When You Take Up A Cross

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Our church is in the midst of a forty day fast. During this fast our Pastor has been preaching through a book that his father wrote, Come and See: Jesus is Alive

We have missed the last several weeks of services so I have been watching the services online at our church’s website. As I listened to our last Sunday’s service our Pastor made the statement that “when you take up a cross, you take up a curse.” This resonated with me deeply…

When you listen to our modern day preaching, especially from our American “mega” churches and many of our televised proclaimers, so many of them seem to focus on the blessings of a believer. I don’t think I have ever heard too many of them preach on the curse of a believer. No, they lean more to the preaching that Jesus became the curse so that we could have the blessing, but they claim that blessing to be “our best life now” and that’s just not biblical.

The blessing of God is not the best life here on earth. The book of Acts makes that perfectly clear as does the other sixty-five books.

But the things which God announced beforehand by the mouth of all the prophets, that His Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled. Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you, whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time. Moses said, ‘The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brethren; to Him you shall give heed to everything He says to you. And it will be that every soul that does not heed that prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.’ And likewise, all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and his successors onward, also announced these days. It is you who are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant which God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’ For you first, God raised up His Servant and sent Him to bless you by turning every one of you from your wicked ways.”

Acts 3:18-26

The blessing of Abraham promised to us was the blessing of being turned from our wicked ways. It was the blessing of repentance, of the forgiveness of our sin… and with that blessing comes suffering.

For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake…

Philippians 1:29

When the apostles made disciples they did not promise them earthly blessings and worldly prosperity.

After they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying, “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.”

Acts 14:21-22

How those tribulations come will vary, but they will indeed come. It is through these tribulations that you discover if you indeed truly do believe.

In the beginning of the days of the nation of Israel the Lord left the Philistines and other nations to test and teach His children. They had to learn war and they had to learn conviction.

Now these are the nations which the Lord left, to test Israel by them (that is, all who had not experienced any of the wars of Canaan; only in order that the generations of the sons of Israel might be taught war, those who had not experienced it formerly). These nations are: the five lords of the Philistines and all the Canaanites and the Sidonians and the Hivites who lived in Mount Lebanon, from Mount Baal-hermon as far as Lebo-hamath. They were for testing Israel, to find out if they would obey the commandments of the Lord, which He had commanded their fathers through Moses.

Judges 3:1-4

It’s no different for us today, we too must learn war and we must learn conviction. Our war is not against flesh and blood (Ephesians 6:10-13) and the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh (2 Corinthians 10:3-6), but it is indeed war all the same. Our need to learn obedience to our God through deep stable conviction is just as important today in this New Covenant as it was in the Old. We are too easily deceived (2 Corinthians 11: 3, Colossians 3:6-8, 2 Timothy 4:1-5) and therefore we must be tested to be strengthened.

The devil has been trying to convince us that our God is a liar, that our God is holding out on us, that our God is not really for us since the beginning. When tribulations come that old serpent is right there with his demons of darkness to whisper into our ears, “See. I told you so. If He really cared, if He was really there, this would not have happened.

Either we will choose to live our lives as if this world is all we get or we will choose to live our lives as if this world is simply preparation for the greater world to come. The decisions you make in life, especially in times of tribulation, tell the truth of which choice you are living.

When Jesus took up His cross He also took up a curse.

If a man has committed a sin worthy of death and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, his corpse shall not hang all night on the tree, but you shall surely bury him on the same day (for he who is hanged is accursed of God)

Deuteronomy 21:22-23

He took up our curse. We were the ones worthy of death. We were the ones who were accursed of God, but He took it and redeemed us from it… and because of it the world hates Him. He set us free from the things that the prince of this world uses to control us. When we take our stand with Jesus we also take our stand against the world and all that it entails… culture, politics, religion, fear, death, love of self, etc and just as He was, we too will be persecuted.

When we take up our cross, we take up a curse. We are redeemed from the curse of God, but we exchange it for the curse of the world.

If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you…

John 15:18-20

Ravi Zacharias states in his book Why Jesus?, “If there is any passage of Scripture that accurately describes our modern day contempt for truth, our attachment to power, and our voluntary surrender to culture, it is this (Luke 23). It is not accidental that religious authorities, political appointees, and cultural symbols have come together to crucify Him once again in our day.

Barabbas was released… a cultural practice was fulfilled.

“We have a law”… political correctness was enjoined.

“He claims to be the Son of God… kill Him”… all at the behest and with the blessing of religion.

The irony is that he wanted to be owned by none of the three: culture, politics, or religion.

When times of tribulation hit me and I begin to find myself questioning my God… He always takes me back to the book of Job. He takes me back to the words of my Jesus and to the words of the apostles and the sufferings that come with salvation. It just comes with the territory.

Job suffered through personal tribulation to his family, his finances, his health and words of accusation from those who called friends. Jesus suffered through hate coming from culture, politics, religion, and words of accusations from those who He called friends.

Who are we to think that in our salvation we too shall face suffering?

Who are we to think that we can take up a cross that is without a curse?

Who are we to think that we can saved out of this world and remain of it and be praised and loved by it?

For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps…

1 Peter 2:21

As sinners saved by grace through faith our sufferings come from many different avenues and for many different reasons. Sometimes they are the result of our sin, sometimes they are seemingly undeserved, sometimes they appear to come out of nowhere… but regardless of where, why, or how they come they are purposed or at the very least allowed by our very Good God and they will bear fruits of righteousness (Hebrews 12:11) in us if we are His.

A Good Name

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A good name is better than a good ointment,
And the day of one’s death is better than the day of one’s birth.
It is better to go to a house of mourning
Than to go to a house of feasting,
Because that is the end of every man,
And the living takes it to heart.

Ecclesiastes 7:1-2

On this day two weeks ago I was praying for my Daddy and Momma and the radiologist that they would be meeting with concerning the beginning of radiation treatments on a tumor on my Daddy’s adrenal gland. A tumor that had somehow managed to evade the chemotherapy that was actually shrinking the tumors in his lung and lymph nodes. Shrinking them to the point that his CEA markers were dropping abundantly every week, giving us the appearance that we were headed in a positive direction.

