Now did my chains fall off my legs indeed!

On Monday I was chewing on a passage John Bunyan wrote in his autobiography “Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners”.  He spoke in that passage to the weight of eternity and the reality of the nature of afflictions – and how severe his depression for lack of salvation.  Today I am drawn again to his insight, but on the other side of salvation:

“One day as I was passing into the field . . . this sentence fell upon my soul. Thy righteousness is in heaven. And methought, withal, I saw with the eyes of my soul Jesus Christ at God’s right hand; there, I say, was my righteousness; so that wherever I was, or whatever I was doing, God could not say of me, he wants [lacks] my righteousness, for that was just before [in front of] him. I also saw, moreover, that it was not my good frame of heart that made my righteousness better, nor yet my bad frame that made my righteousness worse, for my righteousness was Jesus Christ himself, ‘The same yesterday, today and, and forever’.

Now did my chains fall off my legs indeed. I was loosed from my afflictions and irons; my temptations also fled away; so that from that time those dreadful scriptures of God left off to trouble me; now went I also home rejoicing for the grace and love of God.”

– John Bunyan

The entire chapter of Romans 5 speaks to the redeeming nature of Christ’s death on the cross.  His life, His righteousness, His death and His resurrection alone are what provide my eternal life.  The only way I can be forgiven of my sins and found pure in the eyes of the Lord is to be covered by, to be indwelt by, to be found in Jesus Christ.  It is no righteousness of my own that makes me presentable to God.  It is the righteousness of Christ.

And Bunyan reflects on this truth, observing the fact that there is nothing I can do to add to my righteousness or take away from it, when I am indeed in Christ.  My righteousness, which is given to me by a supernatural work of God through faith, is not my own.  It is Christ’s.

“Weak faith does not make Christ less righteous.  Nor does strong faith make Christ more righteous.”

-John Piper

This is no license to sin.  Peter says, “do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God” (1 Peter 2.7).  Paul says, that since grace is multiplied where sin increases do we sin to make grace even more?  “May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?” (Rom 6.1).  By being united to Christ, we die to sin by uniting to Him in His death.

“My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous…”

– 1 John 2.1

We are to die to sin.  But our death to sin does not make us more righteous.  And if we do sin, we have an advocate, Jesus Christ, and we are no less righteous before God.

Buyan’s conclusion is the truly beautiful end:

“Now did my chains fall off my legs indeed. I was loosed from my afflictions and irons; my temptations also fled away; so that from that time those dreadful scriptures of God left off to trouble me; now went I also home rejoicing for the grace and love of God.”

Knowing that sin, obedience and faith does not fundamentally change our standing before God in our justification, completely frees us to love God and serve Him fully out of love and not obligation!  That is why the mark of the believer is obedience:  because the believer is so overwhelmed with the grace and love that would redeem regardless of himself, that he cannot help but give his life fully and utterly to God.  Have your chains of sin, obligation and self righteousness fallen off?  Or are you trying to earn your standing?  Are you free?  Are you obedient out of the abundance of joy and thankfulness for grace over your life?

Sometimes The Truth Weeds Out Tares

Sometimes the truth weeds out tares.

And sometimes it doesn’t.

Post-Christian Western American culture in general has some Christian based roots that permeate our mindset.  Good Samaritan laws, the golden rule, democracy, equality of all men, and holding the door open for strangers are all Biblically based ideas that we hold and value and teach to our children as common decency and good manners.

But we do not often teach these values in light of service to God and therefore one who serves another man in need is hailed as a hero and elevated to an esteemed status.  And thus the servant is not truly a servant.

One will never truly have a servant’s heart until he is treated like a servant and perseveres in humility and service.  One will not earn God’s favor in service unless he serves even the “least of these” with the expectation of only God’s approval (Matt 25.40).

Our culture has taken and warped these elementary teachings.  We are creating our own doctrines.  We are wanting to have our ears tickled and we are accumulating for ourselves teachers who build us up in “accordance with our own desires” (2 Tim 4.4).  We want to serve if we get praised for it.  We do not want to serve like a servant.

