The Gospel — Why Don’t Even Those Who ARE Prepared for It Want to Listen?

Apathy-I-dont-careThe Jesus-loving, God-honoring Christian mind reads the Bible and thinks, “Truth is obvious. How can others not see it?”

The non-Christian mind looks at the Bible (usually without reading its content) and says, “It’s a fairy tale. It’s archaic. It’s rules and judgmentalism from another time that doesn’t have a place here.”

Should there be a compromise between the two? Definitely not! Truth should NEVER be compromised. HOWEVER, rational conversation should still take place.

There are millions of people in the U.S. that WILL accept Jesus as Savior and Lord IF we Christians will lovingly explain the Gospel to those who don’t see what all the fuss is about.

The “fuss,” of course, is that we want everyone to come to Heaven with us! We don’t want people to die without a relationship with Jesus and end up in everlasting pain, separated both from God and those who love them.

But what does it take to win someone to Jesus in an age in which those who are willing to listen don’t even understand who Jesus is?

It takes Genesis.

My friends, we have to go ALL THE WAY BACK to the beginning. All of us need to understand “Original Sin.” If this doesn’t get fully explained, the need for Jesus is lost on minds that can’t grasp our urgency for them.

In my first novel, Deliver Us from Darkness, one of my main characters hears the full Gospel explained for the very first time. This is the explanation that is put before him:

“I’m going to extend to you an invitation in a moment. An invitation to ask Jesus Christ to come into your lives. But first, I want all of you to know what the Bible has to say about all of this. And to do that, we’ve got to start at the beginning.

“You see, the earth as we know it wasn’t always broken. When God first created it, it was utterly perfect. A perfect Adam & Eve had a perfect relationship with God. They all shared a perfect love. There was also no death, no sickness, and no sin.

“God had told Adam that if he ate the fruit of a certain tree that he would die. Later, Satan tempted Eve and told her that God was holding back on them and that if they would eat that fruit they wouldn’t die, but that their eyes would be opened and they would be like God. She fell for it and got her husband to fall for it, too.

“That first sin caused the whole of God’s perfect creation to shift. Death was introduced, both spiritual and physical. Chaos erupted in, and through, the first family. Every succeeding generation has perpetuated that chaos. Every murder, every misuse of sex, every false religion, every war, and every disease … all of it … is a result of that original sin.

“Remember, I said that spiritual death was also introduced. You see, Hell was not created for man. It was created for the devil and his angels. However, God cannot allow sin to do to Heaven what it first did to Earth, so no man or woman, boy or girl, will ever be allowed to bring it in.

“After that original sin was committed, God took the life of a spotless animal, shedding its blood in order to cover the guilt of Adam and Eve. Scripture makes it clear; ‘without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sin.’ By doing that, God was showing Adam and Eve that he still cared about them; that they still mattered. He also showed that there was a high price to pay for sin: The blood of an innocent.

“For thousands of years, God accepted the blood of animals to cover the sins of people, but the sacrifices were only good for one year. Each year, the people were again reminded of the high cost that had to be paid for what they had done. God, though, had a plan that would result in one final sacrifice; one last shedding of blood. This last sacrifice wouldn’t just cover sin for one year; it would wash it away forever.

“Listen to Romans, chapter three, verse twenty-three: ‘All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.’ Romans, chapter six, verse twenty-three says that ‘the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.’

“See? All of us—every single one of us—has fallen short. There is not one single person in this room, or on this earth, that deserves anything other than eternal punishment. No amount of doing good can save you. It is only through Christ, and the shedding of his perfect blood, that we can have salvation—the forgiveness of our sins that will allow us into God’s kingdom instead of Hell.

“Some of you have been beat over the head with religious dos and don’ts. You feel like God is up there on his throne with a big hammer just waiting for the next time you do something wrong so he can make an example of you. But, that’s not how it is!

“Listen to what Jesus, himself, said: ‘God loved the world so much, that he sent his one, and only, Son, so that whoever would believe in him would not know eternal punishment, but, instead, would know eternal life!’ He went on to say, ‘God did not send his Son into the world to condemn it, but that the world, through him, might be saved.’”

________________

Freedom. The restoration of the broken heart. Those, and more, are the end result of a decision for Christ. We know that! But in order to help others know that, we have to get back to the basics; the basics that include the very beginning.

Learn how to effectively explain the Gospel in terms and language that people will understand. I suggest using a version of the Bible that is written in modern English (unless, of course, you are witnessing to someone whose primary language can best be served by a Bible in their language).

Though the days are darker, and the avenues to reach people are more difficult, we still need to make a difference for the Kingdom of God. Remember, this Earth is not our real home, which brings up another point.

For many people, the idea of Heaven is not attractive. Not at all. And based on the descriptions that I’ve heard Christians give, I cannot blame them at all!

