Monthly Archives: May 2012

Live Like You Were Dying

An unexpected or sudden death holds the power to shatter our world as we know it. When these events occur, not only does the loss not make any sense to us, but also we come face to face with the knowledge that life truly is not fair; and bad things do happen to good people. This sudden loss places us into a tailspin of uncertainty and vulnerability because the loss is intensified by the fact that there was no opportunity to prepare, complete unfinished business, or just say our last good-byes. It’s no wonder that those left behind are overwhelmed with feelings of depression, shock, anger, hopelessness, and guilt. But what about you? How much time do you spend thinking about your own mortality?

If suddenly you realized your last day on this earth was today, would you regret how you have spent your time in the past? What about how you are spending it now? Sure, things like playing video games, surfing the Internet, or reading the latest celebrity gossip magazine can be fun. However, as your last hour approaches, how much comfort are you going to find in the knowledge of how you once wasted your time?

Most of us live our lives with the mindset that we will live to a ripe old age; but the reality is, we don’t know where we are in our own life’s cycle. Maybe we’re a young teen, or a sassy thirty-something. We could live to be 100; or we could go tomorrow. The reality is, we just don’t know. And some of us may be further along in our life story than we realize. Which brings us to ask ourselves, “Now that I am a follower of Christ, what purpose does God have in mind for me?” Better yet, when I do leave this earth, “How will God judge me?

No matter who you are, we all have a self-loving narcissist side to us. We gather our possessions, puff up our chest with our job and education accomplishments and live the lie that this is what life’s all about. *Pop*! Let me be the first to burst your bubble. If we consider ourselves to be devout followers of Jesus Christ then in life only one thing matters. We walk this earth for one thing and one thing only; to bring glory to God- “Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31) – nothing more, nothing less.

Today, the human race has been led farther and father away from God’s perfect plan. We live in a culture that makes us feel obsolete if we don’t measure up or obtain those things that we “must have” to feel successful. Instead of living a life set apart for God, our media tells us to look at another person’s success and say, “I need that to feel better about myself.” This is not what God has called us to desire and seek for our own lives. Instead, God desires for us to turn away from the trappings of this world and say, “Lord, use me! How can I best glorify You with my life?”

There’s no question, nothing’s for sure in this life other than death and taxes. When God decides it’s time for our last curtain call, are you going to feel more pleased standing before God in judgment saying, “Look at all the things I’ve amassed while on this earth.” Or are you going to be more gratified to stand before our Father while giving a testimony for all the occasions of spirit filled living when you have obeyed Christ? Won’t you be more proud of those times in your life that you spent in prayer, reading the scriptures, evangelizing, worshipping, and serving our Father in Heaven? I’ll be the first to admit I like nice things. But at the end of the day, they mean nothing to me. What matters most to me is the rewards that God says I will receive in Heaven. And while hearing “Nice House or Nice Car” can stroke your ego. No words of affirmation are going to hold a candle to hearing God say, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” (Matthew 25:23).

Building HIS Kingdom One Soul at a Time,

Pastor Steve

Advertisements
Categories: Daily Living, Judgement | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

They Can Never Escape Your Prayers

If you’ve taken the time to read my testimony, you already know that my coming to know Christ was not a road I would wish anyone to travel. Having grown up in the textbook definition of a “bible banging” Christian home, you might think that my future had already been mapped out for me. I mean come on, my grandmother was a church leader and my grandfather eventually built the church we would one day call our home church. The Gospel was force-fed through and through. Even though it seems like so long ago, I can still remember sitting with my grandmother at her dining room table when I was 8-years old. That was the day I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior.

As years past, my walk with Christ seemed unshakeable. But suddenly, just after turning 10, my life would change; something so horrific was about to unknowingly rule most of my adult life. It was the summer of 1980, and a good friend named Ritchie had invited me to a church summer camp. I felt great, I was making lots of friends and everything was going good until my second night there. As I lay fast asleep in the bottom bunk of my bed, I was startled to find my Christian pastor standing over me. Then that’s when it happened. I don’t really recall that many details; but I know he touched me in a way that no child should ever be touched. To this day I remember his obscene jokes as he whispered them into my ears. That night, he took my innocence; and forever changed my outlook on someone in his position of trust. Now that’s a lot for a 10-year old boy to deal with. I’m not sure if I was suppressing it or just trying to forget. But one thing I knew, my God had let me down and I didn’t want anything to do with Him or the church ever again.

