Friday, December 30, 2011

Resolutions for 2012

Here are a couple resoutions that I am prayerfully considering.
   1. To develop a more intensive prayer life
   2. To refuse to compromise my character or my soul
   3. To develop and maintain a healthy lifestyle
   4. To honor my wife- she deserves it for living with me!
   5. To love the unloveable and God's difficult children
   6. To Challenge myself on leadership through reading and relationships
   7. To Persevere in tough times
   8. To Speak truth- even when it will not be well received
   9. To lead from internal conviction and yet to listen to those around me
   10. To increase savings and giving to others

Spiritual Gifts #2

We continue on to discuss the gift of knowledge. There are those who seem to feel as if this is a residential gift in the mind-heart of an individual. As if God places an occasional smarty pants in the body of Christ who knows things. Now, I want to thank God for the hundreds of people who are smarter than me in the church where I serve. They have been a resource to the church and to myself in confusing times. But though they are operating in knowledge they are not operating in the gift of the Word of knowledge. The Word of Knowledge is a revelation based gift- much like the Word of Wisdom that we wrote about earlier. The Word of Knowledge comes usually in a time of prayer although, occasionally it just shows up in our minds while we are about the business of ministry. It isn't, as one author writes " the ability to understand scripture in a way that only comes by revelation". That is a dangerous and unbibilical doctrine! Scripture is to be used to judge revelation not the other way around. The objective standard of the Word of God always is the measuring stick of the subjective revelation of the prophetic and revelatory gifts.

The Lord moves among his church in profound ways. His purpose is to work his will of strengthening, encouraging, comforting, healing, etc among the body of Christ. He does so by revealing a bit of knowledge to someone open to the gift so that it may be used by God to instigate the process of healing or strengthening. For instance, we read of Jesus knowing that he had been touched by someone with faith. The woman with the issue of blood was revealed to Jesus by a word of knowledge. Clearly the Spirit revealed that to Jesus. (We know that many of the miracles of Jesus were done by the anointing of the Holy Spirit on his life because he claimed in the synagogue in Nazareth (Luke 4) that that is what drove him to do the miraculous. And we have Luke's synopsis of Jesus' ministry  in Acts 10.38 where it clearly says that his ministry of "doing good, healing all who were under the power of the devil" was Spirit directed.) But we also see similar working of these gift in the body of Christ in the book of Acts. Peter should have been pretty impressed with the offering placed at his feet in Acts 5. But he knows something is amiss. He calls Ananias to task saying things that could only be known by a revelation of God.

Thankfully, the Word of Knowledge doesn't always end with someone being struck down by God! Often it is used to establish trust in the heart of someone so they may receive a prophetic directive or a Word of Wisdom which is to follow. " I saw you under the fig tree..." Jesus said to Nathanael. This fact known by revelation opened up Nathanael to the rest of Jesus' ministry. So as your seeking the greater gifts in obedience to God command in 1 Cor 12.31 include an openness to the Word of Knowledge.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Understanding Spiritual Gifts 1

As I perused the internet looking for some information regarding the gifts of the Holy Spirit I became increasingly concerned that not only do many not practice the gifts but many are so ignorant of the gifts of the Holy Spirit that they cannot even define them correctly. Disconcerting to say the least! How can we be a Spirit-filled people if we cannot define the objective descriptions of the Spirit's working among us?

So let's take a look at the 9 charisms mentioned in 1 Cor 12. Other sections of Scripture speak of motivational giftings and offices within the church but 1 Cor 12 clearly identifies these gifts as manifestation gifts. Their purpose is to reveal the Word of God, the Mind of God, and the Power of God to the situations within the believers gathered. John F. MacArthur is certainly no sympathizer with the charismatic movement but is forced to acknowledge that these gifts were "specific enablements" for the purpose of "authenticating or confirming God's Word". Unfortunately, MacArthur himself has called these gifts "temporary sign gifts"-despite the complete lack of any indication in this (or any other) text that these gifts were designed to be temporary. Miracles were common in the first century among those followers of Christ. So much so that some miracles became "ordinary" (Acts 19.11). They were not worked strictly by the Apostles alone. Indeed, the NT records many healings and miracles by those outside the 12. Paul seems to be encouraging the proper use of the charismata in 1 Cor 12. It is clear that the purpose is to manifest the Spirit for the common good (12.7) Donald Gee reminds us that these gifts arose out of individuals who had been personally filled with the Spirit. He writes, "The very phrase "manifestation of the Spirit" makes this clear. The Greek Word is phanerosis, 'a shining forth.' The nine gifts...are examples of different ways in which the indwelling Spirit might reveal himself through believers."
So, let's examine these manifestation gifts.

The Message (Word) of Wisdom- This is more than some sanctified natural gifting. It has little to do with human intelligence. All of these gifts are divinely imparted. Since the gift of healing has little to do with medical science- wisdom should not be expected to be connected to intelligence. Neither is the Word of Wisdom simply the application of the divine wisdom that comes down (James 3.17). That is the application of the teachings of Jesus. One author I read taught that the Word of Wisdom was a way of proper interpretation of Scripture. As important as good hermenuetics is, it is not connected to the Word of Wisdom. The Message of Wisdom is a spiritually imparted nugget of divine purpose and application. It is differentiated from the Word of Knowledge in that it gives a directive on what should happen based upon God's perspective. It is the revelation of God's mind on what to do in a particular situation. It is actionable. It is recognizable in the council rooms and board rooms of the church when the leadership is prayerfully seeking to honor God. It is seen in prayer meetings and presbyteries over those who are seeking direction for life and ministry. It is seen occassionally at the altar, as the Holy Spirit moves through everyday christians caring for one another. We see evidence of this revealing of the divine tactic in Acts 13.1f, when during a time of prayer, worship and fasting, the Holy Spirit said "Set apart for me Barnabus and Saul to the work I have called them." Before this we have no indication that Paul would lead a great missionary endeavor. But God knew what to do when the believers gathered did not. God can see the future, knows intimately the giftings of individuals, and can choose to reveal this to the seeking church to clearly direct the path of the church.

