Saturday, January 6, 2018

Building a bridge to the future

In this new year many of us are pondering our lives and nurturing a renewed determination to achieve some goals.  Before one can build a bridge to the future we must let go of the past.  

13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended;
but one thing I do,
forgetting those things which are behind
and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,
14 I press toward the goal for the prize
of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 3:13-14)

Are you holding onto the keys to doors of your past?  Consider locking those doors for good and throwing away the keys.
* If you need to repent before God, ask for forgiveness, don't waste another moment.  Do it.  

* If you are harboring bitterness, unforgiveness, or offense, you can choose to let that go as well.  

* If you need to forgive yourself for some mistake or indiscretion in the past, do it.  It's only when we break the chains to our past that we can clearly see the future and be free to pursue it.

Once you've locked the doors, changed the locks and tossed the keys to your past, be aware that you also shouldn't allow other people to drag you back into your past errors.  If God has forgiven you and no longer thinks on your past, that should be good enough for you... and others too.

11 For as the heavens are high above the earth,
So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him;
12 As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
(Psalm 103:11-12)


Sunday, December 31, 2017

Prepare for 2018

The life we live is what ushers us into Jesus' Name.
You cannot just wake up and say, 'Jesus! Jesus! Jesus!'
Where are you coming from?

Your way and the manner you live brings about the things you see around you.  Your life reflects the fruit of what you have been sowing, planting and nurturing.   Is this condition satisfactory to you?  If not, think about the manner in which you have been living.  The life you live is what moves you into Jesus' Name - a life in line with God's Word.

reate time to meet God.
Meditate on Jesus and His Word.
Invest time in worshiping Him.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Valentine's Day - How does God view it?

A very sweet Christian mom said to me recently:  "We're celebrating Valentine's Day to the glory of God!"

That made me think..... Is it acceptable for a Christian to take aspects of a pagan practices, convert it to Christianity and use it to glorify God?

How does God view it?  

I have to admit that I used to have the same thought-process as this sweet lady.  As long as I'm doing it for God, it is acceptable. 

But then I started to get to know the Creator of the Universe better.  My relationship deepened and I developed a deeper desire to please Him - not out of fear of being lost, because my salvation is secure, based on Jesus Christ, and not of my own works.   No, my desire to please Him is rooted in the love I began to experience coming from Him.  It is rooted in the fact that He has called all believers to live holy lives, and I don't want to do anything that might grieve Him.  Most of all, it is rooted in the Holy Spirit's guidance on my life.  

God showed me Deuteronomy 12:1-4 where He expressly commands the Israelites to "utterly destroy" all the pagan altars and paraphenalia.  He further goes on to say in verse 4:  

"You shall not worship the Lord your God with such things"

I was stunned when I read that.  Is God saying that we shall not take images, items or any practice from a pagan practice (no matter how cute and innocent it may look to us) and glorify HIM with it?

I challenge you to prayerfully search the Scriptures and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal God's will to you.

Ask yourself:   Has God changed?  Is He less offended by His people embracing and "Christianizing" paganistic rituals today, as He was in Biblical times?  

We live in a culture that is immersed in festivals with pagan roots.  Unfortunately many Christians have become so entrenched in these festivals, that it is difficult for them to discern between godly and ungodly. 

It's a historical fact (just Google it if you're not sure) that cupids, hearts, exchanging of cards, and many other "traditions" surrounding Valentine's Day have their roots in pagan practices.   Is it OK to take these things, put a Jesus sticker on it and say: "I'm glorifying God with these things?"

Here's another rationalization that Christians use:  "Valentine's Day is an opportunity for us to share the Gospel and God's love!"

My question is this:  Hasn't God given us many other avenues of sharing the Gospel with the lost?  What fellowship does our light have with darkness?  (2 Corinthians 6:14) 

The problem is that when we start to compromise our faith by sugar-coating activities with ungodly roots, we begin the process of eroding our faith and character as Christians in such a way that others will no longer be able to distinguish us from the world, not to mention the damage that this compromise does to our spiritual strength and our relationship with the One True God. 

