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THE EMOTION CALLED ANGER

 

Anger is an emotion that is expressed much more frequently than we care to admit.  All of us have sometime or other ventilated a barrage of words and expressions that have caused our peers, and even family members, to retreat to a place of safety.  Anger that is exhibited from a Believer tends to have not only external ramifications, but also internal effects.  We have seen anger demonstrated from non-Christians, but to see it displayed from Believers is both puzzling and confusing.  Is it normal for a follower of Christ to express anger?  Is it a sign of spiritual weakness when it is displayed?

The Bible says that we can become angry, but are warned not to allow that anger to reach a level in which it becomes sin. (Ephesians 4:26)  The word “anger” here means to “provoke or enrage, to become exasperated.” (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance)  Whenever something or someone provokes or causes either spiritual or personal discomfort, it is normal to have displays of displeasure.  But to personalize it toward the one who antagonizes is to enter a very dangerous area.  One of the qualifications of a Bishop is that he is “not soon angry.” (Titus 1:7)  Whenever someone’s emotion is quickened by the shortness of their fuse, the door to the arena of sin is opened.  A Believer must exhibit a great deal of tolerance when it comes to areas of frustration.   The Bible warns against letting the day end without putting “anger” to bed. (Ephesians 4:26b)  Whenever we let anger stay active during our time of sleep, the subconscious will be a breeding ground for tomorrow’s attitude.  If we have not dealt with anger before we lay down, there is a good chance our rest will be anything but restful.  Anger must never be directed at an individual.  When we display anger at another person, we have opened the door to other emotions that can promote disharmony and hurt.

The Scripture tells us that in a certain Synagogue Jesus experienced a confrontation with a number of Pharisees who were exhibiting religious hypocrisy.  They were waiting for Jesus to break one of the rules of Judaism.  On this particular day, there was a man who had a withered hand and everyone watched to see if Jesus would attempt to heal him.  Jesus asked the religious hypocrites a question, to which they did not respond.  The Bible says Jesus then became angry and grieved at the hardness of their hearts. (Mark 3)  There were two other occasions where Jesus expressed Himself with an aggressive action.  Twice Jesus cleansed the Temple with a display of physical energy that caused the money changers to make a hasty retreat.  Jesus was not evidencing a fleshly anger, but a religious indignation against the desecration of God’s House.  The Temple had become a “house of merchandise” and a “den of thieves” instead of a House of Prayer. (John 2; Matthew 21; Mark 11; Luke 19)  I wonder what Jesus thinks of merchandizing in His Father’s house today?  In the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5), Jesus made it clear that there would be accountability if someone “continues” to be angry with his brother or harbors malice against him. (Amplified Translation)  There is a difference between carnal anger and spiritual anger.  One steps away from the Faith boundary with a resolve to bring satisfaction to a wounded ego, while the other stays within Faith’s parameter to defend the Kingdom of God.  A Believer can become angry at a system, but not at the person who is being used to assault the Faith.  Fleshly (carnal) anger takes the situation out of God’s hands and places it in man’s control.  Spiritual anger puts the situation in God’s hands and judgment is displayed through the Believer.

Sometimes fleshly (carnal) anger is displayed toward ourselves.  We become frustrated by our failure to overcome certain challenges.  If that anger would stay self centered, there would be limited damage, but we usually take it out on the ones we love.  There is also misdirected carnal anger that finds the individual confronting God.  God is blamed for certain tragedies that have been experienced or witnessed.  Carnal anger (uncontrolled) has severe consequences that will have not only a negative effect on the initiator, but also on the lives of others.  Spiritual anger (controlled) propels one into a representative action, and is directed by the Holy Spirit.  Let us never allow the emotion of anger to control us; rather, let us learn through the Holy Spirit how to control anger.

THE EMOTION CALLED FEAR

 

Fear is basically a painful reaction to situations that could potentially challenge one’s   stability.  It is brought about by speculating on the negative and its possible ramifications.  Whenever there is an experience in which we are not able to respond in a positive and controlling way, we have opened the door to the emotion called fear.  Fear is anticipating the worse.  Fear is a seed that, if watered, will produce apprehension and alarm.

