Tag: Jesus

Only One Shot At Life


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No one determines if or when they will be born, and most haven’t a say regarding the day they die. 

But we all have some input on how we’re going to live out the days in between.

Whether we only have 10,000 days, or a whopping 35,000 days (almost 96 years), we only have one shot at life.

Life consists of much, much more than inhaling and exhaling, and a heart rate of 80 beats per minute.

It’s more than merely existing.

Some may make a big splash in their world, enjoying much more than fifteen minutes of fame.

But even if we’re the most popular, most powerful, most prestigious person on earth, we have only one shot at life.

One shot at life in our mortal body. 

One shot to decide our eternal fate; our endless destiny.

Oh, the days fly by so quickly. We are so easily distracted with the everyday, routine things, that we sometimes ignore the still, small voice whispering to our heart, “There’s more to live for, more to enjoy, than you’re experiencing.”

One day turns into a thousand, and our one shot at life slowly passes us by.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

“He who has the Son has life” (1 John 5:12).

There’s no reason anyone should live another day without life; life that only God can provide.

There isn’t a soul on this big, blue earth who wasn’t created to experience life; an eternal, God-filled life.

We must not let our one shot at life pass us by. 

There’s a truth we must all embrace, by faith, in order to have eternal life. Life which takes us far beyond merely existing; both now and forever.

That truth is simple, yet we need God’s help to receive it.

We are, by nature, rotten to the core; undeserving of God’s eternal life and love. We all are selfish and rebellious. We may try and be good, but even if we lived a thousand lifetimes we could never attain the goodness, the holiness, God requires in His Kingdom.

God knew we could never make it on our own, which is why He sent His Son, Who was/is perfect in all of His ways, to become the Father’s once and for all payment for the sins of mankind.

Our shot at life, our one shot at life, is our opportunity to receive Jesus Christ as our Substitute; our Lord and Savior.

“But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.” (John 1:12 NLT)

The right, the privilege, the authority, to become a child of God, a soul made alive with the very life God has AND IS!

Our days have a way of slipping by, and quickly, I might add.

What are you doing with yours?

“And just as each person is destined to die once and after that comes judgment…” (Hebrews 9:27 NLT)

“If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved.” (Romans 10:9 – 10:10 NLT)

Don’t assume you have another day left to decide. Nothing is promised, nothing is certain.

But if there is breath in your lungs, God is still offering you one shot at life.

Please don’t let it slip by. 

“And anyone who believes in God’s Son has eternal life. Anyone who doesn’t obey the Son will never experience eternal life but remains under God’s angry judgment.” (John 3:36 NLT)

Remember, one shot is all you have. 

“For God loved the world (including YOU) so much that He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16 NLT)

Is there witchcraft in the Church? (sixth and final part)

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This is the sixth and final post dealing with witchcraft in the Church. Some of these points could probably be lumped together, but I felt it was important to be as clear and defining as possible.

At the end of this post I’ve listed seven things a person should do if they believe witchcraft is operating in their church.

8. Above correction (not above reproach). 

There are times when a person acts as though they’re infallible; they’re incapable of making a mistake. That should be a warning sign to everyone else.

It is a controlling spirit that demands submission even if clearly in the wrong. “Do as I say, not as I do” is not in sync with kingdom principles.

9. Word of knowledge/wisdom. 

The gifts of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 12) are given to benefit people. There are people who may tell you some secrets about your life, but that information isn’t necessarily an indication of the Spirit of God.

What else is going on? Does the “word” bear witness with your heart? Is the minister demonstrating the love, compassion, and character of Jesus?

A good safeguard? Make certain you are actively in fellowship with the Lord. Seek Him above everything. Don’t go around hunting for a “word from the Lord”. You can find that for the price of a Chinese meal.

10. Discerning of spirits. 

Is someone always telling you about the demons and evil spirits they see? Maybe they are, but maybe not.

According to my understanding of the Word, there are numerous angels in the spirit realm, as well.

A preoccupation with the spirit realm is an open door to deception. Although a person may be able to have such a vision, it is always as the Spirit wills; I’ve not seen anything in the scriptures that indicate it’s okay to seek a vision.

I may be wrong, but the only time someone was seeking such a thing was King Saul. That didn’t turn out so well for him.

Witchcraft, or seeking to manipulate through fleshly means, is something evil spirits love to accommodate.

11. Idolizing a leader, doctrine, etc.

Here’s where people like you and I can push someone toward witchcraft. How? By demanding so much from them, and not checking their message with the scripture.

Paul said to, “Prove all things, hold fast to that which is good”(1 Thessalonians 5).

Regardless of how wonderful a person preaches, or how many miracles they may perform, they are still human. They can miss the mark, just like the rest of us.

Esteem them highly for their works sake, but keep your eyes fixed on Jesus.

