What if Today Happened to You?

Today was a special service at our little mission. There was rejoicing, a time of prayer, and worship of the Most High. While we spent time in prayer specifically for the persecuted church, every part of our service, including the time of fellowship afterwards, was intended to bring honor and glory to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Each person that came today woke up to a dreary, grey, overcast sky and drove in a vehicle in a country that freely allows us to travel. But still we came.

Each person that came today had the privilege of coming to a building where we have freedom to worship as we see fit and not having to hide in a cave, or in the forest, or out on a dreary plain just to worship without fear of being reported to the authorities. But still we entered.

Each person that came today had no thoughts of any news that might or might not be taking place around the world. But still we worshipped.

Each person that came today had the opportunity to have a better understanding of what the persecuted church experiences every day. But still we prayed.

Each person that came today was reminded that there is an eternity to look forward where there will be no sin, no tears, no dying, no fears, and only joy in the presence of the Savior. But still we sang.

Each person that came today heard the truth of Scripture being boldly proclaimed that Jesus Christ alone saves sinners. But still we listened.

Each person that came today left after service to gusts of wind blowing across the parking lot, and a sky that was clearing with beautiful sunshine. But still we left.

Each person that came today read the news this afternoon that while we were worshipping, there were others who were doing the same but who did not go home for the wickedness of the heart of man was made evident as several in a Baptist church in south Texas went out into eternity. But still we grieve.

Tonight and in the coming weeks, there will be much soul-searching by many who go to services. Many parents will have concern for their safety and that of their children. Many will wonder if it is safe to go and worship with other believers, or will more lives come to an end. Many church leaders will face the daunting task of determining what kind of security they believe is necessary to help provide protection for those who come.

Yet, through the difficulty of following the news, these things remain true. The dangers are real. The reasons why this young man chose to kill will remain unanswered because he went out to eternity where he faced God as Judge.

Every day across this world, there are millions of Christ followers who live in danger of being harmed or being killed. Millions understand the risks of coming together knowing that it could be their last week. From places like North Korea, Somalia, Sudan, Eritrea, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, and many other countries, especially in the 10/40 window, there is the cry of the persecuted church. They are being harmed or killed simply because they have called on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

BUT still they went, still they entered, still they worshipped, still they prayed, still they sang, still they listened, still they left, and still they grieved.

The world is going to get worse. The Bible promises that this will be the case. Others will die for their faith. Others will have to determine whether dying for Christ is better than living for self. Others will have to decide if they will be bold for Christ and accept the martyr’s crown, or if they will deny the Christ who died for them and so forget that the servant is not above the Master.

What if tomorrow doesn’t take place like you think it will? What if tomorrow you are called to stand before God?

What if today happened to you?

From Everlasting To Everlasting

There is no subject greater than the subject of God. He has such attributes and characteristics that we can contemplate on them and still never be able to understand Him. So many things in the Bible talk about how great God is and yet He was able to do the opposite. When He was on earth He was fully God and fully man. He died on the cross for our sins yet raised Himself up from death. He is everywhere all the time yet time is no problem with Him. A thousand years are as one day to the Lord and one day is as a thousand years to Him. 2 Peter 3:8. He has always been alive and always will be alive.

One of my favorite meditations on the Lord is that He has always been and always will be. Psalm 90:1-2 Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.

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I like to start off with a smaller number of a thousand and think back past that. A thousand years ago the Lord was alive. I haven’t even been alive 100 years. Beyond that is the time the earth was created. What an amazing time that would have been to see the universe created out of nothing. A million years ago, which was before the earth was created, God was alive then and no one around. After that is a trillion years and I can’t even comprehend how He could have been alive and nothing was needed on His part to sustain Him.

He is also to everlasting. He has always been and will always be. Yes, we will live for eternity after we die but how are we able to think of time in such tremendous numbers? Forever is a very long time and it goes in such a way that there is never any end. Yet the Lord was forever and will be forever. Can you bring your mind around such awesomeness? No one can because God is way beyond our understanding.

As I continue back and forward in the contemplation of time I can’t help but wonder at the complexities of our Savior. There is nothing that can compare to Him and all that He is. We hear the word ‘awesome’ bandied about as if the things of this earth are awesome but the things this generation says awesome about are not. They may be really good or something we like a lot yet that term can only be applied to the Lord in its truest sense. He alone is awesome! He alone is worthy of all praise!

Just to Clarify

Just to clarify if there are any questions, Defending Contending will NOT endorse any candidate in this election. Both candidates hold positions that defy the laws of God. This is not about the economy, Benghazi, lies, treason, their lack of theology, or anything apart from following the Scriptures when it comes to making decisions that will impact our lives as we stand before God.