Let’s be honest with ourselves, who actually wants to…

  • live forever in clouds?
  • spend eternity singing?
  • be forced to play and listen to harps?
  • live forever without a body?
  • be sexless?
  • not recognize other people?
  • give up the green grasses and blue skies of Earth?
  • live an existence without animals?

In the words of author John Eldredge, “It sounds like Hell to me.” And I agree with him!

Along with our need to get back to the roots of why everyone needs salvation, we need to also become literate about what Heaven is and what it will be like. For the sake of brevity, I’ll just make a few points, and I’ll leave the rest up to your need and curiosity to research.

  • There are two heavens. One is what we might want to call the “intermediate heaven.” It is where we, who are Christians, go when we leave our physical bodies behind. According to Scripture, there will be a sense of physical existence. There will be tables to sit at and food to eat during the “Wedding Feast of the Lamb.” We will recognize other believers. According to the book of the Revelation, we will be able to identify those who were martyred for the cause of Christ. And, certainly, there is a lot more about the “intermediate heaven” to discover.
  • The eternal Heaven, is NOT in the air or clouds someplace. According to the book of Revelation, after a 1,000-year reign of Christ on Earth, God will restore Earth to perfection again. Why? Because we are going to get the Kingdom back! The Kingdom that Adam and Eve lost! Imagine living on a perfect Earth, not ever having to worry about death! What adventures will we have together?
  • We will be reunited with our physical bodies after a resurrection of the dead takes place (the Rapture, whether it’s a Pre-Trib, Mid-Trib, or Pre-Wrath event). Imagine getting your body back without any defects! Without any pain! Without any scars! Everyone will be beautiful and perfect to one another, yet completely recognizable.
  • Everyone will still have purposes and jobs to fulfill, but we will be doing what we were made for, and we’ll be a part of what makes our hearts come fully alive! Imagine having a purpose without tedium! Purpose and pleasure together!
  • Imagine an Earth with all of its resources fully available again. In our past, we were able to make it to the moon. Think about where we’ll be able to go (if we desire to) that is so far beyond the moon that we can’t even comprehend the distance or the experience!

My friends, are you excited about Heaven? Are your “thoughts on things above,” as Scripture directs?

Do both yourself and the Kingdom a big favor: Equip yourselves with information on both of these subjects: the full Gospel and Heaven. Not only will you be better capable of explaining salvation, but you’ll also come away from your studies so much more heartened!

In the words of the Apostle Paul, who also spoke about what to expect after exiting this present life, “Encourage each other with these words.”

Now, go out and make a difference, Church!

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What is the Proper Response to Nationalized Gay Marriage in America?

GayAmerica_backgroundToday has been an interesting day in America. For me, I’ve had a lot of emotion rise to the fore, and I’ve had to look deep in order to sort them out and to determine whether any of them are worthy of expressing. One thing’s for sure, regardless of how I feel personally, a great divide is about to make itself known.

After the Supreme Court’s announcement today, that gay marriage is now legal in all 50 states, there is very likely going to be an uproar.

Gays are going to begin—even more loudly—to proclaim hatred for those who are against the ruling. And there are going to be Christians—those not following the command of Christ to love—who are going to speak hatred toward homosexuals.

Hate toward another human being is WRONG, regardless of the direction it flies. Hate, according to Jesus, is the same as the sin of murder.

Sin. There’s the word that is quickly becoming more offensive than the “F-bomb.” But sin is not a word that can be changed. It is a fixed definition. It is a black spot on a soul. It is what God calls an act of disobedience to His standards of righteousness. The word sin was not created by human beings, therefore, it cannot be changed or eliminated either. It just is.

Another thing about the word sin… It is not something that can be used as an accusal against someone else, without the accuser also having to admit that he, himself, is accused by God of falling short of His righteousness. We are all offenders. However, there is no excuse for anyone to accept sinfulness as permitted behavior. After all, we were not created to be sinners; we were created to be the delight of God.

That said, Homosexuality, though now fully legal in just about all of its forms, is still sin. And this sin is about to encroach more fully on the lives of those who are against it, and will even rear its ugly head at many who have been ardent supporters of the cause. I believe that radical homosexuals are going to become more “in your face,” and there will be taunting. Taunting toward both opponents and those who are gay, yet not “loud and proud.” Many people who have counted today as a victory are going to become embarrassed by the sexual and hateful displays soon to come.

For Traditionalists, Conservatives, and Christians, speaking out against homosexual marriage (and homosexuality in general) is about to become dangerous. In America, it’s going to be considered hate speech for Christians to verbalize a biblical stance on the issue. Mark my words.

It breaks my heart that America has sanctioned another damaging cultural life choice. There is now no means for reversal. America has made yet another fundamental, detrimental course change. “We the people” are definitely going the way of Rome, repeating the mistakes of the past.

