Judgment in the House of God

There’s coming a day, one that is fast approaching, when the American Church will be put on the spot by God.

You may say you don’t believe it. You just may think I’ve lost what marbles I once had. That’s okay, I might agree with you at some point.

But not this time.

But why would a loving God do such a thing? Doesn’t He want the best for us? Absolutely! But His best and our best could quite possibly be two different things.

Here’s a rather lengthy passage of scripture, but I believe it should be read and understood.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.

And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.”

It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:1 – 12:11 ESV)

You see, THE work God is trying to do in us is much more important than our comfort or ease. Scripture declares He is going to keep working in us until Christ be formed in us; until He is flowing through us as He did through His Son Jesus. After all, the Word declares He’s coming for a Church without spot or wrinkle.

Folks, I think we have a little ways to go before we’ve ”arrived”.

Malachi gives a prophetic word about the end times. I believe he could be writing about us. And while I believe the Lord is coming FOR His Church, I believe He’s coming TO His Church first.

Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts. But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the Lord. Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old and as in former years.

“Then I will draw near to you for judgment. I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired worker in his wages, the widow and the fatherless, against those who thrust aside the sojourner, and do not fear me”, says the Lord of hosts. (Malachi 3:1 – 3:5 ESV)

Notice He’s coming like a refiner’s fire and a fuller’s soap. Why? To purify His people, His ministers, His ”royal priesthood”. Do you remember the first three chapters of Revelation? That’s exactly what Jesus was doing when He stood in the midst of the candlesticks (the churches).

Peter also made a statement concerning God’s people and God’s timing.

For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And ”If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?“ Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good. (1 Peter 4:17 – 4:19 ESV)

Here are five areas where I believe the hand of God will be placed; bringing about a good scrub. Five areas of personal and corporate Church life.

  1. Our use of finances. Who is truly Lord of our finances? Not just the tithe, but the whole amount? What kind of stewardship are we practicing as a people, a church? Do we spend so much on ourselves we have nothing to do kingdom business with? Is ”marketing” about souls or our own image? Are we trusting in the Lord, or in the uncertainty of riches?
  2. Selfies and superstars. The platform we’ve raised for ourselves and our superstars will be leveled before God is through. The last shall be first, and the first shall be last. He who exalts himself shall be abased. He who humbles himself shall be exalted. There’s room for only one Star, and His Name Jesus.
  3. Cockiness verses consecration. God hears the ”strut” in our speech and the way we carry ourselves. Boldness with and in God is much different than simply showing off. Boldness in God is the result of true consecration and faith. The world will never be won by slick words, cocky speech, or well-crafted phrases. They will be won as Jesus is lifted up.
  4. Saints or shell games. Remember the old shell game, where a pea is hidden under one of three shells and you try and guess which shell has the pea after the shells are shuffled? Sometimes we are like shells. Empty, but projecting ourselves as having the ”pea”, or the gift of whatever. Always moving about, staying busy with ”ministry”, but holiness isn’t really in our heart. Expect the purifying fire of God. Acknowledging one’s emptiness prepares the way for glory.
  5. Belief or belligerence. The level of faith isn’t determined by how loud we shout, or how many people we can ”out argue” or ”put in their place ”. Pointing out the unbelief and sinful actions of others doesn’t elevate our faith. Not does it turn people to Jesus.

These are just examples of areas that are coming under the thumb of God. He desires to pour out His Spirit in unrestricted and unparalleled ways. He understands the extreme lateness of the hour and what it will take to bring as many people into His kingdom.

Our attitudes, as well as other areas of our personal and corporate church life, will be examined. Not by me. No, I’m already sensing the increased scrutiny and desire for greater holiness.

No, the Judge is at the door. He will judge righteously and completely.

Count on it.

The Big Guard Dog and the Protesters

Okay, so there’s this big dog. A good dog, but it’s really big. Its size makes it look much meaner than it is.

All day long it patrols its yard, ready to bark if and when its challenged by an intruder; someone it doesn’t recognize or senses to be a threat.