At least at the discovery of this tumor things finally made sense. My Daddy was getting weaker and weaker, but we couldn’t understand why. We wondered if he was just hitting the point of depression in the process, so we surrounded him with posters and encouragement and schedules and exercises trying to keep his spirits up. We spoke of light things and made plans for the future… you know, for when he was feeling better.

He was not depressed. He was not giving up. He had kept his word to us and to the doctors to the best of his ability just as he always had his whole life. He was, as a matter of fact, fighting so hard for us that his white blood cell count had risen to over 114,000 by that Saturday, and it was for us he was fighting. My Daddy was ready and willing to go home to be with his Lord, but he fought the good fight (1 Timothy 6:12), knowing that to live was Christ and to die was gain (Philippians 1:21). My Daddy kept the faith (2 Timothy 4:7).

The appointment on Tuesday, in our minds, was to remove the drain tube. We just knew that since we had not been able to drain any fluid for several weeks now that the reason he still felt like he couldn’t breathe was due to the catheter in his chest cavity. However, that would not be the case. Although the tumor in his lung and lymph node was smaller… there was another issue that had been hiding. The drain tube would stay.

We knew it was bad.

Thursday’s appointment confirmed it.

However we never expected that Saturday would be the last day that we shared together. It’s crazy how quickly life can change and throw you.

Tonight I told his story for the first time without crying. I left some things out. Like how very hard it was to let him go. How very hard it was to make that call… to honor Daddy and to honor God.

On the way home tonight as I listened to a song on the radio I couldn’t help but begin to once again ask God why… Why now?

As crazy as it may sound while sitting at a red light, at that moment, God gave me the vision and the feeling of my Daddy’s spirit being finally freed from this body of death. It was just a moment. I wanted to hang on to it and go further, but God took it as quickly as He gave it.

Here’s the thing, the same Holy Spirit that raised my Jesus, that raised my Daddy, lives in me. We are eternally woven together by the Grand Weaver by grace though faith in the Christ and not even death can change that truth. We did not believe the gospel in vain. We still serve and worship the same God, the One True Living God.

…then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it.

Ecclesiastes 12:7

Oh my I miss him. I just want to hug him. I want to bury my head in his chest and see his eyes light up when I tell him what God is doing in the life of his grandkids. I want to talk with him about the church and about the things we could do to reach more people for the Kingdom of Light.

My Daddy left this earth with a good name. His good name is a testimony to his Good God.

Some people he knew through work, a group of people who only saw him when he came though town to deliver items to them came to his funeral. They sent flowers. The florist asked what Daddy was “in to” in order to personalize the flowers. They asked if he was a huge Bama fan, or NASCAR fan, or something of that nature. One of the co-workers said no, all Daddy ever talked about was Jesus and his family. So she told the florist he was a super Christian and that was the best way to describe him. So she told the florist to use the biggest cross she had to represent him in that arrangement.

A good name points others to the gospel and to the only name that saves, the name of Jesus, for there is no other name under heaven that has been given to man by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12).

If it takes my Daddy’s death, my sister-in-law Phillis’ death, or my own to get the living to take this truth to heart… then my Daddy and my Phillis, would willingly accept that cost and so will I.

What I know, that I know, I know, is that God doesn’t waste anything. He will not waste my Daddy’s sufferings and He will not waste my sister-in-law’s sufferings either,  just like He did not waste His Son’s

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

Romans 8:18

As my husband reminded us tonight. There are others who have it worse. There are those who do not have the hope and assurance that we have. We know exactly where our loved ones are at and will be and with Who… and we know one day we will be reunited.

My husband also shared how we have to remember that the devil wants us to feel sorry for ourselves. He wants us to sit around and say “woe is me” instead of “glory to God” and well we just are not going to give him what he wants.

We will indeed continue to praise the name of Jesus and give glory to our God.

My Daddy Lives

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When my Daddy went home to be with the Lord just before midnight on Saturday, May 2nd I didn’t think I would ever be able to write again. He was the one who believed in me so much that he put his money where his mouth was.

One day when He was feeling so very bad and tired and just couldn’t get out of the bed, I sat down on the bed beside him and he looked me in the eyes and said “Nicole, God is using you. He is using your writing for His Kingdom. Don’t ever doubt that. You are doing exactly what He has called you to do.” 

When He would comment on my blog or tell me that he read a post, it really didn’t matter if any one else ever did. If I could be a blessing to my father, then it was enough and it was good. He believed in me. He has always believed in me. He has always been there for me and loved me through all things. What I write about him isn’t social media fantasy. It’s truth. Flat out, beyond a shadow of a doubt, truth.

These past few days that truth was validated as at least a thousand people came to pay respect to my Daddy and to be a testament to the life that he lived. My Daddy was such a good man. He was a good man that taught other men how to be a good man. His every day life was a sermon that he preached for the glory of God.

As David’s time to die drew near, he charged Solomon his son, saying, “I am going the way of all the earth. Be strong, therefore, and show yourself a man. Keep the charge of the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, to keep His statutes, His commandments, His ordinances, and His testimonies, according to what is written in the Law of Moses, that you may succeed in all that you do and wherever you turn…

1 Kings 2:1-3

As I awoke this morning, I for the first time since Monday, April 27th have felt His peace. As I have battled the what if’s and the why’s of the past many days the Lord reminded me that He alone held the keys to death and life (Revelation 1:18). He reminded me that Jesus was with my Daddy and my Daddy did not enter into His gates in fear or sadness or pain, but in great joy and glory.

As I sought a word from Him this morning He gave me Psalm 56:13

For You have delivered my soul from death,
Indeed my feet from stumbling,
So that I may walk before God
In the light of the living.

Today is May 6th or 5/6 the Lord met me at that address and then my heart was pricked as to the verse number of 13. Remembering that I had heard once that the number 13 was a “good” number in Hebrew I wondered exactly why and how… so I did a little research.

Judaism 101 sites that “the number 13 is not a bad number in Jewish tradition or numerology. Normally written as Yod-Gimel, 13 is the numerical value of the word ahava (love, Alef-Hei-Beit-Hei) and of echad (one, as in the daily prayer declaration, G-d is One!, Alef-Cheit-Dalet). Thirteen is the age of responsibility, when a boy becomes bar mitzvah. We call upon G-d’s mercy by reciting his Thirteen Attributes of Mercy, found in Exodus 34:6-7.