CHRISTIANS, we are called to love gay people, even though we are not called to tolerate sin. So there has to be a shift in many people’s mindsets about the stances they are going to take. We, in God’s Kingdom, must continue to love. We must continue to share the Gospel and allow the Holy Spirit to convict people of their life choices. REMEMBER THIS: Before a person becomes a Christian, he or she, like all of us before we came to know Christ, are merely sinners needing to know Jesus.

This is not really about homosexual marriage. This is about people knowing Jesus as their Savior and Lord. This is about letting all people know that ALL of us have the same default destination without Christ: Hell. Homosexuals are not going to Hell because they are same-sex attracted, they, like all of us, are headed to Hell because we are born into sin and are unable to keep from sinning. The ONLY cure for the spiritual death caused by our sin is Jesus. Jesus the lover of people, NOT Jesus hater of people because of their sins.

We must keep in perspective what it means to be a Christian. ALL of us still sin. ALL of us still battle desires that are contrary to God’s will. If not for Jesus, we’d be marching side-by-side with gays, abortionists, murders, adulterers, thieves, et al, heading to the same horrible final destination. Therefore, LOVE people. Have compassion. Share the love of Christ, not your disdain for people’s lifestyles.

While I’m not saying that we should not engage in debate about today’s decision by SCOTUS, we do need to remember that, ultimately, everything that we do should portray Jesus in the right light and draw people to Him.

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Science AND the Glory of God

Science and the Glory of God

(From Wallbuilders, March 27, 2015)
The heavens declare the glory of God;
And the firmament shows His handiwork.
(Psalm 19:1)
Several WallBuilders speakers just returned from engagements in Alaska, where they witnessed the incomprehensible wonder of the Northern Lights, the breathtaking beauty of the majestic mountain ranges, and the creative uniqueness of its wildlife. Throughout American history, those who believed Psalms 19 and explored God’s marvelous creation have had great impact on our science.
For example, U.S. Navy Commander Matthew Fontaine Maury became known as “Father of Oceanography” and  “Pathfinder of the Seas” because of what he discovered from reading Psalm 8 and Ecclesiastes 1. When criticized for his reliance on the Bible, Maury responded:

I have been blamed by men of science, both in this country and in England, for quoting the Bible in confirmation of the doctrines of physical geography. The Bible, they say, was not written for scientific purposes and is therefore of no authority in matters of science. I beg pardon! The Bible is authority for everything it touches. . . . The Bible is true, and science is true. . . . They are both true; and when your men of science, with vain and hasty conceit, announce the discovery of disagreement between them, rely upon it: the fault is not with the Witness or His records [that is, God], but with the “worm” [sinful human] who essays [attempts] to interpret evidence which he does not understand.


Thomas Jefferson, a diligent student of history, observed that:

The Christian religion…is a religion of all others most friendly to liberty, science, and the freest expansion of the human mind.

In fact, Jefferson said that  “Bacon, Newton and Locke . . . [are] my trinity of the three greatest men the world had ever produced.” While Locke was a Christian philosopher, both Bacon and Newton were Christian scientists. Notice the philosophy of these two.

Francis Bacon, known as the “Father of Modern Science,” developed the process of inductive thinking and created the scientific method. He also penned several books on religion, such as On the Unity in Religion (1612), On Atheism (1612), and Of Praise (1612), as well as a translation of Biblical psalms (1625).

 Sir Isaac Newton as an English mathematician and scientist credited with birthing modern calculus and discovering the laws of universal gravitation. But he actually wrote more on theology than he did on science!

There are many other examples, making clear that science as we know it today would not exist had it not been for those who used the Bible to lay the foundations of modern science.(For more information on the Bible and Science, see the commentary for Daniel 1 in The Founders’ Bible).
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Poking God in the Eyes

2c6fc1c50199e5cc206e1ade6cee3536Have you ever heard the phrase, “It’s not about you”? Have you ever responded with, “Oh, yes, it is!”?

I was thinking yesterday about how we have a tendency to make life about us. We are, after all, inherently selfish creatures. It started even before we were able to yell out “Mine!” for the first time in our lives.

As we grew older, most of us gained a little more control over our vocal responses, but what about on the inside? Even if we don’t actually believe life is all about us, we still wish it was.

This attitude about life being about us, whether as individuals or humanity as a whole, is something that we tend to carry over into all of our relationships, including the most important one that each of us is supposed to have. You know, that one we’re supposed to have with God.

Relationships. Interesting things, relationships. Surely we understand that in proper, loving relationships, we’re supposed to be spending our lives in the best interests of others.

Husbands and wives are supposed to love one another sacrificially, believing and hoping the best. We are supposed to develop trust — truthful trust.

Then there are parent-child relationships. Again, as parents it’s supposed to be a loving sacrifice to provide, protect, and teach.

Also, there are the friendship relationships. You know those, right? These are the ones in which we’re supposed to have each other’s backs, uplifting one another and defending one another’s reputations.

