Posts Tagged 'spiritual growth'

The Signs of the Times; Are You Truly Saved?

If you’re pressed for time, or if you already understand the biblical signs of the times, I invite you to skip to the end of this post to the prayer so that you can commit or recommit your life to our Lord.  The best protection for peace, safety, and provision you have in this scary and uncertain time is by pressing into God and studying His Word.

Over the last couple of years we’ve had a lot of misinformation thrown our way, mostly in politics, but also in science and, unfortunatly, theology and religion.

In my opinion, this misinformation is the root of the unrest, unhappiness, and flat out hatefulness being manifested today. As Christians, however, we should not be surprised at misinformation or, frankly, at anything happening in the world today. Indeed, the Bible talks about some signs of the times as an indicator of the end of our current world, and I believe we’re seeing many of these Biblical signs today. 

Simply take a look at Matthew 24:4-14, with a few of my notes in parenthess:

Jesus answered: Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. 

(We see deception and lies running rampant, and we’re being warned here to be on guard.  We’ve also heard some political-Christians and others refer to some political figures as a savior or even “The Savior,” conjuring notions of Jesus, which is frightening on its own. Frankly, until the last four or five years, I never quite understood various biblical passages describing people who see but don’t perceive, hear but don’t understand. These days, I see it happening all the time. What, exactly, are we to do when some public figure actually tells us not to believe what we see? Some commentaries say that messianic pretenders don’t have to say they’re Jesus — merely that they represent Jesus – in order to deceive and to “sanction lawlessness.” (Baker))

You will hear of wars, and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. 

(We’ve heard about wars and rumors of wars for many years, but in my opinion, the calling out of nations and kingdoms here seems to intend to encompass more than just what we normally think of when we think of “nations against nations.”  Even secular dictionaries have defined a “nation” as a specific ethnic group, or a large body of people, associated with a particular territory, that is sufficiently conscious of its unity to seek or to possess a government peculiarly its own. So, when looking for an intensifying of “nations against nations,” we look not only to traditional international conflict, but also within our own borders, such as what is happening with the controversy surrounding the 2020 election and the division of the people in the USA.)

There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.

(We’ve had more extraordinarily severe natural disasters in the past several years, and this is exactly what Jesus meant – not that we’ll see things we’ve never seen before, but that there will be an intensifying of these things that will be noticeably worse. And, indeed, what we’ve seen has been noticeably worse, if not altogether unprecedented in severity, with destruction from fires, volcanos, floods, tornados, in addition to changes to global climate, drought (which tends to precede famine), pandemics, cyber-attacks, and yes, earthquakes.  All of these are the earth telling us that it is suffering and we suffer as well.)

Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other.

(According to at least one media outlet, Christian persecution increased in 2021, with over 340 million Christians affected. This means that about 1 in every 7 Christians has experienced or is experiencing persecution. This increase is due, in part, to the need caused by various natural disasters to sort people for various benefits; for example, with the pandemic came an opportunity to overlook Christians when it came to food and aid distribution.  And note the subtlety of the persecution. It’s not what you might think, with Christians being jailed or tortured. It’s often simply people disregarding or ignoring Christians for various reasons simply because they are Christians. Some of this is self-inflicted. Right now, we have a fairly large division in the Church, with at least one side seemingly in an open war of hate and unloving actions against the other. And that’s within the church! Look, I’m not going to mince words. If you see someone post something on Facebook about loving God within minutes of posting another thing about “hating libs,” you know there’s something really wrong with the church.)           

 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 

(Where do I start? The years 2020/22 may as well be called the years of the false prophet. False prophesy about the pandemic, about the election, about a “new revival.” Let’s face it –prophets can get things wrong. But what this latest series of prophesies shows us is that these so-called “prophets” – even when wrong – do nothing to apologize, repent, or otherwise alter their original prophesy. In fact, in one notable case, a pastor who dared to repent and recant his prophesy over the election was actually attacked by his own flock for “giving in.” Eventually, he abandoned his ministry altogether due to the unprecedented hatred to do merely what the Bible says a prophet should do. And yet, there appears to be no end to the number of people lining up to announce that they are “prophets of God” with an important worldly message for all Christians. Look, I believe in modern day prophets. But if you hear from one, you really, really need to check and re-check that prophesy by assessing what they say – and how they react to being wrong – with the Bible.)

Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 

(We see the love of people for each other has grown incredibly cold in the many actions that we are witnessing on airplanes, in restaurants, in grocery stores, and in hospitals. You only need to look as far as your social media account (I suppose mine is mostly FB) through the constant posting of hateful memes ungodly discussions when someone merely disagrees with another. I suppose isolation and the increased anonymity of the Internet have some part to play in all this, but that just means we must work to make sure our own love does not grow cold.)

but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

(Now to our HOPE.  Those of us standing firm will be saved.  Standing firm means operating out of obedience to God and his main commandments as stated in Mark 12:30-31; “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself.[b] There is no commandment greater than these.”  Those of us who are dedicated and have committed ourselves to God and who practice operating out of love will be and are saved!  Are we always perfect in operating out of love?  No, I wish we were, but we should be striving for perfect love to all of God’s people – regardless of personal preferences, political or religious affiliation, cultural heritage, etc.)

I’m not saying that the world will end tomorrow – but what if it did?  In fact, when people ask me worried questions about eschatology – i.e., “End Times” (including notions surrounding the book of Revelation, the tribulation, resurrection of the dead, etc.), I often tell them that they should be far more worried about their own personal end time. And that could happen at any moment. After all, people have been predicting the end of this world for a long, long time, and those people have all passed. So, are you absolutely certain, beyond a shadow of any doubt that you are in good standing with God?  Whether you are or not, I invite you to pray this prayer, out loud and activate your future with the Lord.  Then get out your Bible and try to read it for a few minutes every day and see what new insights and blessings the Lord shows you.

PRAYER:

God, I come to you today and I admit that I have fallen short of your plans and expectations for my life and I ask for your forgiveness. Lord, I admit that I know that you sent Jesus to come into the world in human form to die on the cross for my sins and to fix my relationship with you, and I know that Jesus doing so is the only way a person like me could ever be in a right relationship with a perfectly holy God. I know that Jesus died and was raised from the dead and is now seated next to you in Heaven. Thank you Father that you wipe every sin away and that you love me. Lord, your word says to love others, and so please show me how to love your people here on earth. I want to live my life for you and to be a blessing to others. I want to follow your commands. I pray all of these things in the name of Jesus, Amen.

If you’ve prayed this prayer, I invite you to messenger me or post it here so that I can specifically pray for you for all of the blessings promised to us and for wisdom, knowledge, peace and safety during this time we are in today! 

Feel free to pray this prayer often — even every day — as each day brings not only new challenges, but also new opportunities for overcoming those challenges and to bless others.

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Facebook?!

I woke up this morning with a heaviness and an urgency on my heart concerning the state of our believing body of Christ on social media. Over the past month or two, we’ve been blogging about, “The Power of Our Words,” “Are we awake?”, “Are our eyes open?”, and last week “Roots and Fruits. I had hoped that this would open some eyes and generate healthy Spiritual change, but I now feel the need to address the elephant in the room (or world) – Facebook. My Spirit is truly disturbed by things that I have seen on Facebook for some time. I’ll address those things in no particular order.

