what they did to me.

The fact is, we have hornets in the wild, and when we get too close to their nests, they react. It is best to be a little more careful when investigating the great wilderness surrounding us, and when we locate a hornets’ nest, give it a wide berth.

It is an entirely different situation when the hornets decide to build near our home; we simply cannot permit it, so we take measures to ensure that does not happen. When we spy those aerial stinging insects, attempting to build a nest on our house, we knock it down and destroy it swiftly.

Furthermore, we remain diligent, keeping close watch, inspecting our homes and properties often, making sure they are safe from these stinging critters.


We are born with a fatal sting

While remembering this almost forgotten event from my childhood, it dawned on me, that we could make an important spiritual application from this story.

We know that, spiritually speaking, we are all born with a sting in our soul, a spiritually fatal sting; we know only one cure for this lethal condition, and that would be Jesus.

Jesus went to the Cross embracing every sting of every person; you could say on the Cross-, He was swarmed. The fierce stings of sin penetrated His flesh, burning deep.

Even after He had given up His Spirit to the Father, one last “sting” for good measure given, as they pierced His side! It was finished!

Of course, we know that the Father raised Jesus up; Praise God for that! The Bible now declares . . .


1 Corinthians 15:55-57

“Where, O death, is your victory?

Where, O death, is your sting?”

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.


For those who have come to Christ Jesus, the “sting” of death, now erased, and all our “stings” forgiven; this is great news!

On a mission to remove the sting of death

Now, as followers of Jesus, we are on a mission to show people everywhere, how to get that “sting” of death out, and replaced with the River of Life!

Early in my Christian journey, as I wandered through our community, I noticed all these “hornet” nests established throughout our town; cults, bars, secret societies, and the like.  I recall standing in front of these establishments praying against them, invoking the power of God to come and destroy these places of iniquity.

Almost every time I did this, I would feel swarmed by “demonic hornets” throughout the following week; some spiritual attacks were quite vicious and painful; I got the feeling the devil was out for blood!

I began to wonder what I was doing wrong, so I began to examine Jesus’ life and His tactics; and my eyes opened.

During the time of Jesus’ ministry, certainly one HUGE hornet nest, was the Roman Empire. The folks following Jesus, wanted Him to eradicate that nest; to tear it down and bring freedom, political freedom from the oppression everyone felt from that ungodly regime!

Jesus did not go to Rome, standing there praying against it; rather He went to people, offering to remove the “sting” of death from their heart. He knew advancing His Kingdom would happen, one heart at a time!

He focused on His mission; Isaiah 61:1-3


The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.


His mission has become our mission; we would do well to follow it!

Do not permit hornets to build in your house

Jesus did not go to the “hornet nests” in the wild; rather He left them alone. However, He would NOT tolerate the building of “hornet nests” in His household; He tore them down quickly, and so should we!

It is one thing to encounter a hornets’ nest in the wild, and another thing to discover one in your house. The ones we find in the wild, we avoid, and give wide berth to; the ones we find in our home, we quickly exterminate, so it is in the Kingdom of Christ!

When Jesus encountered the money-changers, Pharisees, and false teachers of the Law, doing business in His Father’s house, He let them have it, and called them out; even driving them out with a whip!

Jesus driving out the money-changers

In light of these truths, I have decided to change my tactics a bit; rather than looking for spiritual hornet nests in the wild, and standing there shouting at them. I have decided to concentrate on identifying hornet nests inside the church (His Body) exposing and knocking them down!

I intend to be intentionally helping persons remove the sting of death in their soul; then warning them to stay away from known hornets nests in the wild.

Now, don’t get me wrong here, if the Holy Spirit directs me to stand in front of a hornet nest and shout at it; I will do so without hesitation, fully expecting that the nest will fall, just like the walls of Jericho fell when the Israelite army shouted at it!

Meanwhile . . . there are stings to remove, soothing salve to apply, a Kingdom to advance . . . one soul at a time!

Get your gear, let’s get at it!