12. Misinterpreting the Spirit’s direction. 

One Sunday, probably ten years ago, while we were singing and praising God, I was at the piano feeling all frustrated. It was as though God was locked out of the room.

Suddenly I sensed the Lord saying, “Call brother Francis to the platform and have him lead in the shout.”

I called Francis up, and told him what I thought I heard the Lord say. He looked at me kind of funny, but started shouting praise to God.

In almost no time the whole church was shouting, and the dryness and frustration left. God’s presence filled the place that day.

Never happened before or since. I had learned not to do something simply because it “worked” before.

Here’s where I learned it:

At a previous church the Lord directed me to have a tent meeting. We rented a tent, called an evangelist, and had four wonderful meetings. People were saved and healed.

Well, it worked so well, I planned a meeting for the next year. Bigger tent, same evangelist, but I planned it all in the flesh.

What a flop! I was wrong, and operating by a wrong spirit, in the flesh.

I had to repent and yield to God’s direction.

13. Counterfeit spirit.

In Acts 16 you’ll read the story of the girl possessed with the spirit of divination; a lying, death dealing spirit. She said the right things, but was “inspired” by the spirit of darkness.

I knew a man twenty some years ago who had a terrible battle with depression; and I believe he was specifically bothered by evil spirits.

I had ministered to him a few times, and one evening he stopped by the house to give me a “praise report”. It was late when he stopped by, so the rest of my family was in bed.

He wanted to thank the Lord, so I took his hand and began thanking God rather quietly, so as not to wake up my household.

He started getting real loud, saying, “Praise the Lord, Pastor Grace. Praise the Lord, Pastor Grace!”

All of a sudden I sensed something evil and I said, “I rebuke you lying spirit!”

At once, he changed into a crazy man, walking wildly around the house, yelling and screaming.

I told him to sit down and shut up in the Name of Jesus, and then called my next door neighbor who was a believer.

When he arrived, as soon as I opened the door, the man stormed past me and took off.

Unfortunately, the man never was able to get free and ended up taking his life a couple years later.

14. Forcing a word from God, rather than relaxing and resting in His grace and ability. 

Sometimes people think there has to be a demonstration of a spiritual gift or two in order to “have a good service”.

Those who believe that are apt to be duped into operating in the flesh; i.e. witchcraft.

Why not simply seek the Lord, whether at church or not, and follow His direction? As long as His will is accomplished, what else really matters?

Besides, if we’re too busy looking and waiting for something “spectacular”, we just may miss the real supernatural move of God.

15. Desiring the show rather than the grow (Simon – Acts 8).

If you desire “the show”, rather than “the grow”, you will be fooled. If you’re only satisfied with hype, you’ll never be grounded in truth.

Paul said, “Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed. You know that when you were pagans you were led astray to mute idols, however you were led. Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:1 – 12:3 ESV).

Throughout the New Testament Paul tells us to put away the old man. The old man is easily deceived, can be manipulated as well as manipulate others. It loves to be caught up in the excitement, attributing everything happening to God, even if it doesn’t pass any scriptural litmus test.

Witchcraft, misuse and fraud, which lead to deception and ultimately broken lives and churches, is breaking out in churches.

Is it breaking out in yours?

No, I’m not on some witch hunt, but I am hungry to see the genuine move of God I read about in scripture.

I’ve given a number of examples of where witchcraft could be showing up in the church, as well as reasons why.

But what should we do if we suspect things aren’t exactly right?

Try these seven things…
1. Examine the scriptures.

2. Examine your own heart.

3. Pray for the leadership.

4. Speak to leadership (pastor, elder).

5. Confused? God is not the author of confusion, but we don’t always see things God’s way. Give the leadership the benefit of the doubt.

6. Still unsure? Maybe it’s time to speak with another spiritually mature person.

7. Truth or error? When you’ve settled the question, act accordingly.

Please let me know if any of this helped you. I’d love to visit more with you, so please drop me a line.

Why was Jesus raised from the dead? These truths will excite you!

It’s that time of year again; the time when life is celebrated as a holiday. 

Easter.

I understand there are many Christians who can’t stand the word Easter, because of its pagan origin. Frankly, though I’m not wild about the word, I am okay with the concept of taking a pagan holiday and turning it into something new.

After all, it’s what the Resurrection of Jesus made possible for us all. 

In fact, the death and burial of the sinless Son of God would have meant nothing without the resurrection.

“Who was betrayed and put to death because of our misdeeds and was raised to secure our justification (our acquittal), [making our account balance and absolving us from all guilt before God].” (Romans 4:25 AMP)

In other words, He died to pay for our sins, and the Father’s “Amen” was forever demonstrated to mankind by the empty tomb.

So whether you prefer Easter Sunday or Resurrection Sunday, God still says the same thing; “everyone’s debt of sin has been paid once and for all. If it were not so, I would have never been able to raise My Son from the grave. The devil would have kept Him in the bowels of the earth.”