In other words … relationships are supposed to be about providing love while believing for it in return.

Okay. What about that relationship we’re supposed to have with God? Is it supposed to be any different?

Outside of “having God’s back,” which I’m pretty sure He doesn’t need, aren’t we supposed to be loving and respecting Him—treating Him as if life’s about Him and not us?

Some of you just got tripped up by that question. I can feel it. (I’m kidding. I can’t feel it, because you haven’t been reading silently as I type this out loud.)

We humans are an oddly-thinking bunch. We’ll make sacrifices for many other people, because we believe they need us or need what we have. But because God already has everything, we think His position is that of the guy we should run to with demands and dissatisfaction.

  • A friend gets cancer, and many times we blame God.
  • Someone’s marriage falls apart and we’re like, “Really, God? You couldn’t stop that?”
  • Death hits close to home and we demand answers. “Why?! You could have prevented that if you really cared!”

It’s easy to criticize God and even shake our fists at the sky, because there’s no retribution; He doesn’t argue back.

But why? Why do we blame God? Why do we try to make it painful for God, as if poking Him in the eye to express our irritation and trying to get a response? It’s at these times that I think we’ve forgotten a few things about who God is:

  • God’s heart toward us will only ever be good. (Romans 5:8)
  • We are the result of His craftsmanship; not the other way around. (Ephesians 2:10)
  • He’s got a firm grasp on what’s going on in the lives of those who love Him, and will even work things out for our good. (Romans 8:28)

And … there is something else that we need to keep in mind as believers in the One True God:

This life isn’t about us, even though it is for us.

God created us so that we would BE. He wanted each and every one of us to exist and know LIFE (and still does). He wants us to know joy and happiness and awesome relationships with Him. He wants us to know fulfillment through purpose-filled lives.

It was NOT in His plan to have us suffer in this life, including in our relationships. It’s actually against God’s plan for us to have bad experiences with one another, including our kids and parents. We weren’t supposed to know what it feels like to be stabbed in the back by a friend. None of the sorrows of life were supposed to be ours. We weren’t even supposed to die, for that matter.

All of the bad things that happen in our lives, and the lives of those around us, are all linked to two things: Our Enemy (Satan and his fallen demonic horde) and the Fall of Man. Satan rebelled and began attacking mankind and we, as mankind, rebelled, as well. So much for blaming Satan for everything. We blew it as a race. We brought misery upon ourselves because of the choice that we, as humanity, made to question the heart of God. Did we learn? Maybe a little bit. But we still do question the heart of God.

Here’s the problem we face today as humans: We want. We keep wanting. We will continue to want. And where are most of our wants directed? At God. Now, let me say this before I go any further. God has told us that it’s okay to come boldly into His throne room where we can find mercy and grace in our times of need. Jesus is the one who gave us that instruction, so I’m guessing it’s a good thing to do. But there’s still the problem of thinking improperly about our wants.

We continue to think life is about us.

Anything that is created, be it a refrigerator, a toaster, a car, toothpaste, or even shampoo has both a purpose/function and instructions for proper use. And the thing that is created gets its purpose from the one who created it.

Guess what, gang. We were created, as well.

We get our purpose for BEING from God, our Creator. All life is about Him and for Him. You can rebel against that idea all that you want, but you will never be able to make God submit to your will.

We must link this revelation together with the fact that God’s heart toward us will only ever be good. He will never be evil. He didn’t create you, or anyone that you know, to be His whipping boy (or girl). You were not created so that God can carry out His frustrations on you. That would be impossible, anyway, because God is Love.

God doesn’t have love. He is Love. He will not ever violate who He is.

It’s a great thing that the entire universe was created by someone who is Love. Had God been an evil being, a universe could have been created without any beauty. Imagine an Earth on which there was only pain, because God laughed at misery and created suffering for His entertainment. Imagine everyone always writhing in agony; billions of people who cannot function because He’s having fun ripping them apart or subjecting them to horrendous diseases.

Even at OUR worst, we humans have not subjected the entire world to such unimaginable horrors. Even tyrants like Adolf Hitler showed compassion where and when he wanted (as hard as that is to fathom). Thankfully, the One True God is a wholly good-hearted God!

That said, again, I’d like to touch on a something for which we most blame God: Death.

None of us wants death to approach and consume those for whom we care, let alone touch our own lives. We fight death tooth and nail, clawing at the ground to not be dragged to its door. But all must exit. Death wasn’t a part of the original plan. It came as a result of the Fall of Man (Romans 4:12). It’s something that we brought upon ourselves, and, yet, we poke God in the eye about it.

Death certainly isn’t convenient (for most people). Even in the minds of the most ardent of atheists, the looming event stirs up questions like: “Will this really be the end?” “Will I experience darkness?” “Will my thoughts really be extinguished?”

