Category: Blog

It’s No Joke, it is Real

Sunday Sermon 10.24.20

Recently, while walking through a neighborhood close to my home, I encountered a home that was decorated in the most ghoulish manner imaginable. I have never seen a homegrown display of such blood, death, dismemberment, pain, destruction, and evil. Proudly displayed in the center of the lawn was a sign that read, “House of evil”.

Here on display for all to see was the blatant declaration of evil.

And there on that street, I decried the evil unleashed there, in that home, on that family and in that neighborhood.

Evil is no joke, it is not some cute theme for decorating, it is real. It’s powers are real, it’s players are real and in the end it all will be pulverized!

With that as our springboard, let’s talk about evil spirits.

Evil is not only present in our world but reigning in and over it because of Lucifer’s pride, rebellion and enmity with God as displayed in heaven in Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28 and then on earth in the garden in Genesis 3.

Because of his iniquity, pride and rebellion, Lucifer was cast from heaven to earth and if we take Revelation into account (12;4), with him he brought a third of the angels. (now also rebellious and following Lucifer in the heavenly rebellion and earthly assault.)

From Genesis until now, he has been, as Ephesians says, “The prince of the power of the air. The spirit at work in the disobedient.” Ephesians 2:2

“It wasn’t that long ago that you lived in the religion, customs and values of this world, obeying the dark ruler of the earthly realm who fills the atmosphere with his authority, and works diligently in the hearts of those who are disobedient to the truth of God.”

The Passion Translation Ephesians 2:2

Lucifer, once a beautiful, covering angel of heaven, now has spiritual dominion over earth and those who refuse to obey the truth. His angels/ demons work diligently in those hearts for one purpose, they are bent on destroying plans, works and people of God.

He has a host of demons/spirits following him. In addition, of course, are holy angels – those who still follow God’s orders. Scripture speaks of these:

Cheribum, seraphim, and rank and file holy angels who each have their own function and realm of service.

Then there are what appears to be a hierarchy of demonic powers as found in these verses:

Ephesians 6:12; Romans 8:38; 1 Corinthians 15:24; Ephesians 1:21; 3:10; Colossians 1:16; 2:15

They are:

Principalities, powers, worlds rulers, spiritual wickedness in high places and thrones or authorities.

The Old Testament speaks of evil spirits that trouble people, stir up dissention, murder, divide nations, and deceive nations. Judges 9; 1 Samuel 16; 19; 1 Kings 22; 2 Chronicles 33

It also speaks of a territorial spirit called a Prince that resisted the release of God’s revelation for twenty one days. Daniel 10:12 Here, prayer had gone up from earth, God heard and answered, but “the Prince of Persia” – a demonic ruler had delayed God’s response from being delivered for twenty one days. So Michael, the Archangel was dispatched to assist in the release of the answer and defeat of the hindrance.

There are spiritual rulers over nations, over world rulers, over cities. Evil spirits are real and made obvious by and through people.

The New Testament mentions the word demon 75 times. They are real!

Jesus clearly not only believed in evil or unclean spirits, but he dealt specifically with many. He commissioned his disciples to “cast out demons”. Matthew 10:1,8; Luke 10:17; Mark 3:14

Jesus dealt with demons in the following ways:

He expelled them (cast them out) from people who were tormented by their influence. Mark 1:39 He spoke to them. Mark 1:24 They fell down before him. Mark 3:11 He sent them into pigs. Luke 8:31 He commanded those who were delivered from demons to testify of their freedom, and they gladly did. Luke 8:1-3

Jesus never sent anyone out to preach the gospel without commissioning them to cast out demons. John 14:12 Very interesting.

Demons, Satan and evil spirits are real. Evil is real, and we need to take this seriously, because we are its target.

Ignorance is not bliss. Indecision is a decision. Idling is going nowhere.

Even Anton La Vey, the author of the Satanic Bible and founder of the church of Satan said, “We smile at the amateur explorers of their own inner darkness – for we know they enjoy their brief dip into the pool of the shadow world.”

In another place, he says, “I’m glad that Christian parents let their children worship the devil at least one night out of the year and touch darkness, which is a daily mode of existence for Satanists”.

Evil is real. It is not a joke.

1 Peter 5:8 says, “the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” He is on the look out for people on earth who are open to his influences and and twists of truth. Open to his temptations, deceptions, and accusations. He is, after all the father of lies and there is no truth in him. John 8:44

We live under an atmosphere of his prevailing winds. Winds that blow lies, dishonesty, perversion, pride, arrogance, selfishness, greed, destruction, murder, hatred… geesh.

And yet – THERE IS ONE GREATER. There is a conqueror, victor, champion, helper, savior, JESUS.

When Jesus came to earth from heaven he came to crush the head of the devil as foretold in Genesis 3. He came and won the total and complete victory over Satan by his death on the cross and resurrection from that grave. He ascended into heaven the Victor, where he now sits in full authority and power over every other power in the universe.

1 Peter 3:22 – He has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand – with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.

John 16:33 – I have overcome the world

Ephesians 4:4 – he descended into the lowest parts of the earth and took captivity captive

Colossians 1:5 – he disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.

Therefore, if Jesus lives in us, the prince of the power of the air has no authority over us. Although he will lie and try to tell us differently.

That is why John said, “Greater is he who is in you than he who is in the world.” 1 John 4:4

Therefore, my friends, it is imperative that we live as “wise as serpents and as harmless as doves.” Matthew 10:16 By that I mean, we must wise up and recognize the evil influences and demonic attacks and not give in or yield to them.

