Aulne United Methodist Church
Thursday, October 19, 2017
Worship! Grow! Serve!

PJ's Blog

Who Knows What Evil Lurks in the Heart of Man?

 

 

A familiar phrase for some of you that remember the old radio broadcast of The Shadow. I remember my mother talking about it because to be quite honest there are probably not too many who would have been around to recall the old radio show that aired in 1937. That was the opening line to the show, “who knows what evil lurks in the heart of man?” The answer on the old radio program was, “the Shadow knows.” But, the only one who knows the evil in mankind’s heart is God.

 

Considering what has happened this week, I wanted to remind us that the only hope for evil being vanquished in this world is the heart of man being transformed by the person of Jesus Christ. No matter how many laws are legislated evil will overcome man’s laws. And in some cases, man’s laws are the source of evil. November 1938 Germany passes the Weapons Control law that took away the right of any Jew to possess a weapon of any kind, including knives. They then conducted a house to house search confiscating any weapons that may have been hidden. Then history reveals what took place after that…genocide. In 1918 the Communist government issued a decree that all firearms were to be turned over to local authorities (exempting Communist party members). After the citizenry was disarmed, historians have try to estimate the number of people Stalin killed. The evil that was in the heart of the Communist ruler killed 15-20 million, conservatively figured. Mao Zedong, the Chinese Communist dictator killed around 70 million through execution, forced labor camps, assassinations, and starvation. When it comes to evil being carried out no amount of legislation can protect us from it.

 

The tragedy in Las Vegas this past Sunday was truly tragic. A man in Satan’s evil grip carried out a heinous act and took the lives of innocent people who were simply enjoying an evening of music. We need to pray for our nation. We need to pray for healing of those directly affected by the evil act of a determined person. But we also need to pray for our nation, that it would understand the times in which we live can only be redeemed by a Redeemer, Jesus. I always get discouraged when our politicians immediately charge in with legislative answers that they claim will fix everything. You cannot legislate away evil, no more than you can legislate good health. For all the claims of our nation’s leader to have intelligence about what is good for our country, they lack the ability to see the obvious. They legislated prayer out of school and that didn’t make our schools intellectually astute. It just took away God’s influence in our educational system. Evil will not rest in our nation until it is either vanquished by the righteousness of God abiding in the populace or the safeguards within our Constitution are abolished by a secular government and evil thinks it has won. John Adams observed that “our Constitution was made for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” The Constitution of the United States, in its original form, was based upon biblical principles to insure the freedom of the governed. Evil hates freedom and it will do anything to see freedom destroyed. The terrible hand of evil that was exercised in Las Vegas needs to be vanquished by the call to rally around freedom. Only one thing truly brings freedom and that is truth. John 8:32 tells us that “you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.” The world knows the truth yet it chooses to reject it. Our leaders know the truth that will transform our nation yet they choose to reject it. To acknowledge Jesus as the truth is to allow Him to Lordship. Too many today wish to be the master of their own destiny rather than allowing Jesus to lead them to freedom as a result Satan lies to them making them think that they are free. The Las Vegas shooter allowed himself to be seized by evil and as a result inflicted suffering on the innocent, no different than Hitler, Stalin, Mao Zedong, the Boston Bombers, terrorists around the world and all through history. Hell is full of souls like these mentioned who allowed evil to control them rather than letting Jesus set them free. The only answer for ridding the world of evil is Jesus.

 

In closing, I want to say that I was proud of the President’s words of consolation to the victims of the Las Vegas evil and to the nation. It was inspiring to hear him quote scripture once again from the podium of our nation’s highest office. Let us continue to pray for him and all our leaders and for our nation that evil will be vanquished by the Holy Spirit working through our leaders and our people.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is Happening in Our Nation is not a Coincidence

 

We live in strange times. It is hard to know where to start. I guess we could start with our great nation. Our nation has always been a beacon of freedom to the rest of the world. There are many today who would disagree with me, but they would simply be deniers of history. As of late the biggest controversy that is consuming all the oxygen of the media is the disrespect that NFL players are showing toward the flag and nation that has afforded them the freedom to protest. The problem is that freedom isn’t without responsibility. I have heard all the arguments over the last several days about players having the right to kneel and show the proper respect for our nation’s flag and national anthem, but the real problem is that those who engage in this protest over a pseudo grievance are ignorant of the responsibility that comes with freedom. There are many ways to protest a grievance without disrespecting the very source that gives you the freedom to display your discontent over an issue.