Remember, the dog is good. It has never attacked anyone, but simply guards its territory and alerts the owner of a possible problem.

It’s good and it’s big. But it stays with its fenced yard, doing what it has been trained and disciplined to do.

Enter several scores of protesters.

These protesters have heard about the danger of big dogs; big guard dogs. They read a story about some rogue dogs in another area going wild and killing an innocent person.

So, since a big guard dog did something it wasn’t trained to do, since it didn’t show any concern for its victim, the protesters decided to show everyone that all big guard dogs are vicious and must be punished.

The protesters approached the fence. Of course, by now the big guard dog is barking and growling, standing on its side of the fence. Still a good dog, but alert to possible danger.

So far so good. Up to this point both sides of the fence appear to be peaceful.

This could be a picture of what took place at the Iowa State Capitol Building last night. I watched a live stream from the Capitol for awhile, grieved by what I was seeing.

If it was just people on one side of the fence trying to make their point about how “Black Lives Matter” I’d be completely fine with that.

But while the big guard dog (the Iowa State Police) was standing on its side of the fence, doing what it was trained to do (protect and serve) and well within its parameters, the protesters began throwing objects at the big guard dog; taunting, provoking, and just daring the big guard dog to break its training, discipline and purpose, and respond like any ordinary animal.

If the big guard dog would have busted out and began attacking the protesters, it would have been much worse than it was. As it was, I believe the only retaliation the big guard dog used was tear gas to disperse the protesters and ease the pent up emotions on both sides of the fence.

And although the protesters were warned at least three times to disperse, each time the warning was ignored.

Instead, they kept up their provocation; just daring the big guard dog to bare its teeth and attack them.

My many thanks to the big guard dog that kept its cool, stayed its ground, its discipline, and its mission.

I pray the protesters realize they were flirting with a fight they would never win to prove a point that really didn’t need to be made.

Protesting police brutality by protesting all police is much like the protesters provoking the big guard dog.

The big guard dog is good and it’s needed. And, in my book, it’s appreciated.

A Faithful Man

A faithful man will abound with blessings, but he who hastens to be rich will not go unpunished.  (Proverbs 28:20 NKJV)

Faithfulness. It’s something many people struggle with. Maybe not in their marriage, work, or finances, but in their spiritual life. 

Now don’t turn me off or quit reading. And preacher reading this, don’t be so quick to agree with me, thinking I’m writing about those who are hit and miss where church attendance is concerned.

Lately I’ve been doing some thinking about my place in the Body of Christ. Where do I fit? What am I supposed to do? Am I bearing fruit? Is the Lord pleased? You know, questions like that.

I mean, I understand the parable of the talents and how it’s so important to make the most out of what God endows us with. He gifts each person with various abilities and ministry grace. Whether they use them or not is up to them. 

How I should be using my gifts has been capturing my prayer time, and my thoughts throughout the day.

The Lord was very clear in the above scripture. Faithfulness begets an abundance of blessings. 

But the rest of the verse doesn’t say anything about unfaithfulness, or does it? What’s he mean, “but he who hastens to be rich…”? 

Maybe we should consider the meaning of faithfulness. 

Faithfulness entails much more than church attendance, serving in various capacities at church, and whether or not we pray and read our Bible every day. Faithfulness has everything to do with relationships, with God or with people, depending on the context of discussion.

Faithfulness specifically is about dependability. Is a person dependable? If so, they are most likely faithful.

Let’s take the question, “Is the person faithful to God?” After all, this is the one I’ve been asking myself. Sure, I can list a number of things I’ve done through the years that ought to look good to God. I’ve certainly done better at this Christian thing than some others I’ve known. Yes, I’ve done my share of bad stuff, things that look terrible on my list. But all in all, I have a fairly good record. 

But I have a strong feeling that’s not how the scoring is tallied, if indeed there is scoring at all.

No, I believe the writer of Proverbs was thinking of something a bit different. So I’ll try to explain.

