Five Things God Never Said

There are a number of wrong impressions being given by those of us who minister to the saints on a Sunday from the pulpit. As well, all of us as we minister to people who are both born again and who have not yet crossed the line of faith are also giving, at times, the wrong impression.

GOD NEVER SAID #1: If you don’t know the date you were saved, then you are not saved.

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The Dirty Truth About Honoraria by John Stackhouse

The way some Christian churches and other organizations pay their speakers, it makes me embarrassed to be a member of the same faith.

A friend of mine is a gifted staff worker with a well-known Christian organization on a university campus. He is married, with three young children, and works hard and long at his job. Frequently, he is asked to speak at churches’ youth retreats or special events sponsored by other groups. Rarely is he paid well for what is, in fact, overtime work–for audiences other than the one that pays his regular salary. Read more

New Leadership, New Boldness and New Provision

As I have prayed about the coming year, I’ve sensed three clear directives.

Some people are terrified of 2012. They worry because the Mayans of ancient Mexico mysteriously ended their 5,126-year-old calendar on Dec. 21, 2012—as if they expected the world to end that day. This silly hypothesis became the basis for several New Age books and a goofy disaster movie, 2012, in which actor John Cusack avoids meteors and earthquakes just in time to get his family aboard the modern version of Noah’s ark (built in China!) before the rest of the world is destroyed by a tsunami. Read more

10 Reasons Not to Read Your Bible

I met just before Christmas with a young man who has a tremendous call of God on his life and whom I meet with almost weekly. Recently we have been chatting about Bible reading and feeding the inner spiritual man because he is currently not a reader of his Bible and needs to be … this is common for many his age in all churches today. It will be a bleek future for the youth and the Church if this trend does not change.

So – 10 reasons not to read your Bible in 2012:

1. It may challenge you to leave behind a legacy with your short time on Earth.
You may be compelled to give your life to a greater cause, one that extends far beyond your pleasures or comforts.

2. It may change your assumptions about God.
Currently, you may assume He is hacked off and disappointed in you, perhaps like someone in your own life. If you engage with the Scriptures, you may notice that this isn’t true about Him at all.

3. It may show you that you’ve mistaken religion with relationship.
You may realize the bad religion that you’ve experienced in the past is in fact very different from the Jesus in the Scriptures. You may actually encounter the Jesus in the Scriptures.

4. It may change your character.
You may be inspired to treat people differently, to act on the behalf of those who are mistreated, downtrodden, or hated. You may act differently not because you are trying to be a better person, but because you encounter a God that loves you just the way you are.

5. You may give up trying to be perfect in life.
As you see the redemption in store in the Bible for countless misfits and heathens, idol worshippers and killers, you may learn of the restoration in store for your life too. You may be surprised of all the jacked up people in the Bible that were used by God.

6. It may affect your relationships.
You may begin to see people not for how they can benefit you, but instead how you can impact them. As you begin to apply what you learn in the Scriptures, you may see your relationships with others go to a whole new level of influence.

7. It may change your actions.
You may begin to think differently, and, therefore, act differently. People around you may see a difference in you as you begin to act in ways that are contrary to what the world holds as important.

8. You may become unsettled.
As you read stories of boldness and sacrifice through the lives of imperfect people, you may lose yourself in the stories. You may find yourself in the middle of a conversation from long ago. You may become unsettled with the life you currently live.

9. You may realize that people are still the same.
Even though the world today is very different than in biblical times, you may find that people are very much the same as they’ve always been. You encounter people who are selfish, broken, and confused, but end up being selfless, healed, and clear about Who they belong to in life.

10. You may want to involve others.
The Bible was written over thousands of years by dozens of different authors, all I believe inspired by God. Its unique formation can make it pretty intimidating to understand at times. As you engage with the Scriptures, you may be compelled to bring in friends, family, or others to join you in your new quest.

Count Your Blessings

Often when overseas I am amazed at how little people live with and how hard life is for a vast majority of them. Although better than when the Soviet Union first collapsed it is still a tough go for many people. And, I mainly see the bigger cities and larger towns which have developed and “prospered” proportionally better than other locations. Once you are into more rural areas daily life gets even more difficult and, in some cases, drastic.

And then when I return to my nation I hear people complaining and being negative about so many things when, in reality, they should be seriously thankful for the luxury they live in and the nation they are part of… we are blessed beyond measure here in North America.

J. Lee Grady published the following on American Thanksgiving in November – I shout a loud Amen to his thoughts about the need to be much more thankful for what we have and realizing that it is all a gift from the Lord.

1. Got clean water? The next time you uncap a bottle of water or grab a drink from the tap, remember that one in eight people in the world (that’s 884 million people) lack access to clean water supplies. Millions of women around the world spend several hours a day collecting water. When you take a five-minute shower, you use more water than a typical person in a developing country uses in a whole day.

