My Thoughts On The 2016 Presidential Election

How to vote in this election

How I will vote in this election
With this election, I am going to the voting booth not “supporting” a candidate. I am voting for the one that I believe will do the best job for the citizens of this country; which includes my family.

Neither of the candidates align closely with want I would like to see.

The candidates have a history and skill set that they bring to the table. Both good and bad.

I am not voting to stop someone else from being the president. I am voting for one over the others because I believe they will make wiser choices than the others.

I am not voting for a fictional ideal candidate nor am I thumbing my nose at the candidates because they do not meet the standards of my ideal candidate – to do so would be to “throw away” my freedoms.

I am voting based on the given choices that are available to me because we live in a free country – America. I will vote for the person that I perceive will help to keep us free and lessen the growing tyranny of “government reach” into our lives.

Before I vote, I will research the available candidates and see where they stand on the issues that matter to me. I will do this not just for the president but for everyone I will vote for.

I believe that voting is too important to vote along party lines. I will vote for each candidate individually.

I would desire that you vote the same way I do; but I will still love and care for you regardless of who you vote for – that is what a free country like America stands for. You and I can still be friends with no change in our relationship if you vote differently than I do.

I will not listen to the spewing of hate and lies about America – we have, since our inception, been the champion of freedom and compassion to the entire world. We are not perfect, and I would like to see everyone, especially fellow Americans, stop expecting us to be. We are still that people at heart; it is our government that is not.

As I vote, I will pray for all that is good with our country and that God will continue to have mercy on us. I will pray that the elections are fair and that the “people’s vote” counts. But I will vote.

Capital Punishment, A Biblical View Of The Death Penalty

Every now and then the topic of capital punishment, or the death penalty, becomes front and center in the public spotlight. These news stories are chosen because there is an angle, or twist, to the story that will serve the mainstream media’s objective to stop all capital punishment. Usually, it is a case where the circumstances are such that people who are undecided about the topic might be swayed to the anti-death penalty view that is being propagated by an ever growing amoral society. This nation has become so ‘nonjudgmental’, that sometimes people who cause the death of someone are not even punished at all! Perpetrators are pitied while victims and their families are forgotten. Christians can’t allow themselves to buy into this foolish thinking.

I can’t forget this one case about fifteen years ago. A person in Texas was executed for murdering a couple. There were no twists to this case; nothing iffy. Prior to the execution, the usual groups that decry capital punishment were there, speaking on behalf of the guilty. But what was unusual about this execution was the involvement of the religious community. Men such as Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson were atypically calling for clemency. Why? Because the convicted person professed becoming a ‘born again Christian’ while awaiting execution.

The joy of one sinner repenting and being born again is one we all share, but this begs two questions. Should this affect our view of capital punishment? And does forgiveness by God mean the removal of consequences?

Christians must know God’s will in matters being debated in this country. If we don’t, who will speak up? We cannot expect a humanistic society to chance upon what is right. Civilization without God’s guidance would self-destruct.

Capital punishment bible flag and constitutionLong ago God observed, how great the wickedness of mankind was on the earth, and that every plan devised by his mind was nothing but evil all the time.  And He said to Noah, ‘The end of all flesh has come before Me, for the earth is filled with violence through them” [Gen. 6:5, 13]. It was because of violence that God wiped out all life, saving only the lives in the ark. God did not want a repeat of the violence that characterized the former world. And when Noah left the ark, God made it very clear commanding, “Surely for your life blood I will demand a reckoning,” and “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man his blood shall be shed” [Gen. 9:5, 6]. This commandment was part of God’s ‘New World Order’ for the human race.

God said through Moses, ”You shall not take a ransom for the life of a murderer who is guilty of death, he shall surely be put to death.” “You shall not pollute the land, for blood pollutes the land and no atonement can be made for the land for the blood that is shed on it except by the blood of him who shed it” [Num. 35:31-33]. Today, our country/land  must be blood red.

Now then, a murderer can be forgiven. By confession and repentance, God will forgive. But the consequences don’t go away! David, when he turned to God asking forgiveness for murder, was told, “The Lord has put away your sin” [David being King could not be executed]. However, the punishment previously pronounced by Nathan was not rescinded; therefore David suffered the destruction of his immediate family, and the death of three of his sons [2 Sam. 12:9-ff]. The Bible teaches that a truly penitent person never complains about their punishment – never! As Paul said, “If I am an offender, or have done anything worthy of death, I do not object to dying” [Acts 25:11].