Paul tells the believers “do not give the devil a foothold.” Ephesians 4:27

The Greek words here are powerful and are clear – they are saying do not, even once, not ever give a gift to or supply the slanderer, accuser an opportunity, a place, room or city in your life!

You see, as believers we have a choice to allow the devil or his evil spirits to gain a beachhead in our life. Those are places he can land and spread out his lies. We give him that gift or supply him that opportunity when we:

  • harden our hearts
  • give way to impurity
  • are greedy
  • lie and speak falsehood
  • give way to angry outbursts
  • steal (time, attention, items, honor)
  • have filthy speech
  • are unforgiving
  • slander
  • walk in apathy
  • don’t know the Word
  • fail to fellowship
  • do our own thing
  • don’t submit to the Holy Spirit
  • check out Ephesians 4:17-5:20 for a full list of opportunities

When these tendencies and choices show up outside our lives, scripture tells us to resist them. James 4:4; 1 Peter 5:8-9

If we find a beachhead begun inside of our lives we expel those evil influences. Kick them out. We ask forgiveness and do what is needed to close off that opportunity and take away every link in the supply chain.

Evil is real. We have a choice. Resist, expel, be free of evil spirits.

For generations of mankind, evil has been real and pervasive. Ours is no different. Evil spirits influencing TV and movies are not casual entertainment. They are demonic and evil and they are no joke.

“The Prince of the Power of the Air” – hummm… that sounds like airwaves.

Dear readers, although we live in the world we are not of this world. If we believe in Jesus, we are not under the authority of the devil or his demonic spirits. We are covered by the blood of Jesus and empowered as children of the King to live in His authority.

But we too, must make it our regular, personal, practice to resist the devil and not give him any territory or room in our life. No more opportunities of unforgiveness, selfishness, etc.

This is where being covered in God’s wrap around, spiritual armor comes in. Time does not permit for explanation, but Ephesians 6:10-18 should be our daily “suit up” list.

Evil is real, it is no joke.

God is good, He sent Jesus to overcome evil and empower us to do the same through the power of the Word of God and the grace and mercy of the Holy Spirit.

Go with God, dear ones.

Butt seriously, folks

We need some levity

This is what I see daily on the lake below our balcony. It is so funny to watch these bobbing bottoms on the surface of the water and then see some of them dive own to grab their meal.

I studied the anatomy of those birds to understand how and why they play “butts up” with intent to share here. But in that process, it seemed way more fun to look at other animal butts and their unique designs and uses.

Why? Because we need some levity in these days.

Bums and their designs are serious business. There is nothing by accident about bottoms in the animal kingdom.

For example, consider the Skipper caterpillars. These guys have a defensive tool called “scat firing”. When they are attacked, they launch poop at the enemy at speeds of 1.3 meters per second. That poo deters it’s main predator, the paper wasp, who is attracted by the odor of the poo.

Butt seriously… wow!

Maybe you’ve heard of the sea cucumbers bum. I’ve held many, but after learning this, that will probably stop. When they are in attack mode, they contract their bodies and eject their internal organs out of their anuses onto predators, often entangling them them in toxic fluid strands. YUCK! No worries about their loss tho’, because within six to ten weeks the thrown organs will regenerate. Crazy right?

Butt seriously…

Here’s a weird one and he lives on you, on your face! He is the face mite – Demodex folliculorum. This guy doesn’t even have a butt. None. Not at all. He eats up your dead skin cells which then stays in his large gut cells. Then after his sixteen day life span, he dies and releases his waste onto our faces once he disintegrates. I’d bet you’re touching you face right now.

A favorite of mine has even earned the nick name “bum breather” – he is the Fitzroy River turtle. This turtle can stay underwater for up tp three weeks without having to take in air through nostrils like other turtles. Why? Because his cloaca/anus extracts 41% more Oxygen thus allowing longer underwater stays. He breathes through his bum.

How bout wombats? They live mostly underground and have an amazing security system at their door. Their backside. It is used to block its burrow to protect itself from predators. It’s bum is super tough, filled with cartilage which sorta makes it like an armored car. His powerful buttocks is used as a weapon and can smash the skull of it enemy into the walls or roof of its burrow. Violent, ouch.

Just one more, giraffes. I used to collect them, especially after having been in Kenya and seeing them in their natural habitat. Who doesn’t love them? Long necks, elegant stride, beautiful colors. But what about their butts? Giraffes twist themselves into what looks to us like uncomfortable positions when they are ready to sleep. They do this to use their bum as a pillow. Yuppers. They actually rest their head on their bottom to sleep their 30 minutes a day.

Butt seriously, folks.

Time and interest don’t permit me to speak of disappearing butts, filtering sand bums, propelling bottoms, or detaching bums. But they are there.

Think about it. Shake your head in wonder. Marvel at the design and purpose in each of these. Such a small, seemingly insignificant body part – the bum. Yet, miraculously engineered, assembled and installed in each living creature. (well almost all)

But seriously, folks,

All things work together for good…”

And aren’t you glad they do?

Cheers to you.

There’s Always Hope

Bansky
Sunday Sermon 10.17.20

Spoiled foods can be beyond hope. A totaled car can be beyond hope. A fire’s destruction can be beyond hope.

But for people there is always hope. There is no situation so bad, no sin so grievous, no distress so deep that hope is inaccessible or change not possible.

Some of you may need to reread that last sentence. Go ahead. I know it is bold, but I also know it is accurate.

To support that statement and encourage you today, I want to take a deep dive into the bible king Manasseh, of Judah. You will find his story in 2 Chronicles 33 and 2 Kings 21.

As we look at his life, notice his situation, sins and distress. Compare across to your life, draw comparisons and gather your takeaways.

Here we go.

