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Carnality: The Terminal Cancer Of The Christian!

Pastor Andrew SchankFor decades now, many of us have been hearing more and more about people who have varying types of cancers. The conspiracy theorists would have us think this stems from the government spraying us with toxins in an effort to control the population, while others think this is due to the lack of nutrients in our food nowadays. The truth is that there are many contributing factors to the increase of those diagnosed with cancer. One of which is the intentional participation in things known to be carcinogenic.

Does not this sound familiar to the child of God? Does not this remind us of how carnality, with all of its tentacles, can sap the life from a child of God? The Apostle Paul stated in His Epistle to the Romans the following, “For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” (Romans 8:6) Here we see a clear distinction between being fleshly motivated and Holy Spirit led. We see the immutable results of each. Yet, knowing this truth, many of God’s children behave as if this dynamic is only a fable and has nothing to do with reality.

This is no different than someone continuing to smoke cigarettes, all the while, knowing they will likely be stricken with some sort of cancer or illness related to this risky behavior. It has long been known that committing adultery and fornication can not only rob you of your Christian testimony, but it you can leave you with an STD (sexually transmitted disease). Some of which are worse than cancer!

Though many have known Christ for several years, they are eaten up with the cancer of carnality. Our old nature is our biggest enemy and will devour us if we do not allow the sweet Holy Spirit to lead us day by day.

If we allow our old, Adamic nature to have its way and if we don’t allow the Spirit of God to bridle our decision making, then we will live a life characterized by carnality. Sin will cease to make us blush. What was once wicked will soon be seen as tolerable. Things that used to be taboo, will be allowed under the so-called license of “Christian Liberty”.

Lest we think carnality is only a personal thing, we should remember that cancer is not. The patient is not the only one who suffers with cancer; families are ravaged as well. At a distance, the cosmetic effects of cancer can be understood. So it is with carnality. The sins of the flesh will hurt those around us in more ways than our selfish mind can contemplate. We should never think that our carnality is not brought into visibility by those who watch us.

(Psalms 119:9-11) “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word. With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments. Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” (KJV)

What will it take for people to wake up and discard the reasoning that enables a carnal lifestyle? Much of life’s drama is simply the ramifications of self-induced carnality. Every child of God must be obedient to God’s Inerrant Word and submissive to His leadership through the Holy Spirit if they are to live the victorious Christian life that God desires for them.

 

 

Decision Making: It Says A Lot About You!

Pastor Andrew SchankSomeone once said, “Actions speak louder than words!” There is a lot of truth behind that axiom, isn’t it? Each of us can cite examples of poor decision making either in our own life or in someone’s life whom we love dearly. Many try to mask poor decisions with a lot of pretense, but the truth is we do just exactly what we want to do most of the time. There is nobody to blame for the things we say and do, but ourselves.

Poor Decisions Hurt People…

Many are accused of being judgmental when pointing out the errors that result from poor decision making, but that could simply be a misunderstanding. Think about it… people we care about the most will stir our emotions and passion. Voicing disagreement should not be construed as judgmental… necessarily.  Frankly, poor decisions hurt people!

Nothing will hurt and age pastor any more than bad decisions made by folks in the congregation. Parents and grandparents are often scarred by the decisions made by their offspring! Even when children leave the nest, parents don’t stop being parents. On the other hand, children are often hurt deeply by the bad decision making of hasty parents!

Decisions Have Consequences Both Good And Bad…

A friend of mine wrote, “Making the decision is not the hard part, but its living with the consequences.” That rings true, doesn’t it? One of the basic parts of life is making a decision and living with its consequences. From a little child we learn how to do this. The problem arises when we make bad decisions, knowing the possible consequences, and continue down the wrong path. We should make decisions in light of God’s Word! After all, it is the best way!

Our Decisions Have Something To Say…

Whether we choose to believe it or not, the decisions we make each day have something to say about our character. It is laughable how people get mad at others who form opinions about them from decisions which have been made. The Bible has a lot to say about the actions of the fool. Read the Book of Proverbs! When it comes to children, the Bible teaches us that they are known by the deeds; good or bad.

