Month: April 2013

Living to Die & Dying to Live

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Trust is to human relationships what faith is to gospel living. It is the beginning place, the foundation upon which more can be built. Where trust is, love can flourish.

Barbara Smith

A chicken and a pig came upon a church building and read the advertisement on the billboard out front, which read, “Help Us Feed the Poor.” Immediately the chicken suggested they help feed the poor with bacon and eggs. The pig thought for a moment and said, “There is one thing wrong with feeding bacon and eggs to the poor. For you it only requires a contribution, but for me it requires total commitment.”

Many in the church today do not want to be totally committed to the Lord because it demands too much of them.

Webster’s Dictionary says “To commit oneself says one is to speak or act in such a manner as to bind oneself to a certain line of conduct.”

Commitment to Jesus Christ is more than a definition: it requires my life, my soul, and my all. But too often find ourselves lingering between being committed and uncommitted.

In the following scripture passages the life of the uncommitted and the committed are presented to us.

1. Are you Uncommitted?

Matthew 19:16-22
16 “Now behold, one came and said to Him, “Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?”
17 So He said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.”
18 He said to Him, “Which ones?” Jesus said, ” ’You shall not murder,’ ’You shall not commit adultery,’ ’You shall not steal,’ ’You shall not bear false witness,’
19 ’Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ’You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”
20 The young man said to Him, “All these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?”
21 Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”
22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

Those that are Uncommitted focus on Self rather than the ways and work of God. (vs.16)

“What good thing shall I do that I may have…”

Self-centeredness is the hallmark of our society today. The only thing that people seem to care about is their own desires, their own wishes, their own satisfaction no matter what the cost or the consequences.

Most marriages dissolve because of the self-centered attitude of the married couple. Neither is willing to give themselves completely to the other, but each wants to live their own lives as a single but still be married. Marriage still requires surrendering our own desires and wants to the will of God and to make the relationship work at all costs.

Our self-centered attitudes have spilled over into every realm of life:

Our children are disrespectful of parents or any form of authority because they have been told that whatever they want they can have and no one has the right to stop them or to punish them.

Our Representatives and Senators have become so self-centered concerning their own jobs and popularity that they will sell out the security of our nation if it is necessary to win a few votes.

Our leaders are so wrapped up in their own plans and desires for political and financial gain that they no longer seem to be concerned about our nation and rush headlong into making decisions that fly into the face of God as if to say we want no part of you anymore.
Those that are Uncommitted focus on Keeping laws and legalistic works rather than the Word of God.

“All these things I have kept …”

Its not about keeping a bunch of do’s and don’ts. Its about keeping the laws of grace and mercy and obeying the commandments to live a holy life.

We get so caught up in judging others that we forget about the sin in our own lives.

Those that are Uncommitted focus on Riches of the here and now rather than the riches of Heaven.

“Go and sell and follow Me.” – Treasure and heart issues

The Bible tells us that where our treasure is, that’s where our heart will be also. In a world that is so caught up in materialism and self-gratification, it’s no wonder that people don’t have a heart after God.
It has been my experience that it does not matter whether you are rich or poor, whether you have a lot or very little of this world’s goods, you can still be materialistic.

If you get more upset over your car getting scratched, or your new carpet getting stained, or you new clothes being ruined than you do over the sin in your life then you are materialistic.

If we set our hearts on the things of God and lay up our treasures in Heaven, those little situations won’t mean nearly as much to us.

Those that are Uncommitted focus on Keeping rather than giving.

“He had great possessions”

Mark 8:36 “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?
What good will houses and lands and all the possessions of this world do you when this life is over.

I have never seen a hearse pulling a U-Haul! You can’t take it with you. You came into this world with nothing and you will go out of it with nothing.
The only things that will follow you are the souls that you have won to Jesus and the good works that you did for the Lord with the right heart. Everything else will be burned away.

How about you and I?

Are we part of the uncommitted always focusing on self rather than God?

This man who came to Jesus was looking for a better method of getting what he wanted rather than wanting God to make him a better man.

We are prone to look to God for greater ways and means to accomplish our goals … whereas God is looking for us to surrender our lives and give our soul to accomplish His goals.