1. Is Facebook a reputable news source? NO, and emphatically NO! Please stop using Facebook for world news. I see so many things posted (or typically re-posted) from some site that people think is news, and yet it’s not from any respectable journalistic site, and half the time (or more), it’s not even true! It’s actually quite embarrassing that we, as Americans, are so gullible and lazy that we would just post something that looks like it supports our point of view without fact-checking anything. And, folks, posting false or misleading stuff puts your “friends” in a difficult situation. I mean, what, exactly, are we to do when a friend or relative posts something that’s blatantly false, short of pointing it out and making them feel stupid? Personally, I usually just delete it. Sometimes (If I’m really close to the person), I’ll message them and say it’s false. But realize, Saints, that this sort of reckless sharing of falsity is keeping the world blinded from the Truth of both the natural and the supernatural, and we have enough of that happening on purpose to not let it happen by accident. I know this because once, on 60 Minutes, a guy was being interviewed because he was one of the main instigators of the Pizzagate conspiracy on the web. He admitted to lying about the whole thing on 60 minutes, and so the interviewer asked, “Don’t you think your web viewers will resent the fact that you lied?” And he basically said, “Oh, they’ll never even know I lied, because they don’t ever watch 60 Minutes.” See what we’re up against? People lie to you and assume you’re not ever going to do the work to find out the truth. So, bottom line, Facebook is not news. Don’t treat it like news by posting without doing some serious verification. Better yet, test your posts to see if they’re loving and honor God. If they don’t, then don’t post them.

2. Stop feeding the hate machine! Most of what I see posted is done out of at least subtle hate, and this seriously troubles me. I get it. Everyone has an opinion, and most people don’t care what anyone else’s opinion is, especially these days. But your opinion doesn’t have to include hate. If you’re a follower of Jesus, this should worry you like it worries me, because I often see so-called Christians posting something about God, only to quickly follow that post with something about “hating Republicans” or “shooting liberals.” Stop it! As Joyce Meyer once said, “Just because I sit in my garage, that doesn’t make me a car.” And just because you say you’re a follower of Jesus does not mean you’re following Jesus. Facebook thrives on the constant novelty of posts being shared one after another, most of which contain blatant or even subtle notions of hate. It’s a machine, and its existence is based on the creation and sharing of ever-nastier memes. Every time we share one, we need to seriously ask ourselves, “Is there any part of this that I wouldn’t say to someone in person?” “Is there any part of this that would shock me if I read it in the Bible?” Look, I know that God created hate, but he did so to give us a righteous hatred for things that harm his people. I also know that we’re called sometimes to correct the saints, but when we do that, we do it with love. If you’re not sure if it’s hate – meaning, maybe, you just think it’s funny, or a clever way of showing you don’t like being politically correct – insert your own child or mother into the role of the object of the derision, and pretend it came from someone else. Then you’ll know what to do. Here’s a quick example. I happen to know a guy who posts things about God. Clearly, he’s a believer in God, and professes to believe in Christ. But I just went on his FB feed and saw two posts in addition to the God posts, one saying, “Always carry a knife with you, just in case there’s cheesecake or if someone needs to be stabbed,“ and the other a clear reference to hoping that Ruth Bader Ginsburg will die. Funny? Barely. Hate as their source? For sure. Would you want someone you didn’t know to joke about stabbing your daughter or hoping your mother might die? Of course not. So why re-post? Bottom line, don’t be a part of the hate machine.

3. Stop sowing spiritual confusion. More specifically, when we post things about God or scripture, and then follow those posts with hate, such as posts about “our” political party that are hateful of the “other” political party, we sow spiritual confusion. God’s people should be first and foremost illustrating the persons of God and all things Godly. We’re not perfect, but we should at least be striving to be better each day, constantly asking for guidance and forgiveness when we fall down. When we sow spiritual confusion, though, the world calls us hypocrites, and they’re RIGHT! This is the opposite of what God has in mind for us, for the Bible says that we’re to be the salt and light in the world – we’re called to be clear beacons and not to confuse the world. We’re to be the ambassadors of Christ to those who don’t know him.

