Could There Be Another Great Revival in America?

Bob Beltz: Preacher at Valley Mills Christian Church Indianapolis, IN click the photo to listen to the message (the message starts at the 14:56 time mark)

I recently listened to sermon preached by a great brother in Christ, Mentor, and friend. His name is Bob Beltz at Valley Mills Christian Church in Indianapolis, IN. His sermon was powerful and thought provoking at least for me.

He preached from Lamentations and really brought some perspective to the table about where exactly to look when evaluating what we need as a nation, a society, and as the body of Christ.

“Judah has gone into exile under affliction and under harsh servitude; she dwells amoung the nations, but she has found no rest; all her pursuers have overtaken her in the midst of distress.”                 -Lamentations 1:3

For the past six to eight years I have often thought of America as needing another great revival! What I mean is for those Americans who will readily and maybe even honestly claim to believe in God or call themselves Christians yet seldom or never attend church to return to putting God first in all things.

Often times these Americans will go most of their lives without ever opening God’s Word in the privacy of their own home. Somehow these Americans have fallen into the trap of believing that simply not denying God’s existence is enough to secure a spot in a place we all know as heaven. Not accepting the fact that it does not work that way.

I had often thought that if we would just pray that God would move in a way that brought about a great revival in the hearts of The Church in America then all of the wickedness and wrongdoing that seemed so overwhelming would be defeated.

The problem with that thought was that it was born and motivated by my own spiritual youth and naivety. You see, what I did not have a full grasp on was that revivals are what happen to the believers within the church, those who are actively working within the body of Christ and seeking the Lord. It is The Church that is to be the focus of a revival!

Maybe it is because I was raised in the 70’s and 80’s. Even then Americans were being taught that this nation was a Christian nation founded on Christian principles. Leading me to just assume that all Americans believed in God. At least that was the case in the Midwest where I spent a lot of my childhood.

Maybe I simply assumed that an American revival meant that many if not most would return to the Christian foundation that our forefathers stood on.

The reality of it all is simply that The Church, the body of Christ, are the people who need to be awakened. After all, according to the great commission, it is the responsibility of The Church to go into the world and make disciples!

“And He said to them, “Go into all the world and peach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.””                          – Mark 16:15-16

To simply pray that God would change the hearts of those who have not accepted His gospel and do nothing else in regard to our neighbor’s salvation is a complete act of deflecting our God given responsibility back on God Himself!

What I have come to realize over the past five or six years is that it is The Church in America that is sick. After all, it is fool hearted to expect people who have never accepted God, His Word, and the Christian life to live according to the Christian way of life! It is The Church, the body of Christ, that has become complacent.

The believers have slowly given in to the pressures of the world and compromised bit by bit. All the while convincing themselves that we are good enough. We sometimes still go to church and sometimes give our tithes. Verbally confirming that we believe in God and even Jesus sometimes. All the while allowing the foundations of the Christian family to be destroyed by the world around us without any effort to actively standing up and call sin what it is. I do not mean in the public houses, I mean within the walls of our families, our own houses and churches. While at the same time, our behavior in society does not reflect what we say we believe.

Somehow the believers, The Church, arrived at a way of life that is complacent and maybe even blending in with the politically correct mindset of the American culture. Most Americans who are Christians will immediately reject the idea of political correctness, however when confronted with an opportunity to stand firm on our Christian principles, we shrink back for fear of offending our family, friends, and neighbors. An example of fearing what the world will percieve about the Christian who is supposed to be about love and kindness.

The reality is that the believers in these “United” States of America have shrunk back. I remember when I first started full time ministry about fifteen or so years ago. There were some of the older believers in the churches that I was part of who would tell stories about protesting and picketing outside liquor stores and XXX bookstores which had been starting up in their neighborhoods. They had great success in shutting them down. People were also getting saved back then!

“Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.”

– James 2:17

I remember at that time I thought to myself, “that doesn’t seem like what God would have us do”. Even though what was being promoted by those businesses was not something that honored God and provided great temptation to sin in the community, I thought that it was a bit aggressive and might have given the wrong impression to the rest of the community about the church. Which is still the mindset of many church leaders today many times.

I look back now and think that I was probably half correct in my thinking. I was correct in thinking that it was a bit aggressive. However, I now see that it was and always is correct to stand up and call sin what it is! Maybe sometimes even when it is or would be perceived as aggressive. I cannot speak to the manner in which those older brethren took action were right or wrong. Only God will judge that.

I will however say that I think that I would rather stand before God and be corrected over the manner in which I stood firm in what is right or wrong than to stand before Him and try to explain why I just stood by and did nothing or said nothing.

I think that only much prayer and fasting will allow us to be in tune with the Holy Spirit as He leads us toward making disciples and bringing in the harvest.

If we would ever be able to surrender to what God is doing, we would be quick to repent, heal, and be made strong. And by we, I mean the believers.

I believe it would be the next great revival in the body of Christ!

We must seek the Lord. We must cry out for spiritual growth and strength to go into a world of wickedness and hurt and simply love people.

We must be about our Father’s business.

