Archive for April, 2014

Can you hear hell’s demons slappin’ high-fives and shoutin’ “…another one bites the dust?”

Five weeks is all it took for the resolve of a Christian wife and mother to quiver and quake. Five weeks since she publicly stated she would not wear skimpy costumes, participate in hip grinding, and provocative dancing broadcast each week into your living room. Five weeks since she said familiarities were reserved for her husband.

Until this fifth week.

Snippets from rehearsals revealed her partner advising she loosen up and be sexy or else be eliminated from the competition. With tears in her eyes she stated, “I don’t want to go home yet, I’m having too much fun.” And her resolve to be different melted like wax from a burning candle.

The crowd cheered, the judges voiced accolades, and encouraged her to continue loosening up. While her young children sat in the audience, watching, cheering, and soaking up another kind of lesson from mom.

Yes, she was saved to dance again next week. And I wonder what that will look like after seven more days in that atmosphere?

And precious ones, that’s what happens when a child of God plays around the rim of the serpent’s den. They become entangled in “the affairs of Peor” and “rush headlong into the error of Balaam” (Numbers 25:18 and Jude 1:11 NAS).

When we allow ourselves to focus on the glitz and glamour of this world so that we fail to identify the lure as lies, we’ve allowed things to come between our face and God’s face.

Reports have surfaced this week that a renowned Christian publisher is publishing a book by a Christian homosexual man who attempts to validate, through Scripture, his lifestyle is okay with God.

And the publisher explains his company is publishing the book “because [they] believe it offers a thoughtful examination of Scripture on the topic of same-sex relationships from a bold, young, evangelical writer whose first calling is to promote a civil, loving, and biblically based conversation on the subject.” He goes on to say: “We have extensive marketing and publicity campaigns in place, with which we hope to reach the widest possible readership.”

Truth of the matter—every publishing house, Christian or secular, is about money. What a sad commentary for main stream publishing. We know it will be a short road before other Christian publishers follow so they can make a buck too.

Comments have been mixed. Many agree with the publisher, saying we are to “love and accept them into our fellowship just like they are.”

That’s not what my Bible says. Jude says we are to “contend for the faith.” Paul calls homosexuality an abomination. And Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed by fire for that sin.

Yes, we are concerned for their salvation. Yes, we know the answer for their deliverance. But no, we don’t welcome them into the fellowship of believers until they turn away from their sin and rebellion toward God.

Yes, God forgives the sinner when they confess, repent, and turn to walk in obedience. But when we violate the commands of our righteous God, the accumulated consequences don’t vaporize. They remain. Ask Abraham. Isaac. Jacob. David.

And I can testify that my years of playing around the snake’s hole have left consequences that may result in a child and a sibling being separated from God forever. Am I forgiven? Most certainly. But God calls me to be holy—set apart for Him. Not just on Sunday—every day, all day. Everything in my life belongs to Jesus.

History books are filled with accounts of nations. Nations who once honored and worshiped the Sovereign God of the Universe. But little by little they caved. Their resolve melted, and they turned their backs on God’s statutes and commandments. And God judged that nation.

Yes, God is loving and forgiving, merciful and kind. But to experience the benefits of His attributes, we must first repent and turn to walk in obedience to Him. The process is simple:

Repentance + turning + obeying = Forgiveness, mercy, everlasting love.
Because the penalty for your disobedience was paid for with the shed blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.

For the past fifty years Americans have sown seeds that cannot yield the peaceable fruit of righteousness. And yet we keep on planting more wild seeds, expecting a different harvest. But unless we repent and return we will be yet another nation who bites the dust.

“And the Lord God said to the serpent, ‘Because you have done this, cursed are you more than all cattle, and more than every beast of the field; on your belly shall you go, and dust shall you eat all the days of your life’ ” (Genesis 3:14 NAS).

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16 NAS).

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Have you ever been in the presence of an over-stimulated, exhausted little urchin? They’re like wind-up toys with no off DSCF4887switch. And the longer they’re allowed to crank, the faster they spin, ‘til terror, tantrums, and tears erupt.

And I’m like that too. How about you?