Jeremiah 7:3-8
3 Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: “Amend your ways and your doings, and I will cause you to dwell in this place.
4 “Do not trust in these lying words, saying, ’The temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD are these.’
5 “For if you thoroughly amend your ways and your doings, if you thoroughly execute judgment between a man and his neighbor,
6 “if you do not oppress the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place, or walk after other gods to your hurt,
7 “then I will cause you to dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers forever and ever. 8 “Behold, you trust in lying words that cannot profit.
God never gives up on the uncommitted.

He is always calling and challenging the uncommitted to commit to Him.

2 Timothy 2:11-13 This is a faithful saying: For if we died with Him, We shall also live with Him. 12 If we endure, we shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us. 13 If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself

2. Are you Committed?

Matthew 10:34-39
34 “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword.
35 “For I have come to ’set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’;
36 “and ’a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.”
37 “He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.
38 “And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.
39 “He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.

1)Those who are Committed focus on Inner Peace rather than a temporal peace of man. (vs.34)

Philippians 4:7, “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

This is peace that no amount of troubles can take away. This is peace that will be with you in the middle of every storm.

I don’t know how people who don’t know the Lord can survive in this world. It is no wonder than so many are committing suicide or end up in a mental institution. Without Jesus there is no real peace.

2)Those who are Committed focus on Relationship with Christ rather than with family and friends. (vs.35-36)

Certainly, family and friends are important and must have a high priority in your life, but nothing must come before your relationship with God.

Jesus still holds us to the commandment that says thou shalt have no other God’s before me. Anything and anyone who separates us from God or who stands in the way of our relationship with God becomes an idol to us.

If we focus first on a relationship with Jesus, then all of our other relationships will be far greater because of the Love of God that will be made manifest in us.

3)Those who are Committed focus on Love worth finding rather than selfish love of man. (vs.37)

What is real love anyway? Most people confuse lust with love, or physical attraction with love, or the feeling that this is right with love. None of those these have anything to do with love. They only have to do with two people with an uncontrollable lust.
Love is really found when we still care about someone after we have seen them at their worst.

When the dirty clothes are stacked to the ceiling, the dirty dishes beg for your attention, the sick babies are crying in you ears and pulling on your leg, the creditors are ringing your phone every 20 minutes and we haven’t even had time to brush our teeth or comb our hair. If you can still look at one another after all of that and feel love, then you can say we truly have love one for another.

Love is also giving without expecting anything in return.

Love is doing all you can do for someone else, and when you are feeling totally exhausted and can’t seem to take another step, love will get up and go another mile if asked to do so.

4) Those who are Committed focus on Discovering the Source of Life rather than being the source. (vs.39)
Proverbs 16:3 Commit your works to the LORD, and your thoughts will be established.

We are to be Committed to God first of all.

Matthew 22:37-38 Jesus said to him, ” ’you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 “This is the first and great commandment.

Those who are committed to God will not have trouble meeting any of their other commitments. The pure love of God and our pure love for Him will keep us on the right path.

Secondly we should be Committed to Church.

Hebrews 10:24-25 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.

How can we say that we love the Lord and yet fail to attend the services where God can speak to us and through us?

No man is an island. We need each other to grow, to have strength for the battle.

How can we say we love God and yet fail time and again to come together to meet with Him and to be around the people of God?

How long would your marriage last if there was no togetherness and no communication?

How can we say we love God when we don’t even care what goes on at God’s house?

Is your commitment to Jesus Christ and the truth that leads you into a loving peaceful relationship with Him?

Are you willing to die to the things of this life that you may live in Christ and obtain a life that is far more peaceful and fulfilling than the life the world offers?

Conclusion:

An African Pastor was threatened by rebels who demanded that he renounce his faith or die. He refused. The night before they took his life, he wrote the following lines on a scrap of paper:

I am part of the “Fellowship of the Unashamed.” I have Holy Spirit power. The die has been cast. I’ve stepped over the line. The decision has been made. I am a disciple of His. I won’t look back, let up, slow down, back away, or be still. My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, and my future is secure. I am finished and done with low living, sight walking, small planning, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tame visions, mundane talking, chintzy giving, and dwarfed goals!

