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~Knowledge Made Me Understand My Mistakes~I Want To Help Society….

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Knowledge is a subject with many interesting characteristics. For instance, it is handed down from one generation to the next and in this way can survive for thousands of years. This handing on can happen in many different ways, be it a father telling his son, folk songs narrating stories, written on scrolls or a certain sequence of zeros and ones on a computer drive.

But knowledge not only duplicates but it multiplies. Marie Freifrau von Ebner-Eschenbach, a German author who lived around the turn of the twentieth century, inspired an meaningful quote which goes as follows: “Knowledge is the only good that multiplies when you share it.”

And one of mankind’s greatest characteristics is its pursuit of sharing knowledge. One very recent account of this will of human beings to share and spread it with as many as possible is the emergence of Internet. So knowledge of things, ideas and workings has always been of importance and was sought after very much. This made it important to also think about the concept of knowledge itself. Over millennia people have tried to figure out the nature of knowledge and find an appropriate definition for it, the ancient Greek philosopher Socrates being one of them. Before him and after his time many others thought about the topic as well, following on his ideas or coming up with completely different understandings of the concept of knowledge. But much as this was discussed in earlier times, it is of just as much importance today.

The knowledge I have acquired from being ignorant of the consequences the devices I used to get into prison offered me is the very knowledge I desire to use to empower a targeted group of people called ( Ex-Offenders). Society is suffering as a whole from this disingenuous correctional business. I say business because it offers no corrections, just incarceration. In my stays within the correctional systems I never was offered rehabilitation. May 25th 2010 I found happiness through receiving my vision of “Second Chance Alliance”.  I am asking my fellow citizens to think hard about donating to my wife and I cause because we really believe it will make a difference in our communities we are apart of. Socrates cajoling his fellow citizens to think hard about questions of truth and justice, convinced as he was that “the unexamined life is not worth living.” While claiming that his wisdom consisted merely in “knowing that he knew nothing,” Socrates did have certain beliefs, chief among them that happiness is obtainable by human effort. Specifically, he recommended gaining rational control over your desires and harmonizing the different parts of your soul. Doing so would produce a divine-like state of inner tranquility that the external would could not effect. True to his word, he cheerfully faced his own death, discussing philosophy right up to the moments before he took the lethal hemlock. Through his influence on Plato and Aristotle, a new era of philosophy was inaugurated and the course of western civilization was decisively shaped.

Socrates has a unique place in the history of happiness, as he is the first known figure in the West to argue that happiness is actually obtainable through human effort. He was born in Athens, Greece in 460 BC; like most ancient peoples, the Greeks had a rather pessimistic view of human existence. Happiness was deemed a rare occurrence and reserved only for those whom the gods favored. The idea that one could obtain happiness for oneself was considered hubris, a kind of overreaching pride, and was to be met with harsh punishment.

Against this bleak backdrop the optimistic Socrates enters the picture. The key to happiness, he argues, is to turn attention away from the body and towards the soul. By harmonizing our desires we can learn to pacify the mind and achieve a divine-like state of tranquility. A moral life is to be preferred to an immoral one, primarily because it leads to a happier life. We see right here at the beginning of western philosophy that happiness is at the forefront, linked to other concepts such as virtue, justice, and the ultimate meaning of human existence.

The price Socrates paid for his honest search for truth was death: he was convicted of “corrupting the youth” and sentenced to die by way of Hemlock poisoning. But here we see the life of Socrates testifies to the truth of his teachings. Instead of bemoaning his fate or blaming the gods, Socrates faces his death with equanimity, even cheerfully discussing philosophy with his friends in the moments before he takes the lethal cup. As someone who trusted in the eternal value of the soul, he was unafraid to meet death, for he believed it was the ultimate release of the soul from the limitations of the body. In contrast to the prevailing Greek belief that death is being condemned to Hades, a place of punishment or wandering aimless ghost-like existence, Socrates looks forward to a place where he can continue his questionings and gain more knowledge. As long as there is a mind that earnestly seeks to explore and understand the world, there will be opportunities to expand one’s consciousness and achieve an increasingly happier mental state.

