12/32 Task Force: Understanding the Times, Reaching America with Truth

Any strategy that God blesses begins with Jesus, is all about Jesus and ends with Jesus.

One of the most powerful prayers in Scripture is recorded by the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 3:14-21. I just have to post this prayer in its entirety. Yes, it is that good.

“For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen”

What a prayer!

There is a huge difference between believing in Jesus and Jesus living his life through us. Many Christians do good things in the name of Jesus, but if we are going to reach America with Truth, people must see Christ at work in Christians.

There is a huge difference between “having a daily, morning devotional time” and “being rooted and established in love” , having “power, together with all the saints”,  grasping ” how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ”, and  knowing his” love that surpasses knowledge.”

As the church, our goal is to “be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” so he can do “immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.”

Experiencing more than we can imagine can only happen “according to his power that is as work within us,” bringing glory to him in the church, throughout all generations, forever and ever!

Imagine being a part of a ministry that prepares Christians to be Jesus in the world, intentionally and strategically. Imagine God doing more through us than we can imagine!

This is the work of the 12/32 Task Force.

The first arena we need to address is prayer. Throughout history, all the great movements for God began with prayer — including the birth of the church in the book of Acts.

In Acts 1:14, the Scripture reads, “They all joined together constantly in prayer”.

I have always found it interesting that Jesus clearly told the disciples that they were to “go and make disciples of all nations”, (Matthew 28:19) but instructed them go back to the upper room and wait.  Why didn’t they divide the world into eleven slices and take off! Instead, they went back to the upper room and they prayed.

When God wants to do something greater than we can imagine, he does it through us. The key is that he does it and we are the instruments.

Let’s go back to the birth of the church.  All they did was pray and move as the Spirit enabled them.

Acts Chapter  two states that while they were together that, “Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.” What seemed like tongues of fire separated and rested on each of them.  They “were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.”

Due to the festival of Pentecost, “…there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven.”

The same sound of violent wind that was heard by those in the upper room was also heard by the crowd outside. It was God, through the sound of the wind that brought people together — not a door-to-door evangelism campaign.

When the crowd heard this sound, they “…came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language.”

It was then that Peter stood and addressed the crowd.

After Peter preached, some 3,000 people came to Christ and the church was born!

The significance of Pentecost is that God did it! All the people did was to follow the fire and the wind.

The formula for taking Christ to your community is no different than what was recorded in Acts chapter two. Here are the steps.

Step #1: Gather together for prayer, teaching, fellowship and such.

Step #2: Watch and wait for God to move.

Step #3: When God says move…MOVE!

Coming together in prayer is the first step in taking Christ to our communities and country. The question for us is — are we making plans to come together to pray?

Are we busily going about our business doing good things for God, or we waiting on him, watching what he is doing, in order that he may do great things — greater than we can imagine — through us!

When the Going Gets Tough, The Tough Get Going

When the Going Gets Tough, The Tough Get Going

I was born on July 3, 1959. At the time of this writing, I am 54 years old. Each day is becoming a little more precious to me. As I have pointed out in many past articles, America has come apart at her spiritual seam. I will admit, times are tough. I played varsity basketball in high school. One poster that was hung in our locker room read, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going”.

Let’s not give up on the country we all love. The going in America right now is tough. It is time for tough to get going!

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a pastor in Germany during the reign of Adolf Hitler. Because he could not support the government takeover of the church, he became a part of what became known as the underground church.

Bonheoffer was eventually imprisoned and on April 9, 1945, he was executed.

The government takeover of the people of Germany, is similar to what we are facing today in America. Our government is slowly but surely encroaching on our freedoms — especially our religious freedoms. As I outlined in my recent series on “gay” marriage, biblical Christianity is under attack.

The only course of action for the Christians in early 20th century Germany was to retreat — to go underground. Hitler had become an immovable force. The Nazi party took over every aspect of German life, including the church.

This is not the case for Christians in America. To retreat now would be fatal for our country. On the contrary, for us, the answer is not retreat, but advance.

These are unprecedented times for the American Christian church. It is time for unprecedented action.