It is God’s will that we live in a safe society. Paul, speaking about rulers and authority, wrote, “For it, [authority], is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is God’s minister to inflict wrath on the wrongdoer” [Rom. 13:4]. The sword is supposed to be a symbol of  harsh punishment, not probation and psychiatric counseling. Criminals are not afraid of the justice system today. Believe it or not, prison does not put fear in the worst criminals. And in some subcultures, it is a ‘rite of passage.’ In a country where the average time served for murder is 5.9 years, it is no wonder it is not safe out there.

Capital punishmentAll systems have flaws because we, being human, make mistakes. However, we should at least try to do things in a God-directed manner. The Bible, in the writings of Moses, has the most sensible rules for justice. Did you know that crimes against property or self were not punished as severely as now? Only crimes against persons were harshly punished. However, in today’s society, if someone steals a child they often serve less time than someone that steals money from a bank. Solomon, the king, saw and lamented the lack of justice in Israel. The prophets also complained about the injustices of their day.

It is not surprising that there are people who will oppose fair and just punishment, but God’s people should not be standing with them. We should know better. For you who hunger and thirst for righteousness, remind yourself of this, “Then He will sit on His glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before Him. And He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world’. Then He will say to those on the left, ‘Depart you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels’.” Amen

Reader’s Digest – Why I Am Not Renewing My Subscription

Reader's Digest - Why I Am Not Renewing My Subscription This morning I sent this letter (via email) to Readers Digest.  Although I did it my self, I do hope you are moved to do the same thing.

We are choosing not to renew any of our subscriptions with Readers Digest. It is unfortunate as my family, as well as my parents’ families (on both my and my wife’s side), have always enjoyed reading Readers Digest from cover to cover.

Those subscriptions, as well as the ones we have given as gifts, will not be renewed.

Our reason is simple – as a business Readers Digest has decided to take a side in the culture war on homosexuality. I (we) no longer want to read another article promoting a lifestyle that is deadly and immoral. This issue can be looked at both from a religious perspective, as well as a secular (non-religious) perspective.

Religious – it’s immoral. It’s a sin against the Creator of the universe. Both the Old Testament and New Testament declare it to be sin.

Secular – it is against the principal tenant of natural selection (The process whereby organisms better adapted to their environment tend to survive and produce more offspring). It is also one of the most destructive lifestyles (the CDC’s own statistics). The homosexual lifestyle does not provide the ideal environment for children; it provides a destructive unhealthy environment full of contradictions and unmet needs.

In both of the above ways many more reasons can be provided.

Readers Digest has had a disproportionate amount of articles celebrating, promoting and legitimizing the homosexual lifestyle. You have taken sides.

I do not expect those with different views in this great country to not be able to share them. Nor would I expect a secular, non-Godly business, like Readers Digest, to not have an article that mentions homosexuality. It’s part of being a free society.

I do not choose whom I will conduct business with by their religious beliefs, nor any other belief that is protected by our Constitution – i.e. a person’s view of homosexuality.

However, Readers Digest has crossed the line from being a magazine to being a pro-(particular) lifestyle magazine; therefore it is not for me or anyone else that is a Christian or knows the facts about homosexuality. Readers Digest is no longer for the general public, but for those that desire a radical change from not only religious beliefs about homosexuality, but also of basic scientific facts and natural selection.

Readers Digest is no longer a safe magazine to have around my house or business. Readers Digest is no longer a safe place to expose young and old minds to open thinking about life and what we all struggle with daily.

For my house and those that I purchase subscriptions for, we are choosing to spend our dollars elsewhere. I suspect that it is more of a disappointment to me than it is to you; although I wish that were not true. That alone, if true, speaks more about Readers Digest “agenda” than anything else I’ve said.

Christmas Carols We All Know – Or Knew

I miss hearing these songs.  My inspiration for this was a YouTube video by Journey of Faith doing one of those “Flash Mob” thingies…I posted their video here; it’s certainly worth watching.  If you would like to download the lyrics to these songs in a nice printable fashion you can do that here.  If you’re going to use them, please leave a comment below and share how you are going to do that. It would be a great blessing to me and others!

Christmas is about the birth of Jesus Christ – yes, we all know that December 25th is not Christ’s actual birthday – that really is not relevant.  What is relevant is that Christmas right here and right now is about the birth of Jesus Christ.  There are so many wonderful symbols about Christmas that point to the birth of Christ, right down to the name Christ(mas).  It’s a shame that there are a  few in this country that are trying to destroy this country’s history and Christmas along with it.

