What the Bible has to say about the Supreme Court decision

Romans 1

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

1 Corinthians 6

Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people—none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God. Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

1 Thessalonians 4

It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality;  that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable,  not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit.

1 Timothy 1

We also know that the law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, for the sexually immoral, for those practicing homosexuality, for slave traders and liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine…

2 Timothy 3

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.

 They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over gullible women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires,  always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth. 

2 Timothy 4

For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 

Jude 1

And don’t forget Sodom and Gomorrah and their neighboring towns, which were filled with immorality and every kind of sexual perversion. Those cities were destroyed by fire and serve as a warning of the eternal fire of God’s judgment.

But these people scoff at things they do not understand. Like unthinking animals, they do whatever their instincts tell them, and so they bring about their own destruction. What sorrow awaits them!

Indeed, the five supreme court justices have most likely invited God’s wrath and judgement against America. What they did amounted to flipping off Almighty God with the middle fingers of both hands and then saying to Him, “Bring it!!” In the book of Acts, we’re clearly told that we’re to obey God rather than men when men (and women) make decisions and invoke policies that are violations of God’s laws. Therefore, as a Christian minister, I will not ever perform a wedding ceremony between same sex couples. I reject the supreme court’s decision and stand by the truth of God’s word. And God’s word says this is sin. Know this: God loves His people and doesn’t want anyone to be lost, but He abhors sin and sinful acts. I stand with God on that. We’re called to speak the truth in a spirit of love. I don’t want to see anyone spend eternity in hell. But……I cannot and will not celebrate sin and sinful acts. I believe in the adage; love the sinner but hate the sin.

God is the supreme judge of the universe, and He will not tolerate this sort of mockery and disobedience. I’m not an Old Testament prophet so I don’t know how God’s judgement will come. Will it be at the hands of a military invasion by ISIS or China? Will we become embroiled in another civil war and collapse from within? I can’t say. But I can say this nation can delay that judgement if the people repent and turn back to God. But know this: Now the clock is ticking. Unfortunately Christian brothers and sisters, WHEN the punishment phase comes, we will suffer along with those who today have shook their fists at God and said to Him, “We know better than you.!” in the same way that Godly men and women were carried into the Babylonian exile. We can only pray and ask God to leave a remnant as He did at the end of the exile.

Also, and just as unfortunate, this is only the beginning and not the end. Some gay rights organizations are already calling for retaliation against Christians. They’ve targeted certain churches with plans to approach them and ask them to perform same sex marriages. And when those churches refuse as many have said they will, the gay organizations plan to file lawsuits against those churches. It is also my belief that gay groups will begin pressuring employers to fire Christian employees who stand up for their beliefs. I say this because I’m seeing the beginnings of that at my place of employment.

One final thought: If God does not punish America for what happened today, He owes Sodom and Gomorrah an apology. The time for repentance is now.

Not an Insurance Policy……..

From Matthew 7

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

The reason we buy homeowner’s insurance is to protect ourselves from suffering a loss in the event of an unforeseen catastrophe such as a fire or a weather related disaster. The same thing is true of car insurance. It’s about protecting ourselves from financial loss. So, we buy insurance…just in case.

In Matthew 7,  I think Jesus was addressing those who treat Christianity like it was some kind of insurance policy. “I should read my Bible, just in case. I should go to church, just in case. I should be generous every once in a while, just in case. I should profess faith in Jesus, just in case……..just in case……all this stuff about God is true.”  They might think they’re saying all the right things, but their hearts aren’t in it. They don’t really believe. They’re just trying to cover themselves…..just in case. There’s a problem with that kind of thinking. It’s not real faith. It amounts to nothing more than just going through the motions.

I believe what God is telling us through that passage in Matthew is that there is more to Christianity than simply going through the motions. There’s more to becoming a Christian than just saying that you’re a Christian if there’s no faith or belief. And believing is the key. People can say the words, but unless the words are accompanied by genuine faith, unless they truly believe in their hearts that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, unless they believe He died on the cross for their sins (this includes repentance), and that He really is the only way to the Father, then they will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven. That’s what Jesus said. And when they come to Jesus pleading their case, saying “Lord, we did all these things in your name.” Jesus said He will answer plainly,  “I never knew you. Away from me evildoer.” And why is it that Jesus said He will never know them? Because they never really knew Him, nor did they believe in what they were doing and saying. They never truly believed in Him.