I have experienced the Word of Wisdom on numerous occasions. I often look back upon those keystone moments. They are like the divinely inspired stepping stones of my life. Looking back I see confirmed the path of God's plan and am encouraged. God sent men and women at key moments in my life to speak a Word of Wisdom to me regarding the direction of my life and ministry. When I am facing decisions that are not clear, I seek the Lord and he helps me by his Holy Spirit. often God uses others to speak a Word of Wisdom to me. It is not the wisdom of their age, nor the wisdom of scriptural principles, for these are too broad. This is the Wisdom perscription from Jesus. Is this not what we mean when we say Spirit led? Let the Spirit lead you in to his purpose by being open to the Word of Wisdom. Seek it out, desire it, be eager to be used in that gift and you will not only live a profitable life for the Kingdom of God but you will be a blessing to those around you.

Friday, December 16, 2011

When the Athiest Dies

Today Christopher Hitchens died. He was 62 and lost his battle to esophageal cancer. His career as a provocative journalist and his penchant for attacking religion- especially Christianity- established him in some circles among the intellectual elites in Britian. He was the author of  God is not Great (Twelve Books), a contributing editor to Vanity Fair, and visiting professor of liberal studies to the New School. Hitchens published a series of letters to Douglas Wilson entitled "Is Christianity Good for the World?". These are worth the read by folks of either persuasion.

He leaves behind 3 children and a wife. For those of us who are believers, we recognize the ultimate sadness is that in spite of engaging with some of the most brilliant minds in Christendom he has slipped into a Christless eternity and is destined for perdition. Yet, he had powerful witnesses to faith and will be judged according to the truth he knew. Certainly he had rejected, even at the end, the message that a real salvation comes to those who place their faith in Christ, and not in their own intellect.

How about your friends, loved ones, and neighbors? Have you given them an adequate witness of faith to offer them a way out from spiritual ruin? Paul said to the Ephesians " I am innocent of the blood of all men for I have not hesitated to proclaim the whole will of God..." (Acts 20.26f)- have we been faithful proclaimers of God"s message of Grace and Love to those who are in our lives? After all the love of God extends to them as well. Christ followers need to speak up before it is too late.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Worse than an Unbeliever

Reading the Tribune the other day and the author reminisced about his father who worked 2 jobs in order to keep food on the table and heat in the house. And as I pondered on that for a while I realized that I didn't know very many men who worked that hard for their family. For all the complaints about "living wages" and union benefits I don't know too many who are working a FT job and a PT job as well. Some won't even look for work.

Paul wrote to Timothy, "If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever." (1 Tim 5.8)

Of course there are circumstances that mitigate this a bit- such as a horrible economy, but I am thinking that this is extremely harsh language. How is a believer ever WORSE than an unbeliever?

1.) He is worse in that his witness is blown. We represent God to our families. And as fathers we are to be haveing our hearts turned toward our children (Mal 4.6). Even the unbelievers would look with distain upon a man who doesn't care for his family.

2.) He is worse because he fails to do his part and then blames God for not providing.

3.) He is worse because he shames the name of the ultimate provider- Jehovah jireh by not working in conjunction with Him.

Seems that our view of work as menial or trivial is far from the reformers views of "vocation" and calling. Further, if we see certina forms of labor as beneath us is that not a form of pride?

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Strange Fire in the House of the Lord

by J. Lee Grady

We need to be careful. Current fads involving angels, ecstatic worship and necromancy could push us off the edge of spiritual sanity.
No one fully understands what Nadab and Abihu did to prompt God to strike them dead in the sanctuary of Israel. The Bible says they loaded their firepans with incense, ignited the substance and "offered strange fire before the Lord, which He had not commanded them" (Lev. 10:1, NASB). As a result of their careless and irreverent behavior, fire came from God's presence and consumed them.

Zap. In an instant they were ashes.

When Moses had to explain to Aaron what happened to the two men, he said: "It is what the Lord spoke, saying, ‘By those who come near to Me I will be treated as holy, and before all the people I will be honored'" (v. 3). Although we don't know the details of what Nadab and his brother did with the holy incense, we know they were careless and irreverent about the things of God.

"We want the miracles of God, but we also want the fear and reverence of God. We cannot allow this strange fire to spread unchecked."

This ancient story has relevant application for us today. We don't use incense or firepans in our worship, but we are expected to handle God's Word with care and minister to His people in the fear of the Lord. In other words: No funny business allowed. We aren't allowed to mix God's Word with foreign concepts or mix our worship with pagan practices.

Yet as I minister in various churches around this country I am finding that strange fire is spreading in our midst-even in churches that call themselves "Spirit-filled." Pastors and leaders need to be aware of these trends:

1. Deadly visitations. In some charismatic circles today, people are claiming to have spiritual experiences that involve communication with the dead. One Michigan pastor told me last week that some church leaders he knows promote this bizarre practice and base it on Jesus' experience on the Mount of Transfiguration. The logic is that since Jesus talked to Moses and Elijah on the day He was glorified, this gives us permission to talk to dead Christians and our dead relatives.

Although little is said about these experiences from the pulpit (since the average believer is not ready to handle this "new revelation"), people in some streams of the prophetic movement are claiming to have visitations from Aimee Semple McPherson, William Branham, John Wimber or various Bible characters. And we are expected to say, "Ooooooo, that's so deep"-and then go looking for our own mystical, beyond-the-grave epiphany.

That is creepy. Communication with the dead was strictly forbidden in the Old Testament (see Deut. 18:11), and there is nothing in the New that indicates the rules were changed. Those who seek counsel from the dead-whether through mediums and séances or in "prophetic visions"-are taking a dangerous step toward demonization.

2. Ecstatic rapture. Not long after ecstasy became known as a recreational drug, someone in our movement got the bright idea to promote spiritual ecstasy as a form of legitimate worship. The concept evolved from "spiritual drunkenness" to the current fad in which people gather at church altars and pretend to shoot needles in their arms for a "spiritual high." Some preachers today are encouraging people to "toke the Holy Ghost"-a reference to smoking marijuana.

I hate to be a party pooper, but the Bible warns us to "be of sound judgment and sober spirit" (1 Pet. 4:7). There is plenty of freedom and joy in the Holy Spirit; we don't have to quench it by introducing people to pagan revelry. Christian worship is not about losing control. Those who worship Jesus do it "in spirit and in truth" (John 4:24), and our love for God is not measured by how violently we shake or how many times we fall on the floor.

