Monday, June 30, 2014

Power is of God

Psalm 28:1 The wicked flee when no man pursueth, but the righteous are as bold as a lion.

The world and the god of this world will always marginalize God's men.  However, The Word of God says that we are in this world but we are not of this world. God intends for his men to be salt and light of this world.  God called his men to be bold as lions, making decisions based on courage and boldness rather than cowardice and fear.

The righteous man knows that his power is of God and not of man.  A man of God is bold in the power of The Lord.  The world glories in the accomplishments of man.  However Jesus said that apart from me you can do nothing. ..  Did we in our own strength confide, our battle would be losing, were not the right man on our side, the man of God's own choosing.  Doth ask who this may be?  Christ Jesus it is He.  And he must win the battle.

To become bold, I must decrease that he may increase.  The world glories in the self-made man, with the emphasis on self.  Men glory in worldly accolades of fame, fortune, power and self-actualization.  The Word of God is the polar opposite of man's word....  Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, let not the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches.  But him that glorieth, let him glory in this, that I am The Lord that exercises lovingkindness, judgement, and righteousness upon the earth.

God called us not to act in our own power but rather according to the power of His might.  It is God that worketh in us to will and to do of His good pleasure when our good pleasure is his good pleasure.  God exhorts to act... actively and deliberately, not passively.  We are not "victims" of this world.  We are called to influence the culture, not be influenced by the culture.

Nations grow strong when the family is more important than the individual.  However, when the individual is supreme, the culture "atomizes" and flies apart.  This is where our culture is today.  The emphasis is on self rather than the family.  This is the end result when "my rights" are preeminent and the god of self actualization is worshiped.  However, God called us to be unified together as the family of God, bound together by the  bond of  love.  Above all these things put on charity (greek word agape) which is the bond of perfectness.

Abraham Lincoln once said, "My mother told me that I was born to do great things.  I didn't have the heart to let her down."  In order to contribute to something greater than myself, I need to do it for the ones I love.  It's not about me, it's about the ones I love.  When God says to fear him, he doesn't mean to cower before him. The fear of God is to love God enough to refuse to let him down.

In order to repent, nations like individuals must be brought to their knees.  The prodigal son turned around only at the point when he was starving and "feign did fill his belly with the pods which the swine did eat." When he had nothing to eat but pig slop, having frittered away his father's fortune, only then did he turn around and "come to himself."  Sometimes in order to turn around you must hit rock bottom.  The definition of repentance is to "change your mind."  It means to turn from my own strength to God's strength...  to change Lordship from myself to The Lord Jesus Christ. 

Our culture values self sufficiency, self confidence, and self esteem.  The emphasis is on self.  The devil's offer to Eve was "disobey God's word, help yourself to the fruit, and ye shall be as God."  The culture of the world has bought into this lie ever since the fall of man.  The "what's in it for me" paradigm is the doctrine of this world with the emphasis on "help yourself"  and "how can you help me?"  When we change our mentality from "serving ourselves and being served" to serving God from the love in our hearts, only then can God deliver.  It's not about me, it's about Him.

According to Romans 5:3-5, “tribulation worketh patience, and patience experience and experience hope, and hope maketh not ashamed because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given to us.” Therefore glory in tribulation because when it is finished tribulation shall have it's perfect work. Our prayer is not that  God would deliver us from the storm, but rather that he would deliver us through the storm.  There is no victory without a battle. But thanks be to God which always causes us to triumph in Christ and maketh manifest the savor of his knowledge by us in every place.  God called us to be salt and light in a world of darkness... not to be influenced by the world but to influence the world.  Influencers:  Let your light so shine among men that they may see your good works and glorify your father which is in heaven.  Thy grace is sufficient for me...

Your Brother in Christ, Michael

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Wholly Holy

Rom 12: 2  I beseech ye therefore brethren that ye present your bodies A living sacrifice holy and acceptable unto God which is your reasonable service, your true act of worship.

Men struggle to get it right.  However, God will not let you fall. Holy, Sanctified:  (Greek word “hagios”) Set apart, and consecrated for the purpose intended by the designer.  Leviticus in the Old Testament describes holiness:  be ye holy for I am holy. There are several examples of holiness:  The fall of man separated man from God.  God's plan for reconciling man back to God was Jesus Christ.  Sin does not separate us from God, rather it's rejection of the savior from sin, Jesus Christ the Son of God.

The glory of the inner chamber is to converse with God:  we are the temples of the Holy Spirit, our heart is the holy of holies.  God calls us to live according to the spirit of life in Christ in us.  He gave us a new spiritual nature so that we could be holy and act accordingly.  Holiness is a partnership with Father and his children. 