 

Ortho-what?

Orthodoxy is defined “in the Christian sense” to mean “conforming to the Christian faith as represented in the creeds of the early Church.” This word comes from the Greek orthos meaning correct and the Greek doxy meaning opinion.

Orthopraxy is defined as “correctness or orthodoxy of action or practice.” The word comes from the Greek orthos meaning correct and the Greek praxis meaning deed or action.

It is often stated in many circles that doctrine divides. Doctrine does certainly divide but the belief or conformity to the Christian faith is a lofty ideal that many hold to unswervingly. The average person may not fully understand all the words or theological terms, but they have no issue repeating the creeds or stating that they believe just like their church believes.

The problem is NOT with too much orthodoxy in the church. Orthodoxy is easy to fine in most evangelical churches. Creeds grace the walls of many sanctuaries. Hymnbooks contain creeds or doctrinal statements that encourage the reader to understand what his or her chosen congregation believes. Bulletins include calls to recitation of orthodox doctrine. Books line the walls of the libraries found in the pastor’s study or the church lending room. Many of these books are a basis or a foundation of what can be expected in regards to doctrine. Pastors and teachers speak each week and many messages are based on a particular aspect of Christian doctrine. In essence, they are standing to share the “correct opinion” of what the Word of God has to say to the hearer.

The problem in much of what passes for American Christianity is that the orthodoxy rarely translates into orthopraxy. “Correct opinion” of the Word of God is not being seen as “correct deeds or actions” either within the church or outside of the church.

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Orthodoxy vs. Orthopraxy means:

  1. We believe God’s Word is sufficient for all that pertains to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3), AND we practice this in each aspect of our daily walk.
  1. We believe the law of Christ (Luke 10:27), AND we show that we love God and our neighbor through daily interaction.
  1. We believe we are to have godly families (Ephesians 5 & 6), AND we show to those closest to us that our correct opinion translates into correct actions.
  1. We believe we are to be lights to a dark, sin-sick world (Matthew 5:16), AND we strive to share the truth of the Gospel by reaching out to those around us.
  1. We believe church is to be a fellowship of true blood-bought believers (1 Peter 1 & 2), AND we practice fellowship by desiring to spend MORE time than just 1 hour and 20 minutes on a Sunday morning each week.
  1. We believe church should be a representation of the fellowship we will enjoy together for all of eternity, AND we work diligently not to let minor things separate us.
  1. We believe covenanting together in Christian unity (Acts 2), AND we stop shopping for the next big fad on the Christian church horizon.
  1. We believe pastor-teachers are called to edify and exhort and encourage the local body of Christ (Ephesians 4), AND we refuse to compare them with the latest and greatest speakers on TV, radio, or internet.
  1. We believe pastor-teachers are to protect the flock (1 Peter 5), AND we take comfort as they lead us in straight paths instead of looking for reasons to leave.
  1. We believe we are to bear one another’s burden (Galatians 6), AND we take an active interest in the lives of those we have covenanted together with to ensure that needs are being met (including emotional and spiritual needs).
  1. We believe Christ died for His Bride (Ephesians 5), AND we take delight in loving and forgiving those for whom He died.
  1. We believe Christ forgives us of our sins (1 John 1), AND we do not hold unforgiveness or bitterness in our hearts toward those who can NEVER wrong us to the degree that we did to Christ before He saved us.
  1. We believe strife and contention are not part of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5), AND we refuse to take needless offense when others don’t respond JUST like we do or JUST like we expect them to do.
  1. We believe prayer is vital in the life of every true believer (James 5:16), AND we learn to discipline our lives and the life of the church to pray without ceasing.
  1. We believe only Christ is Perfect (1 Peter 1), AND we encourage each other to become more like Christ daily instead of demanding perfection from imperfect sinners saved by grace.
  1. We believe the Scriptures are infallible and inspired by God (2 Peter 1:21), AND we stop running to the local so-called Christian bookstore for the latest drivel that makes vain attempts to make us feel better about ourselves.
  1. We believe we are not to be conformed to the world (Romans 12), AND this means we will stop liking and loving what God hates. Wizardry, witches, demonology, vampires, titillating reality shows, etc. are NOT what God likes. In fact, if you can love these things of the world, 1 John makes it clear that the love of God is not in you and you are NOT a true believer.
  1. We believe we are but sojourners in this world (Hebrews 11), AND we strive to keep our focus on things of heaven and to have a continual perspective of eternity.