For those who don’t have a relationship with Jesus, yet believe in an afterlife, individuals may ask, “What is on the other side?” “Will I be reincarnated?” “Will I become part of the Universe?”

And for those who KNOW Christ: “What will the transition be like?” “Will I be escorted by an angel?” “Who will greet me first when I get to Heaven?” “I’m about to see Jesus face to face!”

Irrespective of the questions and who’s asking them, for most, death is the reason for ultimate blame. God gets the rap for the sickness or the car crash or the suicide attempts that lead many to death. God gets the criticism for the timing, because, obviously, death should, as a rule, be more convenient. God is the recipient of the troubled or sorrow-filled or angry question, “Why didn’t you prevent it?”

It all comes back to where this blog post stared. We want to believe that this life is about us. We want to believe that we are deserving of all of the answers. We want to believe that God is answerable to us—the created ones.

God’s heart is good. That won’t change. I’m thankful of that, as I’m sure you are (or will be, once you allow it to settle into your hearts and minds).

Something else that all of us should think about, as it pertains to this life and to death: Whatever type of death you and I face, it will become a distant memory as quickly as we find ourselves on the other side of life’s doorway. Friends, we overvalue the life we have on this old earth. That’s primarily because we don’t yet understand what awaits us as Christians in Heaven and on the New Earth that is to come.

One thing is for certain, though… One day, rather than seeing fingers poking in God’s eyes, we’re going to see love in His eyes instead.

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Is Our Protection God’s Responsibility?

Royalty-Free Stock Photography by Rubberball.comAre you aware of all of the terrible things that God has not allowed to happen to you?

Do you know about that car that was going to strike you while you were jogging, but swerved back to the left of the shoulder because the driver woke up just in the nick of time? How about the man with the gun that was going to rob the store that you were in, but was intercepted by a cop who saw something suspicious? What about the horrendous nightmare that was going to invade your peaceful sleep, but was warded off because of a “special agent”?

The fact of the matter is that we have absolutely no idea how many things have not happened in our lives that were going to happen without intervention from God—who is always paying attention. There are many—a countless number—of attacks by the Enemy that have never reached us.

We live in a world filled with evil forces—a spiritual enemy—that will do everything in its power—and within its rights—to defeat us, whether it’s physically, emotionally, mentally, and/or spiritually. Jesus said that the Enemy “has come to kill, to steal, and to destroy.”

However, God, who is infinite in knowledge and perfect in love, is also our Defender. If you know Jesus Christ as your Lord, you’ve got someone who is not just the lover of your soul, but is also the Commander-in-Chief of all of the forces of Heaven.

Our Father wants us dependent upon Him, not on ourselves. He wants to be where we turn when life gets overwhelming. He wants to be our Hero.

That said, nowhere in the Bible does it say that “God won’t allow more to happen to you than you can handle.” That’s a wrongful twisting of Scripture. People who believe that have been set up for a fall. What God actually promised was that there would be no temptations that would be greater than we could overcome.

For those of us who trust in Jesus, there are still going to be bad things that will happen. In fact, Jesus said, “In this life you will have troubles.”

But, you see … we have a Savior. And “we are more than conquerors through HIM who loved us.”

Our Savior gave us armor. He gave us weaponry. He gave us authority in His name.

These are no small things! Read Ephesians, chapter six, and find out exactly what you have your hands on and those things that are available for your protection. I say “available,” because it’s a decision—your decision—to go beyond what the Lord is already doing behind the scenes.

We are given responsibilities. We must participate. We must engage in Spiritual Warfare, especially when we are being assaulted. And, my friends, you know when you’re being assaulted. Most of the time, we in America, blame God for the bad things that happen to us or to those we love. But, He’s not the only being that we cannot see.

There are angels, and there are demons. Both are terrifying and powerful creatures, though only one side wishes us harm.

We must all learn how to fight. Learn how to protect. Both for ourselves and for those we love. There is a reason why the writers of the New Testament call us “soldiers.”

This world, with an evil behind the veil that we cannot see, is more dangerous than it appears, but most of us don’t act like it. We have a tendency to take the “ignorance is bliss” approach to life. But that is part of the Enemy’s plan: keep us blaming God when things go wrong and to not engage in the actual war that is going on all around us. This war involves reaching out to the lost who do not know Christ. It involves teaching our families the truths about the darkness that surrounds us. It involves understanding that this world we live in today is not our home.

Because we oftentimes choose ignorance instead of investigation, many of us live lives of mediocrity; lives that will not lead others to Christ; lives that will keep the people around us on a fast track to a very real Hell.

We’ve gone so far as to disbelieve in a real devil named Satan and the echelons of demons at his command. When difficulties come, we have a tendency to strike things up to “bad luck” or just an “unfortunate turn of events.” However, some of these things could have been—can be—prevented in our lives. Some of the attacks that we feel, that seem relentless, can be pushed back. How? By using our authority in Christ Jesus.

