Parents please

Statistics for children raised in Christian homes abandoning their faith span a range from 75 to 90 percent. It is staggering and sobering when you take that chance and apply it to your child. Say it this way, your child has a 75-90 percent chance of remaining true to the Christian faith to which you raise them. Consider the growing Islamist threat to non-Muslims to convert or die. A beheading in Oklahoma just this week is a stark realization this threat is in mainland America. It is quite well-known colleges not only challenge but teach that any belief in a creator is not only unnatural but unscientific. It’s intellectual suicide. Many seminaries don’t even teach the inerrancy of scripture. Atheism has become a hostile religion. Atheist not only belittle and demean anyone with a faith in a creator being, they are attacking any institution with lawsuits or any means necessary to remove from the public eye any Christian symbol or ideology. Atheists are currently meeting with the IRS to encourage the audit of sermons in churches to make sure they are not violating the law put into place by Lyndon B Johnson (1954) to prevent churches from preaching politics. Hence this Sunday’s Pulpit Freedom Sunday event for pastors to remain true to the Word (Oct. 5, 2014). The enemy is covering all bases when it comes to challenging all authority of God. Are you preparing your child to meet these attacks to their faith?

Many parents suppose their churches are preparing their child to defend their faith, and that just isn’t so. Youth groups spend time in exciting worship venues with great lighting and contemporary music. They talk about life issues, but rarely do they dig into the one thing that supplies the weapon for fighting attacks to your spiritual being. What our children desperately need is the Word of God! Yet, it is not being taught.  Enjoying church and being edified by church gatherings are not synonymous.  Our church Sunday School curriculums cover various topics but rarely open and study the Word of God. Rather verses are applied here and there to validate an author’s point.

Parents please, heed these verses from Hebrews.

Hebrews 2:1 For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it.

Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

Why do we need to pay close attention? So that we do not drift away. What is living and active? The Word of God! What is the weapon in our spiritual armor? The sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God. (Ephesians 6:17)

If we want to make up for our weaknesses as fallible human parents, we need to teach our children truth so they can apply it for themselves. The Word of God is truth. If we want to prepare our children for challenging and frightening days ahead, we need to saturate them in the Word of God. We need to saturate ourselves in the Word of God. It has been said in today’s world there is a famine of the Word. Is that surprising when the Bible is as readily available as it is and in as many languages as it is in? What priority does study of the Word have in your life? Much can be said of our theology of any thing if it is not held closely to the measuring line of Scripture. God gave us not only instructions but prophesies of how to prepare in His book. If we care about our children, we will make sure they know it. Isaiah 55:11 states that the word of God will not return void. It will not render empty results. Isn’t that what you want to apply in your parenting?

I am concerned about the days ahead and what is being done to our children’s generation. Marx and Hitler both said give me the youth; the adults are a lost cause. You can teach a new thought and belief system while they are young. Other zealots know that you can use the enthusiasm and passion of the young to your advantage; this is visible in the recent Arab Spring. Make sure your children aren’t duped! They need to be prepared to defend themselves and their belief in the God that will judge us all.

Burning within me,

JOY!

Where ever you serve

Dying to self is not a popular subject. Christ requires we take up our cross and follow Him. As Blackaby reminds us, he who sacrifices in the name of Christ is no fool. There is a payday someday.

Exodus 23:20″I am sending an angel ahead of you to guard you along the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared.”

“As Jim Eliot prepared to give his life to missions, he earnestly sought God’s direction. One day he came upon Exodus 23:20, and instantly he recognized this verse as God’s confirmation that he should go to Ecuador to minister to the Auca people.  There Eliot would lay his life down for the cause of Christ. Earlier on Eliot had observed, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep, to gain what he cannot lose.” This attitude of total surrender to God inspired countless others to seek God’s leading for their lives. In fact, Elisabeth Eliot ad widows of the other men martyred with her husband returned to the Auca people, and – by God’s grace – many of those people are walking with the Lord today. Eliot was no fool: he gave up his life for his Lord. Your sacrifice may not be as dramatic as Eliot’s but as you die to self in serving your spouse or family, your community or your nation for God’s purposes and kingdom, you are no fool. You are gaining eternal rewards that you cannot lose.” (Blackaby)

Burning within me,

JOY!