(Proverbs 20:11) “Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right.” (KJV)

Conclusion

What have your decisions said about you lately? Do you feel that you have been misunderstood? Even when doing the right thing, people can misinterpret us. Our focus should be on being obedient to the Lord Jesus Christ and let God sort things out. According to Luke 7:35 “… wisdom is justified of all her children.” Decisions, both good and bad, can be learned from and both will be made by each of us. May we realize just how important it is to make the right ones so we can keep a clean testimony!!!

Resurrection Day: The Reminder!

Pastor Andrew SchankOf the holidays we celebrate, I like Resurrection Day the most! There are many reasons for this, but I suppose if I were to narrow it down to one it would have to be the fact that it REMINDS me of what my life as a believer is all about. The older I get the more I need to be reminded about things because life has a way of distracting you from what it truly important.

Jesus Rose Again!

Resurrection Day reminds me that God is still on the throne! He is Sovereign! He is Almighty! He has no equals! Our Lord Jesus came to the Earth for one purpose:the cross. After taking my sins and your sins upon Himself, paying our sin debt, suffering the wrath of God in our place, He was placed in a borrowed tomb. After three days, Jesus Christ was raised triumphantly! There are a plethora of details that we could highlight concerning the events leading up to and during the crucifixion. We could even write about the activity of Jesus during the entombment. The resurrection, however, is the culmination of it all! Jesus rose again! Because He did, I can LIVE!

(Matthew 28:5-6) “And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.” (KJV)

Trouble Precedes A Resurrection!

This holiday season I am more keenly aware of the absolute hatred and vitriol people have for God, His Word and His People! In the weeks leading up to Resurrection Sunday, I , like many of you, read the Gospel accounts of how people treated our Lord from His agony in the garden to His expiration on Golgotha. It sickened me. What’s worse is that I see the same contempt unleashed upon people for simply standing up for what they believe concerning the Bible here in America! While folks are mocking us and slapping us around like they did to Jesus, they will soon have us bearing a cross on our bloodied backs! In other places around the world people are being murdered almost incessantly for simply professing that they are a Christian! Though this troubles you and I, we must remember that there would not have been a resurrection if there had not been the cross beforehand!

“God doesn’t always smooth the path, but sometimes he puts springs in the wagon.” – Lucas

(2 Timothy 3:12) “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” (KJV)

We Can LIVE!

When you and I look back upon the historical Biblical record of Jesus Christ’s resurrection, you and I are reminded of the truth that we too can LIVE! Not only after we leave this world, but while we are in this world! Yes, the animosity and malicious behavior of wicked souls do, in fact, tend to intimidate us, but we can LIVE! We do not need to hide in a corner somewhere and live our lives as best we can. God wants the life of His Son to be lived through us.

(Galatians 2:20) “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” (KJV)

Conclusion…

As you continue your day, remember that the Resurrection of Jesus Christ reminds all of us that God is in control! Though troubles and trials may seem to sap our joy in life, we can LIVE as we allow Jesus to LIVE through us! Live in the reality of the Resurrection!

(Romans 8:35-39) “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (KJV)

Saying Goodbyes!

Pastor Andrew SchankRecently, I had the unpleasant task of having to say my “goodbyes” to a great team of school bus drivers and para professionals at Blair Community Schools of Blair, Nebraska. It was even harder to share the news of my leaving to the students I transported to and from school each day. Due to stressful demands of my time, I felt it necessary to free up my schedule somewhat and try to go one direction each day rather than two. Indeed, it has been a tremendous privilege to serve the Blair Community for almost four school years!

“Goodbyes” Are Difficult To Communicate!

Why is it so hard to say our “goodbyes”? Whether we are speaking of the arenas of the workplace and church or of moving across town or the State, saying, “Goodbye!” is very difficult for some people. You can know that someone is making a change in their employment, or in where they reside, but the finality of the word “Goodbye” reaches down into our stomach and ties it into knots.

We are quite comical sometimes, aren’t we? We can tell our spouse or children, “Goodbye!” then leave on a trip or go to work, and that seven letter word doesn’t seem to rattle us as much. However, if we convey that word to someone whom we will not see for quite a while or possibly not be able to work closely with again, then our emotions take a roller coaster ride of monumental proportions.

