Do Not Miss God 0

The sooner we realize that we are not capable of making our own decisions the better off we will be. When I make my own decision, and insist on my own way, I always end up upside down-confused and often defeated.

Several years ago, I found myself dissatisfied with the church I was attending and with the job I was working at. I felt like no one was recognizing my talents and abilities. Our girls were living out of state and they were looking to move to Portland. I saw where there was a job opening in Vancouver Washington that would have been a promotion, so I applied. I was one of six called in for an interview. I was called back in for a second interview, and a few days later I was called back in for a third interview. The last interview was with the lady who was the boss and doing the hiring. During those interviews, we both acknowledged we were Christians and some of the conversation revolted around our shared faith. I just knew that the job was going to be mine.

A few days later she called me and said, “John I know I should be hiring you for the job. Your skill and knowledge are better than anyone else we have interviewed for this position. You are my first choice, but the spirit of God is telling me NO!” To say I was disappointed is an understatement. What did I need to do to show God and the world I deserved a break?

Two weeks later our Senior Pastor and Youth Pastor resigned to move to other ministries within just a few days of each other. I was asked to be the Interim Pastor and for 9 months worked to help my church. A year later I was invited to be the pastor of Oakville Assembly of God and almost 10 years ago Han and I became the pastors of Angle Lake Neighborhood Church.

If I would have had my way, I do not know if I would even be in ministry and I know I would have missed God. Your flesh will make the wrong turns in life. You will go with the easiest course of life and the most attractive. Those ways may not be the best. Allow God to make the choice for you; you will be much happier and in His will!

The Spirit of Offense 1

Several years ago, while on active duty in the Army stationed in Germany, we went on a bus tour of Munich and the Black Forest. As part of the tour we were going to the Dachau Concentration Camp. Our tour guide for the Munich and Black Forest part of the tour was an elderly Germany man who we all liked. He was funny and full of great information. However, as we approached Dachau, he had the driver of the bus stop in town and he came to the front of the Bus and said, “I am not going into the Concentration Camp. It is a dark blot on Germany history and I can no longer bear to enter the place. I will wait for you here until you return.”

As we entered the Concentration Camp, there was a dark cloud that hung over the place. There was no laughter, no joking, and no rushing to the different buildings. There was just the soft sound of crying as you walked around the different buildings and saw the pictures on the walls of medical experiments that were just torture.  There were no words as you looked at the gas chambers and the furnaces where hundreds of people died.

Why do the Germany people allow this reminder of such ugliness to remain a part of their history? Why don’t they tear the place down and build something beautiful in its place? Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel had this to say about Dachau, “It is important to work every day for a better future, and to remain aware of Germany’s everlasting responsibility for the horrors of the past. We will not forget. We will remember, for the sake of the victims, for our sake and for the sake of future generations.”

As a student of the Bible, I am always amazed at why God allows the ugliness of the past to be shown in His Holy Word. Why remind us of those things that are offensive and that we would just as soon forget? Because history is important to our future. Just as we must learn from our mistakes, we must also learn from our successes.

Today there are those who are offended by our history and because of that they desire to remove all traces of that history; the good, the bad and the ugly. The answer is not to remove history, but to understand what is taking place and find the cure for the offense.

I have said this before, let me say it again. For those Christians trying to fix the world by benefiting humanity, protesting, shouting, or just being angry; please understand. All the problems of the world are the symptoms of just one thing; sin. God’s Word gives no commission to the church to fix the problems of the world.

Yes, we are to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and heal the sick, but we will never hate bigotry enough, never have enough money to cure poverty, or have the right political party in office to set things right.

The answer to all the world’s problems is and always has been, Jesus Christ!

Jesus said,

Luke 17:1

 “It is impossible except that offenses will come. But woe to him through whom they come!

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We can be assured that offenses will come, but the question is, “How will we respond to the offense?” The Greek word for offense is skandalon. It refers to the part of a trap to which the bait was attached. The word signifies laying a trap in someone’s way. In the New Testament, it often describes an entrapment used by the enemy. Offense is a tool of the devil to bring people into captivity.

There are many people in the church today that are in a state of offense, but the enemy keeps the person blinded by pride. Pride will keep you from admitting your true condition. Pride keeps you from dealing with truth. It distorts your vision. You will never change if you think everything is fine. Pride hardens your heart and dims the eyes of understanding. It keeps you from the change of heart-repentance-which will set you free.

