Gotta Stand Pt. 8

        If you have been tracking with us through the “Gotta Stand” blogs, right now you are probably in one of three places: 

    You might be saying “Oh so that’s what I’m doing wrong!  Hallelujah! I know what needs to be fixed!”

      Maybe you are saying ” God wants me to do…What! I can’t do all that! This is crazy!”

       If that’s you let me encourage you to take a deep breath and trust Christ to do the work for you. Bit by bit you will see the change. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither is a mature Christian. Remember our job in all this is to see what needs to be changed and to ask Jesus to change it. His job is to do the changing!

       Finally someone out there might be saying, “I am doing this stuff pastor to the best of my ability and I am still falling down in the midst of this storm.” 

     It is to you Paul speaks when he says, ”

      “A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we  are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared.  In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.”  Ephesians 6: 10-18 NLT

     Sometimes I fall into the trap of believing behavior is the solution. I think “If I just act right everything will be all right. If I am good then life will straighten out.”

    Anyone who has tried this approach to life knows it doesn’t work. Sometimes you can keep doing the right things and things just get worse. Why? Because we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies. we are fighting against devils who hate us and who want to ruin us. Being polite and proper does not impress them into being nice.

      Christian behavior keeps us clean so that God can move into our lives and bring  supernatural answers that push back against the devil’s supernatural attacks. Our behavior won’t fix the storm. Only God can do that. But God will flow through our lives more and more as we begin to live right for Him.

So how do we do that? More tomorrow!

Gotta Stand Pt. 7

     “And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church…. As the church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything. For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean…. In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. For a man who loves his wife actually shows love for himself….  So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. Children, obey your parents because you belong to the Lord,  for this is the right thing to do. “Honor your father and mother.” This is the first commandment with a promise: If you honor your father and mother, “things will go well for you, and you will have a long life on the earth.” Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord. Slaves, obey your earthly masters with deep respect and fear. Serve them sincerely as you would serve Christ. Try to please them all the time, not just when they are watching you. As slaves of Christ, do the will of God with all your heart. Work with enthusiasm, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.  Remember that the Lord will reward each one of us for the good we do, whether we are slaves or free.  Masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Don’t threaten them; remember, you both have the same Master in heaven, and he has no favorites. A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.  “ Ephesians 5:21-6:10 NLT

     I suppose I hardly qualify as a relationship expert here. I’m divorced. I have one adopted son who doesn’t even speak to me. If you asked me where I went wrong I’m not even sure where I’d begin. My faults are many. That’s just being honest.

     What I do know, though, is that Christians are supposed to relate differently than non-Christians. Our motto in every relationship is supposed to be love and submission, grace and sacrifice. Those concepts aren’t just fluffy theology; They are hard-nosed, practical applications. A lot of everyday life is stuffed into the middle of Eph.5:21 and Ephesians 6:10: dishes, carpools, date nights and daily devotionals, dead-lines, chore charts, discipline and double shifts. In all these relationship driven items we are called to act out of love and submission, grace and sacrifice.

     If we are going to stand in the now we need to begin to live Christian in our relationships now. Our past can not be allowed to dictate how we relate in the present. Also, love and submission, grace and sacrifice have nothing to do with changing our relationships. Relating right is not about winning other people over; It’s about reverencing Christ. We don’t change our behavior to fix our lives. We change our behavior to please God. Then God fixes our lives to whatever degree He feels necessary.

We’ve gotta stand! What do you think is the greatest hindrance to Christian relationship?

Gotta Stand Pt. 6

      Lights in the darkness! That’s what we are called to be!

     “  Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us  and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God. Let there be no sexual immorality, impurity, or greed among you. Such sins have no place among God’s people. Obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes—these are not for you. Instead, let there be thankfulness to God….  once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light! … Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Eph. 5:1-20 NLT

      Paul admonishes us that the time has come for the church to step up its atmosphere of sexual purity.  If we want to stand through the storms of life God insists we be sexually pure.

     We live in an oversexed culture and God calls us to come away from it. It’s time to shut off the bedroom scenes on the television, it’s time to stop listening to and telling off-color jokes. It’s time to shut down the internet porn. It’s time to make a covenant with our eyes that we will stop looking with lust at other people. It’s time to leave off sex outside of marriage.

        Paul wrote to the Corinthians “every other sin a man sins is done outside himself but he who sins sexually sins against his own body” I Cor. Chapter 6.

     When we sin sexually we weaken ourselves and our ability to stand through the storms.

      I will tell you, victory is not going to be had in resisting temptation; Victory will only come when we learn to flee it! Too many of us end up trapped by sin because we try to resist sinful urges. The Bible tells us the key to overcoming sexual temptation is not fight but flight into the arms of Jesus; So when tempted don’t resist Praise!

