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Whose Plan is It Anyway?

Commit your way to the lordIf we are not committed in our heart, no number of “tools” (i.e. gadgets) will help us stick with a program and attain our goal. This is true for anything in life, whether it is running a race, changing our habits, improving our physical health, or getting Spiritually healthy and growing in the Lord.

We can use tools and gadgets with all the bells and whistles, but they won’t help us make a lasting change unless we are first committed to the change in our  heart. We can have the newest fitness tracker that reminds us to move every hour, but it won’t help if we tell ourselves “not right now, I’m too busy… I’ll make it up in next hour” (which never comes). The Bible with notes and commentary or the devotional app that reminds us to read and pray everyday cannot help us either if we tell ourselves “not now, I’ll do it later” (but “later” often never comes). Highlighting and making notes in our Bibles will not help us, if we never go back and reread them next time we are in that chapter or put them into practice in our life (James 1:22). Tools can help a committed heart, they cannot make a heart commit. We must first have a committed and surrendered heart, without this, we cannot reach our goal of crossing the finish line and obtaining our “prize” mentioned in 1 Corinthians 9:24.

A committed and surrendered heart will naturally align itself with Christ and His will. When we are aligned with Christ, we are able to walk in His strength and not our own, reaching any goal in our heart that is within His plan. Sometimes it takes longer than we’d like, but if we trust Him and keep our commitment to Him, we will ALWAYS reach our goal. It is when we take our eyes off of Him, that we veer off course and run into problems (Matthew 14:28-30).

In Luke 9, Jesus talks about how we must make a commitment and not look back, keeping our eyes straight and staying on course, in order to reach the goal of the kingdom of heaven.

Jesus said to him, No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back [to the things behind] is fit for the kingdom of God. – Luke 9:62 (AMP)

To fully understand Luke 9:62, you must know when plowing a field you pick a point on the horizon and walk toward that point, keeping your eyes fixed, never stopping or looking away until you get to the end of each row. If you deviate your eye from that point or stop before the end of the row, the row will not be straight and it will impact the health of the crop. Understanding this concept, we can apply it to our walk with Christ. Are our eyes fixed on our goal or are we distracted? Are our rows straight or sloppy and crooked, because we are not fully committed to the goal of serving Christ?

The next question to ask ourselves is if we are surrendered to Christ’s plan or are we following our own plan? Everyone’s plan (path) to get to the prize is different, and without being surrendered to the Lord’s plan, we often find ourselves trying to follow someone else’s plan. Following someone else’s plan will lead to burn out and often the end result is a lack of commitment.

God made each one of us different and He knows what each of us needs; more importantly, He knows how He can use each of us to “plow” His field for the harvest. Each of our paths are different and He gives each of us the strength, grace, and wisdom for our own path, not anyone else’s path. If we are feeling burned out or frustrated in our lives, we should ask ourselves who’s path are we following? What do our plow rows look like? If our eyes are fixed on Him as we follow His path (plan) for us, our rows will be straight.

The last question to ask is, how hard is it to follow the path. Is it rough, hard, and heavy. Or is is light and easy? Are you doing it “on your own” or are you partnering with Christ? When plowing a field, a yoke was used to fasten the animals to the plow. The yoke went across the top of both animals to lighten the load and make the work easier. The older more experienced animal would take the lead and teach the younger how to plow correctly and make the work easy. The yoke only worked if the younger animal was willing to submit and follow the lead and path of the older. The Lord uses this this analogy in Matthew 11:29-30 when inviting us to following Him.

“Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” – Matthew 11:29-30 (NKJV)

If we commit to fixing our eyes on Him and not look away, our path will be straight. If we surrender and follow His plan, we will walk in His strength, grace, and wisdom. If we partner with Christ and allow Him to take the lead (take His yoke), our load will be easy and light. There will be trials and tribulations, but He will be there with us, sometimes carrying us through the storm. If we commit our way to the Lord and follow His plan He will bring it to pass (Psalm 37:5).

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Message to the Church in America

I began this writing not as a post for this blog, but as a Facebook post. I wanted to express my concern for the lukewarmness of the Church during this election season. But as I continued to write, the Lord began to show me how the apathy of the Church today is the problem and that is directly related to the lack of surrender within the Church. The Church is becoming indifferent to the issues that face our country (and world) on a daily basis, issues that are directly related to our Christian values, beliefs, and way of life. How can we sit back and do nothing? How can we sit back and not stand up for Christ? We are not called to be and act like Christians only “in church” and Americans at all other times. We may be born or naturalized Americans, but we are more importantly reborn in Christ. It is in Christ that we should base our decisions and actions, not on popular culture, trends, or even what we do or don’t “like”. It is in Christ that “…we live and move and have our being…” (Acts 17:28 NKJV)

“if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” –2 Chronicles 7:14 (NKJV)

So in surrender to the Lord, I post this message to the Church in America.