4. Don’t be confused by the issue of judging versus correction. Not long ago, I re-posted an article with a picture of so-called “evangelicals” praying over the President. I was disturbed that these people were publicly displaying their work and wanting the world to see how great they were – which completely calls into question their motive. I was also disturbed that they were praying for President Trumps’ world and political agenda instead of praying over him for salvation, Truth, Light and behavior worthy of our Lord. When I posted this, though, I had a seeker ask me about it. He said he thought it was great that people were praying over the President, and he wondered how I, as a Christian, might think that was bad. That began a long conversation over correcting with love versus judging, and that’s a thorny issue for anyone. Mostly, he thought I was judging the President, when I thought I was mostly correcting the church. But that’s almost always too complicated to express on Facebook. Accordingly, after that conversation, I personally decided that I would be extra careful in what I post or re-post, and I have since decided to only “follow,” “like,” or express opinions of things worthy of my Lord so that my behavior or testimony will not turn a seeker away from knowing God or will not lead a believer down a wrong path. When I come to my final days, I do NOT want my legacy to be that I misled His people in any way! This doesn’t mean we can’t lovingly correct the church – my pastor does it, my prophet friends do it, my husband does it, and heck, because my ministry is “arming the saints,” this blog is often concerned with loving correction to better arm people for supernatural battles. Just don’t be surprised if people don’t understand the distinction. I encourage you to pick the most honorable and worthy path to show people the love of our Lord. Maybe it doesn’t involve correcting the church, especially if people mistake it for judging. This political season and our life in this world will pass away, but our belief is based on eternity, so err on the side of avoiding confusion.

5. Don’t be one of satan’s tools! Saints, my own personal opinion is that, whatever good something like Facebook brings to your lives, it also presents an enormous opportunity for the enemy to harness for his purposes of stealing, killing, and destroying God’s people. The Bible states that, “many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.” (Mt 24:11) Satan often uses imitation to deceive, and so he will continue to put up “prophets” that speak to his agenda and deceive believers. They’re false because they don’t speak the Truth. Accordingly, even if a follower of Jesus says he or she is a prophet (I’m one of those people who believes in modern day prophets – if you don’t know why, then that’s another blog!) we should not blindly follow them. Instead, we must continually test what they say. Even if it’s laden with scripture, test it! Ask the Lord to reveal the Truth of who they are. If they’re false, they’ll reveal it with a slip or a slant on the scripture that will prick up your ears. I’ve spent the last two years in fervent prayer asking God to open my eyes to the Truth of what’s happening in the world. God and I have an agreement that I always look for confirmation as to Truth and what He wants me to say so I don’t always go off half-baked or partially correct in my words. Don’t get me wrong – I still stumble, but the more I ask for spiritual awareness, revelation, grounding, and correct words – the less stumbling I do. Bottom line is that because Facebook is used by people for news, because it can be a machine of hate, and because it can sow spiritual confusion, satan will be using it.

6. Facebook is doing deep spiritual damage to the entire world! There’s a not-so-subtle chipping away at our civility and humanity by what goes on with Facebook. I’ve deleted comments from people physically threatening other friends on my feed, and, when I do, they sometimes complain that I’m “not following the first amendment.” And that’s just one blatant example. People think Facebook is anonymous, but everyone reads it. People think it allows them to argue with others, but they’d probably never do that in person. People think it allows them to “keep it real,” or to be “politically incorrect,” but often those phrases are simply justifications for past actions. People think it doesn’t hurt anyone, but we know of kids who have committed suicide over it. And, above all, people think that all of this hatred is allowed as some sort of American “right” of expression. All of these thoughts are wrong. Real people read posts and apply them to themselves, and they can be affected in ways that make the world a much worse place to live. And this happens, folks, millions of times a day, every single day. It causes families to argue, friends to stop speaking, and people to avoid other people altogether. I’ve personally been reluctant to visit even family, for fear that their posts reflect the way they’re going to behave in person. Here’s one small way that we can reverse that trend. My husband has “Facebook rules” that he applies to anyone who wants to comment on any of his posts. Rule number one, which is a good one, is that my husband will never, and I mean NEVER, post anything that is degrading or in opposition to someone on their own feed. That first rule is crucial to the rest of the rules, simply because the other rules apply to people who decide to post demeaning things on my husband’s feed. He claims that since he made that rule – which he’s had to post periodically – people have stopped coming on his feed to trash him. He’s also much, much calmer about what other people post, and he’s convinced that those other people are calmer about what he posts. What he’s done is to subtly insert a notion of mutual respect into Facebook. Now, don’t get me wrong, both his and other people’s feeds might be wrong or crazy, but at least – for those people and for my husband – there are fewer arguments (and thus less hatred) simply because they’re looking at Facebook as a personal opinion site, which they’re required to respect. I know people without that rule who feel compelled to respond and argue with someone else’s post. I also see people afraid to say something simply because they fear someone will come on and pick a fight. Think about creating your own personal rule of mutual respect for posts, no matter how crazy. Hey, it’s a start. The bottom line is that every single thing we say and do either uplifts or chips away at the spirit. We can decide which way it goes.