Recently I told a friend in Pennsylvania that when people get tired of this drug imagery it won't be long before we see some Christians having sexual experiences at the altar. "It's already happening," my friend said. He described a recent "worship concert" in which one of the musicians simulated sex while stroking a microphone and whispering sensual phrases to Jesus. What is next-orgasmic worship? God help us.

3. Angels among us. Angels have always played a vital role in the life of the church. They are "ministering spirits" sent to protect, guide and strengthen believers (Heb. 1:14). But suddenly angels have become the rage in some segments of our movement. People are claiming to see them everywhere, and often the stories don't line up with the Word of God.

During the Lakeland Revival last year in Florida, a man from Germany took the stage and claimed that an angel walked into a restaurant while he was eating a hamburger, took his intestines out and replaced them with a gold substance. Others have testified that angels took them to heaven and operated on them. And many are claiming that angels are dropping feathers, gold dust and precious gems on worshippers.

I know God can do anything. He can make an iron axe head float, hide a coin in a fish's mouth and use a little boy's lunch to feed a multitude. Those were genuine miracles that He can still do today. But we still have to use caution here. There are counterfeits. If we promote a false miracle or a false angel in the Lord's house, we are participating in strange fire.

I know of a case where a man was caught planting fake jewels on the floor of a church. He told his friends he was "seeding the room" to lift the people's faith. I know of others who have been caught putting gold glitter on themselves in a restroom and then running back in a church service, only to claim that God was blessing them with this special favor. Where is the fear of God when Christians would actually fabricate a miracle?

This is a time for all true believers with backbones to draw clear lines between what is godly worship and what is pagan practice. We want the miracles of God, but we also want the fear and reverence of God. We cannot allow this strange fire to spread unchecked.

J. Lee Grady is editor of Charisma.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Lincoln's Prayers of Thanksgiving

After Gettysburg President Abraham Lincoln wrote his Thanksgiving Proclaimation where he wrote "I do therefore invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and union."

If we are to be consistent with the Spirit of the holiday as Lincoln understood it, we should be offering 4 prayers.

1. Praise to God for his Goodness
2. Repentance for sins and rebellion as a nation
3. Petitions for mercy for all those without
4. Healing for our nation

May I suggest that we forget about the Turkey and the desserts for a few moments this Thanksgiving and pray these four things that we may show due deference to the God of the blessings and know from whence they have come.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

The Halloween Controversy

This Ask The Pastor question is from a mother in the congregation that is concerned about Halloween.
She writes, "Should Christians participate or not?
In the conversations, these points have been spoken.

Christians who participate in halloween, go door to door, costumes of all kinds, etc.

Christians who say its totally wrong for christians to participate and new christians get offended and say their being judged.

Christians who participate in an alternative (fall fun fest) and new christians call that hypocrisy.

Christians calling it the devils day. "

Let me be the first to say I hate Halloween. I hate it for the drama that it creates in good followers of Jesus.

1) I don't believe that the Devil gets a special day to call his own. True, Halloween has it's roots in paganism as do many of the holidays we celebrate. Christmas and Easter for instance can be traced to Solstice and Spring rituals. Yet the church has rejected the pagan underpinnings of those holidays and infused the holidays with new meanings. This hasn't traditionally been done for Halloween- though many evangelical churches offer an alternative to the Halloween- calling it a Fall Festival or what have you. This, in my estimation is not hypocrisy but redemption. We are redeeming the time for the days are evil ( Eph 5.16) At CLC there is fun games and OUTREACH to the community and kids. A salvation message is always included at some level.

2. While I think it is probably pretty questionable to accept candy from strangers (something we teach our children not to do the other 364 days of the year), I don't see it as sin. If we find ourselves glorifying death or Satan or even macabre we are in error. It is certainly not something that we should be encouraging our children to do. The cause of the flood of Noah was the sin of VIOLENCE. (Gen 6.5,6,13) With that said, the Old Testament is pretty violent, so even when my kids dressed up like bible characters there was a violent side! It isn't wrong for children to dress up and pretend the other 364 days and so there is no sin in them dressing up on that day. Christian parents should do everything they can to differentiate their participation from the worlds. On the other hand, when else are the neighbor kids coming over ? It wouldn't hurt to drop an invitation to church in the bag along with the candy. if you are concerned about the school day and it's celebrations, I always gave my kids the option of staying home... and they almost always did stay home.

3. The bible is very clear about judging each other by "what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a new Moon celebration or a sabbath day" Col 2.16ff We have "died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to it's rules: 'Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!'"? Believers have all been rescued from the dominion of darkness and brought into the kingdom, so celebrate the redemption by using every day to glorify God! So if your little girl wants to dress up like Snow White you can find the gospel in that story. (The church as the bride poisoned by sin waiting for redemption from the prince (Jesus)). And you can redeem that!

Hope that helps!

Cultural Hatred

It doesn't make sense to me but there seems to be an increase of hatred for people of the Christian faith. Christianity gave the world some marvelous advances (and continues to do so!). Among them hospitals, penal system, a judicial system the strives (albeit imperfectly) for justice, and the Red Cross. Christians worked to heal the sick during Europe's plagues, they started the Salvation Army, and YMCA. It was Christian leadership that lead to the abolition of slavery, the women's vote, the civil rights movement, and the end of child labor. Currently, Christians take the lead in mission work among the nations poor, shelters, and homeless ministry.

These days the leading edge of Christian faith seeks to bring health to marriages, protection of the unborn child, protection of children, working in nations where there is poverty and loss, etc.
Amazingly, this is the faith that has engendered the hatred of so many. Anti-Christian activity is on the rise in Europe, in India, and in the US. In Persecution: How Liberals Are Waging War Against Christianity,  author David Limbaugh uncovers a mountain of evidence of large-scale, across-the-board discrimination against Christians in the public and academic spheres—accompanied by an alarming determination on the part of the political left to eradicate Christian influences from our culture and even our history lessons. I frequently hear derogatory comments made on Television toward the church or people of faith. It does seem that this is on the rise.

