Category: Personal Growth

Seeking personal improvement

Silent Sentinels

Strong armed by four men and two women, who strapped her to a chair, her arms and legs secured with leather lashes, they then forced her mouth open while one woman straddled her holding it so against her protestations.

A rubber tube was then inserted into her nose and pushed into her stomach. Blood ran from her nose while abrasions and bruises began to appear on her body.

Raw eggs and milk were then poured into the tube which then landed directly into her stomach. She later described the pain as “a ball of lead in my stomach”.

Against her will, she was being force fed.

This happened three times a day.

On one night, the superintendent of the prison ordered many to be severely beaten. These were mid to upper class women, who were beaten by the guards, all of whom were hurt, some to unconsciousness.

This night is referred to as The Night of Terror, November 14, 1917. Lorton, Workshouse for Women, VA, 20 miles southwest of Washington D.C.

These women, arrested and charged with trivial charges like “obstructing traffic”, were given the choice to pay a fine or go to the workhouse, where they would serve six months in prison.

Not all were force fed. But Alice Paul, one who was sentenced to seven months for obstructing traffic was treated so roughly and fed only bread and water, decided to go on a hunger strike. Again, the superintendent decided he would have no one “die” on his watch, and ordered her to be torturously force fed three times a day.

Her crime? Those women’s real crime?

Silently marching outside the White House, protesting the lack of women’s voting rights. Those women were called, “Silent Sentinels”.

News leaked about the night of terror and abuses within the workhouse and two weeks later the women were released.

Three years later, August, 1920, the 19th Amendment was passed assuring women as citizens and providing them the right to vote.

“The right of citizens to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the U.S. or any State on account of sex.”

The 19th Amendment

The right to vote has been passionately fought for. Not only for women, but for many disenfranchised citizens. Our nation has a rich history of many such battles, protests, and yes, finally victories.

The right to vote, the freedom to vote, as with all freedoms, is not free. It has not come without a high cost and sacrifices. Many there be with stories like the Silent Sentinels, who stood their ground amid persecution and abuses and thereby won the freedoms we enjoy.

In 2019, two billion people in fifty countries voted.

Next week, in America, citizens will again vote. (or like me, perhaps have already voted by mail.)

My prayer is that you will be one who takes your freedom and responsibility seriously and with your ballot and voice be that sentinel keeping watch over America and her values.

Cheers to you and to America.

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.

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.

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.

The Head of the Year

Developing Discernment Series
Sunday Sermon 9.18.20

This weekend marks the Jewish New Year and is celebrated by Rosh Hashanah. It will be ending the Hebrew year 5780 and entering into 5781. (2020 to 2021). Rosh Hashanah literally means “head of the year”.

This is important to understand as we are seeking to develop discernment and understand the times in which we live. What is happening around us are not simply events set in motion by human action or inaction. They are related to and in fulfillment of a great, plan and purpose.

It is vital to understand, distinguish, and yes, discern what is going on.

In previous blogs, we have spoken about having our senses awakened and being able to discern with our eyes, feelings, taste and smell.

Today, we will conclude this series by speaking about using our mouth/words in discerning.

It is no small “coincidence” that the year 5780 introduced the decade of the mouth. 2020 and 5780 began a new decade, one in which the mouth would be preeminent. (Hebrew numbers and letters have word associations, values and symbols that support these things.)

And what have we seen happening in the decade of the mouth?

  • masks to muzzle the mouth
  • voices silenced
  • interactions prohibited
  • The Word attempted to be shut up
  • churches banned from meeting and singing
  • gatherings forbidden

Stadium gatherings that were planned this year, all over the world, for Gospel advancing and awakening had to be cancelled.

It takes little discerning to process this as a spiritual assault. There is an evil force seeking to silence the mouth and strip it of its power. But why?

Because the mouth DOES HAVE POWER. Your words have power. The Word of God is powerful and effective. And if that power can be rendered impotent, then that evil, spiritual force believes it has won and often convinces many there is no hope.