Manasseh was the 14th king of Judah and the oldest son of Hezekiah, the previous king. He was born during the 15 years that God added to Hezekiah’s life. Hezekiah was a really good king who followed God’s ways. (that is why in his sickness he prayed and asked God’s help, to which he was granted 15 more years of life.)

Manasseh’s name means “one who forgets”. That’s important.

Manasseh reigned over Judah for 55 long years. In those years he totally undid, disgraced, rejected and demolished all the good that his dad had done in the kingdom. He was one who forgot the ways of his dad the ways of his upbringing.

Not only did he forget, he willfully, actively, passionately and nationally followed these evil practices. These practices were not only a regular part of his daily life, but he had them instituted as national norms in Judah. The entire nation followed these “detestable” practices.

From 1 Chronicles 33:3-10:

  • he rebuilt the high places his father had destroyed – these were sex and religion shrines scattered all over the nation. The sexual perversion involved here is astonishing and involved phallic statues in abundance.
  • he bowed down to the starry hosts – he worshipped cosmic powers and took orders from the constellations.
  • he built altars in the Lord’s temple – cosmic altars, altars to Baal and Asherah, altars to many secular gods.
  • he practiced child sacrifice – Molech was worshipped by offering children in the fire. He offered his own sons and perhaps even his grandsons in this ritual sacrifice.
  • he practiced witchcraft, sought omens, and consulted mediums – he gave full way to Satanic rituals, seances and the underworld.
  • “he did much evil in the eyes of the Lord” – bad dude!
  • the last straw, he had built and erected a statue to Asherah in the Lord’s temple – this sex goddess, was now worshipped in the Lord’s temple
  • Manasseh led the people astray – what he did privately was put into national practice and legislation
  • “they did more evil than the nations” – now that’s saying something, that’s alot of evil

One last sad note to Manasseh and the nations evil practices-

“The Lord spoke to Manasseh and his people, but they paid no attention.”

2 Chronicles 33:10

Not only was he one evil practicing, sex maniac, proud, idolatrous, killer, but when the Lord spoke to him, he ignored the Lord’s voice.

Manasseh is considered the most wicked king in Judah’s history. There was none worse. Ahab was the worst in Israel and Manasseh the worst in Judah. Now you can see why, right?

Tradition and scholars tell us that Manasseh is probably the one who had the prophet Isaiah cut in two. Now that’s no way to treat your Grandfather. Geesh.

His tyrannical reign lasted for over half century!

So Manasseh’s situation is pretty dire. He is in deep, needless to say. His sins are pretty insurmountable as well, cuz these are “big time sins”. So how is his distress? Let’s check it out.

First, we must continue the story.

The Bible tells us that because Manasseh and the people paid no attention to the Lord, (forgot the Lord and His ways), the Lord allowed the Assyrians to overthrow the city and capture the King. He was taken to Babylon as a prisoner, bound in shackles, and a hook in his nose. 2 Chronicles 33:11

Here is where we identify Manasseh’s distress.

“In his distress he sought the favor of the Lord his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his ancestors.” And he prayed to him.

2 Chronicles 33:12

While a prisoner of war, in prison, in a foreign land we see his distress. While he is powerless, alone, overwhelmed, outnumbered and empty his distress is evident.

What does he do in this state?

He sought God’s favor, humbled himself greatly and prayed.

Now that is a turn around!

Somehow, in his distress he remembered the spiritual training of his childhood. The training of his ancestors. “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.” I’m sure Hezekiah was looking over the balcony of heaven finally cheering on his once evil son.

So we have the most vile, perverse, corrupt, person & political leader crying out to God. He needed his own experience with God, not his dad’s. He was calling out for it.

“God speaks to us in our pleasures but he shouts to us in our pains.”

God had been shouting to Manasseh but now Manasseh was shouting out to him.

How did God respond?

“And when he prayed to him, the Lord was moved by his entreaty and listened to his plea; so he brought him back to Jerusalem and to his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord is God.”

2 Chronicles 33:13

This is mindboggling to me.

After life long practices of gross and despicable sins, once Manasseh humbled himself and sincerely presented himself before the Lord – THE LORD WAS MOVED!

His humility, laying down his pride, and seeking God’s blessing and favor actually moved God to the action of restoring Manasseh to his kingdom.

In the Apocryphal book of “The Prayer of Manasses” he says, “I have sinned above the number of the sands of the sea.”

There is always hope.

Our God is compassionate, loving, forgiving, just, strong, engaging, and ever present.

The story doesn’t end there tho’. Manasseh made a drastic and remarkable change when he returned to Jerusalem.

Side note- Do you think the citizens of the city were glad to see him return or scared for their lives? You see, personal repentance brings forgiveness but the influence of sin lingers and abides.

When he returned, he:

  • rebuilt the city wall & made it higher- reinforced the city defenses
  • stationed guards around the city
  • got rid of foreign gods
  • removed all the idols and altars in the temple
  • restored the altar of the Lord

His personal experience with God, “knowing that the Lord is God” motivated his change in behavior, word and deed. He took action nationally to undo what he had done. He took action personally. He had truly met God and was changed.

The amount of evil he had done was totally forgiven and covered because he humbled himself, sought the favor of the Lord and prayed to Him. His sins were forgiven, his distress was lifted and his situation changed.

God heard. God was moved. God responded to Manasseh’s humility and entreaty. God changed him. his situation, his sin, and his distress.

There is always hope.

If there is hope for Manasseh there is hope for all.

“No mortal man hath excuse to perish is despair. No one is justified in saying God will never forgive me.”