So this morning in my Bible reading I came across the verse in Mark 13.13 "All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved." I guess we shouldn't be surprised, eh?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Manning Up


I have a friend who is going thru lost work,money is low, him and wife are not together any more. He has low self esteem, depression, does not like himself anymore, he hates himself cause he messed up his life big time. He owes so much money they what to garnish his wages they want to take him to court. I talked with him and we prayed over the situation. He has lost everything. Can't seem to be happy and no joy anymore. He has mention suicide. He tells me he can't deal with the world anymore. All he wants is to get is life back some how. He says he plays lotto games so he hopes to win big so he can pay off his debts. He stays home does not want to go out, he says he gets a few hours of sleep at night.He cry's himself to sleep, he broke down when we were talking. He does not eat regular. All he has is himself. What can he do before its to late? thanks

Wow, sounds like a difficult battle this friend is in. Christ's forgiveness absolves us from the guilt of the past and he gives us freedom from condemnation. It seems the enemy of this man's soul - the devil- is really beating him up. Once the enemy can get a person into the cycle of thinking that it is all his fault ( it is unlikely to be true that it is all his fault) then there is a sense of unworthiness and hopelessness that accompany the mind pounding that the temptor is giving him. There are 3 life changing truths that every person needs to come to grips with as a follower of Jesus that will set this friend free.

1.  The Past is the past- Once confessed before God, your sins are forgiven. Period. Excuse my crude analogy here but there is no reason to dig around in the toilet- that was yesterdays meal. When we allow our thinking to go back and dig around in the past we are likely to let the past be our present.

2.  There is a future that God has for you. As long as you continue to let the past bind your mind you will not be able to make the changes necessary to embrace the future. Forgiving yourself, may be a key component in this growth step. Jer 29.11f Let your hope come alive and embrace the good things in the future. Fight discouragment actively and step out in faith. Don't wait for the feelings to change. Learn to dream God's dreams after him.

3.   The present should be used to grow in Jesus. Read the Word. Believe the Hope that he brings to you. Walk by faith. Avoid the Shame cycle by living your life in a such a way as to be done with the past. Ask forgiveness from those you hurt, and move on. Oh, and there is a devil already so quit beating yourself up, he is good at his job and doesn't need your help.

Simple? yes... but not easy. I will pray for your friend in the heat of the battle. Tell him I said... "Don't give up, Man up!"

Friday, September 23, 2011

Falling under the Power

 A person recently asked me "Pastor, is there Biblical precedence for being slain in the Spirit?"

I am not sure where the term Slain in the Spirit comes from. Perhaps from Maria B. Woodworth-Etter 1885. The Muncie, Indiana Daily News (Sept 25,1885) tells of "Dozens lying around pale and unconscious, rigid, and lifeless as though in death." She called this the "slaying power of God". In recent days this seems to be the trend in some evangelistic meetings. A pastor or evangelist when praying over people has someone laying on hands while praying over someone. Slaying is a strong term that initiates death. There are a few people in the Bible that have been slain by God... Ananias and Sapphira come to mind (Acts 5)! But certainly this is not what people have in mind. There are numerous instances of people falling under the power of God in the Scripture. The Apostle Paul fell at the revelation of Jesus as he was on his way to arrest and persecute the church (Acts 9.3-4) In this passage Paul falls prostrate at the overwhelming presence of the risen Christ. According to Acts 26 so did the rest of those with him. John the Apostle also "fell at His feet as dead" in Rev. 1.17. Daniel (10.4ff) fell under the power of God. In these circumstances the presence of God overwhelmed the physical body and emotions of the individual. It is not unthinkable that the finite would be overwhelmed by the infinite! These experiences accompanied the revivals of John Wesley, Peter Cartwright, Charles Finney and George Whitefield. These men were not Charismatic or Pentecostal per se but had these dramatic psychophysical phenomena in their services.

Yet, increasingly, what we see is a preacher trying to make it happen as if it was the sign of the anointing of God. While the power of God is a sign of the Holy Spirit's anointing it nowhere in the NT manifested itself in this way. The anointing of God came upon men and women and initiated inspired speech and praise, but no "falling out". We need not seek the falling down as an experience to be sought. When and if it ever happens to us, it is a sign of human frailty and weakness. Neither is there any biblical cause or warrant for pushing someone (it likely will offend them and scandalize those watching) or jerking them while you pray for them. The Holy Spirit doesn't need our help to overwhelm the individual. God is able to meet needs, answer prayers, cast out devils, and heal the sick with out resorting to gimmicks.

But we are called to believe in the supernatural power of the Spirit to meet these fantastic and numerous needs that surround us. We are called to seek the Lord in authentic and fervent prayer. Seeking expereince for the sake of expereince is misguided. Seeking experiences that do not measure up to the Bible trivializes the real purpose of God. And seeking the Lord is a highly subjective and personal act of devotion. I have, at times, been overwhelmed by the power of the Spirit in times of deep intercession and prayer. Sometimes in tears, sometimes laying prostrate on the floor, sometimes in joyful exuberance. But the experience of being overwhelmed is merely a side effect of the act of pursuing God. And pursuing Him and surrendering to his agenda are all that matters. He will answer when we begin to seek him and not the side experiences. As one preacher put it, "It doesn't matter how hard you fall down or how high you jump... only that you walk right when you leave."

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Handling Finances Faithfully

The Bible offers a lot of advice on how to handle your finances. running yoru checkbook God's way insures order and blessing over your finances. Below are some notes from a previous study on Stewardship.

Biblical Stewardship

I. Stewardship recognizes God is the source (and owner) of it all Luke 16.19-31; Lev 27; Ps 24.1Stewardship means that all "our" money really belongs to God and that he will hold us accountable as managers of his supply. Consider Psalme 24.1ff all that the earth contains is the Lords. Leviticus 27 speaks of tithing as more than a matter of giving to support the local ministry, it is a declaration of ownership. By giving to God the tenth portion (the first among ten) we declare God's ownership of all we have.

