Monday, November 30, 2009

A True Friend

What is a friend? Friends are people with whom you dare to be yourself. Your soul can be naked with them. They ask you to put on nothing, only to be what you are. They do not want you to be better or worse. When you are with them, you feel as a prisoner feels who has been declared innocent. You do not have to be on your guard. You can say what you think, as long as it is genuinely you. Friends understand those contradictions in your nature that lead others to misjudge you. With them you breathe freely. You can avow your little vanities and envies and hates and vicious sparks, your meannesses and absurdities, and in opening them up to friends, they are lost, dissolved on the white ocean of their loyalty. They understand. You do not have to be careful. You can abuse them, neglect them, tolerate them. Best of all, you can keep still with them. It makes no matter. They like you. They are like fire that purges to the bone. They understand. You can weep with them, sing with them, laugh with them, pray with them. Through it all--and underneath--they see, know, and love you. A friend? What is a friend? Just one, I repeat, with whom you dare to be yourself.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Communion with God

Colossians 1:9 says, "For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;" From this text, I see two things. We'll look at the first one now. Paul and Timothy were praying for this church in Colosse. Prayer by definition is a "spiritual communion with God." The Apostle Paul tells us that we should pray without ceasing (1 Th. 5:17). We are constantly told in the Bible that we are to be a people of prayer and yet it is one of the hardest things to do in our Christian experience. Why? – Because the Devil knows that it is our strongest weapon against him. Thus he throws everything that he can at us to keep us off our knees. I, for one, do not pray enough. I heard of an Iranian who invented a compass-like device engraved with the names of 150 cities, in Arabic. The devout Muslim needs only to turn the instrument until the needle indicates north, twists a dial to the name of the city he is in and the arrow points the way to Mecca, which Muslims face to pray fives time a day. How many times do we intentionally pray per day? I would venture to say that our Muslim friend out-prays most Christians.

There are two problems that I think we struggle the most with in prayer. First, we don't do it enough. Why? – The world, the flesh and the Devil. The world tells us we're too busy. The flesh tells us we're too tired. The Devil tells us we're too late. Second, we give up too quickly. We pray for a few days, a few weeks, a few months and then we stop. We start thinking that God isn't listening or that He refuses to answer. We do this because we forget that God's thoughts are not our thoughts and God ways are not our ways (Isa. 55:8). We forget that God does not work on our timetable. Never has and never will. In the end, we have not been called to figure out what God is doing all the time, but we have been called to pray all the time.


Tonight will be our graduation ceremony here at Calvary Chapel Bible College Peru. We have four students who will be walking the aisle. Carlitos is from Colombia, Karina is from Honduras, Belen is from Ecuador and Candy is from the United States. My congratulations go out to all four of these graduates. They have each studied hard to earn 80 credits and graduate with an Associates of Theology degree. God bless you guys as you take the next step.

Friday, November 27, 2009

The Forgiveness Flower

I read this to the students this morning while dealing with the subject of forgiveness. "One day a missionary was walking along a trail in East Africa with some friends, he became aware of a delightful odor that filled the air. He looked up in the trees and around at the bushes in an effort to discover where it was coming from. Then his friends told him to look down at the small blue flower growing along the path. Each time they crushed the tiny blossoms under their feet, more of its sweet perfume was released into the air. Then his friends said, "We call it the forgiveness flower." It does not wait until we ask forgiveness for crushing it. It does not release its fragrance in measured doses. It does not ask for an apology; it merely lives up to its name and forgives-freely, fully, richly."

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Sexual Orientation Question

There is something that has bugged me for several years now. I really have a problem with Christians who feel comfortable participating in websites that require them to list their "Sexual Orientation." There are plenty of passages in the Bible that warn against being unequally yoked together with unbelievers, light vs. darkness, children of the world not hanging around the children of darkness, etc... Think about it. We have indeed become WAY too comfortable with this world.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Pick a Team!