Then the Lord passed by in front of him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished…”

Exodus 34:6-7

Rabbi Dr. Hillel ben David separates and explains these attributes:

(1) HaShem has compassion before man sins;

(2) HaShem has compassion after man has sinned (comp. R. H. 17b);

(3) “El,” mighty in compassion to give all creatures according to their need;

(4) “Rachum,” merciful, that mankind may not be distressed;

(5) “Chanun,” gracious if mankind is already in distress;

(6) “Erek appayim,” slow to anger;

(7) “Rab Chesed,” plenteous in mercy;

(8) “Emet,” truth;

(9) “Notzer Chesed laalafim,” keeping mercy unto thousands (comp. the explanation of Samuel b. Meir in “Daat Zeḳenim,” ad loc.);

(10)Nose ‘awon,” forgiving iniquity;

(11)Nose pesha’,” forgiving transgression;

(12)Nose Chata’ah,” forgiving sin;

(13) “Wenakeh,” and pardoning.

Rabbi Dr. Hillel ben David also shares that the meaning of the number thirteen is “the bonding of many into one”. The number thirteen is among the holiest of the numbers because it is closely associated with HaShem.

The Shema – שמע is recited twice a day, by observant Jews, to obey the Torah command as found in the Shema itself. The goal of the Shema is not just to declare that HaShem is one, but rather to declare that HaShem is one and there is nothing in existence besides Him. The world and everything around us, is just an extension of HaShem.

Not only does echad=13, but the Hebrew word ahava (love) also has a numerical value of thirteen, as expressed verbally in the Nazarean Codicil:

1 Yochanan (John) 4:8 He that loveth not knoweth not HaShem; for HaShem is love.

Chazal teach that if two words have the same numeric value, then the essential meaning of the two words is the same. The above verse from the Nazarean Codicil gives us another very important relationship:

HaShem is Ahavah (Love)

Thus we learn that: 

HaShem is echad (one)

Echad (one) is ahavah (love)

HaShem is ahavah (love)

It follows, therefore, that we become one with HaShem, when we love Him and we love what He has created. Love means unification with the object of our love, and unification with HaShem means a unified heart in belief and devotion.

Thus we see that HaShem equals thirteen. Therefore the meaning of thirteen is the oneness and love of HaShem.

So, thirteen is another way of expressing the unity of HaShem.

Throughout the siddur (prayer book), and Jewish thought, thirteen is used to express HaShem and His oneness. 

As I ponder this new knowledge on the number thirteen and the meaning of this number and the fact that the Lord chose to give me peace through Psalm 56:13 this morning, my mind went also to Jesus’ prayer in John 17

The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me. Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.

John 17:22-24

My Daddy loves the Lord. My Daddy loved his family. My Daddy loved others. Today he is one with his Creator and he will forevermore walk eternally in the land of the living. It was time for my Daddy to see the glory of His Lord.

I miss him. I will never not miss him, but I will see him again. He will be there to meet me when I get there.

During his life celebration I was comforted to hear the words of his friend and Pastor as he reminded us that even in glory my Dad is anticipating with us the the end of this age. I find comfort knowing that we still share this anticipation together. I don’t know why, but I do… and until that time I will keep trying to walk in the footsteps of my Lord and the footsteps of my Daddy and hopefully my life will also be a sermon that testifies to the gospel of Jesus Christ and to His glory so that the world might know that the Father sent Jesus to save all the whosoevers that will believe.

And I reckon I will keep writing too.

In closing… here’s my rendition of Psalm 56 in prayer for my Daddy:

Be gracious to me, O God, for cancer has trampled upon me;
Fighting all day long it oppresses me.
My cancer has trampled upon me all day long,
Many tumors fight proudly against me.
When I am afraid,
I will put my trust in You.
In God, whose word I praise,
In God I have put my trust;
I shall not be afraid.
What can cancer do to me?
All day long it distorts my words;
Its thoughts are against me for evil.
Cancer attacks, it lurks,
It steals my steps,
It has waited to take my life.
Because of wickedness, cast it forth,
In anger put down this cancer, O God!

You have taken account of my wanderings;
Put my tears in Your bottle.
Are they not in Your book?
This cancer will turn back in the day when I call;
This I know, that God is for me.
In God, whose word I praise,
In the Lord, whose word I praise,
In God I have put my trust, I shall not be afraid.
What can cancer do to me?
Your vows are binding upon me, O God;
I will render thank offerings to You.
For You have delivered my soul from death,
Indeed my feet from stumbling,
So that I may walk before God
In the light of the living.

 

 

Jesus Wept

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Jesus wept.

John 11:35

One of the shortest verses in the Bible is John 11:35. I have lost count of how many times this verse has been used as a joke of sorts when the topic of Scripture memorization is being addressed. I have used it myself as I challenged AWANA attenders to challenge themselves to hide even more of God’s Word in their hearts. However, this joking was never meant to negate the importance of having this small poignant verse hidden as well. I myself have clung to it all week.

We find this verse in the context of the death of a friend and a brother. Lazarus had been sick for many days and Mary and Martha had sent word to Jesus. They had asked Him to come and to heal their loved one… the one that Jesus Himself loved. Yet, Jesus did not come.

Oh my goodness it hurts when Jesus does not come.

Jesus received the news. He heard the cry for help, but He stayed right where He was. The text says,

Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when He heard that he was sick, He then stayed two days longer in the place where He was.

John 11:5-6

In the very beginning of this chapter the love and devotion that Mary and Martha had for Jesus was established. The text says,

It was the Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.

John 11:2

The love, devotion, and commitment that Mary, Martha, Lazarus, and Jesus had for each other is, at the very beginning of this chapter, made clear. Jesus loved them and they loved Jesus. The choice for Jesus not to come had nothing to do with His love for them. It didn’t mean that He was refusing to hear their prayer to Him. He hadn’t put a hand up to stop their cry for help or closed His ears to them. He had heard, but He didn’t come.

Lazarus died. Martha and Mary cried. Jesus seemed to hide.

Oh my goodness it so very much hurts when Jesus seems to hide.

Then He came. Four days after they had laid down their loved one in death, He came. Martha and Mary came to Him accusing. They accused because they believed. They knew who He was and what He had the power to do. It was because they believed that it hurt so very much.

When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and was troubled…

John 11:33

Oh the sovereign power it must have taken to keep to the plan when Jesus could have displayed, to our eyes anyway, even more greatly His insurmountable might over death and the grave.