Every believer must decide for him-/herself whether they wish to participate in any pagan feast.  The challenge is to remove our own opinion and rationalizations, and ask ourselves:  "What does God say?  How does He view it?"   

2 Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them. 3 For the customs of the people are vain... (Jeremiah 10:2-3, KJV). 

We are called to be in the world, but not of it - not to be conformed to this world. (Romans 12:2)  We are instructed to NOT love the world or the things in the world (1 John 2:15).  We are admonished that friendship with this world is enmity with God. (James 4:4).

Is it possible to sugar-coat a paganistic event such as Valentine's day, by making it more socially acceptable, and think you can still remain faithful to God?  

Are you deluding yourself by thinking you can participate in a celebration by "cleaning it up" and by saying you are sharing "the love of Jesus"?

Is the so-called 'Christianization' of non-biblical, pagan celebrations an affront to God? 

Do these events cause His name to be blasphemed among the Gentiles? 
If you put a load of icing on a rotten potato, does it take away the rot?

With Valentine's Day quickly approaching, I urge all sincere believers in Christ who seek a spirit of discernment and intimate walk with the Lord, to investigate for themselves the horrific historic roots of Valentine's Day.  Look into the Roman festival of Lupercalia and how the Roman Catholic church attempted to replace this very popular pagan festival.  Today, even the Catholic Church recognizes the Roman and Catholic roots of Valentine's Day and has removed it from their official calendar. 

Consider, instead, to participate in a celebration that was instituted in Scripture, and is celebrated around the same time  -  Purim.

What do you think will please God more?   A celebration commemorating His Goodness in delivering His people and to honor His faithfulness throughout history and in the future?   Or..  a fun party that commemorates ritualistic animal sacrifices to a pagan god followed by a sexual lottery and debauchery?

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Scripture Memorization - James Chapter 1

I've been enthusiastic about Scripture memorization since my early teens, but lately I've become increasingly aware or the importance of being armed with the Sword of the Spirit - the Word of God - in my daily battle "against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places" (Ephesians 6:12).

I often get so caught up in the struggles and responsibilities of the day, that I forget that God has admonished us not to walk in the flesh, but in the spirit.  Although we walk in the flesh and in a material world, we are at war against a very evil spiritual world, and it is up to us to take authority over the situation and pick up our spiritual weapons of warfare, for they are "mighty in God" (2 Corinthians 10:3-6).

I've come to the realization that I'm not a very effective wielder of my spiritual Sword (the Word of God) if I don't KNOW it.  Hence, my endeavors in memorizing Scriptures.   Over the years, I've memorized quite a large selection of verses for various occasions and circumstances.   However, now I'm embarking on an even more challenging journey - that of memorizing an entire Book.   I've selected the Book of James, since the message contained therein has always been particularly inspiring to me.

I'm a very visual person and find it easier to memorize things if I can visualize it - with lots of color and pictures to help out.   So, my first step in tackling the first chapter of James, was to create a colorful Scripture Map of the entire chapter.    I printed it, placed the 2 pages in sheet protectors, and taped them to the cabinet doors in my kitchen.   

I invite you to download and print these pages here and join me in the challenging journey of Scripture memorization.   Let me know how you're doing, and feel free to share some tips and ideas to help anyone to memorize the wonderful Word of God!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Steps to Lead your Family to Jesus

Many consider the last words of Jesus to be the most important words.

Mark 16:15
And He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.   He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.  And these signs will follow those who believe:  In My name they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them;  they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover."   And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs.  Amen

When we read the last part it sounds like the Lord is working with "them" - the disciples - and confirming the word.   However, the word "they" does not exist in the original text, but was added by the translators in an effort to make the text more fluent.  Leaving that word out is perfectly appropriate since it is not there in the original text.  If we read it without the word "they" we gain a better understanding of what Jesus is saying:

"And they went out and preached everywhere,
the Lord working with and confirming the WORD through the accompanying signs."