 Genesis 15

And Abram believed the Lord, and the Lord counted him as righteous because of his faith.

Isaiah 28

Therefore, this is what the Sovereign Lord says: “Look! I am placing a foundation stone in Jerusalem, a firm and tested stone. It is a precious cornerstone that is safe to build on. Whoever believes need never be shaken.

Jonah 3

The people of Nineveh believed God’s message, and from the greatest to the least, they declared a fast and put on burlap to show their sorrow.

John 1

But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.

The only way to know Jesus is to genuinely believe in Him and accept Him as your savior. Words without belief are empty. We call it “lip service” and God does not honor lip service. God honors honest and legitimate faith and keep in mind that it only takes the smallest amount of genuine faith; the size of a mustard seed Jesus said. And if you know Him, if you truly know Him and believe in Him, then Jesus already knows you, and He’ll never send you away.

What is Truth?

When Jesus was brought before Pontius Pilate, Pilate told the crowd he could find no fault in Jesus and saw no reason to have him put to death. But according to Matthew’s gospel, the Jews who had gathered outside of Pilate’s headquarters in Jerusalem were on the verge of rioting. People were shouting out loud calling for Jesus to be crucified. And it was probably far more chaotic a scene than what Matthew described.  Pilate knew the Pharisees wanted to kill Jesus out of jealousy, but they would never admit it.

According to John chapter 18, when Pilate asked Jesus directly, “Are you a king?” Jesus said to him, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” In the languages of the world at that time, to answer a question as Jesus answered Pilate was to give the strongest affirmation possible. If they had been speaking English, Jesus’ answer would have been, “Absolutely, positively, let there be no doubt in your mind. I am the king and that is the truth.”

But with all the commotion going on, Pilate probably had little interest in seeking the truth. He would certainly never get the truth out of that mob. They were shouting at him from all sides. So it could have been out of sarcasm, or perhaps it was out of indifference that he replied, “What is truth? What Pilate didn’t know was that truth was standing right in front of him. Only a day earlier, Jesus had said “I am the truth.”

The words of the Apostle Paul in the first chapter of Romans are easily applied to the shouting mobs in our day who try to drown out the truth of God’s word. Paul wrote:

 They knew God, but they refused to worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused. Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools.

And a few verses later, Paul said, “They traded the truth about God for a lie.”

It’s little wonder then, that ever since that time, people have been asking “What is truth?”

The Bible answers that question very plainly in Psalm 119, verse 160 “The sum of your word is truth.”

That’s the message we need to be preaching to the shouting mobs in our fallen world today. There is only one truth. It’s not relative or whatever one wants to believe. It’s absolute. It’s life saving. It’s eternal. It’s the word of God! Because He is God, when Jesus spoke, He could speak nothing but truth. Jesus is the way, THE TRUTH, and the life, and there is no other way to the Father but through Him. And there is no greater truth than that!

Why Does God Allow…………………..

How many times have we heard someone begin a question with the words “Why does God allow………….?” Usually it’s because they see injustice or hardship and they just can’t understand why it happened.

The truth is, hardship and suffering have been going on almost from the beginning. The accounts are recorded in the Bible.

Consider the story of Joseph from the book of Genesis. He was sold into slavery by his brothers and ended up in prison because of a false accusation. He helped a fellow prisoner win his release, but afterwards, he totally forgot about Joseph, and Joseph languished in prison for two more years.

Uriah the Hittite got a very raw deal from a person in a position of authority. Uriah, as you might recall, was the husband of Bathsheba. Uriah was a man of honor. And ultimately that was what got him killed.

Jeremiah spent his entire life preaching the Word of God and and for his trouble he was beaten, put into stocks, imprisoned, threatened with death, and thrown into a cistern. If Jeremiah was a contemporary evangelical Christian, we would say he preached his entire life and never won a single convert.

Job went bankrupt, lost his family, and had his health destroyed almost overnight.

Stephen was stoned for preaching the gospel and became the first Christian martyr.

When the Apostle Paul began preaching the gospel, many Jews turned against him and sought to kill him. Some of them were probably former friends.

A cynic would ask “Why? Why would God allow that?” They might even dare to criticize God for allowing His people to suffer for no good reason. That’s because they think the way the world thinks.

Jesus taught us to expect suffering. He said “In this world, you will have trouble.” The Bible is not a collection of stories about people who suffered needless hardship. God allowed these things to happen for a reason. Let’s take a closer look at those examples.

