How to Enjoy Christmas

How does one enjoy Christmas? For many Christmases in my life, I was fed up by the hustle and the bustle of the holidays. Sometimes I was outright angry at secular disbelief, insisting how offended they were by “religious symbols” or live nativity scenes invading their darkness…the true Narcissists of modern times. A few times at Christmas, I loathed my inability to lavish unnecessary gifts on my children and family members. And finally, often, the holidays passed while I boozed through them.

I should never judge how people see the Christmas season, but pray they get the point. I never want to be disappointed that I will be working and not with family, missing the family gathering and meal, watching the children beam when they open their gifts. That is precious, and should burned into thoughts or memories forever…with gratitude. That isn’t the point. So, what is the point?

The point I see today, as a follower of Christ, is the purpose of His visit, my gratitude and acknowledgement of that. I am transformed by believing in Him, His virgin birth… His life and teachings… His sacrifice on the cross… His blood destroying my sins past, present, and future… His resurrection guaranteeing mine from eternal death… and His continual intercession as advocate, defending me from accusations by the evil one. I am lifted when my belief turns to gratitude as I see the real Gift of Christmas, He gave Himself.

The point is seeing entire world is different because of His coming. Invention, exploration, and discovery may have been a part of mankind’s history, yet because of His coming and commission to His disciples to “go ye into all the world,” was catapulted as the Gospel spread, especially through the nations that accepted the message.

In fact, within modern history, from the past 150 years, technology has grown exponentially. I’m filled with gratitude, knowing He is the reason for this, His Spirit, Jesus promised, would come in His stead. The Holy Spirit brought the light of understanding and knowledge to people for invention, exploration, and discovery where His message is freely expressed and received. Where the message is rejected as truth, There is practically no invention, and the people would be living as people lived a millennium or more in the past without the discoveries from others.

How Christmas can be truly good, even wonderful, is refusing to allow the holiday to be about all you have done for others. You may have worked hard to cook, get everyone together, and to find that perfect gift for family and friends…and they don’t offer thanks for your toil. Think about what He has done for you, and be grateful by not expecting accolades…just give.

One last thought, and this is a “biggie.” You may not have time to go serve at a “drop-in,” or soup kitchen-meal-station for the homeless. Take a moment, pause and say thanks for what you do have. Ask God to bring comfort to the homeless, the widow and orphaned, the addict, the alcoholic, those trapped in darkness. Don’t forget to ask for our men and women serving the country, away from their families. Ask God to protect them from danger, from evil, comforting them in their loneliness…and their family the same.

Bonus thought. While you are asking, ask Him to foil the plans and schemes of the grifter running scams, preying on the elderly and weak. May God protect them all.

Merry Christ-mas to all, God grant you light to see His Truth…for His glory!

What If?

I think about this question every year, so I thought it good to ask you, the reader to think about and answer if you wish. Give it thought, serious thought. See if you know how much our world has been affected by Advent.

 What if Christ never came into the world; what would the holiday season be like?

My thoughts:
There would be no holiday season for one. That means no Santa, Christmas carols, family gatherings, school “winter celebrations,” no shopping or gift giving. There would be no paid days off, no football Christmas Day, no big meal other than the normal daily dinner.

If Jesus had not come to redeem mankind, wipe the slate of our sins clean with the shedding of his blood, there would also be no Easter either. There would be no ACLU fighting to remove religious artifacts from stores, or secular judges ruling that the displaying of the manger scene is unconstitutional, citing the separation of church and state, (which, by the way, does not appear in the constitution).

The words, “do unto others”…would have never been heard, as well as, “For God so loved the world”…and “judge not, lest you be judged.”

What else? How about anytime since the church of Jesus began, the flood of giving aid to victims of disasters? How would education be affected? Slavery? The arts? Literature? Science? Invention? Even Christians have no idea how Christ’s birth affected these.

Think about that as we all enjoy the blessings and benefits of His atoning grace this season. And just so you know…there is more, much, much more.

Hide and Seek

We played the game as children. In fact, I play it with my grand children when they stop over. I always try to make them think I’ll never find them. “Where are you,” I’ll say, their little giggles gives them away. Hide and seek with “pappy,” they call me, will always be a good memory they will retain.