We need to become like the men of old, the men of Issachar. 1 Chronicles 12:32 reads, “Men of Issachar, who understood the times and knew what Israel should do — 200 chiefs, with all their relatives under their command.”

The enemies of Israel had overrun Jerusalem and all the tribes came together to take the city back for God. The leaders of “David’s Mighty Men” were the men of the tribe of Issachar. The Scripture tells us that these guys were uniquely qualified to lead due to three traits.

  1. They understood the times.
  2. They knew what Israel should do.
  3. They had their relatives under their command.

Verse 38 gives us even more insight into this godly band of warriors. “All these were fighting men who volunteered to serve in the ranks. They came to Hebron fully determined to make David king over all Israel. All the rest of the Israelites were also of one mind to make David king.”

This battle is only going to be won by people fully determined, with one mind, willing to risk all they have.

I want to suggest a two-fold strategy for taking our communities and our country back for Christ. We are implementing these strategies where we live, in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. If you live in the north Idaho area, I want to invite you to join us. A meeting date will be announced, soon.  If you are interested in including your community in this strategy alongside us, please join in.

Strategy Point #1: Very soon, we are going to begin a weekly worship and Bible study event in Coeur d’Alene called Kootenai CARES or Cultural Awareness Readiness Engagement Strategies. It will be a service for the entire family. We are not starting a “church”, we are gathering with a group of families who want to be the church.

Strategy Point #2: We are creating what we call a 12/32 Task Force, named for 1 Chronicles 12:32. This active group will lead smaller teams. The important areas of our community we need to impact in order to re-establish our American Christian values are as follows:

  1. Prayer
  2. Community Service
  3. Education
  4. Business
  5. Politics

In my next few posts, I will break down each strategy point.

God bless you and thank you for taking your time to read these articles. Email me sometime and let me know what you believe God is telling you.

~Pastor Gary

Where Did the Effort to Take Christians and Religious Expression Out of the American Public Square Begin?

Together, We Can Make A Difference!

Where did the effort to take Christians and religious expression out of the American public square begin? How do we bring Christianity back? Is that even possible?

Exactly when the effort to take our nation away from Christianity began is debatable, but one significant place we can start is with the Supreme Court and their rulings in 1962 and 1963.

In 1962, the Supreme Court ruled prayer — even voluntary, student led prayer — was unconstitutional in our public schools. In 1963 the courts ruled the Bible unconstitutional. By the way, the 1962 case was the infamous Engel vs Vitale case. A simple 22-word prayer, approved by the New York state board of education, was struck down by the Court. “Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence on Thee, and we beg Thy blessings upon us, our parents, our teachers and our country.”

Today, most people — Including some who say they are Christians — are convinced that the issue the Court was concerned with was coercion, since it involved a state-approved prayer. Folks, there was never any evidence of coercion proven in this case. The Court, on page 423 of the ruling, states, “The schools did not compel any pupil to join in the prayer over his or her parents’ objection.”

The Court continued on page 430 of their ruling that “prayer in its public school system breaches the constitutional wall of separation between Church and State.”

The problem this Court had wasn’t state-mandated coercion, but the simple presence of prayer in the public school system. The Engel decision was an attack on any kind of prayer; even voluntary, student-led prayer.

Let’s move on to the 1963 case: Abington Township vs Schempp.

The state of Pennsylvania had a policy that each school day would be opened by the reading of the Bible. Like the previous case, participation was voluntary and student-led. There were to be no comments made or questions asked; only the reading of the Bible would be permitted. Again, coercion was never proven in this case. The Schempp’s children, Roger and Donna, testified they had never protested to their teachers concerning the practice.

The argument was made that the school setting is no place for religious activity. If these activities are to occur it should be in the home, church or private school. Justice Stewart, in his dissent, pointed out the constitutional fallacy of this argument. “Freedom of speech, freedom of press, freedom of religion are available to all, not merely to those who can pay their own way.” Judge Stewart concluded, “A refusal to permit religious exercises thus is seen, not as the realization of state neutrality, but rather as the establishment of a religion of secularism.”

Some may argue that in this ruling the Bible, itself, wasn’t ruled unconstitutional, just the reading of it in public. Without a doubt, in this case the Court struck down the official use of the Bible in public education.

