Tag: repent

Can A Leopard Change Its Spots?


Before I get started, I want to say this will be my last political post at least until after the primaries are over. There are many other worthwhile topics to discuss. Though maybe none more pressing.

And while I know there are many brothers and sisters in Christ who don’t agree with me, I feel compelled to speak this once more. Call it a warning, or, if you’d like, the ravings of a misinformed, out of touch, Christian who loves his God and his country.

Your choice.

I’m a little dismayed, I think. I really try hard not to take politics too seriously, but this year is different; for me, anyway.

I listen carefully to the candidates and all their selling points, plus all the wonderful things they have to say about their opponents; the other Republican candidates. The ones supposedly from the same party.

And I cannot figure out why there are so many people who say they believe in God the same as I do, who keep pulling the lever for Mr. Trump.

Here are some of the reasons my friends and fellow evangelicals give for riding the Trump bandwagon.

1. He’s not a politician. But that’s not true. He’s involved in politics, he just hasn’t been elected. Nor is it the first time he’s played the game. It’s just the first time he’s played this long.

2. He’s expressing the views of the majority of Americans. Is he? And, if so, does that mean he’s right?

3. He has a lot of great ideas; ideas which will make this country great again. Wonderful. But has he explained HOW he’s going to implement any of the wonderful changes? I don’t believe so.

4. He’s passionate about this country. I can’t tell what’s in a person’s heart, and neither can you. But it is possible to review how he’s acted in the past (when he wasn’t running for office).

5. He’s better than Hillary or Bernie. Is he? How do we know? Some answer my question with “He’s a Republican, isn’t he?”, to which I must reply, “That’s what he says.”

 

But like the prophet Jeremiah wrote, “Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots? Then also you can do good who are accustomed to do evil” (Jeremiah 13:23 ESV).

 

The obvious answer to the prophet’s question is no.

People tell me, “But with God, all things are possible.” Yes, amen. WITH GOD, all things are possible. WITH GOD, the dead become alive, the old is made new, and the reprobate becomes a child of God.

WITH GOD, it would even be possible for a leopard to change its spots. 

But if a person is so bent on living their life WITHOUT GOD, how much credence should we give their words when they try to sell us on ideas that are completely opposite of their pre campaign position?

And when the very words of the man in question declare emphatically that he likes “to be good. I don’t like to have to ask for forgiveness. And I am good. I don’t do a lot of things that are bad. I try to do nothing that is bad.” What are we really to believe?

Just how much change can we expect from him? Enough to trust he’ll do what the campaigning Trump said, or what the old Trump said?

6. We’re not voting on a pastor. That’s the one I really love. Character, morality, ethics, none of that matter because we’re not voting for a chaplain.

Really? Maybe I’m slow, so please help me understand. WHY isn’t character important? 

It’s been a number of years, but I can remember one candidate getting knocked out of the race because of his moral flaws. Does anyone remember the names Gary Hart and Donna Rice?

It meant something then. Were we wrong then? Or have we, in the name of tolerance, compromised OUR morals?

So why is character important? Because the President of the United States should be aboveboard, trustworthy, and not some proverbial joke to the rest of the world.

 

The thing that made this nation great cannot be found in Mr. Trump.

 

You see, it wasn’t gall, ego, temper tantrums, vulgarity, grand oration, or even the ability to make awesome deals that made America great.

It was people with a dream AND character. It was people with trust in and submission to God’s laws that gave this nation a chance to succeed.

I suppose I could be wrong. I reckon it just may be God’s will for Trump to win the Republican nomination. It could be.

Or it could be that America has become so spoiled and self centered God isn’t going to care either way. 

And why not? Israel finally got their way. They finally got a great man for a king.

King Saul.

Things didn’t turn out so well, but God’s people got what they wanted.

Just don’t start whining if you get the one you just had to have, only to find out the leopard’s spots are still the same.

It’ll be too late, then.

Damned Prisoners 

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Have you ever been inside a maximum security prison? I have.

Years ago I visited a young man from our home town. After driving about three hours to his place of incarceration, I was able to spend about 45 minutes with him.