But praise God, Jesus IS risen!

And child of God, the resurrection of Jesus means MUCH MORE than a simple receipt with PAID IN FULL stamped on it.

May these resurrection truths grow roots and bear fruit in our lives…

Truth #1 – Power to stand with God.  

“And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all.” (Acts 4:33 ESV)

The word “resurrection” sounds like a religious word, but in plain, ordinary English it means, “to stand up again”. That’s exactly what the power of the Holy Spirit enables us to do.

To stand up again after being dead in sin, pushed around by our old nature, buried beneath our burden of guilt and shame. Yes, the same Spirit Who raised Jesus from the grave dwells in us and gives life to our mortal flesh; we stand up again and again and again.

Until we finish our course. Victorious in Him!

“If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh.” (Romans 8:11 – 8:12 ESV)

Did you see that? The Spirit Who raised up Jesus raises us up, SO THEN we don’t have to obey our flesh!

Truth #2 – Power to be led by God.

“For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” (Romans 8:14 ESV)

Imagine what He can do through you and I as we learn to hear His voice and cooperate with His leading.

Jesus said something that pretty much blew His disciples’ minds. “It’s to your advantage that I go away.”

Really, Jesus? What could be better than the Son of God accompanying you everywhere?

His answer to that question blows MY mind…

Truth #3 – Power to do the works of Jesus.

What could be better?

Jesus said, “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.” (John 16:13 – 16:15 ESV)

Child of God, all things that belong to the Father belong to Jesus. AND EVERYTHING Jesus has is available to you and I through the ministry of the Helper; the Holy Spirit.

Facing death and destruction? Sickness and disease? Fear and torment? Testing and trials?

The One Who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you!

No wonder John wrote: “Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4 ESV)

Resurrection power dwells WITHIN you!

“…how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.” (Acts 10:38 ESV) 

Resurrection power is WITH you! 

“You are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works.” (Ephesians 2:10 paraphrased) 

Created, ordained, and equipped to do the works of Jesus – “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.” (John 14:12 ESV)

May this Easter Sunday, Resurrection Sunday, or whatever else you’d like to call it, find you understanding to an even greater degree “what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church…” (Ephesians 1:18 – 1:22 ESV)

No wonder the early Christ followers turned their world upside down with the power of God.

Doesn’t your world need to witness God’s resurrection power? 

I know mine does.

Panhandlers, Street Preachers, and Jesus

I was certain the guy was in it for the money; trying to sell me his beliefs in order to get at my wallet.

I had it all figured out. Yep, I knew I didn’t need all the religious junk the guy on the street corner was trying to sell me.

Sure. I wasn’t perfect. Who is? But I was at least as decent as the guy standing in front of me.

Besides, the only reason he was telling me his story was because he was really just panhandling. He’d tell his story to those passing by, then hand them a paper, and ask for a quarter or some kind of donation.


Hey, I wasn’t against hitting people up for spare change. I’d done it many times; in Denver, Colorado Springs, and at a number of truck stops between Des Moines and North Platte. But I never thought of inventing some story to go along with it. What a great idea!

But I wouldn’t have used such an unbelievable story. Really! Some guy named Jesus, who supposedly lived 2000 years ago, who loved me enough to die on the cross for me. Yeah, right.

What? Did I look that gullible?

I was eighteen when the Jesus nut tried to get my money and convert me at the same time. Eighteen and full of knowledge.

It wasn’t the first time I’d heard the fairy tale. I think I was sixteen when a white-haired pastor tried to brainwash me. Oh, he was a decent enough kind of guy. He seemed to genuinely care for me. And he was a fairly good ping pong player.

But he was a preacher. At one point in his life he got suckered into believing the Jesus story, and now he got paid to talk about it.

I figured he wasn’t that different from the street corner dude. They both talked about Jesus and they both got money for telling the story.

But I wasn’t going to buy it. I was smarter than that.

Besides, my friends and the people I admired were looking at a different kind of churchy stuff. Buddhism. Buddhism and dope. I couldn’t see why the Jesus trip was any better than the Buddha thing, and at least with the Buddha and dope deal I’d get something for my money.

Yeah, the Buddha and dope people wanted money also.

I eventually gave up on the whole “religion” thing: Buddha, Krishna, dope, and spare changing.

I was eighteen, married, and employed. I didn’t hurt anyone, didn’t put anyone down, and believed everyone should live and let live.

And I could do that without any help from Buddha, Krishna, drugs, or Jesus.

Especially Jesus. 

But something happened. How it happened, I still don’t know. I mean, does a farmer know HOW his crop grows? He knows he plants, waters, controls the weeds, hopes for enough sunshine; but he can’t explain the how part.