Tearing down historical monuments, covering them up, or removing them is not the answer to the problems. Trying to change the past by removing or changing history will not help our true condition.

Jesus gave us the cure to the spirit of offense,

 

Revelation 3:14-22

14 “To the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write:

“The Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says these things: 15 I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were cold or hot. 16 So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spit you out of My mouth. 17 For you say, ‘I am rich, and have stored up goods, and have need of nothing,’ yet do not realize that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined by fire, that you may be rich, and white garments, that you may be dressed, that the shame of your nakedness may not appear, and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. 19 “Those whom I love, I rebuke and discipline. Therefore be zealous and repent. 20 Listen! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in and dine with him, and he with Me. 21 “To him who overcomes will I grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. 22 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

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In order to break free from the deception of the devil, we must buy God’s gold; by surrendering ourselves to Him completely. Refined gold is soft and pliable, free from corrosion or other substances. It is when gold is mixed with other metals that it becomes hard, less pliable, and more corrosive. This is called an alloy. The higher the percentage of foreign metals, the harder the gold becomes, the lower the percentage of alloy, the softer and more flexible.

A pure heart is like pure gold-soft, tender, and pliable. The hard heart is full of the deceitfulness of sin! If we do not deal with an offense, it will produce more fruit of sin, such as bitterness, anger and resentment.

The first step in refining gold is grinding it into a powder and mixing it in a substance called flux. Then the mixture is placed in a furnace and melted by intense heat. The alloys and impurities are drawn to the flux and rise to the surface. The gold remains at the bottom. The impurities are removed yielding a purer metal.

1 Peter 1:6-7

6 In this you greatly rejoice, even though now, if for a little while, you have had to suffer various trials, 7 in order that the genuineness of your faith, which is more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tried by fire, may be found to result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ,

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God refines us through affliction, trials, and tribulations. It is through these things that the heat separates impurities such as unforgiveness, strafe, bitterness, anger, envy and such from the character of God in our lives.

Often when we are offended, we see ourselves as victims and blame those who have hurt us. We justify our bitterness, unforgiveness, anger, envy and resentment as they surface. Let go of your pride today, call out to the risen Savior and ask Him to heal you from your sins and be set free.

What our nation and the church needs today is revival. We must stop with all the political correctness and social gospel that is trying to fix the problems of the world and seek a revival where the power of the Holy Spirit will transform the heart of the world.

Come Holy Spirit, We Need Thee!

 

 

 

 

No Longer Tossed Here or There 0

In postmodern church conferences, trainings or workshops theology and theological references are kept to a minimum. The person doing the presentation will speak on topics like; being missional, relevant, tolerance, diversity, pluralism, delegating, confidence, interaction, decision making, visibility, practicality, accountability and structures. When asked about the Holy Spirit, the fruit of the Holy Spirit or the gifts of the Holy Spirit, the instructor will say something like, “Of course you need the Holy Spirit in all these principles.” I read an article once on “Being Missional.” The article filled several pages of the publication and as an afterthought there was a sidebar reminding people that the Holy Spirit is an important part of being missional. There is just something wrong when the Holy Spirit is relegated to a sidebar.

If ever there was a day when the church needs men and women full of the Holy Spirit, instead of CEO’s, it is today. We must return to the principles that God has outlined in His Word in order to be productive and effective. We need conferences, trainings and workshops on prayer, because it is the most important ministry of the church from which all other ministry is energized. We need more instruction on the Holy Spirit, because He gives dynamic life to the church and we desire His fellowship, leadership, anointing and manifestation. We need more anointed, Biblical teaching and preaching, because they are the catalyst for transformation in our lives and in the church. We need to learn more about love and how it should permeate every aspect of church life. We need more Biblical training on how to be disciples and how to make disciples. We need help in growing in Christ-like commitment, character and wholeness, because a dark and flavorless world needs the church to be the salt and light that Christ commanded it to be. We need more training on the doctrines of the church, because we must be able to defend the truth. Finally, and most importantly, we need leaders of courage to stand up and call out the false teaching of the day; both in principle and by individual.

Ephesians 4:11-16

11 He gave some to be apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints, for the work of service, and for the building up of the body of Christ, 13 until we all come into the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, into a complete man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so we may no longer be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about with every wind of doctrine by the trickery of men, by craftiness with deceitful scheming. 15 But, speaking the truth in love, we may grow up in all things into Him, who is the head, Christ Himself, 16 from whom the whole body is joined together and connected by every joint and ligament, as every part effectively does its work and grows, building itself up in love.

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