Posted by onthesolidrock in Discipline, Faith, Holiness, Humility, Trust, 0 comments
We Wrestle

We Wrestle

Growing up, our family were neighbors with the James Baker family; James (Jim) was the high school biology teacher, and the head wrestling coach. His influence brought all the neighborhood boys into the wresting club. I started my school-wrestling career when I was in the 6th grade.

 

When I was in high school, I made the wrestling team; we were called; BAGUBA’s, pronounced BAH-GOO-BAH. It was an acronym that stood for: Brutally Aggressive Guy Uninhibited By Adversity.

 

To be a wrestler requires tremendous practice and preparation. A typical practice session begins by stretching. We would stretch our legs, arms, and even stretch our necks by doing what we call the arch technique; while laying flat on your back, arms across your chest, you would arch your body upward, using only your neck muscle. I recall the first few weeks of practice everyone had sore necks!

 

After 15 to 20 minutes of stretching, we would do sprints back and forth across the gymnasium to build up our cardio. We would do this until we thought we would drop!

 

Once we stretched and got our heart rate pumping, we would go into the wrestling room! The heated room felt like a sauna! The floor and walls were padded, and a ladder attached to the ceiling.

 

We would each take turns going across the ladder. You jumped up, grabbed a rung, then pulled your knees up to your chest, going across the ladder as fast as possible; it was grueling!

 

Once all these preliminary steps were out of the way, the “Real” practice began! We would learn wrestling maneuvers and tactics, practicing on each other in that sweltering room.

 

Finally, we would end the practice session by doing an exercise called, “Shark Bait.” You broke into groups of four, as close to a similar weight class as possible. One wrestler would be the “Bait” and would wrestle the other three, one at a time; one minute each; once finished, a second wrestler would be the “Bait.” The session continued until all had an opportunity to wrestle.

 

After an hour and a half of wrestling practice, you were exhausted, and trust me, you felt it the next day!

 

All of this practice and preparation helped get us ready for a real match. When that day came, everything you had leaned and practiced, you needed to remember.

 

When you entered the ring and looked your opponent in the eyes, it was game on!

 

Wrestling is a hard sport and not for the squeamish, you will have your limits tested, you will learn what it feels like to be beaten, and what it feels like to win. It is an aggressive sport, and as our name declared; it is “Brutally Aggressive.”

 

As Christians, the Apostle Paul reminds us, that we are in a spiritual wrestling match; and the stakes are very high! Let us listen in as Paul reveals this truth . . .

 

Ephesians 6:10-18

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 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. 13 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. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

18 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 Lord’s people.

 

In this amazing passage, the Apostle Paul reveals what we need to do, in order to win this spiritual wrestling match. Let us look into it . . .

 

BELT OF TRUTH

 

In the time of the Apostle Paul’s writing to the church in Ephesus, the Romans soldiers were on patrol throughout the area. The Roman soldier wore armor to protect himself in battle. The “BELT” sometimes called the “GIRDLE” set in place, buckled around the middle.

 

The lower armor hung on the belt, and the sword rested in a sheath attached to the belt. The “BELT” was central to the armor of the Roman soldier, and the Belt of Truth is central to the Christian’s armor too; everything hangs on this.

 

Truth remains truth, so long as it is not manipulated or twisted. Satan loves to take Scripture out of context, and bend it to get his way, rather than God’s way.

 

GOD EXPECTS US TO WALK IN TRUTH ALWAYS, even if it may cause pain, we need to be truthful at all times. We must be truthful about ourselves, in our “INMOST PARTS” not holding back from God anything that would keep us from Him.

 

 

Psalm 51:6

Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts, and in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom.

 

Satan referred to as “THE FATHER OF LIES” does some of his most crafty work in this area. Let us be careful not to give him a foothold, but rather buckle firmly the belt of truth around your waist.

 

BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS

 

The Roman soldiers wore a breastplate. This piece of armor PROTECTED THE HEART, and other vital organs from attack, and without this essential piece of armor, the soldier was vulnerable to a fatal strike. FOR THE CHRISTIAN, THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS IS INDISPENSABLE, without this, we would be vulnerable to attack as well, an attack of the heart!

 

Satan loves to accuse, cast doubt, and instill fear, in the heart of the believer.

