Tag Archives: salvation

Spiritual but not religious

Panorama Z

“Now the Spirit expressly says that in the latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons.” 1 Tim. 4:1 NKV

“Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day (The Day of The Lord) will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the. Son of perdition.” 2 Thess. 2:3 NKJV

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.” 1 John 4 NKJV

I came across an article recently which discussed the findings of a survey done by the Public Religion Research Institute. The survey of some 2000 Americans performed in early 2017 found that 18 percent identified as “spiritual but not religious” and that their beliefs “transcends stereotypical religious identity.” The article sited several participants whose ideas about their traditional religious upbringings led them to find their own way of being in connection or feeling one with some “higher power.” Threw the use of yoga, arts, filling their apartment with plants, meditation and finding ways to have lifestyle choices accepted by “more progressive denominations” these “new faith” believers make peace with themselves in a world of traditional religious establishments.

Now, before I come across as some narrow minded self righteous fool let me give you some background. I was raised Catholic and went threw the sacraments. I was obedient to follow the traditions and rituals of the church as taught to me and in doing so felt empty and uninspired. I have also sinned. I have fallen away and done things “that I wouldn’t want printed on the front page of The New York Times” (as my Grandmother would say). I have denounced traditional religious sects and their empty rituals. At my worst I have raised a clinched fist skyward and declared in my folly that there is no God. I’m not proud of any of that but facts are facts and the Lord saw me threw it all. I ask that you keep all of this in mind as I discuss the article please.

If we look at this survey and the beliefs of its participants who are finding their own new way in the light of scripture we see that they are being deceived. It’s not their fault. Some organized religious groups fail to inspire it’s people. Some will compromise the basic principles of the Word of God in order to fill the seats or be politically correct.

Jesus was never politically correct or a supporter of the empty religious groups in His day. Even though the rituals and religious leaders were established by God Himself over the many years they leaders became proud and the reasons for the rituals blurred into history until they were just going threw the motions. Jesus called them out on their hypocrisy even when they tried to trap him. When the religious men brought the adulterous woman before Jesus they said that she was caught in the very act. Really?! So, these guys busted in on a man and woman (presumably one or both of them married) in the act of making love. In an attempt to test Jesus they dragged the woman before Him but the Law clearly states that BOTH the man and the woman are to be stoned to death for the sin of adultery. As we know Jesus didn’t fall for their trap and He did not condemn the woman. He showed mercy to the woman and simple told her to “go and sin no more.” See John 8:3-12 and Lev 20:10

Jesus turned over the tables at the Temple and criticized the establishment. He ate and kept company with the outcasts, sinners and tax collectors. Jesus did not look like, talk like or behave like the leaders of His time and that got Him both admired and despised. What He did do was affect people. In His short ministry He taught, healed, fed, and raised the dead. He fulfilled the scriptures concerning His birth, life, death and resurrection. He fulfilled the Law and in doing so made a way for all the world to be free from sin and hell. He will meet each and every one of us right where we are and share His love and bring new life. What He will NOT do is barge in on anyone to take them captives or seduce them with goosebumps and warm feelings.

The devil does that. The devil tempts and teases. He sees our pain and our longings and plays on our weaknesses. Jesus called him the Father of lies. The Deceiver. The Lion who seeks to devour.

It’s been said that the greatest accomplishment of the Devil is convincing people that he doesn’t exist. Even as I write this I know that many good churchgoing people will roll their eyes at the mention of the devil. After all isn’t he an imaginary foe created to be blamed for what is simply the behavior of bad people? Isn’t the dark side of our own human nature the real devil?

The answer is a firm “No!” Jesus was tempted by the devil. He spoke clearly of the devil. The Holy Spirit through the Apostles spoke of the devil many times.

Before I stray much farther from my point I will stop. Whether or not you believe in the Devil isn’t the point. The point is that there are deceiving spirits in the world. Always have been but the devil knows his time is short. The participants of the survey taken are looking for answers and fulfillment that they didn’t find within the walls of ritualistic stereotypical religion. They crave, everyone craves, the very real relationship with Jesus. They crave it because there’s a cross-shaped hole in everyone’s heart that only He can fill. It’s and old saying but true.

Lastly, the biggest take away from this post and that survey is that we don’t have time to be judgmental or self righteous. People need the Lord. People need to hear the good news. People need the Lord. Not religion. Not rituals. Not spirituality. People need a relationship with the Lord of all Creation and the Good News is Jesus stands at the door and knocks.

