Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,--Hebrews 12:1

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

You can run, but you can't hide!

Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. ~ Hebrews 4:13
Remember how Adam and Eve tried to hide from God in the garden of evil? Remember how they covered their nakedness so God wouldn't see their unclothed bodies? But God did see them. It mattered not that they were hidden and clothed, because God sees EVERYTHING!

Jesus sees us in the light. He sees us in the dark. He sees us when we do good, and...He sees us when we do wrong! Think about that...the Son of God, who gave His very life on the cross as a sacrifice for our sins, who loved us so much that He was willing to endure unimaginable suffering so that we can have a chance at eternal life in Heaven, Jesus Christ sees everything we do, hears every word we utter, and knows every thought we think.

The perfect Son of God gave everything so that we can live, and He sees every imperfect thing about usl But He still loves us! He still loves us so much that He is willing to forgive us if we'll only repent and place our faith and trust in Him!

The next time you think an evil thought, remember that Jesus knows everything that goes through your mind. The next time you say that wicked word, remember that Jesus hears even the slightest whisper that escapes your lips. The next time you find yourself in the act of committing sin, remember that Jesus Christ sees everything you do!

And when you remember all that, remember also that no matter what you've thought, what you've said, or what you've done, Jesus Christ still loves you and still wants you. He's waiting for you to reach up to Him. He's waiting to pull you out of the deepest pit and into His saving grace.

We will all give account for the wrong we've done, but if you accept Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord, His blood paid the price for your sin.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Trust God! Not Man! Not Yourself!

So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief. ~ Hebrews 3:19


Many times I've been told by people that God would never condemn anyone to Hell, because "that's not my God." It seems today that lots of folks have decided they can make up their own definition of God -- who He is and what He expects. I guess you could say we all have our own picture of God though. But the difference is, where does your picture come from?

So many today have nothing more to base their picture of God on than their own feelings, desires, and idea of what's "fair." God to them is whatever any individual wants Him to be. I guess, under their ideology, my God could be a goat or a pig or snake, whatever I decided He is. These opinions come from no Bible, no divine source at all. They come directly from the feelings of each individual.

But God handed down everything we need to know about Him in the Holy Bible. He gave us the very instruction book to get us through this life and to eternal life. And it's amazingly simple! Just believe! Because if you just believe, He WILL change you! You WILL become a new creation! You WILL live differently!

We don't get to decide WHO God is. He told us who He is! He told us what He expects of us too! What it takes to become an heir to His kingdom! It's ALL there, in THE Book! How else can anyone explain how the Holy Bible came to be the best-selling book of all times? How else can it be explained that countries, nations, kingdoms that based their laws on Biblical principles became the most powerful, most prosperous, most envied in the entire world?

That is...until they turned away. Because all those countries, nations, and kingdoms that became great while following God's instruction manual also became weak, powerless, and largely insignificant when they drifted away from Biblical truth.

Is it any wonder our own country is falling from grace? As more and more of our people abandon the Godly path for the ungodly? Is it any wonder that our nation is tearing apart at the seams, with violence and strife filling streets once peaceful and serene?

And what we see taking place today, with all the sadness and suffering, will be nothing compared to the wailing and gnashing of teeth that will be endured FOR ETERNITY by the hellbound who refuse to accept the gift of salvation! Ladies and gentlemen! For God's sake and for your own, don't trust what the world and our diseased culture tells you for the truth! Open the pages of the Bible and see for yourself! Read for yourself! Take God's Word for it, not man's, not mine, not even your own!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Resisting Temptation

Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. ~ Hebrews 2:18
The "He" mentioned here is of course Jesus Christ. He became a man to live among men, teach men, be tempted like man, and die a man's death. But, because He is also the Son of God, He lived a perfect, sinless, life. Then, also because He is the Son of God, He conquered death when He rose from the grave and ascended to Heaven. All of this -- His birth, His life, His death, and His resurrection -- God brought it all to pass as a sacrifice for US, so that WE have a way to attain eternal life!

Now, if Jesus could accomplish all that, there is no limit to what He can accomplish, including helping me and you. Because, unlike Christ, we don't live perfect, sinless lives. We're born imperfect sinners, every single one of us. I've heard it said many times, you don't have to teach a child to be bad. They're going to hit other kids. They're going to bite others. They're going to pull each other's hair. You tell a little kid not to do something, and I mean a little bitty toddler, and they're going to try their best to do exactly that! You don't have to teach them to be bad. Because it's our nature to sin from the day we are born.