At least he was able to have visitors.

Just being inside those cold, stone walls and hearing the iron bars slam shut was enough to convince me that crime doesn’t pay.

Don’t misunderstand me. I’ve had my turn at living as though rules didn’t matter; “to Hell with the consequences”, I was going to do what I wanted.

And I spent time in the juvenile court system to prove it.

Jails and prisons. Places to house those who need rehabilitation. Or, sadly, for the ones who are beyond help. 

Either way, lawless people shouldn’t be allowed to have the freedom to terrorize those living within the law.

Jails and prisons are, in a way, quite similar to a place called Hell. The primary difference being that Hell is NOT a place where any rehab takes place.

Hell is for damned prisoners. 

It’s a place where people go who have refused to live within the universally righteous laws of Almighty God.

It was never intended for mankind.

But ever since Adam and Eve regrettably turned aside from God’s commands, rebellion and lawlessness have been in the heart of every single person.

And, because life is eternal, meaning man’s spirit lives on after his earth suit has been buried six feet under, the rebellious and lawless must not be allowed to terrorize or defile Heaven’s eternal citizens.

 

Where eternity’s damned prisoners, those who’ve refused rehabilitation, refused to live under the Lordship of Jesus Christ, must forever remain.

 

Without visitors.

There is some good news in all of this. Since Hell wasn’t created for you and I, we don’t have to go there.

We can be rehabilitated without going to jail. We can change our eternal destination by receiving, by faith, the work Jesus did for us through His death, burial, and resurrection. And as a result, receive a brand new nature.

He went to Hell for us. For our rebellion; our lawlessness.

“…but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8 ESV)

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” (John 3:16-18 ESV)

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:17-21 ESV)

Jesus gave His life for people like us; you and I, damned prisoners.

But thanks be to God, he whom the Son sets free is free indeed.

Damned no more. Prisoners to rebellion and lawlessness no longer.

“But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God…” (John 1:12 ESV)

“…because, 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 with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.” (Romans 10:9-10 ESV)

Isn’t it nice to know you have a choice?

Hey, who in their right mind would want to be a damned prisoner anyway?

Get Mad

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Let me ask you a simple, hopefully non-threatening, question. Okay?

Have you ever been so mad at someone, for whatever reason, that you stormed out of the room, slamming the door behind you?

Yes?

Great!

No, it’s not great that you lost your temper, broke the door, and scared the daylights out of every one else in the room.

Not cool.

But it’s great that you have a basic understanding as to how to beat the devil at his temptation game.

Huh?!

Really. You see, if I would get mad at the audacity of the devil attempting to peddle his junk at my door, I might not be so apt to answer it when he comes knocking.

If you and I would let anger serve us well instead of destroying the ones we love, we’d enjoy life a lot more; and people might even enjoy hanging out with us more.

Check this out:

“Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger,” (Ephesians 4:26 ESV)

Look again at the first part of the verse:

“Be angry and do not sin…”

See what I’m saying?

Yes, most of us know it’s not necessarily a sin to get angry. But hear me on this…

…sometimes you end up sinning because you didn’t get mad enough!

Get mad at the right thing, and the right person. Slam the door on the devil. Slam the door on the trash he’s selling.

Get mad enough to shut off the TV. Get mad enough to pull the plug on your computer. Get mad enough to run to God for help. Get mad enough to read your bible. Get mad! Get madder than you’ve been when you ended up opening the door to see who’s knocking.

Get mad, slam the door, and do not sin.

Or, get mad enough to fix your eyes on Jesus.

Yep. You already know how to get angry. Now use it for something productive.

Get mad and do not sin.

“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7 ESV)

For more information: check out my latest book…
Arm yourself with the mind of Christ.
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What’s So Bad About Hell?

IMG_7263.JPGIf you’re like me, you’ve heard and read a lot about hell.

Maybe you’ve been instructed to go there. Or, perhaps you’ve been the one who’s suggested the place to a coworker. Maybe?

And no, I’m not referring to Hell, Michigan.
What do I think about hell? 