Your mouth is powerful. Look at what the bible says about it:

  • Proverbs 18:21 – the tongue has the power of life and death
  • James 3:5-6 – the tongue is a small part of the body but it makes great boasts; the tongue is a fire, it sets the whole course of one’s life on fire
  • Matthew 12:36 – I tell you every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment
  • Matthew 12:27 – the words you say will either acquit or condemn you
  • James 3:10 – blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth, surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right
  • 1 Peter 3:10 – if you want to see happy days, keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies
  • Matthew 4:1-11- Jesus overcame the devil’s temptations and words with The Word of God & said man does not love by bread alone, but by every word of God
  • Hebrews 4:12- the word of God is living and active and sharper than a double-edge sword, piercing between joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents if the heart

There is power in the words that we speak and these are the days in which we must use and choose our words wisely! We are not to be silenced.

We must allow the Lord to put his words in our mouth. Jesus did this, the Apostles did this and the Old Testament prophets did this. They submitted their mouth (along with their mind and will) to God and His Word, asking for his words to be put in their mouth.

Read it – Jeremiah 1; Isaiah 51 & 59; Luke 21; 2 Peter 1; Paul in most of his epistles; John 1.

Even in heaven, what do we see?

“I saw heaven standing open, and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him…He is dressed in a robe dripped in blood, and his name is The Word of God.”

Revelation 19:11-21

When it is all said and done, at the end of all our time on the earth, what will remain is The Word of God. The Word of God will triumph forever.

“The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the word of the Lord endures forever.”

1 Peter 1:25

So what are we doing with our mouth? What are we saying?

Stop now, take a private, personal inventory of what has come from your mouth in the last couple of hours? Yes, you’ve been working at your daily duties, but in between, around, before, amid and after; what comes from your mouth? (not to mention your thoughts…)

What words have been released? Life? Death? Encouragement? Peace? Compassion?

For us Jesus followers, what Word of God has come from our mouth? Have we spoken it? Prayed it? Declared it? Stood on it? Meditated on it?

For all of us, do we know it? Do we know the Word of God? Do we spend quality time reading and or studying it?

His word in our mouth is as powerful as Genesis 1, when He created all things. His word in our mouth, at the right time, will bring victory. His word coming from our mouth and anchored to love will change not only our world but THE world.

Those of us seeking to walk in discernment must learn to apply the Word of God to every situation and speak it forth.

We are about to enter the year 5781/2021, and although we remain in the decade of the mouth, we now enter the year of the teeth – 21.

Teeth in scripture represent judgment, rebellion, sin; so there are no assurances that the year ahead will be absent what we have seen in 2020, I’m sorry.

The assurances we do have are in the power of the Word of God to stay us, anchor us, stabilize us, cover us, use us, empower us, equip us and release us to stand in victory.

Utilizing the Jewish custom of reading the Psalm that corresponds to the birthday you are turning, 5781 – chapter 81 of Psalms says,

“I am the Lord your God; who brought you out of Egypt. OPEN WIDE YOUR MOUTH AND I WILL FILL IT.”

Psalm 81:10

Be that discerning one who knows what to say, when to say it; who knows when and how to apply the Word of God to the situation and does so with the authority and the power of heaven.

Be that one who knows the will of the Father in heaven and brings it down on earth with your words.

Don’t allow your mouth to be muzzled, it is time to speak forth, release life, truth, hope and peace- all found in the Word of God. It is time to live the very things we are speaking and speak the very things we are living. It’s time to move things from our heart and head and into every corner of our lives. It’s time to make the Word of God visible in and through our lives via words.

Dust off that Bible, open up that APP, and get into the Word deeper than ever before. It is your life and victory in the days that lie ahead.

Through this coming year and beyond, you will need your senses activated and in tune with the Word of God to be able to discern effectively what is happening. I trust these studies have helped in some way.

In closing, perhaps you will want to join in the Rosh Hashanah, New Year celebration by dipping an apple in honey as a symbol of the ultra sweet year we trust God will grant us.

Shanah Tovah, have a good year.

Go with God

Your Amazing…

Eyes

Helen Keller, who lost her eyesight and hearing to scarlet fever, as a toddler of nineteen months is quoted as saying,

“Of all the senses, sight must be the most delightful.”

Helen Keller

Would you agree? Disagree?