“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.”

2 Tim 4.3-4

The challenge and the call upon the Church is to make disciples:  to teach ourselves and others to obey all that Jesus commanded (Matt 28.20).  But our Churches are full of people who do not truly believe; people who want to have their ears tickled.  People who want to go to Heaven, but who do not want to die to themselves.

So what do we do?

“Jesus presented another parable to them, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field.  But while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went away.  But when the wheat sprouted and bore grain, then the tares became evident also.  The slaves of the landowner came and said to him, “Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field?  How then does it have tares?”  And he said to them, “An enemy has done this!” The slaves said to him, “Do you want us, then, to go and gather them up?”  But he said, “No; for while you are gathering up the tares, you may uproot the wheat with them.  Allow both to grow together until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, ‘First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn’.”‘”

– Matt 13.24-30

We teach sound doctrine (Titus 2.1).  And sometimes the Truth weeds out the tares.  But sometimes it does not.  And Jesus gives a very peculiar teaching on the subject.  The parable of the wheat and tares tells us that it is dangerous to weed out tares that are deeply rooted amongst the wheat because in pulling out a tare, the wheat might get uprooted too.  It is better, for the sake of the wheat, to leave the tare in place that is entangling it.

What does this look like?

This is specifically speaking of a person.  If there is a false doctrine alive and well in your church, it is your duty and Spiritual obligation to teach true and sound doctrine.  But if there is a person amongst you who believes himself to be a brother and is not involved in habitual sin for which he should be removed from the Church, leave it alone.  Continue to teach sound doctrine, continue to exhort him to obedience and salvation, but do not divide the church over a nonessential because in doing so, you will hurt the body.  You will loose some wheat.  And perhaps by the washing of the word he will come to faith!  Just last month a man in his 80’s who had attended for years came to faith at my church!

We are all on a path to maturation.  We must push one another on to Spiritual growth.  Let us not grow complacent in our walks, but let us press on to deeper and greater things (Heb 6.1).  Let us encourage one another to know and love God more, being fully transformed by the Spirit living within us.  And let us guard the purity of the teaching of our Church by teaching boldly and loving selflessly.  If the Truth does not push people seeking false teaching away, I would guess that the Spirit is working in their hearts.  Let’s pray for them.  And in the process, preserve the wheat.

And let us take note of the fact that the sowing of false teachers and nonbelievers in the Church is the work of the enemy.  This is one of his very skillful tactics against which we should be warned and prepared!

New routes are good for the mind

I have mentioned before that I like to run.  Most runners would tell you that there comes a point when your body is physically fit that running is mostly mental.

I couldn’t agree more.

I am training to run a half marathon.  For months I was in the habit of running seven miles three to four times a week.  Then I got sick.  I had this terrible bug in my chest, to the point that I was coughing up blood.  Once I got better, I fell into the habit of only running three to five miles, and one time I set out to run my seven mile loop and just quit part of the way through.  I had run that route a gazillion times, but for some reason I mentally believed that I could not do it anymore.

The training requires one long run per week, and each week you add one mile.  Three weeks ago I went on a retreat with my church.  It was the week that required a seven mile run, so one morning I set out on uncharted roads.  I felt like a million bucks!  This week it was the nine mile run.  I haven’t run nine miles in three months, but I was out with friends and so after breakfast with them, I took off in a new part of town.  I did not know where I was going, just knew that I needed to run for an hour and twenty minutes or so.  I was looking at the scenery, guessing where I was and experiencing new terrain: a lot more hills than I am used to!  But I only glanced at my watch a few times!  Nine miles rolled by.

However, that seven mile loop still haunts me.  Just thinking about it makes me tired.  It will take a serious act of willpower to run it again, and I don’t know that I care to run it again.  I despise that route.

What does all of this have to do with anything?

It has to do with our personal weaknesses.  Sin.  Those things into which we have fallen and towards which we build up an immunity and callousness.