      “Sing songs hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves and make music in your heart to the Lord and give thanks for everything to God.” Eph.5:20 

Praise is powerful! We’ve Gotta stand!

Gotta Stand Pt.4

      Angela from had this to say in response to one of the posts in this series. “When I became a Christian my life changed COMPLETELY – (thankfully!)
_I_ didn’t change. I had no part in it. HE changed me: His life IN me changed me.”

     She brings out a powerful truth about life with her comment. We can all acknowledge the need to change certain things about our lives. But without Jesus actively working in our lives, lasting change is not possible. In the end what I will achieve in this life will be a reflection of His work in me not an evaluation of my work (Eph. 2:10). In short, I achieve more when I trust than when I strive.

     That said Paul gives us benchmarks to trust for in Ephesians chapter 4.

“don’t sin by letting anger control you. Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil….. Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.”  Ephesians 4:26,27,29-32 NLT

             Paul encourages us to stop letting anger control our lives.  Specifically he lets us know that God would have us: stop swearing, stop being hard or cruel in our dealings, and stop complaining about people behind their backs even if what we have to say is true!  Instead we are to pray for the spirit of love, joy and kindness to reign over us.

     I am always amazed at how practical God can get with our lives.  Christianity is not some nebulous philosophy that leaves people doing whatever seems good to them. It’s a relationship with a Father who runs His household after a fashion He has established. He wants His world to be a certain way. He wants His people to live in harmony with that way even though it is not the current “way of the world”.

     With the whole world stacked against us, living Christian is not only difficult it’s impossible; That’s why Christ died. His death not only purchases us forgiveness but releases into us a new life that overcomes the world. John 16:33

    Going back to the anger thing, we live in an angry society that is constantly pushing us to react in rage. Our only ability to hold  peace comes from the fact that Jesus in us calms the storm when we turn our attentions away from this exacerbating world and look to Him who has overcome it.

Have you overcome anger? How did Jesus help you?

Gotta Stand Pt. 2

     The tree was huge, in full leaf. It certainly wasn’t the one I picked as a potential fall risk during the hurricane. It still fell. It wasn’t that the tree wasn’t strong. It’s roots were just in a bad place. It had grown along the muddy bank of our vernal brook and when that began to wash away in the flood…well there just wasn’t anything left to hold onto. Strength means nothing if what your hanging onto has no substance.

“that isn’t what you learned about Christ. Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy. So stop telling lies. Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body. And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.”  Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil. If you are a thief, quit stealing. Instead, use your hands for good hard work, and then give generously to others in need. Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own,  guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:20-32 NLT

     Paul gets specific here. He doesn’t pull any punches.  If we want to have God’s power to stand through the storms of life we need to change specific things we used to do before we were born again. In other words we have to find a new place to put our roots.

     Before we were  Christians we couldn’t help the way we lived. We were  sinners and sinners by definition sin. But Christians aren’t sinners; We are saints, people who have the power to stop sinning and who are learning to use that power.

    Just a note, God doesn’t expect us to be perfect. He knows we won’t be; But He does expect us to start using the strength He has put inside to start changing who we are.  He says here in these verses it starts with thoughts and attitudes not just actions. If we change the way we think, the way we behave will take care of itself.

Tomorrow we get down to the nitty-gritty! Are you ready to do some spiritual root transplanting?

Gotta Stand Pt. 1

      As the Earth trembles, as the heavens convulse, as nations shudder the kingdom of God stands firm. God has given His people a method for standing when all around is falling apart. I would like to take a little bit of time this week to talk about how we as Christians can practically keep standing through the storms of life. We are going to be dealing with a passage from the Word of God starting in  Ephesians chapter 4:17 and going on until we reach  chapter 6:18. Along the way as we read I am going to stop and make some comments as we let the Scripture just speak to us. Let’s begin:

“With the Lord’s authority I say this: Live no longer as the Gentiles do, for they are hopelessly confused. Their minds are full of darkness; they wander far from the life God gives because they have closed their minds and hardened their hearts against him. They have no sense of shame. They live for lustful pleasure and eagerly practice every kind of impurity.” Ephesians 4:17-19 NLT

    Here Paul begins by saying that when we become  Christian there has to be a change in the way we live. If we have given our lives to Jesus there should be a change in our behavior. As  Christians if we want to stand through life’s storms we have to begin to live for God and stop living for lustful pleasure and impurity. In a culture that highly values the pleasing of self, this idea of walking away from the things we desire becomes problematic for all of us; But as the Earth groans louder and louder the need for us to change in order to stand is going to become increasingly important. Let’s get a little more specific with this….

