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Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Freedom from Alcohol

In the rural ministry God has given, I see the negative effects of alcohol on a regular basis.  Most of the time people deny they have a drinking problem while it’s clear to everyone else, or they admit they have a problem, but are not willing to get help. 

The millions who drink are part of a long and storied history dating back over 3,000 years to a man named Noah.  History records him as being the first person to plant a vineyard, make his own wine and booze it up until he became humanity’s first drunk.    

The biblical story recounts Noah as drinking alone in his tent, where the alcohol overtook him, then he disrobed and passed out on the floor without a stitch of clothes on.  The incident caused embarrassment and division within the family. 

Let me point out, this was Noah, the one whom God chose to be His voice to the world during the 40-day global flood.  He was the one about which the Bible says, “Noah was a righteous man, blameless . . . Noah walked with God.”  (Genesis 6:9)

It does not matter if you are a well-respected clergyman, are in constant trouble with the law or somewhere in between, anyone can fall prey to the temptation of the bottle.

I firmly believe no one takes the first drink with the intention to do something embarrassing or harmful.  Instead their reasoning may be, “It goes good with my meal,” “I like the taste,” “I just want to have some fun with a few friends,” or “It’s been a stressful day and I just want to relax.”  Then one drink, turns into two, three and soon they are feeling tipsy, buzzed, and then drunk. 

God says about alcohol, “Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.”  (Proverbs 20:1)

Have you ever been a little woozy or totally drunk more than once or many times?  Are you able to go a day, week or month without a drink and have no physical symptoms?  After drinking have you ever quietly passed out like Noah, or became loud, obnoxious and abusive around others?

I urge you to please stop.  The practice of drunkenness is condemned by God.  According to Him, drunkenness is when alcohol hits the blood stream and it begins to intoxicate you, affecting your mind and body.  God’s view of drunkenness is much different than ours. 

You do not have to be a slave to the bottle.  You can be free, and freedom begins with Jesus.  He died and rose again that through Him you might overcome.  If you need help, contact me and I can point you to some resources, but the place to start is with Jesus. 

A prayer for you to pray– Lord God, I confess that I have let alcohol affect me.  I have allowed myself to become drunk and disobeyed your Word.  Forgive me.  I also confess I am a slave to alcohol.  Thank you for opening my eyes to this.  I cannot end it on my own.  I need your help.  Come and rescue me from this sin that is controlling my life.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.”

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

The Danger of Thinking You’re a Good Person

Jesus once told a story about two men who went to pray.  One was a high standing religious man, the other was a tax collector that had extorted money from people. The religious man prayed saying, “God, I thank you I am not an extortionist, immoral or an evil person like so many, including this man next to me.  And I praise you that I regularly fast and pray and give 10% of all my income to the church.”     

Then the other man prayed.  He stood far off by himself with his head hung low against his chest.  He could not bear to lift his eyes heavenward.  Instead he wept and cried out, “God, please show me mercy!  I am a sinful man!”

The differences between the two men are startling.  The religious man saw himself as a good person because of the good things he did.  He was not like everyone else.  He was better.  Meanwhile, the tax collector saw himself as nothing.  There was an admission of all he had done wrong.  A sense that he was undeserving, so in brokenness he called out for mercy. 

When I view the landscape of the American church and society, I see a nation filled with people like the religious man.  Multitudes feeling generally good about themselves because of their attempts at doing good things.  They admit they have done wrong, but counter with efforts that are akin to moral insurance to sooth their conscience.

They also view themselves as better than the other guy, like the religious man did.  They are better than the drug dealer or corrupt politician. They see “those people” as the ones who need the help and religious saving, not themselves.  

These attitudes are dangerous.  They can lead to a moral and spiritual obnoxiousness that will produce a sterile church, empty of spiritual power.  It can also divide a nation among the upright elites and the downright immoral. 

We all are sinners with evil lurking in our hearts.  All of us.  Regardless of our religion, political party or standing in our community.  All of us have done wrong.  No exceptions.  Who has never told a lie, never had a bad thought about another person or never has done something from a selfish motive?  Who?  We!  Are!  All!  Sinners! God affirms this saying, “None is righteous, no, not one . . . no one does good, not even one” (Romans 3:11,12).

We have this mysterious evil within us that surfaces in our words, actions, motives and attitudes. What are we going to do about it?  Wish it away?  Ignore it?  Increase our efforts at being good? 

Because of what we have done we face the penalty of spiritual and eternal death.  Yet, it can be avoided.  This was the reason Jesus came from heaven to earth.  He came to go to war against the evil by dying on a cross. There He took our place.  He took our penalty.  He suffered and died for us.  Then rose again, securing the promise of forgiveness and a new life in Him. 

If you admit there is darkness inside you, an evil that dwells within, then in the humble spirit of the tax collector, call out to God for mercy.  Then because of what the Lord God did through Jesus for you and your entire family, freedom is waiting. 