Joseph never wavered in his faith. When he looked back on all the hardship he had endured, he realized God had put him in those situations so he would be in a position to save his people. God will sometimes put people in a position to do His work years in advance, as He did with Joseph. He told the brothers who had sold him into slavery, “What you meant for evil, God meant for good.”

Uriah’s story teaches us that there will be times when we’re dealt a raw deal, and sometimes it might come from someone in a position of power. It won’t be fair or reasonable and there will be nothing we can do to stop it. We live in a fallen world and these things happen. But this story also teaches us that there is no escaping the watchful eye of God. Justice will be served, as king David found out.

What about Jeremiah? What can we learn from him? Well, how many people today do you think would call it quits if they faced half the opposition Jeremiah faced? Just because some of us have not yet led someone to faith in Christ, it doesn’t mean we should throw in the towel and stop trying. Our responsibility is to share the gospel of Christ. We’re not responsible for those who choose to reject the message.

The lessons learned from Job are well known and can be summed up in one simple statement: Praise God in good times and bad. Job said to his own wife, Should we accept only good things from the hand of God and never anything bad?”

Stephen did not shy away from preaching the gospel, even though he was surrounded by enemies of Christianity on every side. He could have compromised. He may have even been able to save his own life by renouncing his faith in Christ. But he chose to die rather than back down from preaching the truth of the gospel.

As for Paul, his story teaches us that anyone can be saved by the grace of Jesus Christ. Paul aggressively persecuted Christians, yet God chose him to carry the gospel message to the Gentile world.

There are many other stories in the Bible about people who suffered adversity in the course of their service to God. While God had no part in creating the evil that brought about suffering in the lives of His saints, God used those experiences to achieve his good purpose and to strengthen and encourage believers in the faith. And it teaches us in our day how to respond when troubles come our way.

God also promised to walk by our side, no matter how tough the trial. As difficult as it can be, when we respond to trials the way God taught us, God will ultimately be honored and glorified through our response.

What Do You Do?

A few years ago when I was still at my former place of employment, my supervisor asked me to do something that went totally against my faith. There was this one co-worker in our department who had been causing problems for quite some time. His attitude was awful, he constantly complained, and his productivity had almost ground to a complete standstill. He had been warned and written him up several times, but there were policies and procedures that had to be followed before anyone could be let go. Well…my supervisor was looking for a shortcut, so he called me at home one afternoon and said he figured out a way to get rid of the guy. But to do it, he was going to have to tell a little white lie and asked if I would be willing to go along. Without hesitation I reminded him that since I’m a Christian, there was no way I could support him on that. Let there be no mistake about it, the guy with the attitude problems needed to go. His performance had slipped past the point of no return. But I could not and would not corroborate a lie, no matter what.

In the back of my mind though, I wondered how this would affect my relationship with my supervisor, which up until that time, had been really good. As believers, we know there’s a cost for being followers of Jesus Christ and depending on the circumstances, the cost can be quite high. I wondered if I was about to find out just how much my commitment to stay true to my faith was about to cost me.

As it turned out, my concerns were unfounded. My relationship with my supervisor actually improved because he respected the decision I made to stand on the foundation of my Christian faith. I was able to witness to him effectively several times over the course of the next couple of years. There were times afterwards when he faced other difficult decisions and he sought me out to find out what the Bible had to say about the matter. And a couple of years later, after a merger and department realignment forced him to have to go back out on the floor in a production position, he found himself in the same situation.

One day not long after going back to the floor, his supervisor came up to him and asked him to falsify some inspection paperwork on an aircraft engine that was undergoing overhaul. In the aviation maintenance industry, that is a very serious offense, and it was a request my former supervisor very quickly refused. Was it because of my example a couple of years earlier? I hope so. I hope his refusal to falsify that paperwork was because of my unwillingness to compromise my faith in Christ.

One of the things the Lord hates is a false witness who breathes out lies. The Bible says so in Proverbs chapter 6, and elsewhere in scripture. Had I gone along with that one little white lie, you know, just that one time, I would have never had the opportunity to share my faith with my supervisor afterwards, not without coming across as a hypocrite.