WE all need to bring Christmas back to December 25th…say Merry Christmas, shop at stores that recognize what the holiday is about, accept the greatest gift of all – Jesus, and be with family and friends.  Sing songs of joy and certainly don’t let our current government and some stores ruin your Christmas Spirit…

Merry Christmas to all –

Away In A Manger

Away in a manger,
No crib for His bed
The little Lord Jesus
Laid down His sweet head

The stars in the bright sky
Looked down where He lay
The little Lord Jesus
Asleep on the hay

The cattle are lowing
The poor Baby wakes
But little Lord Jesus
No crying He makes

I love Thee, Lord Jesus
Look down from the sky
And stay by my side,
‘Til morning is nigh.

Be near me, Lord Jesus,
I ask Thee to stay
Close by me forever
And love me I pray

Bless all the dear children
In Thy tender care
And take us to heaven
To live with Thee there

Go Tell It On The Mountain 

Go tell it on the mountain
Over the hills and far away
Go tell it on the mountain
That Jesus Christ is born

The shepherds all were watching
Over their sheep at night
When a guiding star shone from heaven
And the followed that holy light

Got tell it on the mountain
Over the hills and everywhere
Go tell it on the mountain
That Jesus Christ is born
They found a lovely manger
Where the humble Christ was born
And God sent out salvation
On that blessed Christmas morn

Go tell it on the mountain
Over the hills and everywhere
Go tell it on the mountain
That Jesus Christ is born

He brought with Him forgiveness
He live to show us the way
He came to redeem all creation
And to wash all our sins away

Go tell it on the mountain
Over the hills and everywhere
Go tell it on the mountain
That Jesus Christ is born

Hark The Herald Angels Sing

Hark the herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled”
Joyful, all ye nations rise
Join the triumph of the skies
With the angelic host proclaim:
“Christ is born in Bethlehem”
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”

Christ by highest heav’n adored
Christ the everlasting Lord!
Late in time behold Him come
Offspring of a Virgin’s womb
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see
Hail the incarnate Deity
Pleased as man with man to dwell
Jesus, our Emmanuel
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”

Hail the heav’n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings
Ris’n with healing in His wings
Mild He lays His glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”

It Came Upon The Midnight Clear

It came upon the midnight clear,
That glorious song of old,
From angels bending near the earth,
To touch their harps of gold:
“Peace on the earth, goodwill to men
From heavens all gracious King!”
The world in solemn stillness lay
To hear the angels sing.

Still through the cloven skies they come,
With peaceful wings unfurled;
And still their heavenly music floats
O’er all the weary world:
Above its sad and lowly plains
They bend on hovering wing,
And ever o’er its Babel sounds
The blessed angels sing.

O ye beneath life’s crushing load,
Whose forms are bending low,
Who toil along the climbing way
With painful steps and slow;
Look now, for glad and golden hours
Come swiftly on the wing;
Oh rest beside the weary road
And hear the angels sing.

For lo! the days are hastening on,
By prophets seen of old,
When with the ever-circling years
Shall come the time foretold,
When the new heaven and earth shall own
The Prince of Peace, their King,
And the whole world send back the song
Which now the angels sing.

Joy To The World, The Lord Is Come!

Joy to the World, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing.

Joy to the World, the Savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy.

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders, of His love.

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny
From depths of Hell Thy people save
And give them victory o’er the grave
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, O come, Thou Lord of might,
Who to Thy tribes, on Sinai’s height,
In ancient times did’st give the Law,
In cloud, and majesty and awe.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O Holy Night!

O Holy Night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Saviour’s birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining.
Till He appeared and the Spirit felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
O night divine, the night when Christ was born;
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!

Led by the light of faith serenely beaming,
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand.
O’er the world a star is sweetly gleaming,
Now come the wisemen from out of the Orient land.
The King of kings lay thus lowly manger;
In all our trials born to be our friends.
He knows our need, our weakness is no stranger,
Behold your King! Before him lowly bend!
Behold your King! Before him lowly bend!

Truly He taught us to love one another,
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother.
And in his name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
With all our hearts we praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! Then ever, ever praise we,
His power and glory ever more proclaim!
His power and glory ever more proclaim!