Running the race of life and pressing toward the mark of the high calling requires discipline.  A disciple is a disciplined follower.  Though we're trapped in this carnal body, this earthen vessel, God called us to set our affections on things above and not of the things of this world.  For we have this treasure in an earthen vessel that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We need not lament the state of worldly affairs and that the political correctness of this world calls good evil and evil good.  We must embrace the political correctness of our true country:  this world is not my home.  For our conversation (citizenship) is in heaven.  The word of God is our declaration of independence (from worldly wisdom) and our declaration of dependence upon God. 

Ye are slaves to that which you obey.  The choice is slavery to the flesh or obedience to God and his word.  For the law of the spirit of life in Christ has made me free from the carnal law of sin and death.  God is still in control:  right is according to God's Word and not man's word.  God called us to be holy. According to the world, discrimination is a bad word.  However holiness starts with discrimination:  discriminating right from wrong according to the standard of the Word.  In order to receive holiness, we must separate ourselves from the bondage of the flesh and stand fast in the spiritual liberty wherewith Christ has set us free. God hears our prayer when we are obedient according to his Word.  Prayer is not asking God to do our will, rather prayer is aligning our will with his will, our heart with his heart.

Holiness is to be set apart for the purpose intended by the designer.  For example, a pen is designed for writing.  When I write with my pen, I'm sanctifying my pen by using it for the purpose for which the designer designed it.  God is the designer, we are his workmanship created in Christ Jesus unto good works which he hath foreordained that we should walk in it.  When we walk according to God's calling, according to his divine appointment, our lives are sanctified, set apart for God's intended purpose.

The worst sins are the sins of "omission."  These are the things that I would have and should have done.  These are the "opportunities lost" where I could have walked in fellowship with my Heavenly Father.  The biggest disappointment in life is the missing of God's divine appointment.  We have an opportunity moment by moment to walk in fellowship with Jesus Christ and our Heavenly Father.  Therefore walk, redeeming the time... meet God each moment for his divine appointment... now is the acceptable day of The Lord...  The choice is life or death.  Therefore, choose life...  come to Jesus and live.

Your Brother in Christ, Michael

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Live for Him

When all has ended in this life and the final curtain has fallen there will be one lasting reality:  the one and only Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and what did you do when he called you to walk with him.  We've been given all we need to answer the question of life.  There are many questions about reality.  However there is only one answer:  Jesus Christ.  He is the way, the truth and the life.  All will pass away.  Now abideth faith, hope, and the Love of God, but the greatest of these is love.

Romans 8:35, 37 Who shall separate us from the love of God?  Shall persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, or sword?  Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.

How do you know if you got it right? 
I beseech ye therefore brethren by the mercies of God that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, wholly acceptable unto God which is your reasonable service.  And be not conformed to this world but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind that ye may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (Romans 12:2)

Two questions for immature guys:  What's in it for me?  How much does it cost?

It's not about the cost, it's about value.  What do you value most?  Are you blind to the spiritual reality?  There is a far greater value, a more exceeding and eternal weight of glory in the things of the spirit than the things of this world.  Jesus Christ came to open the eyes of those who were born spiritually blind.  When you can't see God's plan or God's heart, you can't trust him.  Trusting in him results from abiding in him.  When you know the master's heart, you don't question the master's will.  My prayer is to align my heart with his heart, my will with his will, my walk with his walk.  Jesus didn't say follow me on a journey of a thousand miles.  He only said to "follow me."  He said to walk with me.  The walk is one step at a time.  Jesus asks us to live in the moment with him.  He didn't say to walk with him tomorrow.  "Take no thought for the morrow for the morrow shall take care of the things of itself."  All we have is now.  One moment in time...  each moment I have an appointment with destiny... to walk with him one step at a time...  we are his workmanship (Greek word “poema”), we are God's masterpiece, his poetry in motion;  created in Christ Jesus unto good works which he hath foreordained (his appointment) that we should walk in it. (Ephesians 2:10)  Each step, each moment we have the decision to keep our appointment with our Father and with his son.  Disappointment is the missing of God's divine appointment.  Trust in The Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thy own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

Living sacrifice:  sacrifice my carnal will of sin and death for his spiritual will of life and peace.  God didn't ask us to die for Him, He commands us to live for Him.  Like General Patton said, "there's no honor in dying for your country, there's honor in making your enemy die for his."  As He died to make men holy, let us live to make men free.  Jesus led captivity captive.  He said I am the way, the truth and the life, no man cometh to the father except by me. (John 14:6)  As we abide in him, only then can we know the truth...  he is the Word of truth and the truth shall set you free.  Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made you free.  Only use not liberty as an occasion to sin, but in love serve one another. 

The Word of God is the polar opposite of the world's wisdom.  Worldly wisdom says "what's in it for me."  Spiritual wisdom says "what's in it for him."    Ye are slaves to that which you obey... either the carnal nature or the spiritual nature of God in Christ in you.
There is only freedom in bondage to Christ.  The ultimate freedom is the ultimate bondage...  Make me a captive Lord and then I shall be free...  force me to render up my sword and I shall conqueror be.  The greatest act of worship is presenting our bodies a living sacrifice...  not my will but thine be done.