To understand fear and its ramifications, we need to look at the Old Testament and a man named Job.  Job was blessed with unfathomable wealth.  He had everything that life could offer.  One day it all began to crumble.  Within hours, he lost all his oxen, asses, camels, and sheep.   All but four of his servants were killed.  A natural catastrophe  killed all his children.  Job became afflicted with physical problems.  In the midst of these tragedies, his wife’s only response was for Job to curse God and die. (Job 1:13-2:9)

One of the most alarming aspects of these tragedies was the roll Job unknowingly played prior to the actual events.  Job made the statement, “For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me.” (Job 3:25)  What was Job afraid of?  What had he greatly feared?  His life was so full and complete.  What was there to be fearful of?  Could he have been entertaining thoughts that he might some day lose everything he had acquired?  Suppose his health would fail him?  What about the threat of a foreign invasion and the taking of his land?   What about disease infecting his live stock.  What about droughts or storms that would wipe out his crops?  What he was doing was creating something out of nothing.  We do the same thing today.  We worry about losing our job.  What if cancer becomes a reality?  What if we don’t have the money to pay the bills?  Will we have enough money to retire on?  These types of fears open the flood gates to debilitating emotions.  Fear can be so strong that some are immobilized and retreat into the hidden confines of their own selves.

Jesus continually commanded His followers not to fear. When Jesus called Peter away from fishing, He told him not to fear his new calling (fishing for men).  He told His disciples not to fear what people could do to them.  They were not to fear being without the every day necessities, such as food, clothing, and shelter.  In the midst of storms and calamities they were not to be afraid.  They were to simply walk in faith, trusting Him. Jesus is the same today as He was before.  Let us give no thought of tomorrow for He will be there.

Fear is elevated to a place of prominence when we take our eyes off God and fasten them on the negative.  Job was a perfect candidate for Satan to release his barrage of chaos.  Job had already prepared the soil by his speculative fear, so that when the tragedies happened they would take a heavy toll on him.  We know the book of Job was a unique situation that entailed a challenge from God to Satan.  But the principle of experiencing life by dwelling on negative thoughts was a real part of Job’s life.  When fear presents itself, we must recognize its objective and counter it with our faith in God and His Word.

REFLECTIONS FROM SIMPLY RHETORICAL

 

Simply Rhetorical has been one of the most difficult undertakings with which I have been involved.  In the two years since I began to write, I have experienced an emotional ride that has taken me to spiritual heights as well as many ship rides to Nineveh by way of Tarshish. ( Jonah 1:)  For years, I have seen the Church slowly turn from God’s intended purpose to become an institution of human creation.  Nothing has been more frustrating than to see God’s Word misrepresented.  The Church has divided itself again and again.  The unity of the Faith has become a disharmony of beliefs.  I have witnessed the accelerated dismemberment of the Body of Christ.  Flags of separation have flown over the citadels of worship.  Pharisee doctrines have replaced the Holy Word of God.  I have watched the Church become more like the world.  Church success is measured by numbers.  Mortar and bricks are more important than building disciples.  Programs are filling the buildings, but not the hearts of the people.  Biblical Truths are selected that will not offend the hearers.  Instead of preaching what people need to hear, the messages are in response to what the people want to hear.

I remember calling out to God and asking Him what I could do to get the Church to understand its misalignment and impeding danger.  I knew very few would listen to a retired pastor who was approaching his homecoming.  Who was I that I could climb the watchtower and proclaim a warning?  Obviously God knows more then I do, for on May 18, 2012, I found myself at the computer and watching in amazement as the Holy Spirit began to identify and address many situations that the Church was facing.  One hundred seventy-six articles later and I still stand in awe as to what God has revealed to me.  I remember expressing to God that people will not accept what I am writing.  In my spirit, I heard Him say that I was not to be concerned with the results of these treatises, but to just write what He showed me.  The reason the name Simply Rhetorical was given to this blog was to give people the opportunity to reject these papers as just a man talking to himself.  Whenever someone claims the Lord showed them something, there is a tendency to reject such a soliloquy as self promoting.  I have never solicited any feedback from my readers.  All I have wanted is for Christians to check out the Word of God for themselves and draw their own conclusions, instead of simply accepting the biased interpretations of religious organizations.

One day Simply Rhetorical will be coming to an end.  I have expressed what I believe God has revealed to me.  Some of these articles I tried to resist from writing.  I would lie awake at night and ask God if I could delete a certain article.  There was never an answer.  I realized if God gave it to me, I had no choice.  I wrote these articles not as one who has arrived at all spiritual understanding, but as a servant that loves God and His Truth.  I wrote because I love the Body of Christ and want to see His glory revealed.