He was angry. The phrase “deeply moved” is embrimaomai and it means to be moved with anger, to admonish sternly, express indignant displeasure with some one; I charge sternly, snort like an angry horse; (literally) “snort (roar) with rage” (BAGD) which expresses strong indignation, i.e. deep feeling that is moved to sternly admonish.

Was Jesus angry at Mary and Martha for accusing Him? Was He angry that they wept? Did He find their weeping offensive, seeing it as a statement of their disbelief?

No, I don’t think so. I believe Jesus was angry at death. He was as mad as a snorting horse at the pain that death brings. I believe He was absolutely enraged with the separation that death brings. 

He was also agitated. The word “troubled” is tarassó and it means to stir up, to trouble, put in motion (to agitate back-and-forth, shake to-and-fro); (figuratively) to set in motion what needs to remain still (at ease); to “trouble” (“agitate”), causing inner perplexity (emotional agitation) from getting too stirred up inside (“upset”).

Then we have the verse, that very short verse, Jesus wept.

The word for wept is dakruó and it means to shed quiet (actual) tears; to weep silently (with tears).

Then the kicker of it all… the question.

But some of them said, “Could not this man, who opened the eyes of the blind man, have kept this man also from dying?”

John 11:37

YES! Yes, He COULD have, but He didn’t.

The raising of Lazarus from the dead is the seventh miracle recorded in the book of John. It’s the seventh and the last, until the miracle of the empty tomb. This means something. The culmination of all the earthly signs, miracles, and wonders were always to climax at the empty tomb of the Christ.

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies…

John 11:25

I have been crying out to God for healing on behalf of many for years now. Specifically and especially here in these last few months… and yesterday morning as my heart hurt so very much and I opened up His Word to meet with my God and I turned to cry out to Him through Psalm 30 I understood the word “troubled”. I understood tarassó. I could not stop my body from shaking back and forth as I read the words of this psalm back to my God in my prayer.

I have begged Him to move this mountain, but He has made it stand strong. I have sent for Him. I have cried out to Him, but He has chosen to stay hidden and I am so dismayed.

Yet in my pain I heard Him speak, Nicole what healing are you looking for? I have healed. I have healed with the only healing that matters. I never promised earthly healings. I promised to heal the soul. I promised that I would heal your sin and that the grave would not be able to keep any that I have healed. This is My promise, that death has no victory over My godly ones. Weeping may last night for the night, but joy comes in the morning.

Jesus wept. Knowing that Lazarus would be raised by His very own word in minutes, He still wept.

Weeping doesn’t mean you don’t believe. Weeping doesn’t mean you have given up. Weeping doesn’t mean it’s over. Weeping just means it hurts.

Sometimes Worship Hurts

PPM-3.jpgThrough Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.

Hebrews 13:15

Sometimes praise is a sacrifice. Hebrews 13:15 is tucked away in the last chapter of the book of Hebrews in the context of the suffering of Jesus Christ. It falls right after words that remind us that here on earth we do not have a lasting city… and we are not to be seeking to… but we seek the city that is to come. A reminder that we are to follow Jesus outside the camp, outside the safety and protection of the wall, and there we are to suffer, to bear His reproach, and as we do so we are to offer up a sacrifice of praise. Our lips are to praise His name in our pain.

Sometimes worship hurts.

But really, did we truly expect it not to?

Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.

Romans 12:1

God gave us our bodies. He formed them out of the dust in the beginning and from then on He formed in the womb of our mothers. He alone breathes the breath of life in them. Our greatest offering that we have is to submit this body to Him and allow Him to use it however He deems worthy.

Sometimes the way He chooses does not make sense to us. Sometimes offering up our bodies as a living sacrifice to Him means submitting to that cancer diagnoses and saying, “Okay, LORD, if it be Your will… I will drink this cup.

My sister-in-law, Phillis Nelson, said, “Yes Lord, I will drink.”

She laid her body on the altar of the will of God and He has taken her cancer diagnoses and used her to inspire many. Only God and her husband knows the extent of her suffering because to all others around her she has kept smiling. She IS fighting the good fight. This is the testimony that the Lord her God gave her and she has been His witness from Alabama to Afghanistan.

When the world tells us that a cancer diagnoses is our permission to put our bodies to death to escape suffering, Phillis instead has listened to the Creator of her body, and her story, and embraced the suffering so that her body could be used to proclaim the excellencies of the One who called her out of darkness into His glorious Light (1 Peter 2:9).

When so many today proclaim the name of Christ as a means of selfish gain, Phillis has been a contrast to the selfishness of the worldly professors, as in her suffering she has proclaimed His name. In Him alone she stands and He is faithful to hold.

These past few years our family has been learning the depth of the meaning of a sacrifice of praise. It’s not a fun lesson. It’s not at all. It hurts. It hurts a lot.

Will you still worship Him when worship hurts?

When We Lose Jesus In The Temple

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I  am taking a little break from social media. In this break, since I usually check my emails from my phone, I have even been spared the “home page” news articles. This morning I logged onto an old email account that I don’t keep synced to my phone just to clear out the spam and boom there was the “home page” articles.

Oh my! Beloved believer, I challenge you to take a step back from the media and a step deeper into the Word of God and the pursuit of holiness because if you do, the level of renewed shock that will hit you over the state of our American media will be overwhelming.

It’s amazing really how quickly we can become used to sin. We just accept it. We laugh at it. We roll our eyes at it. We may even be repulsed by it… but not enough to actually change the channel, report the video, or NOT watch the movie.

We have a world that is being rocked by earthquakes, covered in volcanic ash, washed away by tsunamis, slain by blood thirsty swords, plagued by diseases, corrupted by greedy deceitful politicians, with children being orphaned, assaulted, abused, and killed through selfishness, neglect, and sex-trafficking and the front page news is actually wasting space and time to report on supposed transgendered olympians and who Miley Cyrus is locking lips with now.

Really?

The book of Jeremiah was written concerning a time with political leaders and religious leaders quite similar to our present day. Trust me. I dare you to read it and see for yourself.

In the thirty-sixth chapter of this book I read a verse that just seemed to stand out to me in flashing neon…

Yet the king and all his servants who heard all these words were not afraid, nor did they rend their garments.