All of us who truly believe have an obligation to share the compassion and love of Christ with all the world. The rest is up to Him.

Be Blessed A&B

This is the link to the article I mentioned https://www.vox.com/identities/2017/11/10/16630178/study-spiritual-but-not-religious

Is this the day?

Mortality looms in the shadows of every day. It’s there and we try to not see it or simply assume it will have a long wait before stepping into our life. Until we fall suddenly ill!

In the past 24hrs I went from felling discomfort that I assumed was work related to preparing for death. Sounds dramatic, I know, but having been in a place of sudden sharp chest pain and other symptoms typically associated with a heart attack was startling. The uncertainty caused me to draw on my faith. I prayed that I was ready. I prayed for my wife. I prayed that I might make it thru this trial so as to take care of unfinished business. In a way I also, selfishly, wanted to go home.

Thankfully or unfortunately I am fine and still here and will be for a long time – at least my doctor said so. I did in fact hurt myself at work picking up a desk. I strained muscles in my chest. My heart is strong and I’ll recover. No heavy lifting for the near future. 

But, the experience was like no other. I mean sure I’ve been scared before. Even had some bad health issues. But there’s a difference between having the flu and wanting to die just to feel better and thinking you’re about to die and having time enough to consider the concept.

Paul tells us to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” Phillipians 2:12 NKJV

Work it out. To me that means self examination. Where am I in my walk with God? How close am I with Jesus? Am I being honest with me? With Him? 

Is today the day? Well, for me this day. This 24hour period is over and I’m still here. Today is not the day that I leave here. 

Today is not the day…..but one day will be the day for me ….and for you….work it out before that day ends!

Thanks and be blessed, Al

Can I get a Witness?!

OK, show of hands, who cringes at the idea of going door-to-door for Jesus?

OK, now those of you who didn’t raise your hands don’t worry, the rest of us will pray for you.

   Seriously, When it comes to street evangelism I always feel uncomfortable – until I get out there. The idea of knocking on a strangers door or stopping someone in the street is challenging at best. When I first started going out with my church group I realized what it must be like to be one of those cold-callers that get hung up all the time. At best you get a door slammed in your face or ignored. At worst you get threatened, cursed at or duck a punch. But it’s worth it.

   Once, while walking from one house to another, a car parked on the street and a family stepped out of the car. I was talking to one of the people in my group while the family exited the vehicle. A young man stepped onto the sidewalk, not watching where he was going either, and we bumped into each other. We grabbed each other instinctual to catch ourselves from falling. If appearances count for anything this young man and I were as opposite as two people could be. The shock and surprise on his face quickly turned to anger as he looked at me in my “Jesus is Lord” T-shirt and my Bible in hand. Without thinking I put my hand on his shoulder and to this day can not tell you what I said to him. All I do remember is finally getting around to asking him if I could pray with him. He said yes and began to cry. We prayed and he accepted Jesus as Lord right there. His mother thanked me and I never saw any of them again.

   The point is that I bumped into that young man but I didn’t speak to him. God used me to touch him. I am certain that he had heard of Jesus many many times before that day. But I was blessed to be the one God used to bring him home. You see it isn’t about me, or you, or any of us. Paul addressed this when he found that there were those who claimed to be part of Paul’s group and others who claimed to belong to Apollos, causing prideful division in the Corinthian church.

For since there is envy and strife among you, are you not fleshly and living like unbelievers? For whenever someone says, “I’m with Paul,” and another, “I’m with Apollos, are you not unspiritual people? What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? They are servants through whom you believed, and each has the role the Lord has given. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. Now the one planting and the one watering are one in purpose, and each will receive his own reward according to his own labor.For we are God’s coworkers1 Cor 3:3-9 HCSb

   What a relief! I am not responsible for leading anyone to Christ. If they reject me, threaten me, ignore me, it doesn’t count against me. The pressure is off. Right?

Sort of. You see I am still called to go.

I am called to go because I have no idea if I will be planting a seed or watering a seed planted or harvesting that which others have labored for. It does help me to know that I may never see those who I witness to again. It also helps that they don’t know me. The anonymity is a safe place for me to speak from because it gives me room to be a fool for God so to speak. It also helps me not take the rejection personally. If they reject me they are actually rejecting Jesus and that is sad knowing what we know.

Regardless, I am called to go.

Called because Jesus said Go.

And if I go, in obedience and humility,

He will go with me and

if Jesus is with me anything is possible.