So then brothers and sisters in Christ, what do you do? What do you do when you’re asked to pad an expense account, or to falsify some numbers to close a deal? What do you do when someone asks you to look the other way while they carry company property out the back door? What do you do when your boss tells you to compromise, or to bend a few rules (or break them altogether) to get the job done, and then tells you to choose between your faith and your job? Whatever you decide to do, it should have been decided long ago, long before you were faced with an ethical or moral dilemma. In fact, it should not be a dilemma at all. Paul wrote in Ephesians chapter 1 that at the moment we heard the word of truth, the gospel of our salvation, and believed in him, we were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit. We became God’s possessions and Christ’s representatives on earth. Remember, you cannot serve two masters. Therefore we should respond accordingly when faced with one of those ethical……. “dilemmas”. For Jesus said, ” Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.”

For most of us, it’s not a matter of IF someone will put pressure on us to lie, cheat, take shortcuts, or cut corners, it’s a matter of WHEN. So when faced with the decision to either choose the way of the world, or live for Jesus, what do you do? Decide now what you will do, before that day comes. That way your decision will be an easy one, and you won’t have to make your choice in the heat of the moment.

Through John’s Eyes

I concluded a study of the gospel of John recently, and it got me to thinking about John and what his life must have been like, especially during the last few years of his life on Patmos. By the time John was exiled on Patmos, all the other apostles had been martyred. They were long gone. John probably knew that Paul that had been executed in Rome some 25 – 30 years before. And Mary, who had been placed in John’s care by Jesus as our savior died on cross, passed away sometime around 40 A.D.; just a few years after Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection according to some Jewish historical accounts. If those accounts were accurate, Mary would have been gone for about 50 years by the time of John’s exile. With all his family gone and as the last of the living apostles, I imagine there were times when John must have felt isolated and all alone.

John experienced plenty of high moments during his lifetime. He witnessed the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. He saw believers filled with the Holy Spirit at Pentacost and he saw the birth of the church age. But he also saw the persecution of the church. He probably saw the fall of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. when it was ransacked by the Romans. There’s little doubt John witnessed many of the hardships endured by early Christians. So there were more than a few low moments in his life as well.

But in spite of everything that happened in the years leading up to his exile, his faith remained intact. I have no doubts about that at all. Remember, his faith was what got him exiled in the first place. So even if he was emotionally and spiritually down at times, his faith was firm because John had been there. He was with Jesus at the beginning. He saw it all. But….it had been nearly 60 years since Jesus died on the cross. So I’m sure he spent a lot of time reminiscing about days gone by when he walked and talked with Jesus. And I imagine he often thought back to the days, months, and years after the crucifixion and resurrection when he was active in the ministry of spreading the gospel and building the church. I’m sure he missed those days, and he missed his friends.

John was human and it’s human nature to get a bit depressed when we look back on our lives and think of the way things once were. And it’s not at all unusual to be saddened by the memories of all the people we loved who are now gone. As for John, living on a rock didn’t help. I imagine there had to have been times when he thought he had come to the end of the road, that his ministry and life as he knew it were over.

Some might argue that because John walked and talked with Jesus, he was never down, that he was constantly on a spiritual high, that his life was a continual mountain top experience. But that’s just not realistic. John of all people knew that you can’t live on the mountain top all the time. He was there with Peter and James when Jesus was transfigured. He knew better than anyone that one day you’re on the mountain top, and the next day you’re in the valley. Being exiled on a barren island in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea may as well have been a valley. He must have thought to himself at times, “I guess this is it. This is how my life in this world ends.” He may have thought there was no way God could use him anymore, but God wasn’t finished with John yet.

From Revelation 1 verses 1 and 2:

The revelation from Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who testifies to everything he saw—that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ.

There are a couple of reasons why I wanted us to try to look at the last few years of John’s life through his eyes. First, I wanted us to look through John eyes so that we could empathize with what he might have gone through and in turn, so that we might be reminded of the need to empathize with those who are facing difficulties and hardship in our own day. We should always be mindful that there are people in the world who are suffering in their faith, as well as people who are suffering…….because of their faith, just as John suffered for his faith. We need to show empathy because Jesus commands it.  We’re called to care for those who are suffering and if we’re to care for them, we must also show them that we actually care……………about them.

But the main reason I wanted us to look through the eyes of John is because John’s experience teaches us a very important truth about God. No matter how bleak the world may look through our eyes, it’s never bleak in God’s eyes. Where we see the end of the road, God sees the beginning! And until He calls us home, God is never done with us!! For the apostle John, God saved the best for last! For it was through John’s eyes that we see Jesus return in all His glory to defeat the armies of Satan at Armageddon. Through John’s eyes we see Jesus establish His millennial kingdom. Through John’s eyes we see God defeat Satan one last time, once and for all. Through John’s eyes we Jesus judge the living and the dead. And afterwards we see Jesus wipe away every tear. Through John’s eyes we see that death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain, for those things will pass away. Through John’s eyes, we see that Jesus will make all things new!!