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As I’ve read through my Facebook newsfeed and listened to others talk this week following Monday night’s debate, my heart is breaking. I see that many of my fellow Christians are considering “sitting this one out” in regards to the 2016 Presidential election, often calling it a “joke”. They feel they cannot vote for either candidate, that there is only the choice of “lesser of two evils”. But I have to ask the obvious question every believer should be asking themselves, “What would Jesus do?” Would He sit back and do nothing, and allow someone to be elected who is against almost everything Christ represents? This election is not about the person or who you “like” more, it is about our Christian beliefs, values, and way of life. As Edmund Burke once stated,

“All that is required for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing.”

Every person has a God given right to change their mind. If this were not true, then Christ died in vain. We were all once sinners, and would still be if we did not “change our stance” on sin and repent. The same is true for political candidates. The question is, if they changed their stance on a Biblical based issue, have they flip-flopped with every change of the political season, or have they kept their new stance?

Even Ronald Regan had a period when he was younger where he was on the “wrong” side; but when he changed his mind, he stood his ground. Not only did he change his mind, he fought for our religious beliefs and freedoms. I am not saying any political candidate has had a change or conversion like the Apostle Paul, but think about Paul and what side he started on; he was really on the bad side of things. Should we throw out the thirteen (13) books of the New Testament that we are sure Paul wrote, just because he persecuted the Church before he changed his mind (i.e. his encounter with Christ on the road to Damascus)? I think not. Is there a perfect candidate? No, not unless Jesus Christ’s name is on the ballot. So then we must weigh each candidate’s current and ONGOING stance on the issues that should and MUST matter to all Christians…We must search out the Scriptures and align our vote with the Bible…Not man’s watered down interpretation of the Bible, but the actual Word of God.

As Christians, we must realize the effect of our vote, including a null vote, will have on this election. We must not be lukewarm, there is no middle of the road in our relationship with Christ. (Revelation 3:16) The Bible does not teach us to “do nothing” or to press an “easy button”; rather we are taught to change the world through the living and preaching the Word. We are told to be the salt of the earth and light of the world, our vote can influence our country for good. (Matthew 5:13)

Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.” –Proverbs 14:34 (NKJV)

As a surrendered and truly sold out for Jesus Christian, you should understand there is no middle ground in this election. If you search the Biblical issues out, you will understand the difference between the two possible futures for America, our children, and our children’s children. For example, in a speech last year, Hillary Clinton made the following statement:

“Laws have to be backed up with resources and political will. And deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed.” –Hillary Clinton

Really? Our culture codes and religious beliefs have to be changed? Is this the point of view Jesus would support? Or the thoughts of America’s founding fathers when the fought the Revolutionary War? I don’t think so, do you? I know this is only one line, but it is one line in a long political career that has been focused on moving America away from its Christian heritage. She has had 25+ years to show us what she can do for us, and what do we have now? An America that is persecuting Christians for their religious beliefs (i.e. remember the baker and florist who lost their business because they would not work for a gay wedding?). Do we want more of what we have now, or do we want change? I know this is not the America I want for my children or grandchildren.

So I ask you, what do you think Jesus would do? Stay home? Vote for more of the same or worse? Or vote to strengthen our right to our Christian beliefs, values, and way of life? We are not voting for a “Pastor-in-Chief” or any other religious leader, but we are voting for someone who will have the ability to change America forever…The next President will have the responsibility to appoint the next two, three or maybe even four Supreme Court Justices to the Supreme Court for a lifetime term. When we are voting on issues, we should not vote for what is “best for everyone” or even best for me, we should vote for the side that aligns with the Word of God. Have you ever sat down and completed a Bible study on the political issues that will be on November’s ballot, including those influenced by the President? Now is your chance.

Few of the major issues Christians should be concerned with are:

     – Supreme Court Justices – The next president will select at least two, three, maybe even four Supreme Court justices for LIFE.

– The Supreme Court determines the “America’s Supreme law of the land”, which could decide to limit our Christian freedoms and American way of life.

– Possible immediate cases that would influence the future of our country include:

– Traditional marriage (between man and woman),

– That gender is determined by God at conception (not what someone “identifies” themselves with”), and

– Immigration.

– Our First Amendment right to Freedom of Speech and Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms are already hanging in the balance; after this election, we could lose them forever. Any country or people that cannot defend themselves will be taken over, our founding fathers believed this and that is why wrote the Second Amendment.

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” –Second Amendment of the United States of America Constitution

     – Lower Court Justices – Although these justices are not appointed for life, their rulings while on the bench could have huge effects on our county. Even with a conservative Supreme Court, the lower courts’ rulings create precedence for future cases (which has somehow gains as much authority as an actual law????). And often their rulings are not reexamined by the Supreme Court, so the lower courts’ rulings could recreate a new world we have to life in.

Most of the rights and issues below can ultimately be changed and controlled by the court system described in above.