Check in on Friday for the sequel

Tomorrow is Pastor Wrinkles! 🙂


Raising The Temperature Pt. 1

It has been one hot summer around our nation. Have you noticed? I was watching the news one day two weeks ago and Minnesota was experiencing record heat. On that day parts of the state were slated to experience temperatures of 124 degrees! Myself I think it’s global climate change. I think it’s a sign of the soon return of Jesus. How about you?   

    I notice these weather changes with great interest. But I do not get too excited or fearful about them. I’m not as concerned with the physical temperature of Minnesota as I am concerned with the spiritual temperature of the church. The time has come brothers and sisters to raise the temperature of the Body of Christ. The time has come to make all lukewarmness go and to bring back the fervent fire of the Holy Spirit of Pentecost. We can do it you know! We must do it to! And this our work.

    Some of us are waiting for revival as though it’s somehow only up to Jesus. But revival is a choice that the church has to make. Walking away from lukewarmness is a choice the church makes. Oh make no mistake we need Jesus’ full power to  accomplish it. But we must make the choice first and then continually if the revival is to come and lukewarmness is to go. The time has come to raise the temperature.

What choices do you think the church must make to raise the spiritual temperature of our nation?

Passion : Remaining=Love=Obedience

     “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love.John 15:9,10 (NIV)

      I have had much opportunity to stand upon the promises of God lately. I am learning the wonder of walking by faith and not by sight and discovering how the promise of John 15:7 works.

     “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. “

     Now that’s a heady thing…anything I want huh? New car? New plane? Money in the bank? Instant healing of every sickness? Greater success in my career? Well… yes if I can remain in Him and have those things.

     So it all hinges on this “remaining” or “abiding” thing. What’s that exactly? Well Jesus elaborates on the subject in the second half of John 15.

    Remaining in Him means remaining in His love. What’s that mean? It means obeying his commands. What commands? Well Jesus doesn’t leave us guessing:

     “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.( John 15: 12,13 NIV)

     OH SNAP!

     If we follow John 15 to its logical conclusion we can ask anything we want of God and He will absolutely answer  if we are loving as Jesus Christ  loved. If however we are not loving as Jesus Christ loved then we have absolutely no right to expect anything from God ever.

    This being the case I can no longer wonder why God doesn’t answer more of my prayers. Instead I should be wondering why He answers any of my prayers at all!

     Have you looked at how Jesus loved recently? The man was abandoned by his best friends, pushed through a kangaroo court tried and sentenced unjustly in a day, was spit upon, beaten to within an inch of his life, was sentenced to death because the official in charge couldn’t be bothered to stand up for justice, and was crucified. Yet he still said “Father forgive them.”!

     Meanwhile I get all defensive when I get criticized about my preaching!     

     But I am learning about this “remaining”. I am learning it’s not in me to remain. But it is in Him to help me remain. If I set myself before Him in prayer and in His word somehow His love flows into me. I can love as He loves. When I am in this place of “His love” my prayers are directed. I know what he wants…and I can tell you it has little to do with new cars, planes, money, jobs or many times even my health. What He wants is the world restored to Him… to His love. When I am in “His love” I am finding my heart is broken for the world. I don’t crave its treasures. I pity the world because its treasures are strangling it to death.

     Loving as Jesus love always involves sacrifice. He said, “This is my command: Love each other. “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’  If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me. ” John 15: 17-21 (NIV)

     Remaining then is never going to be a painless activity. The world order won’t stand for our remaining. The world does not value our prayers. The world does not value our Scriptures. The world will not tolerate our obedience to them. The world will consider our love as weakness. Yet only by these things do we remain. Only by these things can we obtain the promises Jesus made to us.

     This all requires our meditation. The Scripture here is very deep. It has many sides. Remaining in Him requires a lifetime of careful attention. But I am willing to give my life to remaining.

How about you?



Spiritual Illness

A question asked on one of the blogs I read recently got me thinking about the make-up of  human beings.

” Can you conceive of scenarios when committing suicide would be a rational act . . . rather than the product of mental illness?” (Spirit Lights the Way, Checking Out)

  The premise being brought forward was that not all suicide is the result of mental illness. Therefore if a person is not mentally ill…is sane… then suicide should be considered at times a sane, viable option not to be judged illegal, immoral, or otherwise unethical by the on-looking masses.

     Wow! Do I have a problem with that conclusion! It has so many faulty foundations I am not sure which one to deal with first!

     I guess I will start with the question itself:

“Can you conceive of scenarios when committing suicide would be a rational act . . . rather than the product of mental illness?”

    Indeed I can! I can think of at least two situations in which suicide is not the product of mental illness: when it is the result of physical illness, or when it is the result of Spiritual illness.

        It is often asserted that we are not human beings having a “spiritual experience” rather we are spiritual beings having a “human experience”.

     The truth is waaaaay muddier than that! Human beings are three-fold by nature. We are body ( what the Apostle Paul referred to as flesh). We are soul (what Paul referred to as mind encompassing also will and emotions). We are spirit ( what Paul referred to as spirit, or wind that which communicates with God).