Where is Your Security?

The Bible tells us in Matthew Chapter 10 that when Jesus sent the 12 disciples out on their first mission trip, He gave them gave very specific instructions as they made preparations for their journey (see also the parallel accounts in Mark 6 and Luke 9).

Matthew 10:9-14
“Don’t take any money in your money belts—no gold, silver, or even copper coins. Don’t carry a traveler’s bag with a change of clothes and sandals or even a walking stick. Don’t hesitate to accept hospitality, because those who work deserve to be fed.

Whenever you enter a city or village, search for a worthy person and stay in his home until you leave town. When you enter the home, give it your blessing. If it turns out to be a worthy home, let your blessing stand; if it is not, take back the blessing. If any household or town refuses to welcome you or listen to your message, shake its dust from your feet as you leave.”

Essentially, they were sent out with nothing but the clothes on their backs. They were to take no food, money, a change of clothes, not even so much as a walking stick. They were to accept the hospitality of the people in the towns they would visit. But they were also told to shake the dust off their feet if anyone refused to welcome them.

I imagine there was some apprehension. They must have wondered how, when, or where they would be fed and housed. But according to the Gospel accounts, the disciples were obedient and followed Jesus’ instructions when they went out on this unprecedented mission trip. Though they may not have completely understood why Jesus gave such explicit instructions, they obeyed. They trusted Jesus with their security and well being.

The Bible says we only need faith the size of a mustard seed, and these disciples trusted Jesus enough to believe that their needs would be taken care of while they were on their journey. Yes, they may have had apprehension and anxiety, but they believed Jesus would provide for them.

This raises a question for us today in our time: Where is our security? I’ll be the first to confess; I haven’t always placed my faith and trust in God to be my provider. I’ve been unemployed twice in my work life, and those were times of near panic. My security was grounded in steady employment. I’ve heard people say, “I have a degree from XYZ University. I’m good.” Others say, “I have a marketable skill that is always in demand. I’m just fine.” Others place their security in their bank accounts, their retirement accounts, or their possessions. But the lesson for us is the same lesson Jesus was teaching his disciples when he sent them out with nothing but the clothes on their backs: We need to trust Jesus with our security.

This is easy to say. It’s much harder to do. We’re all familiar with John 14:6 “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” But chapter 14 of the book of John begins with Jesus telling his disciples in the first verse, “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me.”

“TRUST IN GOD, TRUST ALSO IN ME.”

And again, that is the message for us today. Our faith and trust must be in God and God alone. Jobs can go away in an instant, as I learned the hard way several years ago. The markets can fluctuate and wipe out retirement accounts overnight. Possessions can be destroyed in the blink of an eye by fire or natural disaster. The only constant is God. God is trustworthy. He never changes. That’s why He must be the source of our security. And let me emphasize right here that this is NOT, I repeat, NOT a prosperity gospel message. God is our provider when it comes to our needs, but he is not a cosmic Santa Clause. There is a difference between wants and needs. God knows what we need before we ask (Mathew 6:8, Luke 12:30).

Finally, what if we are called as the disciples were? What if we are called for mission work? For ministry? I’m talking about the undeniable calling of God leading you to the mission or ministry fields. It can be a difficult decision to leave what makes us feel secure to answer that call. I recently answered God’s call to ministry and for the moment, I feel that God is equipping me and preparing me for that ministry. Will He call me to leave my job and go into ministry full time? I don’t know. Maybe it will be my calling to stay at my job to minister to my co-workers. Whatever it is that God has planned for me, I only pray I’ll have the courage to answer that call when it comes and to be as obedient as the 12 disciples. And I pray this for you as well.

Recharging Our Spiritual Batteries

We all experience ups and downs. It happens every day. Our bodies get tired and we have to rest. At our jobs, we can become mentally exhausted and reach a point where we have to step back and take a break. It’s no different in our Christian walk. There are times when we fell like we’re on top of the mountain. God’s presence is so powerful it almost seems like we could close our eyes and reach out and touch Him. And then there are those other times. We feel drained. We feel like we’re in a pit and we wonder if we’re really making a difference. Those are the times when we need to recharge ourselves spiritually.