     – Religious Liberties:

          – Right to Our Christian Beliefs (Freedom of Religion) – Our right stand up for our Christian beliefs and not be forced to “serve” or “accept” others’ views or way of life as acceptable when it does not align with the Bible. Every Christian should have the right to “refuse” service when to goes against their beliefs, not just churches and clergy. We should never waiver in our faith, instead we should stand on our faith. (1 Corinthians 15:58; 16:13; Proverbs 12:3; Matthew 10:22; James 4:7; Exodus 14:13-14) All Americans should have the right to refuse to serve in a capacity that goes against their religious beliefs.

          – Right to Share our Beliefs and Speak Freely (Freedom of Speech) – As Christians, we are called to evangelize the world around us, making disciples of all the nations (Matthew 28:19); we should not be afraid to talk about Jesus in public, including in our public schools. We should not be told we can no longer openly celebrate Christmas and must say “Happy Holidays”. It is our right to believe and share our beliefs, even it if “offends” someone. Didn’t Jesus do this? It is called teaching the Word.

          – Right to Life (Abortion) – When does life begin? The bible teaches that life begins at conception, not at birth. If a heartbeat determines death, shouldn’t it also determine life? (Genesis 1:27; Job 31:15; Psalm 139:13-16; Galatians 4:4-7; Ephesians 1:4-6)

– Just to get this out there, Donald Trump changed his views on abortion when he met a boy who was a failed abortion. He got to know a wonderful young man who would not be here if the abortion had been successful. It was at that time he realized the “life” side of the debate and changed his views to Pro-Life. He has not ‘flip-flopped’, he changed his mind and stuck with it.

– Hillary Clinton believes a woman should have control of her “reproduction”, including late term abortions. Is this biblical? Doesn’t one person’s right to choose end when another person’s life begins in her womb? Do any of us have the right to end the life of anyone else, even if we did not plan for them to be in our life?

     – Traditional Marriage – God created marriage to be between one man and one woman. (Genesis 1:27-28; 2:18-25; Leviticus 20:13; Malachi 3:6; Matthew 5:17-20; 19:3-6; 22:37-40; Romans 1:22-27; 1 Corinthians 7:2; Galatians 5:19-21; Ephesians 5:23-24; Hebrews 13:4; 13:8)

     – Right to Education – All Americans, especially our children, have a right to a good, safe, and proper education, without propaganda or the rewriting of history in our textbooks. If we are required to pay into education, then we should be able to choose where our children go to school, this is why I personally support a voucher system with Charter schools.

          – Public Schools – I don’t even want to get started on where this is going…prayer, evolution, same-sex bathrooms, etc.

My one last thought is about what the media, Hollywood, other politicians are saying about the election, the issues, and the candidates. Should we listen and be swayed by the world, or stand on our Christian values when we cast our vote? We are voting on issues and the direction for America…What would Jesus do?

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Waiting Period

waiting-periodsAbout a week and a half ago the Lord told me, “Good things come to those who wait [on Me].” This soft spoken word of encouragement came as an answer to the cry of my heart, when I was at point giving up on receiving (seeing) the answer to a prayer. This was not the first time He chose to encourage me throughout the last year and a half while I’ve waited to receive the answer to my prayer. But this word was different; it reminded me what my responsibility was during this period…to wait on Him.

Doesn’t He understand the wait is “killing me”? Yes He does, and that is His point. During these periods of waiting we are forced to choose to either surrender our wants and will to Him (“die to self”) or go down our own path and try to make it happen our way. This is where a test of our faith happens…Will we stand on His word and trust Him, believing what He has already told us? Or will we doubt Him and/or ourselves, wondering if we really heard Him correctly, and try to find another answer or another way to our answer?

I chose to stand in faith on the words He has already given and He did not abandon me in my time of weakness. Instead, He came under me, lifted me up and gave me strength. He rewarded my faithfulness by encouraging me through the remembrance of other times of waiting, when great answers to prayer and blessings came only after very l-o-n-g periods of waiting. If we had given up on those prayers when all hope seemed to be lost, then we would not have seen the awesome power of the Lord manifested in our lives.

And let us not get tired of doing what is right, for after a while we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t get discouraged and give up. – Galatians 6:9 (TLB)

In most states there is a “waiting period” when someone purchases a hand gun. During this period the person is given the time to “cool off” and consider the motive, the real reason, they are purchasing the gun. God does the same thing with some of our prayers; He gives us a chance to work through the motives behind our prayers. I believe He also takes this waiting period to kill off parts of our flesh and mature us in the Spirit, until we are able to receive and walk in the blessings that will come through the answer of our prayer. If a child is always given what they want when they ask and are never forced to wait, they will never learn to appreciate what is given to them. They will never be satisfied and will never treasure any gift that is given to them.

God is not a gumball machine that we can put a prayer into and receive whatever we ask. Rather, He is a loving Father who is always looking for ways to love and bless His children…ways to teach them how to hear His voice and stand strong on His word. Just like for our own children, we sometimes withhold a blessing until we know the time is right and our child is mature enough to handle it rightly. If we give them too much too quickly we are not loving or blessing them, we are setting them up for failure.

God knows how long the wait must be for the answer to be a “good thing”. Will you choose to wait on the Lord and His perfect “good” time or will you try to make you own way in your time?

gods-time-best-time

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