Unbelief Due to Giants in the Land

Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses, and said, “We should by all means go up and take possession of it, for we shall surely overcome it.” But the men who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are too strong for us.” So they gave the sons of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, “The land through which we have gone, in spying it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants; and all the people we saw are men of great size, there also we saw the Nephillim; and we became like grasshoppers in our own sign, and so we were in their sight.  Numbers 13:33 (NASB)

Her panic attacks keep her from being able to function sometimes, in fact, some employers won’t hire her because of her panic issues. Yet, she needs a job and lives on assistance from the government, aid organizations and even gifts from ours and other churches. She has just been diagnosed with two brain aneurysms. Her mother died from one 25 years ago and she is worried about that history. She has children, some adult and some younger. She will have surgery on the larger aneurysm before the end of the month. She is struggling with understanding God’s will here.

I think I can understand why she has fear. Her situation has some pretty big obstacles. There are giants in the land.

What are your giants? For Israel that day, it was literally giant people, like Goliath. 9, 10, maybe 12 feet tall. Archaeologists have found the bones of ancient giants in many parts of the world. They were real, and the ones that Israel saw were powerful and aggressive militarily. They’re 10 feet tall and the Israelite men were just over 5 foot. They’re twice as big, we don’t have a chance, what can we do?

Of course instead of believing God like Caleb did, the people failed to believe God. Their unbelief kept them from God’s blessings and provisions. They failed again and again in their belief. They suffered again and again because of unbelief.

We are concerned with the direction our country is taking. Yesterday there were 5 police killed in Dallas as it appears some people abused a peaceful protest to exercise their hate for the police. This week, a presidential candidate appears to be above the law although her activity in the past has been criminal. There is a wave of fear because of ISIS and a level of persecution coming against Christians and the Church, and Lord save you if you stand for the Biblical truth about LGBT.

What about your health? Or your financial circumstances? What about your temptations to sin? Are there obstacles to peace in your family, broken relationships, unfairness at work, or hate from your neighbor? What is your giant?

If you exercise unbelief, like Israel did in Numbers 13, than you are in for more difficulty and the giant may grow bigger and may become giants.

It isn’t always easy to let go and trust God, but David did. Why did David trust God against Goliath? He knew God’s track record. He knew God’s word. He chose to trust God because God has historically been proven true and when David was in situations where belief was absolutely necessary, God proved himself to David.

That is why Caleb (and Joshua) were considered the good spies. They believed and were ready to follow God into the fray. The giants are puny compared to God. They chose to trust the one who is the biggest and the greatest.

Christians are fretting about many circumstances and uncertainties today. Believe God and the way faith grows is to know the Word that shows us God’s activity, the Bible. For it reveals to us that faith comes by hearing the word of the Lord.

Let’s believe!

What Do We Deserve?

This is a true story.

A minister of God didn’t have anyone to work with, so he asked God to make him available to whatever would be his will. He checked want ads, because he needed some money, and he saw there was a bus driving job made available to him. So he worked as a bus driver in south Chicago. If you know anything about Chicago, it is not south Chicago you want to drive a bus in, but that’s where they had the need. He found out later it was because nobody else would stay on the job. So he drove it.

Before a week passed, some thugs got on the bus and didn’t pay, they sat in the back, sneered and jeered and mocked him. The next day the same thing happened. The third day it happened again. After it went on for about a week, he decided he didn’t have to put up with that. So he decided to call an officer inside the bus and make them pay. He saw one down about a block away and after he got on he told the officer that the fellows back there haven’t paid for several days, would you at least make them pay today? And he did, but unfortunately the officer got off the bus. When the door was closed, the bus driver drove a little further and turned a corner, and that was the last thing he remembered. They knocked a couple of teeth out and stole his money, and when he woke up the bus was empty.

He sat there in confusion and disillusionment wondering, “What kind of ministry is this, Lord? I told you I was available and this was the job you opened up?” And he went home, turned the bus in, took the rest of the day off. He stared at the ceiling as he was nursing his wounds, and he thought, “I’m not gonna let them get away with that.” So, through an interesting chain of events, they rounded up, with the help of some officers, the very guys and took them to court. All four of them.

The of the hearing he stood before the court, and the judge listened carefully, an decided the fellows were guilty. And they didn’t have any money to buy their way out, so they had to spend some time in jail. Suddenly the minister realized, “Here’s my chance.” He said, “Your honor, may I speak for a moment?” The judge allowed it and the minister said, “I’d like for you to tally up all of the time these fellows together would be spending in jail, and I’d like to go in their behalf.” And the judge responded, “Well, that’s highly irregular, it has never been done before.” And the minister responded, “Oh yes it has, about 2,000 years ago.” And then in about 4 minutes he gave them the gospel.