Even after we've been taught right and wrong, the temptation to sin is there. You've heard "rules are made to be broken." How many people do you know who never stole anything. Even stealing a piece of candy is a sin. We're ALL tempted, and even if we know right from wrong, we ALL fall to temptation at times. Because of that, we ALL need help to resist that temptation.

We are called to live Holy lives. We are called to imitate Jesus. Yes, the perfect, sinless, Son of God is who we are supposed to model our own lives after.But we can't do it on our own. Satan is there to lure us from it. The devil is the one who tempts us, prowling like a lion, seeking to devour us. And it's hard! It's hard to resist temptation. It's hard to make the right choices and live the Holy life we're called to live.

But, if we lean on the One who did lead a perfect, sinless life, if we cry out to Jesus and ask Him to help us, He will help. He will help us face down temptation. All we have to do is ask. He will help us turn away from sin when we do fall to temptation. All we have to do is ask.

Jesus Christ is waiting, wanting to help every single one of us face down temptation. Every single one of us! He didn't die to save just me. He didn't die to save just the pastor of your church. He didn't die to save just one nation. He didn't die to save just one race. He died to save us ALL!

So whether you find yourself being tempted for the first time, or whether you're so deep in sin it feels like you're in over your head. Cry out to Jesus! He's ready and waiting to keep you from falling in, or to reach in and pull you out. He's ready and waiting right now!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Results of the Decline in Christianity in America Today

Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. ~ John 8:32
Folks will call the shooter in Louisiana a Christian because he wasn't Muslim. I don't know if he was or wasn't a Christian. But what I do know is that our government, our media, and a very large proportion of our citizenry has spent more than five decades doing everything it can to strip away the vestiges of Christianity in our culture.

This article from Pew Research shows the change in our population over seven short years, from 2007 to 2014, of those who identify themselves as Christians. In 2007, 78.4% identified as Christians. In 2014, that number was down to 70.6%. In a country with 315 million citizens, that means we'd have almost 25 million more Christians today if that proportion had not dropped.

Now consider something that may be immeasurable -- the decline in Christian values among even those who proclaim to be Christians. Whole denominations that once based their doctrine on the Holy Bible have now proclaimed that God's Word is no longer God's Word. Some non-denominational churches that identify as Christians also follow this path. Many of these churches go so far as to claim Jesus is not the Son of God! I myself have had discussions with Christians who flatly deny what is stated clearly as truth in the Bible.

Now, it doesn't take any imagination at all to realize that once the Holy Bible is removed as the authority to live as a Christian, then the definition of Christianity becomes to each individual whatever that individual wants it to become. This is the reality we live in today.

It's not traditions we're disagreeing on here. I'm not talking about whether or not we should take the Lord's supper once a week, once a year, or even at all. I'm not talking about sprinkling or immersion baptism. I'm talking about the twisting of the definition of Christianity so much that millions among that 70% who call themselves Christians don't even believe Jesus is the only path to salvation!

I'm not going to judge anyone's salvation on an individual basis. I'm not going to say that you or him or her or it is of is not a Christian. But if you define Christianity the way I do -- that a Christian believes Jesus is who He said He is, did what the Bible says He did, and meant what He said in the Gospel, and that because you believe all that, you acknowledge yourself as a sinner in need of salvation, and you place your trust and faith in Him for that salvation -- then you'll understand that MILLIONS of those 70% who identify as Christians do not meet that definition.

I don't know what percent of our population actually follows Jesus' teaching, actually believes and works to live a Christian life. But I do know that it's far less than 70%. And I know it's much, much less than it was when the targeted effort to strip our culture of its Christian identity began more than 50 years ago.

In no way do I believe that every non-Christian is a horrible, violent person who will go around wantonly taking human lives. But I do recognize the inverse relationship between the proportion of Bible-believing Christians and the absolute disregard for human life in our culture.

Evil has always existed. But as we allow our culture to slip farther and farther from the teachings of the Bible, from the very teachings that brought us from a pious but ragtag collection of colonists to the greatest country in the world, evil is gaining ground. Evil is taking over.

The crazy thing is, as Christianity in and its influence on American culture shrinks, the very ones who intentionally plot and scheme to eradicate it are quick to label every evil thing as its product. When, in reality, evil is stepping in and filling the vacuum they have created.