Doing the right things, saying the right words, and being at the right place aren’t necessarily the attributes of a faithful man. Of course, people see someone who does all those things and they’d all agree, “There goes a faithful man.”

But what about the part of a person’s life that isn’t seen by anyone but God? For instance, I’ve found myself comparing my life with other preachers, authors, and musicians; things I have done, wanted to do, or would still like to do. I look at how many “likes” and “shares” my social media posts get, and compare them with others doing similar ministry. I browse my Amazon account periodically to see how many books people have purchased or downloaded for free. And I find myself being discouraged that my “ministry” isn’t as popular as I feel it should be.

Can any of you identify with me?

So I asked the Lord about it all. I didn’t whine to Him, but I did kind of want to know why people aren’t knocking down my “ministry door” like they did the apostles Peter and Paul. 

Want to hear what He said?

You probably guessed it. 

In essence, His word was, “I’ve only called you to be faithful with all I’ve given you. The size of ministry is not an indication of whether ministry is good or bad.”

He reminded me of some pastor friends of mine. They serve a small, rural community. They’ve done so for over twenty years. Probably not much opportunity for a packed house or large offerings.

But they are where they’re supposed to be, doing what they’re supposed to be doing. 

God calls them faithful.

And God is calling me, and I dare say you as well, to a life of faithfulness. I don’t have to be the best, have the biggest following, or say the wittiest and wisest words. I don’t have to become a household name, as long as I’m faithfully lifting up the Name above all names.

Trying to raise up “my” ministry comes under the heading of “he who hastens to be rich”. Of course it’s okay to want to reach more people with a life giving message. Of course the Lord wants us all to seek and save the lost. 

But ulterior motives, the ones we know are lurking just under the surface, can be easily hidden when we’re dishonest with ourselves. Having to be the best, have the best, and always look the best isn’t always the best in God’s eyes. Especially if our heart is more concerned about the image we portray to man than how our heart looks to God.

Please, my intention here isn’t to point fingers at anyone but myself. I’ve found myself “needing” to do this, that, and everything else because other preachers, authors, and musicians seem to be getting ahead by doing those specific things. 

That may be perfectly fine for them. It’s not for me to say. It’s between them and God.

All He’s calling me to do is be faithful. 

He’ll take care of the rest.

I will look with favor on the faithful in the land, that they may dwell with Me; he who walks in the way that is blameless shall minister to Me. (Psalm 101:6 ESV)

After The Storm Passes

I was communicating with a friend on Facebook a little while ago and mentioned we need to get together after the storm passes, referring of course to the coronavirus “storm”.

As soon as I hit the post comment button, I had these thoughts – “What am I doing IN the storm?” “How can I make it THROUGH the storm?”

Have you ever stopped to consider the way you enter a room, a situation, or even a storm pretty much determines how you’ll leave it? Or the actions you take within have a bearing on the way you’ll live without?

What if we’re so consumed with the storm itself that it becomes our sole focus? Can we become so paralyzed with fear we stop living, even after the storm has long passed?

Matthew, one of Jesus’ original disciples, told of such a situation he and his pals went through. A storm of storms, if you will.

Picture this:

Now when Jesus saw a crowd around him, he gave orders to go over to the other side. And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. And the men marveled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him. Matthew 8:18, 23 – 8:27 ESV

Jesus told His disciples to get into the boat because they needed to get to the other side. The journey was something like 5-8 miles. Lots of water to traverse. Not exactly easy to to do when everything is calm. But it became almost impossible part way into the trip.

And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. Matthew 8:24 ESV

“There arose a great storm…” I looked up the Greek word for storm, just to try and get a better picture of what Matthew and the boys were dealing with. I mean, how bad could it really have been? Just how big were the waves? Swamped? Surely he was exaggerating, don’t you agree?

It couldn’t have been nearly as bad as some of the stuff you and I have had to deal with. Right? Matthew was used to having it easy, having been a rich tax collector. So he got a little wet. Big deal.