Three of the young men came to know Christ right away and one of them later, after the minister was incarcerated. That fellow was having a ministry with those four guys who heard the message that somebody else wanted to pay the price for their sin. A living testimony for what Christ did for us.


What does it mean to follow Jesus?

I sometimes wonder what the responses would be if I asked the church I preach for, or any other church for that matter what it means to follow Jesus?

Would I get a religious response? Would it be an emotional response? Would it be something that they heard a co-worker say or saw on the internet? Would it be a Biblical response? What would it be?stock-photo-religious-word-cloud-314485148

Would they say it means to be happy? It means we need to be serious? It means to obey? It means . . . ?

I must be honest, I don’t understand the Trinity of God, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. I believe in the Three-in-One. I believe the Bible accurately reveals this truth to us. But understanding and explaining the reality is hard. But one thing I understand, that the relationship each member of the Trinity has with each is one of joy, love, respect, and unity. They trust each other. They trust each other implicitly.

Given that we are helpless sinners, saved by grace through our faith in Jesus, what does it mean to follow Jesus?

I see it comes from the relationship of Jesus with the Heavenly Father. It comes from the love and unity they have. Jesus always obeyed the Father. It was because of love and trust. Jesus tells us, “If you love me, keep my commandments,” (John 14:25).

And the best way to keep Jesus’ commands is to do as he does. It is to become like him in character and trust God with all our might, or as Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and all your mind. And love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 33:37 and 39).


Understanding God’s Will

As I noted in my last post, I am involved in a new ministry. In July I left the church and outside ministries I was involved with and moved to Forsyth, Missouri and assumed new responsibilities with the Forsyth Christian Church. Let me explain the process, that took a year or so to develop until I began serving with the church I am at now.

As the summer of 2014 began, I started feeling restless about my ministries and the circumstances that provided the opportunities for these various ministry endeavors. I was a bi-vocational minister for several years, working the midnight shift. There are all sorts of problems that go along with working the third shift, some of them are health issues, especially loss of sleep and the retirement that was supposed to be building was a fraction of what was promised (and it didn’t change when the recession hit in 08 and 09). The center I volunteered as a spiritual leader for was changing and the each change they made (and most of the changes were scheduling issues) made it harder and harder to help the students there.

My family was seeking more of my attention, aging parents, eager grand kids and more. An injury the year before was still a nagging injury, prohibiting me from some of the physical aspect of ministry. My congregation, I noticed was suffering too. I was unable to be available to help the group grow because of lack of energy and when I had to sleep.

These are the core aspects of what made me begin to see if God had other plans for my life as a minister. I talked with my wife, my children, and some close friends and determined it was time to see where God wants me to go.

Sensing these things, prayer was a given and has been throughout. I searched on Ozark Christian College’s and Central Christian College of Bible’s websites for churches seeking a preaching/lead minister. After 27 or 28 resumes, 7 or 8 phone interviews, one church called back and wanted to see me in person.

I met with the board and they invited me back to preach and meet and have an interview with the congregation. When they called us to come, we were ecstatic. Our family and friends supported it, and we were certain in our hearts that this is what God wanted.

20150731_085020Been here 3 months and we are moving in God’s direction and my previous congregation has now called a new minister and I believe will be moving forward where I was unable to lead them and I am very happy about that.

God, through a long process, made it certain that he wanted me to be the preacher for the congregation I now serve. Praise God.


New Ministry, New Vision

In July I accepted a new ministry. I moved from the church and ministry I was serving at FCC big logothe Lake of the Ozarks, to a ministry with the Forsyth Christian Church.

I could talk about what happened in which God led me away from my previous ministry to this ministry. Let me save that for one of the next posts.

With a change in ministry, location, and even variances in job description, comes new focus, purpose, vision, and goals. Here we have about a 12-year-old congregation whose minister retired and they realize where the direction they need to go. The congregation is mostly older folks, in fact, the town has an average age of 51. They sense the need to reach younger families with children and for several reasons. First, those people need the Lord too. They need to have Jesus offered to them. Second, they realize that young people are the future . . .  of anything. They grow up to be the church and the leaders in the church and the outreach for the church. So we need young families and so we have a vision of a children’s program with a support program to their families.

They want to bring their music into a contemporary model. Add newer songs and do the music in fresh ways. I know some feel this will draw the younger crowd, and it might, but it is a refreshing that can be a game-changer for all the folks in our church.

And, they are looking forward to a Biblical elder-ship to lead the congregation. Godly, Spirit-filled men leading with love and grace.

We are carrying out the great commission and discipleship development. We are seeking the Spirit’s empowering and guidance to fulfill our role and responsibility in the kingdom of God. We will stand faithful and true to Christ and his Word no matter what.