It belongs not to my care

I like poetry. I like thought laden statements that are written in verse. Many of the old hymns are just that, powerful poetry as well sound doctrine with a melody. Not all is doctrinally sound, and yet some is divinely inspired.

Since of late the Lord has spoken over and over to me of my lack of control in life, my lack of understanding in matters and my need to totally trust Him. I found this old hymn particularly applicable to the life of a saint.

Lord, It Belongs Not to My Care

Author: Richard Baxter

1 Lord, it belongs not to my care Whether I die or live;

To love and serve Thee is my share, And this Thy grace must give.

2 If life be long, oh, make me glad The longer to obey;

If short, no laborer is sad To end his toilsome day.

3 Christ leads me through no darker rooms Than He went through before;

And he that to God’s kingdom comes Must enter by this door.

4 Come, Lord, when grace has made me meet Thy blessed face to see;

For if Thy work on earth be sweet, What will Thy glory be?

5 Then I shall end my sad complaints And weary, sinful days,

And join with the triumphant saints Who sing my Savior’s praise.

6 My knowledge of that life is small, The eye of faith is dim;

But ’tis enough that Christ knows all, And I shall be with Him.

“But ’tis enough that Christ knows all, And I shall be with Him.” What a beautiful summary statement for the believer. We can trust Him, and oh so soon we shall be with Him.

Burning within me,

JOY!

Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known.  But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 1 John 3:2

Knowing good from evil

Michael Youssef, Leading the Way Ministries, has stated what the church needs more than anything in this age is discernment. I recently heard Jan Markel, Understanding the Times, speak of the death of discernment. What is it and why are faith leaders speaking of it? It is listed in the spiritual gifts. (1 Corinthians 12) How is it manifested or defined? One of the definitions on dictionary.com (after the obvious “act of discerning”) is “acuteness of judgment or understanding.” So why is this so important in our generation?

Scripture tells us in the last days a spirit of deception will be such that even the elect could be misled. (Mark 13:22, Matthew 24:24) It seems many proclaimed evangelicals speaking at this hour have departed or wavered in foundational truth. As always we need to know God’s Word and rightly apply it. We must test the teachings of anyone against the divine Scriptures and see if what they say is so. (Acts 17:11) In the words of Kay Arthur, “Don’t take my word for it, read it for yourself.”

There are two prevalent teachings that should cause alarms to sound in our spirits. One of these is the gratification of self. We are warned in the scriptures that in the latter days, people will be lovers of self. (2 Timothy 3) The kingdom of God is about the King, not the servants. The Bible is plain the King is Jesus. He is first and foremost in all things. The second heresy today is so much like the first. There are teachers proclaiming God wants you to be happy. On the contrary, the word states time and again, “Be ye holy for I am holy”. (1 Peter 1:15-16) Keep in mind the Word of God is universal. So as one has stated, “If the word you are preaching won’t preach everywhere it won’t preach anywhere.”

Paul told Timothy in his second letter to his son in the faith: There is coming a day when people won’t put up with sound doctrine. They will gather around them teachers who will tell them what they want to hear. (2 Timothy 4:3) As much as I want to hear good news, I don’t want to be deceived. We each must take it upon ourselves to seek God’s wisdom and discernment in these uncertain times. As in the days of the prophets, there were plenty who told them God would deliver. There were also men of God who said, prepare for captivity. The former died, the latter were proven right even though it broke their hearts. Make sure you are listening to true prophets of God and judging their words by the Word of truth. Deception is in our times.

Burning within me,

JOY!


I cried as I read

I cried as I read of men of faith looking for a city of their own. The words so applied to the state of my heart. Life has been hard. I have heartache and so do most of the saints I know. The world is in turmoil. Not just one country, there is global unrest. The combination made the following words from Hebrews bring tears to my cheeks.  I could relate.

Hebrews 11:14-16 (NASB)

14 For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. 15 And indeed if they had been

thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a

better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them.