Actually, it WAS a big deal.

The Greek word Matthew used for “storm” was “seismos”. Ring any bells? It’s the word we translate as “earthquake”. 

“There arose an earthquake…” The disciples weren’t just contending with winds and waves. The whole lake was shaking, which would have caused the waves to be much greater than a strong wind storm could ever muster. 

No wonder the boat was swamped. 

And no wonder they were worried and feared for their lives. 

But you see, if they had recognized a certain truth before they went INTO the storm it would have helped them DURING the storm. 

What was the truth? Jesus’ word.

“He gave orders to go over to the other side.” In other words, “Here is God’s will for us at this moment. We’re going to the other side of the lake.”

As far as He was concerned, since He knew what they were to do, then come hell or high water they would make it to the other side. He could get in the boat and enjoy some shut-eye while they made the trip.

It’s something the disciples SHOULD have known BEFORE the storm, but thankfully they learned it by the time they reached the other side.

And, thank God,  Jesus was with them the whole time.

Jesus always keeps His promises and always honors His Word. No storm will keep Him away from you. No earthquake or spiritual shaking or quaking can stop Him or you from fulfilling your destiny in Him. 

YOU can apply the brakes. YOU can jump ship. YOU can throw up your hands in fear and frustration and shout to whoever you think may listen, “I’ve had enough of this mess! From now on I’m going to take everything nice and easy. Forget it! I’m gonna play it safe so I’ll never have to weather another storm.”

Yes, you can do those things if you want to. But is that really how you want to live? 

If you don’t have faith to walk with God through the storms of life, you’ll never have faith to walk anywhere. Faith is not faith until it’s tried by fire.

What are YOU doing with your faith in THIS storm? Have you noticed Jesus in the boat with you? If so, have you been trying to wake Him up? 

Maybe you could take your cue from Him and just sit back and rest a while.

And let the peace that passes all understanding keep your heart and mind in Christ Jesus.

It will help you greatly once you get through this ordeal.

After the storm passes.

Photo Courtesy of National Geographic

A Deceptive Spirit of Unity

I believe there’s a dangerously deceptive spirit of unity being advanced throughout the world. It’s not that I think unity is wrong. It’s even something God loves. He wants us to be kind and join with others for a common good, whether we see eye to eye with them or not. American, Chinese, European or any other nationality, it doesn’t matter. There’s much we can do together.

But there’s a difference between humanitarianism and humanism. As it was years ago at the Tower of Babel when mankind defied God and decided to do life completely contrary to God’s commands, so it is today. Of course, this is just my opinion. I could be wrong.

Society likes to boast about all man has accomplished. I applaud all the great and wonderful inventors and inventions of the past and present. I enjoy my home, vehicle, electronic devices, and life in general. I feel I’m a very blessed man, thanks in part, to those who had a vision and passion to do what others couldn’t do, and see things others didn’t see.

That’s all well and good.

The problem is, and here’s where the deception comes into play, mankind, no matter how united we become, cannot overcome our biggest flaw. We cannot think our way out of the spiritual dilemma we are in. We cannot become so unified we rid ourselves of our accountability to God. We will never find the perfect miracle drug to rid the world of physical death, either. The result of Adam’s original transgression can only be eradicated God’s way.

Whether or not one believes in original sin or God or the Bible, truth will never be overcome by deception. And no matter how wise man thinks he is, compared to the Fount of Wisdom, he is nothing. At best, the wisdom of man is foolishness to God.

The world is somewhat focused on the latest pandemic, and the unity rhetoric is in full swing. “Let’s join all our resources together and defeat this virus. We can outsmart this thing. We can do anything we set our mind to. We can because we are!”

I hope something is developed. I want to see the world get better and people all over the globe live in peace. I really do.

But until we truly humble ourselves before our Creator God and acknowledge we are nothing but frail pieces of flesh and bone without Him, the extent of our efforts will only prolong the inevitable. We’ll make a show of our abilities, we’ll praise and laud one another’s efforts, and shout into every microphone we can find. “We did it. We did it without God, faith, or prayer.” However, in spite of our best efforts, we’ll still come up short.