A prayer for you to pray– Lord God, examine my heart.  Point out to me the sin that lives within me.  I do not want it there any longer.  I place my trust in Jesus and ask for forgiveness for all I have done wrong.  Cleanse my heart.  Make it new.  Change my life.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

 

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

What is America’s Future?

President Abraham Lincoln once said, “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power.”  An ancient prayer from the Bible says, “Two things I ask of you . . . give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God” (Proverbs 30:7-9).

The idea conveyed is having little or much can affect the character of a person - and a nation. The United States has seen both. In her early years she had little, while in modern times she has had much. Today, the U.S. is the leader in innovation, has the greatest university system, the world’s most powerful military, the largest economy and provides unequaled human freedoms.  

Since the late 1800’s, which began the industrial age, America has seen incredible growth. The success has changed America’s character. Her pride has grown into arrogance. Her increased knowledge has questioned the need for God. Her advancements in technology have made her like a god and her hi-tech weapons have replaced God.     

The principle of abundance leading to a denial of God is a predictable pattern. When riches, power and success mount there is a quiet shift in the heart of a nation, that when left unchecked, can lead to its downfall. 

Who is America’s greatest enemy? Some other nation, terrorists or a conglomerate of cyber warriors? Our greatest enemy is – we the people. 

The lure of money and power is becoming our Great Destroyer. Its deceptive appeal has caused us to think too highly of ourselves. It has created a false sense of security bringing us to believe we are a nation that is indestructible and indispensable to the world. We have been willingly seduced by prosperity giving birth to the children of ease, complacency and immorality.    

Let us learn from the downfall of ancient kingdoms like Rome, Egypt, Greece and the once vast British Empire. Mere common sense says if we continue down the path we are on, America will eventually implode. 

Despite the growing number of atheists within our borders, the Lord God does exist, and He is our only hope. Not political parties, legislation or changes in the economy. Let us examine our ways and do something about it. We must humble ourselves and stop our power hunger, corrupt and immoral practices. We must make peace with God and with one another. This cannot be done through multi-faith efforts or by starting an organization. This turn around can only be done through our faith in the Creator God, and His only Son. Let us plead for Him to pour out a heaven-sent spiritual revival to sweep border to border.    

A prayer for you to pray– Lord God, I see evil and lawlessness across our land. We desperately need you to send a move of your Spirit upon us. I admit my own wrong doings and how I have contributed to the condition of our country. Forgive me Lord for what I have done. Oh God, come upon our land. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Is Life Worth Living?

Clay Center, Kansas –The fall of 1993 was one of the most difficult periods of my life. 

I was a sophomore at a Christian college, studying for a career in ministry.  I went through a valley that seemed to get deeper and darker as the weeks passed.  The semester began with taking a Greek class, only to drop it after failing multiple exams.  In relationships, I went through two break ups back to back.  I also battled a strenuous relationship with my dad.  In ministry, I felt like a failure as a young preacher and doubted my call as an evangelist.  Consequently, with short notice, I canceled being the guest speaker at a week-long revival.  Additionally, I resigned from leading a campus ministry.  I turned inward, pulling away from people and activities into my own dark world. 

One night, as I was lying on the bed in my dorm, I stared up at the ceiling with my mind racing.  “How can I make it through this?  What’s happening to me?”  Thoughts of leaving school, the call to ministry and ending my life even flashed across my mind.  Have you been there or know someone who is? 

“Is my life worth living?”  That is a question that can surface in times like this. 

Your parents came together and you were born, but behind them is your ultimate Creator.  It is said about Him, “God created man in his image.  Male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27).  And when He made your life, He did so with value and purpose. 

In one of the Ten Commandments God said, “Do not murder.”  He said that because He values human life.  Only humans were uniquely made in His image.  As a result, He does not want you or someone else ending your life.  And when He made you, He did so with purpose and meaning. 

About all humanity, it is written, “. . . they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him.  Yet, he is actually not far from each one of us” (Acts 17:27).  You may feel alone, yet the God who made you is closer than you think. 

I ended up making it out of my dark valley through the help of encouraging people, God’s invisible sustaining hand, and the truth of His Word, the Bible. 

It was not easy reading or listening to the Scriptures, because they pointed out the problems that were causing my problems.  Ouch!  There is a reason you do not think life is worth living, so it is important to face the unvarnished truth, through the searchlight of God’s Word. 

Take your eyes off yourself and away from your despair.  Lift them toward God’s Son, Jesus.  For He came from heaven to earth, to die on a cross and rise again--for you.

A prayer for you to pray–“Lord God, I wrestle with the thoughts of wondering if my life is worth living.  I turn toward you, my Creator.  Show me my purpose.  I accept that I cannot do this anymore on my own.  I turn from the wrong things I have done and call out to you for help.  In Jesus’ name. Amen.”