II. Stewardship requires Discipline in Spending Mt 25.14-30;Few of us have more than enough (though we are better off than we sometimes admit!) clothes, cars, homes, etc. But by the standards in the world we are rich. Disciplining ourselves is not something that Americans are good at but we must learn to say "no" to the wants we wrestle with. If we discipline ourselves with things like coupons, taking advantage of sales, and buying in quantity we will have more than enough.
III. Stewardship realizes that money can be used to build your faith Lk 16.10-13; 1 Tim 5.8; Mt 6.21; Pr 13.11; Pr 28.19f
Finances are a great place to buidl your faith. Your wallet is sometimes attached to your heart, when we lack often it is a heart problem that drives that hardship. Knowing Christ  by faith we must endeavor to expand our practical faith by living out the commands and disciplines of faithful stewardship. Since everything in the kingdom is by faith- it is not unthinkable that God would use money – or that lack of it- to stretch your faith

IV. Stewardship rejects Debt and borrowing money Ps 37.21 Mt 22.21; James 4.13-14; Luke 14.28-30; Pr 22.7; Rom 13.8
Danger- Debt is a poison that drags down the soul and the spirit. When we have a debt – as righteous people we are to pay it off – as testimony to God. We should be careful to not incur debts that do not appreciate. Most do not. Scripture teaches that we shouldn’t presume upon tomorrows supply- James 4.  We need to keep ourselves free of financial obligations- rather than be enslaved by the debts

V. Stewardship rejoices in Saving Pr 6.6-11; 21.20; 30.24f; 31.16
This is a heritage you can leave to your children! Scripture tells us to work while we have the energy- Go to the ant- store in the summer. You can take advantage of situations that come your way- without encumbering yourself in interest. I try to live by the 80/10/10 rule. Live off of 80%; give 10% to God ; Save 10% for the future

VI. Stewardship relishes giving 1 Cor 16.2; Ps 24.1 Mt 6.19-21; Gal 2.10; James 1.27; Pr 3.9-10; 2 Cor 8. 3-9
The Bible says so much about this that I will leave you to search it out completely. The scriptures above challenge us to  a regular giving pattern.. Biblical Giving 2 Cor 8.3-9 consists of
i. Regular weekly giving
ii. Joyful giving
iii. Proportional giving ie., 10% tithe
iv. Worshipful giving
v. Expectant giving

VII. Stewardship reaches beyond stuff to God for satisfaction Phil 4.19; Luke 12.15
Luke 12.15 says  "a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions"  to be truly satisfied we have to seek the Lord. Phil 4.19 tells us that the deepest security and significance come from God.. Be careful to seek the face and trust the hand of God (instead of seeking the hand…)

Friday, August 26, 2011

Handling Disagreements

So how do you handle disagreements among the brethren?

Keep things in perspective - A variety of opinions is a welcome diversity that causes all of us to grow. Don't reject someone because they see things differently than you do.

Don't transfer your disagreement - Lack of uniformity can actually testify to our ability to forebear with one another. Especially because of our differences. Don't let your disagreement regarding one thing foster hostility and disagreement in all areas. For instance, I pray with and am friends with some very nice believers that disagree with my position on the gifts of the Holy Spirit. I sincerely believe they are wrong, but they are still good people and wonderful friends.

Don't question motives- When you disagree take the argument at face value, and don't speculate about the motivations.

Personal differences aren't sinful-Some issues are informed by a different world view. Perhaps informed by culture, or doctrine. Certain things are clearly taught in scripture others are inferred, still other positions are arrived at because of systematic study. Sin involves a compromise of moral or spiritual guidelines. Remember the saying in the the main things unity, in all things charity.

Don't hestitate to say- "You might be right but I have to follow my understanding of what is right"

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Parenting Mistakes Yield Lessons

Remember when you brought that bundle of joy home and you came to the realization that you had the power to make this little one an engaged and articulate student or ... to really screw them up. I remember that revelation and it scared me to death! Over time as my children grew I recognized the imprint of my life on theirs, especially my mistakes and flaws. They seemed to be replicating in the life of my children and I was concerned about it. I prayed and sought counsel from others. I read and attended conferences on parenting. I just wanted them to turn out okay and not wrestle with some of the same things that I did as I grew to maturity.

Here are some simple lessons I learned.

1) Staying positive. There are days when this alone is a challenge, but I assure you that it is important. My bad attitude set the temperature in the house. When I am positive and filled with faith that we are going to survive and overcome the challenges that we are facing it is amazing how it informs the discussions and attitudes of my kids.

2) Little sinners. Recognize your children for what they are. They are not innocent little angels that have relocated from heaven. They talk back, get cranky, steal and lie, and a thousand other things. (remember #1). You see they are just like you. They need need to learn about consequences for their actions and the need for mercy. They need to experience real forgiveness - full and deep. They need to be taught at a moral level- this is acceptable and that is not... and why.

3) Stay Structured. If you don't have guardrails your kids will end up driving off the cliff. Bedtimes are bed times (while they are not set in granite, neither are they suggestions). Naps are important. Small children NEED to sleep. ( a one year old needs a minimum of 14 hours a day! for more info) Before you buy the uniform and ball gloves- make sure they understand that they are making a commitment for the whole season- no quiting! Homework needs to be done on time. It needs to be done after school in the allotted slot. The list goes on and on. These structures are important and are character forming in the hearts of our little ones.

4) Put your guilt away. I know that you always wanted Junior to be your little buddy and that you feel guilty that you work all day but you are REQUIRED to be his parent. Don't parent out of laziness or guilt. You will have to be tough sometimes now in order to have the great relationship you want in the future. We are talking about your child's needs... not your own needs.

5) Educate your self. Read, study books, listen to mp3's, talk with friends, go to seminars, take a Sunday school class on parenting. Sharpen your skills as a parent.

6) Be flexible. What works for one child will likely have to be modified in another in order to achieve the desired results. When my teenager assured me that he was well advanced beyond his youth pastor and that he no longer desired to attend the Youth Group I was flexible. I said, "Well Son we are Christians and attend two services each week. But you don't have to attend Youth Group... You can sit in the adult service if you are bored up there. " He never attended a single adult service. The goal was spiritual growth. Since I could tell he wasn't walking on the water yet I didn't care that he got it somewhere other than the youth pastor.

7) Your being played. The little darling knows that you think the sun sets and rises upon their smile. They know that you basically don't want to do much in regards to parenting. They will try to tell you what you want to hear. Believe about half of what they say (remember #2). You won't be able to tell by looking when they start to lust, steal, masturbate, go to third base with their boyfriend, etc. Suspect everything. Leave little room for problems and they will have difficulty manifesting themselves.