“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

– Heb 12.1-2

Yes, this is the normal “runner’s verse” which paints the analogy of our Spiritual life with the necessity of endurance.  And while it conveniently links to my thoughts that were birthed through my run, it also speaks specifically to the mindful nature required to lay aside sin that so easily entangles us.  Each of us has a besetting sin, or a litany of besetting sins.  One person’s might be stealing, another’s might be lying.  Some people drink to drunkenness and some are serial adulterers.

Scripture says that God has written His law on the heart of every human being and thus our conscience knows if we are breaking His statutes (Rom 2.15).  The first time we sin, their is a conscious awareness of it, but sin tastes good.  It feels good.  We do not usually go in kicking and screaming saying “NO!  I do not want to do this!”  It is alluring and enjoyable.  But once we give in once, the hardness begins to set in to our hearts and we long for more.  After having passed a test without learning the material but cheated, one’s disciple to study is minimized and the “easy A” is quite appealing.  Once a person is sexually active, reverting to abstinence is extremely more difficult than for a person who has never had intercourse outside of marriage.  If one is accustomed to extra income from embezzling his company, the pay cut to honesty is quite near impossible!

Once you quit on that route, pushing through to the finish line is mentally exhausting.

So what is the answer?  How does one “lay aside the sin that so easily entangles us and run with endurance the race that is set before us”?  Accountability is the key.  Confessing our sins to God and to one another.

“Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.”

– James 5.17

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

– 1 John 1.9

We need to admit our besetting sins and ask for help.  If we confess our sins, He will forgive us.  And when we pray for one another, lifting one another before the Lord and asking for help to change, He promises to change us!  The James verse is often only quoted in part.  People exalt the power of prayer but leave out the context that it is dealing specifically with sin and righteousness.

As we pray and “consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds” (Heb 10.24), holding each other accountable, we rely on the power of the Holy Spirit because:

“I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.”

– John 15.5

My mentor likes to say that we need to align our hearts and minds with God’s statutes.  Agree with Him about what He calls sin.  Confess those sins into which we fall, and work with all of our hearts, strength and minds to fight against those sins, asking Him for the strength to honor Him with our lives.  Then, there is a responsibility that God has to complete the work that He has begun within us:

“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”

– Phil 1.6

Once you have done everything that you can do, everything that you know to do, leave it in His care.  Expect Him to work, to change us.

So in those moments where we are at our weakest, let us run new routes.  Completely avoid the temptation.  He will give us strength and we might find that other sins are not as alluring!  There may come a day when we can run the path on which you have fallen or quit, in the strength of the Lord, to defeat the sin and run through to the finish line.  But until that day comes, let us run in the endurance that He has given us to run new routes.  Routes of holiness.  Laying aside besetting sin and glorifying God with our lives.

Small Afflictions

Most of our forefathers who dramatically impacted the status quo of Christianity wrestled with their sin, the reality of eternity, a holy God and new birth on intense levels.  John Bunyan is one of those who lived a self-proclaimed “morally reprehensible” life, questioning himself deeply if he had committed the unpardonable sin.  When God revealed his grace to him and saved him, his deep thoughts and meditations overflowed in rarely equaled depth and profundity.

While serving a prison sentence for preaching without a license, Bunyan wrote a book entitled, “Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners”, his autobiography.  In reflecting on his turmoil pre-conversion, he made this statement:

“I saw old people hunting after the things of this life as if they should live here always . . . [and] I found [professing Christians] much distressed and cast down when they met with outward losses, as of husband, wife, child, etc.  Lord, thought I, what ado is there about such little things as these.  What seeking after carnal things by some, and what grief in others for the loss of them.  If they so much labor after and shed so many tears for the things of this present life, how am I to be bemoaned, pitied, and prayed for.  My soul is dying, my soul is damned.  Were my soul but in a good condition, and were I but sure of it, ah, how rich should I esteem myself, though blessed but with bread and water.  I should count those but small afflictions and should bear them as little burdens.”