Helen Keller, with the patience and expertise of Anne Sullivan not only overcame her blindness, deafness and muteness but developed her sense of touch so sensitively that she “listened to music” via the vibrations in the air and things around her.

She also developed her sense of taste and smell so acutely that she was able to gather more info through her limited senses than we probably do with our five senses. And yet, she had no eyesight.

Helen eventually went on to become the first deaf-blind person to earn a college degree. She is amazing!

“I can see, and that is why I can be happy, in what you call the dark, but which is to me is golden. I can see a God-made world, not a man-made world.” “It is a terrible thing to see and have no vision.”

We see, but do we have vision?

Our eyes are amazing. They provide vision of the world around us, and also reveal if we’re happy, tired, down, or confused and they even serve as “windows to the soul”.

Allow me to take you through a quick review of how exactly our amazing eye works. (Thanks to my own refresher course at livescience.com.) Then I’ll tie it all together with some interesting applications for you. Hang in there.

We humans have a “camera-type” eye. Just like a camera lens focuses light onto film, our cornea focuses light onto our retina, that big screen at the back of our eyeball. The cornea is transparent and is at the front of your eye to help focus the incoming light.

The iris, you’ll remember is that part that gives you your eye color. It is ring-shaped and it has an adjustable opening called the pupil. The pupil controls just exactly how much light enters the eye. It has to adjust to let the light in.

The colorless, transparent lens is located behind the pupil and focuses the light onto the screen of your retina. (Aren’t you glad we don’t have to remember all this before we see anything? It just happens, we have sight, we have an amazing eye.)

Inside that eyeball chamber are two different kinds of jelly, liquid type substances. The aqueous humor and the vitreous humor. (Can you guess the application of these two? 🙂 ha ha)

Of course, there are muscles involved inside the eye, too. The ciliary muscles for example, hold the lens and must both relax (pull and flatten the lens) and contract (thicken the lens) for far away and up close sight.

Review is almost done.

On the retina are millions of light sensitive cells called rods and cones, which differentiate between us seeing colors or black and white. When the light hits them it is converted to an electrical signal that travels to the brain via the optic nerve.

The brain then accepts that electric signal and changes it into images for us to see. Phew!!!! Review done.

Seriously, I could say nothing else and I think we’d be challenged and reminded just how amazing our eyes are, right? How perfectly designed. How intricate. How complex, having liquids and electric signals in the same spot without loss of power. How significant each part is and vital for sight to be effective. If a part of the eye anatomy is defective, sight is hindered, disabled or lost. For perfect clarity and vision, all parts of the eye must be fully functional.

The same can be said for the clarity of our other vision. By that I mean our “world view”, how we see the world around us. Not just anatomical seeing. The “eyes” through which we see what is happening around us.

Check out these practical tips for clear eyesight in these days, that I have drawn from our look at the amazing eye:

  1. Cornea – we need to focus on the light. Let the light in, focus on it not the darkness
  2. Lens – we must fight to stay transparent, stop trying to hide or cover up what we are feeling
  3. Pupil – we can and must control what we allow into our lives. We give things an opening and we decide how much to let in. Put controls in place in your life.
  4. Aqueous and vitreous humor – LAUGH! Find joy. Seek humor, make people laugh, laugh yourself. It is a medicine that we need a double dose of in these days.
  5. Ciliary muscles – to see things in the distance we must relax. Pull back, flatten out. Learn to relax and not jump too far ahead. To see things up close we need to have a bit more thick skin. Thicken our lens, be tough and we will see more clearly.
  6. Retina – seeing color is determined by millions of very, very sensitive cells; and those cells are responsible for sharp, clear vision. Our vision of color will sharpen as we are sensitive to those around us.
  7. Signal conversions – remember that everything we see has been converted to appear as an image we see. The brain makes translations for us and helps us make sense of what we are seeing.

We have an amazing eye who’s function is to help us see clearly. Today, at the very least I trust that your appreciation for your vision has been boosted.

Yet, beyond that, I hope that you are able to take away a more tangible lesson from the eye to apply and use to help you see more clearly in these days.

“It is a terrible thing to see and have no vision.”

You’re amazing and so are your eyes.

Cheers to you.