8) Eat together without the TV on. Talk. Talk about what happened in school. Talk about the Word of God and how it applies to you (dinner is a great time form family devotions). Talk about politics, science, something you read. Keep the door open. Trust me the teen years come and they will try to close it on you. Build the relationship with your kids over and over.

9) Prioritize fellowship. Keep yourself and the kids in church. Make very few excuses to miss fellowship. Our life is the Word and Worship. Sports, homework, etc are poor excuses for missing church. That's right I said it! You need to put everything in its place so that a spiritual life will develop. Look around parents... spiritual lives don't develop by accident- they are purposefully designed in the lives of the children.

So there, are some of my lessons I've learned I'm sure there are more. What about you? Have any lessons you want to share?

Wednesday, August 03, 2011


Father of mine, if you could see
Would you approve of the life that I lead
My everyday choices and language and such
Fail, so it seems, to mean very much

My character was formed by watching you then
When you walked in the kitchen and in the den
Stoic and quiet, you tackled your day
Even the last ones passed quietly

Were you afraid when they told you of death
Did you worry like I do about your last breath
Did it break your heart that you wouldn't retire
And sit with your grandkids around a fire

I want you to know that in me you loom large
Though you are out there or up there with the stars
I wish you could see what I have become
I hope you'd approve of the things I have done

In moments of quiet and darkness and fear
I fail to be strong as I would if you were near
I know that my foibles and sins would trouble you
But if you were here, you could inform me on how to get through

The gapping hole left in the soul of a lad
is still on the inside - and it drives me mad
I work very hard in hopes of your nod
Approval, ever silent, so onward I plod.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Tough Measures for Tough Times

For whatever reason the world seems to be increasingly harsh. Men and women of faith are all undergoing a thorough working over by the spirit of the age. It seems to me that almost every day I hear of another person who has fallen into deep sin that is life transforming for their family. So what should we do in the face of a hostile living environment?
1) Be encouraging- Since so many people are struggling let's make our words powerful and encouraging. The best way I know to do that is to sprinkle liberally encouraging promises in our conversation. "Let your conversation be seasoned with salt..." wrote the Apostle to the Gentiles. He knew that the most powerful words are divine words. And, while it might be tempting to ramble along meaninglessly, or to trade in the gossip of the office pool, remember the likelihood that somebody there needs to be encouraged today. Ephesians tells us to "Let no unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs so that it may benefit those who listen."
2) Be sensitive-Looking beyond the surface takes an extra moment but sometimes you can see the toll that the struggles of life are taking on those in your work place or prayer group. When they are hurting, avoid the words of unsolicited advise and use, instead, words of compassion and hope. Struggles don't come at good times, they pile on in bad times. So be sensitive to the hurts, needs and cares that your friends and family are having to fight through.
3) Be positive-Negativity is death. The sign of a spirit-filled life is making music in your heart to the Lord. PRAISE! There is no time when it is inappropriate. Hope is the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ. No matter what you are facing God has more than enough power, wisdom, strength and help to get you through. Make a stand yourself and encourage those who are slowly being poisoned by negativity and hopelessness.
4) Be prayerful- Some situations are impossible... unless God acts. He doesn't act until he is invited into the situation. So you and I will have to be prayer warriors. Seeking the face of God to do warfare against the real enemies of our soul. Your enemy is not your boss, your struggle is not with flesh and blood. Rebuke the devil with all authority, resist his subtle advances and temptations, and submit yourself to God completely and you will have a victorious outcome. Pray for those who are hurting, those important people in the ministry of your church who watch for your soul- they are under incessant attack. Let God's power be released through your prayer life.
5) Be on your guard-While we minister to others, occasionally there is a transference that happens. Their burdens bring discouragement upon us. We find ourselves sharing their doubts and sinking into their despair. Guard your heart, as Solomon taught his son, for out of it flows the issues of life. Caution is needed that we don't go too fast, too deep, for too long. Is your life balanced? Are things good at home, in your marriage, with your kids? Are you working productively at the office? Are you developing new friendships? Are serving spiritually somewhere? Is there music in your life?
Overcoming the darkness isn't that hard...we just have to turn on the light! Let your light so shine...

Friday, July 29, 2011

Separation Anxiety

I have a friend who is considering leaving his wife. He has "fallen out of love." He now blames her for nearly everything from his lack of happiness to global warming. Sad. I have tried to tell him that her offenses are not insurmountable. But he has made up his mind. She must go. The kids are going to be heartbroken. There will be all that back and forth of the "my weekend" vs "Your weekend". I think he fantasizes that his life will be so much fuller without her bothersome traits. Certainly, he looks forward to connecting with another gal who will meet his needs, provide him with happiness, and give him a fresh start. He doesn't get the part where his kids will reject this new lover and despise him for putting them in a position where they must choose which parent to align themselves with. He probably hasn't thought of the therapy cost for the kids. Rejection and other confusing emotions take a toll. Alimony and child support will be there to suck his meager check down to a point of almost poverty. One mortgage will turn to two... or none as everyone moves into different apartments. Likely, he will have to dip into the college fund and savings that he had for his kids. Hopefully, that won't doom his children to low paying jobs for the rest of their lives. Will the children continue to follow the faith of their fractured parents? The spiritual implications are overwhelming to consider. It is ugly. And it is uglier than his fantasy life will allow him to admit.
What leads to this is sin. What perpetuates this in this case (where there is no adultery, alcoholism, or abuse) is a selfishness. Funny (or sad!) how our selfishness and sinfulness lead to this kind of brokenness. Sin always separates. There is an anxiety that I feel as I watch this family implode. And I know, that if everyone involved could see the hidden costs of divorce they would rethink the simple acts of loving, forgiving, and restoring in order to keep the family together.
As followers of Jesus (not merely 'believers in') we know that forgiveness has a premium place of priority. It is hard to let go of offenses, but when we do we often find that we are not the innocents that we thought ourselves to be. Facing our own need of forgiveness often tempers our judgment with mercy. Pray for this family, and all the others that you know of who are living in separation anxiety.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

An Essay on Forgiveness by C.S. Lewis

We say a great many things in church (and out of church too) without thinking of what we are saying. For instance, we say in the Creed " I believe in the forgiveness of sins." I had been saying it for several years before I asked myself why it was in the Creed. At first sight it seems hardly worth putting in. "If one is a Christian," I thought " of course one believes in the forgiveness of sins. It goes without saying." But the people who compiled the Creed apparently thought that this was a part of our belief which we needed to be reminded of every time we went to church. And I have begun to see that, as far as I am concerned, they were right. To believe in the forgiveness of sins is not so easy as I thought. Real belief in it is the sort of thing that easily slips away if we don't keep on polishing it up.