I no longer need preeminence, prosperity, position, promotions, plaudits, or popularity. I don’t have to be right, first, tops, recognized, praised, regarded, or rewarded. I now live by presence, lean by faith, love by patience, lift by prayer, and labor by power.
My face is set, my gait is fast, my goal is heaven, my road is narrow, my way is rough, my companions few, my Guide reliable, my mission clear. I cannot be bought, compromised, detoured, lured away, turned back, diluted, or delayed. I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of adversity, negotiate at the table of the enemy, ponder at the pool of popularity, or meander in the maze of mediocrity.

I won’t give up, shut up, let up, or burn up till I’ve preached up, prayed up, paid up, stored up, and stayed up for the cause of Christ.

I am a disciple of Jesus. I must go till He comes, give till I drop, preach till all know, and work till He stops.

And when He comes to get His own, He’ll have no problems recognizing me. My colors will be clear.
How about you?

Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.

Are you living to die? Or, are you dying to live?

If we will live this life in search of the truth of the Gospel, in search for the true love of God, in search of the peace that passes all understanding and in search of commitment to Jesus as Lord, then we will be ready for that life which is yet to come. At the moment of our death we will enter into the Glories of Heaven.

If we live this life in our own way, forgetting God, forsaking and rejecting His great salvation, then we are already walking dead in our sin. The end of this life is only a step down into a deep dark and terrible eternal death where we will be always dying but never really die.

Come to Jesus – ONLY THEN CAN YOU REALLY EXPERIENCE WHAT LIFE IS ALL ABOUT.

Chained to His Chariot

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This was as good of an Anniversary I could ask for. I spent it serving my God and worshiping with family and friends. I don’t have a lot of anything except a burning submission to serve my God and love as He did.

Indignation is a submission of our thoughts, but not of our desires.

Bertrand Russell


Pascal, one of the greatest and most influential scientific minds of all time, wrote these meaningful words: “The greatest of the proofs of Jesus Christ are the prophecies. [They are also what God has most provided for, for the event which has fulfilled them is a miracle of God.]” The observation of Pascal is definitively true. The fact of the Messiah’s extreme physical and spiritual suffering have been plainly prophesied. Yet, the Suffering Servant humbly endures them as God’s will for the sake of those who will be justified, or have their sins paid for, by Him. So the Servant voluntarily assumes the role given Him by God and bears man’s injustice and iniquity victoriously in noble silence. The Servant did not rebel against evil man’s oppression or God devastating assignment with His words or with His heart.
The Servant though is not a helpless victim of circumstance, but One who in His submissiveness and innocence fulfills the greater purposes of God. Thus in the end He will prosper and be victorious, for His vicarious suffering is God’s plan to accomplish His purpose (CIT). The destiny of servanthood to God is triumph even though its short-run experience may look like defeat. God’s ways are not man’s way. God is the God of eternity, and He is enacting an eternal plan according to His wisdom and power.

I. THE TRIAL, 7.
II. THE TRAGEDY, 8.
III. THE TOMB, 9.

Man’s judgment against the Innocent One begins in verse 7. He was oppressed and He was afflicted (or humbling Himself), Yet He did not open His mouth. Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, and like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, So He did not open His mouth.

There is no uncertainty as to who is described in these verses for it was made crystal clear to us in the book of Acts. For when Philip by divine appointment encountered the Ethiopian Eunuch on the road to Jerusalem in Acts 8, the Eunuch was reading these very verses. Then the Eunuch point blank asked Philip about whom the prophet was speaking. Philip then from these very Scriptures preached Jesus to him (Acts 8:35).

As we continue to study Jesus’ meekness and self-surrender and the astounding physical sufferings, let us never forget that the greatest suffering came form bearing the shameful burden of our sins which caused His Father to turn away from His Son.
First, the Servant’s patience in suffering is stressed. Not a word of complaint, not a whimper of protest was heard from the Savior’s mouth once the ordeal had begun. Neither the dreadful treatment by men nor the terrifying judgment of YAHWEH upon Him for our sins brought a word of protest from His smashed and bleeding lips. He was oppressed and He was humbling Himself, Yet He did not open His mouth. He completely surrendered to the will of the Father. He was willing to undergo such treatment and suffering because it was part of the Father’s plan.

We too need to learn this lesson. When we hurt, when we are experiencing affliction we need to endure it in silence also. If not our pain and hurt will cause us to say things that are hurtful, not only to others and ourselves, but to the cause of Christ.