     Our three parts are braided together in what was meant to be an unbreakable chord. The devastating part of death for the individual is that the soul and the spirit are severed from contact with the body.

 The glorious part of resurrection is that soul and spirit are reunited with the body. You see souls, spirits and bodies were never meant to be separated. Indeed, if that was an acceptable way to live out eternity there would be no need for a resurrection at all.

     Now getting back to the question of mental illness being the sole reason for suicide. I believe in mental illness. Every part of the three-fold nature of man is capable of becoming ill. I also believe mental illness is a cause for suicide. I also believe that many people who commit suicide are NOT mentally ill…are in fact perfectly sane.

     The faulty foundation here is that if a person is not mentally impaired they ought to be allowed to commit suicide.

      Some even go so far as to say that if a person is not mentally ill but physically ill that gives them a good reason to commit suicide. I believe in physical illness too. I believe that physical illness causes some people to consider suicide. But I also believe that not all suicide is caused by physical illness.

    While not all suicides indicate mental illness or physical illness I do believe they ALL indicate spiritual illness.

    From the beginning humans were meant to live lives controlled by the spirit (that which is in communication with God). Remember men were never meant to be separated from their bodies. Death was not the original plan, everlasting life was!

      The Bible tells us that, ” just as sin ruled over all people and brought them to death, now God’s wonderful grace rules instead, giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. ” Romans 5:21 NLT

      It also says, ” letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace.Romans 8:6

    It is spiritual illness that brings a person to the brink of suicide and often a mental illness or a physical illness will coincide. This spiritual illness is far more serious than a mental illness. I would posit that if we would require treatment for a mental illness rather than suggesting suicide we should also require treatment for the spiritual illness of being trapped in sin…That treatment of course being Jesus.

     Yes I can conceive of situations in which suicide is not the result of mental illness. That said I cannot conceive of a situation in which it is not the result of spiritual illness. At times suicide may  seem and even be rational. So was Eve’s eating of the forbidden fruit. Under the circumstances it seemed sane, logical, even rational. BUT IT WAS WRONG! AND WRONG TRUMPS RATIONAL EVERY TIME!

What do you think?

Passion: Disowning God

      It  astounds me how clueless I am about my own weakness! I like to think of myself as a strong Christian. I suppose I am. But my strength comes from a reliance upon Christ not anything inside of me. I have live long enough in this skin as a Christian to know that left to my own devices I am a chief among sinners surely capable of almost anything.

     We all like to think we are basically good with a little vein of evil running through. Honestly it’s just the opposite. Peter found this out in a big way.

     On the night Jesus was betrayed he told his disciples “Dear children, I will be with you only a little longer. And as I told the Jewish leaders, you will search for me, but you can’t come where I am going. ” John 13:33

     Peter I am sure was anxious to prove he was not the betrayer Jesus had spoken of short moments before. So he spoke up. “But why can’t I come now, Lord? I’m ready to die for you.” John 13:37

     Jesus must have sighed deeply wishing what Peter said was the truth. But prophetic insight had already shown him otherwise.

     Jesus answered, “Die for me? I tell you the truth, Peter—before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny three times that you even know me.” John 13:39

     Of course Jesus was right. He always is. Satan had desired to sift Peter as wheat and Peter’s pride in his own abilities was giving the fallen angel an open door. A few hours later Peter was denying Christ just as Jesus had foretold… just as Peter had thought impossible.

      Peter’s denial gives us an insight into our own lives. We are as human as Peter and we don’t have the benefit of walking in the physical presence of Christ for three years. Without a constant reliance on the Spirit of God we too will deny the Christ we have vowed to serve.

    So what hope do we have? Are we destined to constantly disown God? No! But the victory will never lie in our own feeble attempts to work up consistent righteousness in our own strength. The answer to a consistent walk is found in the blood of Christ shed on the cross! Jesus died to give us forgiveness and eternal life. But he also died to give us a holy life. The truth is the same blood that purchases our forgiveness and eternal life also changes our behavior.

    Paul the apostle wrote“And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. ” I Cor. 6:11

     The blood of Jesus sanctifies us ! ” Sanctifies” is just a churchy term for being made holy and righteous.

     So how does the blood of Jesus sanctify us? The same way it saves us, by grace through faith. How did you access salvation? By praying. So it is with sanctification. Ask God for it and ask and ask and ask until it comes to pass.

     Our hearts are born deceitfully wicked. But God takes what was and makes it into something new. We cannot remake ourselves. We can only let him in to remake us in the image of the son. Peter had to learn that the seeds of his salvation were not within him. So do we.

How successful have your attempts at holiness been? Have you noticed a difference since you started trusting Jesus?