The Lord works with the WORD and confirms the WORD with signs following.  Thus, it reiterates how important the WORD is when we try to win people for God.  The disciples themselves were not extra special people who were able to do special miracles and healings.  All believers are able to be effective, because it's not about us, but about the power of the WORD.  The Holy Spirit works with the WORD that we speak and will confirm it with signs following.    Paul wrote that it is the Gospel that is "the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes".  (Romans 1:16)

We can extrapolate 4 crucial points from Mark 16:15 (quoted above) and apply it when we have family members or friends who are lost:

(1)  Take authority over the devil  -  "In My name they will cast out demons"

Jesus is instructing His disciples to go out into all the world and spread the Gospel, the WORD and as they spread the WORD, these signs will follow them.  The first sign is that they will cast out devils.  This means that as a believer you must put the Name of Jesus in your lips, you must have faith in the Name of Jesus, and you have to believe that when you speak the Name of Jesus, demons are afraid and they will flee.

When you're praying for a rebellious child, wayward son, or unsaved spouse you must start here.  Take authority over your family member.  Jesus gave us authority in His Name and we do not battle against flesh and blood  (Ephesians 6:12)

This does not mean you must walk up to the person and speak these words over them.  Go into your prayer closet and speak these words, for example:  "Satan, in the Name of Jesus, you have no right to touch my family.  I place a hedge of protection around this person.  I bind all demonic powers, principalities and rulers of darkness who are affecting this person."

Jesus said, "whatsoever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven."  (Matthew 18:18)

We must remember that the God of this world is Satan (2 Corinthians 4:4), therefore all illness, disease, natural disaster or calamity is from Satan, not of God.   God IS sovereign and all-powerful, however He has allowed Satan control over this world for a period of time and then there WILL BE an accounting - a Day of Judgment.  In the meantime, we are battling the god of this world and his wicked spiritual beings.  But God has given us the tools and armor to fight this war  -  Ephesians 6.

(2)  Pray in the Spirit  -  "They will speak with new tongues"

Remember when you pray, not to ask for things that God has told YOU to do.  Do you ask God to remove the hornet that flew into your house, or do you take up a broom and shoo the thing out yourself?

Paul said that "he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries."  (1 Corinthians 14:2)    The human heart is a mystery and we cannot always know what the exact reason is a person will not accept Jesus.  We cannot know what is hindering that person from hearing and accepting the Word - the Good News of salvation.    Praying in our own language covers the known stuff, but praying in the spirit covers the unknown stuff - the things that are mysteries to us. 

The most effective prayer is the one that is in the spirit, because it removes the pride of the petitioner, as well as their preconceived notions and judgments.   

Therefore, pray once in your own language and pray in the spirit from that point forward.  God is not deaf that you need to repeat the same petition over and over again, begging Him to do something.  As a Christian, you are not praying to a stick or stone, you are praying to the Living God, who hears your prayer.  Next time your family member is on your mind, you could say, "Praise God, You've already heard my prayer and I don't have to keep on asking for it ..."  and then proceed to pray in the spirit so that the "Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.  Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God."  (Romans 8:26-27)  Every time you pray in the spirit you can be assured that you are praying the will of God.

If you've been praying over and over and over again for the salvation of a person and it's not happening, your prayer is ineffective.  It should tell you that you're missing something.   Have you considered praying in the spirit and allowing the Spirit to intercede on your behalf?

(3)  Be Bold  -  " the will take up serpents, and if they drink anything deadly it will by no means hurt them."

Paul encountered a deadly viper when he was shipwrecked on Malta.  The natives first thought he must be a murderer and that justice has been done by the viper, but when he just "shook off the creature into the fire and suffered no harm", "they changed their minds and said that he was a god."  (Acts 28:1-6)
Be bold and not fearful.  Boldness is an essential key to receiving from God.  It does not mean that you should be brass, or loud, or arrogant.   It also does not mean you should go out and pick up snakes, drink poison and do other daring things.  It does mean that we should not be fearful or hesitant to speak when we have an opportunity to speak.  When we do speak, however, let it be in a loving, kind and positive manner.  The Good News of the Gospel is "GOOD NEWS", and we should be able to convey that positive and wonderful message to others.