The Gaslighting of America and The Church

https://www.dailywire.com/show/the-andrew-klavan-show

I recently read an article written by Andrew Klavan that was published on The Daily Wire. In that article, Klavan is pointing out something that I have been pondering for most of 2020 and maybe even a bit longer. That is this thing called “gaslighting”. What is gaslighting?

To borrow an excerpt from Klavan’s article.

“The term “gaslighting” comes from a 1938 suspense play by Patrick Hamilton called “Angel Street.” The play, which became the movie “Gaslight,” is about abusive husband Jack Manningham, who seeks to hide the fact that he’s a murderer and a thief by convincing his wife that she’s insane. He does this by trying to make her think she does not see what she sees — the gaslights dimming — or hear what she hears — his footsteps in the apartment above.”

Photo from: https://www.dailywire.com/news/klavan-gaslight-nation?

The actual definition of gaslighting is as follows:

Gaselighting:

verb (used with object), gas·light·ed or gas·lit, gas·light·ing.

to cause (a person) to doubt his or her sanity through the use of psychological manipulation:

This type of manipulation is very subtle, effective, and dangerous. Often times a person who is being gaslighted finds themselves in a serious state of insanity or maybe even worse if there is such a thing.

As a preacher of the gospel and a committed Christian to the faith in which I have surrendered myself to, I find that a healthy pursuit of the truth is absolutely necessary for success as well as survival in this world. After all, the gospel message is all about what is true!

Having said all that, I will say that I find it very hard to accept that since before January 01, 2020, until the date of this writing, August 01,2020, that such a string of catastrophic situations would occur back to back or simultaneously.

It has only been a short seven months and we have and continue to deal with Presidential impeachment hearings, global pandemics, federal and local governmental abuse of powers, social unrest (some may say tyranny), as well as the relentless challenge of any authority, racial tension and riots in our streets, and let’s not forget the audacious attempts to simply erase the entire history of the greatest nation in the world, by force no less!

I personally find it very difficult maybe even impossible for all of these events and happenings to be coincidental. Yes, some are consequences of another, but it all seems to be laced with the idea that there is a “man behind the curtain” pulling all the strings and pushing all the buttons! I cannot bring myself to accept that all of this is just happening without some political agenda driving it all.

I do not pretend to understand all of it. I cannot even begin to start assigning blame or responsibility on any one group or individual as to who might be the puppet master’s in it all. All I know is that I feel that I and every other American citizen who disagrees with any left wing or liberal minded groups are being gaslighted as we speak.

As Klavan pointed out in his article, there are groups of people as well as political groups that are engaging in hatred and discord in an effort to gain leverage and power to push their agenda all the while preaching that it is me or “we the people” that are the one’s that are the haters and dividers!

We now find ourselves in such a position that any pushback or attempt to defend ourselves actually plays right into the hands of those who are attacking America! If I stand firm in who I am as a white Christian man who is also an American Citizen as well as a Preacher of the gospel, the fingers will immediately start pointing, “see, he hates everyone because he won’t agree or fall in line with what we want and believe”!

This scenario plays out in every part of our lives from debating about how we choose or not choose to protect ourselves from a very real and deadly virus all the way to whether or not a person will submit to the regime of the Black Lives Matter movements, Antifa, or any other Socialist/Marxist organization.

What does not seem to matter is what anyone really thinks or believes about any of it. There is simply a steady stream of information being fed to society by the government, media, and all the different groups of people out there. All of it controlled by “the man behind the curtain”. There is no discussion. No attempt to open mindedly understand each other. Simply all there is to remain is chaos and confusion.

Chaos and confusion are what the gaslighter wants. Division and strife are what the socialist/Marxist depends on. As long as the truth is not presented, the crowd is left to wrestle with their own thoughts of what exactly is reality and what is not.

Even when the truth is plain to all, anytime anyone begins to embrace what is real or true, the mob quickly pounces to shut it down and condemn the fact finder as racist scum and told to sit down and shut up, or else.

And because no one else in the crowd who also are being gaslighted, will stand in the face of the lies, neither will anyone else. It is evidence that the gaslighting is working.

The victims are afraid to speak out about any of it for fear of being accused of or maybe revealing to the world their state of insanity. Even though there is no insanity on their part. We are simply being told that 1+1=4. If we object with what we know to be true, we are smacked down and shunned from society and any connection to it!

The insanity lies in the minds of the mob, the gaslighters. They are the ones who have lost touch with reality. They are the ones who are living in a fantasy world filled with hate and discord and calling it social and political progress. Something that no one in their right mind would ever have thought would happen. Yet here we are. Here it is.

As an American citizen I am more than upset about all of it. However, because I am a believer in Jesus as Lord and Savior of all, I must consider the Kingdom of God first and foremost in all of it. So, what does that mean?

Well, as was stated in my previous blogpost, American Christians and These “United” States 2020, The kingdom of God is the priority. That means that I must be about the work of the Kingdom. Which is basically, loving God and loving people. Sounds simple right? Well, not so much.

I personally believe that we are to live the Christian life in such a way that we honor God in all parts of our lives. Good times and bad times. I believe that God has made it clear that there are certain moral and ethical truths which He expects the believer to stand firm on and not shrink back from anything that challenges that.

We find in scripture where the book of Hebrews calls the believer to persevere!