Like I said, something happened. The things I’d heard from the white-haired preacher, the street corner Jesus nut, and a number of other Jesus followers began to take root.

Take root and grow.

Three years later, after moving to a different state and discovering there are Jesus nuts in other parts of the country, as well as in Iowa, I began hearing the Jesus story from a most unlikely source – my heart.

My own heart began telling me I was rejecting the only One Who really loved me. My own heart? Yes, my heart was convicting me, reminding me of just how evil I was.

Finally, after months of wrestling with myself and God’s word, I gave up. No, that’s not quite right.

I died. Not physically, of course, but the old Jan died and I realized it could have been me nailing Jesus to the cross. Because he took my sins upon Himself as He hung there.

I immediately became a new creation in Christ; the old passed away and the new started growing.

And still is.

That was over forty years ago. It still amazes me, after all these years, how such a perfect Man could love me enough to pay for my transgressions, my crimes against man and God; just so I could experience His love and life forever.

And believe it or not, He did it for you, too.

“But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on him the sins of us all. He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word. He was led like a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth.” (Isaiah 53:5 – 53:7 NLT)

“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun.” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT)

The love of God has been demonstrated, the work of the Son is complete. There’s only one thing keeping you from experiencing everlasting life.

Turn from your way (repent) and choose His (believe the gospel).

“But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.” (John 1:12 NLT)

And you wanna know something? I’m not telling you this story so you can give me money.

Nope. I’m not a salesman; I’m a satisfied customer. 

Have You Ever Been Disowned?

How many times can a person be disowned without it affecting them? 

Have you ever been disowned? Have you ever been told you’re no longer part of the family?

Maybe not a family, but perhaps a softball team, church, group of friends, or dinner club?

And why the announcement? Because you didn’t measure up in someone’s eyes. You were either too this or that; somehow you didn’t meet the expectations of the designated leader.

And it’s such a shame.

Or is it?

How do you feel when you’re told in no uncertain terms, “You do not belong! You are no longer one of us”?

I know it can really hurt. I’ve experienced it several times in my life. I wanted to belong, because I believed I should.

There have even been times I felt it was my God-given right to belong; my birthright, if you will. But hey, what do I know? I wasn’t the one making the rules.

Even though I knew I was loved and appreciated by a number of other people, and I’d try to act like it didn’t matter, it still hurt to be disowned.

It hurt like crazy. 

Perhaps you’ve experienced some of the same rejection. How does it make you feel? What are you doing with your feelings? Are you handling them well, or do you find yourself making excuses for the rule maker?

 How many lifetimes will you have to live before you find the correct formula for making the grade? 

 And what if the rules change, like they sometimes do?

Can you maintain your vigilance, chasing the elusive right to belong, and still be who God created you to be?

I think I’m finally starting to understand that to some, unless I act exactly according to their rules, I’ll never belong.

What about you? Are there people who love to hold the coveted “you are finally good enough to belong to us” award in front of your face? They know you can’t live without it; you so want to belong to their group. Family, friends, team, whoever; you only want to belong.

But you can’t. Because if you have to change that much just to fall in line with them, are you really you?

I am so glad my Heavenly Father doesn’t treat His family that way.

“…those the Father has given me will come to me, and I will never reject them.” (John 6:37 NLT)

“The eye can never say to the hand, “I don’t need you.” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you.” In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary” (1 Corinthians 12:21-22 NLT)

Notice the Head (Christ) won’t say to the feet (you and I), “I don’t need you.”

Even when we don’t measure up, the Ruler of the Universe offers grace and mercy. Though we may have disgraced Him, His Name, and His Family, He says, “Come unto Me.”

And He’s always ready to help us with any changes we may need to make.

Though we may be disowned and cast aside like a used paper towel, God has promised to never leave us or forsake us. He says we belong. 

His blood was sufficient for all our shortcomings, all our failures. That’s why He went to the cross.

Others may be too good to help someone as rotten as you and I measure up to their standards. But the Lord of All came in our stead, took our place, so we could become part of His family.

Disowned? It happens, and it hurts. But you don’t need to be alone. There’s Someone Who will receive you; all you need to do is receive Him.

“For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.” (2 Corinthians 5:21 NLT)

Will you?

Days of Deception

 It’s kind of a scary time, wouldn’t you say? A time of demented dictators, wacky weather, an erratic world economy, the unprecedented obsession with personal pleasure, and a rapidly increasing trend toward the deification of man. Mankind is heading towards a showdown with the Almighty; a time commonly known as The Great Tribulation. 

It’s also a time some of the prophets of old referred to as days of deception, or apostasy. 