Spurgeon

Let’s return to our opening – There is no situation so bad, no sin so grievous, no distress so deep that hope is inaccessible or change not possible.

There is always hope for those who in humility make their entreaty of the Lord.

There is always hope.

Go with God.

A Slice of Life

I sat down wanting to consider all the factors, forces and functions happening in a one minute slice of my life.

A picture came into view in my minds eye. Looking beyond where I was sitting was a slice of time that looked like the rays of light that shine from a door slightly cracked open. In that moment of light, that slice of life – what factors were at work? What forces were in play? What functions were occurring?

Of the 1,440 minutes in my day, what was happening, from my view, in just one of them.

Starting with my body, then my position, and finally to what I could see and beyond, I looked into that small, lighted slice of time and began thinking, “What is happening in this slice of life?”

My brain began racing. Right here in my body, with just the things that can remember here’s what is happening:

  • there are 79 different organs working together keeping me alive
  • there are (some say) over 10,000 body parts working together
  • my heart is beating 60 plus times & pumping blood into my veins and through my body
  • I am breathing in Oxygen and my lungs are processing it throughout the body
  • while at the same time exhaling the hazardous gasses
  • my breakfast is being digested
  • nutrients from breakfast are supplying my body
  • wastes are being eliminated
  • my kidneys are filtering that waste
  • my eyes are processing millions of bits of visual data
  • my ears are hearing and registering the sounds around me
  • the other senses also are gathering and inputting information
  • all of it is happening because of the supercomputer brain
  • 2400 times faster than the best computer, my brain, is capturing billions of electrical signals and sending them out and receiving others in
  • thoughts are being formed
  • hair, nails, skin, red blood cells and white blood cells are growing and multiplying
  • water loss and need is being tracked
  • air pressure and content is monitored for the health of my body
  • sores and injuries are healing
  • I have spit in my mouth, moisture in sinuses and eyes as needed
  • eyelashes are defending against unwanted entry
  • nose hairs doing the same
  • skin protecting and defending and regenerating as needed
  • DNA mutations are being healed
  • hormones and chemicals are balanced as needed
  • there are muscles working that I can’t name
  • my bones are supporting those muscles and much more

STOP. My brain hurts. I cannot keep up or write fast enough. I don’t know enough, understand enough. And still there is so much more happening in my body!!!!

This, my body, is just the first stop in my considering what happens in my one minute slice of life.

I have yet, to consider my positional surroundings nor my view beyond.

In that slice, there is still:

  • the plants and their processes
  • the seen animals and their workings and wonders
  • the unseen animals, insects and creatures and all their complexities
  • the air composition and pressure
  • the effects of gravity on all we see (or what would happen without it)
  • temperatures within our body and outside our body that are “perfect” for life
  • effects of light and the powers of electromagnetism
  • the nuclear forces at work in both strong and weak forces
  • beyond our atmospheres, where do I begin?
  • water cycles

Again, I am simply overwhelmed by the vastness of the complexities of my world. I have forgotten much of the science but my heart explodes in wonder.

In just one slice of life, one 60 second glimpse from where I sit to beyond what I can see, I know of billions times billions of factors, forces, and functions at work. Overwhelmed is simply an understatement.

Now, if I were to take that one slice, multiply it by 60, then multiply that by 24… I now have before me a whole day to consider.

Additionally, these are static pictures. So let’s throw in people variables, and their interactions. Now add current local events and issues. Now multiply that by 19,495 because that is the number of cities in USA.

Oh yeh, what about the nations? America is not the only nation on the planet. There are 193 countries and two observer states. Oh my aching brain.

And while we’re at it, let’s not leave out the 7 main ecosystems and the interactions within each of those. How each part is playing a specific role in support of life.

Our finite brains are not able to comprehend the complexities, intricacies, and wisdom that shape each factor, force or function in our lives.

Sitting here, in my chair, viewing my little shaft of light, slice of life, I am unbelievably amazed by it all; from the squawking of the American coots outside my door, to the beating of my heart and closing of my eyelids.

My slice of life is beyond my understanding but not my appreciation.

I therefore choose to be grateful, awe struck and ever in wonder.

I also choose to trust, knowing that there is a greater, higher force and power at work, who is way beyond my figuring out.

Looking at my slice of life helped me to put things in perspective. I trust it has done the same for you.

Cheers to your slice of life.

Level Up

Sunday Sermon 10.10.20

These thoughts today are a follow-up to my recent video teaching, “Lessons from Elite Athletes”. If you haven’t seen it and would like to, here it is:

9:00 minutes

So, when was the last time you trained for something?

I sat down and made a list starting as far back as I could remember (back to elementary school) of things that I had “trained” for or in and came up with a list of 18 items.

Then I looked at the list and realized it could be broken into two different categories: athletic/body training and skills training in specific areas.

Try it, make a list of the things that you have trained for. Study it. What one stands out to you? Was it that great half marathon you ran? Was it those 30 pounds you lost? Was it surviving Basic Training? Was it competing in the SUP 10K, or scaling the mountain face?

Whatever it was, it showed you your ability to level up and advance.

So, what did it take to level up? What does a training mindset require?

  • a decision that it is needed – the mental commitment and conditioning to make it happen is the first and perhaps biggest battle
  • making the time to train – planning, preparation, reprioritizing
  • being consistent – without diligent consistency no new habits will be formed
  • pushing beyond comfort levels – “no pain, no gain”

I bet you would agree, you would never have leveled up and made it through your training without those four points firmly established and practiced.

We all have a choice as players in this game of life. Will we be bad players, good players or great players?

” Bad players don’t take much seriously. Good players take practice and games seriously. Great players take warm ups, nutrition, skill work, weight room, conditioning, stretching, film, practice and games seriously.”