The cares of life have often caused me to continue to play hide and seek. I hide when in a crowd, a group, or even a family gathering. I hide my troubles and feelings most of the time. That isn’t stressful to me. I do not turn the problems inwardly hiding them, hoping they will disappear. I found a hiding place. If I stay within that hidden place, like my grand children, when the storms of life gather with intent to discourage me or even destroy me, I can giggle.

“For He will conceal me in his shelter on the day of trouble, he will hide me in the folds of his tent, he will set me on a high rock”…Ps.27:5 CJB

“You who live in the shelter of Elyon, (Most High), who spend your nights in the shadow of Shaddai, (Almighty), who say of Adonai, ‘My refuge! My Fortress! My God in whom I trust!’ -he will rescue you from the trap of the hunter and from the plague of calamities: he will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge”…Ps.91:1-4 CJB

The rules of this hide and seek I speak of, allows the player to hide and seek at the same time. We humans are always looking for some hidden treasure of sorts. Most often, that treasure turns out to be gravel, not gold. The person we were sure was the one, is more like two, or three. The one good quality they had came with two or more bad qualities. The car we just had to have was a lemon, the dream home turned out to be a nightmare, that drink turned into a life of drunkenness, etc., etc. So we may learn to look before we leap into a search to realize dreams and hopes that are mostly unrealistic.

There is a solution that satisfies the seeker. That is, for those are followers of Christ. But anyone who seeks him, like the magi who sought the child Jesus two thousand years ago, are wise to do so. Only he can satisfy the longing in every heart. Seeking is required. But in the discovery of Christ, the individual continues to seek him out…HE always has more to give and that never stops.

“So if you were raised along with the Messiah, (that means your life has been changed from giving you to him), then seek the things above, where the Messiah is sitting at the right hand of God. Focus your minds on the things above, not on things here on earth. For you have died (to self), and your life is hidden with the Messiah in God.” Col.3:1-4 CJB

“”When you seek me, you will find me, provided you seek for me wholeheartedly, ‘and I will let you find me,’ says Adonai.” Jer.29:13-14

This hide and seek has no loser, you always win with hiding from the insanity of wrong-doing, of a life totally given to self, its appetites and desires. I have used the illustration of Biblical text to show how this hide and seek works. I have used more scripture than normal, that’s good. Here is one more:

“The clever see trouble coming and hide; the simple go on and pay the penalty.” Prov.22:3 CJB (Complete Jewish Bible, it is an excellent resource)

Be assured of this; seek trouble and it is yours. Don’t hide from danger and you will own it. To know what trouble is does not take a twelve year college degree. We know. To those that hide in the “Rock” trouble may hide from you in time. Those who seek God through relationship, along with serving mankind, and pleasing God by actions and attitudes, blessings will not hide from you, favor will follow you, and go ahead of you, everyday.

I pray those little grandchildren I’m so blessed with learn what to seek in life…or rather who. I pray they hide in Chist and hide from following the herd. I pray that you do likewise. Be well.

Seeing Where I Walk

I was looking at a coyote sitting still, possibly drawing a bead on its next meal. It was around three in the morning when I first noticed the animal’s presence. It was very dark that night, and visibility was limited, but I looked its direction, curious as to what it was stalking. The night hound stayed completely motionless and I became impatient. I shined my flashlight in that direction only to see the coyote was actually a tree stump. I was convinced it was a living creature I gazed at for that hour or more. Darkness can play tricks on what my eyes tell my brain I am seeing.

So it is in my spiritual life. It takes the Light to help me see ahead. Being pressed within my desires and needs will cause me to look away from the light and focus on personal fulfillment. What I see in the dark I call God’s will, but it is a deception of my spiritual eyesight, telling my heart I see the path correctly…go that direction.

So I walk that way. My desire for the Holy begins to fade. The hunger to do good is then obscured by experiencing personal pleasure, good food, good fun,...”good Lord, where have You gone? Why have You moved away from me?” I question. Thinking I know God’s will takes a broad turn when what I thought I saw goes awry and I feel removed from doing anything right.

I to trip each step, getting further from having the ability to see spiritually at all. The path is no path at all. I am fully among the thorns and the briars and see no way out of this trap. I need  light to see.

