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Archive for January, 2014

The moment our feet hit the floor in the morning we have the freedom to make choices. Every day, from morning ‘til we pull the covers under our chin at night, we make countless choices.

We choose our attire for the day—physically, mentally and spiritually. Every time you interact with another person on the planet, you choose your course of behavior. The problem with this statement is we’ve allowed ourselves to be desensitized to the fact we are making choices.

I’ll give you an example. Mom and Dad are seated in front of HDTV with their thirteen year old daughter and fifteen year old son. What should be an X-rated soap opera covers the screen and they all sit and watch the entire program.

Mom thinks, these are things the kids probably shouldn’t be seeing and hearing. But quickly shuts that voice off and counters, they probably hear much worse than this at school. And dad sits in silence too. Watching the garbage week after week after week. And we wonder why daughter and son think it’s okay to choose to have sex, drugs, and alcohol with whomever they choose, whenever the urge manifests.

And Dad and Mom, you’ve taught them by your silence.

I laid in bed this morning, talking to the Lord about the state of our nation. Thinking how we’ve just recognized Sanctity of Life Sunday, at least some churches did. My heart and mind mourned over the catastrophic numbers of precious infants murdered—ripped from the safety of their mother’s wombs—under the guise of choice.

And the Spirit convicted my heart—you’re lukewarm!

I gasped and my heart shattered. Lukewarm? Me?

Right!

And so are you brothers and sisters in Christ.

We’ve lived with this abomination so long we’ve become desensitized to the horrific nature of this crime. We’ve grown calloused and accustomed to politically correct, inane words like, A woman’s right to choose.

Each woman, and man, does have the right to choose—whether to clothe themselves in provocative attire that stimulates the opposite sex. The choice to engage in behavior that arouses fiery passions in another. The choice to take what God calls holy and make the union profane. Yes, each person involved makes that decision. That choice.

What the woman or man does not have the right to do is choose the consequences of their choice. Only God does. And the consequence is very often a baby. Not a fetus. A flesh and blood replica of themselves. With their DNA. Their features. And their reaction very often is murder. Getting rid of the evidence of the sin.

And church, we’ve approved this gross infanticide by our silence.

My heart is twisted and wrung out this morning over my failure to pray daily for those on the front-lines of this battle. My failure to financially support Christian pregnancy centers, not just on Sanctity of Life Sunday. My lukewarm attitude and failure to support single moms who choose to give birth and life to their precious babies.

But our far greater sin is going into the voting booth, election after election, and pulling the lever for candidates we know support abortion. You can salve your conscience by calling it choice, but you know in your heart, abortion is the reaction to the consequences of a wrong choice made months before.

God says:

“Innocent blood will not be shed in the midst of your land which the Lord your God gives you as an inheritance, and blood-guiltiness be on you…you shall purge the blood of the innocent from Israel, that it may go well with you” (Deuteronomy 19:10-13 NAS).

Well Americans, could it be abortion is one of the reasons it’s not going well with our nation?

“There are six things which the Lord hates, yes, seven which are an abomination to Him: Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that run rapidly to evil, a false witness who utters lies, and one who spreads strife among brothers” (Proverbs 6:16-19 NAS).

America is in trouble! We have slaughtered well over fifty-five million innocent babies. And a disturbing statistic is the percentage of Christian women who have believed the lie of Satan and have themselves aborted babies.

Let me be quick to say abortion is not the unforgivable sin. That’s why Jesus had to die. And all of us have pushed that painful crown of thorns into His head. Caused those nails to be hammered into His hands and feet. That sword to be thrust in His side. He bled and died. For us.

God forgives our sin when we come to Him, through the blood of Christ, repenting and confessing and asking for His forgiveness.
So who better to lead the fight than those who know the lifelong consequences abortion brings and have come through the blood of Jesus love and grace into life?

Let their be no mistake, when we allow ourselves to be lulled unaware and unconscious to the screams of millions of tortured, murdered babies—we’ve become lukewarm.