I have a new ministry focus. Pray for me.


Living in Canaan

As a Pastor, I often wonder, how do Christians impact culture and society with the Gospel and faith. More than knowing the Word and understanding the truth, but relating the Gospel of Jesus and the Kingdom of God to the rest of the world.

As the Children of Israel left Egypt, they were heading toward the Promised Land, ancient Palestine, aka, Canaan. The land was filled with pagan people who worshiped false gods like Baal, the moon-god, and Asherah, his female counterpart, Moloch, and others. Their worship involved deviant sexual conduct, sacrifices of children, and many other atrocious practices.

Christians as people of the Book (the Bible), carefully trying to discern the times, it seems appropriate to consider that the church is living in a modern form of ancient Canaan.

The society we are a part of carries out the practices of the ancient pagan religions. It is a very self-centered (narcissistic) rather than god directed society, but the values and practices are not a whole lot different. Sexual deviation is obvious. Just watch anything media based and it’s almost impossible to escape some form of sexual expression. Sex is not about pleasing a god, but satisfying the self. Abortion is the modern child sacrifice, and the altar is women’s rights. Lying, tolerance, becoming rich, being a celebrity, being important, and more are the norms.

The church in a sense is living in Canaan.

Remember that Israel was told going into Canaan to eradicate the pagans living there. Run them off, destroy them and rid the land of pagan worship. Don’t let it be a temptation to you. Our dilemma is not that we are in the promised land, that is in the future when God brings the saved into heaven with him after the return of Christ; we have the God-given responsibility to live among the pagans. Their values and influence are powerful and many Christians have compromised their faith, mixing Christianity with the unholy and ungodly practices of the rest of the world.

How do we live in the world and not be a part of it. We can’t separate from them and live on an island and not be an influence to them. We can’t change the laws and force them to believe or at least act like Christians. We can however, present the Gospel of Jesus Christ to them, living by faith, guided by the Bible and the Holy Spirit, showing Christ’s love, fellow-shipping with other believers, and letting God protect our souls while we risk our lives to lead them to Christ.

Too many believers have forsaken the task, holing up in their church buildings and homes, protecting themselves from the influence of the world and making a small almost immeasurable impact for Christ.

The Bible is clear, we are on a mission, a spiritual mission, a war for the souls of people. They are not the enemy, as one preacher (whose name I’ve now forgotten) I heard a long time ago say, “they are captives of the enemy.” The enemy is the devil, Satan himself and he has captured the hearts and souls of the majority of people in the world. For the Christian, it is as if we have moved into Canaan without pushing out the pagans.

The way, is to hold to the truth and be aware of how people accept truth and gain understanding. That is the hard part. The truth is easy. God the Creator loves all people and wants so see them saved (John 3:16; 1 Timothy 2:3-6; 2 Peter 3:9), and sent Jesus (John 3:16-17) to save the world through faith in him. And as Peter said, “there is salvation in no other name given among men (Acts 4:12), we have the answer.

Learning how to relate the answer means we need to learn how the modern, spiritual Canaan may relate to and accept the answer. That’s the hard answer.

As we are told, preach the truth in season (when it is popular and acceptable) and out of season (when people don’t want to hear it and even try to stop the preaching of the Gospel).

Do I have the actual answer to every circumstance? No! But God’s Spirit and the teaching and leadership of others who know the truth and have listened to the Spirit can lead into being able to living in Canaan and be obedient to the mission God has called us to in Christ.


God Is/Is not Alive/Dead. Which is it?

images (16)My research indicates a troubling trend. My experiences are confirming what I have read. All of it saddens me. The world is moving toward atheism.

Let me share a very concise overview of history. The earliest people believed there was a god or gods.  Obviously since God created the world and Adam knew him, the earliest humans were monotheists. As time moved forward, and people moved away from faithfully following God and were perverted in their thinking, many became polytheists, worshiping many gods. There are virtually no atheists in ancient history but the past few hundred years (4-500), atheism has reared its ugly head and is being taught, promoted, even forced on unsuspecting students when they attend secular universities, totally unprepared to keep their faith let alone defend God.

The modern atheist has an agenda, not only to share with people what they don’t believe in, but to aggressively force people to accept that there is no God. The movie God’s Not Dead vividly portrays this agenda. Several books on the modern atheist debunk the arguments from people like Richard Dawkins. Books like Stealing from God, by Frank Turek; and The End of Reason by Ravi Zaharias.

God can defend himself, but he has revealed himself through creation, “the heavens declare the glory of the Lord,” and through the Bible. But, people are influenced through interaction with other people as God has designed, therefore Christians must be, as Peter described, “prepared to offer a defense for their belief” (1 Peter 3:15).

I am getting ready, are you? Are you preparing to offer defense for God?