Look forward saint. You don’t want to turn back. Like Sodom and Gomorrah, some day there won’t be anything left here.

Burning within me,

JOY!

Lay some stones

My young friend tweeted again. This time it was a “selfie” of a middle-teen loaded down with overnight bags. The girl was turned toward the bathroom vanity as if to ensure she wasn’t leaving any pertinent items behind. The caption read to this effect: “the life of a child of divorce”. So in keeping of my promise to my sister in the Lord to warn us all of the heartbreak of divorce, I will share what a more mature friend of mine shared just this past week.

My girlfriend is a grandmother, a proud grandmother who married at the age of 17 and renewed her vows with the love of her youth just two years ago. It is inspiring to see her devotion and love to her spouse and his to her. She was asking me of another mutual friend, whom she devised left her husband via photos on Facebook. We mourned together the twenty plus year marriage and the heartache of the children. She told me, “My parents divorced, and it still hurts.” Her dad has even left this earth and gone to his eternal reward. And she tells me, “It still hurts.”

If you wonder why I am writing on divorce again today, in part it is to remind me that those differences with my spouse I think are so intolerable are not quite so in light of my children’s futures. You see I don’t want to make their walk on this sin filled earth any harder. I speak the Words of God to them, and the importance and preeminence of His ways. I don’t want to break those laws in their sight or His. I don’t want them to think for a minute that I don’t believe the principles in the Book of Life. So today I am writing to lay some stones of remembrance as the Israelites did as they crossed the Jordan. Divorce hurts, for forever. My witness pays. My children pay. I pay. The Kingdom pays. It is not a winsome choice.

May we all be satisfied with the spouse of our youth!

Burning within me,

JOY!

Proverbs 5

15Drink water from your own cistern,

running water from your own well.

16Should your springs overflow in the streets,

your streams of water in the public squares?

17Let them be yours alone,

never to be shared with strangers.

18May your fountain be blessed,

and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth.

19A loving doe, a graceful deer—

may her breasts satisfy you always,

may you ever be intoxicated with her love.

20Why, my son, be intoxicated with another man’s wife?

Why embrace the bosom of a wayward woman?

21For your ways are in full view of the Lord,

and he examines all your paths.

22The evil deeds of the wicked ensnare them;

the cords of their sins hold them fast.

23For lack of discipline they will die,

led astray by their own great folly.

 

Again, I write not to condemn.  If you are a divorced, God loves you!  He has a plan for your life.  He has never and will never leave you.

JOY!

A Powerful Prayer

This past week my son received a powerful prayer via a card. I share this prayer with you, for you and hope you will pray it for another. There is nothing so precious as realizing God is so very near.

My prayer is…

That you will find some word, some verse, or some thought that will convince you that God is very near. I pray that as you read you will be reminded that the same voice that stilled the rage on the Sea of Galilee can still the storm in your world. Be assured – He is closer than you’ve ever dreamed. – Max Lucado

Burning within me, 

JOY!

God loved Ishmael

In the days when Hamas and ISIS are wreaking havoc on our world, they are killing innocent people and fighting for control of governments, I must remember that the individuals that make up these terrorist groups are souls. Souls God loves.

In Genesis it is obvious that Isaac is the child of promise. God would not relent His plan to Sarah and Abraham as they tried to have descendents through Hagar, Sarah’s handmaid. However, twice, Ishmael could have perished and God intervened. The first time Hagar fled from Sarah’s harsh treatment of her. Jehovah-Roi saw. (Genesis 16:13) He went so far as to promise I will make a great nation of him when Hagar was sent away by Abraham. (Genesis 21:9-18) Ishmael was not the chosen one but preserved. Me, too. I was preserved. To my knowledge I have no Jewish heritage. But God, in His mercy, grafted me into the vine, wild olive shoot that I was. (Romans 11:17)

I believe Hamas, ISIS, must be stopped. Their killing rampage is not to be ignored. However, I must remember these terrorist organizations are made up of individual souls. For them I must pray. They too can escape the coming wrath of God if they repent and seek forgiveness from Christ the Lord. They are difficult matters to consider, especially when they upload their evil deeds to YouTube and boast of them through media outlets. However, God does not change based on man’s actions. Hallelujah! Therefore, we should pray for their salvation while there is still day. Night is coming when no man can work. (John 9:4)

Burning within me,

JOY!