I pray to God that we will soon see another Great Awakening in this country. Not for my sake, but for my children and grandchildren, for all the kids coming up today. I pray that hardened hearts will soften, that heretics and false teachers will repent and bend the knee and choose to honor God. I pray that our children will recognize that as a Christian nation, as a nation that recognized the Holy Bible as God's Word and Jesus Christ as His Son sent as a sacrifice for our sins, as a nation that sought to honor God, we were a people who could let our kids roam and romp and play without the fear that every strange vehicle contained a child molesting pervert.

We could leave the windows open and the door unlocked without fearing the registered sex offender down the street would slip in and abscond with our kids. We could go to the movies without a thought that some nutcase idiot was there to take the lives of people he didn't even know!

This political movement that has for more than 50 years worked incessantly to remove Christianity from our culture has made tremendous headway. They sought to "free" us from the morality that Jesus Christ taught. Well, they have "freed" many. And now, many of those are roaming the streets and killing indiscriminately.

They haven't killed Christianity in these United States. But they've convinced a lot of people to choose another path. And now, when their efforts result in increased violence, they try to lay the blame on Christianity -- the very belief system that kept such violence at bay before they had their way.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Angels vs Angels? Does is really matter?

Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation? ~ Hebrews 1:14

Of all the times I've read the book of Hebrews, this verse never stood out to me before. A while back, I had a student come to me demanding that I back him in an argument with one of his peers. The argument was whether or not we become angels when we go to Heaven. I'll get back to what I told him when I close this post.

First, let me make clear that I often refer to Amanda as an angel. In my dealings with other bereaved parents, the vast majority do. That said, I understand that Amanda and all the others who have passed and gone to Heaven are not "angels" like Gabriel and Michael and the others in the Bible.

This verse from Hebrews clearly states that angels are servants of all who will inherit salvation. In my reading of the scriptures, I believe these are special beings that were never human. But somewhere along the line, we humans struggled to find an adequate word to describe our loved ones in heaven.

On earth, when we refer to a human as an angel, we are saying they are pretty much perfect. (Now I know that nobody is perfect, but you all know what I'm saying here.) The same way we tend to call people who are doing bad things devils or demons, knowing full well they are not actually agents of Satan.

So, when our loved ones go to Heaven and we say, "Heaven gained another angel," or we refer to our "angel" in Heaven, it's not necessarily that we believe they have transformed into an angel like those mentioned above. But I do believe, that once we ascend to Heaven to spend eternity with Jesus, we are perfect. Indeed, Hebrews 10:14 tells us that Jesus' sacrifice made us perfect forever.

But I also realize there are people, many people, who don't understand the difference between the angels of the Bible and our loved ones in Heaven. Which brings me back to how responded to my argumentative student.

His argument was heated and he was adamant that his peer had to change views and agree with him. But my response was, does it matter? Is what this kid believes about whether we become angels or not going to gain or deny him/her entrance to the Kingdom of Heaven? When he said no, it's not going to affect the salvation of the kid he was arguing with, I asked why he was so worried about it.

To me, this is one of those things that will be revealed in study as we get closer and closer in our relationship with Jesus. And, if it's not something that's going to keep someone from Heaven or get them to Heaven, it's certainly not something worth having a heated, hostile argument over.

I honestly cannot tell you what it's going to be like when we get to Heaven. The best I can tell you is what I've read in God's Word. It's a place with no tears, pain, or sorrow. If you want a physical description of Heaven, read Revelation 21 and 22. Aside from that, I won't attempt to tell you how it's going to be in Heaven. There are many who will and who have, but their descriptions are as many as their number.

What will eternity in Heaven be like? That's a mystery that will be revealed to me when it's my time to go. But it's not worth arguing about while I'm here.

While I'm here, my goal should be to allow Jesus to use me to bring as many as possible to experience His saving grace so that they too can be "angels," or whatever you want to call them, with us in Heaven. So let's preach repentance and a personal relationship with Jesus Christ -- Son of God, crucified as a sacrifice for our sin, resurrected and awaiting us when our time on earth is finished.

Time to Come Back

Well, after a year-long break from blogging, I'm back. While some probably wish I'd stayed in blogging retirement, hopefully at least a few will be glad to have me back at the keyboard.

I won't be posting as frequently as before. (Part of the reason for my sabbatical was that time spent at the keyboard was consuming time I needed to spend doing other things.) But I will be back campaigning to stop teen substance abuse, sharing the Word of God and messages that He gives me, and my experiences as a runner.

Please feel free to engage. I'm grateful when you share or comment on anything I post here.

Stay sober. Study God's Word. And keep running the race set before you.

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