There has been a great deal shared about the next great move of God.  I believe we are approaching the last great move of God, but I see it not as a revival and a time of miracles and wonders, but as a calling out of His Remnant.  God will separate the True Church from the man made church.  The remnant will operate outside the structured walls of the organized church and will be a living example of the Kingdom of God.  Simply Rhetorical has achieved what God intended; now, it is up to the “Ecclesia” (called out company of Believers) to decide if they want to be part of the remnant, or continue being the status quo of the neo-church.

THE SIN OF PRETENSE

 

Have you ever wondered how false concepts and precepts evolve within the parameters of the Church?  It may shock some to realize that it is not necessarily through preaching and teaching, but through the presenter himself who promotes Biblical truth without practicing what he purports.  To understand how deception works, we need to look at the messenger, for he will be the physical evidence of the reality of what He proclaims.  Anyone can memorize the Scripture, but it takes a true servant of God to experience Truth in its proper context.  Whenever the life style of a servant of God does not display a similarity with Jesus earthly ministry, there should be a yellow light of caution.  Whenever self sufficiency is proclaimed by actions, instead of living dependent on Jesus, there should be a yellow light of caution.  Whenever a teaching emphasizes personal materialistic gain in place of servitude, there should be a yellow light of caution.  People have a tendency to believe the physical evidence manifested in the spiritual promoter rather than examining the Truth for themselves.  When they see the prosperity of their Pastor, there is an immediate assumption that it is the will of God for everyone to experience the financial bonanza of Kingdom living.  False doctrine is evidenced by self promotion.  It is not by centering on the riches of Solomon, but living the life of humility and servitude that John the Baptist displayed.  Jesus told the multitude that they were to hear those in spiritual authority and, in fact, obey what was said, but not to copy the works of the speaker. (Matthew 23:3)  There are many self serving leaders that present truth, but have a personal agenda that is followed by their unsuspecting followers.  Truth can be correctly advanced but with a wrong motive.  Carnal doctrines are promoted by the presenting of the Truth but applying that truth though the wrong pretense.

When you study the life of Jesus, you are immediately met with a life style of simplicity.  As Jesus stepped into his ministry, the comforts of a home life were forsaken, and only through the kindness of people would He find shelter from the elements.  For three years, He traveled hundreds of miles ministering to the needs of people.  He did not wear the finest clothes or eat at the finest venues.  Any money that He acquired came from charitable hands and was held in escrow for the poor and needy.  He did not sell His sermons or write a pamphlet.  He received no honorariums, and only borrowed different means of transportation when necessary.  He did not define spiritual success by how many coins someone possessed.  He even told a rich young ruler to give away all that he had and follow Him.  Jesus told His listeners how hard it was for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God.  As you read the Scriptures, you are immediately brought into an awareness that spiritual droughts are brought about by materialistic gains.  Jesus sent out His “missionaries” with the command that they take no objects of comfort with them.  They were to walk by faith, and as they did so, they would understand what the Kingdom was all about.

Today, there are many “Pastorisees” that dress in the finest apparel and live in their human castles and flout their transportation elegance in the sky and on the land.  They promote their names throughout the landscapes.  They travel to the far reaches of the country looking for converts who will help finance their ministry.  It has almost become a Christian pyramid scheme.  Christianity has become big business.  Some of the teaching today seems to be presented with a mind set that we are going to be earth bound forever.  Read Matthew 23, and with the Holy Spirit’s help, you will see what I have attempted to share.

THE WALK INTO FAITH

 

How does faith really work?  What is it to experience faith?  What is the reality of faith?  So many times we quote the Scriptural definition of faith (See Hebrews 13:1) but fail to follow the direction in which it leads us.  Many of us look at faith as the instrument by which we acquire the desires of our hearts.  We strive to visualize what faith can produce, but tragically are blinded by the reality of our surroundings.  In other words, we have limited our capacities for faith to the realm of the tangibles.  We use faith as a magnifying glass in which we take our minute hopes and make them into larger than life expectations.  For them to become a reality, we feed our faith with our works.  For example, we use the neo-Christian teaching of sowing and reaping.  But the problem is we are assisting faith by introducing the human element.  Instead of simply believing God for financial deliverance, we take whatever money we can acquire and, instead of chipping away at our debts, we sow it to a spiritual spokesman.  We then wait with baited faith for the dividends to roll in.  If for some reason we do not receive the financial rewards, we are told we do not have enough faith, or we did not sow enough “green” to bring growth.  Well, at least our financial solicitor is benefiting from our wrongly motivated giving.  If we exhibit irresponsible stewardship resulting in financial debt, how can we justifiably ask God to bail us out?  We have a responsibility to be financially responsible.