“But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.” – Hebrews 10:39

What is happening in the “United” States of America today is a direct attack on the very core values of the Christian faith! The very thing that the Christian is to stand firm on. Our core values are the foundation of not only the Body of Christ but this nation as well! We have a duty to stand firm on those values and beliefs, which by the way all are centered on Christ our Lord! See the letter to the Colossians.

Everything that the socialist/Marxist agenda proudly stands for is intended to dismantle the family unit as God Himself had established. All of the acts of the sinful nature which are obvious according to Galatians 5, are now condoned and promoted. At the time of this writing, there are some reports of bibles being burned in Portland, OR in the midst of the rioting in the streets!

If we sit back and say nothing. If we shrink back to our pews and pulpits and preach the “safe” message that the gospel is all about going to heaven and that what goes on in this world is not our concern, I fear that we will be in error at best. It is our responsibility to fight for the morals, truths, and principles of the Kingdom of God!

“your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”    Matthew 6:10

That is how the Lord Jesus taught His disciples to pray! His will be done, on EARTH as it is in heaven! We are charged with stewardship of the gospel! The truth of the word of God! We must not simply shrink back and allow the wickedness in the hearts of those who think the gospel foolishness, 1 Corinthians, to simply destroy what God has established in the world!

It is not a matter of winning or losing a battle against the evils of this world. It is a matter of standing before a Holy God who will evaluate the hearts of each believer. He will call to account the stewardship of each one of us when it comes to the truths with which he entrusted in our charge! Refer to the parable of the talents which can be found in Matthew’s gospel chapter 25.

It is about how much are we willing work in the harvest fields even when they were on fire and being destroyed by the wickedness of the evil one. After all it is those who take the gospel for foolishness who are perishing, again 1 Corinthians, who really are the ones Jesus sent us after when He said to go and make disciples!

“…The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers in to his harvest field.”              – Matthew 9:37-38

In today’s world, in these “United” States of America, the Christian is faced with a choice. Either shrink back and allow the gaslighting to lead us into compromising the gospel and the moral foundation that Jesus died for. Or we can stand firm in Christ and stand firm in our convictions, loving God by loving people. That sometimes means speaking truth in the face of wickedness and evil. Often times if not every time it means taking harsh and/or brutal treatment from the enemies, the mobs, the gaslighters.

Here is what I know for a fact. God’s word is indeed absolute truth. His morals and principles are indeed good and trustworthy. Jesus did indeed die and was resurrected from the dead and is now at the right hand of the Father in heaven! These facts alone should be enough for me and every other believe to stand firm in truth.

Archie L. Gilmer

Call things what they are. Trust in the God in whom we claim to believe! Do not shrink back!

Stand up Church! Speak Truth! Love!

American Christians and These “United” States 2020

As an American Christian as well as a Preacher of the gospel, I am not only troubled by the current culture in the “United” States of America, but I am challenged by the thoughts about what can or should be done. What should the Christian’s reaction be? What should the American Christian be doing in response to any of it?

First, I will make it known that I first and foremost believe that every Christian around the world should always be about the Lord’s business. The business of making disciples. In that regard, it should be business as usual for the believer. We should be about the work of the Kingdom no matter the climate or culture around us.

Part of the dilemma in my mind is not so much about what we are supposed to be doing as the body of Christ but what could or should be done as Christian Americans. If anything. I have some issues when thinking about how the American believers have always stood firm on the fact that the country was founded on Christian values by Christian men and women.

We have always held those Christian men and women as not only American heroes but also heroes of the faith as well. We celebrate their accomplishments as they literally fought for their and our freedoms as people and as Christians. We for so long, I guess until now, have been proud of the battles and wars that they willingly fought so that they and we could enjoy a nation where we are free to believe what we want to believe. As well as anyone else for that matter.

We look at the men who signed the constitution as great Christian Americans who courageously stood in the face of tyranny and oppression in a forceful way, yet we now look at each other and simply say, we should just keep making disciples and focus on the Kingdom work. Which I agree with. However, I cannot help but ask myself, what if part of the Kingdom work is doing something about the tyranny and injustice that is happening against our freedoms?

I feel that the believers think it possible for that to be part of Kingdom work because we are always saying, “we need more Christians in office”, thinking that it will help preserve our freedoms. After all, isn’t that what we have always celebrated in our founding Christian Americans? Yet somehow, we seem to act as though that should be some other Christian instead of the one looking back in the mirror.

Do we not proudly cry out that “This country was founded on Christian principles; therefore, it is a Christian nation!” But now, when the baton is handed to us, we seem to be silent. We seem to be relying on “the vote”. All I hear is, “wait till November”. Although I still believe in the voting process, I do not trust the ones who are to manage that process.

Whatever happens after November, I am confident that our current culture will only get worse. If one group is elected, things will continue to get worse, if the other is elected, things may explode socially! It seems like we only have a choice between letting the wind blow the fire even bigger or pouring gasoline on the fire to help it grow. It just seems inevitable to me that evil will continue to abide and abound as long as godly people sit back and either deny that it is happening or have the attitude that someone else will do something about it.

Yes, I realize that scripture teaches much about the world being in decay due to sin and the consequences of wickedness. However, I do not know if I believe that it would be God’s will for the believers to just sit on the side of the road and not at least speak out against the ways of the evil one! Our current culture has become such that anyone who disagrees with “the mob”, Christian or not, will be smacked down and shunned from society!