“Let no one in any way deceive you, for it (the coming of the Lord) will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction,” (2 Thessalonians 2:3 NASB)

Whether you believe it or not, it is quite possible for you and I to be deceived. If it wasn’t possible, the writer of Hebrews wouldn’t have included this:

“Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” (Hebrews 3:12-13 ESV)

“Take care”, he says. In other words, pay attention. It’s a little like the verse where Jesus said, “The hour that you think not, the Son of Man comes.” He’ll come when you least expect Him. And in the case of deception, it will take place because you believe it isn’t possible.

People who believe they have reached the pinnacle in their walk with God where it’s IMPOSSIBLE for them to be deceived, have made one of the gravest mistakes of their lives. 

They’ve allowed the spirit of deception to cloud their thinking, and veil their understanding of the truth of the Word. Their heart has become calloused, or hardened, and they have lost the ability to ACCURATELY hear the voice of the Spirit of God.

I’ve seen it happen over and over. I’ve had it happen to me, as well.

But how does a person become deceived? How can people who know the Word, quote the Word, teach the Word, all their lives suddenly end up in a mess? 

Maybe they go off into some goofy, man-made doctrine, like snake handling. Or a misinterpretation of some single verse. Perhaps they fall by having an adulterous fling. It could be they love the feeling of authority, so they demand obedience to their every word. Or they become so possessive of THEIR disciples, they end up like Jim Jones. 

One thing is certain; the change isn’t a sudden one. It is a gradual move from truth to error. And because it’s gradual, it CAN be stopped IF one will recognize the steps leading up to it. 

A quick note, though. Don’t expect those around you to jump up and down, shouting glory hallelujah because you try and help them pull out of deception before it’s too late. 

I know from experience. 

But, whether you’re honored as a hero or touted as some nosy, legalistic fool, the Body of Christ is being attacked as never before; and you are desperately needed. 

Here are some things to watch for in your own life, and in the lives of others. An unbelieving heart, then deceitful lusts, and finally inappropriately handling the word of God (or teaching the deception as truth).

You can see it in Romans 1:18-32. They knew God, but didn’t glorify Him as God…their foolish hearts were darkened. Next came the fleshly cravings, and finally, rejoicing when others agreed with their lifestyle (or deception). 

Three steps:

1. An evil, unbelieving heart. As the writer of Hebrews said, “…leading you to fall away from the living God.” How does one recognize an evil, unbelieving heart? 

There are some specific signs. For instance, what value is placed upon hearing AND DOING the Word of God? Are there “exceptions” allowed, where some verses apply to others but not to oneself? Are excuses made to cover up, or allow for unbelief? 

I know someone who, because they were becoming enamored by (or infatuated with) the attention of someone other than their spouse, began to change what they believed about tithing and giving because their “friend” didn’t believe in tithing. Setting aside one set of scriptures for convenience’ sake is an open door for more of the same. 

Compromise breeds more compromise, and is a next door to deception.

Delusion isn’t an overnight sensation, but it needs to be stopped as soon as it is recognized.

Unbelief sets in when faith in God AND His Word isn’t kept razor sharp. Allowing for an alternate interpretation is one thing, providing scripture is being compared with scripture. 

But EVERY time scripture is weighed against human experience and feelings, and scripture ends up being tossed aside, there is a HUGE problem.

James tells us, “But be doers of the Word, and not hearers only; deceiving yourselves.” Many times deception isn’t so much the work of the devil, but rather a simple shunning of the Word of God. “I know what it says, but it’s not what I’m going to do.” Self-deceived.

2. Deceitful lusts. “…that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts.” (Ephesians 4:22 NKJV)

Desire for the forbidden. Yearnings of the flesh, cravings which, though they’re real, lie about their ability to satisfy. 
Sure, sin can satisfy temporarily, but it cannot replace the Shalom that comes only from God. The peace which passes all understanding will never be experienced by someone who trades the truth of God’s ways to satisfy the desires of their flesh. 

And understand this: anyone who will compromise one part of the scripture, will compromise another. 

3. Inappropriate handling of the word of God. This is a very dangerous place to be, if someone has gone this far into deception. 

“But we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.” (2 Corinthians 4:2 NKJV)

Through the years there have been a number of people who have allowed themselves to reach this degree of deception. Many of this country’s old colleges and universities began as training institutes for men and women entering the ministry. But through the years…

Because the “last days” are also known as days of deception, let’s diligently watch out for ourselves and others. 

“Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons.” (1 Timothy 4:1 NKJV)

“And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:24-25 NKJV)

The kingdom of God needs people who refuse to compromise God’s Word, who will flee the various lusts of the flesh, and who will handle the Word of God with integrity AND humility. These are deceptive days, but they’re ALSO days in which God says He’ll pour out His Spirit upon all flesh! 

Amen, Lord! Pour it out on us!

Jesus Isn’t A Republican

With only a week and a few days before the Iowa caucuses, I felt I needed to share this revelation with my friends, acquaintances, and maybe some not-so friends. 