How’s Your Sense of Smell and Taste

Developing Discernment Series
Sunday Sermon 9.12.20

I find it totally fascinating that on the list of symptoms for Covid19 is the loss (sometimes permanent) of smell and taste. Vanderbilt University tells us that up to 80% of people who test positive for the virus have complaints of taste and smell loss.

That same study goes on to say, based on their evidence, those who suffer such loss will experience a milder onset of the virus, yet those without any loss of smell or taste “appear to have a worse disease course”. Hmmm.

We all remember that “taste and smell are separate senses with their own receptor organs, and yet, they are intimately entwined.” (Brainfacts.org) Those organs send different and separate signals and those signals will eventually converge and allow us to detect the flavors in foods.

“Just as sound is the perception of changes in air pressure and sight the perception of light, tastes and smells are the perception of chemicals in the air or in our food.” (Brainfacts.org)

Get that? Smells are the perception of things in the air… The spiritual implications are clear, here.

Hence, we have the phrase, often with our head shaking, no, “Something doesn’t smell right”, or “I smell a rat”, or “we’ve got to sniff this out”.

We are talking about developing discernment, with the emphasis today on our senses of taste and smell. In real life, having the ability and perception to sniff out the afore mentioned rat. Perceiving in the air around us that something just isn’t right, it smells rotten. We’ve got a bad taste in our mouth.

You’ve used those phrases, haven’t you? You have identified discernment. That urging to use that spiritual sense inside you, prompted by Holy Spirit to help lead you and guide you into all truth.

I’m not going off some spiritual deep end here, there’s plenty of biblical support for these truths about discernment. Check out these passages:

  • 2 Cor. 2:14 – he spreads the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere
  • Job 6:30 – can my mouth not discern malice?
  • Ps. 119:103 – your words are sweet to my taste
  • SS 2:3 – the Lord touched my mouth
  • Jer. 1:9 – the Lord put his words in my mouth
  • 1 Cor. 12:10 – to another the distinguishing of spirits
  • Hos. 14:9 – who is discerning, let him understand

Our spiritual smell and taste help us to distinguish good and evil. They work together to help us perceive the atmosphere around us, and get a taste for what is happening.

They pick up signals just as the nose and tongue pick up chemicals. Those signals then, are offered in prayer to the Lord, asking for his clarity, understanding and knowledge. And the Lord in his faithfulness will make clear what we are sensing.

Bottom line friends, allowing our senses to be awakened and alerted to spiritual things is nothing short of the New Testament pattern. Read the Book of Acts, pay attention to what the Holy Spirit did, said, and used people to do, say and reveal. Dreams, visions, wonders, healings, resurrections, miracles, earthquakes, bold explanations, stonings, beatings, trances, angelic visitations, riots, church growth, persecution, government interference, unquenchable faith, casting out demons, turning the world upside down.

I AM IN!! I WANT IT! There’s no more exciting way to live, than being in tune with the Father, and listening to his voice by means of Holy Spirit within us, and having His Word, the Bible as the foundation for everything we do, say, know, and follow.

The Apostle Paul tells us that there are many gifts that Holy Spirit gives, and one of them is – “the gift to discern what the spirit is speaking.” 1 Cor. 12:10 TPT

So my prayer for you echoes Paul’s, as found in Galatians 5:16 – “Walk by the Spirit…” and ” Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” 5:25 Let’s live in a place and way that we can discern the spirit speaking to us.

Discernment is needed everyday to help us distinguish between God, Satan and the world, and to warn others. We must train ourselves to walk in it and exercise it. Heb. 5:14

In my simplistic discernment, I find it simply amazing that even amid this Covid19 mess, the evil one is seeking to rob people of their sense of taste and their sense of smell. That is not coincidental nor are they unrelated symptoms. It is a spiritual signal that we need to be picking up on.

There are so many of those signals around us. Are you picking up on them?

How is your spiritual sense of taste and smell?

Go with God.

I Gotta Feeling

Sunday Sermon 9.5.20
Developing Discernment Series

Yes, I stole today’s title from will.i.am and The Black Eyes Peas. Woohoo. (Some of you are hearing it play now in your head, right? Go ahead, let it play out, then continue reading.)

As we continue to look at developing discernment in our senses, today we move from the senses of hearing and seeing to that physical sensation of touch, or we could also call it, our feelings.