– John Bunyan

Bunyan was primarily wrestling with the disconnect between Christianity’s claims on eternity and the way Christians live.  Do we not do the same?  Do we store up treasures for ourselves here on Earth where moth and rust destroy?  Do we build barns for ourselves to house our worldly treasures, and die the next day, leaving it for someone else to enjoy?

“And He told them a parable, saying, ‘The land of a rich man was very productive.  And he began reasoning to himself, saying, “What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?”  Then he said, “This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods.  And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry.'”  But God said to him, “You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?”  So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”'”

– Luke 12.16-21

I was meeting with my mentor recently and we had a conversation about the selfish nature of our grieving the loss of a fellow Christian.  If we truly believed what we say we believe, wouldn’t we rejoice at the passing on of a brother or sister in Christ?

“Oh death, where is your victory?   Oh death, where is your sting?”

 – 1 Cor 15.55

Have you wrestled with eternity?  Have you processed the meaning of life?  Do you live for toys, or pleasures, or achievements, or family?  If you were to die today, would you regret a pleasure or experience here on Earth?  If you had the choice to enter eternity this moment or remain in life, which would you choose?  Are you confident to stand before the creator?

We will not always live here.

“Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming.”

 – Matt 24.42

If there is one conversation you need to be ready to have, it is that one that will happen between you and God, face to face, when you enter into eternity.  And when we are ready for that, these momentary afflictions truly do seem small (2 Cor 4.17-18).

We just won’t tell them about Jesus.

My family has a saying that we regularly quote and and about which we laugh.  When my sister was three or four years old, my Dad took her for a walk/ride in the cemetery close to where we lived.  Dad was walking and my sister was riding her tricycle, complete with an “ooga horn”.  You remember the horn, the one that has a bulb on the back of it, and when you squeeze it, it goes “ooga”.


Upon entering the cemetery, my sister left her tricycle and they were walking through the grave stones looking at people’s life stories when a group of teenagers came walking through the cemetery as well.  When passing by the tricycle, one of the teenagers squeezed the bulb on the horn, and my sister heard her horn going off and looked to see what was happening.  She got upset that someone had honked her horn and asked Dad to do something about it.  Dad explained that there was no harm done, but my three year old sister wanted revenge, and decided that the best solution was “I know, let’s not tell them about Jesus”!

Have you ever thought about the true meaning of some of our profanities and curse words/phrases?  I hear “God damn it/you” so often, that I have to think people do not truly comprehend the depth of what they are saying.  “You cut me off on the highway; I hope God sends you into an eternity of pain and suffering – an eternal fire – where there is no hope of relief.”  Or, “Your dog went to the bathroom in my yard and I stepped in it, I hope you spend eternity in judgment and misery separated from God and everyone/everything that you love”.


Is there truly anyone in your life upon which you would wish such a fate?

Apparently my sister did, at such a young age.  But at least she had a grasp on the implications of not knowing about Jesus, His gift of salvation, and the fact that salvation is in Him alone.  And this was the worst thing that she could do to someone:  to withhold the hope of salvation from them.

Jesus’ purpose in coming to Earth was to glorify God by saving sinners.  “I have come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19.10).  “I have come that they might have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10.10).

Jesus’ purpose in leaving us on the Earth was to make take His teaching to the world, to make disciples of all nations:

 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

– Matt 28.19-20

Do you live purposefully to fulfill that calling upon your life?  Because that is the calling on anyone’s life who is a believer.  This is not an extra calling that only some, or that “super Christians” experience to missions.  This is the call of Christianity: to make Jesus’ name known.  This does not mean that everyone is called to leave life and land for the purpose of foreign missions, but it does mean that we are all to be intentional about making disciples.  Everyday.  Everywhere.  All the time.  And it starts with me!  I have to be a disciple to teach others to follow Him.  I have to be mature to teach others to be mature.  I have to know and obey all that Jesus commanded in order to be able to help someone else to know and obey all that Jesus commanded.  But you do not have to have all of the answers before you start.  It is a domino effect, there is a fluidity of growth:

“The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”

– 2 Tim 2.2

I learn from my mentor (and pastor, and friends, and church).  And I pour into younger, newer Christians than myself, and teach/expect them to do the same.  I am one link of the chain.  For the purpose of maturity (Heb 6.1).