It was reported that a woman in North Korea was executed for watching a Hollywood movie. Her neighbors didn’t come out and rally to her defense. Groups of people did not march on the nation’s capital. Do you know why? Because they are not free. They are people held hostage by their nation. Their nation’s flag doesn’t represent freedom. The blood that their nation’s soldiers shed is not been so that the citizens could express their dissatisfactions with their government.  They cannot dream of improving their living conditions, or pursue their dreams. They do what their government tells them and they believe what their government tells them. Look around the world and you’ll be able to make a list of nations where freedom doesn’t reside and people cannot pursue happiness.

We have been so blessed by God as a nation that we have become calloused to the reasons for why we have freedom. Our educational system has absolutely failed to teach the tenets of how our freedom as a nation came to be. You cannot turn on the television without listening to someone deride our nation or its founders. Students at universities all around the country are being taught revised history from such leftist authors such as Howard Zinn and his work, A People’s History of the United States, which is a mutilation of history and selective in its reporting, and sources. It narrates the history of the United States from a leftist ideological viewpoint, leaving out vast amounts of historical information and portraying the United States of America, from its founding through its current existence, as illegitimate. This is just one example of what is taking place in the undermining of our nation and its past to affect its future.

At every turn, there is an offense being heralded by those who have an agenda to fundamentally change our nation, its history, its constitution and its future. The quote from George Orwell’s book, 1984 that states, “those who control the past control the future and those who control the present control the past.” Make no mistake that this is a principle being implemented all throughout our culture. I find it disheartening when I see the authority of Bible being challenged by our government, society and even the church itself. I have been repeatedly challenge for my adherence to the authority of God’s Word. It is a slippery slope to begin to challenge the Bible as the Word of God. For if the Bible isn’t viewed as the authoritative Word of God then where does the Church derive its authority? The only obvious answer is from the Church itself. If the Church becomes the authority over the Bible then we find ourselves adrift on the same ocean of secular humanism that the world seems to be flooded by.

We must begin to raise our voices in support of our convictions. We must not be afraid to shout our belief that the Bible is the Word of God! We must not be afraid to stand for the integrity of our nation’s history, because while it may not be without blemish, it is the best example in all of history of a people who were not afraid to fight injustice even if it is found within its own border.

Every nation in history has had its blemishes and dark moments. There has never been a perfect nation in all of history. But never has there been one with more conviction than the United States of America. And never has there been a nation whose founding has been more reliant upon the Bible, outside of ancient Israel, than the United States.

If we are not intentional about our action in supporting the Word of God as the authority for all life then we will be overwhelmed by the evil schemes of Satan. We must hold the line for the Bible being the inspired Word of God. And we must also hold the line in the cultural battle in which our nation finds itself in the midst. The enemy has a multi-front attack. We must stand for the right lest the wrong prevail.

 

 

 

The Connection Between Faith and Confession 

 

Therefore, I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. (NIV) Mark 11:24

 

I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you've received it, it will be yours.(New Living Translation) Mark 11:24

 

Therefore, I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them. (KJV)Mark 11:24

 

“Therefore, I say to you, that everything that you pray and ask, believe that you are receiving it and you shall have it.”(Aramaic Translation, Plain English)Mark 11:24

There are passages of scripture that challenge us. In fact, there are some passages that continually challenges our faith and how we engage it. This verse is an example of those passages that challenge me. Many struggle with these kinds of scripture passages because we have all prayed for things that we apparently never received. There is a whole movement that has been built around the idea that God will give us whatever we desire. But I think that there is a misunderstanding or an element left out.

 

I certainly believe that the Word of God is true. I believe that whatever Jesus says, that there is no veiled meaning, but that He meant it as He said it. So, in Mark 11:23 when Jesus says, For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says,” He was telling us to allow our faith to believe in the impossible.

 

And if we begin to analyze more closely what Jesus is telling us in Mark 11:23-25 we can then begin to understand what He is really saying to us about the connection between faith(believing) and confession(our speech). We must remember the learning triad of Think, Be, Do for us to make the connection with what Jesus is telling us. Remember Romans 12:2 says, Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will. (NIV) I like how the New Living Translation Bible puts it, “Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” Salvation is about believing that Jesus died to not only save us from our sin, but to transform us into His likeness in order that we can lead others to Him. The transformation starts with changing how we think. How can we change our thoughts if we are sabotaging our thoughts with negativity and doubts by saying, I don’t know if God will answer that prayer or not.” I am not promoting a name it and claim it perspective where God is our cosmic sugar daddy, but rather reinforcing our faith and trust that He will do what His Word says He will do. The other element in the faith building process is to trust God’s timing rather than our own. Once again, I am not proposing a controversial doctrine, but rather simply practicing trust in God in the area of prayer and relying on His Word. My mother prayed for my father’s salvation for nearly thirty years, she never waivered.  

