Love Not Hate

There are many people with whom I disagree, but it doesn’t mean I hate them. Even if they hate what I stand for and call me names, I do not hate them. Satan would like it if I were to hate them but I will not. I confess that it is hard at times but that’s why I commend this to God and ask Him for help. Only God can give me the strength and fortitude to stand strong in the face of opposition. Only God can love me with a love that spills out for others to see that glorifies Him.

In the past, I didn’t always think this way (not that I am perfect now) and for that I confess my sins and repent of my behavior. Not that I necessarily hated the people with whom I was disagreeing, but I can see now how some of my statements would come off that way. You see, I have often taken to social media to express my beliefs and run to the defense of like-minded people/organizations. As if those who oppose them are going to be swayed by anything I say or write. At times, I have been downright feisty – sometimes to the point of my heart racing with emotions and crossing the line at times. Once again, I repent.

As Christians, we are never going to lead people to the Truth – Jesus Christ – through hatred, but only through love. You can’t hate someone and then proclaim Christ to them. It’s as it says in James 3:10-12…

10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. 11 Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? 12 Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.

I regret the bridges that I have burned through hasty speech on social media and through other mediums. God forgive me. Brothers and sisters, let us bridle our tongues/words as we engage those with whom we disagree. Don’t come off as arrogant, morally self-righteous, or anything of the sort. Humbly approach each and every person and situation with the love of Christ – genuinely wanting people to come to the knowledge of the Truth. Pray for your heart. Pray for those who oppose you. Pray for your words. May blessings flow and not curses, that God may be glorified.

Holy God, bless the fountain that is my mouth and have holy dominion over my tongue. May the words that enter the arena for others to see/hear be holy words that glorify You. May disagreements be seen as mission fields and not battle grounds – opportunities to witness to the Truth. May my words be Your Words. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

Confident Praying

For you are my rock and my fortress; and for your name’s sake you lead me and guide me; you take me out of the net they have hidden for me, for you are my refuge. Into your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O Lord , faithful God. [Psalms 31:3‭-‬5 ESV]


Just think on those verses for a moment. Go ahead, I’ll wait…

[Pondering]

…and now consider this: Into your hand I commit my spirit are words that Jesus prayed while on the cross – right before he breathed his last breath (Luke 23:46). With his dying breath he was praying the Word of God. No doubt, the rest of this Psalm was on his heart as he was dying:

~ You are my rock and fortress.
~ For Your name’s sake You, oh Father, lead me and guide me.
~ You are my deliverer – taking me out of their net.
~ You are my refuge.
~ My life is Yours for You have redeemed me.
~ Father, You are faithful.

What a powerful prayer to be prayed at that time. A prayer of faith, for Jesus knows the Father like no one else. Jesus knew what was coming and thus he endured the cross FOR YOU. Jesus knew his Father was and is faithful. Jesus knew God’s plan would be fulfilled. Jesus knew God would be glorified. Knowing all of this, Jesus prayed with confidence – praying for your salvation – and with his dying breath.

And now, we sit here on this side of the cross looking back. Looking back to see Jesus’ incredible love for you and for me. He died for our sins and rose from the grave that we could have the hope of the resurrection. He committed his life to God and His plan of redemption so we could be saved. What an awesome God we have. Knowing this and knowing that God wants to hear from us, it behooves us to commune with Him.

But maybe you are feeling dry in your prayer life or just need something different. Try praying the Psalms like Jesus did. Pray Psalm 31, for example, and let the Holy Spirit carry you on a wave of joy – splashing you with the love of God. Start with verse one and then meditate – praying what comes to mind, and then move on to the next verse and so on – taking your time. It is like you are carrying on a conversation with God. He speaks to you through His Word and you pray back to him. And then God speaks and then you. What a fun scene. A child and daddy communing together in intimate joy.

If you run out of time, that’s alright. Just pick up where you leave off next time. Pray, pray and pray some more. Pray with confidence – in faith – and through your dying breath, knowing:
~ God is your rock and fortress.
~ For His name’s sake, God will lead and guide you.
~ God is your deliverer – taking you out of the nets set for you.
~ God is your refuge.
~ Your life is His for God has redeemed you through Jesus Christ.
~ Your Father is faithful.

Jesus prayed this with complete confidence and thus, through faith, you can and should as well. God wants you to. Give thanks and praise and worship to God – committing your life to Him. Pray confidently, as Jesus did. Take refuge in God and chat with your heavenly daddy. He’s waiting for you.

So, are you ready? Okay then, let’s pray…

Not Dragged Off

Psalm 28:3 (ESV) ~ “Do not drag me off with the wicked, with the workers of evil, who speak peace with their neighbors while evil is in their hearts.

Have you ever felt this way following the realization that you have willingly submitted to temptation? Have you ever just dropped to you knees and pleaded with God to not drag you off with the wicked? There have been many times when I have come to realization that I have done something contrary to God’s Law/commands and wonder why God continues to put up with me. Sometimes I half expect a lightening bolt to strike me down or worse yet, that scary scene from the 1990 movie “Ghost” (Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze). Remember that – when the bad guy dies and then some dark figures come out of the shadows to drag their soul away? Please God, do not drag me off with the wicked.