 

Unless we have this covering over our heart, his attacks may prove successful! God’s word declares the believer, righteous in Christ.

 

Romans 4:6-7

 Just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works: “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, And whose sin are covered. . .                                                                                                                                                                                       

Imputed to ascribe to or charge (a person) with an act or quality because of the conduct of another over whom one has control or for whose acts or conduct one is responsible.

 

 It is sometimes hard for us to believe that simply by placing faith in JESUS CHRIST, ALL our sins forgiven, and we stand before God as if we never did anything wrong.

 

Just like Abraham “BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS CREDITED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS” we believe God too, and by faith, just like Abraham, we believe in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

 

Our sins forgiven, WE STAND, NOT IN OUR OWN RIGHTEOUSNESS, BUT IN CHRIST’S.

 

FEET FITTED WITH THE PREPARATION OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE

 

We are now going to get our FEET FITTED with a pair of GOSPEL SHOES!

 

Following the Lord is not an easy task. The road may get difficult, we see SERPENTS AND SCORPIONS to crush along the way, and hot desert places to walk through. We need the proper equipment to walk this path.

 

Luke 10:19

Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.

 

God has lifted us up out of dark places and sets us on a solid path; directing our steps.

 

Psalm 40:2

He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps.

 

As you can see, our God is able to cause us to stand, and He gives us spiritual SHOES, that will tread down our enemy. This is good news, but there is more.

 

Once we have our feet fitted with shoes that are able to cause us to stand, and have the ability to crush our enemy, we need to use these shoes to carry forward the incredible message of the GOSPEL OF PEACE.

 

SHIELD OF FAITH

 

When Roman soldiers fought, often they would take their arrows and dip them in tar, then set them on fire before shooting at an enemy. If the arrow hit its mark, it would burn deeply into the flesh, causing great pain, and often would lead to further damage by way of infection. The shield would protect the soldiers from these “MISSILES.”

 

In the spiritual realm, Satan launches “FIRE TIPPED MISSILES” at the Christian, trying to inflict pain and infection, causing deep hurts in the heart. Satan’s goal is to get the Christian to strike back.

 

When a Christian strikes back, returning evil for evil, the tactic Satan used, is successful. With the Shield of Faith, we protect our heart from the ungodly attacks that WILL come our way.

 

HELMET OF SALVATION

 

The helmet was crucial to the Roman soldier. It protected the head. You may recall seeing pictures of Roman soldiers with bright plumage on top of their helmet, this would often indicate what division, or regiment the soldier belonged. Quite often, as soon as you saw the soldier’s helmet, you knew whom you were going to be fighting.

 

Satan loves to manipulate and distort God’s Word; he is a master of deception. Often we will find his greatest deceptions have an element of truth to them. We must be on guard at all times.

 

The HELMET OF SALVATION is vital, as it helps to protect our mind from the continuous attempts by Satan to influence our thoughts. Salvation is not just redemption; it is also restoration; completeness and a new sense of who we are.

 

2 Corinthians 5:17

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

 

SWORD OF THE SPIRIT

 

The WORD OF GOD is more than able to slay the enemy, but we MUST know it, in order to use it! We need to “HIDE IT IN OUR HEART,” meditate on it, filling up on the “WHOLE COUNCIL OF GOD” and not just the parts that make us feel good.

 

We need to grasp the WORD OF GOD, and learn to use it effectively.

 

In Roman training manuals, it states that a “sword-slash” rarely kills. A soldier needs to take careful aim, and plunge in the sword.

 

We too, need to be careful not to wield the WORD OF GOD carelessly, but rather study it, and learn to use it wisely.

 

So, spiritually speaking, are you a BAGUBA: Brutally Aggressive Guy (or Gal) Uninhibited By Adversity?

 

Let us be clear; if you belong to Jesus, you ARE in a wrestling match! Your opponent is out for keeps; he is relentless, strong and cunning. The Bible refers to him this way. . .

 

1 Peter 5:8

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.

 

However, with constant training, which includes stretching faith muscles, building perseverance, pressing through the hard trials, enduring persecution, you become stronger and stronger!

 

Remember, we are MORE THAN CONQUERORS in Christ Jesus!

