When God Takes the Hard Road

Someone shared a dumb meme on Instagram that said God takes the harder route on purpose, to show us He’s so powerful.

Give me a break!

We are not dolls in God’s toy house. He doesn’t use us like some benevolent giant, creating horrific challenges for us to face just so He can be our Hero. Yuck!

That is not the character of God.

God LOVES you! He doesn’t bring trouble to show His power. Trouble comes, because we breathe. We sin. We have an Enemy who hates us. God is not our Enemy. He is our Friend. Would a friend sneak over and slash your tires, just so they could come to your aid and win BFF points?

NO!

That is not love!

Who would ever love a person they knew had intentionally hurt them, just so they could save them?

If it seems like God is taking you on the long and hard road to victory (instead of the short and easy one you imagine exists), guess what?

It’s because that’s the only way out!

God loves us. He desires good for us. His promises to us are for our benefit! Over and over He reassures us in His Word that He’s got our back. He’s on our side!

So, if the road ahead looks long and hard, rejoice in knowing God will walk every step with you—if you will put your faith and trust in Him. And, I tell you what, on that long and hard road He has already sent His angels ahead to prepare oases along the way, places to rest and be invigorated. He has already sent angels to post warning signs for every trap and field mine the Devil has laid down. He has already prepared His own to be there for you when you need a hand to hold, a listening ear, and a praying friend.

Folks, if you choose to trust God, trust Him. All the way. And, you know, here’s the truth: we cannot trust our own eyes. Sometimes, things look a lot worse from our perspective, and the Devil tempts us away from God’s sure path with the false image of quick fix. Don’t let your heart deceive you. Trust God! His way is the only way out.

God bless you today! ❤️

“Fear not, for I am with thee: turn not aside, for I am thy God: I have strengthened thee, and have helped thee, and the right hand of my just one hath upheld thee.” Isaiah 41:10 (ESV)

My Prayer for Hunter

Hunter Biden is a troubled man.

I cannot bear looking at his pictures. They are images of a dead man. They make me sad, and my heart hurts for him.

Don’t get me wrong. Criminal behavior must be prosecuted. Justice is always the right thing.

HOWEVER, this man’s need for Jesus is clear.

As I have been reading the news, I found an article that excerpted an email he wrote himself in 2018. He reminisces about going to mass as a child, and then talks about what happened at the mass for his brother.

He writes: “For the first time in my life [I] prayed to [not] just my dead mother and my dead sister but also to my dead brother. And for the first time in my [life, I] prayed for me-and I asked please let me be with you please let me know you love me please let me forget please let me come.”

I don’t know what was behind this email, and it doesn’t matter.

What matters is that this guy is not really any different than most of the men we’ve met through New Brothers Fellowship. He has a much higher profile, and much bigger budget than anyone I’ve ever met in our out of jail, but money and fame don’t make a bit of difference when it comes to Eternity. One day Hunter will stand before God. He will either be washed by the blood of Jesus, or not. The sin he has committed in this life will either be remembered no more, his record expunged, or it will be the evidence that seals his conviction and condemns him to eternal death.

So, I am going to pray for Hunter to be saved. I feel very sad for him. I am very angry at what he and his father have done, but that doesn’t keep me from being so sorry for him and caring for his spiritual need.

Below is my prayer for Hunter. Will you pray with me for him—at least this one time?

Dear Heavenly Father:
I am coming to You today on behalf of Hunter Biden. My heart is troubled for him, Lord, and that has to be because of You. So, I will lift him up and intercede on his behalf, because I know that You love him.

Lord, my first request is that You please protect this man from harm at the hand of others or himself. Please, protect him.

I also pray that somehow You would make a way for him to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ. Lord, I don’t think he is seeking redemption, but an escape. I pray instead he would have a divine encounter with truth. I pray he would be saved and delivered.

Lord, I cannot begin to understand his choices. I don’t want to know the things that have been done to him, or the things he has done to others. I don’t want to know the debauchery that has defined his life. He’s excelled at every sin on the list! He’s a perfect specimen of a life lived for self.