I think it’s a real place; a place no one in their right mind would purposely choose to visit.

Yet people seem to be living their lives as though hell is their ultimate goal. 

Why?

Maybe they aren’t convinced hell is real, or that it’s as bad as people say.

So I ask you, “What’s so bad about hell?”

It’s reported to be very hot. Jesus referred to hell fire, in Matthew 5:22. So is heat and fire the bad thing about hell?

Possibly, but I don’t think so.

You see, hell would still be the place to stay away from even it would freeze over. 

Jesus mentions hell as a place of judgment; a place where people are sent who’ve received a sentence of damnation, condemning them forever to the worst place imaginable. Matthew 23:33

Would hell be an okay place if the sentence was a little milder? Would it be alright if people only had to spend a couple of years there?

No. Hell would still be the place to avoid, even if a person only had to spend one minute there.

The rich man, mentioned by Jesus in Luke 16, found himself in hell’s torment. Apparently he was thirsty, and couldn’t find anything that would quench his thirst.

Would hell be tolerable if there were plenty of water fountains? Or, maybe if an ice cream truck made regular rounds? Surely that would make it alright.

No. Hell wouldn’t be worth it even if a inexhaustible supply of water AND Blue Bunny ice cream were offered. 

Hell would still be hell.

It is also a well known belief that hell is completely and utterly dark. Would it be alright if you were allowed to plug in a nightlight?

Another belief is that hell is a place of total isolation. So do you think it might be okay if hell instituted some sort of visitation program?

No. It would change the fact that hell is THE place to avoid.

Even if hell was a cool 70 degrees, well lit, with plenty of time for partying with your friends, it wouldn’t be the place I’d care to visit.

And if I’d have the power to make hell the garden spot of the universe, it would still be nothing more than some old dump.

What’s so bad about hell?

Jesus isn’t there. To me, that’s reason enough to stay clear.

“…in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might.” (2 Thessalonians 1:8-9 ESV)

So, what do YOU think about hell?

 

50 Shades of Embarrassment

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There’s a “popular” book and movie out called “Fifty Shades of Grey”. I haven’t read it nor have I seen the movie. I’ve only heard about it. But what I’ve heard isn’t good from a follower of Christ’s perspective.

And come to think of it, some of the things we Christians do aren’t always that great, either. Yet we act surprised when the world doesn’t want to act like us Christians. Or when sinners actually sin.

Duh. Pigs can’t act like swans. But it’s embarrassing when swans don’t act like swans.

Here’s a list of some things I’ve been guilty of; maybe you, too.

I refer to them as “Fifty Shades of Embarrassment”.