O Little Town Of Bethlehem

O little town of Bethlehem
How still we see thee lie
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by
Yet in thy dark streets shineth
The everlasting Light
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight

For Christ is born of Mary
And gathered all above
While mortals sleep, the angels keep
Their watch of wondering love
O morning stars together
Proclaim the holy birth
And praises sing to God the King
And Peace to men on earth

How silently, how silently
The wondrous gift is given!
So God imparts to human hearts
The blessings of His heaven.
No ear may his His coming,
But in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive him still,
The dear Christ enters in.

O holy Child of Bethlehem
Descend to us, we pray
Cast out our sin and enter in
Be born to us today
We hear the Christmas angels
The great glad tidings tell
O come to us, abide with us
Our Lord Emmanuel

Silent Night, Holy Night

Silent night, holy night
All is calm, all is bright
Round yon Virgin Mother and Child
Holy Infant so tender and mild
Sleep in heavenly peace
Sleep in heavenly peace

Silent night, holy night!
Shepherds quake at the sight
Glories stream from heaven afar
Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia!
Christ, the Saviour is born
Christ, the Saviour is born

Silent night, holy night
Son of God, love’s pure light
Radiant beams from Thy holy face
With the dawn of redeeming grace
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth ”

The First Noel

The First Noel, the Angels did say
Was to certain poor shepherds in fields as they lay
In fields where they lay keeping their sheep
On a cold winter’s night that was so deep.
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel
Born is the King of Israel!

They looked up and saw a star
Shining in the East beyond them far
And to the earth it gave great light
And so it continued both day and night.
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel
Born is the King of Israel!

And by the light of that same star
Three Wise men came from country far
To seek for a King was their intent
And to follow the star wherever it went.
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel
Born is the King of Israel!

This star drew nigh to the northwest
O’er Bethlehem it took its rest
And there it did both Pause and stay
Right o’er the place where Jesus lay.
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel
Born is the King of Israel!

Then entered in those Wise men three
Full reverently upon their knee
And offered there in His presence
Their gold and myrrh and frankincense.
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel
Born is the King of Israel!

Then let us all with one accord
Sing praises to our heavenly Lord
That hath made Heaven and earth of nought
And with his blood mankind has bought.
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel
Born is the King of Israel!

The Twelve Days of Christmas

On the first day of Christmas,
my true love sent to me
A partridge in a pear tree.

On the second day of Christmas,
my true love sent to me
Two turtle doves,
And a partridge in a pear tree.

On the third day of Christmas,
my true love sent to me
Three French hens,
Two turtle doves,
And a partridge in a pear tree.

On the fourth day of Christmas,
my true love sent to me
Four calling birds,
Three French hens,
Two turtle doves,
And a partridge in a pear tree.

On the fifth day of Christmas,
my true love sent to me
Five golden rings,
Four calling birds,
Three French hens,
Two turtle doves,
And a partridge in a pear tree.

On the sixth day of Christmas,
my true love sent to me
Six geese a-laying,
Five golden rings,
Four calling birds,
Three French hens,
Two turtle doves,
And a partridge in a pear tree.

On the seventh day of Christmas,
my true love sent to me
Seven swans a-swimming,
Six geese a-laying,
Five golden rings,
Four calling birds,
Three French hens,
Two turtle doves,
And a partridge in a pear tree.

On the eighth day of Christmas,
my true love sent to me
Eight maids a-milking,
Seven swans a-swimming,
Six geese a-laying,
Five golden rings,
Four calling birds,
Three French hens,
Two turtle doves,
And a partridge in a pear tree.

On the ninth day of Christmas,
my true love sent to me
Nine ladies dancing,
Eight maids a-milking,
Seven swans a-swimming,
Six geese a-laying,
Five golden rings,
Four calling birds,
Three French hens,
Two turtle doves,
And a partridge in a pear tree.

On the tenth day of Christmas,
my true love sent to me
Ten lords a-leaping,
Nine ladies dancing,
Eight maids a-milking,
Seven swans a-swimming,
Six geese a-laying,
Five golden rings,
Four calling birds,
Three French hens,
Two turtle doves,
And a partridge in a pear tree.

On the eleventh day of Christmas,
my true love sent to me
Eleven pipers piping,
Ten lords a-leaping,
Nine ladies dancing,
Eight maids a-milking,
Seven swans a-swimming,
Six geese a-laying,
Five golden rings,
Four calling birds,
Three French hens,
Two turtle doves,
And a partridge in a pear tree.