The recording of the healing of the ten lepers in Luke 17 is actually a teaching primer on faith.  To understand what happened to these men is to look at faith through the eyes of a Samaritan suffering from Leprosy.  As Jesus approached a town in Samaria, He came upon a group of ten men who were all infected with leprosy.  Their whole life had turned upside down.  They lost all semblance of normality.  Seeing Jesus, they lifted up their voice and cried out to Him for mercy.  Jesus responded by simply telling them to go and show themselves to the Priest.  The Priest, according to Leviticus 14, would check over a person who claimed he was healed from the decease.  If he was found cleansed, he could then return to his community.  The problem that faced these ten lepers was that they were not healed!  They would look like fools if they presented themselves to the Priest in their current state.  What they did was exhibit the foundational truth about Faith.  They acted on the Word of Jesus without seeing any evidence of their healing!  The Bible says as they journeyed to the Priest, they were healed.  Faith is birthed by ACTING on the Word of God.  Faith does not take notice of circumstances.  Somewhere down the road, the lepers experienced a dramatic healing.  There must have been shouting, jumping, explosions of excitement.  One of the group is so thankful he returns to find Jesus and express his gratitude to Him.  Jesus was a little surprised that the other nine had not returned with him.  He then looked at the cleansed leper and said, “Your faith has made you whole.”  What an introduction to faith!  Maybe this Samaritan man had walked the road to his healing by confessing his belief and trust in the words of Jesus.  Jesus had told them to go to the Priest.  They went knowing that Jesus had a purpose in sending them there.  I can just hear the Samaritan saying aloud, “I don’t understand this walk, but I walk because He said to.”  Maybe the others joined in and together they birthed their faith.

Faith expressed with gratitude brings even greater faith.  I wish we knew more about this man after his life changing experience.  I kind of believe he took many more walks and experienced many more miracles in his life.  What happened to the other nine?  We have no idea, but I would guess it dwarfed in comparison to the habitual faith walker.  Faith is birthed by walking with complete trust in God’s Word.  Obedience to the Word brings a walk which leads into His presence.  When Faith is conceived it will contradict circumstances.  When Faith becomes a reality the impossible will become possible.

AN OPEN LETTER TO GOD

AN OPEN LETTER TO GOD

Dear God,

Whenever I pray, I always seem to have a difficult time when it comes to expressing my thoughts.  Every time I try to express myself, I am overcome by the reality of who You are. When I pray, all I want to do is fall on my face in awe.  The only words that seem to come out of my mouth are expressions of love and gratitude and, if I can stay focused long enough, I bask in Your glory and holiness.  So what I have decided to do is write You a letter.  I feel so limited with my human vocabulary.  I know You see beyond my verbal inadequacies and know the thoughts and intents of my heart, but for my own understanding and clarity, I have chosen to write You.

The reason for this letter is to ask Your forgiveness for the way my Country has offended and betrayed You.  No one is immune from taking responsibility for what has happened to this once “Great Oasis” in a world of chaos.  Now, I cannot speak for those who represent the Kingdom of Darkness, but I feel as a Believer and representative of Your earthly Kingdom that I need to share a few thoughts with You.  I can only imagine how You must feel to see this country, which was once a lighthouse to the world, becoming a federation of spiritual darkness.  We, as a country, have moved from seeking Your guidance to pursuing the wisdom the world offers.  We have moved from all life being precious to choosing which lives are worthy to be born.  We have moved from the unity of a man and a woman to the unionizing of same sex individuals.  We have banned the celebration of Jesus’ birthday for the promoting of a red-suited fantasy that has caused financial irresponsibility.  We have substituted the Easter basket for the Cross.  Sight has replaced Faith.  Love has been defined as eroticism.  Violence has dwarfed peace.  Secular humanism has replaced Spiritual Truth.  Self promotion has replaced servitude. Elevated education has been replaced by sub-cultural teaching.  We have strived to be politically correct instead of being spiritually right.  Children have been taught to believe in only what they can see.  On and on its goes and where it stops only You know.  I have wondered how much longer You will put up with our rebellion.  I know that if it were not for Your Grace and desire that no one perishes, You would have already authorized Jesus’ return.