Yet, I know that his sin is not so different than mine, in that all sin separates us from You. We are who grade our sins against some imaginary scale, but all sin is equal at the Cross. All sin can be covered by Your precious blood. So, I pray for Hunter what I have prayed for many other men these past 16 years: please, stop him. Put an end to his running. Sit him a jail cell next to a New Brother, Lord. Let him be humbled, that pride broken, so that he will recognize his need for You. God, please, forgive him for what he has done. Bring him to justice, and bring him to salvation.

Oh, Lord. Please, give him one more chance to know You as his Lord and Savior.

In the precious name of Jesus I pray. Amen.

You Play A Part

You may look at some people in your life and wonder what they’re doing there.

[They may not matter much to you.]

Yet, the truth is you have no idea how important they may be to your future.

[Or, how important you might be to theirs.]

God is not random. He has a Big Plan, and it has to do with people.

The people…
…who always seems to show up;
…you can’t seem to lose;
…who rub you the wrong way;
…you see everyday, yet they are strangers to you;
…you wish you could know more.

All those people. 

So, don’t ignore them.
Consider them.
Reconsider your relationship with them.
Give them your respect.
Treat them with gentleness.
Help them, encourage them, and bless them.
Look for the opportunity to love them.
Pray God’s will for their lives, lift them up when they are down.
A little time and compassion matter.

And, always remember that no matter what you might think about their life right now, or the choices they’ve made so far, God has always had a plan and a purpose for their lives.

Maybe,
just maybe,
He’s been waiting for you to play your part.  

14 August 2011

The Believer’s Deadline

For some time now, I have been thinking about the absence of the fear of the Lord amongst Believers.

I think it’s a core issue that has caused many to compromise, embrace false doctrine, and fall away from right standing with God.

I believe we have made God into our own image; someone we can understand. Someone who’s thoughts are like our thoughts, and who’s ways are like our ways. We even think our thoughts are His thoughts, sometimes. Without seeking His Word, we go forward. It seems right to us, so let’s do it.

This kind of “faith” actually requires no faith at all.

“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6)

Somehow, the church got the idea that God was supposed to be approachable, and that seems to be the crux of the problem. He is not approachable, except through Christ. Only through Christ. We must come to Him clothed in the righteousness of Christ, cleansed by the blood. And, Christ is not something we put on and take off when we get to the church door.

“But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.” (Romans 13:14)

“And be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith.” (Philippians 3:9)

The God of the Old Testament has not changed, and He never will. He required great things of those Saints of old, yet we expect Him to be satisfied with our measly gifts today. We give Him our “extra” time. We yawn and watch the clock. We decide how much we serve according to what we’re already doing, not according to how much there is to be done. We give more time to entertainment, than we do to knowing Him. Sports scores clutter more Facebook statuses than Scripture references. We pollute our minds watching and listening to things that should make us jump up and run out of the room. Why do we want to be a part of glorifying that which nailed our Savior to the Cross?

“Who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed.” (1 Peter 2:24)

Friends, I have not written this to condemn anyone. I am not judging your choices, or prejudiced against your lifestyle. I am only concerned for the Body of Christ. The days are getting short, Brothers and Sisters. Christ is coming soon. That is not an inevitability that we just wait to arrive. “Why think about it? Why preach about it? It’s going to happen anyway.” No. We are missing the point, if that is what we think. Paul described this Christian life as a race to finish (2 Timothy 4:7). What runner ambles around the course, not caring whether or not he reaches the end? The Rapture is a deadline we are supposed to prepare ourselves for, and daily be working towards.

I love you, and I am praying for you. I pray you will allow these words to challenge you to search your heart. ❤

September 13, 2011

The Other Virus

I think this pandemic is the most insidious thing anyone alive today has experienced.

