All posts by Kenneth Reid

God is teaching you to fight.

Posted on Jul 19, 2017 | Download

“If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in the thickets by the Jordan?”  (Jeremiah 12:5) Why does anyone hire a personal trainer? Think about it. We give someone money to make us to do things we don't want to do. We literally pay someone to put us in pain, make us sweat, and smack our hands away from chocolate chip cookies. Why? There are a couple of reasons. We need accountability. A big part of having a personal trainer is simply having someone else there to make sure you show up and to call you out when you don’t. We need a standard. We need someone else in our lives to push us further than we are comfortable going because we know the result will be worth it. If we were working out on our own, we might stop when it hurts or when we get tired. But a trainer knows that we can usually do more than we think we can, and will push us to do so. We need a coach. Especially when we are first starting out exercising, it’s difficult to even know where to start or what to do? Should I run three miles immediately, or should I work up to it? Should I bench-press and exercise my legs on the same day or alternate days? How many repetitions should I do? Etc. We need a coach to show us what to do. God is our personal trainer. He puts you into situations that are hard, frustrating, and even at times discouraging, not because he enjoys seeing you suffer, but because he wants to see you persevere—to win! When we face trials it’s natural, and even right, to pray that God would rescue us from them. Sometimes God will answer that prayer with an emphatic and miraculous, “Yes!” and it’s wonderful when he does. Other times, God may answer with “No” or “Not yet.” These are not inferior answers, and they do not mean you lack faith. God’s answer may be “no” because you are in training. He is saying to you, like he said to Jeremiah, “If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses?” God told Paul the same thing in 2 Corinthians 12:7-9: “A thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me… Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’” When we face difficult, we should pray earnestly and faithful that God would rescue us from it (he is our Savior, after all). But we should not become discouraged when he chooses not to do so, because these are the times that he wants you to learn to trust him, to persevere and to grow. In every trial you face, remember, God is teaching you to fight.   Kenneth Reid is a Christian, husband, dad, blogger and song writer from Tyler, TX. He works at Somachurch as the office administrator. Follow his blog at kennetheugene.com.   Photo by Solal Ohayon on Unsplash

7 questions to ask when you lose your love for God.

Posted on Jun 28, 2017 | Download

We all find ourselves in a place from time to time where our passion for the Lord begins to diminish. 16th Century Reformer, Martin Luther, said in his 95 Theses, "The entire life of believers [is] to be one of repentance." Repentance should mark our Christian walk. If we aren't constantly repenting it may be time to reevaluate whether our relationship with Jesus is genuine. Our pastor talked a couple of weeks ago about the scripture in Matthew 24:12 that says, "Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold." In his message he suggested seven questions you should ask yourself when you begin to feel like you're losing your passion for Jesus.   1. When is the last time you shared the Gospel with someone you know is an unbeliever? All it takes is a glance at our Facebook pages to know that we can't help but talk about the things we're passionate about. If we are truly passionate about the gospel, sharing it with others will be our natural response.   2. When is the last time you invited an un-churched Christian to your church or Small-Group? James 5:20 says, "Whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins." Bringing the wandering Christian home should be something we eagerly seek to do.   3. How often do YOU come to church or Small-Group? The Church is most often referred to as the Body of Christ and the Bride of Christ. It is almost inconceivable that a Christian can be a passionate follower of Christ, but care very little about His Body and Bride.   4. When is the last time you prayed for someone outside your own Christian Community? If we aren't thinking and praying for people outside the church, then our hearts are not hurting for what God's heart hurts for. Namely, the lost!   5. When is the last time you privately prayed for someone inside your own church community? We have to be in prayer for our brothers and sisters in Christ. They are our spiritual family and we should care about them as much as our own family.   6. When is the last time you privately prayed at all? Prayer is the proof of dependence upon God. If we are not praying, we can't say that we truly depend on God.   7. Do you faithfully give toward the Great Commission? Jesus said, "Where your treasure is, there your heart is also," (Matt. 6:21). How can we say our heart is for the lost if our wallet is not?   You can hear the whole sermon this blog post was based on here.