These two rulings paved the way for future decisions like this one. In 1980, Stone vs Graham, the Court ruled it unconstitutional for students to view the Ten Commandments while at school. — In this case the Court ruled, “That if the 10 commandments were read in school…a student might feel inclined to follow them” — yeah, really.

The 1962 and 63 rulings opened the floodgates for secularists to make our public places — our schools, our colleges and universities, our government, even our businesses — religious expression-free zones. Unfortunately, many Christians have also taken this stance.

The first amendment no longer protects the right of free religious expression but is used to restrict it. It is now in vogue to ask us, Christians, to keep our religious beliefs to ourselves. We, Christians, are being told that that we have the right to express our beliefs — in our homes and places of worship.

It is time for action.

At Reach America, we are launching a two-part strategy to bring Christianity back into the public square. The strategies will begin locally, here, in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Our goal is for other communities to join us.

In my next blog, I will outline the strategy.

At times, we all get discouraged — even I get discouraged. Now, however, is not the time to shrink back. We, at Reach America, still believe God can bring our nation back through us.

Do you believe? Will you join us?

We want to hear from you. My email is gary@letsreachamerica,org. Our phone number here is 208-966-4434.

If you are interested in joining the effort to take Christ to the public square, please contact us. Personally, I would love to talk to you.

Together, we can make a difference!

~Pastor Gary

Gay Marriage, Part Eight: Serve, Say, Stand

Part Eight: Serve, Say, Stand

Matthew (20:28) and Mark (10:45) record Jesus as saying, “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

The power behind what Jesus said was in how Jesus served.

Without a doubt, Jesus’ words were powerful, but it was what he did that gave his words impact. Luke records in Luke 4:36, “All the people were amazed and said to each other, ‘What is this teaching? With authority and power he gives orders to evil spirits and they come out!’”

As I stated in “Rip Van Church”, Christians fell asleep at the switch and now we have awakened to find ourselves shoved out of the public square. As stated in Part Six, “A Little History Lesson”, the “gay” movement had its roots in the feminist, socialist movements of the 1930s through 50s and sexual revolution of the 1960s and 70s. To pinpoint the watershed moment when our country began to rapidly move away from our Christian founding we need to look to the 1962 decision of the Supreme Court, ruling student-led prayer in public schools as unconstitutional. (This will be the topic of my next post.)

I believe we all agree that the sleeping giant, the church, needs to wake up and re-enter the public square. I want to begin a discussion on the most effective way to do so. I want to suggest a three-point strategy to bring back righteousness and save our communities.

Start, Serve, Stand

Start

We start with learning to C.A.R.E. for our communities again. We must become Culturally Aware and become Ready to Engage our community. Too many of us, Christian, have given up on our communities and we have begun to withdraw from the public square. I believe the scriptures are clear that we should be “salt and light” (Matthew 5:13-16) and that we should “occupy” (Luke 19:13) until he comes.

Why did God leave us here after we were saved? Think about it. There are only two things we can do on earth that we cannot do in heaven — sin and tell others about Jesus. Now, which one do you think He left us here to do?

Serve

We must re-enter society as a servant. Unlike when Jesus walked the earth, Christianity is not new. In the eyes of today’s world we are not only irrelevant but we read an ancient book that is no good for today and we claim to worship a God that no longer is necessary. In the minds of the majority of America, the advances of society and science have made faith in a “God” pointless.

It is into this new America that we are living and that we are called to reach.

In Matthew 20:25-28, Jesus is recorded as saying this:

“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave–just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

How we reenter the public square is important. I have been involved in the abstinence education movement since 1990, when Magic Johnson first announced to the world that he was HIV positive. I have been blessed to lead on every level of government in America. I have served locally, as well as the state and national levels.

From experience, I have learned that the old adage, “People do not care how much you know until they know how much you care”, is true.

It seems that the only time Christians show up in the community is when we are against something. All people know about us is what we are against. When we lead with our service, people see our heart. When we lead with our mouth in a negative way, all people believe they see are our fangs. When we serve, we prove to those reasonable people where we live that we really don’t have fangs.