The moment my feet hit the floor in the morning I cruise at DSCF4890ninety to ninety-five MPH, ‘til I surrender to exhaustion around midnight. Multiple days of over-booked running and I’m likely to end up in tears or over-reacting to everything that ruffles my expectations, just like that irritable, tuckered-out child.

A few weeks ago, during Bible study in Nehemiah and Malachi, the words leaped off the page, bold-printed on my brain, and convicted my heart.

Nehemiah threw a wall-eyed fit at the nobles of Judah, saying: “What is this evil thing you are doing, by profaning the Sabbath day? Did not your fathers do the same, so that our God brought on us and on this city all this trouble? Yet, you are adding to the wrath on Israel by profaning the Sabbath” (Nehemiah 12:17-18 NAS). He even grabbed some of the men by their beards and yanked out strands of their hair.

And God tells the people through Malachi: “Oh that there were one among you who would shut the gates, that you might not uselessly kindle fire on My altar. I am not pleased with you, says the Lord of hosts, nor will I accept an offering from you” (Malachi 1:10 NAS).
Yikes! What had these folks done to upset God so much He wanted to shut the gates and stop the sacrifices?

The year was somewhere around 436 B.C. The people of Judah had completed their seventy year exile in Babylon, returned to Israel, built a new temple, and rebuilt the wall around Jerusalem under the direction of Nehemiah. They pledged obedience to God and signed a contract. The city was on the way to restoration, but Nehemiah had to leave for a time and guess what? Yep, the folks reverted to their old ways, just like their fathers had done.

In Judah the Sabbath had become like any other day—shopping, trading, and selling inside the gates—everything but rest and worship.

God is dealing with me about my failure to maintain a Sabbath DSCF4892rest. What about you? Could we be guilty of doing the same thing ancient Israel did?

From the beginning chapters of Genesis, God rested on the Sabbath day. The seasons were created to give the earth rest in the DSCF4700winter and resurrection in the Spring. Every seven years they were also to allow the land to lay fallow, giving the land a Sabbath rest. And He instructed His people to keep this eternal statute forever.

Now that wasn’t the only statute the people refused to obey, but let’s stay focused on this commandment today.

I’m old enough to remember when stores closed on Sunday so we all could worship God. America stopped to thank God for His blessingsDSCF4795 and enjoyed a day of rest. Sunday afternoon was given to naps and reflection. A time for God. A special day. And a time for family.

In my early adult years there were Sunday blue laws still in affect in many Southern towns. But as Americans grew more prosperous and spent more money, merchants realized they could have the blue laws overturned, keep the stores open, and make more money. And the folks agreed—‘cause they made money too.

The more prosperous Americans became, the less we needed God. DSCF4891‘Til today, in most neighborhoods across this land God has blessed, few of our neighbors even think about, much less attend church to honor God with thanksgiving and offerings.

But what about Christians? You and me? Do we honor God on the Sabbath? Or are we kindling useless fire on God’s altars? Do we meditate on God’s Word during the week so we can enter His rest on Sunday?

Or is Sunday catch-up day? Another day to worry? Often busier than the rest of the week. Or are we just grateful to have an air-conditioned place with soft pews to collapse and plan next week or shift our minds into neutral for an hour?

What kind of sacrifice are we bringing to God’s altar? Pure or blemished?

Do we honor God in the Sanctuary? Or do we profane His house and His name?

Is Sunday a day of restoration for you, or another day crammed full of activities that leave you burned-out and used up like those cranky children we talked about?

Are Malachi’s words pertinent to the Church in 2014?
We are called to worship the Lord, folks. Not be entertained. We are called to make disciples. Not serve as a social club. We are called to worship and praise God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. Not the pastor, nor a building, and certainly not the music minister or ourselves.

“Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth” (Psalm 46:10 NAS).

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Looking for love in too many places. And some of us never find love because we’re looking in all the wrong places.

Love isn’t glitz and glamour. Love isn’t found in things, people, or the backseat of a car. Nor on the beaches of the world at spring break. Love isn’t a physical act. No, that’s hormones. And those feelings change as often as the weather in Texas.
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Divorce rates in and out of the church confirm we’ve all believed the lie. We’ve all rebelled against God’s Word and Satan sits on the sidelines thumbing his nose at God while over fifty-four million babies have been sucked from the womb into abortionists’ sinks.