Coping With The “Goodbyes”…

I find it extremely difficult to say the word “goodbye”. In fact, I was not going to say much, if anything at all, about my leaving Blair Community Schools to my co-workers. Of course, the management needed to know. I did work a notice, but I tried to keep things quiet. However, I was reminded of something by a dear friend at the Bus Barn on my last day of work. She agreed with me that it was hard to say goodbye, but she also related to me that people would like an opportunity to say it! WOW! Call me a nut if you want to, but her statement was quite profound.

Saying our “goodbyes” is very liberating. It allows every human being an outlet for their emotional stress related to the severance or change of a relationship. That is not to say that every time we utilize the aforementioned seven letter word that we are not going to facilitate relationships when we invoke it. It does, however, give us an opportunity to express how we feel about the change in dynamic.

The Ramifications…

“Goodbyes” are not always final, but they can be. Funerals, for example, are very sad because of finality… depending upon what you believe about God’s Word. For a child of God, the “goodbye” at a funeral is not so tragic when the person who has passed away was also a child of God. The “goodbye” in that case is an, “until we meet again!” When a lost sinner takes their last breath and dies, it is very tasking for God’s children! The “goodbye” there is very final!

The ramifications of the word “goodbye” are quite complex sometimes. Conclusions are drawn, decisions are made, lifestyles are changed and a wide range of emotions are experienced. People can rejoice or they can be deeply hurt by using the word in question.

Jesus And “Goodbyes”…

(John 14:1-6) “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know. Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (KJV)

Jesus dealt with “goodbyes” with His disciples in John chapters 14-16. Our Lord had conveyed the fact that He would be leaving them. His words resonated then and still echo with you and I today! “Let not your heart be troubled…” coming from the lips of the Savior seems to slow the winds of the stormy tempest that can rage when “goodbyes” are stated.

So What’s The Big Deal?

It is important to share our thoughts and feelings in a constructive way. When we do not say our “goodbyes”, for example, we can do ourselves and those around us an injustice. After my recent experience with my friends at Blair Community Schools, I want to encourage each of us to be sure that we use the word “goodbye” carefully and meaningfully. After all, it could be very final!!!

 

The Lonely Side Of Ministry: Undesirable, But Fruitful!

Pastor Andrew SchankMinistry, like South African diamonds, has many wonderful and unique facets to it. When an experienced jeweler holds a diamond up to the light and examines its core with a magnifying eyepiece, hard cold reality is unabridged. He or she sees the diamond for what it is. What may have seemed beautiful at a distance is sometimes not so pretty up close and personal.

In nearly 23 years of ministry, I have seen ministry from both perspectives. Volumes can be written about the glamor of some aspects of ministry… and rightly so. However, novelty wears away when one involves them-self deep into the service of the Lord Jesus Christ! Well meaning authors try to share in a few paragraphs or pages what took a lifetime for God’s servants to accomplish in ministry. Often, too much is said about so-called accomplishments, and too little is said about the staleness and loneliness that accompanies devoted service in the Lord’s work. We may do ourselves a grave injustice by promoting such picturesque snapshots of ministry.

Don’t misunderstand, ministry is absolutely rewarding in every facet! Nothing takes the place of going to sleep at night reminiscing of the opportunities God gave you that day. Even in the darkest of circumstances, ministry is fruitful! This precept must not be overlooked! The Law of the Harvest is immutable!

(Galatians 6:9) “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” (KJV)

While there are many awesome parts of ministry which I would like to comment on, there is an often overlooked and misunderstood side of ministry that needs to be pondered. Of course, this intentionally bypassed aspect of ministry of which I write is that of loneliness. It can KILL you!

What Is Loneliness?

Loneliness is mostly a feeling that finds its way into our hearts like rising water creeping into the basement of a home along a flood prone area. As a servant of the Lord, you cannot always choose the best scenario in which to engage yourself. With that comes the possibility for the dampness of loneliness to seep into your soul. You basically feel that you are ALONE and nobody else is with you. In spite of the fact that a pastor can have a church full of people supporting him, he can FEEL alone.

Loneliness: A Double Agent!