I cannot help but reflect on Galatians 5:19 “The acts of the sinful nature are obvious:…” All throughout the scripture, the prophets, the disciples, the believers, and Jesus stood up and spoke against such things, boldly! Which leaves me with one question. Why not me? Why not the American Christian in 2020? What is hindering the church from their zeal? What is it?

Maybe it is just me. Maybe I am the one who should sit down and be quiet. Maybe I should join the ranks of other Christian Americans and just quietly continue to hold church services and act like the ways of the wicked are not destroying everything that we once considered a blessing from God.

Or maybe it really is me. Maybe I am one whom God is leading to do or say something in the darkness about the acts of the sinful nature, which are obvious! Until now, I have been silent about the goings on in this world publicly because I did not want to contribute to the non-sense. Nor do I want to participate in the loose lipped style of sharing opinions and rants which have no use except to fuel the current climate. Nor would it bring glory to God and His Kingdom. I just wonder if I am the only one of God’s faithful believers that He would lead to follow in the paths of our American forefathers? Or am I simply mistaken about it all?

We Americans have this bad habit of falling into the trap of believing that the worst-case scenario will never happen to us. After all, we are Americans. American Christians for crying out loud! I think we would do well to remind ourselves of the problems that God’s chosen people, the Israelites, had each time they thought too much of themselves simply because God showed them favor.

I guess I just don’t see how we lift up our founding fathers as great American Christians while at the same time conclude that for any or all of us to do the same things that they did for the sake of freedom would not be the right thing to do. Last time I checked; freedom of any kind is always worth fighting for.

I will say for sure, much prayer and fasting is needed.

God help us all!

Who’s Gonna Fill Their Shoes – Spiritually Speaking?

While realizing that not everyone is a country music fan, specifically what is now known as the “oldies” in country music. Nevertheless, there was once a well-known country music singer/songwriter known as George Jones. He sang and wrote many #1 hits on the country music chart in his day. One in particular comes to mind for the topic of this blog post. It is titled, “Who’s Gonna Fill Their Shoes?”.

This song was actually written by Max Barnes and Troy Seals. Jones and his singing it made it a hit toward the later years of his career. The song was simply about an old country music legend wondering about the future of country music. Reminiscing about those who had come before him and participated in making country music great.

“Who’s gonna fill their shoes? Who’s gonna stand that tall?Who’s gonna play the Opry, and the Wabash Cannonball?Who’s gonna give their heart and soul to get to me and you?”

Those are the words of the chorus in that song. It causes me to ponder about other things in life, as it would with anyone else when reflecting on their own career or profession. Me being a Preacher, it makes sense that I would wonder about the church, “who’s gonna fill their shoes”?

In every church congregation, with the exception maybe of some new church plants, there are always those faithful saints who are “the older members”. These are the ones who have, because of their faithfulness, continued the work of the Kingdom of God over the years. They are the reason that the congregation even still exists! Some were there when the congregation first formed and when they built their first church house. Others came along throughout the years.

As a Preacher, I have heard many stories about the histories of the church congregation. Stories of how the men and women on the rolls throughout the history of each congregation worked hard and stood firm in their faith. Testimonies about how the gospel was preached and people were saved and how everyone loved gathering at the church and meeting together.

This past December, I was presented with a gift by my Father. I suppose it is sort of heirloom. I never had the opportunity to meet my Grandfather, as he passed away before I arrived. However, my Father handed me a bible that he and his brother bought for their Father. This bible was given to me for the purpose of reading and passing along in the future.

This bible also got me pondering about the future of the church. I not only mean the local congregation, but the body of Christ as a whole. Don’t get me wrong, in no way do I believe that the Kingdom of God could ever be defeated, die off, or even fade away. What can happen is that the Kingdom of God, the church, can, will and is changing generation after generation.

I still wonder, who is gonna fill their shoes? Who is going to be faithful in the work of the body of Christ? Who is going to be faithful in the work of the local congregation? Who is gonna stand firm in the doctrines of truth and bend like a pine tree in the wind when it comes to loving people? Are their going to be stories told in the future about the faithful Grandparents, Parents, Aunts and Uncles who walked the Christian walk in front of the children of the family which stood as testimony to the work of God in the local congregation?

“Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “ Here am I. Send me.!”

Isaiah 6:8

 

The Most Important New Year’s Resolution

As we all get back to our daily routines after New Year’s day, I would like to take a moment to point out that most of us are simply going to return to business as usual. This I suspect is much of the reason that resolutions ultimately fade away after a few months.

Sure, we all do our best to “try again” when it comes to those things in life that we believe that we are failing at or cannot seem to get any momentum with. I pray that we all can experience success or progress in our lives. However, I know from experience as well as from God’s Word that life is not always pies and ice cream.

The truth is, life happens. And as long as we are given life to live in this world, I would advise that we all commit to making just one resolution this year. I believe it is the most important resolution a person can make each year.

I came across this message, preached by Charles R. Swindoll. I will simply leave the video here for your enjoyment and pray that it will inspire us all to make the commitment!

The “War on Christmas”- Almost Laughable!