The costs of incarceration stretch far beyond prison walls, meals, and guards:

  • The United States incarcerates more people than any other country in the world.
  • It costs over $26,000 to incarcerate one federal prisoner for one year — more than the average cost of one year of college education.
  • American taxpayers spend over $60 billion each year on prisons.
  • Half of all federal prisoners and one in five state prisoners are there for a drug offense — and it’s usually a nonviolent one.
  • Men who have served time in prison earn 40% less each year than men who have not been in prison.
  • One in every 28 children under age 18 has a parent in prison.
  • Long mandatory sentences have led to overcrowded, unsafe prisons
    that are less cost-effective than alternatives like treatment and drug courts.

When Raynard Reaves left the North Carolina prison system last year after 32 years behind bars, he left with a bus ticket and the clothes on his back. But he also had something less tangible, something unavailable to most of North Carolina’s prison population: A support system provided by Winston-Salem’s Project Re-entry.

Now he’s a success story, a family man and productive employee with 15 unblemished months of freedom.

The man he is today is a far cry from the 19-year-old heroin addict who committed armed robbery and landed in Raleigh’s Central Prison, a maximum-security institution notorious for its tough inmate population.

Reaves said he credits Project Re entry for much of his success on the outside. The program starts inside prison with a 12-week curriculum of life skills classes. Once they’ve been released, ex-prisoners who’ve successfully completed the 12-week pre-release program are eligible to receive services and employment on the outside. It’s the only pre- to post release re-entry program in North Carolina and serves nine facilities including the Forsyth and Guilford correctional centers.

“I think they should make it mandatory for everyone who is in prison to go through the re-entry program,” Reaves said. Rebecca Sauter, director of Project Re-entry, measures the program’s accomplishments by employment statistics. Every program graduate who goes on to take and keep a full time job and doesn’t re-offend is considered a success. Now the city of Winston-Salem is considering contributing to that success by actively committing to employ graduates of the program, which started in the Forsyth Correctional Center in 1999. City Councilwoman Vivian Burke, who represents the city’s Northeast Ward, said Winston-Salem should be an example for area businesses by implementing an employment program for ex-offenders. Right now, the city doesn’t have a policy either barring or encouraging the employment of ex-offenders. A proposal working its way through committee would encourage departments to hire ex-felons who have successfully completed programs like Project Re-entry.

Click the link below to view our proposed model for Riverside County and donate one dollar or as your heart leads. Thanks for your time in viewing our content and dreams.

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~He Is In Everything~

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One day I bought an inexpensive model of the solar system for my son. Installing it required me to suspend each planet from the ceiling. After bending up and down several times, I was lightheaded and tired. Hours later, we heard a “plink” as Jupiter hit the floor.

Later that night, I thought about how our flimsy replica fell apart, yet Jesus sustains the actual universe. “He is before all things, and in Him all things consist” (Col. 1:17). The Lord Jesus holds our world together, maintaining the natural laws that rule the galaxy. Our Creator also upholds “all things by the word of His power” (Heb. 1:3). Jesus is so mighty that He keeps the universe in order simply by commanding it to be so!

As amazing as this is, Jesus is more than a cosmic caretaker. He sustains us too. He “gives life and breath to everything, and He satisfies every need” (Acts 17:25 NLT). While Jesus sometimes provides for us differently than we might expect, our Savior keeps us going whether we are brokenhearted, in need of money, or enduring illness.

Until the day He calls us home, we can trust that the One who keeps Jupiter from falling is the One who holds us up as well.

  Awesome is our God and King, Who upholds the stars above; We now bow before His throne, Thanking Him for His great love. —D. De Haan
  The God who sustains the universe sustains me.

~Be His Hands To All-Don’t Let Opportunity Miss “You”~

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A cup of cold water only (Matthew 10:42).