Paul, the most bold of all the apostles, prayed many times for boldness.  (Ephesians 3:12, Acts 4:29)

(4)  Heal  -  "They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover."
Use every opportunity to show the healing power of God by laying hands on the sick.   Why do we have power over sickness?   Because the Gospel says that Jesus is the only One who was born sinless, He died for sin and He took away sin along with the consequences of sin, which is sickness, poverty and eternal death.

God may answer your prayer and bring about your sincere petition for the salvation of another person in numerous ways.  He might just give you the opportunity to heal them when they are sick.  It's just a matter of time for one of your family members, or persons you are interceding for, to get sick.  If you lay the ground work, steps 1-3 very well, when that opportunity comes, you will be able to act with confidence and lay hands on them.


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Fathers and Sons/ Father and Family

A few years ago when attending the ENOCH home schooling conference we discovered the Alert Cadets which is a wonderful organization with the aim of "Assisting fathers to win and keep the hearts of their 8-17 year old sons". A father and his son(s) work through the Basic Training Manual, on completion of which they can apply for membership and order their uniforms. This Basic Training Manual involves activities the father and son(s) do together like establish regular physical exercises to cultivate a healthy body and an active lifestyle, regular Bible reading, scripture meditation and memorization and spiritual journaling - all of which cultivate a strong and healthy relationship with our Creator and Savior under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Also promoted is undertaking service projects - helping others where needed to help us be less selfish and show others the love of God.

I believe this involvement in the Alert Cadet movement is helping me also to grow more and more into the role of the priest of our house. I believe God is busy doing a great work in us, helping me to become the father and husband my family and wife needs and I desire to be for them. My family and their relationship with the LORD is important and I am rising to the challenge with the help of our heavenly Father. It also goes hand in hand with another life-changing experience we've had when we've had the pleasure of attending a teaching by Sam Bakther John, the president of the Timothy Program International in India. He taught on family from the Hebrew perspective and this is a topic that I will discuss in one or more blog entries soon to follow. I am enrolled in this program developed by Dr. Karl Coke and through it God has begun something very exciting in our lives and we also thank God for these two great men as well as for Pastor Edwin Felicie from Jackson, NJ who is leading a monthly Bible study to expound on and reinforce the teachings contained in this course.

I have also recently bought a copy of the wonderful book "Raising a Modern Day Knight" by Robert Lewis, which was strongly recommended by some of the other fathers in the Alert Cadet Unit and which I can also now not recommend strongly enough. This book is truly inspiring and I became so excited that I just had to read some passages to my wife but in some cases I couldn't finish doing so without becoming emotional. I know that I will have to read and re-read this inspired and inspiring book, allowing God to work in me to the advantage of my son and my relationship with him. I want to set an example to him of what a godly man is so that he can grow up and follow this example and I also want to set an example to my two daughters of what they should be looking for in a man.

In this book four characteristics of what a godly man is, are given by contrasting the first Adam with the last Adam (Jesus Christ):
  • Rejecting passivity
  • Accepting responsibility
  • Leading courageously
  • Expecting and working for the greater reward
These characteristics fit in very well with the goals of the Alert Cadet movement. Just knowing these four points is not enough, though. You just have to get the book, read it and apply the principles it expounds for yourself. May God bless you on this journey that will help transform our society for the better by producing godly men who will show themselves, their sons and families and the world what it means to be a real man and father as God intended.


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Free Hebrew Consonants Poster

As a family we've recently started learning Hebrew together.  We have a desire to learn more about God's language as we study His Word.  We started by learning the Hebrew consonants.   We found a nice song on You Tube (see below) to help us, and especially the kids, identify and remember the letters.  I created a poster to go along with the song and you can download it here for free.