“The path of the righteous is like the morning sun that shines ever brighter till the full light of day.” Prov.4:18

You have been there too, I’m sure. God doesn’t move away from us. We move away from Him, looking for that which is not. We always tend to think our eyes aren’t deceived, or we can’t be wrong…we are followers of Christ, we are clean and sober and free of addictions. This is the home of constant error, the arena of spiritual defeat from arrogant pride, not leaning on the Eternal and trusting Him. We are restless, bored from doing the “norm.”

I experience pain from not looking at the lighted path ahead and winding up swamped in the quick-sand of sin and ignorance because I think I see spiritual matters so clearly. The only way to remain in the light and see trouble ahead is to reject the notion I have arrived and have the answers the world seeks.

Prayer gives me sight.
Prayer isn’t tossing up foolish repetitive words toward heaven hoping they stick. Praying with purpose brings results as Paul says he prayed for the Ephesians:
“I pray that He will give light to the eyes of your hearts, so that you will understand the hope to which He has called you, what rich glories there are in the inheritance He has promised His people.” Eph.1:18
This type of praying in faith moves God into action for us and far transcends “now I lay me down to sleep”… Even though Paul prayed this for others, pray that for yourself.

The Word gives me sight. 
“Your Word is a lamp for my feet and a light on my path.” Ps. 119:105
If my focus is on God’s precepts, totally convinced His Word is truth and my steps are ordered by His decrees, I will stay in the Light of truth, unable to fall. But I don’t, we don’t. We all tend to stray from the Light from time to time. The Word, however, implanted in our hearts through the Holy Spirit, brings to our attention that we are drifting away. This is why we need to give time to the Word daily.

My moments with the phony coyote were comical. I also laugh at myself after I am drawn back into the Light spiritually as well. The truth is, I seem to spend too much time off of the path until the pain is unbearable. God’s mercy and grace is awesome! Like Jesus said, He comes looking for me, the lost sheep, misguided by self. Thank You God for the Light.

Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all.

Song of the Captives

Life’s lessons come at a very high price at times. Seldom does anything make us a better person by osmosis but rather experience. I have found that giving serious regard to the lessons of history can steer me away from having to experience very bad things. Parents warn us about what may be if we do wrong, and we may comply. I can say I was not that type. If my parents told me it was bad, I may have believed them but found it necessary to check it out. Shoplifting and skipping school seemed to be the right wrong things to do, so I did. I was a real rebel. The price paid was painful, very painful.

Wising up didn’t appeal to me until I was out of my teens…er, twen…thirt..into my forties when I began to sense my mortality. To keep it short, I have found lessons in scripture, of Israel’s history to be the story of me…of us all. We have choices to make as Israel did. Life or death, blessing or cursing, freedom or captivity, and the directions that take us to the choices are laid out elaborately so we know how to choose right. In short, Israel chose to reject God, and captivity resulted. So did I.
Deep into my rebellion I became so self-indulgent that led to alcoholism and drug use. I was a captive. The joy of life, my hopes, ambitions or dreams were gone. There was no song in my heart, no reason to sing. I was a slave to self-service. Those close to me eventually wondered, what’s wrong with him? I had no song to sing about this strange land I was living in.
“By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept when we remembered Zion. We hung our harps upon the willows in the midst of it. For there those who carried us away captive asked of us a song, and those who plundered us requested mirth, saying, ‘sing us one of the songs of Zion!’ 
How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?”  Ps.137: 1-4
This passage and the entire message of do right and all will be well with you, or don’t do right and the consequences of wrong will follow, rings true to us all. Addictions and self-indulging behaviors we live out now have placed us into a captivity that has removed any understanding of a joy-filled existence. What seemed like fun, or felt good at the time was deceptive and led to a compulsion to revisit a feeling that never seems to return. The fun we knew left with our refusal to say, “this is wrong, I cannot do this.” But now we are captive to our desires, the music died.
In time, God had mercy on Israel once more. He returned them to the land He promised them. That story is powerful. That story is for us to see the truth in as well. God has provided a way for you and I to return to freedom in life. No more addiction to dope, no need for another stiff drink that turns you into a stiff. This lesson is the lesson you can agree is really the truth for all once experienced, and kept. It is the freedom that comes from dying to self, to the norm of what we think is acceptable today, choosing to believe in Christ’s redemptive blood for your sin. Just ask God for that gift. He will not refuse. Then stand strong, stay free, and sing.
“Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free and do not be entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” Gal.5:1
Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all.