I, like many, have been hearing a lot about this “war on Christmas” lately. It seems that for the past several years, this topic almost dominates the social and even political conversations that go on in our society. Everyone from the President of the United States to the fellas at the barber shop is talking about how there is a “war on Christmas”!

After searching though the search engines of the internet to see what might be being said about all of this, and you know that what is on the internet is always trustworthy, I found an enormous amount of political debate about the meaning of Christmas and what should and should not be acceptable forms of celebration during Christmas, often referred to know as the Winter Season or Winter Holidays.

Since I am a Christian and a Preacher, I suspect that most would expect this blog post to be the typical defense against the attack or “war on Christmas”. Well, I am quite sure that most will be disappointed by this post if that is the case.

The entire idea of a “war on Christmas” is almost laughable if you ask me. Especially when looked at from the perspective of the believer, those who call themselves Christian. The Christian is a person who is confident in the truth about Jesus being the Christ. The Christian is a person who is sold out to the absolute truth about the birth of Jesus to the virgin Mary for the purpose of giving Himself as the sacrifice for the sins of all.

For the Christian, the responsibility and expectation given to them as disciples of Jesus is to show the World what God has done in your life. This is how the Christian is to be the witness. Many times in the accounts of the Bible when a person was healed they went everywhere telling everyone about what Jesus did for them! This is what it means to be the witness to the world for the Kingdom of God!

It is not the Christian’s responsibility to prove that God exists. It is not the Christian’s responsibility to prove that Jesus is the Christ. God does not need our proof. It was Jesus Himself that provided evidence to Saul on the road to Damascus.

It was Jesus all throughout the gospel of John that provided proof of His Lordship to the Pharisees and the rest of the Jews. It was God who raised Jesus from the dead and proved to the entirety of existence that He Is!

No, the Christian’s role in the Kingdom of God is to bring glory to the King! We do that by being faithful to what we believe about Him and His plan of salvation to all who likewise believe! Love God and Love people. That is what is to be focused on!

For the Christian, loving God is all about worshiping Him and serving Him as ambassadors! Part of that is taking time to stop and acknowledge that thousands of years ago, a baby was born as a fulfillment of God’s promises! Acknowledging that without this baby, who was God in the flesh, there is no hope for humanity as far as any relationship with our Holy God!

Too many of us are spending all of our time trying to force others who are not believers to accept our ways or traditions at Christmas. I mean, really! Look at Daniel for example; here is a man who was taken from his home, culture, and even an attempt to change his religion/faith was attempted.

Did he put out a bunch of news flyers about a “war on Christianity”? No! He simply continued to be faithful to what he believed about his God. Sure, he was ready to “defend” his actions, although I would look at that as being prepared to give reason for your beliefs!

Where did this idea of a “war on Christmas” begin anyway. Surely the rest of the world is experiencing the same type of social and cultural debates about Christmas and even Christianity. Let me suggest that what is now called the “war on Christmas” is indeed the same as what is referred to as “the war on Christianity”. This has been happening since Adam and Eve were lied to and gave into temptation!

The enemy, Satan NOT PEOPLE, has always been trying to destroy God and the ones that He loves! A few headlines in the news are saying that Donald Trump is winning the war on Christmas, and that we are once again allowed to say “Merry Christmas”. Other articles and blogs show that Henry Ford began a campaign against Christmas in defense of Jewish and other religious holidays being left out back in the 50’s.

As long as we are pointing fingers, why don’t we say that the “war on Christmas” was started by King Herod during the time of Jesus’ birth found in Matthew chapter 2. Or we could blame the King of Egypt who sought to kill all the male babies which, had he been successful, been the end of God’s plan of salvation!

As long as we are blaming, we would have to look at every person who stood in the way of or tried to stand in the way of the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus! This is why I say that this so-called “war on Christmas” is laughable. What is happening in society today is nothing new! God’s true enemies have been trying to stop His plans since the beginning of the world! It is a hopeless pursuit on their part.

Let me finish by pointing this out. The only real war that is going on is the war against the faith of human beings. The battle field is in the minds of each person, and the heart/soul be the spoils to the victor!

Therefore, Christian, do not be fooled by the ways of the world as those ways broadcast some absurd propaganda intended to lead everyone to believe that any one person or group of people have the power to change any part of the absolute truth about Christ! NO! Christmas and your celebration of it, is totally up to you!

Our President, the President of the USA, can publicly give society permission to say “Merry Christmas” or some other person which the world gives authority can instruct society NOT to say, “Merry Christmas”. It will not change how I celebrate Christmas.

I personally do not hold ill feelings toward anyone who does not believe what I believe about God. Nor am I offended by anyone who even protests my faith. No, I feel compassion and concern for them. No, it is not that I have no concern about others being offended by my actions, yet when it comes to how I and my household love God and love people, yes, there is a limit to my participation in the manners in which society seems to demand of all of us.

“If it is disagreeable in you sight to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves today whom you will sere: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”                                Joshua 24:15

Christian, do not let the world dictate what you are about at Christmas or any other time. The only way to truly have a Merry Christmas is to love God and love people in a way that honors God and brings glory to the Kingdom of God!