Jesus was oppressed while humbling Himself. Although falsely accused by the chief priests and elders, Jesus held His peace (Mt. 26:63). When they spit on face and smacked Him, He said nothing. When others beat Him and cried, “Prophesy to us who hit You if You are the Christ?” He uttered not a word. A few hours later He stood before Pilate, who said, “Don’t You hear how many things they testify against You?” But the innocent Servant “did not answer him so that the governor marveled greatly” (Mt. 27: 13-14). His innocence and the conviction of His Spirit said and say sufficient to any listening heart.
If you have ever been to a MEAT PACKING PLANT it is an experience you will not soon forget. Cattle moan and moo as they are lead to the slaughter house. Pig and hogs squeal loudly as they are lead to slaughter. But sheep and lambs are different. They are silent as death as they go to slaughter. Even as the man cuts their jugular vein they utter not a sound or cry.
“Opened not His mouth” is a Hebrew idiom for silence and submission. Why did He submit? What motive caused Him to remain silent before His accusers? Why did allow such treatment and offer no word of protest? Listen my friend and listen with gratitude. Jesus was willing to die for sinners. John 10:17-18 says, “For this reason the Father loves Me because I lay down My life so that I may take it up again. No one takes it from Me but I lay it down of Myself.”

Patiently, silently, God’s Lamb allowed Himself be led to death. As a lamb brought to the slaughter, a sheep to the shearers, so Jesus “endured the cross, despising the shame.” Jesus did not fight against His fate rather He willingly submits to it. The Lamb who was slain for sinners was not driven or forced to go but went of His own free will. He was the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.

Verse 7 of Isaiah 53 trumpets the truth that He voluntarily submitted Himself. On the day of Pentecost, Peter said, “Him, being delivered by the determined counsel and foreknowledge of God, you have taken, and by wicked hands have Crucified and slain (Acts 2: 23).

The Lord Jesus submitted Himself to the eternal plan of the Godhead. When you ponder the treatment He received in the halls of Justice your sense of justice is violated This meek Person, modest and humble in nature, was stripped by rough Roman soldiers. Then mocked and robe in scarlet. Crowned with sharp thorns. A cane thrust in his hand, only to be snatched away and used as a rod to beat Him. Mocking voices taunted Him, “Hail King of the Jews.” But not a retort did the Lamb of God hurl back at the rude, crude tormentors. Peter wrote of Him, “Who when He was reviled, reviled ( 1 Pet. 2:23).
Any time we are afflicted, justly or unjustly, we cry out. Jesus too could have cried out to the authorities or the people that this was unjust. He could have cried out to God and the afflicted could have become the afflictor. Yet He did not. What a lesson he teach those who suffer unjustly according to the will of God (Pet. 1 Pet. 3:17-18 ).

II. THE TRAGEDY, 8.

Verse 8 describes the unjust treatment of the Servant. By oppression and judgment He was taken away. And as for His generation, who considered that He was cut off out of the land of the living for the transgression of My people, to whom the stroke was due?

Having stressed the humble endurance of the Servant in His suffering, the Isaiah gives even more details of the suffering. Neither Jesus friends or enemies, not even Satan himself had the faintest concept of what His death was intended to accomplish. This very ignorance was also prophesied centuries before. The enemies of the Servant used the manipulation of their justice system to work out their hatred of God’s Servant. It is clear that His death would be a judicially approved murder. But human will had no real power over the Servant, as Jesus testified to Pilate.
His unjust death by illegal legalized violence was misunderstood. The expression, “And as for His generation, who considered” means that not only did those who crucified Him not understand the reason for His suffering neither did His followers comprehend what was to be accomplished by His death upon the cross.

Shortly before His death, Christ told His disciples that they were going to Jerusalem, and the He would be delivered to the Gentiles, mocked, spitefully mistreated, spit on scourged and put to death. Luke 18:34 tells us that “they understood none of this things.” Understanding of such a marvel would only come after the coming of the Holy Spirit.
Years later, long after the coming of the Holy Spirit, Simeon Peter wrote, “For Christ also died the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit…” (1 Pet. 3:18).
God allowed it that He might punish His Servant for the sins of the people. (Jer. 1:16; Ezek. 5:8; Ps. 143:2). Dying in the place of the guilty, our Lord was “cut off” (nigzar) as if He had been a criminal. The blind violence that cut Him off from the land of the living became the instrument of God’s power. God being holy must judge sin. When our transgressions were laid upon Christ, God the Father judge them and cut off the sin-bear from life.