Jeremiah 36:24

The background of this verse is that Jeremiah had written down the warning of the Lord to the king and the people of Judah to repent and to return to the Lord. God called out to them to turn away from their idol worship, from their hypocrisy, from their preaching lies, from their greedy gain… and He let them know that if they did not He was indeed sending in the Chaldeans to destroy the city.

There were those who knew God and honored God and who were terrified at this warning and sought to bring it to the king in the hope that he would respond as his father Josiah had done and repent and return to the Lord… but Jehoikim, the present king, was not the least bit affected by the hearing of the Word of God.

As a matter of fact he sliced the scroll through with a knife and tossed it into a fire, completely unimpressed.

We might gasp at his audacity… but really… how many of us in America today, how many of us even IN THE CHURCH, are not impressed with the warning of the Word of the Lord? We read what the Scriptures say concerning sin and we do not tremble. We, like the king and his officials in the days of Jeremiah, are not afraid.

We have forgotten who God is.

We have unlimited access to gaining knowledge about Him. Thousands of studies, programs, conferences, blogs, and videos are at our fingertips. We can learn the Greek and Hebrew of the original text and the traditions of the context. We can debate theology, eschatology, psychology, apologetics, and philosophy. We have apps with Bible study tools free and easy enough for a child to use… yet we do not fear God.

We have removed Him from His throne room and made Him a classroom. He has become to so many nothing more than a topic for discussion and debate and political slant. We know His Word, some front and back, but we have no awe of Him or love for His people.

In  Luke 2:41-52 we read of the day that Mary and Joseph and their family were traveling home from the Passover Feast. They had been traveling about three days when the realized that they had lost Jesus. After they searched frantically for Him among the traveling caravan they backtracked to Jerusalem and there they found Him. He was there in the temple digging into the Scriptures. Mary and Joseph had lost Him, right where they found Him.

In 2 Kings 22:8-13 we read of the account of the reign of Josiah. Josiah was a king who chose to respond to the call of God on his heart. He first began by cleaning out the land of all the altars to false gods and then he wanted to restore the temple of God. During the restoration process the Word of God was discovered. The Book of the Law had been lost for years. The Word of God was lost right where they found it.

We live in a day where Jesus has been lost right where we found Him. He has been lost within the very churches where so many found Him. When we look at our present day and the evils that fill it, including the state of so many of our churches, the moral decline of our nation, and our own up close and personal battles, life can seem pointless and hopeless.

But what would change if you remembered who your God is and trembled at His Word?

“For My hand made all these things, thus all these things came into being,” declares theLord. “But to this one I will look, to him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.”

Isaiah 66:2

From the days of Josiah, clean up to the present day, our God has been shouting the warning of the danger of honoring Him with our lips and not our hearts. Through Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Amos, Micah, and others God calls out to us to love Him and love others through our deeds and our ways. 

He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

Micah 6:8

It is not enough to simply know justice and righteousness and kindness, we have to DO it.

It is not just enough to say we believe in God, but we need to believe God!

You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder.

James 2:19

Look at your own life, your own thoughts, your own choices, what would change if you trembled before the Word of God?

Now hear this, O foolish and senseless people,
Who have eyes but do not see;
Who have ears but do not hear.
 ‘Do you not fear Me?’ declares the Lord.
‘Do you not tremble in My presence?
For I have placed the sand as a boundary for the sea,
An eternal decree, so it cannot cross over it.
Though the waves toss, yet they cannot prevail;
Though they roar, yet they cannot cross over it.
‘But this people has a stubborn and rebellious heart;
They have turned aside and departed.

Jeremiah 5:21-23

Beloved, have you lost God right where you found Him? Have you forgotten who He is? If you have, He calls out to you today to remember. Remember who He is. Remember all that He has done. Remember.

But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first…

Revelation 2:4-5

Nothing Is Too Difficult For My God

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Last night on our way home from softball practice our soon to be eleven year old was discussing her last days as a ten year old. She said (and I kid you not), “This is my last week to be ten years old. You know ten is such a great age! It’s the first time you are in double digits. It’s the first time you have a zero after the year in your age. I just need to do some something crazy this week while I’m still ten. I just need to really LIVE IT! I know! I’m going to do handstands until I get one to stay up. I’m almost there! I can feel it!

I admire her zeal for life. As a thirty-eight year old woman with, what seems at times, like a lifetime of regrets that like to drag behind me, an overwhelming set of present circumstances that like to constantly remind me that life is mostly hard, and an uncertain future ahead of me that likes to remind of my past regrets and present circumstances so that it can instigate me to fear in making any type of choices because I am fully aware of how devastating the wrong and unwise choice can be… Here lately I have simply rarely found myself saying, I just need to really LIVE IT.

It’s been really bad the past several years. I have felt like I fell in a pit and became surrounded by darkness and death crept into my spirit one little bit at a time. The once wide eyed excitement I had for the mystery and beauty of the body of Christ became one of cynicism and no longer trusting anyone.

I had been lied to too many times. I had carried the weight of broken promises for too long. I had walked so far in the confusion of duality that I wondered if I would ever come out of the fog and find that clear simple, yet narrow, path again. The one that was proven.

As I am taking a break from social media and digging deeper and deeper into the book of Jeremiah I am being reminded of and restored to the joy of my salvation. As I read this past week of the Shantung Revival and read the testimonies of some of the missionaries involved, my heart, for the first time in a while, has began to stir.

I am being reminded of who I KNOW my God to be.

Ah Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for You, who shows lovingkindness to thousands, but repays the iniquity of fathers into the bosom of their children after them, O great and mighty God. The Lord of hosts is His name; great in counsel and mighty in deed, whose eyes are open to all the ways of the sons of men, giving to everyone according to his ways and according to the fruit of his deeds; who has set signs and wonders in the land of Egypt, and even to this day both in Israel and among mankind; and You have made a name for Yourself, as at this day.

Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah, saying, “Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh; is anything too difficult for Me?”

Jeremiah 32:17-20, 26-27

Bottom line. Is anything too difficult for my God?

No. Nothing is too difficult for God.

How easily we forget who He is and begin to limit Him to our own personal understanding of Him, even if that personal understanding is Biblically accurate. His attributes, His power, His purposes are not limited to His revealed word. He is, even still, so much more.