It’s long past time to tear off the rags of complacency. This is a vicious battle and we must recognize the few are manipulating the majority. We can no longer hope someone else will do the work. They haven’t. You. Me. We must shine the light of God’s truth on the lie of choice.

Abortion isn’t a choice. Abortion is a reaction to the consequence of a previously made wrong choice.

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A LINE IN THE SAND.

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The Sentinental Star’s headline screamed: EXECUTIVE ORDER SIGNED. JEWS TO DIE. EXECUTION DATE: THIRTEENTH DAY OF THE TWELVETH MONTH. Seizure of property and possessions. Commander –in-Chief and VP sit down to drink. City in confusion.

How would you react? Would this order have crossed your line in the sand?

If you are a Jew, what must you do?

Mordecai tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and ashes, walked downtown, wailing loudly and bitterly in front of the Citadel.

Think about the citizens of Susa. Some of the condemned folks were their neighbors. Their friends. Some taught their children in school. And some were local bankers and shopkeepers. The order was law. This was real. There was no recourse. People were going to die—all Jews from Ethiopia to India.

Unknown to the Commander-in-Chief, his wife was a Jew. The question of her nationality had never been discussed.

But Mordecai knew. And he refused to be silent.

Imagine the sound of weeping and wailing throughout the city, and the pandemonium. Or perhaps the Gentiles said nothing.

If you turned on TV tonight and a similar executive order had been signed into law, what would you do? It’s not beyond the realm of possibility—remember the Crusades? Remember Hitler? And in Joel 3:1-2, the prophet talks about a time just before the Day of the Lord when God tells us He will bring Judah and Jerusalem again into captivity.

Does the Church today have a heart to weep? A heart to fast? A heart to wail and put on sackcloth? Have we forgotten how to seek God’s face as a congregation? Or will we sit, like those German Christians, turning up the organ’s volume and singing louder so we don’t hear their screams?

Susa’s Secret Service kept the public away from the royal family. So Hadassah sent a servant to Mordecai, asking what was wrong.
Mordecai sent her a copy of the morning news and ordered her to intervene with her husband. He sent this message:

“Do not imagine that you can escape any more than all the Jews. For if you remain silent…relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place … and who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:13-14 NAS).

Yes, Queen Esther sent word back to her uncle, asking him to assemble all the Jews in Susa and to fast for her for three days and nights. She and her maidens were going to fast also. And then she uttered those courageous words:

“And thus I will go in to the king which is notDSCF4320 according to the law; and if I perish, I perish” (Esther 4:16 NAS).

Christians what will it take to break our hard hearts? How much worse is it going to have to get before all of God’s people fast and pray for our nation? Yes, Jesus is coming, but it’s going to get real nasty on planet earth before that event. And we are to be standing firm, making disciples ‘til He comes, not hiding in the shadows, hoping not to be noticed.

God tells us in those last days all nations will rise up against Israel. America’s current leaders are well down the path of turning against Israel. One swipe of the pen could end that relationship and place our nation under God’s curse:

“And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee—” (Genesis 12:3 KJV).

In the final chapters of the Book of Esther, we see how God answered His people when they humbled themselves and fasted before Him. And how those who cursed the Jews were indeed cursed.

Whatever experiences God has allowed in your life have brought you “to such a time as this.” Will you remain silent? Or will you speak up, imploring the King’s favor for His people? Have you contemplated your line in the sand? Will you be courageous enough to stand firm in the principles of God’s Word? Drawing that line and agreeing with Esther, “If I perish, I perish.”

“And by smooth words he will turn to godlessness those who act wickedly toward the covenant, but the people who know their God will display strength and take action” (Daniel 11:33 NAS).

Next week: The rest of the story.

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The aroma of scrumptious filled the house. Crispy southern fried chicken, mashed potatoes slathered with a glob of real butter, sliced tomatoes fresh from the garden, and just picked green beans, cooked with ham hocks, onions and garlic, hollered “Let’s eat.” The oven timer chimed and buttermilk biscuits popped lighter ‘n a cloud from the oven, waitin’ to be doused with butter, honey and gobbled up.