On the twelfth day of Christmas,
my true love sent to me
Twelve drummers drumming,
Eleven pipers piping,
Ten lords a-leaping,
Nine ladies dancing,
Eight maids a-milking,
Seven swans a-swimming,
Six geese a-laying,
Five golden rings,
Four calling birds,
Three French hens,
Two turtle doves,
And a partridge in a pear tree!

We Wish You A Merry Christmas

We wish you a Merry Christmas;
We wish you a Merry Christmas;
We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Good tidings we bring to you and your kin;
Good tidings for Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Oh, bring us a figgy pudding;
Oh, bring us a figgy pudding;
Oh, bring us a figgy pudding and a cup of good cheer

We won’t go until we get some;
We won’t go until we get some;
We won’t go until we get some, so bring some out here
We wish you a Merry Christmas;
We wish you a Merry Christmas;
We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

What Child Is This

What Child is this who, laid to rest
On Mary’s lap is sleeping?
Whom angels greet with anthems sweet,
While shepherds watch are keeping?
This, this is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing;
Haste, haste, to bring Him laud,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.
Why lies He in such mean estate,
Where ox and ass are feeding?
Good Christians, fear, for sinners here
The silent Word is pleading.
Nails, spear shall pierce Him through,
The cross be borne for me, for you;
Hail, hail the Word made flesh,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.
So bring Him incense, gold, and myrrh,
Come peasant, king to own Him;
The King of kings salvation brings,
Let loving hearts enthrone Him.
Raise, raise a song on high,
The virgin sings her lullaby;
Joy, joy for Christ is born,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

Christmas Flash Mob by Journey of Faith at South Bay Galleria – Video

This was truly a wonderful video made by Journey of Faith at the South Bay Galleria.  The singers have such beautiful voices.  I have to admit, it’s hard not to get on your knees at the end of the video.  If you cry at things that tug at your heart, this will certainly get you.

One of the best video angles was when the camera was from above, you could see the girl singing and Santa next door.  Given a choice, I have to think that most people would choose singing Christmas Carols and being with friends and family.  What happened to Christmas Caroling?  I remember doing that when I was a young kid in Virginia.  Have you done that?  Are you doing that now?  If you are, here are some great carols you can use.   Get them here.

Enjoy and Merry Christmas to all !!

Lord Change Me: The Power Source

Sermon by James MacDonald of Harvest Bible Chapel on November 20th 2011

1A) The exhausting life. – The desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.  This is not God’s desire.

Pastor James said that this message may be the single most important breakthrough he’s had.

For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. (Romans 7:15-19 ESV)

I do not have the ability to change without God.

Where does the Christian power come from?  Pastor James said that this book on that topic by Charles Price changed his life –For Real.

2A) The exchanged life.

Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. (Romans 7:24, 25 ESV)

The power for the Christian life is not you.  It is Christ in you.  It’s about resignation and surrender to let Jesus work through you.

Jesus Christ is alive right now. He is here right now.  It has never been His intent to stand off to the side and watch us live our life.  Christ died for me and wants to live through me.

Pastor James read and talked about this book by W. Ian Thomas, The Saving Life of Christ

Other verses on the topic:

  • Galatians 2:20
  • 2 Corinthians 4:11 – wow!
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:14-24 look at verse 24 to see who will do it!
  • Romans 5:10

3A) The empowered life.

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. (Romans 8:1-13 ESV)

1b) Spirit filling defined. – Ephesians 5:18 is the pinnacle of new testament teaching on the filling of the Holy Spirit. Be filled with the Holy Spirit. To be overcome by a power greater than your own. To be controlled by. It’s not talking about having a little bit. Its saying “be filled”.

 2b) Spirit filling analyzed. – At conversion we get all of the Holy Spirit.  The question we need to ask is-does the Holy Spirit have all of me? One baptism, many fillings.

3b) Spirit filling illustrated. – Ephesians 5:18 says to not be filled with drunkenness but with the Holy Spirit.  When you are drunk, you have no control over your tongue, body or emotions.

4A) Proof of the Holy Spirit.

1b) Leading. v. 14 – The Holy Spirit will and does lead you.  You have to let it.

2b) Confidence. v. 15a – One of the truest indications of living life in the flesh is fear.  Living life in the Spirit, you will have confidence in your salvation and your place in God’s kingdom.