  Go, in the power of the Holy Spirit, and see what happens.

You might be pleasantly surprised.

Side note – Just in case you feel I was being a bit boastful in this post I have to say that there are,  regrettably,  far too many times when I felt lead to tell someone about Jesus and held my tongue.

Be blessed, Al

Look back but don’t stare…

Look back but don’t stare.

This is an expression I heard a long time ago and the older I get the more I understand it.

Recently I had one of those days where my mind went on a trip down memory lane. I wish that I could say it was a pleasant trip. It wasn’t.  Frank Sinatra used to sing – “Regrets. I’ve made a few. But then again too few to mention.” I can mention more then a few – I should have stayed in college, I should have studied more, I should have saved more money, I should have exercised more self control, I should have done this and not done that.  Regrets, I think, are a way we say sorry to ourselves. When I look back, excuse me, when I stare back at the road I traveled I don’t want to say “Sorry” to me – I want to punch myself.

But I don’t.

The reason that I don’t punch myself is that, well, it wouldn’t change anything and more importantly,  I have been forgiven by God for my past. If God has forgiven me than who am I to not forgive myself? It is hard though. The affects of poor judgement and bad behavior can be irreversible. Life does go on. Life will be different but it does go on.

Seize the Day Pana

Moving on can be tough. The people around us may never forget the harm we have done and may even remind us of just how far we fell. We fell. But we got up. Isn’t that what really matters?

The Word says –

Rejoice not against me, oh my enemies, for when I fall I shall arise. When i sit in darkness the Lord shall be a light unto me.     Micah 7:8  KJV

When I fall I shall arise. I will not stay down. I will not beat myself up. I will not stare back in anger and regret. The past is not only the past but it has been forgiven and forgotten and thrown in a sea of forgetfulness never to be brought up to me again. At least not by God. One of the names of the devil is the accuser of the brethren (Rev. 12:10 KJV). He will remind us and use others to remind us.

Another old expression suitable for this topic is – “The next time the devil reminds you of your past just remind him of his future!”

I started this post by telling you how I spent a sad day staring regretfully back at my past. So I am not trying to over simplify putting the past behind us. My goal was, however, to remind myself and those of you that this may apply to, that we have every good reason to stand tall with our heads up as we walk confidently into our tomorrows. If Jesus is our Lord – We are children of the King. Forgiven. Loved. Saved. A new creation. Heaven-bound. No matter what was it’s what will be that’s important.

Thanks for letting me share that even if I was the only one that needed to hear it.

Be Blessed, Al

Similar post on forgiveness – But If You Don’t Forgive

Start at the very beginning….

A Very Good Place to Start

As a contractor with 30 years of experience I have learned a lot about my trade and others around me. Its safe to say that I have seen my share of mistakes made during those early years. But I give my thanks to a good teacher. One, who may not have always been patient but always thorough in his explanations of how to do something and why.

In my years I have had the opportunity to train helpers to work beside me and always observed one thing. Teaching is the best way to keep things fresh in my own mind. Somewhere in the relating of the process there is a reliving that revives me. I am taken back to where I was when I learned it and can relate the truth of the process to another with passion.

It is this reason that I want my first post of the year to be about “contending for the faith” that was first inside of us all at conversion. Jude tells us that he wanted to write about the shared salvation of the saints but was moved to respond to false teachers and ungodly people.

But lets review the Basics that we all do know –

Very simply put – Christ came to save sinners of which we are all (1 Timothy 1:15 and Romans 3:23). If we repent and trust in Jesus we will be saved (Romans 10:9-13)

I guess the only question now is – Have you been saved? If not. Why Not?

All you have to do is believe you are a sinner, that Christ died for your sins, and ask His forgiveness. He knows you and loves you. What matters to Him is the attitude of your heart and your honesty. Although there’s no special way to ask to be saved we suggest praying the following prayer to accept Christ as your Savior:

“Dear Lord Jesus,

I know I am a sinner, and I ask for your forgiveness. I believe you died for my sins and rose from the dead.  I trust and follow you as my Lord and Savior. Guide my life and help me to do your will.

In Jesus name, amen.”

If you prayed this prayer congratulations, you are a Child of God now and your sins have been forgiven, never to be remembered. We encourage you , if you do not already attend a church, to find one that believes in Bible study. One that teaches the whole Word of God and proclaims the Good News that Salvation is available to all. We encourage you to get a Bible and begin reading it. If you don’t know where to start we suggest you read the Gospel of John first but you can find many Bible study reading lists online also. Consider Bible Gateway or some of the other links from our home page.