7. Is there any good in Facebook? Yes, and maybe that’s the problem because it does have benefits. Facebook is a great place to reconnect with friends and family and see what they’re doing in their lives. I love seeing pictures of vacations, time out with family/friends, hobbies, etc. Every morning, Tim reads a pastor’s mini-sermon that only appears on Facebook. He often says, “It’s also great for jokes and birthdays.” And, true enough, I have to admit that I love looking at the funny things that are on Facebook. I only look at it about once a week on the weekends, so that’s why you’ll almost always get delayed responses and well wishes late from me. And I love some of the funny (clean) jokes and videos being shared. My most recent favorite was a video of a dog carrying a plastic sled up a snowy hill and then hopping on it to slide down! I laughed out loud when I saw it, and It makes me giggle just writing it down here!

I know I might be preaching to the choir here, but now’s the time for us to speak for the Truth of what’s being put forth in the world and to stand up against the falsity. I encourage you to consider sharing this blog on your own Facebook page, even if you say, “Look at this crazy post!” More broadly, the Bible talks about a little bit of yeast getting into dough and permeating the whole batch (I Cor 5:6), so think hard about sharing only the kinds of posts that speak of God’s love and respect for others. Share posts about how to view Facebook in a Godly way. Share posts that uplift and edify. Share the Truth.

The Power of Words: Do they Dictate Your Path?

I thought I was finished, at least for the moment, talking about the power of our words, but the Lord has been impressing on me the extreme importance of this topic. I’m always looking for confirmation in things I dream, hear, or that are put on my heart to research or blog, and, once again, this topic popped up. This week I was given confirmation when the topic kept coming up in a discussion group with whom I meet, which is made up of developmental believers anointed as prophets. After that I heard a teaching by Glen Berteau on this topic as well. Glen taught a new dimension that I hadn’t thought of when it comes to our words, so I want to share this with you today.

Glen taught from James 3, which likens the tongue to the bit of a horse bridle or ship rudder.

James 3:1-12

Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check.

When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.

All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.

With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers [and sisters], this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers [and sisters], can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.

Using the bridle as an example, Glen mentioned how a 2,000-pound Clydesdale horse can be guided from right to left simply by attaching a tiny bit that weighs ounces into the horse’s mouth. Clearly, our tongues act much like this bit and bridle. Unlike the horse, however, we don’t always have the careful guidance of the rider to move us from place to place. Instead, we move ourselves by our words, and those words move us directly toward the thing of which they speak. This means, for example, that we can move toward positive (blessings) or negative (curses) positions based on those words.

For example, let’s say you get a medical diagnosis, and let’s say it’s bad, like cancer. You can move toward the cancer by constantly talking about it, how bad it is, how unfortunate you are, how your family genetics likely caused it, etc. Or you can move away from it by using words of healing and thanks to God for a long and healthy life.

As another example, we may find ourselves constantly talking about something or someone that simply isn’t in the will of God for our lives. As a theological concept, free will means that you can speak those words and move toward that thing or person. But don’t be surprised when you ultimately recognize that the thing or person wasn’t the best thing for you and something you likely could have known by holding it up to the Word.

It’s like driving on the highway. You tend to veer slightly toward the thing upon which your eyes focus. So, it’s not just a spiritual law; the notion that you’ll move ever closer to the things you think, say, and repeat is also true in the natural world. What makes it different is that in the natural world people don’t necessarily have the grounding needed to focus and make this law work for them.