2. Do you have a bathroom? About 40 percent of the world’s population (2.6 billion people) do not have toilets. Lack of sanitation facilities spreads disease and is a major reason why more than 2 million people die annually of diarrhea.

3. How’s your electricity? The power in my house might be interrupted briefly three times a year because of Florida storms. But 1.6 billion people—a· quarter of humanity—live without any electricity. And, because of unreliable infrastructure, at least 2 billion people on earth don’t have any light at night.

4. Got a roof over your head? One billion people live in slums. That’s almost one-sixth of the world’s population. Of this total, 640 million children live without adequate shelter; they live in cardboard boxes, tin-roofed shacks, one-room mud huts or filthy, crowded tenements. It’s been estimated that 1.4 billion people will live in slums by 2020. Meanwhile here in the United States, between 2.3 to 2.5 million people are classified as homeless.

5. Is there food on your table? In the United States we are battling an obesity epidemic. Yet according to UNICEF, 22,000 children die each day due to poverty. Approximately 790 million people in the developing world are chronically undernourished, and almost 28 percent of all children in developing countries are estimated to be underweight or stunted.

6. Got a stove? In developing countries, some 2.5 billion people use fuelwood, charcoal or animal dung to meet their energy needs for cooking. In sub-Saharan Africa, more than 80 percent of the population depends on these crude, traditional means for cooking, as do over half of the populations of India and China. The really sad part: Indoor air pollution resulting from the use of solid fuels claims the lives of 1.5 million people each year, more than half of them below the age of 5.

7. Got regular income? You may have had to take a pay cut during the recession. But keep in mind that at least 80 percent of humanity lives on less than $10 a day. The world’s average income is about $7,000 a year. Still, only about 19 percent of the world’s population lives in countries with per capita incomes at least this high.

8. Did you go to school? Nearly a billion people entered the 21st century unable to read a book or sign their names. Enrollment data shows that about 72 million children of primary school age in the developing world were not in school in 2005 (and 57 percent of them were girls).

9. Are you generally healthy? Americans face illness like people in other nations—and more than 12 million Americans are battling cancer in any given year. But many of us have access to health care. In the developing world, more than 2.2 million children die each year because they are not immunized. An estimated 40 million people in developing countries are living with HIV/AIDS. Every year there are 350–500 million cases of malaria, with 1 million fatalities, mostly in Africa.

10. Are you free to worship God? More than 400 Christians die for their faith every day around the world, and most of these believers suffer in Islamic countries—although the top hot spot for Christian persecution, according to Open Doors International, is the atheist regime of North Korea.

As we begin 2012 – let’s check our attitude and also our lifestyles and see how Christian they really are – and make some quality decisions about changes we need to make.

Changing From the Inside Out

My administrator here in North America sent this to me a year ago and I couldn’t resist sticking it up on line as a picture for a New Year’s blog.

Often at New Years or just before we make a series of resolutions – decisions that we mentally think we need to make to bring change into our lives in the new year. Afterall, if you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you have always gotten. Poor English but true nonetheless.

Often immediately after the new year has begun the resolutions have been forgotten and nothing has changed and it will be the same old – same old for another 365 days and another year and another… And soon life has passed us by and nothing has changed. Sad!

Here’s the problem – you are attempting to make change happen from the outside in – making decisions about your lifestyle and then deciding that by an act of the will you are going to actually change things in your life. I think this is called being self-deceived. Doesn’t work. Never has. Didn’t in the past – won’t in the future.

Excuse me, it was your will that got you into the mess that you now want to change. And your will (the decision area in your soul) and the will of your flesh -yes, there are two wills that fight againt God’s will in your life – cannot be changed by simply making a decision and winding up some extra ‘will power’. It never lasts. Within several weeks you will be right back doing what you have always done. You set yourself up for an immediate failure.

Instead, we need to understand that true and lasting change can only happen when it starts on the inside and is empowered by the Holy Spirit. We need to give God permission to search our hearts and point out to us the things that need to change. Because He is pointing them out there will be the grace – the power and ability – to bring those changes about should we decide to say “yes” and cooperate with the Lord in His work of remaking us into His own image. Then, as the attitudes and values on the inside – in our heart – change we will see lasting and permanent change happen on the outside – weight loss, quitting smoking, freedom from alcohol, becoming debt free, having a better prayer life, being a more powerful witness for Jesus, whatever your desire is as a believer.

Life change only and always happens by the power of the Holy Spirit. This new year stop doing things under your own power and by an act of your will. Instead, give yourself totally over to the Lord and let Him make the repairs and changes that He desires.

Of course, if you are already perfect then you don’t need to make any changes and I apologize for wasting a few precious moments of your time.