 

When we pray it is important how we think. Because as a man thinks so is his belief. And his beliefs will dictate his actions. Our confession (action, behavior) will reveal our beliefs and where are thoughts are in regards to our faith in God’s action and timing. Luke 6:45 shows us the correlation between our beliefs and our confession; A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. If we pray and do not expect God to answer in accordance to His Word then what does that indicate about our faith and trust in Him and His Word? I must remind myself that the more I become like Jesus the more my desires mimic His.

 

For study purposes, I will share with you some of the verses I have been going back to for study and analysis for my own faith. The one thing I have discovered is that faith and trust in God is a journey. And the journey is one of growth. In my experience, I have found that it is important for me to dig and discover the truth of what God’s Word is saying rather than just taking someone elses word for it. I encourage you to not just take my word but dig for yourself.

 Matthew 7:7-11, Matthew 18:19, Matthew 21:22, Luke 11:9-13, Luke 18:1-8, John 14:13, John 15:7, John 16:23-27, James 1:5-6, James 5:15-18, 1 John 3:22, 1 John 5:14-15

 

Jesus is on It!

 

“In times like these you need a Savior” those words from a hymn I grew up singing remind me that Jesus isn’t just our Savior once, but always. David understood it in Psalm 62. David’s life was filled with hardships. After slaying the giant, he became King Saul’s son-in-law and without a doubt there was a short time when life seemed okay for David. But it wouldn’t be too long before his father-in-law would become jealous of David’s popularity among the people of Israel and threatened by knowing that David’s relationship with God was what Saul’s should have been. David became a fugitive on the run from Saul. But even for someone as close to God as David, his life would not be without danger, risk, bad decisions, betrayal and willful sin. Throughout David’s life though he understood that God was the source of his salvation. Psalm 51 is one of my favorite chapters in Psalms because David owns his sinful actions understanding that only God can forgive him. In Psalm 62 David realizes that God isn’t only the source of salvation for his soul, but also the source of salvation in circumstances and even in relationships. God is our salvation no matter what our circumstance or our need.

 

When we accept Jesus as our savior he becomes our savior in every area of our life and in every circumstance. It is easy to become discouraged when life isn’t going the way we want it. It is easy to become discouraged when we are physically down or if we are going through a difficult season of life. But we must make a conscience effort to remind ourselves that Jesus is on top of whatever it is we are facing. Dawn and I remind ourselves all the time when faced with stressful moments or things that are completely out of our control that it is no surprise to Jesus. And once I remind myself that Jesus is on it it’s easier for me to let it go and not worry or fret about all the outcomes that run through your mind when you over think and worry about things.

 

What about you? What is it you’re facing in your life that you need to let Jesus handle? Are you facing a difficult season in your life? Are you struggling physically and the enemy is trying to discourage you? Maybe you are facing financial difficulties and you’re concerned for your family or your future? Just remember Jesus is on it! Every day, multiple times a day, I pray and talk to Jesus about the things that are on my heart. The other things I do is pray scriptures that will increase my confidence in Jesus and keep a positive attitude toward my faith in Jesus. I trust Him with my life because I know He loves me and there is nothing that He allows me to go through that is not without purpose. What may seem to be a trial may be a triumph in the end. What may seem like an insurmountable struggle may be the thing which strengthens us most. No matter what you are facing in life just remember Jesus is on it. He loves you more than you will ever know and trust in His power.  

 

 

 

The Coming Crisis

 

John 8:31-32, 1 John 3:4-10

 

We live in dangerous times. The television is busy with the 24 hour news cycle about acts of terror and hate. It is no longer in places on the other side of the world where unrest occurs. It is here within our own nation. In places named Charlottlesville, Ferguson, Boston, and Miami, the violence and hatred of Satan is making its way closer. I don’t understand completely what is going on. Or maybe I should say I don’t understand completely why those who want to act out violently are not experiencing the consequences of their unlawful behavior. Why is it that those who wish to behave violently and destroy property and hurt people are not being arrested?