So that it would not be thought that He died for His own sins, Isaiah wrote, for the transgression of My people, to whom the stroke was due? The concept of substitutionary atonement is again proclaimed. That blow (nega) that was due us caused the Servant to be utterly forsaken by God (Ps. 22:2. The servant then experienced “the Second Death” (Rev. 2:11) for us [Oswalt, Isaiah, 396]. Praise His precious name! For all eternity! Verse 8 spoke of the Servant’s death. Verse 9 speaks of His burial.

III. THE TOMB, 9.

The prophesies of verse 9 were an enigma until Christ fulfilled them. His grave was assigned with wicked men. Yet He was with a rich man in His death, because He had done no violence, nor was there any deceit in His mouth.

Men nailed Him to the Cross with common criminals and “He was numbered with the transgressors.” They would have thrown that blessed body that had been used to do so much good for man into the valley of Hinnom to be burned with the refuse of the city or eaten by dogs. But God permits man to go only so far for it was with a rich man in His death. The Father touched the heart of the believing Pharisee Joseph of Arimathea who in Matthew 27:57 is call a “rich man.” Joseph took the holy body and put it into an expensive tomb he’d had carved for himself. He who came from a virgin’s womb was laid in a virgin tomb.
Jesus who had died like a criminal would be expected to be buried like one, but that would not have fulfilled God’s Word. The prophecy was fulfilled in that He died with the wicked yet He was with a rich man in His death.

No deceit was found in Jesus. He made no false claim, nor spoke no false word. Sin was not found in Him in though, word or deed. He not only did not deserve punishment for the sins of His people, He did not deserve any punishment. He was completely and perfectly innocent.

Some may point with scorn and accuse Christ’s modern day followers of inconsistencies. Let them consider our Savior. They will find no hypocrisy in Him. Thus the Servant was given a honorable burial after His dishonorable death, because God chose to honor His perfect innocence.

CONCLUSION / I remind you friend that the Savior endured the agony of the cross because of your transgressions. To refuse God’s provision is bear the penalty of your own sins. To reject grace and continue in your sins means that God must turn away from you, just like He did His own Son Jesus Christ on the Cross. Don’t turn your back on Jesus. Think of what He has done for you.

Bearing shame and scoffing rude,
In you place He stood;
Sealed your pardon with His blood.
Hallelujah what a Savior!

My fervent hope is that you have trusted Him as you Savior and Lord. “He was pierced through for our rebellions, crushed for our iniquities.” By believing in the One who was made sin for you, you become the righteousness of God in Him. Amazing Grace how sweet the sound!

[When the Ethiopian read this passage hundreds of years later and learned to understand it, his life was changed, because he came to realize the Servant suffered for him. Acts 8:35-39.

You like the Ethiopian have heard the message. You also need to reflect on the fact and let that the suffering of Jesus have a profound effect upon your life. He died for you! Because of Jesus’ death we need never fear death.
When the Ethiopian learned the meaning of this passage He immediately obeyed Christ by pronouncing Him as Lord and being baptized. Is there a need for this kind of obedience in your life?

If so just bow your head and tell God something like this: Heavenly Father I’m a sinner. I ask for forgiveness and cleansing in Your shed blood. I believe you died for me on the Cross, paying the penalty I deserve. The best I know how I right now place my trust in Jesus. Save me.

If you prayed that prayer and meant it, you’re now a Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ. Your sins are forgiven and you’re on your way to Heaven. Come and let us rejoice with you in your decision.

Haters of God

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Hatred does not cease by hatred, but only by love; this is the eternal rule.

Buddha

2 Timothy 2:23-26

New International Version (NIV)

23 Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. 24 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. 25 Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.

Romans 1:28

New International Version (NIV)

28 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done.

What an amazing time of study and enrichment I have had today. Looking into word studies associated with gossip, and haters of a Loving God as ours and lets not forget the study on Elijah. I have been blessed to dine with the liberty of eating at my Savior banquet feast. I hope you enjoy these topics and that they render you something in the lines of conviction to get that self improvement I have received just by sharing.