I am an ostrich

I’m an ostrich. Are you? Do you prefer to hide your head in the sand and not know or acknowledge the events around you? In November of this past year, God pulled my head from the sand and said no more, Joy. The hour is late.

Many times I have read the verse that speaks of the “man of lawlessness”. A radio program this past week (Jan Markel, Understanding the Times) gave new meaning to this title for me. Have you ever seen in your lifetime where man was more law breaking? Think of the results of what happened in Ferguson ever so recently. Meaningless acts of destruction and pillaging took place. In our “me” culture, people chose to react to the event for the good of themselves rather than usefulness to the cause for which they were supposedly protesting. The acts didn’t help the deceased or his grieving family or bring justice. Even our president is breaking the laws of the constitution bypassing the checks and balances put into place purposely. The soul of our world has collapsed says David Jeremiah.

The length of my life is short. I only have a handful of decades of experience. I do have the recollections of nearly a century of history from my mom. I read incessantly. These are unprecedented times in America. Are they unrepeated in the world? We have had dark eras. We have had horrifying wars and unfathomable atrocities from man’s desire to have power. Has it ever been this widespread? Global chaos is erupting. It is in cities in America, our government and in the Middle East, Russia and the Ukraine. Are you allowing yourself to know or acknowledge?

Then the man of lawlessness will be revealed, but the Lord Jesus will kill him with the breath of his mouth and destroy him by the splendor of his coming. 2 Thessalonians 2:8

In Thessalonians Paul is preparing us for times to come. Are we preparing for times to come? Does it seem we are on the doorstep of another world war? Many of our scholars of history and world politics believe so. I urge each one of us as Peter has, “The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers.” (1 Peter 4:7) He actually admonishes in his first epistle to be sober three times. The “Joy” translation of that is “Get my head out of the sand.”

May each of us as God’s children be in prayer, the Word and the spiritual battle for souls. The hour is late. It has been since Jesus left the earth for His throne. Your children need you; your community needs you; the Kingdom needs you. Don’t be an ostrich like me.

Burning within me,

JOY!

You never know

It was three o’clock in the morning. My sister, husband and I were the only ones in the OR waiting room. My son was in surgery. We were so cold, tired and apprehensive. My sister said, “You never know when you leave home in the morning where you will be going.” She was so right. We had no clue we would get a call to meet the ambulance. We surely didn’t anticipate spending the next three days in the hospital. We just don’t know what lies before us.

We had spent the evening in the care of a wonderful hospital staff while awaiting the surgery. They were compassionate and efficient. Our family and friends surrounded us in prayer. They filled the waiting room and blew up our phones with texts and calls to check on our boy. In a traumatic and anxiety filled situation, God was there with His loving provision.

One thing my Father has spoken to me numerous times through our recovery is you must always remain prepared. Keep your prayer life active. Keep your church family close. Be in the Word daily. Don’t be caught unaware. You don’t know what a day may bring.

I also want to remember what blessings the body of Christ has bestowed. There have been countless cards, care baskets, gifts, visits and meals. So many have volunteered to help us in any way we can use them. Each thing has been like oil anointing our heads with love. The gestures mean so much. I want to be one who does that for others. It’s often hard to receive, but may the humbling act of receiving make me a more gracious giver. I had a conversation about the small number of servants among God’s family just this week. The Lord showed me how wonderfully refreshing are the giving as we have been the recipients of so many acts of love.

God knows each of our days before one of them comes to be. We, however, do not. So plant seeds today that will yield the crop you need for days you cannot see.

Burning within me,

JOY!

How do you know what is going to happen tomorrow? For the length of your lives is as uncertain as the morning fog—now you see it; soon it is gone. (James 4:14)

“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap.  For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Luke 6:38)

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