We must never take away from Him anything that He has revealed or change anything about Him that He has revealed, but we also cannot and must not place Him in the box of our own understanding of what He has revealed.

He says nothing is too difficult for Him. Nothing.

He is the Creator and Sustainer of the entire universe. He is the God of all flesh. He is the One who breathes life into everything that has life. He is the One who controls the times and the epochs. He decides the rising and setting of the sun and makes it stand still if He wants to… even if its one of us, His created, who asks Him to do it.

“Thus says the Lord who made the earth, the Lord who formed it to establish it, the Lord is His name, ‘Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.’

Jeremiah 33:2-3

I am learning again in my heart who my God is. As I sank into my pit I clung to His Word. I clung to the truth that I knew of Him. I carried out the truths I had learned, the steps that I recognized, I kept to the path that I could see, even though I have often questioned if I was just flat out lost. I have held fast to the hem of His garment that I was able to catch a glimpses of in the mass of chaos. I have clung to Him even though it appeared to me that I felt nothing in spirit. I know His Word is true and I know eventually He will bring me through this valley back into His presence on the mountain top. I am not there yet. I still walk in the valley of the shadow of death. I am still wondering and wandering in the wilderness, but I know my wondering and wandering is not without purpose. I have come to the waters of Marah and behold, my God has revealed the tree, the Lord my Healer is in the process of making these bitter waters sweet.

This life is short… and every moment… every day is a great gift from our God… so let’s really LIVE IT!

 

How Big Is Your God

PPM-3.jpgIt’s really quite amazing how quickly we can become dependent upon methods of men and systems of study. How easy it is to forget that our God is not bound by what we have decided and concluded about Him, regardless of how many years we have diligently pursued Him academically.

There are foundational truths that He lays down in His Word. There are covenants that He has made with man and the heavens and the earth that are solid and sealed and will never be changed or revoked. These things He has revealed to us, we can count on with firm assurance. However, what we cannot do is use them to bind Him.

Last week in our church service at Central our Pastor shared about the the Shantung Revival. He shared that it was in the notes at the Southern Baptist Mission Board that as the dangers escalated in China, as the Depression continued in America, as the missionaries saw very little response to the gospel of Jesus Christ, some of them simply decided that the Chinese’s lack of response to the gospel was due to the fact that God had not “elected” them to salvation. The missionaries had preached, the Chinese refused to hear, and now it was out of their hands and it was time to pull out.

It would be a Norwegian Lutheran woman also serving as a missionary in China who would bring a message from God to all the Chinese missionaries to let them know that the problem was not the Chinese people, the problem was them.  She had been captured by pirates and held hostage on her way to meet with the missionaries in Hwanghsien. You see this missionary had a reputation, of going about and asking people if they were born again. This included the captain of the pirates that held her hostage and the other 200 men of his crew. It was even reported that she asked Missionaries themselves, “Have you been born again?” (The Shantung Revival by Mary K. Crawford)

She made it to Hwanghsien several months after her capture, and true to her reputation she asked the Southern Baptist missionaries, “Have you been born again?

And what they discovered was no, many had not.

“One young man tried to deceive himself and others; he insisted he was saved. He was a worker. But He could not deceive the Holy Spirit. One night the healthy young man was suddenly struck down in the court-yard. He had to be carried in, stiff and blue and cold. Friends burdened for his soul were kneeling at his side crying for mercy. The Missionary called into his ears.” “Confess your sins quickly”! And as soon as he could open his mouth he just poured out his black sins, and stood on his feet again, a forgiven sinner. Praise the dear Lord, the Saviour of all sinners!

Several others have had God’s hand on them in the same way. One old, hardened sinner, also a worker, and a much prayed for man, one evening could not possibly keep his seat. In spite of himself he had to get up, he had to go to the front, and he just had to pour out a life of black sins before them all. No public confessions had been made before. He just confessed, — he had to — but seemed hard and cold and untouched through it all, and the atmosphere of the place seemed suddenly changed, the church seemed filled with evil spirits. But the next day he was a broken man, tears streaming down his face. He seemed to be set free, but he has many things to put right.”

If you are truly born again. You can feel when a church has been filled with evil spirits. You can feel when your home has been filled with evil spirits. You can feel when someone in your presence is filled with evil spirits. You can feel when you yourself are under the oppression of evil spirits.

Here these serving missionaries were declaring the Chinese people not elected by God and they themselves knew Him not. They were nominal Christians only. Well trained, well appearing, determinedly serving Him through works, but they knew Him not. Their lips professed Him, but their hearts were far from Him.

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’

Matthew 7:21-23

Are you one who claims to be a servant of the gospel. Are you a teacher, a pastor, a deacon, an elder, a pastor, a priest?

Oh beloved, have you been born again?

Are you blaming your lack of “fruit” on the hearts of others and on the power of prevailing darkness? Do you use the excuse of the end of the age, the latter times, as your reasoning for the absence of salvations and revival in your church and your own life?

Know now… that just as in the days of the Shantung Revival. The problem is not with the darkness. The problem is with the light. You can not be the light if you do not have the Light. If you are born again, is the Holy Spirit of God being quenched within you?

How big is your God?

Is He big enough to save you? Is He big enough to demand your entire heart? Is He big enough to cause you to be broken over your sin? Is He big enough to bring revival to your soul? Is he big enough to cause you to be humbled under His mighty hand? Is He big enough to heal your heart, your mind, your body, and your soul? Is he big enough to lead you to make restitution to others?

Our Pastor that shared during the prayer meeting that initiated this revival the Norwegian Lutheran Missionary asked if any among them needed a healing. Finally one of the older missionaries raised her hand. She was going blind. The doctors knew no cure for her degenerate eye disease and they had reached the limit of the strength of the lenses that they could give her. She came forward and they gathered around her and laid hands upon her and began a James 5 prayer for healing. In the midst of the prayer for her healing the missionaries through the power of the Holy Spirit turned their prayers toward personal confession of sin and repentance. Those gathered there, including the old missionary who raised her hand had forgotten that the initial prayer was for her healing. Finally someone asked her how were her eyes and it was then that she realized that she could see. She never had to have more than reading glasses until the day of her death.

I will close this post with another testimony from the Shantung Revival from a Southern Baptist Missionary…

“All this time I had not doubted my salvation, or I hardly believe that I would have come back to China. I had been back just a year when Miss. M. came. Something in me did not want her to come. But one day a fellow Missionary gave me the thought that the thing to do was to pray, ‘Lord, send a revival, and begin in me.’