What bothers me the most is the roll the Church has played in this spiritual rebellion.  We Believers are all guilty of the sin of omission.  We have failed to stem the tide of evil by failing to defend and promote the principles of Your Kingdom.  As You listen to Your people, I am sure You detect the current of negativity that surrounds our gatherings.  We discuss and promote how bad our country is, instead of sharing how good You are.  We criticize our political leaders instead of acknowledging Your sovereignty.  We have been so near sighted that we have lost sight of out mission.  We have exchanged our calling as a representative of Your Kingdom for being students of End Times and how to prepare to leave this earth.  We have adapted the “Pilate syndrome” in which we have washed our hands of the whole mess.  We have laid our spiritual weapons aside and have donned our robes for departure to the Promised Land.  “Rapture” has been the cry of the beleaguered Saint.

God, please forgive us for letting You down.  Forgive us for our complacency.  Forgive us for our contemporary blindness.  Forgive us for hibernating in our caves of separation.  Forgive us for our waning commitment.  Forgive us for our lukewarmness.  God, as You grant us forgiveness, and if there is still time, would You give us another chance to be the people You have called us to be?

Your Servant,

Simply Rhetorical

 

THE EMOTION CALLED WORRY

All of us have sometime or other undermined our faith by assuming a role that is not conducive to our spiritual stability and growth.  One of the ingredients we mix into the challenges of life is the emotion called “WORRY.”  It has caused detours in our life’s journey.  It has even caused health challenges to our houses of clay.  This little word has elevated circumstances into a fearful and exaggerated status.  WORRY has brought both a direct and indirect challenge to God’s authority and power.  WORRY is like the hole in the boat that continues to allow an invasion of circumstances that will affect the stability of the vessel.  WORRY activates our human nature to the point of questioning our divine nature.  Soon we begin to magnify the situation to the point that we micromanage the challenge.  WORRY is the antidote to faith.  The Believer was never meant to exhibit the characteristics of the unregenerate, yet we exhibit them more than we like to admit.  Many of our emotions are keyed to denying the sovereignty of God by promoting human understanding.  Instead of trusting God and taking Him at His Word, we rely on reason and trusting in ourselves.  Try rewinding your life’s experiences and see incidences where you used WORRY to face your challenges.  How did WORRY work for you?  Did it have a positive effect on the situation?  Were you able through the use of WORRY to ease your concern?  Did WORRY help you overcome your exaggerated situations?

WORRY is Satan’s faith word.  He loves to get our eyes on the problem rather than on the answer.  He loves to go to the cemetery and dig up our old nature.  He wants to see the “old man” resurrected.  He wants us to see only the things that are visible.  He wants to take the little things in life and make them into a tsunami that will wash away our faith in God.  WORRY, fear, anxiety, anger, and depression, which were once buried with our old nature, are presented to us like a reunion with a long lost friend.  WORRY tends to question God’s ability to fulfill His promises.  WORRY causes us to cross our fingers instead of folding them in reverence.  WORRY wants us to put our hands in our pockets instead of lifting our hands in praise.

The Bible makes it clear that God has everything under control and that means everything!  We are commanded to cast all our care on Him who cares so much for us. (I Peter 5:7)  That means transference of all our problems to Him.  We are not to be ignorant of Satan’s devices. (II Corinthians 2:11)  That means we should never be surprised at what Satan tries to do in our lives.  The Bible teaches us not to be concerned with such things as our physical stature or what we should eat or wear. (Matthew 6:25-34)  That means we should not WORRY about tomorrow, for God has already made provision for those needs and concerns.

It comes down to whom are we going to believe?  Do we trust in Satan and his suggestions or do we trust God and His absolutes?  Satan says to trust in ourselves, while God says to trust in Him.  Satan tells us to lean on our own understanding, while God tells us to lean on Him. (Proverbs 3:5,6)  It really is a question of whom do we trust?  The next time WORRY desires our attention, let us be so full of faith that there is no room for WORRY.