For a number of years following the incident, I kept this deep dark secret suppressed. On the outside my life seemed the same; but on the inside, the more I was around the Christian faith the more I felt like a hypocrite. Without knowledge of what had transpired, my devout grandmother would constantly pray with my brother and I. She would often sit us down on her bed and try her best to reach our hearts with words that, honestly, fell on deaf ears. This proved to be a tremendous test of her faith. Again and again, I routinely nodded in outward agreement while staring out the window, all the while wishing it would end. I learned that if I wanted to get it over quickly, it was best not to disagree or raise opposition, or the prolonged torture would never cease.

This went on until I left for military service just after turning 18. The distance apart made it much easier to have no accountability for not attending church. Not to mention escaping the constant interrogation from my grandmother; which always ended with that oh so familiar question, “When are you going to get back in church?” As time passed, the questions came fewer and far between. Then one day, it dawned on me; my grandmother had quit her onslaught of lectures. I was like, “Finally!” What a relief; no more lengthy discussions, no more feelings of convictions. “Whew!” I had escaped her persistent pleading! What I didn’t realize at the time was that while I had escaped her pleading with me, I hadn’t escaped her pleading with God.

28-years had passed since that fateful day. Many mistakes and regrets had occurred a long the way. I went from blaming God for what I thought He allowed to happen to me, to thanking Him for what He used to perfect me though. After I gave God control of my life and was reborn, I couldn’t wait to call my grandmother; the same grandmother who sat at a small kitchen table with me as I gave my life to Christ 28-years prior. When I told her of the Good-News she began to cry. She told me that God had finally answered her prayers. I was shocked to find out that my grandparents had never stopped praying for me. My grandmother revealed how she had determined to quit talking and instead begin to diligently pray that I would return to our Father and be saved. She and my grandfather prayed for God to bring me back to Him for over twenty-years. What a testament of perseverance; twenty-years went by and they never gave up on me. Why? Because they knew of the redeeming power that God provides to us all. What I came to learn from this ordeal was that it wasn’t God to blame for what happened to me as a small child; it was Satan. For Satan knew that if he did not try and separate me from my Savior, I too would become a force to be reckoned with for building God’s Kingdom. My life had become a testament to the verse, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (Genesis 50:20). And this is why my catch phrase is “Building His Kingdom one soul at a time…” It only takes a small stone to make a ripple in a large pond. We all have past issues that seem disheartening. Whether it is abuse, drugs, crime, whatever; always live your life with one thought in mind. “Do not allow your past to become a crutch… Use it as a ladder to elevate your future!”

I share this with you today and pray that it may serve as encouragement to all you parents and grandparents who have children that seem to have no interest and at times may even seem hostile to your faith. I know on the surface things may look hopeless. And you may even begin to question if God is even listening to your prayers. But let me assure you, I would not be the man I am today had my grandparents stopped praying for this once lost child. So let me challenge you, who may be weary and are having feelings of despair, don’t give up! Though it may seem like there is no hope in sight, and you may feel like God is not at work, know that He is—in ways you can’t always see. Most of us have spent our lives trying to take care of things our way, but when we accept Christ as our Savior, we must learn to trust our lives to His care and in His timing. When we seek to do so, we can say with the psalmist, … “I trusted in, relied on, and was confident in You, O Lord; I said, You are my God. My times are in Your hands…” (Psalm 31:14-15). It is in these moments that we will come to know with all certainty that our prayers will be answered according to the will of God.

I pray that through my testimony it will inspire you to not lose heart in your situation with regards to your children. I pray you will keep seeking, keep knocking, and keep asking! “Pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:17-18). It is when we put our trust in God for their salvation, and feel comfort that all is done in God’s timing that we will see God move in our situation. And remember, your children may be able to escape your preaching, but they can never escape your prayers.

Building HIS Kingdom One Soul at a Time…

Pastor Steve

Categories: Marriage and Family | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Your Past is Not a Crutch

Categories: Video Blogs | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

The Unpardonable Sin

Most people are familiar with the story of Adam and Eve and the account surrounding the “Fall of Man.” They are also aware that God came to this earth in the form of Jesus Christ and paid the ultimate price to free us from our sins. Unfortunately there are those who believe that all sins have been pardoned by Christ’s death and therefore believe “once saved, always saved.” Yet, in the confines of sin, there is a sin that God Himself considers “unpardonable.” With respect to the Bible, can we unknowingly disqualify ourselves? When looking at scripture one finds that the book of Hebrews states, “It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance” (Hebrews 6:4-6). Therefore, can man lose their salvation? This answer depends on three differing positions. First, the view of the non-believer who outright denies Christ existed. Second, those who have heard the Word of God yet do not necessarily accept it. And third, those who accept the truth, yet still turn away from Christ’s sustaining and redemptive grace.