It IS About You

Before I dig into these thoughts I want to make a brief statement or two. First, thank all of you that follow my posts. I am truly humbled and grateful that anyone would take the time to read what I write. I hope they help you. If so, give what you get from them to someone else. Second, I have been inconsistent writing posts of late and unfortunately that is out of my control. When I post, I try to keep it short, under 600 words so they are easy to read. This post may not be one. Of all I have written in the past, this may be  the most important. If you cannot read all of this in one reading, bookmark it and read when it is more convenient. 
Also, I covet your prayers. Tremendous attacks from darkness are weighing heavy, but through the prayer in faith, God is able and will deliver me.

In recovery meetings and from pulpits, you hear this popular phrase:
“It’s not about you.” 
I understand the meaning to not be so egocentric in life, stop taking everything personally. But I also disagree. People tend to react to the saying as to mean live and let live, don’t get involved, don’t do what is needed to personally grow so you are ready to help when called on. Or in other words, go on your merry way and let God take care of others problems. Also, some tend to use that adage to say, stay out yourself and the drama around you. After all, you can’t fix it. 

No matter how you take the meaning please consider that everything you experience, every good thing, every bad thing in life…is about you. You don’t anything for others until you learn how yourself. Can you show someone how to find bread if you don’t know where it is? Is there anything in life you automatically know the answer to? 

I say no, I had to learn by study or experience everything I know today, including understanding my need for salvation.
I could not possibly help another in recovery from drinking and drugging without being taught myself.

   “God uses everything for His glory, even my sin.” Anon

How is it about me? 
You and I have to realize our purpose, and why that knowledge is important. God did not cause me to fall into alcoholism. He did not condone any sin I have committed. If I have surrendered to Him in full realization of my brokenness and inability to fix myself, He removes the sin and the guilt attached, burns up the embarrassment of admission, replacing what held me in the place of silence to boldly proclaim there is hope to others. I am able to help the broken because I am. It is all about me. My willingness to be free of the facade of perfection, exposing my flaws that are many, that God says in effect, “Now I have something to work with.”

“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time.” 1 Pet. 5:6

It is about our making the decision to improve our lives by using the spiritual as key to fixing the mental as fallen and deceived. Our minds, geared to self-absorption, diluted from years of self-service and delusions that this is the way we are built, and there is no reason to try and fix that, must change. It is about ME. I have to see myself in the light of becoming able to do, not fixated on the myriad of reasons I cannot change. Having the moment of clarity, an epiphany of the possibility of accomplishment in life come more often than we think. But knowing “I never could” in the past darkens any thought of rising above my shattered self to reign in life as a king. The words coming from the depths of my heart are polluted by wrong thinking.

Well, that’s the way I have always felt.
I’m not good at that. 
I never could get into doing this.

These words, hold us hostage to the gene-pool we flowed from.  One man told me his father said to him, “son, don’t try to go above yer raisin in life.” When you accept Christ as Savior and Lord, the Holy Spirit comes to indwell you. everything about YOU dies. That moment, changes you, though completely invisible to the eyes of flesh, but alive to the eyes of the spirit by faith. The acceptance of what occurred can move you into brilliant light, a new heritage, a new understanding, if you continue in Christ and refuse to just hang out as a spectator. God will take the willing heart and develop a new you. That is about YOU, allowing Him to re-mold you.

In recovery from addictions, there is a similar occurrence. You listen and learn you can have the moment of clarity revealing your powerlessness and un-managebility over…everything in life. That is, not just powerlessness over your addiction. Every one entering recovery doesn’t get it. Many hear, even agree with what is said, but walk away, returning to their misery. That doesn’t make sense to those determined to stay. But that is about THEM too. They realize to recover means giving up their identity they worked hard to develop. Having to re-think, to change friends, hang-outs, or doing what they “love” to do has to go away. The price is too high. Or they feel they won’t make it from the many failures in the past, and have nowhere to go but back to their old neighborhood and family. That is tragic.