When the meeting began I hoped the speaker would not ask me the question, “Are you born-again?” I sat near the front in the foreign meetings to be sure she would not detect any lack in me. O, my deceitful heart, when I should have been eager for the light which I did not have! She asked us Missionaries to help her in personal work by asking the Chinese if they were ‘born again.’ This I did one morning after Chinese service, and the question choked me, and my heart bore witness, ‘You’re not born-again yourself, how can you ask that question?’

This was early in the meetings; by Wednesday I was very miserable, but tried to keep happy and singing, consoling myself that if I could sing I knew I was saved. Wednesday p.m., I went through a period of questioning. M. was at home and I talked to her, whether she answered or not I do not know, but she did not give me any comfort, for which I praise the Lord. It was a series such as this: ‘I think I’m saved.’ ‘How could I be here if I were not saved’ ‘I hope l am saved,’ well, I guess I am saved,’ well, I ought to be,’ and so on. Then I went to work and to the afternoon meeting.

I had planned to ask Miss. M. to walk with me and put the facts of my case before her so as to make her think I was talking about someone else. When I asked her she indifferently replied, ‘No, I am going with someone else.’ I went home and felt that there was no help, ate a little supper and to the hospital for prayers with the nurses. One of the nurses asked me what was the difference between ‘believe and be saved’ and be ‘born again.’ (Believe can be used in a sense such as to believe the fact of Christ’s advent and teachings without the work of grace in a heart changed by Him.) I answered, ‘You will find out later.’

I went home, M. was out; I was in the big house alone. I knelt by the bed and prayed, ‘Lord, I don’t know whether I’m saved or not but you know; I want to be right with you and with man, please show me what is wrong.’ My sins came before me like darkness, and I cried, what can I do?’ Just then the burden rolled away and the Light of Salvation shone in my soul. I saw my sins and I saw the Cross. Such joy flooded my being but it was only a moment before the temptation, ‘It cannot last, such joy as this,’ but then came the blessed assurance in Rom. 8 that ‘neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor — height nor depth nor any other creature should be able to separate me from the Love of God which is in Christ Jesus, our Lord.’

Quickly I jumped up to run down stairs to hunt a sheet of precious promises printed in Chinese. I looked up the promises in English and wrote them in the back of my Bible. They were the most precious words I had ever known! Then I took paper and pencil and began writing a letter home confessing how far short I had fallen of all they had believed me to be and sending back a dollar to pay for the twenty-five cents that I had stolen when a child.

Then and there the Bible became a new book to me; I was a new creation in Christ Jesus. I knew that as God revealed my sins to me I would do what He suggested about restitution. I was full of joy and peace about my salvation, but after meeting with God I wanted every pretence and wrong dealing with man made straight. Some things were hard, but He made it harder not to do this. He showed me many things and it has brought me joy as one thing after another has been made right with man.”

 

It Feels Good To Stretch

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Your words were found and I ate them, and Your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart; for I have been called by Your name, O Lord God of hosts.

Jeremiah 15:16

I am deep into the chapters of the book of Jeremiah. This is such a timeless book. The words given to Jeremiah by the Word of the Lord are just as relevant and accurate today as they were between the years of 627 BC and 574 BC. That is the beauty of the Scriptures. They never stop teaching and revealing. They never end in the fulfillment of their intended purpose. Whatever has been written, whatever has been declared, whatever has been recorded will be be carried out to completion.

This is the first precept class that I have led for adults in several years. I have within my class a gentlemen that asks questions that I have never even considered. I love it! His questions cause me to think. His questions cause me to go back and grab hold to what I have learned in the Word and to earnestly call on that promise that Jesus made in John 14:26 and seek the help of the Spirit in my recall.

As we studied in Jeremiah 30 – 31 this past week, this gentlemen introduced to me the dual covenant theory. I had never heard of the dual covenant theory. Then as we discussed more the details of the time frame of the words of the prophecy in the book of Jeremiah he posed the question of the belief of some professing Christians who claim the millennial reign began at Pentecost and we, the church, simply have failed in our attempt to set up God’s Kingdom on earth as some believe we were commanded. He also questioned me on the belief that some professing Christians have that we, as the church, are the New Israel. Then the question came of how can we know who is speaking truth to us. When the false prophets stand there and they speak words out their mouths in the house of God that they claim to be from God. How can we know who speaks truth?

Great questions. Real questions.  Questions that I as a believer should be able to answer or at the very least not run from in fear. The discussion in this class is stretching… and it feels good to stretch.

Having this type of reasoning of the Scriptures as we discuss the importance of learning how to discern the voice of the Spirit from the voice of the evil one is like sitting down at a table of delicacies and savoring every bite brought to your mouth as you try to taste the details of each ingredient. If we do not sit down and eat the Word of God in this matter we will find ourselves trusting in the lies that are served up to us as plates of truth by false teachers and false prophets.

They are among us beloved. They are indeed.

So how can we know who is speaking truth?

Here are some of my own personal red flags:

* when they pull their validating Scripture references out of their Biblical context

* when they speak words that attempt to puff me up and want me to focus on my own self success and happiness

* when they claim that any part of Scripture is no longer valid due to its place in history

* when they deny God’s eternal love and specific plan of redemption for Israel

* when they make Jesus less than God and treat Him irreverently

* when they despise any people group simply because of the color of their skin or the place of their birth or the ignorance of their minds

* when they encourage me to rely on experiences and feelings rather than the Word of God

* when they teach and speak as though I have command  and authority over the Holy Spirit of God

Beloved, our God has taken great care to preserve and protect His Word through thousands of years. Although many have tried to destroy it, distort it, and deny it… the Word of God remains.

The grass withers, the flower fades,
But the word of our God stands forever.

Isaiah 40:8

***

But the word of the Lord endures forever.” and this is the word which was preached to you.

1 Peter 1:25

The Word of the Lord is forever. What He spoke in the beginning is just as true in the end. His Word does not change. His promises do not end. As to how we can know who is speaking truth and who is speaking lies… precious one, if we are not rooted and grounded in His Word we will always be victims of the wind (Ephesians 4:14).