What am I to do? I expect to pass through this world but once. Any good work, therefore, any kindness, or any service I can render to any soul of man or animal let me do it now. Let me not neglect or defer it, for I shall not pass this way again.

t isn’t the thing you do, dear,
It’s the thing you leave undone,
Which gives you the bitter heartache
At the setting of the sun;
The tender word unspoken,
The letter you did not write,
The flower you might have sent, dear,
Are your haunting ghosts at night.
The stone you might have lifted
Out of your brother’s way,
The bit of heartsome counsel
You were hurried too much to say;
The loving touch of the hand, dear,
The gentle and winsome tone,
That you had no time or thought for,
With troubles enough of your own.
These little acts of kindness,
So easily out of mind,
These chances to be angels,
Which even mortals find
They come in night and silence,
Each chill reproachful wraith,
When hope is faint and flagging,
And a blight has dropped on faith.
For life is all too short, dear.
And sorrow is all too great,
To suffer our slow compassion
That tarries until too late.
And it’s not the thing you do, dear,
It’s the thing you leave undone,
Which gives you the bitter heartache,

At the setting of the sun.
–Adelaide Proctor

Give what you have; to someone it may be better than you dare to think.

~1 Corinthians 9:27: Don’t Disqualify “Your” God, Beat “Your Body”-Live By The Spirit~

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No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

In my quest to understand sexual sin I went back to the years of my youth. I compared television and movies of yesterday, I looked at technology then verses now and I found that I am without excuse because the spirit has always been there to tell me how to walk, but I haven’t always followed it’s promptings. Being true to myself and my confession hasn’t come without failure. I solicit us all to perform 1 Corinthians 9:27 to make our body, mind and soul heed to the calling upon our life.

For the last twenty years thousands of men from across America struggling with sexual sin have come across my path. In the various men’s groups I have facilitated and most of the our fathers and husbands struggle with being holy in thoughts and deeds, Over half were pastors and missionaries.

I wish our experience was unique.

Several years ago a seminary professor told me: “We no longer ask our entering students if they are struggling with pornography, we assume every student is struggling. The question we ask: ‘How serious is the struggle?’”

One missions agency told me that 80% of their applicants voluntarily indicate a struggle with pornography, resulting in staff shortages on the field.

Pornography is just one level of sin, a form of visual sex, or heart adultery. Physical adultery includes an affair, multiple affairs, prostitution, and homosexuality. Other sexual behaviors within the ministry are such heinous “unfruitful works of darkness . . . it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret” (Ephesians 5:11–12). To face the crisis we must correctly understand the nature of the problem, ask God to search our own hearts, and be committed to restore each one caught in sexual sin “in a spirit of gentleness” (Galatians 6:1).

I have pondered long and hard two questions: Why do people repeatedly return to sexual sin and why do people turn away from sexual sin?

Lured Toward Sin

First, I would say that after two decades of helping set free those held captive by sexual sin, I’m convinced that the concept of sexual addiction as a disease does not fully identify the seriousness of the problem. If we are going to get serious about the problem in the church we can ill afford to be misled in our thinking. The real problem is hidden deep within. The least bit of lust is an indication of vast corruption in the human heart. It is an enslavement that cannot be broken through any form of behavior management, recovery program, or counseling. The inside is so ravaged by sin that we can do nothing to change it.

When one is held in the grip of sexual sin, there is no hope of self-reform or self-efforts, for those living according to the “passions of their flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and mind” (Ephesians 2:3). To put it bluntly, those living in habitual sexual sin are “dead in their trespasses and sin” (verse 1). Dead, in a loss of spiritual life. Dead to finding satisfaction with God. Dead to living for his purpose. Holiness is dead. Wisdom is dead. Purity is dead. Love is dead. Like David, the sexual sinner has sinned “against the Lord” (2 Samuel 12:13), and in so doing has “utterly scorned the Lord” (verse 14). The horrible fact is they are “by nature children of wrath” (Ephesians 2:3).

I believe addictionology plays down the seriousness of sin and the necessity of the work of God when it encourages the sexual addict to accept the theory that recovery will only be successful when they begin to believe that they are a good person at the core and just have a disease.

Diagnoses always determine the method of treatment. So ‘good’ people only need to get serious, follow the steps of recovery, and remain in recovery. The opposite is true. When dealing with sexual sin we must hold fast to the teaching of Jesus Christ, “For from within, out of the heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, . . . adultery” (Mark 7:21).