Mankind’s boasting doesn’t make them any smarter, nor does it help them rise to a higher plane of existence. Just the opposite. Professing themselves to be wise, they become fools.

Just ask ol’ Nimrod and his Babel buddies. When they were just on the verge of attaining their lofty goal, they found themselves totally filled with a spirit of confusion.

And without God that’s exactly where this world is headed.

Tough Times Aren’t Necessarily Bad Times

A well known Psalm, probably the best known of all the 150 Psalms, is the 23rd Psalm.

Here are the first three verses.

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” Psalm 23:1-3 ESV

I share this for a couple of reasons. First, it’s very comforting for a person to remember the Lord is watching over them, as a shepherd watches over his sheep. 

Second, and my primary reason, is a truth about still waters. Still, quiet, waters during times such as the world is experiencing right now.

Tough times. Hard to deal with times. So many uncertainties. Multitudes of voices proclaiming contradictory messages. Economic crises, health issues, social restrictions…

Like I said, tough times.

But tough times, if I understand the scriptures, aren’t necessarily bad times.

Bad times, to me anyway, are times when nothing good happens. No redeeming quality can be seen during the time or afterwards. But it is not a bad time if something of eternal value can be accomplished in us, through us, or around us during the times we’re feeling overwhelmed.

On the other hand, tough times have more to do with some sort of change, inconvenience, disruption, disappointment, or trying to deal with things way beyond our ability to control.

Kind of like today. 

But what if we changed our outlook, and instead of bemoaning these tough times we began to embrace them? I mean, what if we took the down time most people are experiencing and ask ourselves a couple of “what if” questions?

Questions like, “What can I learn about myself during these crazy times?” “Since I can’t change my circumstance, how can I use this opportunity to better myself both spiritually and emotionally?”

Here’s where Psalm 23 comes in. 

“He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” Notice, there seems to be a progression, or steps God takes in our lives, where He brings us from initially acknowledging the Lord as our Shepherd to where we can actually walk in His “paths of righteousness for His Name’s sake.”

Jesus said it a different way.

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit…Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.” John 15:1,2,4 – 15:8 ESV

In this passage, Jesus calls Himself the true vine. The vine each of His “branches” are connected to. 

Now look what happens to each and every branch. Did you see it? They get pruned.

Cut. 

I’d call that a tough time, wouldn’t you?

Why the cutting? So each branch becomes as fruitful as it was created to be. To be the perfect expression of the vine. To be able to bring glory to the true vine.

Remember, the Father is glorified when we, the branches, bear much fruit.

Or, as David said, when we walk “in paths of righteousness for His Name’s sake.”

Tough times, times when we’re more or less forced to slow down (or maybe even shut down), can be part of the “pruning” process.

David told us the Lord made him to lie down in green pastures. No walking, no running in place, no activity. Next, there are still waters. I believe the picture he’s painting is that of a place to lie down right in front of the still waters.

Have you ever been next to a pond or lake early in the morning? Typically that’s the time when the water is the calmest.

Have you ever stood on the bank and looked into the water and seen your reflection? When the water is calm, or still, that’s when you can see what you truly look like. 

It’s kind of like looking into the mirror of God’s Word. (James 1)

Unless we see our true self, unless we acknowledge our true condition, accepting the image for what it truly is, we can never grow to become our best self. 

And the Father will not receive the glory due Him.

I realize tough times are, well, tough. But why not make this time count? Why not embrace this time as a God given opportunity? An opportunity to grow in His word, to learn to recognize His voice better, and an opportunity to set aside any sin or habit that may be holding you back from your God given destiny.

Tough times are times when we see what we’re truly made of. And if we’ll be honest with ourselves and God, we’ll then discover tough times lead into tremendously fruitful times. 

And that’s good.

A Prayer For Our Leaders

Father God, in the Name of Jesus, I give you thanks and praise for those you’ve placed in authority throughout this great land.