3 Reasons to Stop Going to Church

Posted on Aug 21, 2016 | Download

Church can feel like a confusing and frustrating place in our culture. It seems like all the time we hear of a minister falling into sin or major doctrinal divides among denominations. Hypocritical, thievish, immoral, judgmental, these are some of the horrific words that are often used to describe the Church. And for many, even the “good” churches do not seem all that necessary. After all, I can download sermons and praise songs on my phone and have an entire worship service in my living room, right? It certainly beats sitting in a large room full of people I don’t like while pretending not to feel awkward until it’s over. Who needs church? This isn’t a new problem. 1 Samuel 1-2 records one of the worst church experiences most of us have ever faced. Elkanah and Hanna are a very sweet couple, and they are barren. Hanna desperately wanted children. So when she and her husband came to the temple (church) to offer the annual sacrifice, she prayed earnestly that God would give her a child. And this is where their bad church experience begins. Unhelpful Pastor Hanna prays sorrowfully and silently for a child. “Hanna was speaking in her heart; only her lips moved, and her voice was not heard” (1 Sam. 1:13). Eli, the priest (pastor) saw her praying and somehow took her silent prayer for drunkenness: “How long will you go on being drunk? Put your wine away from you” (vs. 14). Put yourself in this story. There you are, a God fearing woman (or the husband of a God fearing woman), bearing your soul before God, trying to trust Him, but also broken and frustrated. And the pastor judgmentally accuses you of being drunk. How would you react? Hanna’s response was humility. “No, my lord, I am a woman troubled in spirit… I have been pouring out my heart before the Lord.” Finally, Eli blesses her, (doesn’t apologize, mind you), and prays that she would have a child. Ungodly Church Elders Hanna made a vow that if God would give her a child, she would give him back to the Lord. God showed Himself faithful and blessed her with a son whose name was Samuel. She kept Samuel until he was weaned and then brought him to the temple to be raised as a minister to the Lord. Samuel would live at the temple with the priests for the rest of his life. That’s quite a vow for a mom to make. Chapter 2 tell us about some of the other priests Samuel would be influenced by—the sons of Eli. “Now the sons of Eli were worthless men. They did not know the Lord.” (Can you imagine if God called you worthless)? It goes on to explain why these men were worthless. First, “the men treated the offering of the Lord with contempt” (verse 37). They had no fear of the Lord and did not care about the people, so when worshippers would come to offer a sacrifice, they bullied the people and disrupted worship just to eat some of the sacrificial meat. Second, they were sleeping with the female temple servants. If you were Samuel’s parents, would you leave your kid with these guys? Unmet Expectations So Hanna and Elkanah kept their vow and gave their child to the Lord. They have remained gracious and unoffended with their Pastor’s accusation of drunkenness, they have chosen to trust the Lord and leave their child in the company of these wicked church elders, and now they have gone back home where they are practically left with no children, yet again. What unmet expectations might they have experienced? Have you ever grown bitter with God thinking, “After all I’ve given to Him, why isn’t He being faithful to me?” But this was not their heart. God had, as of yet, given them no more children. Their circumstance had not changed. But they still came faithfully every year to give the annual sacrifice, and 1 Sam. 2:19 says, “His mother used to make for him a little robe and take it to him each year when she went up with her husband to offer the yearly sacrifice.” It was after they came faithfully to worship that they were finally blessed with more children.   WHY? So is church really worth it? Why would this couple pour so much of themselves into being committed to the Church after such a terrible experience? There are at least three reasons we should never give up on the Church. Because God is Faithful When Hanna brought Samuel to the temple and showed him to Eli she said, “I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of Him. So now I give him to the Lord.” Nothing in this life is truer than that when we obey God He abundantly blesses us. We remain faithful to Him, and therefore to His people, because He is faithful to us. “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things,” (Romans 8:32)? Because Jesus Loves the Church The Church is the Bride of Christ. When we give up on the Church we are giving up on Christ’s wife. He paid a high price for her, and I promise He knows her flaws much better than you do. You have no right to give up on the Church until He does, and He never will. “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,” (Ephesians 5:25-26). Because YOU are the Church We have all seen hypocrisy, we have all been hurt by someone in the Church, and probably more often than that, we have all felt the fakeness of “playing church.” Honestly, sometimes it does feel easier to just stay home. But may I encourage you not to give up on the Church? Church isn’t just a place to be blessed and filled up, it is also a place to be a blessing and to pour yourself out. When you walk into a congregation and become frustrated that no one is kind enough to meet you and invite you into their circle of friendship, you be the Church and reach out to someone you do not know. When you see hypocrisy, you be the Church and live an example of godliness. When you see fake Christianity, you be the Church and show others what it means to be genuine. Where you see the Church not acting like the Church, you be the Church.