DEMONS AND CHRISTIANS

 

The subject of Demons, Evil Spirits, Devils, and Deliverance has been a subject of limited interest, at least in the mainline Church.  Only recently has Demonology moved from the shadows to a more pronounced area of religious discussion.  The Catholic Church has always been involved in Exorcism, but only through selected venues and situations.  Hollywood has ventured into the dark side of spiritual warfare with a plethora of movies that have raised the awareness of evil spirits and their possible possession of human beings.  Outside of the United States, especially in Latin American, Africa, and the far eastern countries, it is a different story.  In these countries, spiritual warfare is waged with the same zeal as evangelistic outreach.

What about Demons (aka evil spirits)?  Where did they come from?  What is Demon possession?  Can a Christian be possessed?  What power do they have?  What is their purpose?  Speculations abound as to the resolve of these questions.  Many viewpoints pertaining to Demons are merely individual editorials that are shared with limited Biblical knowledge.  There are countless books on Satan and evil spirits.  The problem with acquiring publications that purport to elaborate on Biblical principles is that people tend to elevate these materials to a place of equal status with the Bible.  Without engaging in absolutes, I would like to lay out a few thoughts that may help you activate a more thorough study of the Scripture on this subject.

The Bible does not define where Evil Spirits come from, but it does make it clear that they are dedicated to disrupting anything or anybody from the purpose and desires of God.  The mind and body of the individual is the targeted area for these spirits.  They have tremendous influence and power over undisciplined individuals.  The majority of their activities are around “label wearing” Christians who are not actively serving God.  Their emphasis is always around the flesh and carnal instincts of their subject.  Many (not all) sicknesses, both mental and physical, are a direct result of Evil Spirit involvement.  Depending on the targeted individual, there can be multiple Spirits involved.  These “demons” know a person’s status and activity in the Body of Christ.  They know if you are active in your faith or are just a “tag wearing” follower.  They can’t read your mind, but they can influence your thinking.  They can’t make you do something, but they can influence your reasoning to the point of acting on your thoughts.  They cannot override your will, but they can entice you to adjust your will.

There is a battle being waged between Good and Evil;  God’s Kingdom versus Satan’s Kingdom.  Satan is out to maim and, if possible, destroy God’s earthly army.  The best way to do that is to challenge the professed Believer’s service and commitment.  There is more Evil Spirit activity around churches than in secular places.  As mosquitoes are drawn to standing water, so are Evil Spirits drawn to Lukewarm Believers.  Can a Believer be possessed by a “demon?”  Possession depicts ownership.  Every Believer was adopted into the family of God by way of the Blood of Christ.  We belong to God!  Satan cannot possess what God owns.  So the answer is NO!  Can a Believer be influenced by Satan?  YES! But only to the degree you allow him.

I have purposely left off Biblical references because I want you to go the Word of God and search it out for yourself.  Never let people display their take on a subject without searching the Word to see if it lines up.  As you go to the Word, you will see not only how Evil Spirits work, but more importantly, you will see the power and authority that the Believer has over Satan and his army!

TRUE CONFORMITY

 

We live in a society where the rotating of worldly values preoccupies our desires.  The effect of following these standards is conformity to their enticements.  Secular humanism defines what materialistic things we should have.  All forms of materialism are paraded before our searching eyes.  Fashion brings identification to the standards of the world and a sense of acceptance.  Tattoos that identify attitudes are displayed wherever exposed skin is presented.  Our bodies are draped in name brand fashions.  Our homes are filled with electronics which have their life expectancy geared to the arrival of a newer or updated version.  Our modes of transportation identify our fantasy position in society.  Our housing displays a pretense of societal success.  Our recreational toys exhibit the importance of extreme pleasures.  Draped beneath these objects of fleshly fulfillment is the financial responsibility they carry.  Hidden from the view of others is the financial ruin that lies beyond the outward displays.