Loneliness is a double agent of sorts. Used by both God and Satan, it will make its debut sooner or later in EVERY ministry and in EVERY minister’s life! Satan will certainly try and use this “negative” aspect of ministry to discourage and defeat the sincerest of God’s laborers. On the other hand, our Heavenly Father will use this same difficulty as an opportunity to refine His dedicated and devoted servants.

There Is Help?

Throughout the Scriptures a minister will find help, comfort, encouragement and renewed vigor in coping with loneliness in ministry! From Moses, to John on the isle of Patmos, and everywhere in between, you can learn how to continue to serve in the midst of loneliness. Whether the servant of the Lord is a missionary, evangelist, pastor/teacher, Sunday school teacher, Deacon, or just a devoted member of a local assembly trying to be faithful to share the gospel and live a clean life… loneliness can be overcome!

Consider the description of John the Baptist from the gospel accounts. He was a “voice” not “voices”, and he lived alone in desolation. Jesus was tempted in a desert… alone and away from family and friends. Over and over again, you find our Lord getting by Himself in a solitary place. In both John the Baptist’s life as well as that of Jesus Christ, it can be clearly understood that loneliness accompanies ministry. The absence of people, is both needful and necessary at times.

Conclusion

(Psalms 91:1) “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” (KJV)

Whether loneliness is a result of demanding ministry or simply a result of the physical absence of people, there is one common denominator… our fellowship with the Holy Spirit of God! Loneliness will dim of the most zealous firebrand of God. If we do not resort to the promises of God, and the shelter of the prayer closet, then we will not know what it means to “abide under that shadow of the Almighty” amidst the trying North winds of loneliness!

Much more can be stated about loneliness, but it suffices to point out that if one is serving in the midst of loneliness, then he or she is NOT ALONE! The lonely individual is NOT the only person who has faced or is facing loneliness. You can be the only person in the room and the room can get crowded! One must allow God to refine them of the dross that can only be burnt off in the crucible of loneliness. God will NEVER leave us nor will He forsake us!

(Hebrews 13:5) “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” (KJV)

Commitment: The Missing Characteristic In 21st Century Christianity!

Pastor Andrew SchankThousands upon thousands of books, periodicals and newspaper clippings lay on the shelves, line the racks and are filed away in libraries worldwide which contain the written record of men and women who left a legacy of COMMITMENT for any inquisitive mind to ponder. With the advent of the internet, many more doors for the opportunistic reader are available. With such grandiose venues filled to capacity and open to the masses, which would rival any Olympic arena, one could surmise that the larger than life personalities of yesteryear would be studied for their accomplishments and failures more than they actually are!

It is sad to report that many present day educational, political, social leaders increasingly fail this present generation with their focus being placed on the sensual and the temporal and not on the lasting character traits which have served to catapult societies around the globe for centuries. Religious leaders have littered the information highway with numerous scandals, and irrefutable evidence of their lack of moral bearings and broken moral compass. It is for certain that many of the household names of the last 2,000 years were not godly and righteous individuals, but many were! Each name that is recorded in history leaves us an example for good or for bad.

When one ponders the realms of Christendom today, he/she is left devoid of many substantive examples of committed Christians. Few godly examples exist for contemporary onlookers to admire for the quality of COMMITMENT with respect to Biblical Christianity. There are many reasons for this problem. One, the world system is not going to thrust many into the “godly lime-light”. Two, the godly character trait of COMMITMENT does not sell newspapers, nor does it have much curb appeal. Three, history is still being written and the jury is still out on the legacies of many popular Christians today. Each of these reasons are valid and easily understood.

If you look at this dilemma from the corner of Main Street and Church Street USA, then you will have to face the fact that the primary cause for the lack of interest in the character trait of COMMITMENT with respect to Biblical Christianity is found by looking into the mirror! The average Christian does not get excited about being a committed child of God because it is not accomplished very easily and it usually carries a stigma that few want to identify with. Very few shine brightly as committed Christians and with so little light, many have grown accustomed to the darkness of self-serving ambitions.

For many, COMMITMENT is a term used to describe how an athlete came from unfortunate and meager circumstances to fame because of their determination to play a particular sport. For others, COMMITMENT is the term used to describe how a young man or woman came from the wrong side of the tracks to get the proper education and make their mark on the business world. Few really grasp the fact that COMMITMENT is more that just something we read about concerning the flavor of the month which the media outlets regurgitate in their hourly segments and plaster on their “Who’s Who” in the Sunday paper.