Whatever you do read the Bible daily and pray to our Lord for guidance because He is not dead but alive and ready to talk with you. Congratulations as you start a new life in this new year! Be blessed. Al and Betty

 

He’s Making a List…..

As the song says,

He’s making a list

checking it twice

gonna find out

whose naughty and nice

This may be true for good old Santa Claus. We are told he keeps a list in hopes of manipulating us into toeing a line of good behavior. His list is supposed to have the names of the naughty and nice children but I have never heard of any naughty ones. Have you? Perhaps there were naughty children who got coal for Christmas in a land long ago and far away but to my knowledge every one gets on the “Nice” list these days.

Sadly, this mind set has carried over into the secular thoughts about God and Heaven. Some people see God as a Santa in the sky Who they can make a wish to when they want something.  Furthermore, there is the belief that all the world will eventually be seen as “nice” or just and therefore will be saved. There’s never a thought of whether or not they are naughty or nice. If there is any guilt about bad behavior they simply bargain the consequences away promising to do better if He will only just come threw this time for them.

God is concerned with whether or not we do the right thing although His idea of “Nice” is not the same as ours. We can try to live a good life and be a good person but by whose standards do we see “Good”? God gave us the Ten Commandments to show us what is expected of us and to open our eyes to the fact that we can never live up to them. At least not by ourselves. He is ready willing and able to help us live that victorious life. This is the very reason we have this holiday season. It’s a very well known passage of scripture but always bears repeating –

 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.  For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. John 3:16-17 NKJV

Our in ability to live up to Gods Standard of righteousness (otherwise referred to as Sin), is the very reason we needed a Savior. God Almighty sent the answer to our sin problem. Rather than just let us wallow in our inability He freely chose to come to us and take on our fragile form and pay the penalty for our sins. There is, however, one very simple condition that is left for us. We have to accept that this was done for us because we are sinners and repent of our sinfulness. Once we do this we can honor His sacrifice by letting Him lead us down a path of righteousness – His righteousness.

For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” John 18:37 NKJV

But this salvation the Savior brings requires an action on our part. It isn’t just given to us the day we are born. we have to accept this gift by recognizing our need and asking Jesus to be our Lord as well as Savior. It really is that simple. Thankfully!

But although he made the world, the world didn’t recognize him when he came. Even in his own land and among his own people, the Jews, he was not accepted. Only a few would welcome and receive him. But to all who received him, he gave the right to become children of God. All they needed to do was to trust him to save them.  All those who believe this are reborn!—not a physical rebirth resulting from human passion or plan—but from the will of God. John 1:10-13 LB

 The Reason 1

He’s making a list and I hope your name is on it because one day there will be a reading of the lists and a separating of the naughty and the nice – Jesus told us about that day several times –

 “Just as in this story the thistles are separated and burned, so shall it be at the end of the world: I[will send my angels, and they will separate out of the Kingdom every temptation and all who are evil,  and throw them into the furnace and burn them. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.  Then the godly shall shine as the sun in their Father’s Kingdom. Let those with ears, listen!  Mat 13:40-43

“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.”Acts 16:29-31 LB

This may not be the usual or politically correct Christmas message but the truth can be hard to hear sometimes but nevertheless needs to be stated………

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL OUR FRIENDS

and God Bless you in the New Year, Al and Betty

"Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" is a Christmas song. 
It was written by John Frederick Coots and Haven Gillespie

HE’S ALIVE!

 He’s Alive! He’s Alive! He’s Alive and I am forgiven!

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  And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.   1 Cor 15:17 HCSB

But He did rise and when He died the veil in the Temple was torn in half from top to bottom signifying that we can boldly go directly to God because of the life-changing work that Jesus did that day.

Truly, He is alive and we are forgiven – Heavens gates are open wide.

He is alive! No great mystery. No Doctrinal dissertation. No religious dogma. No rules and regulations. No fees to be paid or tolls to pass threw.

Just open up your heart and let Him Love You!

 Listen! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and have dinner with him, and he with Me.  Rev 3:20 HSCB

 Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.   Matthew 11:28 KJV

I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.  John 1:23 KJV

This is an old song but a good one which speaks to the joy of that early morning. Please take a minute (or 4:51) to be blessed by it

Happy Resurrection Sunday

He’s Alive – by Don Francisco presented here on YouTube