 

So suit up, listen to your Coach, follow His lead, and you will most certainly win the championship crown!

 

The match begins . . . NOW!

Posted by onthesolidrock in Discipline, Faith, Trust, 0 comments
Carnival Barkers

Carnival Barkers

Every summer I recall my parents would take us kids to the Clearfield County Fair. As we wandered around, the sights and smells gave us a sensory overload!

 

We would start by walking through all the farm exhibits, cows, rabbits, chickens, hogs, horses; you name it, I think they had it! Mom would want to walk through all the exhibits that highlighted things like canned foods, knitting, quilts, paintings and the like.

 

While the animals and farm exhibits were interesting, I would catch glimpses of the Mid-Way; the rides, games, and cotton candy were beckoning me to come and see! I would tug on mom and dad’s hand, hoping they would get the hint.

 

Finally, we entered the Mid-Way . . . WOW what a site. Dad took me on the double Ferris-Wheel, and as we spun high above the clamor, we could see forever, or so it seemed! Getting a bird’s-eye view, we could see it all; and could even see mom; far below waving up at us.

 

As we began to walk through the gauntlet of games and attractions, some of the game operators began to call out to my dad, and I became a bit uneasy. They would say slightly demeaning things like; Hey you, why don’t show your boy how strong you are, take the hammer and ring the bell; make your boy proud!”

 

It seemed like every game we went by, some carnival worker would bark out stinging little slogans designed to get my dad to react and buy a ticket to play.

 

I recall stopping by a game where one of the players was having a dispute with the operator. The game looked simple; a pool ball placed in the center of a circle with a silver dollar on top of the ball.

 

The idea was to take a cue ball and knock the ball away, dropping the coin in the center of the circle, not touching the lines of the circle drawn on the table. One of the men who had been trying the game, declared it impossible to win; and the argument was heated.

 

Since we had a pool table at home, I knew I could do it! I asked dad if I could play. He was not too keen on the idea, since I had the money for the game, and he let me play.

 

I lined up the cue stick and put a hard spin to the left and hit the cue ball hard, it nearly missed the desired ball with the coin on top, but just nipped it, leaving the silver dollar drop perfectly in the center!

 

The carnival game operator made such a fuss about me accomplishing this task, that he gave me the largest stuffed animal he had; it was nearly as tall as I was! The man, who had been arguing, walked away in disgust!

 

The experiences at the carnival, reminds me of the current state of political unrest in our country. It’s as if the politicians have become nothing more than “Carnival Barkers” attempting to illicit emotional responses by shouting empty slogans, designed to get a quick reaction.

 

It seems both sides of the political spectrum are fully engaged with constant “Carnival Barking” hoping to gain the most attention in the shortest amount of time. The goal seems to be convincing those passing by, to join in the hate, and animus of the day.

 

How are we, as Christians, supposed to negotiate the constant clamor and confusing rhetoric coming from those elected to serve us?

 

First, we need to keep our “True” citizenship in perspective. Jesus reveals that we are not of this world anymore than He is! “They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.” (John 17:16)

 

When we decided to follow Jesus, and make our allegiance to Him, we became part of His Kingdom. The Apostle Paul declares in Colossians 1:13 “He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love . . .”

 

Therefore, even though we love our country deeply, our first and strongest loyalty is to Christ and the advancement of His Kingdom!

 

So when the political “Carnival Barkers” shout demeaning slogans against people, created in the image of God, as you journey by, you can see it for what it is; an attempt to draw you out of the Kingdom of God and back into the kingdom of darkness.

 

Secondly, it is OK to get involved with the political system if you choose to. If you decide to jump in, be sure and do so with the prompting and leading of Jesus. Go in with a clear-eyed view of what you are doing.

 

Just like the little game I played and won; the training, confidence, and the backing of my dad, gave me everything I needed to do it and win; you need the same from your heavenly Father, and you will win too!

 

So, let the carnival barkers bark; it is what they do! Do not believe every word they shout; most of them are not true at all, it is only a ploy to get YOU off your game and into theirs. Enjoy the carnival . . . but be careful out there!

 

Posted by onthesolidrock, 0 comments