We believe that God forgives us our sins; but also that He will not do so unless we forgive other people their sins against us. There is no doubt about the second part of this statement. It is in the Lord's Prayer, it was emphatically stated by our Lord. If you don't forgive you will not be forgiven. No exceptions to it. He doesn't say that we are to forgive other people's sins, provided they are not too frightful, or provided there are extenuating circumstances, or anything of that sort. We are to forgive them all, however spiteful, however mean, however often they are repeated. If we don't we shall be forgiven none of our own.

Now it seems to me that we often make a mistake both about God's forgiveness of our sins and about the forgiveness we are told to offer to other people's sins. Take it first about God's forgiveness, I find that when I think I am asking God to forgive me I am often in reality (unless I watch myself very carefully) asking Him to do something quite different. I am asking him not to forgive me but to excuse me. But there is all the difference in the world between forgiving and excusing. Forgiveness says, "Yes, you have done this thing, but I accept your apology; I will never hold it against you and everything between us two will be exactly as it was before." If one was not really to blame then there is nothing to forgive. In that sense forgiveness and excusing are almost opposites. Of course, in dozens of cases, either between God and man, or between one man and another, there may be a mixture of the two. Part of what at first seemed to be the sins turns out to be really nobody's fault and is excused; the bit that is left over is forgiven. If you had a perfect excuse, you would not need forgiveness; if the whole of your actions needs forgiveness, then there was no excuse for it. But the trouble is that what we call "asking God's forgiveness" very often really consists in asking God to accept our excuses. What leads us into this mistake is the fact that there usually is some amount of excuse, some "extenuating circumstances." We are so very anxious to point these things out to God (and to ourselves) that we are apt to forget the very important thing; that is, the bit left over, the bit which excuses don't cover, the bit which is inexcusable but not, thank God, unforgivable. And if we forget this, we shall go away imagining that we have repented and been forgiven when all that has really happened is that we have satisfied ourselves without own excuses. They may be very bad excuses; we are all too easily satisfied about ourselves.

There are two remedies for this danger. One is to remember that God knows all the real excuses very much better than we do. If there are real "extenuating circumstances" there is no fear that He will overlook them. Often He must know many excuses that we have never even thought of, and therefore humble souls will, after death, have the delightful surprise of discovering that on certain occasions they sinned much less than they thought. All the real excusing He will do. What we have got to take to Him is the inexcusable bit, the sin. We are only wasting our time talking about all the parts which can (we think) be excused. When you go to a Dr. you show him the bit of you that is wrong - say, a broken arm. It would be a mere waste of time to keep on explaining that your legs and throat and eyes are all right. You may be mistaken in thinking so, and anyway, if they are really right, the doctor will know that.

The second remedy is really and truly to believe in the forgiveness of sins. A great deal of our anxiety to make excuses comes from not really believing in it, from thinking that God will not take us to Himself again unless He is satisfied that some sort of case can be made out in our favor. But that is not forgiveness at all. Real forgiveness means looking steadily at the sin, the sin that is left over without any excuse, after all allowances have been made, and seeing it in all its horror, dirt, meanness, and malice, and nevertheless being wholly reconciled to the man who has done it.

When it comes to a question of our forgiving other people, it is partly the same and partly different. It is the same because, here also forgiving does not mean excusing. Many people seem to think it does. They think that if you ask them to forgive someone who has cheated or bullied them you are trying to make out that there was really no cheating or bullying. But if that were so, there would be nothing to forgive. (This doesn't mean that you must necessarily believe his next promise. It does mean that you must make every effort to kill every taste of resentment in your own heart - every wish to humiliate or hurt him or to pay him out.) The difference between this situation and the one in which you are asking God's forgiveness is this. In our own case we accept excuses too easily, in other people's we do not accept them easily enough. As regards my own sins it is a safe bet (though not a certainty) that the excuses are not really so good as I think; as regards other men's sins against me it is a safe bet (though not a certainty) that the excuses are better than I think. One must therefore begin by attending to everything which may show that the other man was not so much to blame as we thought. But even if he is absolutely fully to blame we still have to forgive him; and even if ninety-nine per cent of his apparent guilt can be explained away by really good excuses, the problem of forgiveness begins with the one per cent of guilt that is left over. To excuse, what can really produce good excuses is not Christian charity; it is only fairness. To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable, because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.

This is hard. It is perhaps not so hard to forgive a single great injury. But to forgive the incessant provocations of daily life - to keep on forgiving the bossy mother-in-law, the bullying husband, the nagging wife, the selfish daughter, the deceitful son - How can we do it? Only, I think, by remembering where we stand, by meaning our words when we say in our prayers each night "Forgive our trespasses* as we forgive those that trespass against us." We are offered forgiveness on no other terms. To refuse it is to refuse God's mercy for ourselves. There is no hint of exceptions and God means what He says.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Biblical Marriage

Ask the Pastor Question-Is it true if you are not married in church, you are still single?

Well, the simple answer is no. Since marriage in our culture is a contractual negotiation honored by the Government it is a reality- as long as a license was purchased. Are you more married if you were married in church? No, but you may more accurately understand the nature of marriage. Biblical marriage is a covenant between a man and a woman and God. Usually done in front of witnesses, this covenant is before God and meant to be lived out with integrity. Soem folks say there are many types of marriages in the Scripture. This is a distortion of the biblical message. Jesus spoke very clearly in Matthew 19.4ff about marriage saying that "... in the beginning the Creator made them male and femaleand for this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two shall be one flesh."

So why not just pledge before God? Good point, except some people have used this line to avoid the public proclamation of marriage. Marriage is the building block of the family. Strong marriages equal a strong society. So we have to honor the societal rules surrounding marriage so that we may be legally regarded as "partners" in the ownership of homes, children, etc.