Christian: you are under no obligation to vote for a Republican. Neither does it mean you are a heathen if you vote for a Democrat. 

There’s nothing holy about the Republican Party, and the Democratic Party isn’t the political party of the antichrist. 

I can almost hear what some of you are thinking. But I’ll ignore it for now. 

At the time of Jesus’ earthly ministry, there was a pro Israel group known as Zealots. One of the original twelve apostles was a Zealot; Simon the Zealot (or Jewish Nationalist). 

The Zealots were kind of like some people of our day; people who rile up the populace and take back the country by force if nothing else works. They had stockpiled their arms, recruited and disciplined their troops, and were in the process of taking back their country for God.

Remember Barabbas? He was the one Pilate freed in place of Jesus. He was known as an insurrectionist, a robber, and a murderer. And he was also a Zealot. 

He was in prison because of his crimes against the Roman government. Following the Zealot creed, he was doing everything within his power to rid the land of Roman rule AND all Roman forces. 

We all know Jesus is as Jewish as it gets. So why didn’t He join forces with the Zealots, making it that much easier to preach His message?

Because of something He said. 

Jesus answered (Pilate), “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” (John 18:36 ESV)

The Zealots and Jesus belonged to opposing kingdoms. You wonder how that could possibly be true, when Israel is the apple of God’s eye? 

The Lord does not want us violating the principles of His Kingdom in the name of an earthly kingdom, nation, or political party. 

Though the Zealots wanted to “Make Israel great again”, they were going about it all wrong. 
All wrong. 

Jesus reminded Peter of that very thing. “Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?” (John 18:11 ESV)

The kingdom of God will not infiltrate and overcome the kingdom of man using man’s wisdom, methods, or arms. Paul said flesh and blood won’t inherit the kingdom of God, and he meant it. And, flesh and blood will NOT make a nation righteous.

Remember Jesus telling the crowd, “A kingdom divided against itself will not stand”? Attempting to mix the “kingdom of America” and the “kingdom of God” is sort of the same thing. 

Even though, in my opinion, America would be much better off if God’s Word was followed explicitly. But it won’t be, can’t be, as long as people who are focused on anything but God are in charge. 

Neither Republicans or Democrats are in agreement with the kingdom of God EXCLUSIVELY. Or should I say ENTIRELY. 

So how do we perform our duty as citizens of this nation, AND, if it’s in our heart to do so, honor the ways and priorities of God’s kingdom?

Once again, we must look at Jesus’ words. Specifically, His prayer. 

“Pray after this manner…”Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.”

HIS kingdom HERE, NOT THIS kingdom THERE. A huge difference!

Paul told us to pray for kings and rulers. Why? So things would go well for our nation. But whether they go well or not, we CANNOT change our nation by ignoring God’s principles.

So…

When it’s time to caucus, or vote, do it as a representative of God’s kingdom. No matter which party you’re registered with. 

Look at each candidate individually. What do they believe, how do they live, what is their track record, etc.? Do their beliefs and actions in any way coincide with the principles of God’s Kingdom? 

If so, that may be the person who should receive your vote.

But you and I must remember, Jesus isn’t a Republican or Democrat. His aim isn’t to make this nation, or any other nation, including Israel, the greatest nation on earth.

What He IS trying to do is make a way for every man, woman, and child to hear and believe the gospel. 

Political rhetoric along with human reasonings MAY help a nation change some things for the better. But at BEST, the change is only temporary. Man’s selfish nature will see to that. 

But the Kingdom of God is eternal. And that, my friends, should be our focus. 

Be a good citizen. Vote. Get involved where you can. 

But seek FIRST the Kingdom of God. 

And don’t look at your brothers and sisters in Christ, who vote DIFFERENTLY than you, like they’re some sort of two-headed monster.  

After all, they may have heard God tell them to vote for “you know who“!

Why Wouldn’t God Judge America?

 
I kind of wonder what’s going to happen in November. Specifically, November 8th. 

I sure don’t like being pessimistic, and really, I’m not. Because what’s pessimistic about God’s will? 

You see, I’m not convinced this land we call the United States of America will ever be “great” again. I’d like it to be. But I’m not optimistic. No matter who is living in the White House, or how many “conservatives”, “liberals”, or “progressives” caucus in Congress, nothing will change.

Not when those voting are confused about the basics. In this land where anything that points to accountability with the Creator God is abhorred, righteousness is not only pooh-poohed as passé, but voted out of society, while evil is proclaimed as the law of the land. 

Life used to be precious, and all lives mattered. At least to the majority of Americans. 

But today there are so many voices arguing against common sense and natural law. The same people who cry and campaign for human rights, are leading the charge against sanity. 

The unwanted, unprotected unborn child is human. It moves, eats, hears, and feels pain; from the warm and safe place of its mother’s womb. But to many voters, the ones who elect this nation’s lawmakers, a woman’s choice to murder is more important than her baby’s right to live.