Jon Beck – coach

Now, what about that same focus, fervor, determination and sacrifice in your spiritual training? Is it there?

Because way more important than training for an event is the race that we are in spiritually. And again, we are all in the game, the question is at what level. What is our commitment to leveling up spiritually?

The Christian life is a marathon, and we ought not be on the sidelines, but running diligently in the race as contenders for the win!

1 Corinthians 9:24-27 tells us we should go into strict training and train to win.

Consider these winning motivating challenges from the “rule book” for the race- the Bible. Practice saying these out loud to yourself:

  • John 3:30 – he must become greater
  • Galatians 2:20-21 – I am crucified with Christ, it is no longer I that lives, but Christ in me
  • 1 Corinthians 15:31 – I die daily
  • Galatians 5:24-25 – I have nailed the passions and desires to the cross
  • Colossians 3:10 – I put on the new man
  • 2 Corinthians 5:17 – I am a new creature, the old is gone
  • 1 Peter 2:24 – that I might die to sin and live for righteousness
  • Romans 13:14 – do not think how to gratify the desires of the flesh
  • Luke 14:27 – whoever does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple
  • Luke 9:23 – whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and follow me

These statements put our body on notice that it is time for training, your body’s shout for satisfaction is no longer your priority.

Those statements also stir the Spirit within you to wake up and take charge. Remember, those two are always at war within us. So the decision of which to listen to and side with is paramount in our training.

To level up spiritually begins with the mindset and decision that it is needed. We can’t stay where we are and level up at the same time. We must decide to go for it and press in, work at it consistently and leave the comfort of serving self.

That decision being made, then we can prioritize and make time for what we need to do. Do we need to build up our prayer time? Study the word more? Praise more? Fellowship with other believers?

Those things are the basics.

Acts 2 tells us of the new church and their habits that allowed the church to level up and grow.

  • they continued in the apostles teaching – bible study
  • fellowship – with other believers
  • breaking of bread – communion
  • prayer – worship

These are what I call basic training for Christians. These four areas are the first level of Christian life – the basics. From here, believers are challenged to grow up, mature and level up.

This is where we go into strict training in an effort to grow and mature and be the ones who finish the race strong and win the prize. We are the ones who actually bear fruit and not just express words. We are striving to become like Jesus. He is our standard.

To level up, we not only increase time and quality in the four basic training areas, but we also move into other areas of spiritual maturity.

Here are some areas for us to mature in. These represent meat for those who are hungry for more than baby’s milk.

Serving others, fasting, personal evangelism, missions, giving, baptisms, spiritual giftings, solitude, healing, signs and wonders, casting out demons, preaching the gospel, making disciples.

These are the things that Jesus called his disciples to. These are areas the Holy Spirit is calling us to move into. Jesus said, “greater works than these shall you do”. That is a WOW statement right there, cuz He did amazing miracles!

When? Why not now? Why not you? Are you trained and ready?

THIS is the race that we are in. These are the areas that we are being called to level up to. This is why basic training is not enough. It is only the starting blocks of the race.

For some, perhaps basic training is enough.

But there is an army of believers rising up who are “forcefully advancing the kingdom”. They are not content with the basics. They see the Kingdom of God coming in power and authority and have chosen to be under that realm, sphere and influence. They have trained their senses to discern between good and bad, righteousness and evil, flesh and spirit.

They have learned to fast and pray and hear God’s voice, direction and plan. They have learned to follow the Spirit’s leading. They are expectant when speaking with people about the ways of the Lord. They carry His presence wherever they go and they are contending for miracles, signs and wonders – today, in our nation.

To be in that group, and be a great spiritual player, everything matters. Everything is training. “All things work together for good” in my life and help me to build spiritual muscle mass. I must stay consistent in my training. Even when I fail or trip, I will get back up and get myself back into training and the race.

I am determined and filled with diligence and discipline. I am committed to move out of my comfort zone with consistency, purpose, strength and accuracy.

I’m leveling up. I am advancing. I am beefing up my spiritual regiment. I am driving forward spiritually. I am thriving spiritually not barely existing.

We stand on the verge of worldwide revival. Our nation is ripe for His presence and power. It is coming. He is coming. Allow Him to put His super on your natural and rock your world, flow through you and change lives.

Evaluate your spiritual fitness. What do you need to do to be a part of what God is doing today?

It is time to level up.

God with God.

PS – Leave me a comment. I would love to heave from you.

Your Amazing …

Brain

Your brain never stops working.

The brain is the most powerful processing unit ever designed. Every second it receives information from the senses, chemical messages and other stimuli and it reaches a conclusion for us, automatically. It links data pieces to make a thought, decision, memory or picture of the world for us to understand.

It is the body’s command center for perception, thought formation, and memory creation.

Your grey matter is the most powerful computer ever designed, able to handle 10 to the 16th power amount of data per second! Consisting of 100 billion nerve cells and other neurons which could add up to 1 quadtrillion connections, each with the ability to combine and increase storage capacity.

Performing over 100,000 chemical reactions every second, and sending signals traveling along neurotransmitters at speeds of 268 mph, there are no two brains that are alike.

Whether you are awake or asleep, it is always working, making connections, processing information, creating chemical reactions, transporting signals to fill in gaps and complete mental processes.

During your sleeping hours, the brain is still active, controlling your body functions, and is engaged in activities necessary for your life to function as well as bringing you a better quality of life by helping us remember the things we learned the previous days.

It is the unconscious mind that tries to make connections with concepts you understand and work them into your actual learning. Even within your dreams are woven symbolic representations to connect concepts to your own individual understanding and experience.