Rcently I listened to an audiobook by a militant advocate for atheisim. As the author read his own work with spiteful sarcasm and contempt, it made me wonder why he was so angry. The Bible tells us that a rejection of God can actually lead to a more hateful attitude towards Him: “Even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind…[to become] haters of God”(Romans 1:28-30).

Turning one’s back on God does not lead to secular neutrality. Indeed, recent militant atheist trying to remove crosses or the Ten Commandments from society, it’s easy to respon to their hatred of God with our own hatred. But we’re exhorted to defend the truth with an attitude of love, “humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth”.

The next time you see the works or hear the words of a hater of God, do an attitude check. Then ask God for spirit of humility and pray that the offender might come to the knowledge of the truth.

Lord, help us not respond in kind
To those who hate and turn from you;
Instead, help us to love and pray
That someday they’ll accept what’s true.

This awesome God knows how to defend himself in His power, but do we know how to stand as the instructions of what our word that became flesh says. Prayer is not an empty act, just a fact that it changes things.

Whispering Gallery

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Gossipst-pauls-cathedral

Be Impeccable With Your Word. Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.

Miguel Angel Ruiz

Whoever winks maliciously causes grief,
and a chattering fool comes to ruin.

11 The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life,
but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.

12 Hatred stirs up conflict,
but love covers over all wrongs.

13 Wisdom is found on the lips of the discerning,
but a rod is for the back of one who has no sense.

14 The wise store up knowledge,
but the mouth of a fool invites ruin.

15 The wealth of the rich is their fortified city,
but poverty is the ruin of the poor.

16 The wages of the righteous is life,
but the earnings of the wicked are sin and death.

17 Whoever heeds discipline shows the way to life,
but whoever ignores correction leads others astray.

18 Whoever conceals hatred with lying lips
and spreads slander is a fool.

19 Sin is not ended by multiplying words,
but the prudent hold their tongues.

20 The tongue of the righteous is choice silver,
but the heart of the wicked is of little value.

21 The lips of the righteous nourish many,
but fools die for lack of sense.

22 The blessing of the Lord brings wealth,
without painful toil for it.

23 A fool finds pleasure in wicked schemes,
but a person of understanding delights in wisdom.

London’s domed St. Paul’s Cathedral has an interesting architectural phenomenon called the “whispering gallery.” One Web site explains it this way: “The name comes from the fact that a person who whispers facing the wall on one side can be clearly heard on the other, since the sound is carried perfectly around the vast curve of the Dome.” In other words, you and a friend could sit on opposite sides of architect Sir Christopher Wren’s great cathedral and carry on a conversation without having to speak above a whisper.

While that may be a fascinating feature of St. Paul’s Cathedral, it can also be a warning to us. What we say about others in secret can travel just as easily as whispers travel around that gallery. And not only can our gossip travel far and wide, but it often does great harm along the way. Perhaps this is why the Bible frequently challenges us about the ways we use words. The wise King Solomon wrote, “In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, but he who restrains his lips is wise”(Proverbs 10:19).


Instead of using whispers and gossip that can cause hurt and pain while serving no good purpose, we would do better to restrain ourselves and practice silence. It would serve us to usher ourselves into our Father’s presence and confess the thoughts and feelings of pain and hurt, because I am daily giving things over that plague my peace. Please brothers don’t speak words that hurt each other. Sisters love us who have not grown up as of yet, but want to love you.

Lord, help us bridle what we say
And tend our conversations,
Avoiding careless gossiping
That murders reputations
Gossip ends at a wise person’s ears.

I Thank God for Prayer

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Empower A Felon
Empower A Felon

All who call on God in true faith, earnestly from the heart, will certainly be heard, and will receive what they have asked and desired.

Martin Luther

I praise God for being real to me. I thank God for every mountain He brought me over, for every trial He has seen me through. I woke up this un-promised day by the ruler of the universe with purpose and good health. I thank God for not allowing death to grace my life today nor any of the gifts of individuals aligned with my life, I praise Elohim for watching over my enemies associated with my life and this country. I thank God for prayer and His attentative ear that I trust hears my evey prayer. I thank God for being fair, firm , and just when it comes to loving His creation.

James 5:17

New International Version (NIV)

17 Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years.