Today, society is representative of cross-cultural social acceptance. It is no wonder that many exist who may have heard the Word of God conveyed to them at times, and even professed a sense of faith, but not accepted Christ’s true saving grace. In essence they are non-believers. These people reject the belief that Christ came to this earth and paid for our sins. This is viewed as the intentional rejection of the salvation that Christ provides to man. “Such impenitence, if it continues throughout a person’s life, will lead to eternal separation from God because of the unwillingness to turn from sin” (Thorsen 159). And while many may elect to believe that this rejection is simply a singularly act of defiance. “It is crucial to recognize that the unforgivable sin is not a single act but a continuous, ongoing rejection. Anyone who has committed this sin would have no desire in this life to repent and believe in Jesus” (Hanegraaff 22).

Next, there is a link between Hebrews 6:4-6 and the parable that Jesus conveys in Mathew 13:2-23. This parable reflects one of a crop and soil that relates to a person receiving the Word, but due to their non-acceptance, is not essentially saved. In the eyes of the Lord, this is rebellion. As Thorsen warns, “Ongoing rebelliousness may, in fact, result in hardness of heart – a recalcitrance – that reduces a person’s ability to recognize and repent from sin” (Thorsen 159). In the confines of this rebellion, the unpardonable sin is looked upon as a sin that is developed over time; it is not a sin that one commits impulsively. It advances from ones opposition of the Holy Spirit, into a denial against Him. The final result is the permanent rejection of the Holy Spirit in one’s life, which results in the unpardonable sin, blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.

The final approach that I feel takes on the most understanding is found in Hebrew 6:6, “If they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace” (Hebrews 6:6). The key words here are “fall away.” “Those believers who adhere to the notion of eternal security have often suggested that the ones who are described as “falling away” were not really true believers” (Powers). As I Timothy 4:1 attests, “But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith” (1 Timothy 4:1). “The terms ‘fall away’ or ‘falling away’ means: ‘To fall away; to turn away; to commit apostasy. To turn aside; to deviate’” (Jackson 7). As such, the term “falling away” is not addressing those who are considered “backsliders.” On the contrary, this is a deliberate act to turn away from Christ and reject the Holy Spirit and the Word of God. These people are viewed in the same confines of those described in Hebrews 6. They were turning away from their faith and from the very salvation that Jesus provides.

In the confines of ministry context, I believe that there is substantial evidence to support the truth behind ones ability to lose their salvation. A good starting point is to convey the message of Mark, “I tell you the truth, all the sins and blasphemies of men will be forgiven them. But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of an eternal sin” (Mark 3:28-29). This passage seems to be very clear; the only true way that one can lose their salvation is if they choose to deliberately make the effort to do so. Furthermore, “Neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:39). As scripture confirms, contrary to popular belief, losing ones salvation is not done by accident. Thus, believers do not have to worry about inadvertently losing their salvation by a mere slip or indiscretion.

In summary, although the term “unpardonable sin” is not found in the Bible, there is one sin repeatedly described as “eternal,” and that is the sin of blaspheming the Holy Spirit. Unfortunately there is much misinformation surrounding this unpardonable sin. As one has learned, it does not occur in one single act of defiance or rebellion. “It is the intentional and persistent rejection of salvation offered through God’s Holy Spirit. Truth be told, when one intentionally, with full knowledge, chooses to ignore the cautions provided by scripture and the Holy Spirit, they are leaning toward committing the unpardonable sin. Their decision to blaspheme the Holy Spirit is considered a “willful” act. And as such, this blasphemes the work of our heavenly Father and constitutes being cast away into the eternal flames of damnation.

Building HIS Kingdom One Soul at a Time…

Pastor Steve

 

Works Cited:
Hanegraaff, Hank. The Bible Answer Book. Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson Publishing, 2004. Print.

Jackson, Michael. “Sins for Which There is No Pardon.” Nlag.net. 2011. Web. March 30, 2011.

Powers, Daniel G. “Observations from Hebrews 5-9.” Online.nbc.edu. 2009. Web. March 30, 2011.

Thorsen, Don. An Exploration of Christian Theology. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, 2010. Print.

Categories: Judgement | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.