Stand

After we have shown that we care, we have earned the right to be heard. We need to be active in the community. We need to be active in county commissioner meetings, school board meetings, and city council meetings. We need to let our voices be heard in areas in which we agree and disagree.

Christians need to get involved in politics. Yes, I said “that” word — politics! Run for office, work for those Christians running for office. VOTE!

Get involved in local ministries that are making a difference. Programs like food banks, shelters and pregnancy centers need our help. Start a leadership program, like Reach America, where you live that is training up youth and their parents how to lead.

Jesus used the “salt” and “light” metaphors –mentioned earlier– in what we know as the “Sermon on the Mount”. Earlier in that sermon, Jesus lists the “beatitudes.”  I have always found it ironic that right after Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers”, he said, “Blessed are those who are persecuted.”

Yes, I believe that was intentional. This is the nature of righteousness spoken in the public square. To those who are willing to listen, righteousness brings peace. To those whose hearts are hardened, righteousness proclaimed in the public square brings persecution to the righteous.

Unfortunately, the fear of persecution is driving Christians out of the public square. The fear of turning people away from the gospel message of salvation is keeping Christians away from speaking in the public square.

Never does the Bible tell us not to speak righteousness, but it does tell how we should speak.

Ephesians 4:15 “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.”

Colossians 4:6 “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”

We will always be vilified — count on it — but let’s be sure it is the Word of God that is offending, not the messenger.

This series has been one of the most challenging I have written. I hope it has been helpful to you.

In my next post I am going to examine the 1962 Supreme Court decision, ruling student-led prayer in public schools unconstitutional and the impact that ruling has had on our country.

Together, let’s re-enter the public square. Together, let’s start, serve and stand!

Gay Marriage, Epistemology & Righteousness…”What?!” Part Five

Part Five: Why Gay Marriage is Bad for America

In my last post, I laid out a Biblical epistemology, or worldview, of marriage and family and their importance to God. The coming together of man and woman as “one flesh” in the context of marriage is the most intimate expression of love and oneness two humans can experience. God made us where we fit together — literally — physically, emotionally and spiritually.

Marriage is the perfect expression to illustrate God’s perfect fit with us, as His creation, made in His image. The scripture tells us that as believers we are Christ’s bride, that God is a jealous God and that husbands should love their wives as Christ loves the church. The biblical examples go on and on.

It should come as no surprise to us that sexual sin is emphasized so much in scripture. Biblically speaking, there is just something different about sexual sin.

In 1 Corinthians 6:12-20, the Apostle Paul clearly specifies that there is something different about sexual sin. In verse 18 Paul writes, “Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body.”

In 1 Thessalonians 4:1-12, Paul compliments the people, and then issues this instruction in the form of a warning. I have included verses 3-8, below.

“It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him. The Lord will punish men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives you his Holy Spirit.”

Sometimes what the scripture doesn’t say tells us a lot. Take this first phrase of verse three. Why didn’t Paul say,

“It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid murder“?

“It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid telling lies”?

“It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid stealing“?

Could it be that when we sin sexually, that this is the first sign of more sin to come; the first sign of moral decline within ourselves and in the culture?

In Romans 1:18-32, Paul certainly indicates this. In these verses it is evident that sexual sin and specifically same sex relations are unnatural and are the first visible sign of a people who have turned their backs on God.

Let’s take a close look at Romans 1:18-32 and the seven steps to cultural chaos.

  • Step One: Suppress the truth, verses 18-20.
  • Step Two:  They didn’t glorify God nor did they give thanks to Him, resulting in futile thinking and a dark heart, verse 21.
  • Step Three: They claimed to be wiser than God and began to worship themselves, verses 22-23.
  • Step Four: God gave them over to their sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies.verse 24
  • Step Five: They exchanged the truth of God for a lie. verse 25
  • Step Six: Women and men exchanged natural relations for unnatural relations, verses 26-27.
  • Step Seven: They received the due penalty for their perversion, verse 27.

And what is the penalty? Take a look.