At Peace With God’s Timing

Posted on Jan 19, 2016 | Download

When God Delays For 40 Days. One of the more fascinating scriptures to me is Exodus 32:1. It says, “Now when the people saw that Moses delayed coming down from the mountain, the people gathered together to Aaron, and said to him, ‘Come make us gods that shall go before us, for as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’” You would think that after 400 years of captivity and being apart of the EXODUS that included miracle after miracle that they would allow a bit more time for God to do His work with Moses on the mountain. Not so, though. It only took 40 days and the people were up in arms! Looking back, I remember times in my life when I had an expectation for things to happen in a certain time frame and in the end, my time frame really didn’t mean a hill of beans. I remember going into my freshman year of high school as an aspiring basketball player. The only problem was that my boyish body wasn’t  up for the task of my MAN sized dreams. I was like a little runt who had not hit the growth spurt that many of my thick bearded buddies had. It was not till the summer AFTER my freshman year that the MAN in me came out and all of the sudden I was bigger, faster, stronger. The result was going from  a role player on my freshman basketball team to a sub on the Varsity team my sophomore year. Comically, it was still a year LATE in my mind though. God's Timing. There are several other stories I have of God not working things out in my time frame. It’s funny how that works. I could have swore that I was suppose to get married in my early twenties. God at least let me get the “twenties” part right and I got married to the love of my life at… 29. I recall starting college when I was 18 and after a long detour, not graduating till I was…30. I also remember the talks where my wife and I wanting to at least wait a year before we had children. Well, at least we got nine months of alone time, right? Story after story and lesson after lesson, God reminds us that His timing is supreme. I have learned through the 15 years of being devoted to Christ that in many ways it’s less about the fulfillment and more about the waiting. The waiting is the place of preparation. It’s the place that gets you ready to be able to handle the fulfillment. So you can fully appreciate it. In the waiting comes the refining, the maturing, the character and the heart. God's Promise, My Character. Just recently we had a very generous family give us a very nice Honda Odyssey minivan. Of course, this is HUGE to us because we are in the middle of the adoption process that will take our two kids to three or maybe even more. The point being, we need a larger vehicle then our smooth riding Honda Civic. Since our second son was born, I have been looking at minivans online, especially Honda Odysseys. That’s almost two years of looking, researching and above all… waiting. We knew God had a plan and in that plan was a time frame. We did not know the time frame, but at this point in my life, I really didn’t care. I knew this season was more about what is God doing IN ME in the waiting, then WHEN will we get a car our whole family can fit in. Like the Israelites, there were many times that I almost took matters into my own hands. I would go and visit dealerships, call people about their Odyssey listings online, etc. The problem was there was no peace. We knew that God wanted to do a miracle in our lives when it came to this vehicle. When I would begin the process of “creating my own golden calf” so to speak, I would feel the nudge of the Holy Spirit. That still small voice saying, “just wait”, “keep holding on”, “I have not forgot about you”, “I am faithful”. In the end, I obeyed and went with the PEACE over the instant gratification of doing things my way or in my own timing. God was gracious and we are beyond thrilled about the new vehicle addition to our family. We can’t wait for the call when we as a family hop into our new van and go pick up the newest addition(s) to our family! Maybe your a missionary praying for a certain break through in your ministry or your finances. You could be that praying neighbor who is waiting so anxiously to see your neighbor come to Jesus. Or maybe your are a family that has been waiting for what seems like forever for that new baby through adoption. Instead of seeing it as God's delays, let's look at it as God's opportunities. Let’s make use of that time the very best we can. Grow, learn, love, change and all of the sudden, your nudge will not be to create a golden calf, it will be the Lord making good on HIS word!