(1 Corinthians 4:1-2) “Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.” (KJV)

COMMITMENT is a character trait that we see throughout the pages of our Holy Bible. From the difficult circumstances Jacob endured so he could marry the woman of his dreams, to the passionate leadership of Moses to bring God’s people from Egyptian bondage into the Promised Land, to the Weeping Prophet, Jeremiah, who could only speak God’s truth to a backslidden king, to the Gospel accounts of the COMMITMENT of Jesus Christ to carry His cross to Golgotha’s hill, to the persistence of the Apostle Paul to keep preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles of the Roman Empire, one can encourage themselves and learn of the need for such COMMITMENT in our day!

While the Word of God is the best place to read of what kind of COMMITMENT our churches need today, this trait is easily learned by it being modeled before others. When folks are divided in their pursuits each week, and choose to participate in activities at the same time their church family gets together to worship God, then these individuals fail to be an example of a committed Christian. The truth is that COMMITMENT is a missing ingredient in 21st century Christianity! In place of COMMITMENT, many model carnality, idolatry, apathy, and a host of other worldly and sinful vices.

(Matthew 6:24) “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” (KJV)

What is it going to take for more of God’s people to make the decision to be more committed to the Lord? Many of these sames folks are not ignorant of what COMMITMENT is, they are just committed to the wrong person! The Apostle Paul spoke of some people who “addicted” themselves to the ministry. (1 Corinthians 16:15) Our churches need servants of the Lord like Paul wrote about! Jesus, in what many refer to as, “The Sermon on the Mount” stated, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” In other words, you cannot be committed to the Lord while being committed to other things. Duties never conflict! Each of us have many responsibilities and we must prioritize them. If we are committed Christians, then our priorities will reflect that!

It is with great humility that I implore each soul who reads this post to take a moment and examine yourself in light of the Scriptures. Do you need to be saved by God’s grace? Do you know if you died right now that you would be in Heaven with Jesus? If not, please consider what the Bible has to say about your situation. CLICK HERE to learn more or CONTACT ME and I will be glad to help you. If you are saved, are you a committed Christian or are your priorities diametrically opposed to what they should be? Does any ole thing keep you from being faithful to attend church faithfully? Do your friends have too much sway over your decision making? Have you allowed your flesh to rule your life in place of the Holy Spirit? God WILL help you if you will be willing to repent!

Authenticity?

Pastor Andrew SchankAt the time of the Civil War, (a.k.a. War Between The States) nearly one third of the currencies negotiated were counterfeit. Can you imagine that? This problem was, and still is a huge issue! One of the contributing factors which led to the proliferation of so many fake notes was the numerous state banks who designed and printed their own variety of currency. The following quote is taken from the U.S. Secret Service’s website…

At that time, there were approximately 1,600 state banks designing and printing their own notes. Each note carried a different design, making it difficult to distinguish the 4,000 varieties of counterfeits from the 7,000 varieties of genuine notes.

According to the United States Secret Service the need for a more streamlined and regulated currency was needed. Once the national currency was adopted 1863, it too, became so inundated with counterfeit bills that there was a need to create the Secret Service to enforce currency laws and help suppress widespread counterfeiting. Since July 5, 1865, citizens of the United States have benefited from the dedicated efforts of those in the Secret Service who seek to keep our currency authentic.

Each of us intuitively know that our monies must be THE REAL THING if we are to be able to purchase the necessary items our families need each month. While we may be cognoscente of the need for genuine currency, many of God’s children are lacking in their discernment for the need to be an AUTHENTIC CHRISTIAN! That’s right! Many of us may look like the real thing, but upon closer examination we reveal our deviance.

There are several reasons why this happens in our life at times. Sin, for example, leaves its staining mark on our testimonies. Though God willingly forgives us on the merits of His Son, Jesus Christ, we still have to deal with the ramifications of our rebellious actions.

Sometimes, our lack of authenticity comes from our adopting a standard for living which is contrary to God’s Word. For sure, anytime we do such a thing, we will not be THE REAL THING! Our friend’s ideas, though trendy and novel, are not always the best practice for the dedicated Christian!