Your Brother in Christ, Michael

Friday, June 27, 2014

Longing for Love

We all long for love.  Whether we deserve it or not we all long for love, for love is unconditional.  Love does not depend on our attitudes, our mood, our deeds or behavior.  Brotherly Love is the enjoyment of each other's fellowship. 

There are three characteristics of a healthy team:
1.  We Share a common vision.  We know our purpose.  We know why we're here.  We know the ultimate goal.
2.  We have a chemistry together
3.  We all know our jobs and our role as an individual contributor to the common goal.

A winning team works together for the joy of the fellowship and the striving together for a common purpose so that the role of the individual is less important than the shared goal of winning for the team.

Team chemistry is about love.  Loving others puts the welfare of others above my own.  Jesus said, a new commandment I give you, that you shall love others as I have loved you.  John 13 says the payoff is that all men shall know that ye are my disciples if you love one another.  Others will marvel at your love for one another.  Others will be attracted to the team where the team chemistry coalesces in the bond of love.

When we fail to meet each others' expectation, this builds up a "resentment" bank.  Deposits to the resentment bank stem from thinking that my rights have been violated.  Sons often build up a resentment bank against their dads, especially when they compare their dads against other dads.  However, there is no resentment in the love of God in manifestation.  Love "seeketh not her own."

Sometimes "tough love" is manifested in a 2 x 4.  Romans 12 says let love be without hypocrisy.  Jesus told the Pharisees the truth of the Word, but they couldn't handle the truth. Paul said by revelation, abhor (hate) that which is evil, cleave to that which is good.

There are several Greek words for love:
The love of God is one of the qualities or "fruit" of the spirit.  We must first have the spirit of God within us in order to love with the Love of God. God's love manifests itself in loving others above ourselves.  As Paul said, Let this mind (of love) be in you which was also in Christ.  Honor them above yourself.  Jesus humbled himself and took upon himself the form of a servant and was faithful unto death.

When God sees us, he doesn't see our frailty and our weakness, our woulda's, shoulda's, and coulda's.  He sees the perfection of Christ in us the hope of glory.  God’s love focuses on our righteousness in Christ, not the weakness of the flesh.

In 1 Cor 13 Paul by revelation gives us God's "charity checklist:" These are God's "terms of endearment."  These are the terms of his endearment to us, our endearment to him, and our endearment to others within the body of Christ.

suffereth long - is kind - vaunteth not itself - is not puffed up - seeketh not her own - is not easily provoked - beareth all things - believeth all things
hopeth all things - never faileth

Love forsakes self and focuses on The Lord.  Love is manifest when you give it away.  God set us in this world so that we could love others with the love wherewith we have been loved.  Where is your heart?  What is the motive behind your actions?  If you look at what you do, would you be "convicted of righteousness."  To be convicted of a crime, there must be a malicious intent and a malicious act resulting from malicious intent.  To be convicted of righteousness, there must be a loving intent and a loving act resulting from loving intent. Man looketh on the outward appearance but God looketh upon the heart, the motive behind the action.  Love is the motive.  Love activates believing which appropriates the promises of God.

Why did God say to love him above all?  If I told you to love me, wouldn't this command sound egotistical?  However, God always has our best interest in mind.  God is love.  When we love God, we reflect the nature of God himself.  God said to love him above all so that he in return could bless us.  We receive God's blessings when the love of God, the renewed mind in manifestation activates our believing according to the Word.  Loving God allows him to bless us in return:  this is God's virtuous cycle:  as we love and give, God can give blessings back to us.  Loving God is loving others.  Love manifests itself in giving.  Love is a reflexive verb:  what goes around comes around.  Jesus said,  "In that ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren ye have done it unto me."

John 13:34  A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.

Your Brother in Christ, Michael

Thursday, June 26, 2014


Many enjoyed the writings of my friend and brother in Christ, Michael Low. Mike is a member of my Friday evening small group Bible Study, longtime adult Sunday School teacher and fellow Ministry Board member at our church. He even preached the Sunday Sermon last Father’s Day. Michael attends a Men's Bible Study called "The Influences" and shares his notes via email, and has given me permission to share them on my Blog once again, so, once more, for the next week or so, you will be seeing Michael's thoughts, and I pray that you will be blessed once more and take a gold nugget of truth for your life. Brian 

Moralism is a false doctrine that says just try harder.
The carnal nature is a prisoner to the appetites of the flesh.  The world says "give in to your appetite."  However, the Word says "Ye are slaves to the one whom you obey."  Where do you run for comfort and consolation?  Is it the pursuit of success, relationship, and things.  You're a prisoner to that which you value most.  What's your "drug of choice?"