Resolved to Hope

Posted on Jan 13, 2016 | Download

Don’t get your hopes up. "Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life." (Proverbs 13:12) A statement given and received by all of us at some point or another. “Don’t get your hopes up.” Hope is a curse word in most of our mental dictionaries. We use it to describe a desire that might be fulfilled, but probably won’t, or is at best uncertain. But hope is one of the major concepts in the Bible. It is used over 150 times throughout Scripture. Our culture sees hope as an unfortunate reality of life, while the Bible describes hope as foundational to the Christian faith and to every Christian’s joy. What is hope? "Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees?" (Romans 8:24) Hope is, in one sense, just a fancy word for waiting. We hate waiting. And as technology (and with it, convenience) continues to increase, our impatience increases and intensifies. But there is a sort of threshold. If you begin to save up for some significant purchase, say a new guitar, when you finally make the purchase you are thankful for the wait and the hard work it took to save enough money to buy it. On the other hand, if you have been applying for jobs for over a year and you finally get one, you may be thankful for the job, but the wait seems to have very little value, and is seen as more of an enemy than anything beneficial. We may place some value on waiting, but at some point deferred hope becomes discouragement. The certainty of what we hope for decreases with time. The longer we wait the more uncertain we become that our hopes will ever come to pass, with one exception. The object of our hope. "And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts…" (Romans 5:5) Deferred hope almost always disappoints but Christian hope does not. The above verse gives an odd reason for this phenomena, “Because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts...” So hope does not disappoint because Jesus loves me? That sounds a little too “Sunday school” to be of any real help. Why is waiting good news for the Christian and bad news for the Christless? The difference isn’t so much the waiting, but the object of our waiting. What Christians await ultimately is the resurrection. Our hope is anchored in the reality that no matter what this life brings, not matter what disappointments we face, no matter what opportunities, or relationships, or loved ones we lose on this earth, every loss will be regained a thousand times over at the resurrection. Every other hope may disappoint, but the hope of a final resurrection is absolutely certain. God’s love is the foundation for our confidence because He is strong and He is trustworthy. He is strong enough to bring to pass anything He wants, and He is trustworthy enough do exactly what He has promised. So God, being a good Father who loves us, gives us every reason in the world to trust Him when He says that when this life is over, true life will have only just begun. It is His love, having been “poured out within our hearts,” that enables us to trust in His promise of life, and life to the full, forever. Every other hope may disappoint and discourage, but the Christian’s hope of the resurrection cannot disappoint because it is absolutely certain. The What transforms the Wait. "We rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame." (Romans 5:2-5) The object of our hope changes everything. Every challenge to the hope of the resurrection only increases our confidence in it rather than weakening it. In every other hope, the longer we wait, or the more difficulties that get in the way, cause us to lose hope, but for the Christian, our hope can only increase. Therefore, “We rejoice in hope of the glory of God (that is, the final resurrection). Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.” So we rejoice in the hope of the resurrection, but we also rejoice in everything that seems to get in the way of that hope, because every source of pain in this life can only increase our hope for the next life. Every loss here only reminds us of what we will gain there. Every suffering on this earth stirs in us a longing for an end to all suffering, that is, our eternal home. So every hope that fails you now is simply another scale falling from your eyes, clearing your vision to see the light that doesn’t dim, the joy that doesn’t end, the hope that doesn’t fade. Get your hopes up, and get them high. "But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” (Lamentations 3:21-24)  But this does not mean we should give up on our present earthly hopes. It means the opposite, in fact. Christian hope transforms worldly hope. Buddhism tells us to live this life detached from any feeling of love or joy because those experiences usually bring suffering, and suffering is our enemy. Even the movie Star Wars subtly gives this message. In Episode II Yoda says to Anakin, “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering.” It makes suffering out to be the ultimate evil, and it makes the feeling of fear and anger out to be enemies that should be avoided at all costs. This is a perfectly understandable idea for those who are not Christians, because suffering has no value. Thus, the world would tell us, “Don’t get your hopes up.” But dear Christian, get your hopes high, higher than ever before, because you cannot lose. Either your Father will bless you with what you hope for in this life, or He will bless you with the suffering that leads to endurance, character, and hope for the life to come. So in a certain sense, there is no bad day for a Christian. Of course we feel pain, but, “This light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Cor. 4:17), and “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18). So you have no reason to limit your hope in anything, because if you get what you hope for you win, and if you don’t you win all the more. This is why Paul can so confidently say, “in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:37). This year, if you resolve to do nothing else, resolve to hope.