Our Creator God never intended us to to be dust in the wind blowed away by every wind of doctrine and every imagination of man and every lie of Satan himself. In the beginning God took the dust and out of it He formed us into His image and then He breathed His life into us (Genesis 2:7) and He planted us in Him (Genesis 2:8).

The fall of man, because we chose to listen to the lie of the serpent instead of the truth of our God, has caused us to be uprooted from His garden.  Yet our God would not forsake His creation. He instead redeems us.

He sent His Son and He made a way for us, because He knows that we are but dust (Psalm 103:14), to be regathered and reformed and firmly planted in Him. He made a way. One way (Jeremiah 32:39, John 14:6). Though He cast us out of His garden because of our sin, though He kept us out because of our transgression, though we deserved to never be allowed the opportunity to return because of our iniquity. He redeemed us any way.

He planted a garden on Calvary and He set within that garden an accursed tree. A tree that had been transformed into a cross that would bear the weight of the sin of the world and the Son of God who would receive it into Himself and in death would be carried and planted in a garden (John 19:41-42) and would rise up out the ground bursting forth in new resurrection life so that all who would believe in Him (John 11:25) would also receive this eternal life, our sin buried in the ground of a earth that will one day be destroyed (2 Peter 3:10-13, Revelation 21:1) and our living souls replanted, firmly rooted, our nostrils once again being filled with the very breath of God as we live now in the body of Christ Jesus our Lord.

Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude. See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.

Colossians 2:6-8

Precious one, are you stretching? Are you working out in the Word of God? Are you increasing in your ability to reach out while remaining firmly rooted in Christ?  Or are you becoming more and more rigid and stiff because you have decided that stretching yourself causes just a tad bit more discomfort than you are willing to endure?

Why Is Ministry To Men Such A Failure In The Church

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How blessed is he who considers the helpless;

The Lord will deliver him in a day of trouble.

Psalm 41:1

This is a serious question. One I hope to receive some answers on, because as a woman, I am at a loss. Why is ministry to men such a failure in the church?

Just a few weeks ago we were watching “Mom’s Night Out”and after Bones gives his profound speech at the police station, my ten year old daughter turns to me and says, “Momma why is it that boys that end up in gangs or in jail never had a Daddy?

My ten year old daughter sees it… statistics state it… yet ministry to men and boys in the majority of our churches remains purely recreational… and please do not give me the excuse that women stay home and don’t have jobs and that’s why they have more time for ministry to one another. There are plenty of retired men in the church. Plenty of men with evenings and weekends off. Plenty of men with swing shift schedules. Plenty of pastors that don’t have to work outside the church through the week in order to pay their bills. Plenty.

Why is it that we can hear that a man’s wife, a man and a wife, a family that has been long standing members and attenders within a church, has come home and his wife has told him that she is leaving and all the other men in the church simply say, “Well that sucks. We’ll be praying for him.”

What happened to the days of leaders of the church calling the family in to talk to them, to DISCIPLE them, to try and save that marriage, that family, that home? Why does everyone leave the husband. The one who has just been punched in the gut and had his world jerked out from underneath his feet to pull his own self up.

Oh we might send an I’m-thinking-of-you card, or shoot them a text, maybe even leave a voicemail… but where are the men that show up on the doorstep and say “I am with you until you can stand again”?

What about when we see a man in our church, a father, struggling to just be a father because he never had one to show him how to do this father thing in godly way. Or maybe he has a child that is struggling with things he has never dealt with before. Where are the men who go to him, who INITIATE the opportunity to step in and say, “I see you’re struggling here. Let me help you. We’ll do this together”?

How is it that a man who is sick and fighting for his life or a man who is homebound because he can no longer see to drive or just simply no longer has the strength to get himself to church sits alone… every day… because no other man shows up to visit with him. Why is it that no man brings the FELLOWSHIP to him when he can’t get to the fellowship?

My husband is a supervisor at his place of employment. He takes his position serious. He takes his responsibility over his crew serious. He watches them as individuals, not just as a whole. He meets with each and every one at least once a year and sits down with them and goes over what he calls, “Do Wells and Do Betters”. He shows them where they have grown throughout the year and what they need to work on and then he holds them accountable. He offers them opportunities to advance and receive more training. Even going to training with them on his days off because he knows they will get paid for going even when he does not. He knows his crew. He knows their accomplishments as a whole and as individuals. And because he purposely does this, his crew feels safe and comfortable coming to him with their struggles, whether they be work related or not.

In our home he studies his children. He watches them and he takes his position as father serious. He can tell when they are struggling with something. He can tell when they are hiding something. He knows when they need coaching and he knows when they need discipline. He knows their accomplishments and he knows what they need to work on and he holds them accountable. He knows his children. 

He doesn’t wait for the red carpet of invitation to be rolled out to him. His position is the invitation.

When we served as leaders together in the church for a group of college aged young men and women, he used the same principles for those we taught. He knew them as a group. He knew them each as individuals. He checked on them. He held them accountable. He didn’t wait for them to ask him. He just saw the need and met it. He felt the prompting of the Spirit and he made the call.

He has always been a shepherd who knows his sheep. All the flocks that have been given to him, he has personally and purposely invested in.

There are many ways that women can serve and lead in the ministries of the body of Christ, but there is one area that they simply will never be equipped to do and that is men’s ministry.  They will never be able to teach boys how to be men. They will never be able to teach men how to teach other men how to teach boys to be men. They will never be able to just “pop-in” at a man’s house who for whatever reason cannot come to the church and spend hours with them ministering to them.

Where are the Pauls that ministered to the Timothys?

Where are the Barnabases that take the Marks under their wing?

Where are they?

Where are the doers of the Word?

Several Sunday’s ago our Pastor at Central Baptist Church shared about how he and our entire staff all have men, especially new believers, that they meet with once a week for at least six to seven weeks in order to disciple them in the faith. They do not just baptize them and send them out into the sea of the body. They, personally, as these men’s shepherds, take on the responsibility of making sure they receive a solid foundation in the Word of God.

I am so glad… so very glad that God does not wait for us to ask Him for His help… but He comes because we are helpless.

For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly

Romans 5:6

What ministry to men is there in your church?

What works?

What has not?

If you are a man reading this what could your church do to help minister to you?

What keeps you from being a man who ministers to other men?

The writing and teachings of Nicole Love Halbrooks Vaughn