Phil 2:12-13  (Continue to) Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.  We're in a marathon.  Continue to pursue the prize of the high calling, for it is God which worketh in you to will and to do of his good pleasure. 
We may attempt to beat our flesh into submission.  This is a futile effort.  In the words of Martin Luther, "Did we in our own strength confide, our battle would be loosing, were not the right man on our side, the man of God's own choosing. Dost ask who that may be?  Christ Jesus it is he, and he must win the battle."

With God there is no difficulty.  Difficulty is inversely proportional to the power that is used to overcome it.  God is all-powerful.  With God all things are possible to him that believeth. There are not four easy steps to being released from prison.  Life is messy, it's convoluted, we don't know the end from the beginning, but he does. Where is your passion, what is it that you value most?  When you find your passion, it's not about the difficulty in the effort, rather it's the joy of the pursuit of your passion. 

There are four postures toward spiritual maturity.
1.  The posture of confession.  Without confession, we can't turn from the flesh and toward the spirit of life in Christ.  Confession acknowledges that of ourselves we are nothing...  that in him we live and move and have our being. 
2.  The posture of repentance:  to turn from self and toward God.  To change direction.  Life is a series of "inflection points."  Inflection points are changes of direction.  In this convoluted life, God allows us to change our mind, to allow our minds to be renewed through the power of his Word. 
3.  The posture of being known.  God created us to do life in community. He called us collectively to the body of Christ so that we could be fitly framed together, to edify and build up one another as God's building to God's glory.  The adversary works in darkness.  Allow the light to shine in our lives in order to build up the body of Christ.
4.  Intimacy with our Heavenly Father.  We must draw our hearts close to God.  We must abide with him and within him to develop an intimate relationship with our father. 

Meekness and humility are the keys to allowing God to lead captivity captive:  to release us from the prisons of the carnal nature.  Casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.

According to John 3:20, He that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light lest his deeds should be reproved.  But He that doeth truth cometh to the light that his deeds may be made manifest that they are wrought of God.

According to the world, reproof, discipline, chastening, and chastisement are negative terms.  However, God gave us his Word for doctrine, reproof, and correction.  The chastening of The Lord is a positive term:  it means to restore to an upright condition.  God has called us to the church, the body of Christ as members in particular, so that we could bear one another's burdens, so that we could confess one to another.  So that we can acknowledge our brokenness and allow the light of the Word to shine in our lives... So that we can turn away from the desires of the flesh and turn our hearts toward the mark of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. 

Our father sent his son Jesus Christ to bear our burden of sin.  As Jesus has borne our sin, we have been called as a band of brothers to bear one another's' burdens.  We have been called to liberty:  only use not liberty as an occasion to sin, but in love serve one another.  Jesus said that in that ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.  Jesus also said that my yoke is easy and my burden is light...

The road is long, with many a winding turn.  But I'm strong, strong enough to carry him... he ain't heavy, he's my brother.

Your Brother in Christ, Michael

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Give Me the Giants

Numbers 13:30, 14:6-9 Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, “We should by all means go up and take possession of it, for we will surely overcome it.” Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, of those who had spied out the land, tore their clothes; and they spoke to all the congregation of the sons of Israel, saying, “The land which we passed through to spy out is an exceedingly good land. If the Lord is pleased with us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us—a land which flows with milk and honey. Only do not rebel against the Lord; and do not fear the people of the land, for they will be our prey. Their protection has been removed from them, and the Lord is with us; do not fear them.”

Pastor Rick Crockett graciously preached the Sunday Sermon this last week, as Pastor Phil Smith rightfully takes a sabbatical to care for his ailing wife. Pastor Rick spoke of how we tend to think of life as a career, where we start a profession, work long and hard to provide for our family and build a nice nest-egg then retire and relax though our “golden” years, but the Bible doesn’t have this formula for Christian life. It’s not like our kids in the backseat on a long family road trip asking: “Are we there yet?”, because the end of this journey’s pilgrimage road is the destination of “Glory” in the kingdom of Heaven. But this purposeful life of the child of God, here and now, led by the Holy Spirit, living by the Spirit and walking in the Spirit (Galatians 5), created in Christ Jesus, doing the good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:10), is the walk in front of us. Sin took the land, but the Lord, though His people, is taking on the giants and restoring it to godliness, holiness and righteousness. To this holy purpose, we are here and to this task we put our hand; there is no retirement this side of glory.