Another problem that we have in America is that we think that we can say just a quick prayer and, Voilà!, God’s going to do whatever we ask. Too often, we shun the idea of intercessory or travailing prayer—especially travailing prayer. But we are told by Jesus in Matthew 7:7-11 that we are to ask, and keep asking, seek, and keep seeking, knock, and keep knocking … pressing into that situation which needs remedied.

Adding to all of the above, is the incorrect assumption that prayer is the same as Spiritual Warfare.

Prayer is something that is directed to God. Spiritual Warfare is supposed to be directed toward our Enemy. These are two totally different things, except that in prayer we can request help in the midst of the battle. But God gave us His authority, in the name of Jesus Christ, to be warriors for the cause of Christ and to also protect us from our enemies. And—listen to me, now—Spiritual Warfare cannot be done silently! It must be done with an open mouth, with words being formed with tongue and lips.

To learn more about Spiritual Warfare, you can read some of my other blog posts, talk with your pastors, read up on it in your Bibles, or through books from a Christian bookstore. You can find a reputable website or two, and even read the books of the Otherealm Saga that I’ve written, beginning with Deliver Us from Darkness—a novel written to teach as much as to entertain.

One of my favorite authors, John Eldredge, wrote a prayer in one of his books that I love. It is a series of requests to God, based on the Ephesians 6 weaponry and armor. I would like to close with that.

“A Warrior’s Prayer”
from
Wild at Heart
By John Eldredge

Ephesians 6:13-18:

“Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.  Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist …”  Lord, I put on the belt of truth.  I choose a lifestyle of honesty and integrity.  Show me the truths I so desperately need today.  Expose the lies I’m not even aware that I’m believing.  “… with the breastplate of righteousness in place …” And yes, Lord, I wear Your righteousness today against all condemnation and corruption.  Fit me with Your holiness and purity – defend me from all assaults against my heart.  “… and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace …”  I do choose to live for the gospel at any moment.  Show me where the larger story is unfolding and keep me from being so lax that I think the most important thing today is the soap operas of this world.

“In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one …” Jesus, I lift against every lie and every assault the confidence that You are good and that You have good in store for me.  Nothing is coming today that can overcome me, because You are with me.  “… Take the helmet of salvation …” Thank you, Lord, for my salvation.  I receive it in a new and fresh way from You, and I declare that nothing can separate me now from the love of Christ and the place I shall ever have in Your kingdom.  “… and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God …” Holy Spirit, show me specifically today the truths of the Word of God that I will need to counter the assaults and the snares of the Enemy.  Bring them to mind throughout the day.  “… And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.  With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.”  Finally, Holy Spirit, I agree to walk in step with You in everything – in all prayer as my spirit communes with You throughout the day.

Amen.

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The Physical Feeling of Forgiveness

(I really wanted to title this post, “The Fysical Feeling of Forgiveness,” but I know a bunch of Grammar Nazis, so… )


thHave you felt the PHYSICAL feeling of forgiveness?
Or are you one who is weighed down with regret and guilt?

As an author I do my best to convey emotions in my characters and stories. Inducing tears into people’s eyes and developing happy feelings are some of the things in which I specialize. I can go so far as to try to provide a sense of well-being in you as a reader. These are things that I can do. However…

After the stories are done, whether they are mine or someone else’s, whether they are from a book or from movies or TV shows, one thing is certain; reality sets back in. You are always going to be faced with who you are. Who you have been. What has been done to you.

Reality isn’t always the place in which people want to live. Reality can be physically and emotionally painful, even devastating. People are grateful for those breaks—those diversions—in which they can experience fun, happy moments. But so often, these things are fleeting at best. Often, in the midst of happy moments, people have flashes of impending reality, and instantly the moment of elation is dulled or quenched. Back to who they are, where they live, what they do.

This is not the case with everybody, though. Some people have had burdens permanently lifted. Some have a pool—a wellspring—from which life and joy, hope and grace, mercy and purpose envelop their souls. This is not to say that life doesn’t still happen to them, it just means that the table has turned. Instead of guilt and fear and hopelessness and lack of purpose being the mainstay of their lives, they are merely the periodic interruptions. Instead, they can live with a constant sense of peace and joy in their lives, even in the midst of difficult times.

It sounds as though these people have encountered a miracle. Doesn’t it? And the truth of the matter is … they have.

Life wasn’t meant to be hated or avoided. Life was created to have lifelong purpose. It’s something that all people can have. It just takes a decision.

If your religion or atheism or life philosophy has not met you where you are and invited you into a life of forgiveness and peace, rather than you having to spend your life striving for it, then you have been believing or practicing something false. And that falseness can be revealed, as long as a person doesn’t decide to protect that falseness, by making it have an encounter with truth.

Some of you, right now, are wishing that what I’m saying could be true, that you could finally have peace of mind and heart—a life in which the striving to be something worthy can come to an end. If you are one of these individuals, I challenge you to do one or more of the following things to have that encounter with truth.