Believe it or not, this is perfectly normal. No one, not even the strongest Christian, can operate at a consistently high level over an extended period of time. We see this in sports where individual athletes and entire teams go through slumps. They go through spells where they just aren’t hitting on all cylinders. When this happens, the team captains or the coaches will close the doors and call the players together for a team meeting so they can address the problems and regain their focus.

When we feel ourselves going into a spiritual slump, we need to do the exact same thing. We need to retreat, which means we need to go behind closed doors and have a meeting with God. We can either pray, read our Bibles, or meditate on scripture. And quite often we have to do all of the above. Like I said, it’s perfectly normal to go through seasons when our faith feels weak and when the presence of God doesn’t feel quite as strong. This is especially true for new Christians. They often become anxious when they experience this. They wonder if they’re slipping or if they’re beginning to fall away from God. They might even wonder if their conversion was for real. Even those of us who have been walking with God for a while can have those thoughts.

Let’s look to God’s word for assurance:

Mark 1:29-35 4:38-42

Jesus Heals Many
As soon as they left the synagogue, they went with James and John to the home of Simon and Andrew. Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told Jesus about her. So he went to her, took her hand and helped her up. The fever left her and she began to wait on them.

That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. The whole town gathered at the door, and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was.

Jesus Prays in a Solitary Place
Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.

Note that the scripture tells us that Jesus went to a solitary place and prayed after he had healed many people. Luke chapter 5 tells us clearly in verses 15 and 16 that Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed after teaching and healing. He was emotionally and physically exhausted. Jesus is God, but Jesus was also man and in His humanity he experienced everything that we go through, even exhaustion.

In our walk with God, we will experience highs and lows. When we hit the low spots, we can take heart from God’s word and remind ourselves that it’s normal to go through these lows. When it happens, we can follow Jesus’ example; retreat, pray, and worship.

And if you’re in a slump and just can’t seem to climb out of it, a little more help may be in order. Get into (or back into) Bible study. Get involved with other believers. Sit down and talk to a pastor or a minister if you need to. Never be afraid to ask others to pray for you. Never underestimate the power of God through fellowship with other believers. Remember the words from Matthew 18:20 For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.

We’ve all been through it, and none of us has to go it alone.

Riding in the Jumpseat

None of us know how much time God has given us. The Bible makes that very clear:

Job said, “A man’s days are determined; God has decreed the number of his months and has set limits he cannot exceed.”

In the 90th Psalm the Bible says, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

James wrote in his epistle, “Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.”  Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow.”

And Jesus told a parable about a rich man who one day decided to take life easy and live off of the wealth he had accumulated. But God said to the man, “You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you.”

As a maintenance mechanic for the airline I work for, we can ride up front with the pilots in the cockpit jumpseat if no seats are available in the back. And on three recent occasions, I had to ride in the jumpseat due to full flights, though it wasn’t a new experience. The very first time I got to sit up front with the pilots was about twenty years ago on a flight from Amarillo to Dallas/Fort Worth, back when I still worked for Delta. Being that’s it’s a former Air Force base, Amarillo’s airport has a nice 13,000 foot long runway.  There must have been over a mile of runway in front of us when the plane’s wheels lifted off the ground so you didn’t get the sense of running out of room on the takeoff roll.

Dallas Love Field is a different story. As we started our takeoff roll from Love Field, I couldn’t help but notice how quickly the runway in front of us started getting shorter: I mean, it was getting really short…really fast! Unlike Amarillo, when the plane left the ground, it was only a matter of seconds before we passed over the end of the runway.

I mention all of this because riding in the jumpseat made me think of a recent sermon in which the pastor of my church spoke of the need to reach unsaved people in their 60s and 70s and 80s because people in those age groups, quite frankly, don’t have many years left. The number of years in front of them is less than the number of years behind them. In a manner of speaking, the runway is getting short and I don’t mean that to be humorous in any way because our pastor was right on the money when he said we need to be reaching out to unsaved elderly people. They really don’t have much time left, and that’s simply being truthful.

But this can be true regardless of a person’s age. That 25 year old who thinks he has his entire lifetime in front of him could be diagnosed with a terminal illness and be gone in a moment. It happens every day. The time to be reaching people for Christ is now! If you know of someone who is elderly and is not saved; a parent, a grandparent, an aunt or an uncle, or an elderly neighbor or friend, there needs to be a special sense of urgency as we reach out to them for Jesus Christ.