I pray, first of all, for the President and all of his cabinet and advisors, for all senators and representatives, governors, and law enforcement. Any person who has a position of authority. Give to them wisdom and discernment so they will know how to lead this nation in a godly and dignified way. May they be surrounded by men and women who love you and your kingdom. May they hear your voice and have the courage to always do the right thing, regardless.


Protect them from any physical, mental, or spiritual attack. Let every weapon formed against them be squashed. May each lie spoken in secret be exposed and let truth prevail.


Father, give to our leaders the ability to lead in a righteous manner. May the spirit of wisdom and revelation fill their hearts and minds. Influence and inspire them today, and may they know their labor is not in vain. Anoint their thoughts with your peace, and may they rise above the opinions, accusations, and threats of any enemy, both foreign and domestic, to govern in a way that pleases you.


I pray for unity among our leaders. Not so much that they’d agree with each other on every issue, but rather set aside their personal opinions and ambitions for the greater good. That you would be glorified throughout the land.


As in the days of old, when Jonah preached to the great city of Nineveh and the king of the land led the nation in true repentance to God, may it be so today throughout this great nation. May the spirit of repentance and supplication prevail in the land.


And may this be a time like no other in history, a time of revival and great deliverance.


Lord, heal our land.


I pray also for all those in spiritual authority. May they have your heart as their closest advisor, and may they also have close companions that will love them and help watch over them in truth and love.


Keep them from the evil one. May discouragement be far from them and remind them often their labor is not in vain.


Help them to lead your church with wisdom from on high and divine insight. Open your word to each person who is called to preach. Raise up warriors who will stand in the face of adversity and opposition to boldly proclaim your will.


Anoint, O God, mighty prophets who will discern the signs of the times and bring clarity to the chaos that’s running amok.


You have invited us, saint and sinner alike, to come boldly to the throne of grace to obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Well, this land needs mercy and grace.


Thank you for hearing my cry.


1 Timothy 2:1-4; Romans 13:1-5; Ephesians 1:17-21; Ephesians 3:15-19; 1 Corinthians 1:10; Philippians 2:3-4; Proverbs 24:3-4; Nehemiah 1

I Could’ve Quit Too Soon

It’s been 26 years since I almost quit too soon. I thought about that today while driving to an out of town ministry opportunity. It’s been 26 years since I contemplated driving my van into a telephone pole at 70 miles an hour.

Really, you say? Why would someone like me ever think of taking your life?

Because I thought my life was ruined. And it was all my fault.

You see, due to my sins, my addictions, my secret life, I had thrown away my marriage of 21 years, my son who was 14 at the time and long time friends. I’d also been removed from the church my wife and I had pioneered and pastored for 10 years.

I almost quit too soon.

Since that day my marriage, family, friends and ministry have been restored. It wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t something that took place overnight; but it happened. And I’ve lived to see some incredible things take place; things I would have missed if I had quit too soon.

I remember talking with my counselor during this terrible time. I had told him what I had been thinking while driving in the country on old highway 6. He got right in my face (something he did quite often those days) and reminded me that even though I had lost my “ministry”, and probably was going to lose my wife, I still had a responsibility to be a dad to our son, and a person God could depend on.

At that point I couldn’t see how anyone, including God, would want anything to do with a jerk like myself.

But I didn’t quit because God and others wouldn’t let me quit.

They kept reminding me of God’s truth.

Truth such as, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11 ESV) 

And, “For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.” (Romans 11:29 ESV)

Eventually I began to see a glimmer of hope. God was doing miracles in my life. He was restoring my life and bringing His glory into view. Beyond my wildest dreams, He was showing Himself as more than enough for every part of my life.

Including all my failures.

Like I said before, I almost quit too soon.

Too soon to see my marriage restored. Too soon to see my son graduate from high school, eventually marry a wonderful woman, and just 11 months ago have a beautiful son. 

Wow. I could’ve quit before all of that.