Does this mark your life?  Because if not, you are in action saying, “I just won’t tell them about Jesus”.  If you have the hope of eternity in your heart and you look on another human being and do not offer him the hope of eternal life, the gift of forgiveness, you are in action saying, “God damn you”.  Or “I don’t care if you spend eternity in Hell.”

Let’s care.  Let’s tell them.

Why did God promise to not flood the earth again?


I live in Denver, and if you have seen the news anytime in the last week, you will know that the city – which is at a mile in elevation and in the high-plains desert – has received an abnormal amount of rain and has been flooded.  In fact, it was stated by Climate Central, an organization that analyzes and reports on climate science, that this was a 1,000 year event – meaning that the chance of this type of flood happening here, per year, is 0.1%.  The National Weather service even called the downpour “Biblical”.

My sister (who lives in the Mid-West) sent me an email accounting a conversation that she had with her daughter this week regarding the flood:

I had the news on yesterday while my children were playing.  The news started showing scenes from the Colorado flooding, so we had to have the discussion about whether Aunt Alison was safe or not and then we had this conversation:
H:  But Mommy, God said he would never flood the earth again.
Me:  I know H but that flood does not cover the earth.
H:  So, Colorado is not on the earth?
Me:  No, Colorado is on the earth, it is just not the whole earth.
H:  But Mommy, God said he would never flood the earth again, you know, with Noah.
Me:  Yes H, but he said the WHOLE EARTH.  Colorado is not the WHOLE EARTH, it is just a part of the earth and God can flood part of the earth.

It is a bit interesting to me that this has all happened lately as I have been chewing on God’s heart about the flood for the past couple of weeks, and the qualities of humanity expressed therein.  The story is pretty straightforward:  God created Adam & Eve, they sinned and were kicked out of the Garden.  They had two children and one killed the other.  Mankind multiplied and their evil deeds multiplied such that:

“Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.  The Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.  The Lord said, ‘I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky; for I am sorry that I have made them.’”

– Gen 6.5-7

God decided to destroy all of humanity – save Noah and his family – because every intent of of the thoughts of the heart of man was only evil continually.  God chose Noah, told him to build an ark, brought all of the animals to him two-by-two, and closed them up in the ark while He flooded the entire Earth.  After the flood receded, Noah made an offering to God and as He received the aroma of the offering, God said to Himself:

“I will never again curse the ground on account of man, for the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth; and I will never again destroy every living thing, as I have done.”

– Gen 8.21

Often times Scripture does not tell us why God does something.  And I believe it is extremely dangerous to try to impose our logic onto God if He does not reveal His motives to us.  But here we see clearly His motivation.  And it is the same for the occurrence of the flood and also for the promise to never do it again.  The stimulus is nothing other than the simple fact that all of humanity is evil, from the day he is born.  Only evil.  Nothing good.

Therefore, God promised to not curse again the ground and all of creation on account of man – even though we know all of creation is subjected to futility because of sin (Rom 8.20), and the very earth groans for the revelation of the Savior (Rom 8.21-22).

God exemplified His holiness and intolerance for sin in the flood.  He showed his grace by saving Noah and His family, and He established the first of five covenants that He would make with mankind throughout redemptive history.  And He did it all “Because the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth”.  The flood did not change that.  Such is the plight of man.  Such is our guilt – in sin we were conceived (Ps 51.5), and we are utterly incapable of any good deed in-and-of ourselves.  There is none righteous (Rom 3.10-11), and all of our righteousness is filthy rags (Is 64.6).  We were born dead in our trespasses (Eph 2.1), we were slaves to sin (John 8.34, Rom 6), and we were of our father, the Devil (John 8.44).

But the creator of the universe who spoke all things into existence, who has the power to destroy the Earth with water, loved us enough to offer us forgiveness and salvation.  And the flood then paints imagery for us!  Jesus used is as an example of His second coming:

“For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah.  For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be.”