That’s worse than sad; it’s criminal.

But that is the condition of our “progressive” society.

While I’m talking about human rights, what about an elderly person without a bank account, or a veteran without a home? Do their lives matter, even though they may have no “societal value”?

Diversity and tolerance is propagated throughout every phase of society. Schools, federal and state governments, the postal service, and probably every non-government job including Walmart, Target, and Dollar Tree. 

Which I believe is wonderful! Because EVERYONE is valuable and deserves to be treated with respect. 

Everyone has an opinion. Everyone has a belief system. But in today’s society, everyone is tolerated except the Christian who dares to stand up and say, “Sin is a reproach to any society!

We have Supreme Court justices deciding on issues as though they were God. We have lawyers and politicians acting like they’re smarter than God. And a lot of the population votes like they think the government is God.

So why wouldn’t God judge America?

Throughout history, nations have been judged by God. He typically doesn’t use fire and brimstone, or hailstones (though He has); no, He usually allows an ungodly nation, or people group, to first discipline the nation in hopes it will repent and turn to Him, and if that doesn’t work, to totally wipe out the nation from the face of the earth.

Ask Israel how many times they have been judged. Or just read some history books.

No matter how strong militarily a nation might be, they cannot fight their way out of the judgment that comes by the hand of God. 

However intelligent a nation’s academia is, they cannot match wits with Almighty God. 

And even though the nation may gather together as one voice to build a society without God, they will build in vain. God always has the last word. 

Ask Nimrod.

There are basically two main reasons why nations are judged-what they are doing with the truth they’ve received, and how they are treating Abraham’s family. 

Like it or not, accept it or not, believe it or not; history reveals the role faith in God had in the establishing of this nation. And even though there are some who are trying to change the history books, God’s laws are indelibly written on the walls of every human heart.

Whether we want to admit it or not, we all know murder, as well as stealing, is wrong. And just because enough people join together and vote wrongdoing into law, doesn’t make it somehow become right. 

We, the voters of this great land, seemed to have taken it upon ourselves to douse whatever remaining light there may be; to eliminate any and every mention of the God Who judges the nations.

Maybe we’ll become like Sodom and Gomorrah, where everything was progressive. If you think it, if it feels good, and you can mock God at the same time, then do it! That WAS their societal belief. 

Or maybe we’ll go the way of Babylon. Multiple gods, multiple beliefs, worship of stars, moons, planets, trees, people…

We’re partway there already. 

“Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools. And instead of worshiping the glorious, ever-living God, they worshiped idols made to look like mere people and birds and animals and reptiles.” (Romans 1:22-23 NLT)

And how are we, as a nation, treating the family of Abraham? Shaky ground, folks. Like it or not, believe it or not, Israel is STILL important to God. 

Because He made a covenant with Abraham, and his seed. Which, by the way, includes the church, (Galatians 3:29) but that’s for another time.

Someone with a lot more intelligence than myself once said, “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” (Sir Winston Churchill) 

History records, over and over, the horrible destruction of nations whose leaders mocked the God Who established them in the first place. 

And woe to the nation who ignores the history lessons involving the little piece of land known as Israel. 

But God’s given us all a choice. So it isn’t pessimistic to say I’m not expecting much this November. 

I believe God and His word. I’ve read the history of some of the once great nations; the nations which are now the subject of archaeological excavations. 

And, like it or not, whatever a man, or nation, sows, that shall he/they also reap. 

God, please have mercy on this nation; and may we turn to You with a humble spirit. May You provide the way to, once again, be that city on a hill.

How Much Room Does God Require?

 
‘Tis the season to share a well read verse. 

“In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.” (Luke 2:1-7 ESV)

Luke’s account of the first Christmas includes the phrase, “because there was no place for them in the inn”. 

Have you ever stopped to consider how much room they needed? Try it.

How much room does God require? 

Let’s do some comparisons. 

The average size of a presidential entourage is somewhere around 200 people. Of course, this can vary based upon security and transportation needs. That requires a lot of hotel rooms, and a ton of food!

Yet the King of the Ages, the Creator of the universe, needed only the feeding trough of a country barn.

England’s Queen Elizabeth and Russia’s President Putin both travel with huge retinues.  

United States Senators and Congressmen all travel with more aides and security personnel than an NBA team. 

But the Word made flesh arrived barely noticed. 

Kim Jong-un, the Supreme leader of North Korea, has more than 200 soldiers protecting him. Try housing them for a little beach vacation.

But all Mary and Joseph needed was a place for Mary to lay Jesus after He was born. 

So the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last, was born in a barn.

No room for Him in the inn. Only in the barn. 

So how much room does God require? 

How much room do you have? How much are you willing to give up? 

He has no problem filling the largest of venues, yet enters only where room has been made or set aside. 