To Give or Not to Give- That is a Good Question

 “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”  John 13:35 (NASB)

Often times in bible studies and just casual conversation, I hear people bring up the topic of discerning when to give to those who ask. Usually this question refers to those who are seen on the street holding the cardboard sign which is intended to explain their situation. Other times, people will call or arrive at the church office wanting some assistance with something.

I personally believe that this “dilemma” is born out of a torn heart. Many Christians genuinely want to help those in need. I mean, if we are genuine Christians, then it would be in our hearts to show love and compassion for the needy. On the other hand, Christians are people and people don’t like to be taken advantage of. When it does happen, and it seems to happen often, it king of leaves a bad taste in our mouths.

Some respond by cutting off all benevolence to anyone, after all that would only be fair and safe, right? Others take the attitude that they will just give what they can always, leaving the receiver in God’s hands. Many leadership meetings at churches have been spent discussing this matter. Ultimately, churches and Christians alike really want to help those in need and minister to them, yet at the same time do not wish to be taken advantage of and allow some to steal from them.

As I address this issue, let me make it clear that I personally to not have a concrete, “this is what to do” answer. What follows is just my two cents. I pray that it is helpful.

First, we see in John 13:35, among many other places in Scripture that the Christian is one who loves others. In fact, that is how we are to be distinguished from the rest of the world. Jesus even taught that we are to love God and love others. I will submit that loving God and loving others is not something that the Christian strives to get better at and achieve, rather it is what is in us. It is who we are.

The Christian is one whom in the Holy Spirit has taken up residence. Even though the trinity cannot be explained completely, we can know that the three are one. Therefore, since God is love,

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.     1 John 4:7-8  (NASB)

and the Spirit of God is God, then we can conclude that love is in the believer. This is why the Christian has this “dilemma” in our hearts when it comes to showing love and compassion to those who present themselves in need. I think that the first point of focus would be with self. We Christians would do good to ask ourselves, who is making the decision as to whether or not a person is genuinely in need or not?

The question that we usually ask ourselves almost immediately is, does this person really need help? Or, is this person being honest, or are they just making up a story to get the help they are asking about? My not so favorite one that some have asked is, how do I know they won’t go buy drugs or alcohol with what I give them?

To 99% of the people in the world, it seems that those questions are legitimate questions. However, for the Christian, we must remember that since the Spirit of God is living in us, our approach may be different. I am not saying that it is wrong to think about those questions, however, I am saying that they should not be out guide to reach the conclusion to the “dilemma”.

Second point. I do not think that the Christian is “obligated” to give to everyone who presents a need. The scripture is clear that we are to help others when we have opportunity and the means. Along with that, I will submit that the Christian has a responsibility to be good stewards of that which God has entrusted in their care.

I do not believe that God desires for the Christian to be taken advantage of. Nor do I believe that God desires the Christian to be taken for a fool. After all, we are ambassadors for the Kingdom of God to this world. We must look at benevolence of any kind as an investment. An investment in the work of the Kingdom of God.

Jesus taught a lesson using a parable about a wealthy man leaving his wealth in the care of three men. Each having the same responsibility. Two were successful, the other failed. The two that succeeded increased the wealth of the Kingdom because they feared their master and thought to do what he would want them to do. The third, on the other hand, was more afraid of failure than the master. He did what he thought was best and did not consider what the master would have him do.

The same is true here for the Christian. The Master, our Lord, has given us His valuables. We have the responsibility to be stewards of that wealth. That wealth, by the way, is His love, the gospel of Christ, Salvation. This should lead us to the question, why does the scripture teach us to give when we can give?

I often try to insert into those conversations about this matter the answer to that question. At least what I believe to be the answer. It is two-fold really. First, but not foremost, the scripture teaches us to give because that is what love is. If love resides in a person, then compassion will rise to the surface. Second, and foremost, the scripture tells us to give because of John 13:35. The world will know the Christian because of the way we love.

As far as knowing when not to give or be taken advantage of. I often think about Acts chapter 3.

“But Peter said, “I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene—walk!”               Acts 3:6 (NASB)

Here Peter and John were presented with a man in need. It so happened that this man had a genuine need. However, they did not give the man what he asked for. Instead, they invested in the Kingdom of God by giving him what was most valuable. The result was that the crippled man encountered God and the world around them was impacted greatly by the witness! If you don’t believe me, go read it for yourself.

The point that I am getting at here is this. There are times to give and there are times not to give, that is when it comes to the things of this world. When it comes to giving the love of God, there is never a time not to give. For the Christian, the key is to seek guidance from the Master. “What would Jesus do?” even though that has become a cliché, it still rings true.

The letter to the Galatians instructs us to keep in step with the Spirit. That means that we are not making the decisions. I know, that is hard to accept, but it is the way the Master set in place. The Holy Spirit will guide us away from poor investments with the Master’s wealth, and make us aware of the good investment opportunities for the Kingdom of God.

I hope I have explained this well enough that you all can see that it is a matter of making disciples in everything we do. We help the needy in hopes that they will encounter God and His Kingdom, whether they are Christians or not. We help the Christians who are in need for the purpose of getting them back in the Kingdom work force, and we help those who are not Christians for the purpose of exposing them to the love of God! So, we must seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit when it comes to helping the needy in this world.