1.   Broadcasts the sins of leaders far and wide, even to unbelievers.
2.   Promotes discord among brethren, casting doubt on other church ministries.
3.   Declares God’s holiness, yet lives completely opposite.
4.   Emphatically states “God meets my needs” while posting a letter designed to manipulate the release of finances from the faithful.
5.   Believes the blood of Jesus covers all sins EXCEPT those committed by people who are weird, foolish, gay, democrat, or Martian.
6.   Preaches prosperity but asks for preacher’s discount.
7.   Trusts the word of big name preachers, yet stumbles over the words of Jesus.
8.   Orphans and widows are exploited; as their photos are used for fund raising.
9.   Makes appeals for donations, while traveling in private jet.
10.  Does not tolerate other’s mistakes.
11.  Speaks to God with Elizabethan English to appear more holy.
12.  Treats the church as though it’s a business
13.  Cheats on reporting certain incomes, using “It was a gift” as the excuse.
14.  Emphasizes the sins of the world while speaking ill of other believers.
15.  Boycotts Starbucks and other gay supporters, yet subscribes to Dish TV.
16.  Hands raised in praise on Sunday, but won’t lift a helping hand around the house.
17.  Gentle and nice to church people, but meaner than spit at home.
18.  Grudgingly gives 1% of paycheck to church, but donates 20% to neighborhood casino and lottery.
19.  Can sit for hours watching a sports event, but complains when a preacher goes a minute past noon.
20.  Up before dawn, ready to fish and hunt; but must sleep in on Sundays.
21.  Willingly sends hundreds of dollars overseas to win the lost, but haven’t learned the neighbor’s name.
22.  Complains about tattoos and piercings on others, but is harming own body with worry and anxiety.
23.  Loudly points out errors of others, but won’t receive correction from anyone.
24.  Will protest Planned Parenthood, but won’t help the troubled, pregnant, unmarried teen. 
25.  Craves the attention of others, and cannot stand it if someone receives more praise.
26.  Fanatical Christian on Sunday, but in hiding the rest of the week.
27.  First to shout “Amen” to the preacher, and first to gripe about the preacher in front of kids.
28.  Says grace at home, but in too big of a rush away from home.
29.  Annoyed with “liberal” denominations, but have never read the bible to find out what’s really true.
30.  Memorized John 3:16, but won’t support missionaries.
31.  Car bumper is covered with radical Christian stickers, yet won’t yield and let others merge.
32.  Counsels others, but doesn’t follow own advice.
33.  Consistently late for work.
34.  Ready to preach at work, but not so ready to work at work.
35.  Takes pride in a humility that’s more genuine than other’s.
36.  Preaches the need for Christians to “assemble together”, but won’t if they’re Pentecostal or Baptist.
37.  Never listens to anyone younger than 30.
38.  Ignores people older than 30. 
39.  Never says, “No, I don’t want to do that.” Instead, promises to “pray about it.”
40.  Habitually gossips with each prayer “request”.
41.  Believes “once saved, always saved”, until some Christian does them wrong. Then they tell them where to go.
42.  To err is human, to forgive divine… But someone’s gonna have to pay!
43.  Proud of what they don’t do… What they don’t do is much more than what they do do.
44.  Always ready to elevate a new believer to celebrity status, and a fallen brother to their “grave”.
45.  Gripes about all the people who make ministry so difficult.
46.  Wears a 24k gold cross around their neck, but can’t stand it when their seat is taken at church.
47.  Won’t give a dime unless it’s tax deductible.
48.  Loves God, but can’t stand those “rag-heads”.
49.  Rejoices when a brother or sister in Christ stumbles, especially if from a different church.
50.  Declares allegiance to Christ, but not to his work.

I realize the list isn’t pretty. But it’s true, is it not?

Perhaps we ought to work on our list of 50 and not be real concerned if sinners don’t want to promote the Ten Commandments.

Eh?

Does The Word “Repent” Scare You?

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I am amazed. All these years I assumed a certain thing was true, only to finally realize I was wrong. And all I needed to do was read the scripture as though I’d never read it before.

I’m referring to Jonah. You know, the book called Jonah? Yeah, the big fish dude.

I’ll tell you what I just noticed in a few moments, but first I’ll lay the foundation for this post.

What do you think of when you see the word: “repent”?

Oh, man! You probably think I’ve flipped, but nothing could be farther from the truth.

What thoughts run through your mind at the sound of that word? Do you have flashbacks from childhood days? Do scenes of a wild, red faced preacher running back and forth across the platform at church play across your mind; making you want to hide under a table?

Does the word “repent” scare you? Actually, there’s nothing to be afraid of.

“Repent and believe the Gospel”. A courageous message of compassion and hope; not one of doom, judgment, and catastrophe.

It’s the message Noah proclaimed, being a preacher of righteousness.

The prophets of old cried, “Repent!” The powerful word God used to call nations to his feet; the place of hope, fulfilled purpose, and renewed vision.

A word that satan fears; almost as much as the Name of Jesus.

It’s a word that demands an immediate response; though many times the response is heartbreaking. It’s a command that leaves no room for negotiation. It’s a message declaring, “There’s still time to turn around”, but it’s been misunderstood, misused, and misjudged.

Repent.

It’s the message of John the Baptist, which drew multitudes away from their cities, homes and places of business, out into the hot, windy wilderness.

The word Peter preached in power to multitudes on the day of Pentecost, whereby thousands were ushered into the kingdom of God.

The ministry Jesus said was his Father’s business.

And the message of Jonah.