Yuuummmie!

Even without a picture, I bet your taste buds are dancing a jig. Why? Because you’ve tasted these things and you know they’re good. Delicious comfort food. Pass your plate for seconds. And did I mention homemade chocolate-ice-box pie with a steaming cup of Texas Pecan coffee topped with a dollop of whipped cream for dessert?

Bet if I phoned and asked you for supper, you’d be here in a flash. Yet, when the Sovereign God of the Universe invites us to dine with Him, we have a million excuses. We’re too busy. We’re too tired. The kids are screaming. The ball game’s on. How about tomorrow?

The feast at His table provides wisdom and knowledge. And every bite brings peace and joy. While my chicken and biscuits just pack on the pounds.

But did you know that’s why so many in the church are floundering, caught up in deceptive lies, because they’ve not tasted the Word of God. They have no appetite or understanding of the satisfying, comforting, delightful things God promises.

Scripture invites us, “O taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8 NAS).

We’ve seen Jesus change folks lives. And we’ve watched Him change their families and their eternal destination. Like new babes, they slurp up the truths of the Word, love people (even those who are unlovely), and are full of joy.

But most of us just don’t like change. The voice of deception whispers That guy’s a fanatic. Do you want to be like him? It’s okay to go to church, even sing a little, but get just enough to keep the fire from lickin’ your boots.

We sit, week after week, in the same seat, dozing, or clicking off the list of whatever we’re going to do that afternoon. Not listening. Not growing. And not a chance the fresh wind and fire of the Spirit will sweep through hard hearts, lighting the flame of revival.

Content with sitting and half-hearing whatever the preachers or teachers say, we set ourselves up for spiritual ptomaine poisoning. Because we haven’t studied the truth for ourselves.

Jesus promises to him that hears, more shall be given, like a child learning to stack blocks. In the beginning they can’t stack one on top of another, but the child learns to build a tower. We are to study God’s Word, learn who He is and what He says, in order to build a tower of faith in Him—from faith, to faith, to faith.

But many in the pew on Sunday never open the Book during the week.

In the fourth chapter of Mark, Jesus speaks at great length on the subject of hearing the Word. (Mark 4:1-22 NAS). The disciple relays Jesus warning about hearing the word, not paying attention, and Satan gobbling up what has been sown and tossing it away.

Jesus warns: “He who has ears to hear, let him hear” (Mark 4:9 NAS). “If any man has ears to hear, let him hear. Take care what you listen to. By your standard of measure it shall be measured to you; and more shall be given you besides. For whoever has, to him shall more be given; and whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him” (Mark 4:23-24 NAS).

Remember this chapter is about listening to the Word and letting your roots grow in Him. And about the temperature and energy of your heart toward the Word you’ve just heard. Did you really listen? Did the Spirit of God touch that place of need in your heart? Did you respond to the Spirit’s conviction? Or did you brush Him away?

Have you ever ordered grits for breakfast? The waitress brings the ham, eggs and grits. You take a big mouthful of that anticipated Georgia ice cream and your mouth turns inside-out. They’re lukewarm. You’d spit ‘em out if you could. And Revelation tells us God will do the same with lukewarm churches and lukewarm Christians. (Revelation 3:14-18 NAS).

God is in the business of transforming each one of His children into the likeness of His Son. And, precious one, if you have no desire, or wish to place limits on that transformation, may I suggest there’s an empty hole in your heart.

Writers spend enormous amounts of time constructing plot lines to be sure there are no holes in the story—all the loose threads must come together in the end. If the plot has holes, the story becomes unbelievable, impossible, and ridiculous.

God has written and preserved sixty-six books of the Bible to insure we know His story. The plot line begins in the Book of Genesis and finishes without holes or error in the Book of Revelation.

In those first few lines of the Bible we are told Christ is the creator and sustainer of the universe, and in case you missed that info in Genesis, He repeats Himself in Colossians 1:15-20.

God recorded our origin, our purpose, our future, and our eternity. Yet the grand majority of Christians know little beyond a short verse or two, taken out of context, and often misapplied.

