Life in the Whirlwind

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Late on Memorial Day evening, the Dayton area experienced the terror and horror of over 13 tornadoes of varying levels touching down. When the alert came on my iPhone somewhere around 11:10pm, my wife and I wasted no time getting the kids out of bed and into our basement. We prayed and asked God for protection on us and those in our community. We reminded ourselves of the verse in Psalm 56:3, “What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee.” We watched the news casters as they did their best to alert the Dayton area of the tornado activity. We were shocked by how close the tornadoes were to our home. Later that evening, we understood that one of the tornadoes had gone through our neighborhood. Obviously, until morning, it was impossible to realize all that that meant. Overnight most of our neighborhood was evacuated due to concerns of gas leaks as well as the powerlines that were down. Amazingly, our house along with several of our neighbors receive no damage, though we could see the damage beginning right across the road.

As we ventured out the next day to look at the damage and see how we could help, I was dumbstruck by all that I saw. The area looked like a war zone. People were in a sort of shock…we all were. It is devastating to see.

All this brings me to a several observations I would like to make:

Life is uncertain. For many people in our area, we never expected to see something like this. Even a good friend of mine said, “Dayton never gets tornadoes, Xenia does.”

Life is precious. As I talked with many in our subdivision who had been severely impacted, multiple times in our conversations we found ourselves saying, “Thank God for life.” Things can be replaced, but life can’t be.

Life is serious. Proverbs 27:1 says, “Boast not thyself of to morrow; For thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.” We do not know what the rest of this day holds, let alone tomorrow. We need to take life seriously. The Bible also tells us that TODAY is the day of salvation. If you have not yet received Jesus Christ by faith, today is the best day to do that while you still have life and opportunity. Furthermore, for believers, we never know when our life will be over. We should serve God while we have life and opportunity.

Thank God for His gracious protection on so many lives! May this crisis draw us close to God and to show the love of Christ by serving others.

 

God on Trial

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When you stop to consider the events of this Wednesday about 2,000 years ago, it is mind-blowing that the creator and sustainer of life was put on trial by His own creation for sins He had not done. In the late hours of Wednesday, Jesus Christ was put on trial as a criminal. By Thursday He would be hanging on the cross. There he would take upon Himself the wrath of God for your sin and mine. While all Israel celebrated the passover in Jerusalem, just outside the city, on a hill called Golgotha, Jesus would become THE final passover lamb.

About a year ago, I preached a sermon series through the Gospel of Mark. I thought that I would share the sermons related to the events of the Passion Week beginning today.  On this day, I encourage you to meditate on your Savior, Jesus Christ.

Wednesday—God on Trial (Keynote)

Thursday—Viewing Calvary (Keynote)

Sunday—His Resurrection calls us to Total Abandonment (Keynote)

Timeline of the Passion Week

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When Fire Falls

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Recently I was listening to a sermon that really gripped my attention. We live in a day of so many false realities. The world is in search for something is real. This message challenged my heart to seek the power of God on my life and ministry as opposed to pursuing pragmatic philosophy. I hope this message will encourage you in the same way.

When Fire Falls by William Maricle

More or Less

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Is your church attendance connected in any way with your spirituality and relationship with Jesus Christ? In an effort to keep church attendance from being a work for salvation, many believers have grown accustom to dismissing the need and obligation of gathering together as believers. They might say, “I worship God on my own.” “I just catch the podcast.” “I am in God’s Word everyday. It won’t matter if I skip the Midweek service.” To be clear, our salvation does not rest on our church attendance. However, your spiritual wellbeing does. Hebrews 10:24-25 says, “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: 25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”

Let’s consider some reasons why assembling with our church family should not be viewed casually.