People with a natural worldview might say that there is “power” in positive thinking, or that the “universe” somehow moves to bring things about when spoken in the right way. With a biblical worldview, we remember a few important truths. First, what comes from the tongue indicates what is in your heart – “out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks” (Matt. 12:34) – but you can dramatically change your heart through your words, starting with words that confirm Jesus as God and asking for guidance from the Holy Spirit – “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Cor. 5:17) Second, God moves when people are expectant of his power: “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” (Mark 11:24). Third, the Bible actually tells us what we should focus upon: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.” (Phil. 4:8-9) By the way, if you haven’t figured it out already, these things are somewhat circular. The more you speak in faith, the more your faith grows; the more positive your words, the more expectant of blessings you become.

Where is your tongue leading you – to life or to death? To blessings or to curses? To the spiritual best for you or to secular notions of success? Once again, I ask you to take your words and thoughts captive and to pay attention to what you’re thinking and what you’re speaking. Even if your situation does not bear witness to the blessing at the moment (for example, prayers for healing often find immediate purchase in the spiritual realm but take time to manifest in the natural) continue to thank our Lord for his work on the situation and for His continued blessing and protection for you and your family.

A New Year’s Resolution

new year

I’ve been thinking about the one thing I would tell followers of Jesus Christ to start off the New Year, and my decision will shock you!

Did that introduction make you want to click on a link to see more? Well, the good news is that you don’t have to click on anything to read what I’ve written, and I won’t bombard you with ads in any event (you can tell I’m getting a bit sick of the Internet lately, can’t you?). So let’s get to the point. The one thing I’d like to tell followers of Jesus to start the New Year is this: remember the Judgment Seat of Christ!

“Oh no, he’s going to preach! And if it’s about some sort of judgment, then I’m hosed. I don’t want to be judged, and, frankly, I’m not really keen on anyone else being judged either!”

I suppose at least one person out there may be saying or thinking these very things right now. Give me just a minute, though, and I’ll explain why you should really look forward to this particular judgment and why you should try to remember it every day.

I’ve been thinking about the Judgment Seat of Christ (also known as the Bema Seat of Christ) because I’ve been trying to figure out why God has me working so hard on criminal justice reform when I’m not so sure that we’ll even see true reform before the rapture and tribulation. If it’s true that we’re really that close to the end (like I think we are), then why bother, right?

The answer came to me as I awoke the other day. And it starts with an understanding of the exciting judgment for followers of Jesus at the Judgment Seat of Christ.

We know that there’ll be judgment even for believers of Christ because in the Bible, Paul wrote:

We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. For we all must appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.  (2 Corr. 5: 8-10)

On its face, this judgment can seem a bit intimidating, but if you read other parts of the Bible and various commentaries, it becomes clear that this judgment is only for determining a believer’s rewards in heaven. It doesn’t include judgment for sin, because sin is taken care of by Jesus’s death on the cross. I repeat – it doesn’t involve judgment for sin. Jesus is your proxy on that matter through your belief in him. Like Denise says, belief and faith in Jesus Christ is the golden ticket. Leave it to Denise to dream up a Willy Wonka reference.

So even though the passage above says that you’ll receive what is due to you for things done “good or bad,” it doesn’t mean morally bad. Instead, it means that certain things have eternal rewards in heaven (the good) and certain things don’t (the bad).

Think of it this way. You’re going to do a lot of things during your walk in the world, and you might consider some of those things to be really, really good things. For example, you might think that holding down a particular job your entire life is a pretty good thing. And to the world, it is. But it might not be the thing that gets additional rewards in heaven. That makes sense, right? The Bible talks about building a foundation on Jesus, and if you build your foundation on anything else, a fire will burn away all that is worthless, which will include things you may have thought were pretty good but that simply don’t measure up to reward-giving status.