  • A depraved mind to do what should not be done.
  • A mind filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity.
  • Envy, murder, strife, deceit, cruelty.
  • Gossip, slander, God-hating, disrespect, arrogance, boastfulness.
  • They invent ways of doing evil.
  • They disobey their parents.
  • They are senseless, faithless, heartless, and ruthless.

The Apostle concludes his remarks in verse 32.

“Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.”

Folks, from a biblical epistemological approach, to what conclusions can we come? What are we, as Christians, to do about what we know to be biblically true?

Stay tuned for part six.

Gay Marriage, Epistemology & Righteousness…”What?!” Part Three

Part Three: What is Epistemology and Why Should I Care?

Dr. Jason Lisle is a Christian astrophysicist who writes and speaks on various topics relating to science and the defense of the Christian faith. His blog post on epistemology is excellent. For the purpose of this post, I borrowed greatly from Dr. Lisle. I highly recommend that you subscribe to his blog at www.jasonlisle.com.

Epistemology is the study of knowledge. Epistemology helps us answer the question: how we know what we know.  When a person has a belief, it is reasonable to ask the person “how do you know this?” The way in which a person responds to this kind of question will reveal his or her original source or epistemology.

Everyone has an epistemology because everyone have some beliefs, and they have reasons for their beliefs. However, not all reasons are good reasons. If the reason isn’t very good, then there is a good chance that the belief is wrong.

Epistemology is very important if we want our beliefs to correspond to what is real — to truth.

I believe it is safe to assume that most people have not consciously reflected on their own epistemology.  According to Dr. Lisle, when we think about what we believe we know, we need to ask ourselves three questions.

  1. How do I ultimately know anything?
  2. What are the standards by which truth is determined?
  3. Are these standards biblical?

Before we continue with this discussion, you may be asking yourself this question: “Why should I be concerned with epistemology?  It is enough that I do know things?”

Our epistemology is crucially important because if it is wrong, then many of our beliefs derived from that faulty system will also likely be wrong.  In other words, if our epistemology is wrong, then we could be wrong about everything we think we know!

Biblical Epistemology/Worldview

Only a Biblical worldview makes it possible for us to answer our questions and have genuine knowledge.  This is because knowledge stems from the nature of God. Proverbs 1:7 states, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.”

A Biblical worldview gives us rational justification for all the things that we rely upon in order to have knowledge. As I stated in the last post, human beings are made in the image of God.

Now, as Christians, let’s consider these additional facts.

God’s mind is perfect by His nature.  At salvation, God gave us — Christians — the ability to pattern our thoughts after His.  For our benefit, God has commanded us to pattern our thoughts after His, so that our thoughts will be truthful.

In 1 Corinthians 2:6-16 — please take the time to read these verses yourself — we read that God has given Christians two amazing gifts to enable us to discern the spiritual truth in all situations.

First, God has given us His secret wisdom. Vs. 9-10

However, as it is written: “‘No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him’–but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.”

Secondly, we have the mind of Christ. Vs. 16

“‘For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?’ But we have the mind of Christ.”

Friends, as with any issue or situation, the “gay” issues we face today can only be righty discerned by Christians accessing the secret wisdom of God through our right mind — the mind of Christ. This is accomplished by way of the only reliable record we have, the Bible.

The Failure of Secular Epistemologies

Dr. Lisle writes in his blog, “Non-Biblical worldviews makes knowledge impossible.”

That doesn’t mean that non-Christians can’t know anything.  Clearly they can.  But this is despite their worldview and not because of it. When you ask a non-Christian why they know what they know, it ultimately leads back to themselves as the basis of their knowledge.

Rationality

Have you ever wondered what the difference is between a rational person and an irrational one? A rational person has a good reason for his or her beliefs.  An irrational person does not.

A Biblicalworldview allows us to have good reasons for our most basic beliefs. Apart from the Bible, any reason that we offer for any belief cannot be ultimately justified.

Folks, it would appear that there are only two options for a person to hold.  One can either be a consistent Christian, or one can be irrational.

Epistemology is important because we live in a post-Christian America. More than ever, it is essential that, as Christians, we ask ourselves these three question about what we, think we know. Then, we ask others.