Another reason we become hypocritical in our walk with God is due to our lack of love for God. Much can be written about this detail, but it can be seen clearly in our commitment level. If my love for my wife and family is authentic, then my commitment to them will be vividly portrayed. Let’s put it another way. If I am authentic with my family, then they can trust me. We can grow in our love for each other. Our commitment level will increase; reflecting in our behavior and attitudes toward one another. Thus… there will be no question as to the genuineness of our love for God if we are committed to Him.

Could it be that AUTHENTIC CHRISTIANITY is what is missing in your life? Have you let the apathy and callousness of carnal Christians rub off on you? Are you more concerned about the temporal pleasures and plentiful forms of entertainment the world has to offer than you are about your faithfulness and commitment to our Lord Jesus Christ?

Volumes have been written on how to reach the youth of our day, but genuine heartfelt Christianity is what should be our focal point. Authenticity is what the Millennials need to see in our walk with God. Counterfeit, hypocritical, and shallow spirituality is what is driving the youth of today from our churches. It is not the old fashioned music & hymns that is driving them away, nor is it the lack of media use in the corporate worship service. The simple truth is that most of us are not as authentic as we think we are!

May God give each of us, who claim to be saved by His awesome grace, more of a passion for a committed and authentic walk with Him. May we quit settling for the counterfeit, and wholly embrace the integrity of God and His Holy, Inerrant, Infallible & Divinely Preserved Word!

Be Still!

Pastor Andrew SchankAs a little boy, my mother would often tell me to, “Be Still!” No, her admonition was not always in a tender and delicate tone, but it was always very clear. I never had any doubt about what it was I was supposed to do. More than likely, you have a similar story to tell. From a child, each of us know that there are times when we should put everything down and BE STILL!

The Holy Spirit of God conveys a similar thought to each of us in Psalm 46:10. The Scriptures states, “Be still, and know that I am God:…” With the entire context of the particular Psalm in mind, we understand this verse teach us that regardless of circumstances and surroundings every child of God should pause and reflect upon the fact that He, God Himself, is on His righteous throne. Make no mistake about it… He will be exalted and He is in charge!

Recently, I was smitten by this truth as I was driving to the Post office in our little town along the Missouri River here in Eastern Nebraska. It was the morning rush, just after the morning bells rang to announce the start of the school day. People were hurrying along trying to beat the traffic light so they could jockey for the best position to negotiate their leave of the downtown area as they headed for their place of employment. It hit me. I mean it really hit me! Everyone is in such a hurry doing this and that. Not just in the context of dropping their children off at their neighborhood school, but in many other areas of life. We are just so busy!

That cold Winter morning my Heavenly Father brought this verse to my mind as I observed the frantic traffic behavior and as I was contemplating my priorities of the day. He seemed to say to me, “Andrew, slow down! The compulsion to get things done is over rated! Be still and KNOW that I am God!” No, I did not hear an audible voice, but if I had, it would not have been any clearer.

The truth is that we are often consumed with the deception of pomp and circumstance. Much of our daily routine is nothing more than fluff. Yet, we think that the fluff is somehow important and necessary for us to accomplish our daily priorities. Couple that with the battles of our life and life seems to be a whirlwind.

Think about it… we all know how important our personal devotion time with God is, yet we seem to allow ourselves to get caught up in the winds of the non-essential. Our storms of life could be better weathered if we would BE STILL and calmly reflect upon the character and power of God! Nothing is more sweet than watching God calm the storm as He speaks to our heart from His Infallible Word!

I challenge each of us to BE STILL and KNOW, that is, to ponder and know by observation, reflection and experience that God is in control. He will be a refuge for our souls if we will allow Him to be. Each day that we are privileged to walk God’s Real Estate, may we take meaningful time to read the Holy Word of God. May we gaze into each verse and ponder its ramifications. May we allow God’s Word to temper our soul for the day. May we avail ourselves of the greatest wireless connection known to our generation… PRAYER! May each of us step back into the reality that God Almighty is, in fact, Almighty and that He is our refuge!