Paul often likened our journey on earth as a race to be run, so imagine it that way for a minute. As a runner, you might do tons of good things to get ready for the race – lift weights, stretch, practice your starts – but in the end, you get a reward for winning the race. Those are the rules. It’s not that stretching was a bad thing – heck, it may have been crucial to winning – it’s just that you don’t get the reward for stretching. You get it runnerfor crossing the finish line first. Likewise, there are certain things that God finds deserving of rewards, such as winning souls, developing your spiritual gifts, showing love and sacrifice to others, etc., but there are also things that you might think would be deserving of a reward and aren’t. So when you think of the distribution of rewards for “good and bad” things done in the body, think of it simply as receiving rewards for eligible things that you actually did in the world. If those things weren’t eligible, or if you didn’t do them even if they were eligible, then you don’t get the additional rewards.

Remember when you were a child? I don’t know about you, but when I was a child and I did something I thought was a big deal, I went running to some adult to tell it to. Usually that was my mom or dad. And when I told them what I did, I found out that sometimes it wasn’t a big deal at all to my mom or dad. But sometimes it was. And when it was, I got a reward. And man, I wanted to get those rewards! Even when I was fifty years old, taking care of my dying dad in the world, I was constantly trying to impress him, looking for those rewards – like a smile or a laugh. Believe me, when I get to heaven I want that same feeling of “reward getting” from God as I got from my dad here on earth.

“Hey wait, does all of this mean that I’ll be compared to other people?” No, so you should think of the race as being your own personal race, like running against the clock. This is between you and Jesus. You won’t be envious or jealous of others getting rewards, and, in fact, whatever regret you may think you feel from not receiving a reward that you could have received will ultimately be wiped away from the overwhelming joy of being with God. As Denise often says, it’s like having tickets to the Super Bowl. Your seat may be right on the 50 yard line, or your seat may be up in the nosebleed section. Either way, though, you’re at the freakin’ Super Bowl!

Now when it comes to figuring out what God will deem pleasing or not so pleasing in your life, I’ll leave it up to you to do some further biblical research. But you should remember the following cautionary note that has people like me needing constant reminders about what God thinks matters: Throughout the Bible, people were told that because they received an earthly reward for something they did in the world, they’ll receive no reward for it in heaven. Holy smokes! This makes everything a bit more complicated, doesn’t it? Oh well. As I’ve said before, Christianity is simple, but it isn’t always easy.

So what does all of this have to do with my criminal justice job and whether that job even matters? It matters because every day God gives us opportunities to add to the tally of things that will bring us rewards when we stand before Christ. That’s how much He loves us. And that love and those opportunities will continue right up until the day of Jesus’s return. Every day God allows us all to decide whether or not to do something that is pleasing to Him and worth eternal reward. And my work, helping people to see why we need criminal law reform, is just one more opportunity that God is presenting his children – through me – to do something eternally worthwhile.

opportunity

You and I are basically in the same earthly business when it comes to other followers of Christ – the “opportunity for eternal reward business.” Every day you will likely give someone an opportunity to do a good thing, and I or someone else will likely give you the same opportunity. And because every opportunity will only help the body of Christ, it should be our intense desire to keep expanding our business. Every day, look for opportunities to do things pleasing to God. Every day, look for ways to give other people those same opportunities.

So this year, remember the Judgement Seat of Christ! Work each day on earning your rewards. And, please, work each day to help me earn mine!

Pray and Praise Unceasingly

As you may know, I’m a huge proponent of walking in the full authority of our rights as heirs to the kingdom of our Lord. A major component of fortifying that authority is to be in constant contact with the author of that authority – God. You’ve probably heard I Thessalonians 5:16-18 many times. It says, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” The King James version says to “pray without ceasing.” I always wondered what that actually looks like – I mean, how do you drive or work if you’re praying without ceasing? For a long time, my mind had the “religious” definition of how one might pray without ceasing, and it didn’t look anything like life as we know it. In fact, to me, it looked a lot like living the life of a monk. Fortunately for me (and you), though, God gave me revelation.