Love is belonging. A commitment. A relationship.DSCF2349

Love is Jesus.

The tragedy is, we don’t have the ability to love without Him.

Scripture tells us: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9 NKJ) And instructs, “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man…” (Matthew 15:19 NKJ).

Yes, the thoughts of our minds originate in our hearts. And our hearts are diseased from the beginning. We need a transplant. And Jesus is the only Physician on call. No heart, not yours nor mine, is beyond the Father’s mercy and grace to forgive. Jesus died for our sins—past, present and future.

Life-changing choice begins when we lay it all on the table. Sacrifice all. Change all. Give up all of ones self for Jesus, because He is love.

But that means change, and we don’t like the pain of change. And that’s the dilemma.

We don’t comprehend there’s only one place real love abides.
It’s more fun, in the beginning, to live life on the playground. Riding the thrill rides, pretending to be happy, but our souls sob for true love.

DSCF0947The pristine beaches of Pensacola, this week were the perfect example of this evil delusion. Thousands of students invaded the sandy beaches, committing in broad daylight unspeakable acts of lewd, drunken, lust filled behaviors, bringing shame upon themselves, their families, and this nation. Actions I would not begin to describe here. If you watched Fox News you saw the account.

Yet these young people were too consumed with vile amusement and alcohol to understand the impact of their choices. Their mouths hurled vulgar disrespect toward their parents and their own bodies. And their images will be forever recorded on social media.

And their parents footed the bill.

Yes, this rebellion began in the garden, long ago. But the same act is repeated every day in the majority of households throughout our land by parents refusing to parent. Refusing to follow God’s guidelines for health, happiness, and holiness. Refusing to remember their child has only one mother and father—the child doesn’t need another friend.

Lyin’ in bed on Sunday morning, mom and dad, you hear the voice inside saying: “Sunday is my only day to sleep. I’m tired and I need rest. I’ll take the kids to church next week. But next week never comes.

Because it’s easier to listen to the alluring images of our illusions than to get excited about getting up, showering, dressing, and going to listen to the choir and the preacher at the local church.
So we roll over and go back to sleep. Unaware we’ve just missed the intersection leading to light, life, and love. And Truth.
We crawl out of bed an hour or two later, still tired and irritable, to face mountains of dirty laundry, whiny children or hormonal teens, and a husband more frustrated than we are. And another day of turmoil and chaos begins—just like yesterday, but ratcheted up a notch.

And we’re tired because we’ve vicariously tried to escape. Seeking love in the latest block-buster movie, on evening soap operas, or indecent sit-coms that proclaim immorality and abomination and have no business in the home. Entertainment that day after day teaches children and teens, luring them into the deceptive trap that played out on the Florida beaches this week.

Unaware a battle rages for our families and our lives. A battle between love and hate. Between God and Satan.

Satan has thrown off the disguises he’s worn for centuries and launched a frontal attack on God, marriage, the family, the Bible, and Christians. The world is in a free fall and this roaring lion roams the earth seeking souls to devour. And you and your family are on his menu.

And we still have no appetite for the answer. And our children have no conception of sin or the fact their sins offend a holy and righteous God. And they don’t understand God calls them to be holy. They don’t believe those who reject Jesus will spend eternity in a real place called hell—separated from God and the love of a Savior who died so they don’t have to. Because we didn’t teach them.
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But you can’t teach what you don’t know.

While there’s time, because Jesus is coming soon, please pick up your Bible, turn to the Book of John and begin reading the exciting news of Jesus’ love. And Sunday, when the alarm goes off, determine beforehand to get up and go to the nearest gathering place of love—your local church. No, those who attend aren’t perfect, but God is there and He’s still working on all of us.

If you come seeking Jesus, He will write His love story in your heart, in your family, and for your future.

I know, because He did that in my life one Sunday in January of 1989.

“Now consider this, you who forget God, lest I tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver. Whoever offers praise glorifies Me. And to him who orders his conduct aright I will show the salvation of God” (Psalm 50:22-23 NKJ).

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