By nature and by choice we satisfy ourselves, rebel against God, and have no accurate understanding of the depth of our problem. The heart is deceptive, and without supernatural change it will grow worse. The only hope is “the grace of God . . . training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age” (Titus 2:11–12).

Look closely and you will see that the sexual sinner is disappointed with pleasure in their pursuit of what is essentially false intimacy. As one pastor, who was living in two adulterous relationships, put it: “This was the insanity; I no sooner finished the sexual act and immediately broke into tears, devastated by what I had done, but I only returned again and again to the same sinful relationship.”

As sinners we are created with desires for intimacy and for delight. Therefore, “The way to fight lust is to feed faith with the precious and magnificent promise that the pure in heart will see, face to face, the all-satisfying God of glory” (Future Grace, 338).

Yet the sexual sinner, finding no pleasure in real intimacy with God, ultimately finds no pleasure in false intimacy. Real intimacy has both pain and pleasure; false intimacy offers the illusion of no pain, but in the end there is no real pleasure! A part of exchanging the “truth about God for a lie” (Romans 1:25) is that you end up with pleasure now, pain forever!

Descending Deception

Deception runs deeper than we think. Deception is inherent to the problem of sexual sin on two levels.

First, there is the double life with clandestine liaisons, endless hidden hours on a computer, or the misuse of unaccounted time away from the office or home. The behavior is carefully hidden from view, but there are lies, then more lies to cover the lies. Face the facts: the motive for secrecy is to keep doing it. But secrecy of sexual sin also indicates a person’s commitment to flee from the light. “And people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil” (John 3:19).

The second level of deception is self-deception. If the heart is deceitful, it impacts the way we want to see the secret things in our lives, particularly secret sexual sins. The missionary can justify going to nude beaches; a pastor sees the value of an affair because it makes him happy; going to a prostitute on Monday is just a reward for hard work on Sunday.

When you say, “I will keep this part of my life a secret,” what are you hiding?

Hidden from view is a scandalous behavior that would certainly horrify any congregation or spouse. It is also a calculated contradiction of one’s public image that if revealed would bring ruin. It also may be a relationship that you believe is so fulfilling you can’t imagine ending it.

Everyone thinks they are hiding their acts of sin: lust, cheating, porn, and adultery. Such thinking makes it easier to justify the secrecy for the greater good of one’s marriage, family, ministry, job, and future. Such rationalization is universal to all secret sexual sin. “After all, a lot of people would be hurt if they knew what I was doing.” As one pastor put it, “I was in a six month affair, at the same time preaching and counseling against adultery, and telling myself that God didn’t care because the church was growing.”

In reality, it is not the behavior alone that is hidden.

Secret sexual sin is an invasive poison to the soul, mind and the body. It is a poison deep within the recesses of the soul that keeps one from finding satisfaction in God and meaningful intimacy with others. This is a poison that will kill not only in this life, but also life eternal! “For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure . . . has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God” (Ephesians 5:5). Sexual behavior that is indistinguishable from the unbelieving world may indicate a person is not truly a child of God.

The Turn From Sin

Why do people turn away from sexual sin?

In thousands of cases that I have counseled, only about one-percent of the men have come to us voluntarily and preemptively. Ninety-nine percent of the men were caught.

Getting caught in sexual sin doesn’t change the heart.

I can’t prove it, but I believe that God will providentially expose the secret sexual sin of his children.

It staggers our finite imagination that God will allow his chosen ones to go deep into brazen sexual sin, live in it for many years, and have so many people badly hurt. And no matter how difficult it is for spouses and church members to see it in the moment, God is at work when a pastor’s sin is exposed. Exposure is a sovereign act of God. God’s ways are not our ways! In all the vileness and rebellion against God that is a big part of sexual sin, exposure is showing us the perfect patience of Christ.

Many times I’ve been asked, “How can you keep dealing with such sinful men?” There are two reasons: First, I have seen over and over again the power of God to change the darkest sinner. Second, restoration with God is more important than anything. It is more important than career or marriage. God cares more for you, your soul, and your wife than he does your gifts and calling. You are his child before you are a pastor or a husband.