  1. The Pattern of the Early Church
    From the earliest days in the book of Acts, the followers of Christ gathered together. This was their pattern. They did not gather three times a week, but daily. They gathered for teaching, fellowship, prayer, for the remember their Lord. This was a time to be strengthened in their Christian journey. It was a time to encourage and to be encouraged.
  2. The Relationships We Need
    Our society is quickly becoming a closed society. Neighborhood block parties are seldom. When we get home from work, we park in the garage, close the door and remain cut off from our neighbors. We order on Amazon. We pay at the pump. We bank online. Soon, we will pay for our items at grocery and retail stores through apps taking away one more human interaction. With headphones, people walk through stores barricaded behind their music.What does this have to do with church? The closing of relationship in society is slowly happening in our churches. Christians want quick, downloadable church. Church that does not demand their attention for long. It is popular to rush to the service of choice and then rush back into private living. We need the relationship with one another. Catching the podcast or live stream will give you truth to ponder, but it is completely detached from relationship that is needed. One reason we are not to neglect the gathering of believers is so that we can consider and relate with one another.
  3. The Stability It Provides
    Paul tells the Ephesian believers that the gathering of believers and the ministry of the pastor, along with other God called spiritual leaders, was essential to their stability. In that day and today there are many winds of doctrine blowing. Sometimes it seems like a hurricane of false doctrine. Yet, instead of gathering with their church family, many believers will settle to scroll through YouTube, download a podcast or watch Christian television. Wind tossed and discouraged by unbiblical teaching, they ask their pastor if what they heard was really true. God designed the church body and gave a pastor so “That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;” The great instability among believers today can be often traced back to a casual approach to their gathering with believers under sound preaching and teaching.

While many will argue that you can be spiritual without assembling with other believers in your local church, the Bible teaches us that we are not to neglect it for our own spiritual good. In fact, we are to assemble more as the end nears. So I ask you, this year, do you need to be assemble with your church more or less?

 

So…What about Disney?

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Disney and the Gay Agenda

Disney has been in the center of some controversy over its decision to include a gay scene featuring Josh Gad as LeFou in the newly released Beauty and the Beast (released March 17th). The opposition was voiced especially via social media and petitions. One of the petitions created by Life Site News gave the message to Disney, “Children’s movies are no place for promoting a harmful sexual political agenda, one that offends the deeply-held beliefs of countless parents and families.” The New York Times responded to this opposition with the article, “‘Beauty and the Beast’: Disney’s $300 Million Gamble.” Even the New York Times saw such a move as a dangerous one for a company that claims to be family oriented.

If any people wonder if this is a casual move on Disney’s part, it is not.  Bill Condon, Beauty and the Beast’s director, is quoted as saying the movie includes “A nice exclusively gay moment.” He goes on to share that Disney deals with the opposition by ignoring it. The point is, Disney has no intention of changing. In an interview, Condon was asked about his feelings toward the Bible and what he would do when he finds one in a hotel, “I wish I could say I’m like Ian McKellen and immediately go rip pages out of the Bible, but there don’t seem to be Bibles in the hotel rooms I stay in these days.” The obvious fact is, Condon has no respect for God’s Word and defiantly chooses to promote agendas contrary to it. Furthermore, it is evident that Disney will continue to promote whatever agenda is in vogue even if it causes them to lose supporters for a time. 

Nothing New

We must realize that this is not new for Disney. Disney has been a kind of Trojan horse, seeming to uphold traditional, moral, family values, when in reality, they have been doing just the opposite. During 1994, Disney opted to begin granting health insurance benefits to homosexuals. This move was a declaration of approval for the gay lifestyle. Their annually hosted “gay days” at their theme parks further confirms this. Disney has well earned the public reputation as a promoter of the homosexual lifestyle. 

What Does the Bible Say?

God designed marriage to be between one woman and one man, and it is honorable. Hebrews 13:4 says, “Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.” Nature itself reveals that this is God’s design for companionship and procreation.  Man will give account for every distortion of this sacred institution. (Romans 1:26-27, 32)

Shock of Bible Believers

However, even with Disney’s blatant defiance of Biblical principles, I am often more amazed at the shock expressed by born-again believers concerning the decisions of this and other secular organizations to promote anti-biblical agendas. There is shock over Starbucks not promoting Christmas on their cups. There is shock that Target would want to publicly jump on the transgender bathroom bandwagon. Currently, there is shock that Disney would take an old story, reshape it, and use it to promote a sexual political agenda. The list could go on, but I think you get the idea. We sometimes are stunned at the fact that the lost act like the lost.