Jesus taught us how to pray through the structure of the Lord’s Prayer. In my book, I go through the parts of that prayer and talk about how they manifest into all of my prayers. For example, the part that says, “lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” is my way, every day, of asking God to lead and help me through the supernatural realm. Most people think that praying is all about asking for something – petition, if you will – but that’s only one part of the Lord’s Prayer. The very beginning of the prayer is all about praise – “Our Father, in heaven, hallowed by your name.” Now, if you look up “hallowed” in the thesaurus, you’ll see that it’s not just a word that means “pretty good.” The first reference is to “godlike,” and includes words like “almighty,” “omnipotent,” “all-powerful,” “boundless,” “changeless,” and “supreme.” These aren’t words used to praise, say, a football team or anything. When is the last time anyone said, “Go Broncos, you are everlasting and supreme, omniscient and sacred?” These are the words only used to praise your Father in heaven, the creator of the universe. Therefore, every day, I start my prayers talking to God about how much I love Him using the kind of words that can only describe Him. Just calling God “Father” is pretty big praise, when you think about it. There’s no one else here on earth who I call “Father.”

But really, even though I begin my day with prayer that resembles the entire Lord’s prayer, and even though I might find the need to, say, ask for forgiveness during parts of the day, it’s petition and praise that allows me to pray without ceasing. Someone once wrote that when you pray without ceasing, your prayers will come out with every breath. Makes sense. We certainly breathe without ceasing, don’t we? So what would it be like if, with every breath, out came some small prayer or statement praising God? There would certainly be a bunch of small statements, like, “Thank you, Father,” or “Help me, God.” Just those two things can get you through most everything that comes your way in any given day.

To pray and praise without ceasing simply means to be in constant contact with our Lord – to keep Him in the forefront of our minds through every seemingly miniscule and insignificant part of our days. This can be as easy as just talking to God all the time, like you might talk to someone following along with you as you go through your day. Asking for help and thanking Him when he invariably gives it. When I ask God for help, I realize that there’s no question or request too small for Him. I’ll even ask Him what to wear each morning, and then I’ll just sit and listen. He always tells me, and then I’m quick to thank Him. I love it when I have a work problem that I can’t figure out or have misplaced my car keys. I just ask the Lord to help me out, and He always does. I love driving down the road and asking the Lord to help the family that just had an accident, and then driving on in faith that His hand is already on it. When I see one of His children, homeless, asking for money, I ask God what to do and He tells me (by the way, He keeps telling me to give to those folks). Literally everything that crosses my path is an opportunity to talk things over with God. And being in constant communication with God keeps the spiritual phone line open and keeps me pressed into Him so that I’m better able to see Him at work in my life and the world, and to be in the best alignment for blessings.

Now, I’m not saying that my prayers or petitions are always focused on my own needs. Most of my day is asking to what God wants from me, or for help on how to deal with His other children – what I should do to further His kingdom and to do His will. But by focusing on others, I’ve realized that often their needs have become my needs.  Believe me, there is so much going on out there in the world that when you pray and praise, even if you do it without ceasing, you’ll have plenty of time to focus on God, yourself, and others!

Can you pray and praise without ceasing without ever saying anything out loud? Yes, I believe you can, but don’t be afraid to look silly talking to Him out loud. There’s power in speaking into the supernatural realm out loud, both through talking to God and through rebuking Satan. And besides, I’ve seen plenty of people looking pretty crazy singing and talking out loud in public, and nobody gives them much thought at all. Just think about the last time you saw someone singing at the top of their lungs next to you in their car. These days, if you’re praying or praising God out loud, people will probably just think you’re on your Blue Tooth!

So, don’t be afraid to speak out loud. At meetings, I won’t scream it out, but I’ll definitely whisper, “Thank you, Father,” out loud every time I notice the things for which He deserves praise. In your car, invite Him to ride with you; in fact, let Him be the spiritual driver! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in the car listening to my praise music and looked up to see a police officer running a speed trap. I must confess that I have a bit of a heavy foot on the gas pedal, but when I let God drive, He always slows me down.

So, start now! If you don’t know what to say, just start by saying, “Help me God” or  “Thank you, Father” with every breath. Keep God in the forefront of your mind. And realize that everything you come across in your day is an opportunity to talk to your Lord, the creator of the universe!


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