Resolution or Reality: Why We Hate New Years

Posted on Dec 30, 2015 | Download

Slow Growth is an Illusion. For the past five years or so the once rural city I live in has become quite progressive. The population is increasing, business is booming, the arts are beginning to flourish, and people are actually moving here from bigger cities and do not feel completely Podunk. As a result there are several new buildings and architecture popping up out of nowhere. But they really aren’t out of nowhere. In reality, I drive by a construction site on my way to work for months and am constantly wondering what in the world is taking so long. It seems like half a year goes by and the four walls are not even standing yet. Then all of the sudden it happens. The same structure that had no structure for six months is fully functioning within a couple of weeks. The foundation takes a while. The first time I noticed this I just assumed there was some logical reason that the progress stopped. Maybe a disagreement arose about the contract, or perhaps the owners ran into some sort of legal issues with the property. But as I saw this happen time and time again I finally realized what was going on. The foundation was being built. As a carpenter, Jesus talked about this in his Sermon on the Mount. Toward the end of His message He said that if anyone applies His teaching to their lives they are like a man who builds his house on rock, a solid foundation. If anyone does not apply it to their lives, they are like a man who builds his house on sand. When the storm comes the house on the rock will stand strong, but the one on the sand is in trouble. The foundation is the most important part of the structure and usually takes the longest. This is how life goes for me. Sometimes I look back over the years and see that I am still struggling with the same things I was struggling with ten years ago. I think to myself, “If it has taken me this long to have only come this far, will I ever arrive?” But the reality is that God is a Foundation Builder. He is in it for the long haul, and He is in it for our ultimate joy rather than our immediate and temporary happiness. "He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus" (Philippians 1:6). Not a morning person. When I was young my parents would do everything they could think of to get me up in time for school. My dad would sometimes wake me up all excited by playing with my action figures. We would play for a few minutes until he said, “Alright, now get ready for school.” Other days he thought it was funny to wake me by pouring water on my head. Not as enjoyable as playing with my toys, but it got the job done, I suppose. I’m sure they wondered if I would ever be a self-functioning, normal adult. There was no change until I was twenty-four. Then I started college. For some reason I would try to stay up late and do my homework and it was just not happening. 10pm would come around and I could not stay awake. The assignment was due the next day. The only thing I could do was wake up at 4:30am and do homework until it was time to go to my job at 8am. Turns out that 4:30am is like a fresh cup of coffee. I was wired and ready to go. I now frequently wake up early to focus and get ready for the day. It is my best time to get things done. Not a money person. One more. I was absolutely awful with money. For a year after high school I attended an internship. My parents paid for it, and the total tuition included food, lodging and learning. That means the only expenses I needed extra money for were gas in my car, and entertainment. I spent $1,100 in one month… on entertainment! Like going out to eat, getting coffee, going to the movies, etc. My parents told me they were going to have to cut me off. Apparently their bank account was not just a bottomless pit with my name on it. I am a completely different person now.  I left the internship, got a job, and then found out that money really doesn’t grow on trees. Now I enjoy budgeting so much that I am in college for Accounting. Reality. I say these things, not to tell you that someday you will be a morning person or a financial guru. And of course, this is not the whole story either. I can list plenty of areas in my life that aren’t even close to an overnight fix. I’m still terrible with directions, meeting new people is still very difficult and terrifying, and I cannot stay consistent in eating healthy for the life of me. But I do want to encourage you not to give up. This is the time of year that some people, (whom most of us find annoying), begin thinking about how they want to better themselves over the next year, while the rest of us are too familiar with the feeling of defeat to even want to try. There are some things you hate about yourself and no matter how much effort you put into it, change just isn’t happening. You have noticed little, if any, improvement over the past several years and it is getting discouraging. But the Bible tells us, “Let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9). Don’t look at your lack of progress assuming growth is never going to happen. Sometime you work for years and years to improve an area of your life and one day something clicks and you just do it as if you always have. Other things are like climbing a mountain. You will see your progress, not by seeing how far you’ve yet to go, but by seeing how far you’ve come. But do not give up. Keep repenting, keep pursuing, keep learning, keep trying, and someday you may be amazed by your sudden growth. You may have been building the foundation all this time and since the foundation takes the longest and looks like the least amount of progress, you might feel like you’ve accomplished nothing. Don’t stop. You will reap if you don’t give up.