A Secular Company and Biblical Values

This is what is most astonishing about this issue–not that Disney is failing to uphold moral values, but that believers are surprised at it. You see, the Bible gives us several truths about the lost that show us that they simply do not have the ability to understand or uphold Biblical values. 

I Corinthians 2:14 says, “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” 

Those without Christ do not understand Biblical truth and do not make their decisions according to it. We are reminded in Ephesians 2:1 that before salvation, we “…were dead in tresspasses and sins.” 

We were spiritually separated from God in active lawlessness and defiance against God. Every lost person is in that exact position of defiance against God’s laws. I John 3:8 shows us that they continuously sin and side with the god of this world—Satan.

“He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning.” While we all mourn the declining morality of so many in our society, we must remember that they do not have the ability to uphold Biblical values—they are lost. That is the job of Bible believers. 

Christians point their fingers at the lost and expect them to act like believers and follow God’s Word. They won’t. That’s why we have been left here. God has told us to be salt and light. He has commanded us to go and preach the Gospel to every creature. They will not stop acting against God until they personally know God through a relationship with His Son Jesus. That’s where we come in.  

May we as Bible believers be ever ready to share Jesus Christ everywhere we go.

Book Review: The Insanity of God

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The Insanity of God. An eye catching title, I know! When this book was first recommended to me, I have to admit, it didn’t sound like a book I would read. You can never judge a book by its cover! From the first pages I was struck with the powerful testimony of God’s guidance in the life of Nik Ripkens who sought God earnestly. Here are some of the lessons I learned from the book and why you need read it as well.

  1. God is a Rewarder:…he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6)
    Nik’s heart to seek God and to do His will is obvious throughout the book. There is a progression of growth in the author’s life that makes one thirsty to seek God also. By the last chapter, there a sense that Nik had experienced enormous growth in both the knowledge and love of God. It is time that American believers seek God in sincerity.
  2. God is Working in the Midst of Persecution: Much of the world does not know the freedoms that we experience in America. Persecution is a daily occurrence for many believers around the world. As Americans, we think restriction and persecution limits the work of God, but the opposite is true. God’s power is revealed in the most amazing ways in the most heavily persecuted countries. Persecuted believers in Somaliland, Russia, China and in Muslim lands are seeing God work as He did in the pages of the New Testament. Though we ought not seek persecution, we ought to embrace living for and serving Christ with same focus and passion as our persecuted brethren.  As Stoyan said, reference American believers, “I took great joy that I was suffering in my country so that you could be free to witness in your country.” He went on to say, “DON’T YOU EVER GIVE UP IN FREEDOM WHAT WE WOULD NEVER GIVE UP IN PERSECUTION— AND THAT IS OUR WITNESS TO THE POWER OF THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS CHRIST!”
  3. God uses Dedicated Disciples: I discovered that these persecuted believers knew by experience what Jesus meant in Luke 9:23 when He said, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” I was left asking myself, “Do I know what that means.” They serve Jesus gladly even in the face of death because Jesus is worthy. Reading of their dedication, I have no question why God used them as He did. Let us decide to be dedicated to Jesus no matter what happens. He is worth it!
  4. God is the Same: The Bible tells us that God is always the same. We read the Biblical accounts of God’s powerful works and conclude, “That was just for Bible times.” Nik  asks, “Is the resurrection power that the New Testament describes still real and available to believers in our world today?  Nik discovered that the God of the New Testament had not changed and was still able and ready to show Himself strong.  Our God is not limited by governments. He is not limited by evil. I was personally convicted of my lack of faith in the unlimited power of God. How we need a fresh realization of the grandness and power of our God.

After reading this book, I plan to recommend it to everybody I can, simply because it was a huge help to me. I am hungry to see God work in America and more specifically in my own community. This book challenged me not to get sidetracked by the thrills of life, but to seek to know Christ and the power of His resurrection.

Available on Amazon