It is about you. What I have stressed above is mainly geared at recovery from addictions and following Christ. There are other things to consider that are about you.
What type of student are you?
How good of a parent are you? Do you take education seriously?
What type of parent are you? Are you just a buddy to your children? Or do you teach them right from wrong, good and bad behaviors, discipline and reward?
Are you a good employee, diligent on the job, faithful in attendance and on time?
Who are your friends? Does the friendship create a desire to be a better you, or are they gossip opportunities when you are together?
How are you with your immediate family? When you all come together, are you still involved in sibling rivalries?

It is ALL about YOU. You can disregard this post, and say, that was a waste of ten minutes I’ll never get back. Or you can ponder what I’m trying to convey. What is about you is everything necessary to giving yourself away to find joy, peace, and love. People would give all they have for this. Robin Williams had it all many thought. Why would he end his life? I don’t know, nor may never.

I do know that many who end their life don’t realize just how much this existence here is about them. They have a false notion it is about their wants and needs and learning how to get what they want. It is about themselves. Had they learned it is about YOU, perhaps they may have taken the ME approach in life and grew to understand it being about ME is learning to be about learning to be about YOU, bringing God glory. Don’t let that statement confuse you. The point is we have to see without the blinders of self. That takes effort, and thought, and prayer. It is all about YOU, and your making a choice to develop a you committed to change and service, or about YOU that sees only its needs, thinks every moment, every conversation, every event is because of their existence.

Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all!

What Lies Ahead (let this lift you)

A topic came up in an AA meeting recently that caused me to think about what the recoveringthinks about. Drama is not just a word to describe a movie type when selecting something to watch. Drama is what recovering addicts/alcoholics call problems they own, or that others own, and anyone striving to recover aim to stay clear of. They are aware that the drama coming from whatever source is unhealthy mentally, when one desires to live clean and sober.

So why dwell on drama? Why is that the frequent topic?
Drama does not belong to those living a life of successful achievement. Especially the follower of Christ living and walking according to the scriptures, maturing in the Faith, and knowing their purpose. They have drama to be sure. They may also have their mind-set on the eternal home, dwarfing any problems in this life that sidelines their growth, their personal recovery, their ability to pursue serving God by serving people. They hear the drama from others, deal with their own as well, but find no need to allow the temporal things and problems of this life to be constant in their minds.

What lies ahead?
When many of us think about heaven we think about harps, clouds, golden streets, those friends and family members already there, and sometimes God. I would like for you to step out of the “Hollywood heavenly thinking” of heaven, try expanding your mind’s eye to imagine what lies beyond the gates of pearl.

“If you have been raised with the Messiah, seek what is above where the Messiah, (Jesus), is seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not what is on the earth.” Col.3:1-2

Imagine colors so vivid that you cannot stop looking…at anything there. Imagine aromas so wonderful that you actually feel them. Imagine sounds that captivate so intensely that you have to become aware your feet and body are moving with the sounds, as is everyone around you. Imagine tasting foods where every morsel melts in your mouth, or every hand shake or embrace feels far beyond anything felt here, in this life. You feel everything, words, smells, tastes. Imagine being captivated in conversation, meeting those from history, hearing their story. Joy and excitement everywhere, and everyone busy!

Imagine the first moment you see the One who made your arrival there possible. The brilliant light of His countenance, indescribable love radiating from Him, His words hitting your ears with the sounds of thousands of people laughing, “welcome home where you belong,” He says to you, “wanna see your place?” And suddenly what appears to be Him becoming two people separating, a familiar second Person says to you, I’ll show you”…No wonder  He looks familiar...The Holy Spirit, so sweet, so personal, taking you to your place Jesus prepared. “Lets make a stop on the way,” He says.

Suddenly, you hear sounds that stir every emotion, every good feeling you ever experienced, and you have this sense of total awe…and unworthiness. Your breath wants to leave as you behold the Almighty’s splendor and majesty! Face first you fall as a natural reaction to the force of His magnificence! You hear this beautiful sound you have never heard, and looking up you see the source of the sound H-O-L-Y in duplicate coming from these two beautiful creatures circling the throne. With each time they circle the throne they see a new characteristic of the One seated...El Shaddai, The Lord God Creator, saying to you…well done, enter, I have so much for you to see…just a moment in His Eternal Presence and your mind id filled with knowledge and understanding!

(In my personal view of heaven, we may know and understand much the moment we arrive, but not everything. I believe that God designed us for discovery, and a desire to find out things by searching. We will still have the desire to achieve. We will have eons to discover so much of what our heart ultimately desires…God Himself.)