1. Break out a modern-English translation of the Bible. Go to the New Testament book of John, and begin to read. Just push through to the end of the Bible. Just allow the words of the book to speak to your life. There’s nothing harmful about the knowledge that you’ll receive.

2. Pray a simple prayer: “God? Jesus? If you are real, and you really want me to know you, please show me. I’m open to it.” An honest prayer will be the catalyst to some life-changing events.

3. Set aside all things religious. God isn’t looking for you to do anything to earn his approval. You don’t have to go try to become good enough for him. Instead, He came searching for you. He came and did all of the work required to bring YOU into relationship with HIM, not the other way around. You don’t have to go get cleaned up to approach Him. Approach Him, and allow Him to make you clean.

4. Allow yourself to be humble. Don’t let your pride stand in the way of asking God for His forgiveness and His help. He’s bigger than all of the “shtuff” in your life, and He knows how to bring things to pass in your life in the proper order to get rid of the wrong things … in his time and in a way that will be most beneficial to you, the one He loves.

Many people, like myself, remember what it felt like—the physical feeling that took place within their bodies—the moment that they asked Jesus Christ to be their Savior and Lord. It wasn’t just a mental release, it was the shedding of so much burden that our hearts felt like they could burst with joy! The only thing you have as a responsibility is to allow God to come inside your life to forgive all of your past and future sins, in one fell swoop. He’ll do it, and give you an awesome future home, to boot.

Consider what I’ve said. There’s a whole big family waiting for you to let them love you and join them in this adventure of knowing and following the Creator of the Universe. While life still happens, we have each other and we have the knowledge that God is both in us and at our sides, helping us to “do all things.”

Love You All,
Frank

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Agreements: The Bad Kind

Businessman making a pact with the devil

“I am not worthy of love or respect.”
“I deserve to feel hated, despised, rejected, used, abused.”
“I despise myself, because I am no good. I’m not worthy or deserving of anything good.”
“I am property to be used and abused and trampled on.”
“I’m a burden to everyone and always have been. I have always been an inconvenience.”
“I am not worthy to be fought for.”

Can you imagine saying these things about yourself as a woman? Men, how about these for yourself:

“I don’t match up to the other guys.”
“I’m a failure.”
“I don’t have what it takes”
“My best days are over.”
“I had my chance in this life, but blew it. No more chances.”
“The world (or my family) would be better off without me.”

All of these statements about oneself are called agreements. What are agreements? Let’s look at the definitions.

Definition of agreement (n)

Bing Dictionary

  • a·gree·ment
  • [ ə gréemənt ]
  1. formal contract: a contract or arrangement, either written or verbal and sometimes enforceable by law
  2. situation or act of consent: the state of having come to the same opinion or having made the same decision as somebody else, or an expression of this state
  3. consensus of opinion: a situation in which everyone accepts the same terms or has the same opinion

As you can tell by the language in the three points, a “formal contract” (which assumes another party), an “act of consent” (which assumes another party), and consensus of opinion (which assumes another party) are contracts held in mutual understanding by at least two parties.

If the personal phrases above have ever been said by you, about yourself, you’ve made an agreement. You might think that somehow that would mean you’ve made an agreement with yourself. But think about it logically. It is quite literally impossible to agree with yourself. You already have an internalized belief or stance on something that you believe, either about yourself, someone or something else. It is what you have already concluded (or working to conclude). Making an agreement means that you have taken something that you already believe about yourself and are concurring with an outside source … or … an outside source has convinced you of something that you hadn’t previously believed and are now accepting that thing as fact.

Now comes the question: Why do you believe the things about yourself that you do? Even if you believe that aren’t agreeing with someone on the outside, you still had to have come to agree about your self-concept from somewhere, initially. So, let’s take a look at who you are, what you believe about who you are, and where that came from.

All judgments about oneself must have a standard, something with which to compare oneself to in order to determine whether the information that you are believing is true. If you have a million dollars in your bank account and you have full access to it, you cannot say that you are financially poor like the beggar on the street. Saying, “I am financially struggling” when you have no debt, and plenty of money would be preposterous. But if someone came up to you person and said, with authority, “Sir (or ma’am), I’m afraid that your bank account was robbed. Someone took all of your money. There is no way to get it back, and it wasn’t insured. You are broke,” that would be something else altogether. Immediately you might start feeling devastated. The first words to escape your mouth might be, “I’m broke.” An agreement was just made. You have accepted the information as truth. But, the fact of the matter is that the person telling you that you have no money has an agenda. He wants to steal the money that is still safely locked up in the bank. It’s a ploy by an enemy.

So, allow me to reveal a set standard for you (that has nothing to do with money). Let’s talk something more significant.