Conviction

After secret sexual sin is exposed we can make the mistake of focusing on the actions and attempt to eliminate behavior. We may be inadvertently feeding a false conviction rather than aiding true conviction.

False conviction is a reflex reaction caused by self-disgust, a sorrow over the consequences of sin. True conviction is an abiding sorrow over the offence against God, and while not the natural response, it does demonstrate that God has begun a good work that he will complete. True conviction is followed by true repentance. False conviction is followed by counterfeit repentance that only sees the consequences of sexual sin and the pain it caused others. Often this leads to a temporary change in behavior without a heart change.

Heart change is critical, “For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexual immoral (Gk. porneia) or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater) has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God” (Ephesians 5:5). There is no room for error when it comes to dealing with sexual sin. There is a demand to either repent or perish (Luke 13:3, 5). So there must be inner transformation of the heart because it is “deceitful above all things and desperately sick” (Jeremiah 17:9).

Christians must take severe measures in killing this sin. This is the real danger: “Every unclean thought would be adultery if it could” (John Owen). “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality . . .” (Colossians 3:5).

The cross isn’t a recovery program, the place to improve on what good is already there. It is a place to die. It is not a question of giving up sexual sin, but of giving up one’s rights!

“But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness” (Romans 6:17–18). As dead sinners we lived “in the passion of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind” (Ephesians 2:3). Deceived, we foolishly think we can use our bodies as we choose when we are in love, when it brings us pleasure, when it makes us a whole person or feeds our spiritual well being. The truly repentant sexual sinner begins to grasp, “You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19, 20).

True repentance is radical change from the inside out. “The basic meaning of repent is to experience a change of the mind’s perceptions and dispositions and purposes” (What Jesus Demands, 41). Repentance is not just becoming sexually pure, but an inward change, “so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God” (Colossians 1:10). Inward change leads to sexual purity. Repentance happens on the inside where heart change includes the development of an ingrained attitude to flee sexual immorality.

Don’t Wait To Get Caught

Some time ago I met a pastor who told me that he had two or three affairs in each of the several churches he had pastored. He said, “My reputation in my denomination is to take a small struggling church and see it grow, only to again take another small church and see it grow. I’ve made that move three times, but in fact, I was only moving to a new church before I got caught in those affairs.” That man has no reason to expose his sexual sin or leave the ministry. Why should anyone know?

Why should anyone turn from sexual sin before being caught?

First, don’t let yourself be deceived. “Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil . . . No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God” (1 John 3:8, 9). While not completely free from sin, the heart of the true believer has been transformed, and they cannot live in a pattern of continual sexual sin.

Second, the exhortation is to “confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed” (James 5:16).

Third, fear is not a virtue. Yes, exposure will be costly, but right now you are dying on the inside. It may not feel like dying right now, but you are, you are slowly killing yourself, your spouse, your family, and your congregation.

Fourth, if secret sexual sin has severe consequences, it is worth dealing with before the devastation occurs. Obvious examples come to mind to get help before: your Internet browsing history is discovered and shared; the prostitute turns into an uncover police women and you are arrested for soliciting; you contract an STD; or you are publicly exposed, humiliating yourself, your spouse, your family, and your congregation.

Fifth, it will come out. God is never mocked. “Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness” (Romans 11:22).

Sixth, getting caught shatters trust and honesty in marriage, embarrasses your spouse, and makes reconciliation more difficult.

Seventh, there is hope. It begins with facing the truth. It is never just a struggle with your thought life; like all sexual sin, it is evil. If there is an old self to put off, there must be a new self to put on; that is the gospel.

Hear the Better Word

Christ bears the wrath that will come for all sexual sin. If you are a true believer and real change has occurred, you are called to put off the old and put on the new. Killing sexual sin starts with exposure; it ends with no longer being enslaved (Romans 6:6). Exposure is painful, but it is better to hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant,” than to hear, “I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.”

If you are a pastor stuck in sexual sin, no matter how well you have attempted to cover those sins with layers and layers of lies, I plead with you, step out from the darkness of those sins. Step into the light. Get help. You will never find life in the shadows.