3b) Intimacy. v. 15b – God is our Abba Father – this is especially true for men as men need to look to the Father for replenishment.

4b) Security. v. 16 – It’s the job of the Holy Spirit to confirm that you are part of God’s family.  When you sin or grieve the Holy Spirit you are deadening yourself to the Spirit’s voice.  If you repeatedly do this you will eventually silence the Spirit’s prompting.

 5b) Identify. v.17 – What does God have in store for you as a believer?

5A) Hindrances to Spirit filling.

1b) Grieving the Holy Spirit. Doing things we shouldn’t – the spirit has to hear everything you say.  See everything you look at.  Participate in what you do.

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. (Ephesians 4:30 ESV)

2b) Quenching the Holy Spirit. Not doing things we should.

Do not quench the Spirit. (1 Thessalonians 5:19 ESV)

6A) How to be filled with the Spirit.

1b) Confess. 1 John 1:9 – Confess your sins

 2b) Ask. Luke 11:9-13 – Lord will you fill me with the Holy Spirit and drive out the darkness and doubt.  Do for me what I cannot do. Bring glory to yourself where I cannot.

3b) Believe.  Mark 11:24 – Believe.

Conclusion:

Moment by moment just lead me God.

Ok now get off of the flesh on “auto-pilot”.

Alcohol and Drunk Driving – A High Cost

So when I woke up this morning, I had no idea I was going to write about drunk driving; but everything changed when I saw some friends on Facebook with drinks in their hands and then started to read some of the blogs I’m signed up with.  One, the Phoenix Real  Estate Guy, had posted on  his experience with drinking and driving when someone he knew, 16 year old Kelly Tracey, was killed a couple of years ago.

The wave of frustration over the pointless deaths of so many people got to me and I needed to do a little research on the subject.

Why do so many people drive after they have been drinking?  Why does society put up with it?  Why is such a destructive drug so widely desired and given such a prominent place in our lives? Why is it socially acceptable to be intoxicated – to lose your inhibitions that protect you and cause you do to things that are naturally destructive?

Alcohol Facts:

  • Alcohol is bad for your health
  • This year, it is estimated that 10,800 people will die in a drunk driving crash
  • Alcohol destroys families
  • Every minute there is one person that is injured by alcohol related crashes
  • Alcohol directly causes death
  • Over 30% of all accidents involve alcohol
  • Alcohol changes your perception
  • One in three 8th graders drinks alcohol
  • Alcohol alters your thinking

I suggest that if you are reading this article, then change must start with you – whether you drink or not, the odds are 1 in 3 that you will be affected by a drunk driver in some way.

What you can do…

  1. Watch the video below – Warning: it is graphic with some disturbing images.  It is well worth your time and by far the best video I have seen on the subject
  2. Share this post with your friends by using your social media outlets
  3. Resolve to never drive with alcohol in your system
  4. Become more aware of the negative effects alcohol has on your health and family

Statistics and information were provided by:

  • The Century Council
  • MADD
  • National Highway Traffic Safety Association

 

Character Building 101 – Putting God First

Questions we must ask ourselves…am I giving God the priority in my day?  Am I starting my day (first fruits) with God by reading His Word – the Bible?  What are my goals for each day?  Am I seeking God’s kingdom and His righteousness in my life?  Do I design time with God like I do family, work and play?

Matthew 6:33
33But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

God promises that if you seek Him first, food, shelter and clothing will be provided to you; thus eliminating the need or the excuse to place work or the idea of working to survive ahead of seeking God first.  If our basic needs will be taken care of, what would be our reasoning for placing our priority for day to day living not on Him?  It would simply be to put our own personal desires for prosperity, pleasure and authority ahead of God…thus we are not putting God first.

This is difficult on a daily basis, especially when first starting, since most of us have grown up (especially in the American culture) thinking of me, me, me.  For me, I know that scheduling time on my calendar first thing in the morning and being consistent with it is the only way to overcome years of habit.

Image: Idea go / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

If we are honest with ourselves, we would say that the reason God is not placed first in our lives is because we have other priorities.  These priorities are not the same as God’s priorities for our life.  When I look at my priorities, it is easy for me to say they are based on providing for my family and doing the right thing.  In reality, if I was just trying to provide for my family, my day would look remarkably different.  My time, emotion and energy spent with my family would be just as intentional (love that word from my good friend Pastor Joe LaCognata) as it was in the time, emotion and energy I place in work and personal pleasure.