Christians are not immune to societal conformity.  In fact, many Christians strive to be accepted by those outside of the faith.  It is hard sometimes to distinguish a Believer from a non-believer.  We dress, speak, and act so much like the world.  The Bible teaches that we are strangers in this world.  The Word says we are a royal priesthood.  We are a peculiar people.  We are “sojourners” that have taken up temporary residency in a hostile environment. (I Peter 9:9,11)  The Bible warns us to not be conformed to the world (Romans 12:2), yet we continue to imitate it.  Instead of being living examples of Jesus, we have become actors and actresses who display our own understanding of what it is to be a Christian.  I am not advocating conforming to a pre-contemporary life style.  I am not saying we cannot dress appropriately to the times.  I am not saying we cannot have modern devices that can assist us in life.  I am not saying we can’t have affordable means of transportation, or live in a nice house.  I am not saying we can’t own recreational equipment.  What I am saying is that we need to learn to live within the parameters of God’s Kingdom.  We need to be good stewards of His finances.  It is not a question of what the world says we need, rather it is acquiring what will bring glory to God.  We are not here to be followers of the world, but to be examples of a new and living way.  We are not on this earth to impress others, but to honor God.

The reason this world is falling apart is that we Christians have fallen away from our calling.  The reason the world is failing to see the answer is because the Christian is failing to live the answer.  The world laughs at Christianity because they don’t see any real difference between their lifestyle and ours.  Jesus told Philip, “He that has seen Me has seen the Father.” (John 14:9)  We need to come to the place where, by our presence, we can say, “He that has seen me has seen Jesus.”

I know there are many Christians that are living examples of the Kingdom of God.  But there is also an equal number of Christians that have, like Demas, fallen in love with the world. (II Timothy 4:10)  If we hope to make a difference in our communities, we must be willing to exhibit a difference that will cause people to desire the One we represent.  Let us learn to stand as Paul did by saying, “I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me.” (Galatians 2: 20)  Let us learn what it is to be a light in a darkened world.  Let us not reflect the world, but may the world reflect the Believer!

THE RETURN OF THE SELF WOUNDED

 

Not too long ago, I had the opportunity sit down with an individual who was no longer involved in organized religion.  This person had not just been an average Sunday morning attendee, but a board member who, along with his co-deacons, assisted the Pastor in ministering to the people.  It did not take much prodding to get him to share what went so tragically wrong.  His story is not unique.  There are many individuals who have become casualties of spiritual warfare.  These are good people who happened to be in the right place with a wrong attitude.  I know there are some who will read this article with a quick resolve to discredit any premise that would challenge their misunderstanding.

If we all could just step back from conflicting issues and take a deep breath.  If we could look at negative situations with the attitude that God is allowing the fire in our life to provide a period of refining.  If we could look at turning our cheek instead of our back, we might learn a little more about being a true disciple.  If we could learn to count up to 490, we might learn with Peter the true principle of forgiving. (See Mt. 18:21, 22)  If we could learn to be a conscientious objector, we could be the peacemaker God has called us to be.  If we could learn how to wear the full armor of God, we would never run away from a conflict.  Jesus preached that if we hear and obey His Word, our life will be like a house build upon a rock.  No matter what is blown our way, we will never be moved.

There are many Christians who have walked away from situations that conflicted with their weaker moments.  When conflicts interweave with a spiritually idle mind, there will be human responses that generate exaggerated responses.  Whenever we respond to carnal or misunderstood accusations by counter actions that are based on our feelings and emotions, we have fallen into Satan’s snare.  We all share responsibility for how things sometimes get out of hand.  No one is without sin.  The problem is that it is always the other guy that started it.  Well, if he truly did, then we need to end it.  We must stop wearing our feelings on our ear!   If somebody hurts us with words and deeds, we need to bring healing with our words and deeds.  If somebody hates you, we need to learn to love them.  If somebody spreads lies about you, we need to love them all the more.  Much of the hurt in the Church today is brought about by weak Christians who do not understand God’s Word.  Instead of leaving the Body of Believers, we need to see the opportunity to bring the Gospel to those within the Body.  Africa can wait; Asia will be still be there.  We need to look within the Church; the field is ripe for harvest!  I know there are people within the Church that are enemies of Christ and are there for the dividing of the Church.  Those people need to be removed. (See Titus 1)  But the harvest I am talking about is the spiritually blind that need to see the light of the Gospel, those who have the vocabulary, but don’t understand the words.

If you have been hurt and have left your position within the Church, its time to get back!  God is not done with you yet.  If you have been self inflicted by your reception of the hostility of others, receive your healing.  If you let your spiritual guard down, restore the perimeter.  Weakness comes from fasting the Word; strength comes from feasting on the Word.  It is time for all Christians to “man up” and be the person God has called us to be!  Remember, “I AM” said, “You are,” so no more excuses!