 

To answer my own question as to why this is happening and why there are no consequences being experienced by those guilty of such violent acts I will draw on my own thoughts and concerns over these events. For quite some time there has been and intentional and very strategic plan to silence dissent, or should I just say differing opinions. I have seen this happening in the culture, education, and even the church. The day of differing opinions in religion and politics are fast moving to a climactic finish. It may be a few years down the road but please know that it is coming. In fact, that is the objective of those who would push the agendas such as re-writing history or trying to erase history, or those working desperately to change the cultural mores. These days even within the church world it is considered offensive to talk about sin or hell. Christendom is replete with sermons about grace, love, mercy, justice, forgiveness and Heaven. And I am one who is glad for it. But the scriptures also tell us of sin, and not just generalized, but actual sinful behavior. The scriptures teach us of the consequences of sin, death and hell. I am aware of Romans 3:23 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”. But we must allow the continued work of Jesus redemptive process to be active in our lives. Jesus said in John chapter 8 that the “truth will set you free”. I think there has been a misinterpretation of what Jesus freed us from at Calvary. He didn’t free us from God’s moral law as laid out in the Ten Commandments and He didn’t free us to continue on in sin. He freed us from the clutches of sin. When we encounter the truth of the gospel of Jesus it opens our eyes to see the world and ourselves as they are and gives us the ability to see clearly once again God’s intended purpose for our lives. The truth enables us to discern what is sinful and what is righteous.

 

The coming crisis that is on the horizon is that there will come a time when the church will not be able to preach about sin. In fact, the environment is almost there now. The Apostle Paul mentions in Galatians 5: 19-21 behavior that has consequences, 19The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

 

Yet, these very acts run rampant in the church today and even in the ministry because the message is that Jesus came and freed us from the law and we’re under grace. But Jesus didn’t free us from the moral law of God. Jesus fulfilled what the law required as penalty. Jesus, freed us from the power of sin and death and gave us power to overcome sin through His blood and presence. Don’t get me wrong, I am not against grace or the preaching of it. We just need to make sure that the wonderful grace of God is not a license for sin. If we understand that sin is, willful disobedience to God’s will. Then we must understand James 4:17 Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin. We cheapen the grace of God and the sacrifice of Jesus when we willfully continue in our sin. Jesus did not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it. The law, Paul writes, was not given to save us but to convict us. Jesus died to fulfill the judgement that the law required. He took our place and paid our price. His death purchased our pardon. We now have the blood of Christ to cover our sin. But the responsibility we have is to live our lives in the power of God’s grace and the resurrected Christ. We live out our faith in Jesus and His redemptive act at Calvary by allowing His will to consume ours daily. But it is not about our human perfection. Our lives now, depend upon our perfecting love for Christ. The more I love Jesus the less I want what I want. The more I love Jesus the more I want what is best for my relationship with Him. But in those moments when we falter we know that 1 John 1:9 assures us of the implementation of Jesus work at Calvary. If we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive us of our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

 

God help us when the church chooses not to preach about sin, salvation, and living out holiness!

 

Let us choose today and every day to know Jesus more through the reading of God’s Word and also to love Him more than the day before. We must be vigilante in how we live. Living carefully not carelessly. The freedom we have in Christ is from sin not to continue in it.

 

 

June 2017

 

 

 Have you ever found yourself literally overwhelmed with sadness and not know why? I mean everyone expects us to be sad when we lose a loved one or when we’ve lost our job, but what about those moments when you are just overwhelmed with grief for, what to many, would seem unnecessary to be grieving over. For example, when I think of the situations that have made the news headlines my heart grieves. I find myself saying things like, “boy how times have changed,” or “I miss the good ole’ days” a comment that echoed my parent’s voices. When I lift the hood of my car and see a labyrinth of cords, cables and unless masses of unknown metal and plastic I find myself sad and missing an inline six cylinder or a basic four cylinder that I could work on myself.

 

Times change and with the change can come great advancements. I am absolutely amazed at the progress mankind has made in the areas of science and medicine. But now it seems that progress has created for itself a new religion, secular humanism. In this religion man is the god to which worship must be directed. As a society, we are pushing God further and further out of our lives, individually and collectively. Arguments over nativity scenes in parks, whether the phrase “in God we trust” should be on our coinage and the words in our national pledge that reminds us that we are “one nation under God” challenge the place that God has in the community of our nation. If I could inject an illustrative moment the greatness of our nation has always been linked to our relationship nationally with God. His blessing upon us in the past has provided us with a protective hedge, but that hedge is being trimmed daily by those who wish to see God replaced by secular humanist philosophy.

 

Lately, I find myself identifying with Nehemiah from the scriptures. Upon hearing the news of the condition of the walls of Jerusalem his heart became heavy with sadness. The city that once was great and attracted leaders from all over the world during Solomon’s reign was now in ruin. The walls were broken and the gates were burned. Verse 4 of Nehemiah chapter 1 says that Nehemiah upon hearing the news of Jerusalem sat down and wept.