– Matt 24.37-39

Let us hear this now.  If you can repent today, repent!  Let us be not like those who did not understand until the flood waters were upon them, let us be like Noah who, though he was evil in his heart like the rest of mankind, He heard God’s warning and obeyed, building an ark and trusting God’s provision and plan.  And because of his faith he became an heir of Christ’s righteousness:

“By faith Noah, being warned by God about things not yet seen, in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation of his household, by which he condemned the world, and became an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.”

– Heb 11.7

Do We Still Have Commandments?

“We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone.  See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all people.  Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.  Do not quench the Spirit; do not despise prophetic utterances.  But examine everything carefully;  hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil.”

– 1 Thess 5.14-22

Yesterday I wrote on the necessity of devotion to prayer, and I quoted one verse from 1 Thessalonians 5, “Pray without ceasing”.  I love this entire chapter as it is so practical and full of exhortations that are simple.  Well, they are simple in their instructive nature; they are extremely difficult to live out regularly and establish deeply in our hearts.  In these few verses there are fifteen commands:

  • Admonish the unruly
  • Encourage the fainthearted
  • Help the weak
  • Be patient with everyone
  • Do not return evil for evil
  • OR LET ANYONE ELSE return evil for evil
  • Seek everyone’s best interest
  • Rejoice always
  • Pray without ceasing
  • Give thanks in everything
  • Do not quench the Spirit
  • Do not despise prophetic utterances
  • Examine everything carefully
  • Hold fast to everything good
  • Abstain from everything evil

Being active, in the sense that I implied yesterday, is to engage in active ministry.  There are admonitions, these fifteen for example, which we are to be purposeful about all of the time.  We do not have to pray about whether or not to engage in sin.  We do not have to seek God’s direction or desire for us to rejoice in all of our circumstances.  We should be intentional and single-minded about returning good for evil and looking out for one another’s best interests.

It is so easy to fall off the wagon in either direction.  We can get so distracted by ministry that we forget prayer and we forget these basic precepts for living in community with one another.  We can also get so paralyzed by fear or needing to hear clear directions from the Lord that we sit and wait and do nothing.  But God has given basic instructions for everyone, everyday – such as this list of tenets.  God will direct our steps, and He will reveal specific callings and ministries for our lives.  But in the day-to-day, in the outliving of your ministry, and in your mundane life, these things are the basics that all Christians should do.  Through love for God.

Let’s not wait for special revelation or a special calling to obey.  God has revealed His intention for how we should live with one another, as we see an example above.  He has revealed His will for the world, that we would make disciples of all nations (Matt 28).  Once we get busy about doing what He has already told us to do, with prayer at the foundation, He will reveal and lead us into more service.  For “he who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much” (Luke 16.10).

Be Busy About Prayer

“If you want to be busy about something, be busy about prayer.”

– Kay Dewitt

I am a doer.  I like to feel purposeful.  I like to set goals, work hard and see results.  I moved to Denver about 9 months ago and have found a church and am itching to get involved.  The church had a new pastor start just around the time I started attending and we are in the praying phase of seeking the Lord’s direction for the Church.

That is essential, vital, foundational.

I, however, am ready to serve.  To do.  To feel purposeful.

Last week I was meeting with my mentor and we were talking about purposefulness, being useful to the Kingdom and the fact that I want to be more active.  And she made this profound statement, “If you want to be busy about something, be busy about prayer”.

God wants our hearts before He wants our actions.

“For I delight in loyalty rather than sacrifice,
And in the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.”

– Hosea 6.6

He does indeed want our service.  In fact, he has prepared good deeds for us to perform since before the foundation of the world!

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”

– Eph 2.10

But He only wants us to perform good works through a heart that is fully devoted and committed to Him.  And that through prayer.

“Pray without ceasing.” 

– 1 Thess 5.17

Major movements of God in a city or in our hearts will be predicated by prayer.  He will be glorified in the things that He does.  And He uses His people who are clinging to Him and seeking His plan.  And we can only know His plan by aligning our hearts with His, and we hear His heart through prayer and the study and application of His word.