Joshua 14:6-14 then the sons of Judah drew near to Joshua in Gilgal, and Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite said to him, “You know the word which the Lord spoke to Moses the man of God concerning you and me in Kadesh-barnea. I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the Lord sent me from Kadesh-barnea to spy out the land, and I brought word back to him as it was in my heart. Nevertheless my brethren who went up with me made the heart of the people melt with fear; but I followed the Lord my God fully. So Moses swore on that day, saying, ‘Surely the land on which your foot has trodden will be an inheritance to you and to your children forever, because you have followed the Lord my God fully.’ Now behold, the Lord has let me live, just as He spoke, these forty-five years, from the time that the Lord spoke this word to Moses, when Israel walked in the wilderness; and now behold, I am eighty-five years old today. I am still as strong today as I was in the day Moses sent me; as my strength was then, so my strength is now, for war and forgoing out and coming in. Now then, give me this hill country about which the Lord spoke on that day, for you heard on that day that Anakim were there, with great fortified cities; perhaps the Lord will be with me, and I will drive them out as the Lord has spoken.” So Joshua blessed him and gave Hebron to Caleb the son of Jephunneh for an inheritance. Therefore, Hebron became the inheritance of Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite until this day, because he followed the Lord God of Israel fully.

Caleb knew the Lord and understood his lifelong mission, to trust and follow God whole-heartedly. With his whole heart, he saw the potential and possibility because no matter how physically, mentally, emotionally or spiritually exhausted he’d become, he grasped that in the purposes of the Almighty, whatever he cannot do, God can do. Our weak flesh may fail, but our God never will and uses us. 2 Corinthians 4:16 tells us, Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.

Perspective makes the difference, and though there appear to be “giant” problems in life, God overwhelms the giants. The real question in this day and age is: Can we say, “I followed the Lord my God fully”? Like the Israelite Spies on the “Promised Land” told Moses, there will be fearful false bad reports from those who do not trust in the Lord. But, this Creator God that carries us through our own “forty year wilderness” experience is in control and will do more. So give me the giants.

Psalm 92:12-15The righteous man will flourish like the palm tree; He will grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still yield fruit in old age; they shall be full of sap and very green, to declare that the Lord is upright; He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.”

Pastor Rick encourages us to live out our faith, no mater what our age and lot in life. Declare Lord God’s power and might, proclaim Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord and be a “door-holder” inviting people into God’s court of mercy and love. Finish well.

In Christ, Brian

Monday, June 23, 2014

Turning Problems into Possibilities

1 Corinthians 10:13No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

When life throws you lemons, make lemonade. Life is a learning experience, where we discover, grow and mature from our problems and troubles along this journey's long and winding road to glory. Every possibility is an opportunity for purposeful experience with the Lord at our side.

James 1:2-5 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.

In Christ, Brian

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Freedom From Fear


Proverbs 29:25The fear of man brings a snare, but he who trusts in the Lord will be exalted.”

We are going to see many changes and additions to our church as we merge with another local congregation starting next month, but one thing that will not be changing is ministry.  Our Friday evening small group Bible Study continues in our biblical examination into the emotion of “Fear”. That fear is rooted in what we believe; it’s a state of mind that can take a toll on our bodies and spirits, but for the Christian, when fear comes, it is to be replaced with trust in the Lord, with faith. Our study this week explained that freedom from fear comes through the fear of the Lord, where such fear is demonstrated by our reverence, respect, awe, confidence and trust in who God is, simply because He is God. The Hebrew word batach” translated trusts, to be confident and sure in the verse above, expresses a sense of well-being and security that results from having someone in whom to place that confidence ... the Lord. The fear of man and trust in the Lord are in contrast to each other. 

Psalm 103:19The Lord has established His throne in the heavens, and His sovereignty rules over all.”

If you are going to trust the Lord, then you have to know and understand Him – the attributes of the loving and merciful ever-present, all-powerful, all-knowing, all-seeing, outside of time Creator and Lord of all. (1) We know and trust that God is “good’. (2) We know and trust that God is faithful to “His Word”. (3) God has the desire to do “good”, (4) God has the power to do “good”, (5) God will do “good”. 

Psalm 89:14Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne; Loving-kindness and truth go before You.”

The word “Kingdom” is the abbreviation of the phase “the King’s Domain”. The Lord has dominion over the created Cosmos of Heaven and the Universe, which He reigns and rules with righteousness and justice, with loving-kindness and truth. His commands, decrees, laws, statutes and teachings have been set up to bless the loyal subjects of His Creation, but will break those who chose to oppose. There are no other gods.

Isaiah 45:5-7 “I am the Lord, and there is no other; besides Me there is no God. I will gird you, though you have not known Me; that men may know from the rising to the setting of the sun that there is no one besides Me. I am the Lord, and there is no other, the One forming light and allowing darkness, causing well-being and allowing calamity; I am the Lord who does all these.

Fear is unbelief and distrust in God; trusting in your own abilities, which truly should be feared because fear separates us from God. There is no fear when we are holding the hand of our trust-worthy Father. Sir Francis Bacon stated in 1624: “Nothing is terrible except fear itself.” US President Franklin D. Roosevelt also stated: “The only thing we have to fear is...fear itself.” Love is the “vital sign” of Christian life. In Luke 12:4, Jesus said: “I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that have no more that they can do.” The fear of the Lord is reverence, respect, awe, confidence and trust in Sovereign God, who can and will forgive sin, save the eternal soul, and restore our relationship with Him forever in love. This is liberty and freedom from fear.