 

A couple of weeks ago I was driving home from Wichita and I had just returned from Annual Conference. I was thinking about all that is going on in the church and all that is going on with the nation and I was overcome with sadness. In fact, I had to do all that I could to keep from crying. The walls of biblical, scriptural ministry are collapsing. I am reminded of Proverbs 14:12 that says, there is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death. In every area of crisis whether within the church world or secular society there is a move toward doing what seems right to man’s thinking rather than doing what is in accordance with God’s Word and the way of man leads to an undesirable end.

 

After Nehemiah wept he prayed. Prayer has specific results when engaged earnestly:

 

1.      Prayer internalizes the burden and deepens our ownership of the need.

 

2.      Prayer insist that we quiet ourselves and wait upon God’s Spirit to lead our actions

 

3.      Prayer provides us with a vision, enabling us to see what God wants to do.

 

4.      Prayer initiates the vision’s fulfillment, acting as a catalyst for us to respond to God.

 

I know that we are all busy. Between wrestling with schedules and the burdens of life it is easy to ignore some of the things that are happening in the world around us, but if ever commitment to prayer is needed it is now. To finish my story about my overwhelming sadness while driving, I was reminded that all that is happening in the church world, society and in my life with its stresses and challenges, is no surprise to God. He’s on it! We need to trust Him and stand with Him, whatever He ask of us.

 

 

May 1, 2017 

 So, in thinking about the question that I left you with in my last blog, what is it that drives the economy of God’s Kingdom? Have you given it any thought? The answer is souls. Transformed lives through the power of the indwelling presence of God is what drives the economy of God. The Church sometimes forgets that our purpose is supposed to be the same as that of Jesus. Mark 10:45 reveals His purpose; “even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many.” What was the purpose for Jesus giving His life up for all mankind? John 3:16 tells us. It says, “for God so loved the world that He gave His Only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” The Church’s objective is to share the life-changing message of God’s love for people through the gift of His Son, Jesus. Somehow this objective has been watered down and even in some cases thrown out altogether. The Church has become many things. It provides food, shelter, counseling, entertainment, education assistance, financial assistance, life coaching etc.…and the list could go on and on. Now do not take me wrong! I am not against any of those things. These are all great works of ministry, but if they do not share the good news of salvation through faith in Jesus then they fail to be life transforming. I believe that the church should do anything to minister to people, but with the sole objective of letting folks know that Jesus died for them and that He can free them from their sin. What can you do to share the gospel with others around you? It is souls saved that causes the Kingdom of God to flourish. Souls saved drive the economy of God’s Kingdom. You and I are called to be entrepreneurs of ministry. And in any business there is a cost, an investment, in ministry it will be time, selfless sacrifice of our own desires and even financial. But the dividends are eternal.

 

4/03/2017

Welcome to my first blog! I am not sure what I am doing on the technical side of this idea, but I have been wanting to present a weekly devotional thought on the website for some time. So please bear with me as I learn as I go.

Those phrase, “It cost to follow Jesus, but it cost more not to” is thought provoking. We live in a culture where the message of following Jesus is presented readily, but the message of not following Jesus and the high cost of ignoring or even rejecting Him is rarely mentioned. Jesus mentions in the gospels that there is a cost to following Him. Matthew16:24-27 and Mark 8:34-38 give us the words of Jesus about the cost of following after Him. There are two installments to the cost of following Jesus, 1. Denying yourself. This isn’t the external asceticism of the life of a monk. But simply put, it is putting the interest of God’s Kingdom before our own interest. 2. Take up your cross. Jesus wasn’t suggesting that we endure some irritating burden, but rather to renounce our own ambitions for the sake of the Kingdom. We may never know the full extent of what our actions as a disciple following after Jesus may carry in terms of further God’s Kingdom. The converse of this proposition is also true. We may never know, in this life, the full extent that our self-centered actions may have upon hindering the Kingdom God’s furtherance.

Being a follower of Jesus Christ is more than just believing in Him. It must be more than going to church. The cost must involve putting the Kingdom's needs before our own. So that leads us to the needs of the God's Kingdom. What does the Kingdom of God need? Let me ask you this question, What is it that drives the economy of God's Kingdom? Just as in this world certain things drive our worlds economy, such as jobs, commerce, monetary exchanges etc... what is it that drives the Kingdom economy? What causes the Kingdom of God to flourish?