Brain plasticity, which is your ability to adapt to input, is vital for your healthy functioning, too. Your brain not only helps you adapt to and in situations but it also removes waste products and unused data blocks, so that it can weave short term memories into long term memory banks. And , of course, your brain works to help your body and muscles grow.

Generating enough wattage to light a light bulb and provide a human 70,000 thoughts a day, this is a remarkably designed organ.

At only 3 pounds, a single, sand sized piece of brain tissue (eeww) contains 100,00 neurons and 1 billion synapses all communicating with each other!

AND, all brain cells are NOT alike. There are as many as 10,000 specific types of neurons. In fact, if all your neurons were lined up side by side they would stretch out 621.371 miles. But you wouldn’t be able to see them because they would still be invisible to the naked eye. (10 microns wide)

Your amazing, always working, powerful brain!

All this happens, keeping you alive and aware in your world without so much as a thought or worry from you.

Your brain functions powerfully, tending to you, your surroundings and all the stimuli that comes at you, striving to make connections and decisions on your behalf, allowing the quality of your life to be the very best that it can be.

Your amazing brain, it never stops working.

It is always processing on your behalf, always making connections for you. Whether you are awake or asleep it is always working, helping you to grow, remember, understand and be.

Isn’t that exactly what God, the Creator does?

Isn’t the brain a small picture of of the complexity and power of God and His care for you?

Go back and reread this post, as you do, think of all the descriptions of the brain and its complexities picturing Almighty God, and His complex, intricate love and care for you in your world.

Your God never stops working.

Cheers to you.

But What Are You Praying?

Sunday Sermon 10.3.20

The premise is you are praying.

” Is prayer your steering wheel or is it your spare tire?”

Corrie ten Boom

In these days I suppose that there is a good amount of prayer leaving people’s lips and I include you in that group. Our focus today, is to consider Corrie ten Boom’s question, is prayer your steering wheel or is it your spare tire?

Does your prayer steer where you go, the direction you turn, the course you’re on?

Or, do you turn to prayer when you have had a deflating experience, been punctured or are slowly leaking your life’s joy?

As we consider these thoughts, let’s go to a biblical example of steering wheel prayer – Job. The man who had it all, lost it all but wound up with double in the end.

His story is in the 42 chapters of the Bible book that bears his name.

In quick summary, this man lived in the near East, was extremely wealthy, had a large and happy family, was respected in the community and was considered blameless, upright and God-fearing. (he wasn’t an Israelite either.) Job 1

In a heavenly council meeting, God and Satan were discussing Job’s spiritual character, and Satan was given permission by God to mess with Job, ie: take away his flocks, herds, family, home, possessions and health. Job 1-2

What follows is 35 chapters of Job and his “friends” in dialogue back and forth; they accusing him of sinning against God, and he defending his innocence.

At their first sight of Job, they could hardly recognize him, for the disease that had raveged his body. The four of them sat in silence together, no one knowing what to say, or daring to say anything. This went on for 7 days! Talk about awkward silence??!!

Then the speeches begin. Each takes turn throwing out accusations, assertions, theories, defenses, and logic.

Then, in chapter 38 God shows up and “speaks out of the storm.”

For the next 5 chapters (38-42) God speaks to Job, and asks him questions like:

  • where were you when I laid the earth’s foundations? 38:4
  • have you given orders to the morning or shown the dawn its place? 38:12
  • where does darkness reside? 38:19
  • do you know the laws of heaven? 38:33
  • do you send lightening bolts on their way? 38:35
  • do you know when the mountain goats give birth? 39:1
  • does the hawk take flight by your wisdom? 39:26
  • will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him? 40:2
  • do you have an arm like God’s? 40:9
  • can you pull leviathan with a fishook? 41:1

Job’s humble answer was, ” I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can the thwarted. My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you, therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.” Job 42:2-6

THEN, the Lord spoke again to Job and told him he was angry with his 3 friends because they had not spoken the truth like he, Job had. 42:7

The friends were then told to make an offering and go to Job and have him pray for them. 42:8

We are told that the Lord accepted Job’s prayer and after that prayer, the Lord restored Job’s fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before. Double the sheep, camels, pairs of oxen, and donkeys. He had another 10 children and this time his daughters received an inheritance among their brothers.

That was sorta a brief summary.

Was Job’s prayer his steering wheel or his spare tire?

He didn’t pray until the Lord gave him direction to pray for his friends. The Lord actually was steering Job’s prayer.

Although he had plenty of deflating, puncturing and slow leaks happen in his life, his prayer was never something he relied on as a fix it for those flattening experiences.

His prayer was definitely a steering wheel, inspired by God to bring restoration and double portion blessing.

Job’s prayer steered the direction of his life and that of his family and friends. Job’s prayer brought liberty and forgiveness to his friends and abundant blessing to his family.

Job’s prayer, steered by God, brought everything that Job needed.

Among the lessons to learn from Job, here are my big 5:

  1. God controls everything
  2. Bad things happen to good people
  3. Friends get it both right and wrong
  4. When God speaks He exposes our smallness
  5. Praying God led prayers brings restoration and double portion

In closing, lets return to the premise. I believe that you are praying.

But what are you praying? Are you praying God led prayers? Are your prayers steered by God? Inspired by God? Motivated by God? Are your prayers steering your life, walk, direction?

For those praying God led prayers comes restoration, double portion blessing, health, and provision.

Will you let Jesus take the wheel? Will you allow him to direct your prayers? Will you let him steer?

If so, you will enter into a new realm of freedom, empowerment, discernment, joy and satisfaction.

What are you praying for?