He could fill the universe with His presence, but won’t push His way into a heart that’s not open. 

But give Him an inch…

He fills the hungry with good things, but those who have no room for Him leave empty. 

Maybe you don’t have room for Him in your heart. Not yet. But if you’d give Him a place in your mind, even with an occasional thought, you just may find yourself rearranging your heart to accommodate His presence. 

He’ll get just as close as you let Him. 

How about a little taste, a little trial? 

“Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!” (Psalm 34:8 NLT)

Ritzy Lunch Experience 

Some people might call Ritzy Lunch an old hotdog joint, while others may label it a dive.  

It’s not fancy enough for some, and too old fashioned for others. 

Ritzy Lunch is clean, but its tiles, walls, and clock are stained from years and years of patrons, and cooks, puffing away on their favorite smoke. Of course, smoking isn’t allowed any longer, but 70 years or so of nicotine haze has given the place a special look you don’t get anywhere else.

I realize I’m just one guy, and my opinion may not mean anything to you, but there’s something very special about Ritzy Lunch. 


To me, it’s an experience that’s worth the drive. 

Though we live in Iowa, we make regular visits to West Virginia. We spend time relaxing at North Bend State Park, in the Harrisville vicinity, and visit family who live about a half hour away. 

A tradition has developed over the last 7-8 years, one that I can blame (or thank) my brother-in-law for. We make the trip to Ritzy (about a 45 minute drive from his house) one time during our W.Va. visit. 

What do we have to eat? Two hotdogs in steamed buns, chili, onion, cayenne pepper, and french fries, served in a plastic basket. Add a Diet Coke, and we are set for the hour.  

 

The first time I visited Ritzy, its owner, Hotdog John, came by the old wooden booth we were seated in and began jabbering about his hotdog chili. I had already been warned not to call it “sauce”, but I didn’t know his feelings about mustard. 

So when he heard me order 2 dogs with chili, onion, and NO MUSTARD, you’d have thought I had just hit him below the belt! 
“What?! You can’t do that!”

After he finished razzing me a while he winked, thanked me for coming in, and walked over to the next booth to give his other patrons the same friendly service.  

People have been dining at Ritzy Lunch for 82 years; a family owned and operated business in downtown Clarksburg, West Virginia. Easy to find, on Pike Street, just a few blocks off of US Highway 50. 

Remember that old television commercial for Master Card? It went something like this:

Hotdogs (2), Fries, all the fixings – $7

Downtown Parking Meters – $1 for a few hours 

The whole Ritzy Lunch experience – PRICELESS!

Sure, a person may POSSIBLY find a hotdog that compares with a Ritzy Lunch dog. And perhaps the fries are like the ones found in other restaurants. 

But you will NEVER find anything else that compares to the Ritzy Lunch experience. The ambience, the friendly service, the old counter and wooden stools, cayenne pepper shakers; I’m talking atmosphere! 

While I was preparing to write this blog, I started thinking about the similarities between the Ritzy Lunch experience and the Kingdom of God. 

As I’ve mentioned, fancy isn’t a word that describes Ritzy. But it IS a place where everyone is accepted and appreciated. 

So with the Kingdom of God. 

The ONLY requirement to enter the Kingdom of God is you and I must enter through the door. Anyone who goes through the door is welcomed and fed. 

I’d like to see more churches with the atmosphere; the warm, welcoming atmosphere found at Ritzy Lunch. 

 

The door to Ritzy informs those interested in the Ritzy Lunch experience the hours of operation and the need to wear a shirt and shoes. 

Jesus is the door to the Kingdom of God, and He has stated His requirements in the gospel of John (not to be confused with Hotdog John). 


“So Jesus again said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.'” (John 10:7-10 ESV)

Another couple of passages from John, only these are from his first letter.


“Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” (1 John 4:15-16 ESV)


“Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.” (1 John 5:12 ESV)

A person may stand on the sidewalk, there on Pike Street and look through Ritzy Lunch’s window for hours, but never experience what I’ve been writing about. 

You see, to thoroughly understand the Ritzy Lunch experience, one must open AND walk through the door.

It’s the same way with God and His Kingdom. Going to church, reading the bible, and telling everyone what you’ve heard and read is all very nice. But you must go through the door to experience the Kingdom and eternal life.

And Jesus is the Door.

Please take a few moments to read the newspaper article I photographed and posted below. It gives the history of one of Clarksburg’s finest. More than a hotdog joint, more than a quaint, downtown diner; it’s the Ritzy Lunch experience!

While you’re at it, please read more of the Apostle John’s writings, especially John chapter ten. It provides you with the incentive and the necessary information on how to enter the Kingdom of God. 

And if you’re ever in the Clarksburg area, make sure you plan a trip for a true, Ritzy Lunch experience. 

And tell them Jan sent you!

 

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