 

 

~Be Sober In Conduct As Clergy~

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We all have core concerns – life defining and life controlling values and/or issues. These ‘concerns’ can be personal, social and/or cultural, yet the cultural core concerns distinguish people groups. Generally, the societal norms and protocols are oriented to the dominant culture. Because of this, the cultural core concerns of the sub-dominant culture tend to be left unaddressed. In the African American culture, these concerns are related to empowerment, namely, dignity, identity and significance.

To apply all of God’s word to life is to “do theology.” Therefore, theology tends to be historically and culturally determined. Witness the great creeds and confessions of the church; each of these was formulated in response to a challenge the church was facing at the time. The context in which theology develops plays a formative role. Doing theology can be approached in two ways: cognitively involving conceptual knowledge, and intuitively involving perceptual knowledge.

The conversation is always sad, always tragic. The pastor who left his church after a two-year affair with another church member. The student pastor who has been out of vocational ministry since he had a brief sexual encounter with his assistant.

I have spoken with countless numbers of these men and women. And each time I am reminded of how much I need to love God with all my heart, and to be totally devoted to my wife.

Though the conversations are both sad and tragic, I do learn from them. And after dozens, perhaps a few hundred, of these conversations, I see patterns. These patterns become warning signs for any of us, lest we be so naïve to think we have no vulnerabilities.

Because the conversations were informal, I cannot say for certain which among them were the most frequent warning signs. So I provide them in no particular order.

  1. “I neglected my family.” Church work can become a deceitful mistress (I struggle to find the male equivalent of the word). We become so consumed with our ministry that we neglect our families. But 1 Timothy 3:5 is clear that our families are our first ministries.
  2.  “I had no system of accountability.” Unfortunately, most churches do not have clear guidelines for accountability. That does not excuse any of us from making sure that we have such self-imposed guidelines, and that our spouses know about them as well.
  3. “It began in counseling.” Sometimes the word “transference” is used to describe what can happen in counseling. The counselor or counselee becomes the object of attraction instead of one’s spouse. One or both of the parties see the other as something his or her spouse should be.
  4. “My co-worker and I began to confide in one another on a deep level.”  The conversations between two people who work together become ones that should be restricted to the marital relationship. At this point, an emotional affair has already begun. Physical intimacy is usually not far away.
  5. “I began neglecting my time in prayer and daily Bible reading.” I am reticent to make a blanket statement, but I have never met a person who was praying and reading his or her Bible daily that became involved in an affair. Prayer and time in the Word are intimacy with God that precludes inappropriate intimacy with someone of the opposite gender.
  6. “He or she made me feel so good about myself.” In marriage, neither party thinks the spouse is perfect; at least it is rare. The danger happens when one becomes a hero to someone of the opposite gender. The good feelings that come with accolades or even adulation can become sexual attractions and traps that end in an affair.
  7. “It began on a trip together.” When a man and woman travel to the same destination for a work event, conference, or a convention, safeguards need to be established at the onset. A system of accountability, whether informal or formal, can break down when a man and woman are out of town together. Call me old fashioned, but I won’t ever travel in the car alone with a woman other than my wife (even at my old age). 

The conversation is always sad, always tragic. And do you know what the most common theme I’ve heard in all of these conversations?

“I never thought this would happen to me.”

Sobering indeed.

 

~I Wait With My Hope In Him~

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For we through the Spirit by faith wait for the hope of righteousness (Galatians 5:5, RV).

There are times when things look very dark to me–so dark that I have to wait even for hope. It is bad enough to wait in hope. A long-deferred fulfillment carries its own pain, but to wait for hope, to see no glimmer of a prospect and yet refuse to despair; to have nothing but night before the casement and yet to keep the casement open for possible stars; to have a vacant place in my heart and yet to allow that place to be filled by no inferior presence–that is the grandest patience in the universe. It is Job in the tempest; it is Abraham on the road to Moriah; it is Moses in the desert of Midian; it is the Son of man in the Garden of Gethsemane. There is no patience so hard as that which endures, “as seeing him who is invisible”; it is the waiting for hope.