You are guided by the Holy Spirit to your place…a galaxy that seems to extend forever. You see a greeting line of people welcoming you…but very few are familiar. Who are all of these people?” you ask the Holy Guide. “These on the left are your lineage all the way back to Adam and Eve. On the right, everyone you influenced in life, either personally, or by another in this line, they all came to your homecoming party.”

What lies ahead for us may not be like what I see so much. The implication, however, is to give thought to the eternal destination with imagination more than the drama of this life. Set your thoughts on the Eternal One. Think of the brilliance you encounter there, but realize He is in you here thus the drama has little impact. C. S. Lewis, in his book, “Mere Christianity,” wrote:

“Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you will get neither.” 

I’m aware not everyone in recovery has the hope of heaven. I pray they do eventually. Our minds will have something on them constantly. We choose drama, or we choose to think growth and moving ahead. Though everyone views differently, things temporal, things eternal, life takes a major turn for the good, for the believer, when Home, not drama is the aim.

Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all.

The Way of Life

I find hard at times to take orders from anyone. That has plagued me lifelong. After all, I know it all. Those who command me to do anything had better be paying me to follow their orders, or they can take a flying leap into the abyss of eternal darkness. Then, I read this little passage in Proverbs:

“For the commandment is a lamp and the law a light; reproofs of instruction are the way of life”… 6:23
…and this one too:
“He who keeps instruction is in the way of life, but he who refuses correction goes astray.” 10:17

I repent. I realize part of my recovery from addictions has much to do with my listening to those who have experienced success in recovery, and doing what they instruct. So it goes with my life as a follower of Christ. I hear the instructions from scripture and often taught or preached in a church service, and my faith grows. Faith comes by hearing the Word of God. (Rom.10:17)

But I have to do what is written and heard or I remain as I am, a know-it-all, self-deceived. (Jas 1:22) Doing as I have been instructed to has given me the gift of sobriety, and more importantly, grace for salvation in this life and eternal life with Christ. It is vital that I remember this in every instance in life. I receive favor with God and man when I hear instruction, and am reproved, following orders when commanded, taking advice without regard of thinking I know better.

Chronic relapse individuals have this common problem. They hear instruction and agree entirely, but do not “do” the instruction. Or they may plan to follow such good advice at a later date. Others with a relapse problem disagree entirely thinking, “that may work for you,but not for me, I have my own way of doing things. You aren’t going to tell me how to do anything.” Down the road they see their error…if they survive.

There can never be enough dialog or teaching about compliance and taking action when under the rule of others. This is the way of life as the Proverbs says. Of all topics in recovery or church, we cannot afford to ignore these. 

I recently witnessed a dramatic descent of an individual that refused to hear godly advice from others, venomously criticizing leadership with words that made me cringe. They returned to addiction after being marvelously delivered from impossible situations. May God have mercy and restore them again.

I know it is very difficult to take advice. It goes against our nature, fallen nature that is. Not all of the instruction or orders commanded of us are correct either. But if we are under authority of others we have to do as we are told, even under protest, and without criticism. I’m learning painfully at times, but the reward of obedience and compliance is joy, and peace. 

Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all.

Prosperity Gospel

There are many controversies of late within the Christian faith. One major issue is the so-called “prosperity gospel,” and those opposed to it. The opposition view that message as anti-gospel, apostacy among believers. Their war against the name it and claim it teachers are reasonable, but not entirely correct. You see, the Gospel of Jesus Christ is a message of prosperity for the body, soul, and spirit of all who believe.

Sadly, the real truth of their argument seems to be that the popularity of the prosperity message is more popular than the message those opposed to it preach, and they don’t like it. They seem to be envious more than concerned about believers falling into folly.

As a follower of Jesus, I realize that not every day is a zip-adee-do-dah day. I realize that those that live godly in Christ shall suffer persecution, and to know Jesus in the power of His resurrection is also to share in His sufferings. But I also realize the joy, peace, and love fills my life by following Jesus far out-weighs the suffering. According to the Peter, the man who walked and talked to Jesus on a daily basis, belief in Jesus is very profitable.