  1. “How do we know what we know?”
  2. “What are the standards by which truth is determined?”
  3. “Are these standards biblical?”

In my next post, I am going to present a biblical epistemology/worldview of marriage.

Again, I want to express my thanks to Dr. Jason Lisle for his work on epistemology.

I sincerely hope this series is a blessing to you. I would love to know what you believe the Bible says. Got any stories or reports? Please share.

~Pastor Gary

Homosexual Marriage, Epistemology & Righteousness…”What?!” Part Two

This blog series is a Christian response to “gay” marriage and the same-sex issues we are facing. I hope this isn’t only a one-way conversation. In a real sense, this issue needs to be a discussion, not a proclamation from me, or anyone else. On some level, all of us are dealing with this issue — nationally, locally or personally.  You may be dealing with this issue at home within your family. You, yourself, may be struggling with same-sex tendencies.

Also, I realize that many people passionately oppose a biblical worldview. Several of those opposed have made their way into our Reach America web orbit. For those of you who choose to disagree, I ask that you listen. You are welcome to respond in the blog section of our website.

Let’s talk ground rules: This discussion needs to take place in the context of the essence of God’s nature and his message to us all, as described in the Bible, God’s Word, not our personal experience or current perceived reality.

The essence of God’s nature and message

First — God is love and God loves all people — regardless of their personal issues. The most quoted verse in the Bible is John 3:16. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Love so much exemplifies the awesome nature of God that the Apostle John wraps up the essence of God in three short words, “God is love”. (1 John 4:8b)

This amazing three-word declaration is written in the context of John’s admonition to those who claim to know God — “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love”.

Secondly — every person is a creation of God, made in his image. In Genesis 1:26-27, Moses writes, “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’  So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”

Thirdly — God’s will is that none perish, but all people come to salvation in Christ. The Apostle Peter is clear in 2 Peter 3:9 when he says, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” [Italics mine]

Let me make three more biblical points as we lay out the ground rules of our discussion.

Ground rule #1: This discussion will take place within the context of the Word of God. We will agree with the Apostle Paul and his position concerning God’s Word. 2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness”. Also, we will agree with the writer of Hebrews, placing our lives under the authority of God’s Word for life guidance. Hebrews 4:12 states, “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”

Ground Rule #2: Jesus, thus God’s Word, is truth. As we stated earlier, the Apostle John acknowledged that the essence of God’s nature is love. (1 John 4:8) If we are to be consistent in our biblical discussion, we must also believe the Apostle John’s description of the essence of the nature of Jesus Christ. John, who actually walked with Jesus for three years and was known as the “beloved” disciple, quotes Jesus. Jesus proclaimed, “I am the way, the truth and the life.” (John 14:6, Italics mine)

If we agree with John when he states that God is love, we must also agree with John that Jesus, thus God’s Word, is truth.

Ground Rule #3: We all must treat one another with the love of Christ, respecting one another. When we speak, we must do so full of grace and seasoned with salt, as Paul directs in Colossians 4:6. “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”

I am looking forward to sharing with you as we begin this discussion.

FYI: unless you have been previously approved, your comment will be screened before it is posted.

God Bless!

Pastor Gary

If You Want To Change the World . . .

Doing my Government and Politics class yesterday, I ran across the following:

If you want to change the world around you, state and local governments are the place to start.

I don’t agree. I think my Government class is skipping a whole lot of more important places. I believe they are skipping to the branches of the trees and ignoring the roots.

I believe that the world around us begins and ends with people. I’m not talking groups of people but individuals. If you want to change the world around you, individual people are the place to start! And individuals start with oneself. So, if you want to change the world around you, start on yourself.

What do you think? Do we start at individuals? Or, do we start at government? I’d love to hear what you have to say, below.

Click HERE to learn about a conference all about changing ourselves to help reach America for Christ!

The Wrong View of God

Samwise Gamgee is just about the best Hobbit that ever did live. He has always been our family’s favorite person on the Lord of the Ring series (I speak only from the Peter Jackson movies). Frodo, on the other hand, is not our favorite Hobbit.