Almost 200 countries have been invaded by an unknown and deadly enemy whose only objective seems to be to infect as many people as possible. It propels itself through the airwaves, where it can be inhaled by any unsuspecting passerby. The remaining droplets fall and settle, unseen and undying, lingering for many hours or several days—surface matters.

Then, once landed or inhaled, it is secretly transported from one victim to another. And, another. And, another.

On, and on, and on it travels, disguising itself as a common cold, or it simply remains hidden. Out of site. Undetectable.  An otherwise perfectly healthy person has no idea they are carrying a time bomb, until it pulls its trigger. Within hours, its victim might be near death.

And, after a death as agonizing as one dares to imagine, it continues to multiply, feeding off its dead host.

If there has ever been any illness or disease with a character more like Satan, I haven’t heard of it. All disease is evil, and a result of evil, but no other disease is as insidious as this virus.

IS ANYTHING WORSE?

There is something worse. It is a sin that works in the heart, mind, and spirit, bringing nothing but death, if allowed to go unchecked.

It is like a spiritual virus, a sin far more dangerous than lust, greed, or hate.

It is spiritually insidious.

It invades our spirit, soul, and body, a deadly enemy whose only objective is our death.

It propels itself through the airwaves, Satan’s domain. It travels on the heels of the unknowing, through innocent words or deeds. The unsuspecting and unperceptive are easily caught in its trap, and quickly absorb its poison. It can affect anyone, of any demographic, potentially lingering forever in the willing.

On, and on, and on it travels, disguising itself as a knowledge or maturity, or it simply remains hidden. Out of site. Undetectable. Indiscernible. An otherwise spiritually sound person has no idea they are carrying a time bomb, until it pulls its trigger. Within hours, its victim might be near spiritual death.

And, after a spiritual death as agonizing as one dares to imagine, it continues to multiply, feeding off its dead host.

THERE IS NO CURE

It’s hard to accept, but there is no cure for this sin-virus. It’s hapless victims can only prepare for death.

A daily death.

Daily denying the flesh; dying to self; and finding new life in Christ. That is, life everlasting.

That is the only treatment. The only hope for Pride’s victim. Not a cure, but a daily application of the identity of Christ: a daily choice to live in Him. 

3/22/20

The Book with a Blessing

This is not a sermon, and not really a teaching. It’s almost a book review, a chapter-by-chapter survey. I thought it was great. Plus, it’s a book that comes with a blessing!

“Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near.” Revelation 1:3 (NKJV)

“Revelation,” from Amir Tsarfati of Behold Israel.

No reason to be intimidated by this book! ❤️

Living This Out

I know there are a lot of men and women struggling with sin in their lives right now. You are doing everything you know to do, being as faithful to God as you can be, yet there is a struggle inside you for freedom. Something keeps pulling you back into bondage.

Well, if you are willing to give some time to listen—and, you really do need to stop and pay attention, because he packs a lot into every minute—I want to encourage you to check out The Saxophone Player’s video series called Living This Out. He is posting videos about once a week, but you should probably subscribe and turn on the little bell, so you get notifications of his updates. You really don’t want to miss these teachings.

This is his most recent video:

Here is a link to the whole series. Be sure to subscribe and click the bell icon by the subscribe button, if you don’t want to miss a teaching.  LIVING THIS OUT!

Friend, you really can walk in freedom and peace.
God bless you today. ❤

God’s Appointed Time

Such a good teaching: “God’s Appointed Time.” I love God’s precision. This is not just a teaching about God’s timing in these End Times, but a biblical survey of God’s invention of time.

As so often they do, Amir’s teaching leaves me excited and looking up! I encourage you to listen and rejoice at God’s perfect timing. Be encouraged! The world may be out of control, but God is still on the throne and his plan has never changed. He is coming soon, at His appointed time. This teaching will reinforce your faith and challenge your unbelief, which makes for perfect message, if you ask me! 🙂

Proximity Conference
January 25, 2020
Calvary Chapel East Anaheim
East Anaheim, California

Speaker: Amir Tsarfati
Featured Photo: Calvary Chapel Tustin

 

Maranatha!