Thank God Elijah was “just like us”! He sat under a tree, complained to God, and expressed his belief–just as we have often done. Yet this was not the case at all when he was truly in touch with God. “Elijah was a man just like us,” yet “he prayed earnestly.” The literal meaning of this in the greek is magnificent: instead of saying, “earnestly,” It says, “He prayed in prayer.” My God I am feeling this and His presence this morning: In other words, “He kept on praying.” The lesson here is that you must keep praying.

Climb to the top of Mount Carmel and see that great story of faith and sight. After Elijah had called down fire from heaven to defeat the prophets of Baal, rain was needed for God’s prophecy to be fulfilled. And the man who could command fire from heaven could bring rain using the same methods. We are told, “Elijah…bent down to the ground and put his face between his knees”(1Kings 18:42), shutting out all sights and sounds. He put himself in a position, beneath his robe, to meither see nor hear what was happening.

Elijah then said to his servant,”Go and look towards the sea”. Upon returning, the servant replied, “There is nothing there.” How brief his response must have seemed! “Nothing!” Can you imagine what we would do under the same circumstances? We would say,”just as I expected!” and then would stop praying. But did Elijah give up? No. In fact, six times he told his servant,”Go back,” Each time the servant returned saying, “Nothing!”

Yet “the seventh time the servant reported,’A cloud as small as a man’s hand is rising from the sea'”. What a fitting description, for a man’s hand had been raised in prayer to God before the rains came. And the rains came so fast and furiously that Elijah warned Ahab to “go down before the rain stops you.”

My faith says what Elijah faith said. I can see the breaking of day in my life. The system of this world would winn if I didn’t have God in me who is greater than “Me” that used to be world centered. I have faith that sooner or later it will turn around for me as it did for the Man of God. Felonies, convictions, lack of materialisim, lack of hope, fear of the uncertain is turning around for me, I can see the hand in the clouds of doubt and dispair forming in mu behalf. “Yes” my God is in love with “Me” and His promises are for “Me” and I will have what I have need of in this life because He is in control.

This story of faith and sight–faith cutting itself off from everything except God, with sight that looks and yet sees nothing. Yes, in-spite of utterly hopeless reports received from sight, this story of faith that continues “praying in prayer.” Willie Ashley my brother in the faith, I encourage you in Jesus name to be this way. Shut off your incarceration and focus on ‘ABBA” let Him soothe your natural appearances and see yourself from a faith perspective. We agree with the will of God for your life.

Do you know how to pray in that way–how to prevail in prayer? Let your sight bring you reports of discouraging as possible, but pay no attention to them. Our heavenly Father lives, and even the delays of answers to our prayers are part of His goodness. Each of three young boys once gave a definition of faith that illustrates the important aspect of tenacity. The first boy defined faith as “taking hold of Christ,” the second as “keeping our hold on Him,” and the third as “not letting go of Him.”

Equality in Higher Education

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Does race have a place in University Admissions? Consider two cases.

In 1946, an African American man, Heman Marion Sweatt, believed he should be allowed to attend Law School in his home state of Texas – which prohibited integrated education at the time. He took his case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court in Sweatt v. Painter, challenging the “separate but equal” doctrine of racial segregation and laying a foundation to end segregation at universities across the country – especially the South.

Over sixty years later, in 2008, Abigail Fisher said the same thing, but from a slightly different vantage point: She was white. She too argued that race should not play a factor in admissions policies – in this case, focusing on affirmative action policies designed to increase diversity on The University of Texas at Austin’s campus. Her case reached the U.S. Supreme Court in 2012 and now has the potential to end admissions policies that consider race at public universities across the country.

Both cases argue for fairness and equality in education. Both ask for race not to be considered as a factor for admission. So then – what should fairness in education look like today? Are there societal factors that cannot be ignored in the pursuit of equality at the individual level? Watch a clip from KLRU-TV’s new journalism project that is examining a issue that has become one of the most-watched US Supreme Court cases of this term.

So, what do you think? What does equality in education look like today? I would like to hear your thoughts below. Be honest. Be bold. Be you. However, I also ask that you be courteous and stick to the issues.

Silent Enemies

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During my tour of service I could not imagine seeing something like this take place, let alone me taking part in it. My horror experienced while serving has given me issues of depression and coupled with my life horrific experiences while separated from service has made me passionate about others who endure these attacks from the enemy of our soul. My wife and I are preparing ourselves for this type of work. With her almost completion of her studies in psychology and us both getting certified for drug and alcohol counselors, we will have the anointing and life experience to get us through to be affective in shock absorbing our clients pain.