The psalmist here is crying out to God, knowing that if his cries fall on deaf ears, he will be confined to the pit. But, Blessed be the Lord! For he has heard the voice of my pleas for mercy. (Psalm 28:6) Through faith in Jesus Christ, your cries for mercy do not fall on deaf ears. You are a sinner, that is true, and that is why you need a Savior – Jesus Christ. For those who do not willingly serve sin, call upon Jesus; knowing that he is your strength and shield, and trust in him for The Lord is the strength of his people; he is the saving refuge of his anointed. (Psalm 28:8) For those who belong to Jesus, you can have this hope for he died and rose FOR YOU that you would not be dragged away with the wicked.

Oh God, I praise you that through Jesus Christ, You have redeemed my life from the pit. I know I am a sinner. I know I have and will give in to temptation. I know I have and will disobey You. Oh God, may my heart be inclined to You, that I will not strive to satisfy the desires of my flesh but rather strive to know You more and more. Have mercy on me, oh God and give me strength, for You are my fortress and shield. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

Face seeking

Psalm 27:7–8 (ESV) ~ “Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud; be gracious to me and answer me! You have said, “Seek my face.” My heart says to you, “Your face, Lord, do I seek.”

I find myself doing a lot of face-seeking these days, but the seeking I’m doing is very specific. The congregation I serve is exploring the possibility of purchasing a property of our own. Currently we rent space in a county community center in a park. Do we purchase this property that is outside our original search area or do we stay put? So many questions. So much uncertainty.

So the “face” I am seeking is God’s. Not literally, of course, like Moses who was told that no one can see God face to face and live.
I am seeking God to listen and obey.
I am seeking God for peace and courage to go where He leads.
I am seeking God for reassurance and wisdom.
I am seeking God in order that I may lead this congregation rightly.
Many are seeking answers to questions – seeking to dot all the “i’s” and cross all the “t’s”. Many are seeking definitive proof and evidence that we will not fail if we move. Many are seeking financial assurances. And granted, we have to do our due diligence to explore this property, but at some point we just need to stop and trust God – to seek His face; listening and obeying.

Without the face of God, fear creeps in to cloud our vision. Satan prowls in order to devour. We need to seek the face of God that we may be faithful but also to be reminded of the FACT that God our Father, through Jesus Christ, is our hope and refuge – our defender and shield.

And so my prayer is for hearts to be tuned in to God, that face-seeking be the goal and faithfulness abound, no matter how the vote turns out on Sept 8. Whatever it is in YOUR life that you are facing, seek the face of God – always – and be at peace in Him.

Found In You

My thoughts drift towards You, oh God, as I seemly gaze into another world. To others I look distant, disconnected and lost, but I know I’m found in You.
Through Jesus I am found in You.
You capture my attention as I leave the world behind. The world is persistent, though, as it continues to beckon for me to return, but it’s You for whom I long.
Only You.
The world moves and shouts but I stare right through it –
not noticing,
not paying attention,
lost in my found-ness
The world wants me but I want You more.
The world says its beautiful but it can not compare in the slightest to You.
Some call this daydreaming but You are not a dream. You are my reality. Some call this wasting time, but no time is wasted with You.
Oh God, the world is loud, so please hold my gaze that I may get lost in being found in You.

Peace and Division

Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. [Luke 12:51 ESV]

Seems like a strange thing for Jesus to say. After all, isn’t he the Prince of Peace? Doesn’t he give peace that surpasses all understanding? When the disciples see him after his resurrection Jesus says, “Peace be with you“. So why would Jesus say something like this? Well, look carefully at what he says, Do you think that I have come to give peace ON EARTH? That’s the distinction. Here on earth, there will be division on account of the Gospel. Jesus didn’t come with the intent to divide people but rather knowing that the Gospel would do just that because people are sinners. In John 15, Jesus warned his disciples that if the world hates him they will hate them. And isn’t that the truth. Yet, many people are so afraid of division. Can’t we all just get along? I am all for getting along with people, but when it comes to the Gospel, we must stand firm. We must respect people. We must love people. We must listen to people. But when it comes to the Gospel, if division occurs, then so be it. It is better to be at odds with the world than with God. Amen? The Gospel will produce division. That we have seen, but don’t mistake what Jesus says. He IS still the Prince of Peace and he DOES give a peace that surpasses all understanding. Standing firm on God’s Word in Jesus name, you can have peace in the midst of division. May your witness then, bring peace to people who are at odds with the Gospel. Amen!

Fight

Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.
[Jude 1:3‭-‬4 ESV]

My Twitter handle is “Feisty Pastor”. I don’t know where that came from; whether from me or someone else, but I think it is pretty descriptive. I have been known to be a little feisty from time to time; especially when I see the faith being attacked, watered-down, twisted, or perverted as the author of Jude alluded. It especially bothers me when people from within the Church are perverting the Word of God. They do this because they have been seduced by the world to conform – violating Paul’s admonition in Romans 12. They have crept in unnoticed and have lead many people astray. As a Christian and pastor/feisty pastor, I will not stand idly by and watch the perversion happen. I will contend for the faith, because the Word of God is Life and to water it down saves no one. Christian, will you contend for the faith? Will you fight for that which is of utmost importance? How do we fight you may ask? By staying true to the Word of God in the face of opposition; serving as an example to the world. Stand firm then – to contend for the faith is a hill worth dying on. Jesus did — all for you.

Amen.