(Psalms 46:1-11) “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah. There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early. The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted. The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah. Come, behold the works of the LORD, what desolations he hath made in the earth. He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire. Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.” (KJV)

 

The Offspring Of Tribulation!

Thought For The Week…

(Romans 5:3-5) “And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.”  (KJV)

Great Commission Baptist Church is enveloped in some very exciting times these days! On February 9, 2014, just a few weeks ago, our church officially and formally organized; adopting a constitution and bonding into a covenant. A few days ago, we saw our first soul get saved for the year… Hallelujah! Our church has enjoyed many answers to prayer and has given public testimony to what God has done in our lives.

In the midst of these “positive” things, our church family has faced some heavy opposition from Satan. This blitzkrieg of trials are, themselves, a “positive“ too! Even though troubles do not seem to be a “positive”, they are, in fact, very healthy for us at GCBC. The truth is that every child of God needs a dose of tribulation for a spiritual healthy walk with Christ!

The Apostle Paul, in Romans chapter five, encourages his readers to glory in, that is, to rejoice in, tribulations! It is counterproductive to allow discouragement and anguish to rob us of the blessing of trials. Paul goes on to teach us that tribulation produces valuable character traits and helps to shape our integrity.

The very first child Tribulation gives birth to is named, Patience. Patience is one of those individuals that nobody likes to speak about and certainly is not one anybody wants to get to know on a first name basis. Patience is, however, an individual that a child of God must learn from if he or she desires to have Christian character and integrity. Patience is defined as cheerful endurance. While it is hard to be happy and cheerful during the storms of life, through Christ we can! Patience teaches us a lot about life and its lessons.

As Patience matures in our lives, we gain experience. This kind of experience is a very specific character trait that is sorely needed in our church. In essence it is the trustworthiness of our soul. In other words, it is the fact that we have endured the test and we were faithful through it to its completion. There are no short cuts to this kind of experience. Just because you existed and made it through a trial does not mean you gained experience. Tribulation produces patience and patience produces experience!

Experience produces the all-important character trait of hope. Hope is defined as a confident, cheerful expectation. The more trials we endure the more patience we should gain. The more patience we have the more experience we should have. This experience, no doubt, will encourage us to trust and be more and more confident in the Lord!

Let me put the cookies on the bottom shelf for a moment. I want to encourage everyone at Great Commission Baptist Church. God is blessing each of us. Though we are facing some enormous trials in our lives, we should take courage from these Scriptures. We must be doing something right! So the next time you get down and out over the storm in your life just remember that God is working on you! He is trying to shape you to be a better tool that He can use! Indeed, this is a “POSITIVE” thing!

Which Will You Be?

Thought For The Week…

When I was a little boy, I looked up to people that were older than me. I was greatly influenced by adults who were friends of the family, and each person made a lasting impression on me. Learning about each person was a treat. Finding out their favorite pastimes and where they worked, etc. was a lot of fun, but even as an unsaved little child, I could see a difference in some people as compared to others and also by what my parents taught me.

Growing up into my teenage years, I could see how people were changing. Well, they probably had not changed, but were being one way around me then and was letting their guard down as I was getting older. This change in people began to work on me a little. Their language was courser and foul words seemed to flow from their mouths with too much ease and familiarity! “How could this be?” I would ask myself.

What people seem to forget as the get up in years is that young people are not stupid! Usually teenagers are quite idealistic. They have not yet perfected the sacred art of hypocrisy; though, that usually comes a bit later! Furthermore, young people can see right through “water downed” Christianity. They go along with the counterfeit because they think it is cool that an adult will rebel against what is “supposed” to be right and go their direction.

Since those experiences years ago, I have seen things get tragically worse! It seems, like in the days of the Old Testament Book of Judges, people are doing “that which was right in his own eyes”. When will Christian adults quit opting for a role reversal and be the consistent, God fearing example for young people?

As stated earlier, many of those family friends made a lasting impression on me. Don’t misunderstand me, they were not all bad. In fact, several of those folks have proven to be a source of strength in the storms of my life! This leads me to ask you a very candid question… “Will you be a textbook example of a genuine hypocrite or will you be a stalwart testimony of a Bible believing Christian?” The choice is yours. Which will you be?

(Judges 17:6) “In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes.”  (KJV)