I received a question the other day from a student that I thought I would just share. It was in regards to a controversial video on the net by Paul Washer. You can see it here:

He is speaking about false Christianity. The gist of his message is simple, one can not be truly saved if their life does not reflect Christ. No where in the discussion does he say that one can lose their salvation or gain it by works as some have erroneously asserted. Unfortunately, we have reached the point, especially in the American church, where that anyone who literally believes the Bible and seeks after true holiness and believes in biblical separation is labeled as a legalist and a fanatic. The truth be told, a fanatic is usually someone who loves Jesus more than you do. To be brutality honest, the majority of "Christians" that I know show absolutely no fruit of repentance in their lives. They walk like, talk like, think like, smell like and look like the world. Don't believe me? Go look at their Facebooks and their MySpaces. Absolutely no fruits of repentance. Sadly, I say this after having spent nineteen years in ministry and most that time fighting with "so-called" Christians.

Again, the problem is that so many in the church today aren't really saved at all. They've bought into religion but not Jesus. Barnes (a guy that does Christian statistics) agrees with me. He says that six out of ten members in the average evangelical church in America aren't saved at all. Dr. Albert Mohler of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary also just released a study that confirmed the same within his denomination.

Jesus said that we can know a tree by it's fruit. Good trees produce good fruit and bad trees produce bad fruit. He further states that it is impossible for good trees to produce bad fruit or for bad trees to produce good fruit.

If you look long and hard at the state of the church in America, it is indeed very discouraging to say the least. I have issues with someone who claims to be a Christian and yet lives like a heathen. Do the world and the church a favor and pick a team! I believe this is what Paul was speaking of when he said in Romans 2:24 "...THE NAME OF GOD IS BLASPHEMED AMONG THE GENTILES BECAUSE OF YOU". The bottom line is that, "THERE IS NO FEAR OF GOD BEFORE THEIR EYES" (Romans 3:18).

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Thought for Today

I shared this with the students today. "If you don't know where He wants you to be tomorrow, stay faithful to where you know He has you to be today."

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Hearing the Voice of God, Part 2

The second thing that we need to do to hear the voice of God is to allow Him to speak to us in the way He chooses. We don't need to dictate to Him concerning the guidance methods that we prefer. Remember that His ways are not our ways. He is Lord and we are merely servants.

I'm reminded of 1 Samuel 3:9-10 when Eli said to little Samuel "...go lie down: and it shall be, if he call thee, that thou shalt say, Speak, LORD; for thy servant heareth. So Samuel went and lay down in his place. And the LORD came, and stood, and called as at other times, Samuel, Samuel. Then Samuel answered, Speak; for thy servant heareth.” So, just like little Samuel, listen with a yielded heart; there is a direct link between yieldedness and hearing.

So, now we’ve talked about the steps that are necessary to hear God’s voice…what are some ways that God may choose to speak to us? 1. Through His Word - This could come in our daily reading, or He could guide us to a particular verse of Scripture. Psalm 119:105 says, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” 2. Through an audible voice - Exodus 3:4 says, “And when the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I.” 3. Through dreams - Matthew 2:11-13 says, “And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way. And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.” 4. Through visions - Revelation 1:10-11 says, “I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.”

But by far, probably the most common of all means of God speaking to us is…5. Through a quiet inner voice. More on that next time.

Change, Part 1

I was working my way through the tiny book of Titus when I came upon this verse in Titus 1:9 which says, "Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers." I began meditating on the phase "holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught" and it got me to thinking about change. Proverbs 24:21 says, "My son, fear thou the LORD and the king: and meddle not with them that are given to change:" As a matter of fact, the Bible speaks profusely about change and how that it is not always good.

The Bible also warns us against being so quick to withdraw ourselves from our past. II Thessalonians 2:15 says, "Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle." Jeremiah 6:16 says, "Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein." Unfortunately, as I reflect upon my nineteen years of ministry, we are a people who insist upon change.

I believe that we are too quick to want change today. Don't get me wrong. I certainly do not advocate that we return to the dark ages. I do enjoy being able to write these thoughts on a computer, in a climate controlled environment under the warm glow of incandescent lighting! No, I'm not talking about that kind of change. I'm talking about change when it comes to the things of God and the house of God. Now maybe I'm getting a little older and I've already been there, bought the T-Shirt and back again, but I've learned and observed a few things over the years that concern me. As I reflect upon many of these changes, I simply do not see the fruit. The average church member today is lost. George Barna confirms that. Dr. R. Albert Mohler in his studies of Southern Baptist life confirms that. Where has change taken us? What have been the gains to church life and more importantly the Kingdom of God as a result? I say that we've lost something in our rush to change things.