The First Noel Was No Silent Night: A Painful Christmas

Posted on Dec 9, 2015 | Download

The Not-So-Silent, Holy Night “And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman… She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth… And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she bore her Child he might devour it. She gave birth to a Male Child, One who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron…” (Revelation 12:1-6) All was far from calm, little seemed bright, and as for the Holy Infant, there was no sleeping in heavenly peace. When God Himself came down and became flesh, even from the first announcement of His birth, chaos and confusion seemed to follow. God does not come quietly, He never has and never will. And His birth—the very Incarnation itself, the day the Word of God took on flesh—was no exception. The angelic broadcast that brought “Good tidings of great joy,” also left devastation and uncertainty in its wake.  We Three Kings: What Peace on Earth? “’Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star when it rose and have come to worship Him.’ When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled…” (Matt. 2:2-3) The news of a Baby who would be the “King of the Jews,” was a threat to the lineage of Herod’s kingdom. So when he was told about this Royal Child, he found out what city He would be born in and told the magi to come back and tell him exactly where the Baby lived, “So that I too may worship Him.” But when the magi were warned in a dream not to tell Herod anything, he took matters into his own hands. What started as these men’s desire to worship, ended in a mass infanticide by a tyrannous, insecure, and jealous king. Herod ordered a massacre for all babies under two years old throughout the whole region just to make sure he got the right one. Imagine an entire city with almost every household filled with weeping mothers and helpless fathers, as thousands of families hold their cold and breathless bundles of joy. Even as I write this, the thought of soldiers kicking in our door as we are sitting down for dinner, and ripping Owen out of my wife’s arms as we experience the worst day of our lives, nearly brings me to tears. The question that should be ringing in our ears is, “Where is this peace on earth?” Nothing Calm, Nothing Bright “Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah: ‘A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be comforted, because they are no more’” (Matt. 2:17-18). Think about it. Let the confusion linger in your heart as it did for thousands of tragedy stricken Jewish families that “Silent Night” in Bethlehem. Events like this and the injustice they carry are the seeds that give birth to atheism, and for good reason. The question that should be burning in our minds is, “If God is good why didn’t He stop this from happening?” If God can prophesy about this event in Jeremiah hundreds of years before and if He can warn Joseph in a dream to escape, then couldn’t He have prevented the whole thing? And the answer if we stay true to the Bible is yes, God could have prevented all of it, and He did not. And here is where we want to speculate. But doing so is usually our way of trying to make excuses for God; trying to make Him look good, or be more acceptable for the twenty-first century. The truth is God can defend Himself and when He gives clarity we should listen and when He does not we shouldn’t try to make Him more human or easier to understand by making up “good reasons” for why He allows these things to happen. We don’t know the fullness of God’s wisdom, but thankfully, while God doesn’t give us very much clarity, He does give us great hope.  Good Will to Men And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:10-11) This massive infanticide happened about two years after the angels appeared to the shepherds giving them “good news of great joy.” Now, two years later, life has gone back to normal, the once astonished shepherds are back to sheep duty, Joseph is doing carpentry work again, and the world has moved on. Nothing has changed, no “peace on earth,” and all of the sudden a killing spree in response to the news of the toddler king. This devastating verse that is quoted in Matthew about a mass murder in Bethlehem was originally written in Jeremiah 31:15, sandwiched in a section filled with hopeful promises from God of Israel’s restoration. The whole passage in verses 15-17 says, “Thus says the Lord: ‘A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping. Rachel is weeping for her children; she refuses to be comforted for her children, because they are no more.’ Thus says the Lord: ‘Keep your voice from weeping, and your eyes from tears, for there is a reward for your work, declares the Lord, and they shall come back from the land of the enemy. There is hope for your future, declares the Lord, and your children shall come back to their own country.’” The “Good news of great joy,” is the promise of a final resurrection—justice at last, all wrong finally made right. God does not promise that we will not go through difficulty, in fact, He promises the opposite (John 16:33; 1 Peter 4:12). But what God does give us is promise of final justice; true peace on earth. The “peace on earth” that Jesus brings is not necessarily a peace in our relationships, nor in our chaotic lives, but it is peace with God. Every other religion gives man the task of striving to climb up to God on the mountain of good works, but only the Bible shows us the love of a God who came down to man. We are sinners. We are enemies of God. We deserve God’s wrath. But He offers us peace. And this peace is not just a truce between two enemies who decide not to fight anymore. It is more than just forgiveness. God doesn’t merely offer us absolution, He offers us adoption through the birth, and later, the death and resurrection of Jesus. The “Savior who is Christ the Lord” is called the Savior because He came to save His people from their sins and to reconcile them to God. The beginning of the story may be the tragedy of thousands dying at the birth of the Savior, but the end of the story is billions being saved by the death of the Savior. The angel came with good news. The good news of a God with open arms rather than closed fists. He is the God of mercy. His very name, Jesus, literally means “God is Salvation.” “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ… For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:1-8).