Therefore we should not be quick to act.  We should be quick to listen.  And slow to speak (James 1.19).  And when we hear, we should be quick to obey!  To act without the instruction or leadership of the Spirit is to try to fill the need to be purposeful on our own.  It becomes all about me, instead of all about God and His plan and His glory.

Therefore, let us be busy about prayer.  Let us turn always, regularly, and earnestly to God to hear His instructions for our lives.  Then, and only then, let us be busy to work.  Don’t just act.  Follow His clear leading.  He will lead us and guide us every. single. day.  And He wants to use us, as we are willing and available!

Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.

Have you heard the rumors?  The end is coming.  The signs of the age are here.  There are wars, rumors of wars, earthquakes, etc.  Surely America has become so vile in our thoughts and laws that the Lord will return any day!

I don’t know about all of that.  My intention is in no way to get political in this post, but I do want to point out the fact that the United States is not the new Israel.  We are not God’s chosen people as a nation.  The new Israel is any and all who are found in Christ – who have repented of their sins and have made Him the Lord of their lives.  We are not politically or geographically defined, rather Spiritually united!

And not only that, but we often get so concerned and scared that the Church does not have enough sway to impact the culture and world.  Yes, I am deeply grieved at the continuing decline of church attendance and moral decay in our culture.  But if glorifying God was not the foundational factor in our morality in generations past, then there is no loss truly to be mourned.  Because morality without God is still damnable.

The Church in the first century was at a highly more vulnerable state than we are today.  There were maybe 500 believers in the world, who were quickly scattered, persecute and killed because of their faith and claims.  The Roman Emperor Nero, by the year 64 AD began persecuting and killing Christians publicly and worldwide persecutions were dominant for nearly three hundred years.  The first multiple generations of Christians only knew existence as hated and persecuted people.  Then the tides changed and because of how quickly and broadly Christianity spread, it was made the official religion of the Roman Empire in the 300’s.  Thus an entirely new threat came upon the Church:  sordid interests.  Non believers bought offices, forced conversions and Christianity became a status symbol and lost integrity.  But it still continued to grow.

Often times when we return to Scripture to remember that our battle is in the Spiritual realm, we turn to Ephesians 6.10-12:

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.  Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”

And also to 1 John 4.4:

“Greater is He who is in you than He who is in the world.”

The Holy Spirit indwells believers and gives us power to fight internal sin and to stand strong and proclaim the truth in the midst of Spiritual enemies, making disciples of all nations!  But today I am so moved by and encouraged by the story of Elisha and his servant as they stood before a battle against the King of Aram:

“[The King of Aram] sent horses and chariots and a great army there, and they came by night and surrounded the city.  Now when the attendant of the man of God (Elisha) had risen early and gone out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was circling the city.  And his servant said to [Elisha], ‘Alas, my master!  What shall we do?’  So he answered, ‘Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.’  Then Elisha prayed and said, ‘O LORD, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.’ And the Lord opened the servant’s eyes and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.”

– 2 Kings 6.14-17

God has a purpose for His Church.  He will bring people from every tribe, tongue and nation to repentance and salvation (Rev 5.9).  And He – the Almighty God – indwells all who have repented of their sins and turned to Him for salvation (Ez 36.26-27).  He gives us power from within to fight sin and to represent Him well.  But, we are also standing with an army of angels.  Sometimes it feels as though we are alone.  Elijah felt that and complained to God about Israel:

“‘Lord, they have killed your prophets, they have torn down your altars, and I alone am left, and they are seeking my life.’  But what was the divine response to him?  ‘I have kept for Myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal’.”

– Rom 11.3-4

And while God always promises to keep for Himself a remnant of faithful people, He also promises to charge a spiritual army around us.

“For He will give His angels charge concerning you,
To guard you in all your ways.”

– Ps 91.11

Llet us always remember that “those who are with us are more than those who with them.”  God is greater in power.  We have more soldiers.  And the battle has been won!  The end is written!  Therefore, let us stand firm.  Let us hold the line.  Let us press on.  Let us honor God.