We are without excuse because we are instructed to:
“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the Word of Truth” (II Timothy 2:15 KJV).

If Bibles were confiscated and burned would you know enough of the Word to pass God’s truth on to those who have no clue? If a friend needed a Word from God about anxiety, grief, or salvation could you take them to a verse? If God gave you a grade today, would you hear, “Well done?” Or would you be ashamed?

It’s not too late. Begin today, when your spirit groans with hunger pains:
“O taste and see that the Lord is good. How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him” (Psalm 34:8 NAS).

Don’t stuff yourself with junk food the world offers.

Jesus says:
“If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it shall be done for you. By this is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples” (John 15:1-11 NAS).

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“You can’t stop birds from flying over your head, but you sure can keep ‘em from building a nest there.”

Mama’s voice still resonates in my ears and I can see her stern expression as she repeated her reprimand for any type of unbecoming behavior I displayed during my teen years.

Now I’ve never allowed these winged creatures to build nests inDSCF2525 my hair, but I’ve sure built some nasty nests in my mind.

Little by little, bit by bit, I collected trashy anger, strings of pain, and lint balls of jealousy and carefully poked them into the dark corners of my mind. I harbored those fragments of left-over animosity and replayed the tape—over and over again.

Ever done that?

Or have you captured broken twigs of disappointment and leaves of shame to feed the growing tangled nest of emotions? And tucked them away ‘til you were trapped in an emotional time-bomb of depression and self-pity dragging you into a quagmire from which you could not extract yourself?

Let me explain.

We live near a wetland area where eagles nest. Cameras set up by the wetland officials revealed skulls of ducks and skunks left in the nest. Nests are temporary shelters for baby birds to grow ‘til they can fly, not permanent homes. Nasty places filled with particles of animal remains, bugs, and unspeakable refuse. And the refuse we pile in our mind is no different and just as nasty.

God created us in His image and in the 15th Chapter of John gives us the cure for our self-destructive hoarding habits. Jesus said:

“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch, and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it shall be done for you. By this is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments, and abide in His love” (John 15:4-10 NAS).

In these six verses Jesus tells us to abide in Him ten times. And He gives us conditional promises if we do and lays out the consequences if we don’t.

Are we to have a part-time home in the tangled mess of past heartaches? Absolutely not.

Abide is the Greek verb meno and means to stay, continue, dwell, endure, be present, remain, stand, tarry.

Oh my, could that be why God’s people are in so much trouble? Why our families are falling apart? Why our nation is on the brink of disaster? We fail to stay, dwell, endure, remain in Him, in His Words, in His commandments, in His love.

I have read these words many times, but three weeks ago conviction stabbed to the depths of my heart and soul. I was not abiding in Jesus.

Had I missed Sunday services? Of course not, but once in the car on the way home my mind shifted gears. Did I neglect to pray at night? No. I always mumbled incoherent thanks for the day and His blessings before my eyes closed. Didn’t I? And I always read that little devotional blurb at night.

Dr. Paul David Tripp says, “We trouble our own trouble.” And that’s exactly where I had lived for months. Troubling my own trouble. Choosing to spend more and more time in the nasty nest of anguish, plucking at lint and strings, wondering why I couldn’t soar with the eagles.

DSCF4307 “Today I start a new chapter in my life.
I close the door to the past and open the door to the future, take a deep breath and step into my new life.”

Abiding in Jesus is a choice we must make every day. And I’m so grateful God’s mercies to us are new every morning. His love never fails and His arms are outstretched to those whose hearts are toward Him. Jesus’ blood washes all my sin away and He fills me with His joy.

What about you? Where are you spending your time? Abiding in Jesus or sinking in a nasty nest of anguish? You don’t have to keep traveling the same painful road. Give all your heartache to Jesus and abide with Him. He’s waiting. Just for you.

“Brokenness is realizing He is all we have.IMG_0013
Hope is realizing He is all we need.
Joy is realizing He is all we want.”

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