Go with God.

The Power of Love

There’s just something iconic about that 1985 song, “The Power of Love” by Huey Lewis & the News. For those of you not familiar with is, here it is:

Used in the movie Back to the Future

Are we rooted and grounded in love and its power?

In 1965, a song hit the charts, written by that famous team of Hal David and Burt Bacharach, called ” What the World Needs Now”. It was a call that resonates in our hearts today. Here it is:

Dionne Warwick later made this famous after having declined to record it

My heart has been hearing the call for LOVE and the full extent of its power in our lives and society.

A phrase I have been mulling over lately is “being rooted and grounded in love”. What does that mean? What does that look like? What is the power of love that the world needs?

Let’s dive into that phrase –

“Being rooted” of course is an agricultural reference. Roots grow below the surface and in most cases are unseen. Their function is to anchor the plant in place in order to resist the forces of wind and water that come at them.

In addition, those roots take in oxygen, water, nutrients and move them through the plant to stems, leaves and blooms.

Easytogrow.com tells me, “to evaluate the health and long term performance of a plant it is all about the roots.” “Signs of poor, damaged roots will lead to an unhealthy plant with short life and limited blooms.”

So, we see that the roots are the indicator of the plants quality of life.

I’m told that you can tell if a plant is stressed out if you look at the leaves. If they are limp or yellow then those are signs of stress caused either by extreme temperatures, drought, predation or disease.

Lord knows, there are enough stress factors on us plants, right? Are we showing signs of stress, limp or yellowing? Then let’s check our roots, what are we rooted in?

Just think now, if our roots, the roots of our life, were embedded and fixed in LOVE. Only love, all love, exclusively love.

Think what the effects would be if only LOVE was the nutrient coursing through us, feeding us, watering us and growing in us.

May we choose to plant out roots deeper and deeper into love and receive all the nutrients we need so that love grows and blossoms from us.

Oh, the power of love.

The second part of that phrase, is “grounded in love”.

This is a building term, referring to laying the foundation and making a building stable, having it grounded and ready to be built upon.

Yet, I am going to look at the electrical perspective of “being grounded”.

In electrical appliances a grounding wire gives the appliance a safe way to discharge excess electricity. The electrical circuit receives both positive and negative charges in order to operate. If something goes wrong, there will be a build up of energy within the wiring that will be stored there.

a grounding wire

Picture that, a build up of positive and negative charges, building up and being stored, unseen within the wiring. What we have here is an explosion ready to happen. An unseen power surge, ready to cause damage. This build up will not be noticed until contact is made and then the excess energy will be released.

A grounding wire in that same appliance will take that build up and send it outside of your home, back into the ground or external housing – hence, a “grounding” wire.

So, when the malfunction happens, rather than having the energy build up in the circuit, it flows back to the ground and turns off the circuit and pending explosion.

Imagine now, you are that appliance, you have been receiving all kinds of negative and positive signals. Something goes wrong in your life and now these charges are building up inside of you. Unseen to others perhaps, but they are there, caught in your circuitry.

When contact is made, with another “conductor”, sparks fly and an explosion and potential fire erupts.

But what if, your grounding wire were firmly attached to an external housing of LOVE thereby allowing love to shut down any circuits from blowing?

Imagine love being your grounding wire. The source of not only your power to shine, but also you ability to sort through positive and negative charges and malfunctions in your life. Love, as the grounding rod or copper water pipe of your life .

Oh, the power of love.

May we be healthy plants with strong roots, firmly established in love. May we also be those lights who are able to withstand overloaded circuitry malfunctions because our ground wire is in love.

What the world needs now is love, the power of love. Love flowing in us, through us, from us.

Cheers to you.

The Sounding Alarm

Sunday Sermon 9.26.20

I had gone into the kitchen from the patio, where I had just lit the grill, and after a moment of preparing the meat, my ears were being pierced by the sounding of our smoke alarm. The first to sound was the one in the hall, then harmony was added when the bedroom alarm joined in. As I turned in response, all I could see was smoke.

What ensued next was a series of activities meant to reduce the smoke and have the alarm stop. We succeeded and without the fire department’s assistance, I’m happy to say.

Our alarm works. We now know because it forced us to take action.

Alarms sound for different reasons. It could be the smoke alarm signifying you are about to be overcome by carbon monoxide; the beep, beep, beep, notifying you that the batteries in your device are low; or the high sounding whoop, whoop telling you it is time to evacuate.

Oh, and lets not forget those alarm lights too, you know, like the ones on the dashboard of our car. (The one’s I often ignore)

The purpose of alarms are to alert people to potential danger. So it is important to know two things when they sound or light up.

  1. What does it mean?
  2. What should I do?

I spend a good amount of time at our harbor and often hear the fog horn. If I am in the slip and hear it, I look around to see where the fog is and decide what my next steps are. Am I gonna stay or is it time to head home.

If I am on the water, in the harbor, on the SUP, dinghy, or Lady Debra and hear the alarm, I do the same. But now I have to maneuver both me, those with me and the vessel safely back to the slip.

If I’m out on the ocean and I hear the alarm, I am probably not surprised because I have already seen and been in the fog. However, I am very “concerned” now because my visibility is impaired and we have to get back into port – safely. Truthfully, I am very stressed.

Realizing what it means and what to do are vital when the alarm sounds.

In the world today, there is a spiritual alarm sounding, who’s purpose is to alert people to potential danger. It is sounding on every continent and in every country.

It is calling all to return to the Lord. Turn away from sin and turn back to Jehovah and His ways.