Oh, one last thing. God does not expect nor desire anyone to become needy for the sake of helping those in need. Give what you can, when you can. If you have not the means, seek the Lord for other ways to help. Peter and John told the crippled man, “I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give you.” Acts 3:6. If we genuinely have the Spirit of God living in us, then we always have something to give.

We should offer that whether it is received or not.

 

The Spirit of Christmas- is it really in the air?

““The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭1:23‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Over the generations that Christmas has been celebrated, many times the “Spirit of Christmas” has been mentioned, talked about, or even taught about. There have been stories and books written, even movies made about the “Spirit of Christmas”.

The question might be, what is the “Spirit of Christmas”? Furthermore, is it the same for everyone or is it something that means something different for every individual? I think you will find that there are many answers offered and opinions given, whether called for or not.

Since I am a Christian, it should be obvious that my answer to the general question would be that the “Spirit of Christmas” has to do with the presence of Jesus. After all, Matthew’s gospel points out that they called Him Immanuel, which means “God with us”. The presence of God is what every Christian should be experiencing even when it is not Christmas. For those who are not Christians, well let me just point out that God’s presence is always there, one only need to surrender to Him.

““Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.””
‭‭Luke‬ ‭2:14‬ ‭NIV‬‬

We can see in the gospel of Luke as the Angels spoke to the Shepherds about the birth of Jesus. Notice that they are promised that on earth there will be peace to those on whom his favor rests. It is kind of an amazing thing to notice. The peace of Christ being given to those who will notice it. Those who believe that Jesus is the Christ and that His death and resurrection were sufficient for the sins of man!

If asked, there are not many people in this world who would say that they do not want peace. Since Christmas is about the birth of Jesus in the flesh, it makes sense that there would be a keen awareness of His peace or His Holy Spirit during the time of celebrating His birth. After all, it marked the beginning of the fulfillment of God’s promise in chapter 3 of Genesis.

It seems that during Christmas time, after Black Friday, and the hustle and bustle of what the season has become in our society, on Christmas Day, everything seems to slow down. Most everything is closed up, many people are in their homes with their families and nothing else is happening but Christmas fellowship and eating stuff.

It is no wonder that many people feel an extra strong sense of the “Spirit of Christmas”! That Spirit of Christmas is simply the peace of Christ and the comfort in knowing that indeed there is a Savior provided by God! Only if we all could be so attentive to that Spirit those other 364 days of the year!

Now, I realize that not everyone believes what I believe to be the truth about Jesus and Christmas. I realize that Christmas for those, has some other meaning. I cannot possibly fathom what that could be or that it would have any real meaning for them. However, this is the case for many. I will say, the fact that there are people who do not believe that Jesus is the Christ and do not celebrate Christmas for what it truly is about, does not change the truth about God or Jesus born in the flesh. It certainly does not change the presence of God and His Kingdom in this world.

Maybe, the truth of the matter is that people all over the world are experiencing the presence of God , or the “Spirit of Christmas”, in a powerful way during the Christmas time, some realizing that it is God’s Holy Spirit and others completely oblivious or rejecting the truth. Either way, for the Christian, it is one of the best times to let the light of Christ shine brightly in our lives! After all, what a better time to be the witness than the time when many people are noticing what is referred to as the “Spirit of Christmas”!

Merry Christmas ya’ll!

“And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.”
‭‭Colossians‬ ‭3:14-16‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Have an Offended Christmas or a Merry Christmas, Your Choice

The Birth of Jesus Foretold

In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid,Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called[a] the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.” “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.”                                                                                                                                                 Luke 1:26-38

Christmas season is upon us and the birth of our Lord Jesus, the Christ, is the reason for the celebration. Every year it seems like time just goes right on by during this time of the year. We all are so busy with work and vacation schedules, planning for guests or traveling, and then there is all the shopping and wrapping to do. Each family do their very best to make memories and have the “best Christmas ever”!

Lately I have heard, as I do every year, others in conversation over singing certain Christmas songs based on whether they are theologically correct or not. What with the whole debate about the reason for Christmas going on throughout society and all the old family traditions which are always necessary, most people do not even think to consider anything like theologically correct Christmas songs or decorations.

When it comes to truly celebrating the birth of Jesus and the events that surround it, there is some importance to making sure that the truth is not watered down by fairy-tales and even family traditions. After all, it is the responsibility of the Christian to be the witness and continue to share the gospel throughout the world to anyone who will hear it. Therefore, it is imperative that the message be accurate.

Having said that, I will also say that legalism only leads to controversy and strife in any part of the Christian life. Obviously there is going to be some debate over just where that line is drawn between being theologically accurate and being free to worship and celebrate as one would desire. But what about that line?

Is there even a line that can be crossed? When it comes to the Christian faith, there is a line. I would suggest that when it comes to Christmas celebrations and family traditions, the line would be found at the point when God no longer is glorified in what is going on. Whether it is song, fellowship, meals, or even dress codes. What I mean is that if anything that is done during the celebration of Christmas actually takes away from what Christmas is about, then maybe it should not be done.

If any part of the Christmas celebration takes the mean of Christmas and makes it anything other than Jesus born in the flesh for the purpose of dying on the cross, well then maybe the Christian should re-think that part of their celebration. Many times the giving of gifts can become more important than what we are really celebrating and the purpose of the celebration is lost.