But thank God I didn’t.

How about you? Has life become such a burden you feel you can’t take any more? Is your life out of control and you think you’ve hurt too many people? Do you see suicide as the best solution?

Don’t quit too soon.

There is more to living than what you’re experiencing at this moment. There is help available, though you may not see it yet.

And some day, like me, you will look back on this tough thing you’re engulfed in, give a sigh of relief and say…

“I could’ve quit too soon.”

Scared!

Are you scared?

Scared to look outside?

Inside?

Scared to live? To die?

Scared of what you’re seeing, hearing…scared of never seeing or hearing anything at all?

Are you scared?

Living is impossible for those who are scared… dying is unthinkable, unimaginable…

Are you scared of all the uncertainties in your mind, your heart?

What if your choices are wrong?

What if your actions are on display to some higher power?

What if there’s a truth you’ve never embraced?

What if you never hear of it?

And what if you hear it but either ignore or reject it?

Does that scare you?

Do you want to do more than you’re doing, love more than you’re loving, and risk more than you’re risking?

What if you fail at everything good, but succeed at everything bad?

What if…just what if you could be free of all your fears? Of being scared?

You can…

To those who’ve been scared, whether a little or a lot, the Eternal One, the Creator of all, Truth Himself declares:

“Though your troubles are bigger than life, and you feel there’s no reason to live but are afraid to die, you do not need to live this way any longer.

“Fear needn’t control your life because perfect love casts out fear…and I am Perfect Love.

“I am with you in your troubles, your heartaches, your times of doubting, your seasons of grief. I will bring you joy in sorrow, peace in chaos, hope in despair.

“I’m as close as you’ll allow me to be.

“I have faced all of your fears; everything that causes you to be scared I have overcome.

“I faced them all on Golgatha’s hill.

“I was wounded for your transgressions, your fears, your life.

“I did it all for you, so you could truly live, without fear or shame, forever…

“With Me.

“Scared? Call upon Me and watch Me deliver you from all your fears.”

“I sought the LORD, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.” (Psalm 34:4 NKJV)

“For “whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.“ (Romans 10:13 NKJV)

“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear…” (1 John 4:18 NKJV)

The Leech

I went fishing recently and for the first time ever I used leeches for bait.

Fifty plus years of fishing and finally I became a man: I touched a leech.

Gross.

However, they were what the fish wanted for breakfast so they worked well.

I couldn’t help but think about leeches, comparing them to some people I’ve known through the years.

Which brought my thoughts to this scripture:

“A leech has twin daughters named “Gimme” and “Gimme more.” (Proverbs 30:15 MSG)

I wondered for a long time about the above verse, you know the part about the twin daughters. But after handling them all day I decided to do a little research.  I discovered leeches have two mouths!

Incredible!

Which really made me think of some people.

Leeches. Takers. Sucking the very life out of the thing they attach themselves to. They don’t have anything to give. They hang around (and on) for one purpose. They want to take all they can and then, once they have their fill, fall off and go away.

Just the opposite of how we were created by God to act.

God is a giver, an extremely generous giver. And every child of God, every new creation in Christ, has that same generous spirit residing in their spirit. In fact, we must go against our new nature to be selfish and self centered.

How generous are you? Does God have your wallet as well as you heart? Does He have the last word on what you do with your life; how you use your time, treasure, and talents?

Can He whisper to your heart, “Give such and such to so and so”, and you promptly obey? Or does He have to pry each of your fingers away from your possessions before you’ll ever consider giving your stuff away?

Are you a taker or a giver?

Are you a leech?

“The world of the generous gets larger and larger; the world of the stingy gets smaller and smaller. The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed; those who help others are helped.” (Proverbs 11:24 – 11:25 MSG)

“Give away your life; you’ll find life given back, but not merely given back – given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity.” (Luke 6:37 MSG)

Leeches are good for fish bait. But God has a much better life for those who are givers, and not takers.

“Generosity begets generosity…”

And stinginess leads to death.

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