These are just a few ways in which we must grow in our spiritual walk if we are to make a difference in the world. All of the orthodoxy (or correct opinion) of God’s Word will never change you or those who know you unless it can be seen that such orthodoxy transforms you into having a biblical orthopraxy (or correct deeds).

The church has no business even claiming they believe correct orthodoxy if they do not also believe and strive to practice correct orthopraxy.

So, the question is this for each of us to consider today and every day – does your orthopraxy proclaim your orthodoxy or does your orthodoxy get in the way of your orthodoxy?

A Perverted Rainbow

Today, America wakes up to its first full day of celebrating a law that mocks God and biblical marriage. People are faced with a choice. Do we obey man or do we obey God? This ruling is going to cause some to abandon the beliefs of the Bible. Many in a church social club, I formerly pastored in California, will be rejoicing in the diversity of America. That group of people, along with millions more, abandoned the faith a long time ago in favor of votes that kept biblical marriage from defined as one man and one woman.

However, that was just a small part of the problem. The problem goes all the way back to the beginning of earth’s history. You see, dear readers, the reality is that EVERYTHING God created was good. It was perfect. There were no weeds, no thorns, no crying, no death, and no sin of any kind. God created one man and one woman with the command to take care of the earth and to populate the earth.

Sin entered the world because of a promise that Satan made to Adam and Eve. If you just listen to me, your eyes will be opened and you will be “just like God.” He was wrong and the perversions of everything that was good began.

God ordained marriage between one man and one woman only.
Satan perverted it and said that marriage could be between two or more of whatever your lustful heart craves.

God ordained marriage to be a holy union between one man and one woman to bring forth children.
Satan perverted that and said you can shack up with whoever and whatever you want, and if you want more to your cause, recruit them from the children being born.

God ordained government to bear righteous rule over the peoples of earth.
Satan perverted that and said governments can be opposition to each other and more importantly, that they can stand against God and His Anointed One, Jesus Christ.

God decreed that a flood would destroy the world and only those INSIDE the ark would be saved from the total destruction.
Satan perverted that and said that the drinking, marrying, carousing, debauchery, and wickedness was a great way to live and to ignore the ramblings of the crazy, religious, bigoted, preacher of doom. After all, God is a God of love. He won’t destroy anybody.

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THE WORLD PERISHED!

After the flood, God created a rainbow to be His seal in the heavens. It was a declaration to show the mercy and longsuffering of God. The rainbow was His picture to a depraved world that while He would never again destroy the world with a flood, He would be coming again. The next time He comes, there will be no rainbows. There will only be fire and total destruction of ALL that stand opposed to Him.

The true rainbow is made up of 7 different primary colors of a spectrum. It is a beautiful reminder of the wonder that God long holds up His wrath and judgment against the wickedness of this world. Seven in the Bible indicates perfection and completion.

However, Satan perverted that sign and it is now used around the world as a symbol of “gay pride.” It has only 6 colors. Six in the Bible is the number of man. This “rainbow” is not a true rainbow, but is a symbol of perversion, debauchery, sodomy, lust, pedophilia, and bestiality – just to name a few. The one below is a perversion, and for the record, the White House KNEW what was coming and this was done deliberately. Read Psalm 2 for the conclusion.

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If you are one who claims the name of Christ, you cannot celebrate what took place yesterday any more than you can celebrate the mass murder of babies in America through the means of abortion. Woe to those who call evil good, and who call good evil. God will not be mocked. Destruction is coming and the world will perish.

If you are reading this and think that this is the final conclusion of the LGBT community, then you have been duped. The LGBT community will NOT stop until the next step of Satan’s agenda has been accomplished and accepted. Polygamy will soon be accepted. The age of consent will be dropped just as is happening in other parts of the world. Adherents of LGBT, PFLAG, and NAMBLA cannot have their own children and will only grow as they prey on more and more young people trying to entice them to a life of lust-filled debauchery that will never offer anything but disease and heartache for it is not what God ordained.

Soon, this blog may be taken down because it will be considered hate speech. I know that day is coming. Many companies openly rejoice in the ruling by SCOTUS. One day soon, true believers will be given a choice to conform to the world’s standards or lose their jobs.

My prayer is that each of you who know Christ will seek to love those around you. Stand fast in the faith and know that greater is He that is within us than the evil one who thinks he rules the world. Encourage your hearts knowing that God is and always will remain the Sovereign of all creation. He is coming again and whether we die by old age or martyrdom, we will be with Him for all eternity. So, let us go through each day, one day at a time, and remember that this world is not our home.