1 John 4:9-18By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.

In Christ, Brian

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Knowledge of God

Psalm 42:1-2As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.”

I was reading an article by Pastor Jared Wilson on the importance of purposeful theological study of God by Christians … a Believer who is not a member of the clergy; one of the laity of Christ’s worldwide church body. As a disciple of Jesus Christ, by definition, we are Student/Followers of the Lord, which literally means that we constantly study God’s Holy Word and continually learn more about Him and his Way and Will for our lives. But there seems to be a misunderstanding of what is meant in this context of theology and it sounds “brainy”, but Pastor Jared explains that “Theology” comes from the Greek words “theos” meaning “God’, and “logos” meaning “word”, so simply means “the knowledge of God”. Every Christian disciple desires that anyway and understands that the longer we follow Jesus, listen to Him and experience Him, the more we learn about Him and, consequently, the more deeply we come to know Him and know Him more. In the chorus of a popular contemporary Christian song by Sonicflood, we sing:
I want to know You.
I want to hear Your voice.
I want to know You more.
I want to touch You.
I want to see Your face.
I want to know You more.

Philippians 3:8-11 Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.”

Pastor Wilson clarifies that every Christian is a theologian, in that they study God through His living Word of the Holy Bible to gain improved knowledge of their Sovereign Creator Father, but that doesn't mean that every Christian must be an academic, a biblical scholar, or give the impression of a church intellectual know-it-all. But at the same time, Lay people have no biblical warrant to leave the duty of doctrine (principles of belief) up to pastors, Elders and professors alone. In Matthew 22:37, Jesus said to the Pharisee Lawyer, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” How much can you truly love someone that you do not know or know much about them? Pastor Jared puts in plain language that having a mind lovingly dedicated to God is notably required in the “Great Commandment”. To know God is to love God. Loving God with all our minds certainly means more than theological study, but it certainly does not mean less than that. We love God with heart, mind, soul and spirit. Our continued growth in the grace of God, our persistence as sanctified and consecrated brothers and sisters of our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ, is vitally connected to our pursuit of the knowledge of God’s character and God’s works as revealed in God’s Holy Word. It stands to reason that the more theological (study of God) facts we feast on in the sacred Scriptures of the Bible, the more assurance and conviction – and thus the more faith – we will cultivate. Sanctification resulting in continual discipleship to Christ necessarily includes purposeful study of God’s living and active Word. We do not believe in a vague God nor trust in vague spiritual cliches. We believe in the triune God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) of the Holy Scriptures and place our faith and trust, by the real Spirit, in the real Savior of the world – Jesus – proclaimed in the gospel. This is why we must pursue theological robustness, not just in our pastor’s preaching but in our church’s Bible Studies, Sunday Schools, music and prayers, both corporate and private. Theological study of God goes deeper than simple authenticating our worship in glory, honor and praise of God as true and godly – it also fuels this worship. Believers are changed in heart and, therefore, our behavior when we seek deeply after the things of God.

John 4:23-24But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

Pastor Wilson concludes that purposeful theological study of God, as an expression of love for God, cannot help but deepen our love for God. The more we read, study, meditate on, and prayerfully apply the Word of God, the more we find ourselves in awe of Him.

In Christ, Brian 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Father/Son Camping/Fishing Trip 2014

Deuteronomy 5:16 “Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you, that your days may be long, and that it may be well with you in the land which the Lord your God is giving you.

Children are such a great blessing from God and no matter how old they are, they are still your child. My oldest son took me on a Father's Day camping and fishing trip to the Eastern Sierra Nevada mountains and we had a great time alone together. We fished Leeving Creek and caught our limits of Rainbow Trout daily, visited and explored the limestone and sand Tufa of Mono Lake, climbed to the top of the Obsidian Dome, hiked up and entered Panum Volcano crater, took in the beauty of the High Sierras and roasted marshmallows over the campfire in Big Bend Campground nightly. The time that you spend with your children is priceless, as unforgettable memories are made and bonds are built upon. It may take some sacrifices to make the time, but the benefits are lifetime lasting love and joy. I'll never forget this last weekend together. Make memories with your parents and children.

In Christ, Brian

Monday, June 16, 2014

The Tug of the World

God has a word for our times that we desperately need.  God always messes with our hearts.  Our carnal nature pulls against God's message and the tug of God's calling.

God's message for our times is this:  The things of this world shall come to naught.  To resist the tug of the world, I must turn my eyes upon Jesus.  What is it that I need?  Is it fame, fortune, and praise of man?  Is it the worldly treasures of Vanity Faire?  You can have all you want... Give me Jesus.  All I need is thee.

The adversary will twist your mind to worship him through the worship of stuff, accomplishments, and self...  the world and everything in it.  However, the things of this world, that which is seen, is temporal, i.e., secular and of this second, but the things which are unseen are eternal.  Therefore, set your affection on the things above, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith. 