Sunday Worship: “Jesus Is My Lord”

This song soothes my spiritual aches and pains. No matter the cares and burdens I may have carried in with me, this song gently leads me into a place of worship. When I am worshiping Jesus, there is nothing else that matters in the world.

“Worshiping at the piano one day, this song started with the first stanza. The other two stanzas were added shortly thereafter. There are times when I sing this that I feel the Lord is so near. It is a very intimate declaration of Christ’s Lordship over my life.”
(Doug Gregan)

(Verse 1)
Lord, I love You
And I magnify Your name.
Lord, I praise You. Holy One, I know you reign.
When fear tries to overcome me
I will call upon Your name
And Your loving Holy Spirit will bring me peace.
’Cause, Jesus is my Lord.
Jesus is my Lord.

(Verse 2)
Great Redeemer,
Thank You for my debt You’ve paid.
Master, Savior, help me serve You all my days.
For I know that I was purchased with
The price that was Your Blood.
Help me take my cross and follow You each day.
’Cause, Jesus is my Lord.
Jesus is my Lord.

(Verse 3)
Hallelujah,
I’ve been finally set free.
Grace to glory, my God’s love is so great for me.
When I think of all the love
That Jesus has poured into my life,
I can only weep with silent, thankful joy.
’Cause, Jesus is my Lord.
Jesus is my Lord.
Jesus is my Lord.
Jesus is my Lord.
Jesus is my Lord.

 

“Jesus Is My Lord”
Words & Music by Doug Gregan
© LAMP Songs
Vocals and Keyboard, Doug Gregan

 

Jesus: Great Redeemer, Savior, and Friend.


*These songs are meant to be sung in congregations. They are registered with CCLI, however, we offer them to the Body of Christ free of charge—for the sake of congregations that cannot afford a CCLI license or SongSelect membership. So, if you hear a song you would like to share with your church, let us know. We will email you the lead sheet, guitar tabs, lyric sheet, and/or overhead master*. No charge. The performance of the song may never be sold (even as part of a fundraiser), but anyone may use them freely to the glory of God. (*If you lack printing capabilities, we will mail them to you.)

Sunday Worship: From the Epicenter of the Novel Coronavirus

Originally published by ChinaSource.

A Letter from a Wuhan Pastor

Brothers and sisters, peace be upon you:

During these past days the Wuhan pneumonia [virus] has been at the center of my thoughts and life. [I am] always watching the latest news, and always thinking about how our family and the church should face this.

As for family, I have gathered masks and foodstuffs and have ventured out of doors as little as possible. When venturing out in public I have worn a mask, but as for the rest, I have placed it in the Lord’s hands.

As for the church, the safety of the congregation, a faithful witness, the possibility that members could contract the illness, have all become a great area of struggle. It is readily apparent that we are facing a test of our faith.

The situation is so critical, yet [we are] trusting in the Lord’s promises, that his thoughts toward us are of peace, and not evil (Jeremiah. 29:11), and that he allows for a time of testing, not to destroy us, but to establish us. Therefore, Christians are not only to suffer with the people of this city, but we have a responsibility to pray for those in this city who are fearful, and to bring to them the peace of Christ.

First, we are to seek the peace of Christ to reign in their hearts (Hebrews 3:15). Christ has already given us his peace, but his peace is not to remove us from disaster and death, but rather to have peace in the midst of disaster and death, because Christ has already overcome these things (John 14:27, 16:33). Otherwise we have not believed in the gospel of peace (Ephesians 6:15), and, with the world, would be terrified of pestilence, and lose hope in the face of death.

Why do only Christians have this peace? Because of sin, humans deserve the trials and tribulations that come upon them, Jehovah says: the wicked have no peace (Isaiah 48:22). We were all sinners, but Christ, because of faith, took our penalty and gave us his peace. Therefore Paul says, who can bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. (Romans 8:33). Christians may with the world face the same tribulations, but such tribulations are no longer punishment, but a new opportunity to grow nearer to the Almighty, to purify our souls, and an opportunity to proclaim the gospel.