Demon Bells


Demon Bells.  Have you ever heard of such a thing?  I first heard about them when I started riding a motorcycle.  Biking culture values the demon bell as  good-luck charm that, at its least, keeps the rider safe on the road – and can ward off gremlins, demons and evil spirits that would cause one to run out of gas or foul his plugs, etc.

Almost every bike on the road has a demon bell.  Mine did when I bought it.

Are you superstitious?  For four years I lived in a country that is very aware of the supernatural and spiritual realm, but most Americans would claim that our scientific method and logic has caused us to leave such superstitions behind.  But as I sat and let my mind wander about some of our cultural quirks, I thought of a handful of common ideas that we might not even realize are spiritual in nature:

  1. Don’t walk under a ladder
  2. Black cats causing back luck
  3. A rabbit’s foot brings good luck
  4. Throwing salt over your shoulder causes good look
  5. Breaking a mirror causes seven years of back luck
  6. Bad luck comes in threes
  7. Wishing on a wishbone
  8. Wishing on a shooting star
  9. Opening an umbrella indoors causes bad luck
  10. Friday the 13th or Halloween as evil or spiritual days
  11. The number 666
  12. Beginner’s luck
  13. Find a penny pick it up, all day long you’ll have good luck
  14. Don’t step on a crack…
  15. If your ears are ringing or itching, someone is talking about you
  16. Crossing your fingers
  17. Knocking on wood

I’m sure you can think of many more, this is just a quickly brainstormed list that represents some cultural quirks with which we are all familiar.

In the New Testament, we see many accounts of people coming to faith and churches being established.  It is vitally important that we remember that the book of Acts is an historical account and not an instruction manual by which we should establish our practices.  One of the main reasons we must remember this is because every time the Gospel entered into a new city, the order in which the marks of conversion occurred was different, and on some occasions, some signs did not happen at all.  However, we can learn great things from the early Christians in terms of their complete and total surrender to Christ in coming to faith.  Acts 19 speaks directly to a spiritual response in terms of putting away superstitions and magic.  There were seven brothers who were attracted to the power of the Holy Spirit without being filled by Him, and they were humiliated by demons that they tried to cast out of people.  And after that account comes these two simple verses:

“Many also of those who had believed kept coming, confessing and disclosing their practices.  And many of those who practiced magic brought their books together and began burning them in the sight of everyone; and they counted up the price of them and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver.”

– Acts 19.18-19

Complete trust and reliance on God, in some cultures, has a very real application of putting away magic.  I have heard accounts of people successfully burning amulets, magic books and other sources of demonic power in their lives, and I have also heard of people – like the seven brothers – who wanted to believe, but only for the sake of power, and were not able to burn and put away their sorcery.

But most of us in 21st century America do not keep amulets for protection or cast spells for fortune, so this might sound a bit foreign.  The application, however, is very real.  In small ways we do keep superstitions.  Do you believe in luck?  Or do you believe in a sovereign God who has a plan for your life (Jer 29.11)?  Do you cross your fingers – just in case it might help?  Or do you pray and surrender your desires to God’s perfect plan?  Do you cringe on Friday the 13th or whenever you see the numbers 666?

The application is even more broad and convicting than that.  Perhaps you are not superstitious but simply believe yourself to be self-sufficient and rely on your own strength, cleverness and ability.  Is your education what defines you?  Your job?  How about your reputation?  Is Church something that you do on Sundays?  Or does God permeate your thoughts so fully that you recognize when a superstition would creep in, or a thought that is simply cultural and not Biblical?  Do you fight to analyze your entire life and hold it accountable to the Bible?  Are your thoughts God’s thoughts?  Or are they your thoughts?  Or are they someone else’s thoughts imposed in your mind – and you have never even considered the validity of them?  Let’s not be lazy.  Let us be diligent to examine ourselves, our thoughts, our actions and our habits.  Do you have any magic books that need to be burned?