We were born with an "I" disease that we inherited from Adam.  The cure for the "I" disease is to turn your "eye" upon Jesus.

When we were born again, God gave us a "sixth sense" to see and perceive from a spiritual perspective instead of from a natural five senses perspective.  We can now see dead people walking around who think that they are alive.  Men of the world are dead but they don't know it.  They are alive physically but they are dead spiritually.  Jesus Christ said, "I am come that they might have life and have it more abundantly." 

God sanctified us through his son Jesus Christ.  To Sanctify is to set apart for the purpose intended by the designer.  It doesn't mean that the sanctified are "holier than thou."  Rather it means that as we walk in the spirit according to God's divine  purpose:  according to his divine design, his providence, his provision, his allotment; we fulfill the purpose to which he called us as his "poema," his masterpiece, created in Christ Jesus unto his work that he has foreordained that  we should walk therein.

In the post modern world where good and evil are not defined according to God's standard, but rather according to man's opinion, we have been called to stand apart from this world, to stand firm upon the standard of the Word of God.  Not to be tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine and by the slight of men and cunning craftiness wherein they lie in wait to deceive, but rather, we are called to stand in firm reliance upon almighty God according to the standard of His matchless Word.  Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ has set us free and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage (of the law of sin and death.)

My strat-plan will come to naught.  I don't know the end from the beginning but he does.  God says to incline my ear unto him...  to listen to his still small voice.  The word of God is not a head lamp.  Rather it is a lamp unto my feet.  As we walk in fellowship with him, God lights our path and reveals his plan one step at a time.

As we seek God and his righteousness, the things of the world will take care of themselves...  Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.  God is our provision, our sufficiency, our daily allotment.  When our priorities are aligned with his priorities, God will bless the path before our feet and the daily work of our hands. 

The problems of this world are the fruit of worshiping the wrong god...  the god of self:  self actualization and self sufficiency.  The problem is a "leadership" issue.  Whom do you follow?  Your government, your boss, your own wisdom?  A Christian is a disciplined follower:  one who has made a declaration in his heart to change leaders, to change Lords...  from worshiping self to following The Lord Jesus Christ.  It's not about me, it's about him.  Choose ye this day whom ye will serve.

The adversary will say, "we're not worthy."  However, God called us to be "men of God."  God is in the genitive case:  genitive of possession:  God's man.  Genitive of origin:  it is He that hath made us and not we ourselves.  Genitive of contents:  He is my all in all.

God called us to the body of Christ so that we can grow up and mature in community with him.  We have been "fitly framed together" within the body of Christ.  We're interlocking fittings within the body...  each individual contributing to the building up of the body in love.  He has called us to minister and serve one another...  the fruit of the spirit is the result of exercising the spirit...  love activates believing that appropriates the power of God within the body of Christ... that we may grow up unto him.  It's not a wilderness walk.  We're in this together to collectively glorify him.  We're called collectively to his purpose:  walking and working together as one body fitly framed together to the edifying of itself in love to the glory of God.

It's not about me, it's about him.  I was crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me, and the life I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the son of God who loved me and gave himself for me. 

Galatians 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

What is it that you want?  The world and everything in it?  You can have all this world...  Give me Jesus!

Your brother in Christ,


Sunday, June 15, 2014

The Race of Life

Hebrews 12:1-2Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

In the race of life, the first shall be last and the last shall be first.  The goal  is to finish well.  It's not about the glory of being first:  the accolades and praise of men, it's about pressing toward the mark of the upward calling of God in Christ Jesus. ...  In due season we shall reap if we faint not.

Be not weary in well doing.  Our strength is in thee and not in me...  even the young men shall stumble and faint... but they that wait upon The Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount upon wings as eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.

2 Timothy 4.  Paul was at the end of his race, pressing toward the mark and enduring through until the end.  Paul writing to Timothy from prison knew that the time of his departure was near:  the crown of righteousness awaits:  Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which The Lord the righteous judge shall give me a that day:  and not to me only, but unto all them that love his appearing.

Paul had poured out his life as a drink offering, the last offering after all of the other sacrifices had been offered to God.  Your circumstance and situation is the result of God's divine providence.  From the world's perspective, it may appear bleak and hopeless.  It looks as if your are staring at defeat and death.  However, thy strength is made perfect in my weakness.  With God all things are possible through him that believeth.  Paul had lived a consistent life of faithfulness.  

God has called us as vessels, ships prepared according to his provision, his allotment for the journey of life.  Ships are safe in the harbor, but that's not what ships are for.  God has called us to release our hearts from it's moorings, and to sail upon the sea of life.  The time for our departure has come...  to press toward the destination.

Jesus said to Peter:  "lovest thou me more than these?"  Do you love me more than the things of this world... your stuff, your business, your friends?  Where is your heart?  Whom do you serve?  Ye are the slaves of whom you serve.