You, my friend, were not an accidental occurrence on this planet. If your birth parents did not intend for you to be born, that doesn’t mean that God didn’t. In fact, according to Scripture, you were actually thought about by God before your conception took place. God also talks about knowing you in the womb. That means that something of great significance took place at conception. The you that God wanted to exist was purposely place within the fertilized egg at the moment the sperm penetrated the cell wall. You were intentioned by God to have life at this time and place on Earth. There is absolutely no possibility of you being an accident.

What else does God have to say about your existence prior to your birth? He said you are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” This is the first outside statement to which you should agree. But someone needs to tell you that first before you can agree with it. Consider that done now. You—yes, YOU—were fearfully and wonderfully made … on purpose!

This one statement should negate virtually all of those negative self-statements above. Why? Because if you are made for a purpose, and you are still alive, then you have not, yet, completely fulfilled that purpose. You still have purpose!

Now, here’s the very first purpose for which you were born: to have a relationship with the one who intentioned you. God. Once you have accepted a relationship with your Father, through Jesus Christ, you have accomplished the most crucial aspect of your purpose going forward.

The second thing that you need to know is that God says, “I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” That’s pretty huge, in my estimation. As a human being, especially as a Christian, you have a purpose going forward.

That said, if you are hearing in your head things like, “I’m worthless.” “I have no purpose.” or “There is no point to my life.” You are getting the information from a different source. It cannot be true if God is true! Anything that contradicts what God has to say about you has to be coming from someone else pretending to be an authority in order to steal from you.

Allow me to speak about the spiritual realm, and one of the main players in it, Satan. The Bible says that his chief aim is “to kill and to steal and to destroy.” It also says of Satan, “He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” Another translation states it this way: “He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies.”

Let me make this very clear. Truth does not have to exist in a statement for an agreement to be made.

You have a mortal enemy. He hates you. He loathes you. Never will there be an ounce of compassion in his mind or heart for you. He will pretend to pick you up after he has knocked you down, just so that he will have the pleasure of causing more pain when he knocks you down again. Satan is hate in its purest form.

Anytime that you have thoughts that sound like your own, that tear you to shreds, they did not come from God and … listen to me, now … they did not originate in you! They came from an outside source. A liar. And by agreeing with them, by verbalizing them or writing them, all you are doing is reinforcing those agreements. You are placing those horrible agreements into lockboxes in your soul and securing them in cement. You have got to stop! There are major spiritual, mental, emotional, and sometimes physical implications at play here.

David Felts says in his blog, “As we hear those words in our minds, if we don’t pull them down immediately and take them captive like the Bible says in 2 Corinthians 10:5, we will begin to believe those thoughts and then we run the risk of giving voice to them. And it is in giving voice to the thoughts of the enemy that we make an agreement with him and allow those thoughts to become a reality. “

Please, my friends, take time to find out who you really are. Discover who it is that God says you are. Learn about what it means to be a Christian. Get to understand why the song calls GRACE amazing. Once you discover, through the Bible, that God identifies every single born-again Christian as RIGHTEOUS, you will begin to see the value God places on you. Never, ever, doubt your worth, your significance on this planet. You are here for a reason. You are not a mistake. And as you pursue your relationship with God the Father, God the Son (Jesus), and the God the Holy Spirit, you will discover not only your purpose, but fulfillment in the midst of accomplishing that purpose. It’s a great way to live.

Now, let’s make some agreements with God (out loud):

“I am not a mistake!”
“Jesus created me because He wants to have me as a forever-lifelong brother and friend.”
“I am ‘the righteousness of God in Christ.'”
“‘There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus!'”
“God has a plan for me. A good one!”
“God counts me worthy of His time and attention and love and acceptance and forgiveness.”

Good. Now these are just a start. Remember, your old agreements that don’t agree with what God has to say about you, have been reinforced for a long time, both by the Enemy and by you. It’s going to take a little while to chip those horrible lies out of the concrete. But, the good thing is, that the more you speak life to yourself, the less strong the concrete becomes. Create a habit over the next 21 days to deliberately and with focus and effort start speaking sentences—words—of life over yourself, cutting away the negative ones. When you hear words to the contrary, use some Spiritual Warfare to push the Enemy—harassing spirits—back and away from you. You can do it, because you’ve got the authority of Christ to back you up.

If you are not familiar with the blog posts that I’ve written in the past, the links below may be of some help in figuring out what the whole Spiritual Warfare thing is about. I also write novels, one of them now published, that are not just entertaining, they teach Spiritual Warfare. Learn your enemy’s tactics. Learn how to fight. Get good at shutting down the lies of your enemy—of God’s enemy—and you just might find yourself living a life beyond what you thought possible!

The Demonization of America
Is It True Just Because We Want It To Be So?
Toothless Lion?
Where We All Live, But Refuse To See

Posted in Christian Life, Christianity, Life Issues, Spiritual Warfare | Leave a comment