A Hebrews 11 Kind Of Hero

Posted on Dec 2, 2015 | Download

A lot of people have different chapters of the Bible that are their favorite. I would say most people really enjoy the book of Hebrews and specifically chapter eleven. The subject of Faith is an obvious cornerstone in our life as a believer. This chapter in Hebrews brings great definition to faith and adds to it wonderful biblical examples of those who have gone before us who have exemplified great faith. Towards the end of the chapter, the writer of Hebrews seems to save a special section for those who seemed to give it all. Those who in the face of all adversity and dire circumstances laid their life down for Jesus. Many people refer to these as the “Great Heroes of the Faith”. People who in faith, literally gave all for the surpassing knowledge of Christ. Here is how the text reads picking up in Hebrews 11:35-40. Women received their dead raised to life again. Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection.Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment.They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented— of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains,dens and caves of the earth. And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise,God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us. I have met a lot of wonderful believers during my lifetime. People who will have truckloads of crowns to lay at the feet of Jesus when they go to heaven. However, in my 34 years of living, I feel that I have only had one encounter with a person that screamed Hebrews 11. I was living in China at the time, but I was on a ministry trip to Cambodia and Laos. After spending several days in Cambodia, my ministry partner and I flew into Vientiane, Laos. We found a taxi and he zoomed us off to our hotel. We got to the hotel, got checked in and then started getting situated in our room. Once settled, we were relaxing before our evening dinner and meeting and we hear a knock on the door and someone come in. I look up and somewhat nervously look around the corner to see who it is. In comes a middle-aged, white man who is a little on the skinny side, dressed in very casual jeans and a t-shirt. He yells out my ministry partners name and my friend looks up with an expression of amazement on his face. They greet each other in the middle of the room and I can quickly gather that they go way back. My friend turns and introduces this new guy to me. I greet him and then I begin to hear the story of how these guys know each other. It turns out that their paths had crossed multiple times in the missions world. My friend had been living and serving Jesus in China for 20+ years. This other man had been in and out of China and Southeast Asia for almost just as long. As they talked about missions and what our visitor is currently doing, I felt the Holy Spirit pressing upon me that this man who just walked into our rooms is one of the Heroes. One of the Hebrews 11 Heroes. He opens his mouth and begins to describe in a very humble way all that he is doing and been through to distribute the bible to literally the darkest places in the world. From interrogation to persecution to staying hidden for weeks and months at a time. He has had passports taken from him, documentation destroyed and the list goes on and on. Yet, he continues to find ways to get Gods word into peoples hands in the most hostile places in China and Southeast Asia. It was a surreal moment. It was a God moment that marked me for the rest of my life. I knew that I was truly in the presence of a Modern Day Hero on this earth. No one will ever know his name. He will never be on Tv. You will never read one of his books. But, he is exactly who I think of when I read through Hebrews 11. I will never forget him and pray for those that are like him around the world! May they continue to press on towards the ultimate prize!!

Why We End Our Prayers With, “In Jesus Name, Amen.”