But let’s not forget, Jesus could return and take the church out of the world at any moment. We tend to think of the rapture of the church as something that might happen thirty years from now, or three hundred years from now. But it could happen before you finish reading your this blog. Each day that passes means we’re one day closer to Christ’s return! For those of us who are saved, that’s a glorious hope! But for the unsaved, each passing day means they are one day closer to having to go through the tribulation, and perhaps spending eternity separated from God. The majority of us have not been called to preach to large crowds of people, but all of us have been called to reach out to at least one person. Time is like the runway in front of a jetliner on its takeoff roll: It gets short real fast when you’re coming up to the end. So if God puts someone on your heart, don’t delay. Share the glorious news of Christ’s salvation with him or her as soon as you can, while there’s still time!

Keeping Focused on Christ

In the Old Testament times, God used the experiences of the Israelites to teach us the importance of keeping our eyes focused on the path in front of us.

As the Israelites marched through the wilderness, they came to Kadesh, a town on the outskirts of the territory of the Edomites.

Numbers chapter 20 tells us:

Moses sent messengers from Kadesh to the king of Edom, saying:

“This is what your brother Israel says: You know about all the hardships that have come on us.  Our ancestors went down into Egypt, and we lived there many years. The Egyptians mistreated us and our ancestors, but when we cried out to the LORD, he heard our cry and sent an angel and brought us out of Egypt.

“Now we are here at Kadesh, a town on the edge of your territory.  Please let us pass through your country. We will not go through any field or vineyard, or drink water from any well. We will travel along the King’s Highway and not turn to the right or to the left until we have passed through your territory.”

The Israelites made a promise to the king of Edom, that they would not turn aside or wander off the path,  that they would keep their eyes focused straight ahead on their destination.

We see this expression used numerous times in the Bible, i.e., not turning aside to the right or left.

In Deuteronomy 5:32 Moses is recounting the day God handed down the Ten Commandments, and finishes with a little reminder.

So be careful to do what the LORD your God has commanded you; do not turn aside to the right or to the left

Again, we see the expression, “do not turn aside to the right or left”, and in this context, it’s a reminder to the people of Israel to keep their focus centered on God, whereas in the passage from Numbers 20, it was more literal.

As God established His law through Moses in Deuteronomy, God stressed time and again the importance of keeping our focus on Him.

Deuteronomy 17:9-11

Go to the Levitical priests and to the judge who is in office at that time. Inquire of them and they will give you the verdict. You must act according to the decisions they give you at the place the LORD will choose. Be careful to do everything they instruct you to do. Act according to whatever they teach you and the decisions they give you. Do not turn aside from what they tell you, to the right or to the left.

Deuteronomy 28:13_14

If you pay attention to the commands of the LORD your God that I give you this day and carefully follow them, you will always be at the top, never at the bottom. Do not turn aside from any of the commands I give you today, to the right or to the left, following other gods and serving them.

The reason God places such emphasis on “not turning to the right or to the left” is because there are things out there in the world that can distract us and pull our attention away from God. It may be something that literally causes us to turn our heads one way or another, or it might be something that causes us to turn aside in a spiritual sense. It could be something on TV or on the internet that we shouldn’t be viewing. It might be an improper or inappropriate thought that we entertain in our minds. It might be some sin we’re struggling with.

So God uses this verbiage to teach us that we must not turn towards the things that cause us to turn away from Him. Our attention and our focus should be on Christ, because our destination is eternal life with Him in His Kingdom.

When Jesus was crucified, there were two criminals with him, one on the left and one on the right. It was God’s plan that Jesus should be in the center. This was done to emphasize in a physical way that Jesus should be the center of our lives. That was not random.

In the New Testament, Paul preaches the same message, but he phrases it a a little differently.

1 Corinthians 9

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

Different analogies. But the same end result. What does Paul mean when he says, “Run in such a way as to get the prize.”? . It’s very simple; don’t turn to the right or to the left. If a runner does that during a race, there is no prize to be won.

Philippians 3

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Paul is basically delivering the same message that God sent through Moses. Be disciplined in our faith, do not be distracted. Do not turn to the right or to the left. Let’s keep our eye on the prize. Let’s keep our focus on Christ.

I’ll close with this passage from Proverbs 4:

Let your eyes look straight ahead;
fix your gaze directly before you.
Give careful thought to the paths for your feet
and be steadfast in all your ways.
Do not turn to the right or the left;
keep your foot from evil.