In other words, when disaster strikes us, it is but a form of God’s love. And, as Paul firmly believed, “who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger or sword? . . .  in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loves us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Roman. 8:35-39).

Spoken for today, Wuhan’s pestilence cannot separate us from the love of Christ; this love is in our Lord Jesus Christ. These words are so comforting for us, we have already become one body with Christ. We have a part in his sufferings, and we have a part in his glory, all of Christ’s is ours, and our all is Christ’s. Therefore, Christ is with us as we face the pestilence in this city; the pestilence cannot harm us. If we die in the pestilence, it is an opportunity to witness to Christ, and even more to enter into his glory.

Thus, my brothers and sisters, I encourage you to be strong in Christ’s love. If we more deeply experience death in this pestilence, understanding the gospel, we may more deeply experience Christ’s love, and grow ever nearer to God. Our Lord Jesus through faith experienced an incomparable suffering of death, yet God raised him from the dead, and sat him at his right hand.  (Acts 2:32-36)

If in reading these truths you still have no peace, I encourage you to diligently read the above cited scripture and call on the Lord to give you insight until the peace of Christ reigns in your heart. You must know, that this is not just an observable disaster, but even more it is a spiritual struggle. You should first wage a battle for your heart, and secondarily battle for the soul of this city.

We earnestly hope that you would know that not a sparrow falls without the will of the Father (Matthew 10:29). With so many souls facing pestilence, can it be outside God’s will? All that we are experiencing, is it not like Abraham facing Sodom, and Jonah facing Nineveh?

If God, because of a righteous man withheld judgment on Sodom, or because of 120,000 who didn’t know their left hand from their right, withheld destruction, what of the city of Wuhan in which we live?  We are clearly the righteous in this city, far more than a single righteous person there are thousands and thousands of us. Yet, may we like Lot be grieved over all those in this city (1 Peter 2:7), and like Abraham who earnestly prayed for Sodom (Genesis 18:23-33). You see, Jonah with difficulty proclaimed the gospel to Nineveh, and Nineveh repented and was saved. We are this city’s Abraham and Jonah. We must pray for God’s mercy upon this city, and bring peace upon this city through our prayers and testimony.

“I believe this is the command of God calling those of us living in Wuhan. We are to seek peace for this city, seek peace for those who are afflicted with this illness, seek peace for the medical personnel struggling on the front lines, seek peace for every government official at every level, seek peace for all the people of Wuhan!”

I believe this is the command of God calling those of us living in Wuhan. We are to seek peace for this city, seek peace for those who are afflicted with this illness, seek peace for the medical personnel struggling on the front lines, seek peace for every government official at every level, seek peace for all the people of Wuhan! And we can through online networks guide and comfort our friends and loved ones with the gospel, reminding them that our lives are not in our own hands, and to entrust their lives to God who is faithful and true.

The past few days I have received many inquiries from foreign pastors. They and the whole church are concerned for this city, even more for us; and confronting this epidemic, seek to serve the city with us.

Thus, I especially ask them to turn their eyes upon Jesus. And do not be concerned with my welfare, nor be agitated or fearful, but pray in the name of Jesus. Good hearted people are through their actions serving this city, especially the medical personnel who are risking their own lives. If they can take on such worldly responsibilities, how can we not more readily take on spiritual responsibilities!

If you do not feel a responsibility to pray, ask the Lord for a loving soul, an earnestly prayerful heart; if you are not crying, ask the Lord for tears. Because we surely know that only through the hope of the Lord’s mercy will this city be saved.

A Wuhan Pastor
January 23, 2020

Photo Credits: Featured Photo is by Bruce Hong. Photo in post is by Benjamin Chris. Both are from Unsplash. Thank you to them for the use of their photos.
Map Credit: ChinaHighlights.com