Thou hast made waiting beautiful; Thou has made patience divine. Thou hast taught us that the Father’s will may be received just because it is His will. Thou hast revealed to us that a soul may see nothing but sorrow in the cup and yet may refuse to let it go, convinced that the eye of the Father sees further than its own.

Give me this Divine power of Thine, the power of Gethsemane. Give me the power to wait for hope itself, to look out from the casement where there are no stars. Give me the power, when the very joy that was set before me is gone, to stand unconquered amid the night, and say, “To the eye of my Father it is perhaps shining still.”

I shall reach the climax of strength when I have learned to wait for hope.
–George Matheson

Strive to be one of those–so few–who walk the earth with ever-present consciousness–all mornings, middays, star-times–that the unknown which men call Heaven is “close behind the visible scene of things.”

~What’s Required?~

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Many have sought to discover the minimal Christianity required of them to “still be Christian”. “How much of the world can I love, or how much of my agenda can I pursue and still be okay with God?” they ask. Or, “Just how sinful, casual, or lukewarm are we allowed to be and still be saved?” Of course the Bible isn’t much help in answering these questions. The whole tenor of Scripture disallows such thinking. On the contrary, Christ assertively commands his people to love the Triune God “with all of your heart, all of your soul, all of your strength, and all of your mind” (Luke 10:27). The Apostles plead with the people of God to “abstain from every form of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:22) and to “be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58). There is no assistance in describing minimalism because Christianity is all about maximal, whole-life, wholehearted devotion and commitment to Christ. We must come to realize that radical Christianity is normative Christianity. Sure, we are still subject to and plagued with periodic bouts of sin and failure, but the new life Christ gives sets in every regenerate heart a passion to live fully for our Creator and King. The Holy Spirit doesn’t add to sinners a new set of ancillary interests; he radically transforms hearts to voraciously and eternally seek the glory of their Maker. So may we never be heard asking, “What can I get away with?” but instead may we perpetually ask, “How might I love God and more perfectly serve him today?”

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                                                                                        What’s your excuse for not serving God?

In the last six months I have asked that question due to my frustration of having to be still so many hours and especially not being able to move as I want to and fro. My discipline in Christ was disconnected and I was flapping in the wind. Brothers there is no room for compromise in Jesus. The word is clear and concise on what is expected of us. Paul withstood not only the tests that came while  active in his service to Christ but also the test of during captivity. We may be able to withstand the strain of most intense labor, even if coupled with severe suffering, and yet completely break down if set aside from all Christian activity and work. This would be especially true if we were forced to endure solitary confinement in a prison cell.

Even the most majestic bird, which soars higher than all others & endures the longest flights, will sink into  despair  when placed in a cage, where it is forced to helplessly beat its wings against its prison bars. Have you ever seen a magnificent eagle forced to languish in a small cage? With bowed head and drooping wings, it is a sad picture of sorrow of inactivity. My beloved of the brethren my countenance was in this same condition, no prayer meeting, no men’s group activity no interaction with the church family I had began to droop in my appearance and my personal prayer life was not as effective  my work performance to me was substandard. I contemplated this question every waking moment of my existence in the world of rush and hurry and compromise and rental obligations and bills “How might I love God and more perfectly serve him today?

To see Paul in prison is to see another side of life. Have you noticed how he handled it? He seemed to be looking over the tops of his prison wall and over the heads of his enemies. Notice how he even signed his name to his letters—not as the prisoner of Festus, nor of Caesar, and not as a victim of the Sanhedrin, but as “ a prisoner for the Lord” ( Eph.4:1). Through it all, he saw only the hand of God at work. To him, the prison became a palace, with its corridors resounding with shouts of triumphant praise and joy.

Paul was forced from the missionary work he loved so well, He had to built a new pulpit— a new witness stand. And from his place of bondage arose some of the most encouraging and helpful ministries of Christian liberty. What precious message of light came from the dark shadow of his captivity. Brothers we all face some type of prison but keep this in mind while going through “ What’s Required”?

 

If God would have wanted us to live in a permissive society He would have given us Ten Suggestions and not Ten Commandments. – Zig Ziglar

 

 

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