Live Today as If it Were Your Last

Yesterday a friend of mine went to be with Jesus. He was in his mid-twenties and left behind his mom, dad, brother, sister-in-law, nephew, wife of only a couple years, and a myriad of friends and family who are shocked and grieving. We do not grieve as those who have no hope but we are sad for the void we are feeling. Today we see through a glass darkly, but we know that everything happens for good to those who love God. And so we hold on to that and the peace in knowing that we will see Him again one day.

This sudden, unexpected death of someone so young has me thinking again about the importance of letting people know what they mean to you. This is something you cannot do enough. I don’t think anyone can receive too many hugs or kind words or “I love you”s. When they are lying in a coffin, it will be too late, and the grief will be worse if you did not take time for that person while they were alive.

In church today, the pastor read from Ephesians 2:1-10. I have been thinking about verses 1-7 especially: “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” I am so grateful for God’s continual work in my life but I grieve for those who have not yet been cleansed and renewed by the power of God’s grace. How hopeless life must be for them. As sad as I am about my friend’s death, I know where he is. I know I will see him again. A friend of mine was also touched by a young, unexpected death this week but, in that case, the young man and his family don’t know the Lord. How especially tragic that is!

No one knows they have tomorrow. I don’t. You don’t. But we can live each day as if it were our last. We can make sure that we are kind to others. We can wake up each morning, asking God to show us how we can best serve Him. We can tell our friends and family how much we love them. Better to wear them out by telling them often than not to tell them at all. Don’t neglect to hug and kiss your spouse and children goodbye before you leave the house. You don’t know if that could be the last hug or kiss you give them.

Life is short. We know that and, yet, we tend to live as if we have forever. We don’t.

Lastly, make sure that you are living a life that will allow you to meet Jesus with joy instead of shame. Don’t waste your life with selfish pursuits but strive to walk in the Spirit so that you do not fulfill the lusts of the flesh. The Holy Spirit will help you if this is your sincere desire.

When I get to Heaven, I want to know that I fulfilled God’s purpose for my life. I pray I will have impacted someone’s life positively and helped him or her to draw closer to the Lord through the things I said and did. I don’t want anyone close to me to wonder if I loved them. If there are good things said about me at my funeral, I pray that God gets the glory, for, without Him, there is nothing good in me. With Him, I can testify that God is alive! His grace is amazing! His love is real! And His mercy is incredible! For, you see, there was a day that I did not know Him like I do today. I am so thankful that He looked down and saw this poor, pitiful creature and saw what I could be instead of what I was. I still don’t do everything perfectly. I still struggle. But I am striving to stay in the Word, to not neglect daily prayer and worship, to seek God’s will and to be willing to grow. I’m grateful He sees my heart, and I pray that He will continue to show me the wicked ways in me and lead me to life everlasting. On that day, I expect I will temporarily forget all my loved ones that I miss right now. I will be fully focused on Jesus, waiting for my chance to look into His eyes. Will I see disappointment or love? I imagine there will be a bit of nervousness. But, once I see those eyes of love looking back at me and hear Him say, “Welcome Home, my child. Enter into your rest,” I picture myself running into His arms and letting Him hold me for a very long time while the tears flow unhindered. In many ways, I cannot wait for that day but, until then, God has a plan for my life, and I must occupy until He comes. God, help me to be faithful. I hope that is your earnest prayer as well.

Fruit of the Spirit 3: Peace

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” (John 14:27).

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Ultimate peace: fearing nothing. I doubt very many of us could say there is nothing that we fear but the truth is, for those who know the Lord, we never have a genuine reason to be afraid. Philippians 4:6-7 tells us, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” That is the key: present your requests with thanksgiving, and trust God to take care of the situation. Once you hand it to Him, truly release it. He will carry your burden so that you don’t have to.

Like love and joy, peace is something others notice. In this world of constant change and turmoil, peace is a rare commodity but one that many would like to possess. You have the ability to do so.

I realize if you have walked in fear a long time, this may be difficult for you, but I encourage you to consciously work to get there. Start by thanking God that He is in control of a situation, even if you have no idea what in the world He’s doing. Thank Him for His love and His care. Ask Him to remove all fear and wariness from you and replace it with His peace. Do this as long as it takes until you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that He is listening and has only good in store for you. His definition of “good” may be different than yours but it will be good in the end.

peace1Be encouraged, dear Brothers and Sisters. This world is not our final Home. One day all the things that trouble us here will be gone forever. I am looking forward to that day but, for now, let’s do our best to walk in the Spirit so that we do not fulfill the lusts of the flesh.