So as far as people being offended about Christmas songs, or even some Christians criticizing some Christmas songs because they are not theologically correct, I would suggest two solutions. First, to those who are offended by some of the Christmas songs, usually they are not Christian believers, so I would suggest that they learn about Christ and His birth. If those who are offended by Christmas would take the time to open their minds and hearts to what is happening, I believe that things would change for them. If not, well I guess they will just have to have an offended Christmas as opposed to a Merry Christmas.

Second, I would say to the Christians who are overly meticulous about the critique of every detail of the Christmas songs, or the nativity scenes, please continue to be diligent about your understanding of Christ and His birth! However, not everything in the Christian life will be “theologically correct”, there are some great Christmas songs which celebrate the time of year and the atmosphere that is created by the celebration of the birth of Jesus.

I will say however, that when at church in the middle of worship time, we should remember that we are there to worship God and therefore should be mindful about the Christmas songs we use for worship. So, I would say to the Christian song critique, you can have a legalistic Christmas or a Merry Christmas. Your choice.

The fact is that we all have our different ways of celebrating Christmas. As long as we keep Christ as the center of it all, it should be the Merriest of times for all. So, I say this to everyone, Merry Christmas and God bless you all!

Life is Short- You Do Not Have to Die!

Life happens. Not only does it happen, but it happens really fast. One day we are making plans for the future for ourselves as well as our families. It seems that we are keeping up with the pace of life. That is, as long as everything goes according to plan.

We all have dreams, plans, and maybe aspirations. Some have extreme motivation to chase after them, others not so much. Either way, when we get momentum behind our life’s plan, we tend to believe that life is good and we are on our way to meet our goals and desires for our lives.

Who we are and who we become in life greatly depend on the things that happen to us and around us. Also, the consequences of decisions and choices along life’s path. Let’s not forget that the people we choose to be around also affect who we are and become. Finally, our beliefs and worldview impact the course of life.

Generally, we live our lives according to the plans that we make and sometimes make adjustments along the way. Some are better at this than others. When life is playing out as we have planned, we say “Life is good”, or even “God is good”. Yet when these plans derail or seem to change against our will, we struggle to adjust. We tend to panic, stress, or even give up on the plan.

The fact is, even though we all have free will to make choices in this life, there are some things to which we have no say. Many people like to say, “no one has to do anything but pay taxes and die.”. I would disagree with that, no one really has to pay taxes. We have the freedom to choose not to pay and suffer the consequences. However, being born and dying are in fact the two things that no one can choose.

Really, only being born is what we do not have choice in. Many have chosen to take their own life. In that regard, I guess that dying would be a choice, although not usually an option for people. The reality of it all is, people generally do not get to know how many days will be given them, only God knows some things.

“Now listen, you who say,  “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “if it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”                                 James 4:13-15

It is real easy to get caught up in living life and fail to recognize the value of it. People have been living in this world for thousands of years. Each of them living the life that was theirs. All of us have been given life by the creator. God is the one who created life and breathed breath into man. Living our lives without acknowledging Him as Lord is foolish!

People these days generally live no more than 100 years. Most live to be in their 70’s or 80’s. Even though that seems like a long time on the calendar, it is not much time at all in the grand scheme of things. The bigger point here is that on one is promised another day. Life happens.

It is important that we all look at what is the most important thing. That is, what goes on beyond this life. What the Christian believes is that there is eternal life. A choice is to be made. Will that time be spent in the presence of God? Or, will that time be spent separated from God forever? The time that goes on after life in this world is eternal and will not change.

For those who do not believe in life after death, well then it is important to make good use of the time you have in this life. It does not change the fact that life is short. It does not change the fact that death can come at any time. Either way, whatever the belief is, it seem foolish for a person to ignore the fact that death can come at any time.

I am not sharing this to scare anyone or to be a gloom and doom kind of person. I am sharing this because it is important that people acknowledge that life is short and that we are not promised tomorrow. Maybe it will help us to slow down and notice what we are missing.Maybe it will help us to get off our hind parts and start living life the way God intended it to be lived! Either way, the opportunity to have confidence in the eternity that happens after this life is over is there.

Yes, the gospel. It is the most important, most urgent piece of information in existence. The message that all people have fallen short of God’s glory and need a savior to pay the debt owed to this Holy God. That message that says that Jesus is that Savior and anyone who believes that it is true can be with God for eternity!

“”Therefore let all Israel be assured of this; God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off- for all whom the Lord our God will call.””

– Acts 2:36-39

The bottom line is this; Life is short! You or I, or even all of us may not be given another breath. Are you confident? Are you confident in what you believe about life after a person is dead? If you believe that there is not life after death, are you positive? And, if you believe like I do, the Christian belief, that there is life after we die and there is a choice to make. Then I would ask you, are you sure that if this be your last day to live in this world, would you spend the rest of eternity in the presence of God or will it be spent for ever separated from God?

Whatever pictures or movies can be displayed about what Hell will be like, I will say that I do not pretend to know any more than what scripture describes about it. However, I will say that the worst thing about Hell is that God is not there, and it is a permanent situation!

Life is short ya’ll!