  • Joel 2:1 – Blow a trumpet in Zion; sound an alarm. Let all the inhabitants tremble.
  • Isaiah 58:1 – Cry aloud; do not hold back; lift up your voice like a trumpet; declare to my people their transgression.
  • Hosea 5:8 – Blow the horn , sound the alarm…
  • Jeremiah 6:17 – I set watchmen over you, saying, “Pay attention to the sound of the trumpet!”

From voices all over America (and other nations) we are hearing the sound of the trumpet, the alarm. We are hearing the call to assemble, to pray, to march, to lift up a standard, to raise our voices, to praise – for the returning of our nation to God.

Today, even as I write, there is a gathering in Washington DC, on the Mall – the call, RETURN to the Lord. Right about now too, Franklin Graham and thousands of others are gathering to march through the streets of DC, sounding the alarm to return.

The alarms are sounding folks. Look up, see the smoke.

What does it mean for you? What is the alarm notifying YOU of? What import does it have to you right now. Ask yourself. What do these alarms mean to me?

What follows then, is what do I need to do? What action do I need to take before I am dead, having succumbed to the coming danger?

What does it mean to return to the Lord?

God created me and you for relationship. When we turn to him we enjoy the over – the – top abundance that life in him provides. John 10:10 In his presence we experience fullness of joy and at his right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:11

He leads us, teaches us and stores up goodness for us. Isaiah 48:17; Psalm 31:19

Because to those who receive him, he gives the right to be called the children of God, we operate in His authority and peace. John 1:12

He provides everything we need. Psalm 23; And he will do even beyond what we can imagine, if we trust in Him. Ephesians 3:20

He preserves our life and keeps our feet from slipping. Psalm 66:8-12

In the presence of our enemies, he provides what we need. Psalm 23:5

These few ideas barely scratch the surface of what life in Him is like. Living a dedicated life to Jesus and yielding to His ways brings life. Choosing to follow Him is life. Danger averted. Life in progress.

Will you return?

Do you hear the sounding alarm?

What does it mean to you? How will you respond?

Go with God.

I Know a Cure

” The cure for anything is salt water – sweat, tears or the sea.”

Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen)

This quote, made famous by an inaccurate Reader’s Digest article in 1934, has rung true through the decades.

As the logic goes, the three best ways to face and overcome life’s difficulties are:

  • working hard physically
  • crying
  • visiting the ocean

Another favorite quote is:

Saltwater heals everything.

In fact, it does promote healing. Salt forces the liquid in cells to move out of the body when it comes in contact with them. So, if those liquids are bacterial, they will be forced out – performing a cleaning of sorts.

How many of you have done a salt water rinse in your mouth or for a sore throat? Or perhaps you have used a saltwater solution on a wound area?

Why? Because salt kills bacteria and is a natural disinfectant that helps your body heal itself.

I know a cure – salt.

In ancient Africa, the salt-gold trade was standard. Gold was mined south of the Sahel and traded for salt from the desert. This trade made for an active trade route which made Ghana, Mali and Songhai large and powerful West African kingdoms. (Wow, I remember 7th grade History. Yeah!)

It always seemed like an odd exchange to me. But the key is demand. Isn’t that always a key?

Gold had little value if they weren’t able to eat their meat and survive. Salt had little value if they had no means to buy goods. So, gold-salt trade ensued and demands were met.

I know a cure – salt.

Let’s talk about salt.

I believe we have a salt shortage nowadays. Not of Sodium Chloride, NaCl, but of “salt of the earth” type people. For those of you too young to remember that phrase, a “salt of the earth person” was one who could be characterized as:

  • respectable
  • reliable
  • valuable
  • representing the very best in people
  • useful
  • having integrity
  • having received a very high compliment

This person, like the chemical compound salt, does not change. They are stable. Valuable. Dependable. Values oriented.

I know a cure – salt.

Most of us have heard the list of things that salt is used for, but they do bear repeating and review.

Salt –

  • brings out flavor
  • draws water out
  • cures food
  • creates traction
  • inhibits yeast growth
  • preserves
  • creates thirst
  • is a disinfectant
  • absorbs tremendous amounts of heat
  • has high melting point
  • lowers the freezing point

Salt doesn’t change. Yet, it becomes tasteless the more it is diluted. Take a cup of water and add a teaspoon of salt – you won’t drink it, it is too salty. But take that same teaspoon of salt and drop it into a giant vat of water – I bet you won’t even notice it.

Salt is a change agent. It is meant to change the things it comes in contact with; to draw out what is not healthy or needed, to preserve what is nutritious, to enhance flavor, to bring stability. It is meant to keep things fresh, and season the unsavory.

For today’s purposes, I would say that there are two types of salt.

Salt that is useful. It serves the purposes listed above.

Salt that is useless. This is salt that has become diluted and tasteless; it is ineffective, useless and adulterated. This salt is swept into the streets, no longer good for anything except to be trampled under foot.

Salt that has been diluted, has become complacent, or changes with every rainfall of ideology is useless, good for nothing. It has no flavor. It is not an agent of change.

Salt is such an agent of change, we even see its impact on some of our words.

Our word “salary”, the payment of currency for a job is associated with salt mine workers receiving their “salarium”. (sal – the Latin word for salt)

In Britian, the suffix “wich” means that it was once a source of salt. Example – Sandwich, Norwich.

I know a cure – salt.

“Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt among yourselves, and be at peace with each other.”

The Gospel of Mark, chapter 9:50

You are the salt of the earth. How is your saltiness?

Go, bring flavor, taste, stability, and all of the things listed above to your world. Be salty. Make people want a drink of what you have and come back for more. Be the salt of the earth type woman or man. The world needs us.

I know a cure – you.

Cheers to you.