The word means to turn around. Change one’s attitude, action, and allegiance. What’s so scary about that? Why is that threatening? What’s really wrong with the word?

Repent.

It’s a message whose time has come. A declaration America desperately needs to hear, but one it hates to face.

The ones who dare proclaim it are dubbed fanatical and foolish. God calls them faithful.

All of Heaven supports this message of compassion and hope. The Spirit is wooing and the angels are waiting for our response to the word “repent.”

It can cause a riot to break out, or righteousness to flow like a mighty stream.

It separates the believer from the unbeliever, the Christian from the casual observer.

It’s a matter of life and death.

Jonah (finally) preached to the people of Nineveh.

“So the people of Nineveh believed God, proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest to the least of them.” (Jonah 3:5 NKJV) In other words, they repented.

From the greatest to the least. From those with the most to those with nothing.

Here’s what I “saw” for the first time: THEN word about what was happening throughout the city came to the ears of the king. And HE repented!

For years I assumed the king heard first, then issued his proclamation. But, actually, he found out FROM the people.

There is hope for America. There is hope for our families. There is hope for you and I.

Repent is a word of compassion and hope. It’s a word with a future. It is a word for everyone, not just the people we don’t agree with. It’s a word whose time has come; from the greatest to the least. It’s a private, personal word that can affect the whole of society.

You may like the word, or you may hate it. You can lash out at the messenger or look into the mirror and examine what you see. Regardless, the word won’t allow you to remain the same.

Repent. Jonah carried the word to that great city. It changed Nineveh.

What word are you carrying? What word are you believing?

“Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:14-15 ESV)

Don’t be scared. Repent.

Let Us Return To The Lord

20130421-155310.jpgThis little collection of scriptures is not intended to condemn or make anyone feel heavy-hearted. It’s simply my heart’s cry to a church world that seems quite content to “live for God” without His help. It’s a declaration to everyone of God’s promises to change us and restore us to His original intent, His design; if we will only return to Him with all our heart.

“Come, let us return to The Lord.
He has torn us to pieces; now he will heal us.
He has injured us; now he will bandage our wounds.
In just a short time he will restore us, so that we may live in his presence.
Oh, that we might know the Lord !
Let us press on to know him.
He will respond to us as surely as the arrival of dawn or the coming of rains in early spring.” (Hosea 6:1-3 NLT)

“Seek the Lord while you can find him. Call on him now while he is near. Let the wicked change their ways and banish the very thought of doing wrong.
Let them turn to the Lord that he may have mercy on them. Yes, turn to our God, for he will forgive generously.” (Isaiah 55:6-7 NLT)

My wayward children,” says the Lord ,
“come back to me, and I will heal your wayward hearts.”
“Yes, we’re coming,” the people reply,
“for you are the Lord our God.
Our worship of idols on the hills
and our religious orgies on the mountains
are a delusion.
Only in the Lord our God
will Israel ever find salvation.

“From childhood we have watched as everything our ancestors worked for – their flocks and herds, their sons and daughters – was squandered on a delusion. Let us now lie down in shame and cover ourselves with dishonor, for we and our ancestors have sinned against the Lord our God. From our childhood to this day we have never obeyed Him.” (Jeremiah 3:22-25 NLT)

O Israel,” says the Lord ,
“if you wanted to return to me, you could.
You could throw away your detestable idols
and stray away no more.
Then when you swear by my name, saying,
‘As surely as the Lord lives,’
you could do so
with truth, justice, and righteousness.
Then you would be a blessing to the nations of the world,
and all people would come and praise my name.”

“This is what the Lord says to the people of Judah and Jerusalem:
“Plow up the hard ground of your hearts! Do not waste your good seed among thorns. O people of Judah and Jerusalem, surrender your pride and power. Change your hearts before the Lord , or my anger will burn like an unquenchable fire because of all your sins.” (Jeremiah 4:1-4 NLT)

“For the time has come for judgment, and it must begin with God’s household. And if judgment begins with us, what terrible fate awaits those who have never obeyed God’s Good News.” (1 Peter 4:17 NLT)

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