Posted on Nov 24, 2015 | Download

Every good Christian knows if you do not end your prayers with, “In Jesus name, Amen,” God probably won’t hear you. Of course I am being factitious. But when traditions become, well traditions, they eventually become routine, and then their purpose becomes assumed, and finally, forgotten. So what is the purpose of these four words at the end of our prayers? Does it give a better chance at getting a favorable answer? Is it like abracadabra? Or just a nice signature, like when writing a letter: “Sincerely yours, Barry White.” In Jesus Name. Every time we say these three words at the end of our prayers we are proclaiming the good news of the gospel. Ephesians 3:12 says that through Jesus, “We have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him,” before the throne of God (emphasis mine). Without Christ we are sinners, enemies of God (Col. 1:21), under His wrath (Ephesians 2:3). We have no access to God on our own. When we say “In Jesus Name,” even at the dinner table, we should be reminded that through Christ, we have the access to talk to God. He is our Father. Jesus has given us “the right to become children of God” (John 1:12). In John 14:13 Jesus says, “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” (emphasis mine). So do not leave out the most important part of your prayer. Through Christ, and Christ alone, you have the right to approach God and ask for anything, or even simply to thank him for the food he has provided for you. Amen. Amen is kind of an obscure one. If you do a search for “Amen” in the Bible it shows up in a strange variety of places. For example: “‘Cursed be anyone who misleads a blind man on the road.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’" (Deut. 27:18), or, “Blessed be the Lord forever! Amen and Amen” (Psalm 89:52), or “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen” (Romans 11:36). Ironically, it is least often used in the Bible at the end of a prayer, but there are examples like, “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers. Amen” (Galatians 6:18). The word means “truth” or “it is true.” (That is the reason some people say Amen during the sermon at church). In Revelation 3:17 Jesus himself is called “The Amen.” He is the embodiment of truth, “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Everything he says it truth. That is why Peter said, ” You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:67). Very often when Jesus would teach he would begin with, “Truly, Truly, I say to you…” And some versions rightly translate it, “Amen, Amen, I say to you…” Say Amen when you hear or pray or read the truth of God. The most common use of the word Amen in the Bible is right after a declaration of God’s glory, ”To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”

Pray for Syria

Posted on Nov 18, 2015 | Download

Many of us are aware of the tragic civil war and unrest that has been going on in Syria for the last almost half decade. It seems almost daily that we hear of more and more Syrians fleeing their country to escape the horrible terrors brought on by war and terrorism. Now we are hearing the number of refugees has gone beyond 10 million. Obviously, when you are seeking refuge this can put you in a very vulnerable place, especially for the women and children. I’am not in anyway an expert on this issue, nor do I claim to be. I have read several mainstream articles like the rest of you from a variety of news outlets. The purpose of this post is to help guide our prayer for Syria, the refugees and on a larger scale the middle-east. Below I have listed what I’m calling a Top 10 prayer list for this crisis. If we stand together in prayer, we are assured that God will hear our prayer and move on behalf of those are in desperate place. 1. Pray for peace – In the midst of tragedy that the the peace that comes from the Creator will pass all understanding in their personal life. May their also be an expedited process to civil rest and governmental peace in this nation. 2. Pray for protection – Specifically for the innocent and the civilians we pray they would be supernaturally protected in all ways. 3. Pray for salvation – That the goodness of God would touch the people of this nation through dreams, visions, encounters etc.. And that many more thousands would come to know Jesus personally! 4. Pray for the innocent – For those who are being treated completely unfairly and unjustly that God would show them through any means the life of Jesus and how He can relate! 5. Pray for those who are mourning due to great loss – That God would bring great comfort and encouragement to those who have seen and experience such horrific loss. 6. Pray for Life over death – That the devils way of death would be thwarted and destroyed and the LIFE of Jesus would invade peoples lives and hearts, including national leaders. 7. Pray for light over darkness – That as darkness seems to prevail the the light of Christ and his hope would shine even brighter in a super natural way! 8. Pray for victory over defeat – As all around these people see defeat, we pray that true Victory, eternal victory would invade their hearts and minds and give them hope! 9. Pray for the reconnecting of families – With many families being separated, we pray for the reconnecting and joining together of families and that during this time of waiting they would remain hopeful and encouraged. 10. Pray HIS kingdom come, HIS will be done – Ultimately, we want nothing more than Gods Kingdom to come and will to be done in this situation and in this nation as it is in Heaven. Come Lord Jesus, Come!