A good shepherd is willing to give his life for his sheep.  He lives for their well being.  Not like a hireling who runs when the enemy comes to steal the sheep.  There must be a reason to live other than the preservation of my own life...  he that looses his life for my sake shall find it.

When God speaks to us, his Word often breaks our heart.  The word of God is profitable for reproof, to show us where we are not believing rightly.  A broken and a contrite heart is a prerequisite for God to reconcile us back to him.  Reconciliation means to re-unite that which has been separated.  According to the world, reproof is a negative term.  The selfish heart rebels when confronted with truth.  However, reproof, chastisement, and correction does not mean condemnation.  Rather, it means to restore to an upright position.  There can be no restoration without first acknowledging that our heart is broken.

He's the healer of broken hearts, he mends our shattered dreams, he picks up the threads of our broken hearts and weaves them together again...

There can be no victory without a conflict:  but thanks be to God who always giveth us the victory through Christ Jesus our Lord.  To finish well, press toward the mark of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

God has called us to finish well:  to run the race, to to fight the good fight, to finish the course.  "Sinning" is missing the mark.  However the emphasis of the Greek word "hamartia" is the "mark" and not the "missing of the mark."  We're God's ordnance, his smart bombs, his laser guided missles, pressing toward the mark of the high calling according to his enablements:  guidance, propulsion, and control blazing a trail to God's heart:  the the mark of the upward calling of God in Christ Jesus.

Your brother in Christ,

Saturday, June 14, 2014

How Long?

Psalm 13 “How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me? Look on me and answer, Lord my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death, and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,” and my foes will rejoice when I fall. But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing the Lord’s praise, for he has been good to me.

David was anointed king long before he was crowned king. David said:  How long?  He repeats this six times.  How long will you forget me forever?  At times a man of God will not feel God's presence.  However, feelings often lie and deceive us.

In this Psalm, David convinced his heart to turn back to God.  When we ask "How long" or "why" there is a tipping point:  either to turn our heart away from God or toward God.  When we pray and ask God the difficult questions, God often says "wait."  When the student is ready the Teacher will come.  When we ask God for truth, at that moment in time, we often "can't handle the truth."

David needed to prepare his heart before The Lord.  During times of trial and tribulation, God allows us to be tested in order to develop our trust in him and not the comfort and blessings of the physical realm.  Where's your heart?  Where are your thoughts?  Thoughts are seeds of words and deeds.  It's not about the pain of tribulation, rather as Paul said by revelation, " tribulation worketh patience, and patience experience, and experience hope, and hope maketh not ashamed because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts." 

Thank God that that when we pray he he doesn't give us what we deserve:  the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ his son. 

To come to God we must have a broken and a contrite heart.  Our heart must first be broken for God to reconcile us back to him through his Son.  Reconciliation means to re-unite that which has been separated.  Communion i.e., co-union with our Father is the result of reconciliation.  What shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril or sword?  Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

Our lives are often tempered, strengthened, and hardened through the heat treatment of the fire of tribulation.  The depth of patience, experience, and hope are the results of God allowing tribulation through the crucible of our lives.  When the pain is intense, God allows us to focus on humility...  of my own power I can do nothing.  When Paul prayed three times for God to remove his thorn in the flesh, God finally answered, "my grace is sufficient for thee."  God's strength is made perfect in thy weakness.

In Psalm 13, David "preached himself happy."  From the pit of despair, God lifted him up when David realized that despite trial, tribulation, and pursuit by his enemies, deliverance from despair came only when David decided to trust in the Lord's mercy.  David said, "I will trust in thy unfailing love, I will rejoice in thy salvation."  Our rejoicing is not in the things of this world or in the defeat of the adversary, rather our rejoicing is in The Lord. 

Jesus reminded his followers after they had cast out demons and "saw satan fall like lightning from heaven,"rejoice not because ye have done these mighty works, rather rejoice because your names are written heaven, in the book of life."

Our rejoicing is in the Word of God and in the manifold blessings of God. Blessings, i.e., success is according to God's standard, not the worldly standard of physical comfort, worldly accolades, and material things.  According to the beattitudes in Matthew 5, blessings or "happiness" is the exact opposite of the World's standard for happiness:  blessed are the poor in spirit, blessed are they that mourn, blessed are the meek, blessed are the hungry and thirsty, blessed are the merciful, blessed are the peacemakers, blessed are the reviled and persecuted....  for great is their reward in heaven.

Within God's will, pain is often in my own best interest.  Father knows best...  thy grace is sufficient for me.  God didn't say that he would deliver us from the storm, but rather through the storm.  Jesus said, "in this life ye shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world."  This world is not my home...  I need not rejoice in temporal worldly things but rather in God's eternal heavenly things:  For this light affliction which is for a moment worketh a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.  2 Cor 4:17

Your brother in Christ,