In 1 Peter 2, Peter gives us a brief look of the prosperity message he preached:

  • we are living stones built into a spiritual house
  • we are a chosen generation
  • a royal priesthood
  • a holy nation
  • God’s own special people, called from darkness into light

(vs.5, 9-10)

Sure, he speaks of hardships we go through as we live for Christ. So does Paul the apostle, who goes even further speaking of such hardships he personally suffered. But Paul too, expressed the glory of God in the life of the believer when he said in Ephesians 2:1, we are made ALIVE in Christ! The writer of Hebrews also brings our attention that as a result of the sacrifice of Christ, shedding His innocent blood for our sin, we are reconciled to God and may walk right into His throne room and boldly ask to have our needs met. Does this sound anything like a gospel of poverty?

I know that everything we experience in our life of serving Christ is not so glorious on the surface. But in the realm of the spirit it is. Jesus said there is nothing that we give, money, land, goods, even ourselves that isn’t repaid a hundred times in this life and a bonus of eternal life beyond. But the real clincher is this; by our belief in Jesus as Savior and Lord, the Holy Spirit supernaturally comes into, and abides in our hearts…forever! Think on that. A member of the Great Holy Trinity…in our hearts! True prosperity.

All of these things are foreign and totally impossible to the unbeliever. No MRI, x-ray, or CT scan can see into the spirit of man. Sorrowfully, the unbeliever has no conception of man having a spirit and any of what is written above is only fantasy. Even more tragic is that we who are called into this life of prosperity refuse to accept its reality. Some say the gifts of the Spirit passed with the apostles. Others argue that our power is only in the written Word. We divide on issues of grace, free to all. With the division we keep the unbeliever in unbelief, and stifle and grieve the Holy Spirit.

You can bet there are charlatans preaching a different Christ, an unscathed life for those who follow Jesus. And they do it for money…your money. But if you think the Gospel is anything less than a message of prosperity, read what the Word says without allowing the nay-saying unbelieving “minister” to tell you how to believe. Read it and believe it is for you. Ask the Holy Spirit to open the truth to you and keep you from falling into folly.

Thanks for reading, God bless and keep, and prosper you all.

Complacently Proud

Two words to remaining on the outskirts of God’s grace are pride and complacency. Put the two together and you have a person completely sure of themselves spiritually. This is the goal of the enemy for everyone who makes the decision to become a follower of Jesus. We get enough of faith to believe we have enough faith to stop growing or conforming to the image of Christ. We can rest knowing our eternity is secure, our doctrines are correct, so let’s move on to achieving our mission in life to obtain gain.

The evil one is aware that Jesus’ words, quoting from the Song of Songs, about the little things ending our fruit-bearing lives:
“Catch us the foxes, the little foxes that spoil the vines, for our vines have tender grapes.” Song of Songs 2:15
Little things ignored kill big hopes. But complacency or not feeling like doing spiritual practices in our lives doesn’t always murder our desire to follow God’s plan for our lives. We can be complacent and have the sudden epiphany like the prodigal son…why am I here eating with pigs?
“But when he came to himself, he said, “How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger?” Luke 15:17
Complacency is bad. But one may just fall into complacency from having so much activity that they stop spending time looking to please God, serve others, do the next right thing. They may suddenly say, “Why are things so out of whack?”, then ask the Source for help.
Now add pride to the equation. Thinking I know enough and don’t need to go further even though everything is falling apart, is spiritual suicide. That is the place where humility makes its exodus from our heart. We can fix the problem by sheer willpower and not humbly seek help in prayer or from talking to another believer. The crux of the problem when the two meet is we forget what or where God brought us from. Gratitude, the mother of all virtue is no longer something we think of. Pride says you made it happen…gratitude says it is by God’s grace alone that I stand.
Had God not led me to recovery rooms, I may have never noticed how closely recovery and being a follower of Christ are related. I have seen many with long-term sobriety relapse. I have seen many long-time Christians fall deeply into sin…I was one who did. Maybe you are there now. If you are not able to recall how long it has been since you approached God for any reason, you have arrived in the danger zone. You cannot shirk this off with “I’ll be okay” thinking.
Get with God without delay. Find another believer to talk to. Humble yourself. Don’t swallow your pride…puke it out. If you fear talking to another, know why you fear that. It is pride in its true form. You don’t want to appear weak or un-spiritual. Do not allow the enemy to have this victory. The ripple effect is devastating.
Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all.