Remember, the book of Hebrews tells us of a people who have have learned, or have trained their senses to discern both good and evil. (5:14)

So, how can we train our feelings to discern?

Feelings. those pesky things that often overwhelm us, fool us, and ignite us, can be good and controlled on one hand, and be negative, demanding and out of control on the other hand. How can they be trained and exercised for good?

We are triune beings like our Creator/Father, we are body, soul and spirit; and we know our feelings come from the soul part of us which is comprised of our mind, will and emotions.

That ole soul part can be problematic. Within it we find all of our emotions, all of our feelings, all of our thoughts, our conscience, our intuition, and our “gut” – that place where “I got a feeling”.

Because we experience our feelings consciously, and they are often triggered by events, it is so easy for their influence to be driving us. It is so easy for us to be driven by a feeling that may or may not be of God or His Spirit.

And let’s address too, our past experiences, prejudices, and traumas and admit that they too, affect our feelings.

What you have is a powder keg of explosive potential, for good, and for evil.

Hence, the desperate need to develop discernment over our feelings.

I have heard many people say, “I gotta go with my conscience”. (my inner feelings). Here’s the problem with that. Our conscience is determined by our life experiences and influences and therefore can become polluted.

1 Timothy 1:5 says that faith and a good conscience go hand in hand. In other words, without faith in God operating in your life, you will not have a godly, or good conscience.

Titus 1:15 tells us that to the pure all things are pure but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure.

The New Testament is full of this principle:

If you feed on the Word – you will obey God. If you feed on the world you will disobey God.

Therefore, your conscience cannot be trusted to lead you to God/good unless it is filled with the Word and the Spirit. That goes too for “your gut”, your intuition, your hunches and your feelings.

Bottom line, the Holy Spirit is an actual person. Not an “it”. One of his many jobs is to work in the lives of believers and their conscience to notify them of sin, to see to it that no one (or thought, or feeling) takes that believer captive. Colossians 2:8

The Holy Spirit will lead and guide us. He will convince us. He will teach us to discern between our feelings and those prompted by Himself.

The Holy Spirit is a person. He does not evolve. Cannot be conditioned. Cannot be deceived.

Yet, our conscience, our feelings can. They evolve, are conditioned and can be deceiving.

Charles Stanley teaches that there are these types of consciences:

  • good 1 Tim. 1:19
  • struggling 1 Cor. 8:7-12
  • soiled Tit. 1:15
  • seared 1 Tim. 4:2

No matter the number, or the levels, the point is that our conscience, our feelings must be washed by the Word of God and submitted to God for them to be relied upon for guidance.

God wants to speak to us and will do so in any way He chooses and if He is to use our feelings effectively, they must be yielded to Him and cleansed of our own leanings.

God has given us feelings and emotions because He has them. We are made in His image. Therefore, He wants us to feel as He does. To be moved with what moves Him. To be broken with what breaks His heart, to be moved with mercy, justice and compassion as He is.

We cannot be effective in discerning the Spirit of God if we are tied up in the knot of our own feelings and emotions. He cannot reveal His Father’s heart to us if our heart is overgrown with weeds of hurt, distrust, and insensitivity.

Our heart must be tended to, groomed, softened and healed. Our heart must be submitted to God because from it flows everything that we are. Prov. 4:23

From our healed and tuned heart will flow the promptings of the Spirit and our faith will arise to follow that “feeling” – that feeling of the Spirit of God touching a man or woman with the very heart of God. Those feelings that have been trained to align with The Word of God and the heart of the Father.

Those feelings that reflect the influence of God as evidenced by the fruit of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Gal. 5:22-23

All the other feelings have been trained to submit to the Word, and so we can quickly distinguish good from evil, wrong from right, God’s will from man’s will. We can feel Him inside of us, directing us and teaching us, we can hear His voice and feel His presence.

That heart, that person – is a powder keg of explosive potential for good!

That is the one to whom discernment will come, because their senses have been trained by reason of much use.

Again, to quote will.i.am :

“Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Friday, Saturday, Saturday to Sunday.”

Let those days be the ones that you discern a feeling…(from God).

Go with God.