All Frodo ever did to Sam is under-appreciate him and betray him. Then,to make our dislike for Frodo deeper, when everyone is sad about Frodo’s “death”, nobody even thinks about Sam. Poor Sam who endured so much but never got anything back.

One of the saddest parts in the Lord of the Ring series is when Frodo splits up with Sam, after thinking Sam has lied to him, eaten up the rest of their food and wishes to take the Ring from him. But, the whole time, we know Sam is innocent.

Soon after this, Frodo is led, by Gollum, into Shelob’s lair. Shortly after, Frodo is left by Gollum and chased by Shelob, a gigantic spider. He escapes (whether that is good or bad, I still haven’t decided) and one of the first things he says is, “oh Sam!”

Just like a person, eh? When they get in trouble the first thing they do is regret what they shouldn’t have done! When people in the real world (sorry, Middle Earth is not real) get in trouble they usually say, “oh God, help me!”

But, what happens when they get out of the trouble? They do what Frodo did, again!

For most people, God is a good Person to get you out of trouble. He is there just to make sure you are as comfortable as possible. For them God is some sort of “cosmic bellhop” Who is supposed to rescue them when they need it.

Is this the way God is?

Optimism for Our Future

 

There was once a mother and a father very concerned about their two children. They were both 7 and one was very pessimistic and the other was very optimistic. To prove the extremity of these two children to their friends, they got a video camera and taped them opening their Christmas presents.

They gave the pessimistic kid a bunch of great toys. Trains, cars etc.; all well-made toys. The boy opened each one, looked at it for a little bit then put it down, saying, “that will break soon.”

They gave the optimistic kid a huge box of manure. The boy opened it with a smile on his face and when he saw the manure he started digging through it with his hands. The parents finally stopped him and asked him what he was doing.

The boy looked up and said, “well, with all this manure there’s gotta be a pony somewhere!”

Turns out, this kid has the right attitude.

Nowadays, many of the Christians I know realize and are fine with Christians changing America back for Christ, but they won’t have much to do with it.

Recently, I sent an article I had written to all my Christian friends. This article asked soul-searching questions. I didn’t get a single response whereas I usually get some responses when they are on topics like theology or science but not when the article asks deep, demanding questions of the readers.

This is what will change America. Asking “soul-searching” questions of people, getting answers and having these people really evaluate what their answer was.

However, people believe that they can’t make a difference, as they are only one person, or a minority. Fortunately, this is not true and need only list one person who changed the world they lived in. Here is how this person changed history and how we ought to do it if we ever hope to change our lives to change America.

This person did God’s work

This person’s sole purpose was to do what God asked

This person developed leaders

Have any guesses who this person may be? I figured you knew!

Anyway, Jesus Christ only did God’s work and that included doing whatever God told Him to do. In John 5:19 it says:

Then answered Jesus and said unto them, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He seeth the Father do: for what things soever He doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.”

Christ’s whole mission was to do exactly what God wanted Him to do. Remember in Luke 2:49 it tells of how Jesus, “must be about My Father’s business?” Even at a young age, Jesus knew what His goal and mission was but He didn’t know everything about it, as it says in John 5:19.

When Christ walked this earth, He lived with the Father living through Him (except at the cross where God could not dwell in a sinful body and He had to leave Jesus).

After Christ’s ascension, we are told to let Christ live through us, to do what He wants to do, to let ourselves do nothing but if it is the will of the Son, and thus the will of the Father.

This can’t be done by just doing what Christ says, it needs to be a killing of the self and allowing Christ to live through you and only Him. You not only have to surrender your life to Christ, you have to allow Him to take control of it.

We often think that if we just surrender our life to Christ, we will be saved and go on our merry way, but the world around us is fighting a horrible battle. People are dying and going to Hell and the only way to change the way America is going is to change oneself.

This is how a minority can change America for the better .  . . if we have changed lives and allow Christ to live through our lives as His instrument. Christ is the only One who can change America, but He works through us, if we are willing.

Don’t go around moping about what might happen against you (like the pessimistic kid in our story) and work on what might happen for you (like the optimistic kid). It won’t be pretty, fighting this fight, but are you willing?