If you want enemies, excel others; if you want friends, let others excel you.

CHARLES CALEB COLTON, Lacon

At 21, Jacinda considered her male coworkers in the Navy to be her brothers. That was before she awoke in a drunken haze, bleeding from being anally raped after a party at the barracks.

She couldn’t find her shirt; so she wrapped a blanket around herself and walked directly across the street to the military police. They told Jacinda she shouldn’t have been drinking among so many men, and that she should chalk up the consequences to poor judgment and go home. The military police also intimidated her with threats of imprisonment if her report were judged to be false.

Frightened, Jacinda lied about her injuries when she went to the infirmary.

That was 15 years ago. Today, Jacinda says, “I’m unable to maintain relationships. I don’t trust men. I have no children. I also have OCD behaviors, such as checking and rechecking locked doors. I pull out my hair sometimes, one strand at a time. I chew my nails to the bone, and I suffer from panic attacks and generalized anxiety.”

It took many years and four denials before the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) finally granted Jacinda resources to help treat her post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Jacinda says she doesn’t regret her military service, but she wouldn’t do it again.

Jacinda’s story is far from unique. In 2012, then-Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said that, while the number of military sexual assaults reported the previous year totaled around 3,000, the actual number of rapes was likelier to be 19,000. And as the Academy Award-nominated documentary The Invisible War demonstrated, military sexual assault (MST) is a veritable epidemic across the armed forces.

TakePart spoke to a handful of survivors about their personal experiences with MST. Their names have all been changed.

Jessica Hinves (her real name) came from a military family. Joining the Air Force at age 24 seemed a natural choice. She was in her room at an Air Force base when an airman she knew broke in through the bathroom and raped her. She went to the hospital, hoping desperately that no one at work would find out.

Hinves failed to receive the privacy she wanted. A girl in the next room found out that Hinves had requested a forensic kit (rape kit) and promptly told Hinves’s supervisor. Hinves was terrified.

She tells TakePart of the man who raped her: “I knew the type of guy he appeared to be. If it hadn’t happened to me, I wouldn’t have believed it myself. He just didn’t seem capable of something like this. I feared I would be ostracized. I needed others to do some of my duties as a jet mechanic. I feared no one would work with me for fear that I would get them in trouble. Sexual harassment was a common thing and accepted throughout my squadron. I knew people would be leery of me and afraid that I might report them as well.”

Treatment proved to be difficult. She tells TakePart, “I thought I was going crazy after this happened. I wanted to be institutionalized to get a handle on my life again, but the only place available had all males on the floor and wouldn’t allow me to lock my door at night. I couldn’t bear it; so I was put in an outpatient facility with combat vets. I was relieved to know someone else was going through what I was, and I wasn’t going crazy. I was sleeping with knives and had weapons hid in my locker at work, in my house, and in my car. I couldn’t sleep because of the dreams. I couldn’t go out of my house for fear of what people were capable of.”

Now 31, Hinves says, “I regret I didn’t know rape was a hazard to military service.… I loved the military. I wish this never happened so I could still be doing what I loved.”

Sienna was 31 when she joined the Navy. She hoped to secure an education and to travel the world. She invited a coworker, who had recently returned from a yearlong deployment, out for beers with her friends. She drank a couple of beers, but he drank far more, and ended up vomiting in the parking lot. She offered to let him crash on her couch.

“He came into my room after I went to bed,” she tells TakePart. “I said no repeatedly and did fight him off. I thought it was over, but after I fell asleep he came back in my room. He pinned me while I was asleep.” She awoke to find the man on top of her, raping her.

Sienna didn’t report the rape: She would have been required to admit that she’d driven a vehicle after having a few beers. She feared being charged with an alcohol-related incident. She also felt that as a female mechanic, it would have ruined her career.

Her PTSD began with sleep problems and progressed to crippling panic attacks. She eventually left work for two months to seek psychiatric help. She also sought treatment in a military PTSD program.

Today, she’s a 40-year-old college student studying to be a trauma counselor. She tells TakePart, “Everything that happened to me has made me stronger. My experiences will help me help others.”