As people, we tend to be goal or outcome oriented; we strive for things or an outcome we desire.  Things like wealth, status, familiarity and comfort.  Putting God first would necessitate that we change what we strive for and go after things that are of God’s kingdom; thus, not what we consider our treasures.

Matthew 6:19-21
19Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

When we attempt to do this, it feels like a war in some ways.  Most of us would acknowledge that we want to put God first; however, it is a struggle to do so as we often do that which we do not want to do.  I have come to love this battle, as for me it is concrete proof of the war that wages inside of me; that of my spirit which desires God, and that of my flesh which desires self or sin. I am so grateful for Paul’s words in the book of Romans 7 that describes this battle in detail.

Romans 7:14-20
14For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. 15For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. 17So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.

There is a clear reason for this battle and it comes from the two natures that live inside us. It is not possible to serve or follow both.

Matthew 6:24
24No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.

The idea of putting God first means that nothing comes before Him.  For me, and I believe most people agree, that means giving God the first part of my day.  I look at it as the first fruits of each day – after all, every day is really a gift from God.

Life’s Instruction Manual

Life’s Instruction Manual

Do you read the instruction manual before using your new toy or setting up what you just bought?  Or perhaps you just dive in and see how it goes.  If you get stuck, then maybe, as a last resort, you’ll find the instructions, assuming you haven’t tossed them out.

Have you ever wished that life came with an instruction manual? Well if you did, there is good news; we have one.  In fact, it covers every facet of life, and if followed guarantees a better, more enjoyable and peaceful life.

Why am I writing this post?  Well, it’s quite simple really; I’m watching something happen with my kids as it relates to reading instructions.  For whatever reason, I’ve always been one of those that has to read the instructions before setting something up.  Since my kids were born, the first thing we do is read the instructions.  At first it was a little hard for them as they wanted to tear right in, but after time, they began to see the benefit.  Things worked the first time.  They knew all of the features of the toy.  They didn’t miss out on anything.  They were, in fact, happier, and enjoyed whatever it was much more.

Here’s where I may loose some of you, as I’m about to bring up a word that turns many people off, so let me just ask you to keep reading till the end as there is a point in it for you. Before my oldest could speak, I’ve called God’s Bible, “Life’s Instruction Manual”.  They see mom and dad reading it and talking about it.  My kids have heard it as part of their vocabulary, and now are thinking of it as a resource, at least the oldest two are (the younger two haven’t started to read yet).  The Bible speaks a lot about wisdom and understanding, what it is and how to get it.  My kids picked up on that part of the “instruction book” and talk a lot about what they do and if it is wise or not.  Another example is when my oldest was scared and couldn’t sleep because of seeing something about earthquakes, she turned to the Bible and found peace.  They are also understanding that true love is not a feeling but a set of actions that you choose to do.  By making those choices you get the feeling.  There are many, many more examples that I could give you, but you get the idea.

As an adult, I am still amazed by how much about life is contained in the Bible. From relationships and marriage to creating a life plan, developing a successful career, how to handle money, even how to resolve conflicts between two friends.  The Bible is a complete instruction manual for successful living; ironically, even for those that don’t believe it was written by God.  What did I just say?  You heard me correctly, you don’t even have to believe that the Bible was the inspired writing of God to enjoy some of the benefits contained in the book. Truth is truth right? Or to put it another way, the laws of life and nature keep working even if you don’t believe in them, and that my friends is a big part of what the Bible is; a Book about how life and nature works.  Of course for the believer it’s also a Book about how life begins, ends and a possibility of an eternal future.  Both for adults and kids…

Mosque At Ground Zero

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Sometimes you come across someone that says everything you want to say on a particular subject.  Pat Condell posted just such a piece on Jihad Watch titled, “Pat Condell on Ground Zero mosque: ‘Is it possible to be astonished, but not surprised?’”.  I definitely suggest that you watch the video.

I would like to go on record and say I am against the mosque being built, and I am embarrassed at the comments of President Obama.   I did not vote for him and cannot wait for his removal from office, either by impeachment or on November 6, 2012.

More than 3000 men, women and children died on September 11, 2001 at the hands of Muslim terrorists.  For the Muslim extremist and the Muslim religion, 911 signifies perhaps their greatest achievement against freedom and democracy; the mosque would simply be their marker of their achievement into eternity.  It would also signify another disgraceful turning point for America.

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