So we always ask that couples pledge bibically and publically when we perform weddings around here.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Pulled Upward

C. Brian Larson writes, "No matter what our station, daily life in a fallen world is a walk through a gauntlet of belittlement...(we) are bombarded by false values and beliefs that cheapen God's creation, by personal slights and insults, by Satan's accusations. (Our) minds are assaulted by scabrous images in the media and by profanity that is objectionable to God precisely because it debases the creation... After such a week, it's a wonder that a person can walk into church with any sense of worth..."
This is so true. We listen to the voices around us pelting us with the fecal remnants of a Godless life like monkeys throwing their mess around in the zoo cage. We cannot help but come home each night with those demonic visages filling our minds and the accusations of a Godless society ringing in our ears. We struggle on through the week. But after a few days of this brow beating we come into the presence of God. (Some people say that the day of the church building is gone but I prefer to walk into the house where my pastors and elders are praying and interceding for me through out the week; to a place where I have met God numerous times before; to the altar where my vows were taken, my children dedicated to the will of God, my sins were bared before a forgiving God.)

Into that place I walk, and I find the presence of God. From the moment the music starts and the worshipful singing begins I feel myself pulled upward. Like a hand gently lifting my tired body from the heap of the worthless self... my legs strengthen. My back begins to straighten up and my wounded heart begins to release the anxiety it is carrying and beats more freely. A few deep breaths and the presence of God comes to give me succor and strength. Then comes the preaching of the Word of God. The speaker has pondered and prayed; he has listened and labored to find the words that will communicate God's intent for his beloved. The Word is not condemning, nor is it a scolding voice. God is not frustrated, not angry in some sort of divine petulance but he is inviting, calling out, reaching to me to lift me up. He is lifting me to him. The Word of the preacher comes and lifts my soul and I begin to see with a new vision, so unlike the one sold to me by the world. I smell hope cooking in the oven of my soul, I hear courage coming into the vacuum of my once fearful heart, I feel the rush of a new strength coming into me as I see that it is true... Nothing is impossible with God!

My legs gain the strength to stand, my heart knows that I can face another day, my spirit begins to take on the indomitable presence of God. I am shaped, formed and reformed. I am empowered, encouraged and enamored with the one who died for me. I am responding to the Spirit's challenge to me... "will you rise again and take up the challenge of another week?" Rise I do, knowing that I am not alone- to a vacuous world so in need of what I have already received, yet unknowing. And in the hope that I can make a difference for one before it is too late I prepare to make another charge, not in my strength but in the strength of the one who lifts me to his breast and imparts his power in me.

That is the reason I go to church, to be pulled upward.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Camping Misses the Call

Well, it has happened again. Another person who, though he evidently can read what the scripture clearly says about setting dates for the Lord's return, thinks he knows better. Hmmm- maybe he is just stupid! Yeah that is it, he is a dingbat! Except the rest of the world now thinks that we are the same kind of dingbat!

Coworkers will now raise one eyebrow and ask "Doesn't your church believe in the return of Jesus?" "Yes but..." you will fain to explain the difference as you drop your eyes to the floor and shuffle your uneasy feet. This is the same thing that happens when anyone violates the clear command of scripture. Jesus taught in Matthew 24.36 that "...of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone." NASB. But the dingbat always thinks he is above the restrictions of scripture, and even when the members of the Trinity aren't sharing the information there is always some dude who thinks he made the cut and Jesus is left without the knowledge.

Here is a little Biblical instruction for dingbats and future dingbats- the spirit of prophecy is the testimony of Jesus... it is impossible for him to tell you when he is coming back because (as Mt 24.36 clearly says) he doesn't know!!!!

There are lots of people who think that they have the right to circumvent the clear teaching of scripture by walking according to their own thinking. Camping's 'Prophecy' is a glaring hindrance to witness for the king and will sting the church and stifle the witness of the local church and the individuals in those communities (Thanks alot Harold!)But what about those that hold bitterness, get drunk, sleep around, etc. Aren't they ignoring the clear teaching of the Word too? So I guess they are hindrances on a smaller scale.

So - my advice- read and obey the Word of God to the best of your ability. Don't be a dingbat!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Full House beats a Pair

"Go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in, so that my house will be full." Luke 15.23

In this parable Jesus reveals a matter of the Father's heart. Sometimes we can think that God has an affinity for small gatherings. Church leaders often think that the smaller intimate gatherings of the believers afford more vulnerability and intimacy. And they are correct in that assumption. Small can be advantageous, but it is the Lord's will that his kingdom be crowded.Father God wants his house full!

God isn't worried about overcrowding. Did you ever think that God intends us to be city dwellers in eternity? John saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, descending from heaven (Rev 21.1). While some of us think that it would be pleasant to have 50 acres to wander in our glorified bodies through out eternity- it seems God wants us together. While Jesus was concerned that "few would find it", the narrow way is available to many and God wants all to enter in.

Don't you think that the church should be more diligent in inviting in those around us so that Heaven might be "full". So do you love someone enough to invite them to join you forever? What can we do to invite the whole neighborhood to heaven with us?

Maybe you and I should invite somebody today!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Is it Finished?

The great cry of the Savior from the Cross was "It is Finished!". What did Jesus mean when he said that? The fuller context of John 19.30 tells us that "...Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit." So to what was Jesus referring?

One thing that was over was the humiliation of the privileges of Heaven and embracing the role as a human. Paul would write many years later, "He made himself nothing, taking the humble position of a slave and appeared in human form." (Phil 2.7)It is almost unthinkable of the condescension of God to walk as a man, to face temptation as a man, to live an exemplary sinless life as a man, and to walk pointing to God with his whole life but in human strength. None of this could be possible unless he was empowered by the Holy Spirit. In this was Jesus could say as so many have said in their last days of life- It is finished. It is a statement of hope and a declaration of confidence that he "would not be left to see decay" but would be vindicated.

Another thing that Jesus is referring to is the agony of the Cross. Clearly, the pain of the cross was on his mind. He was in excruciating pain. He was humiliated as a criminal guilty of a capital crime. He was hung before the public naked and was publicly beaten and spat upon. Medical descriptions of the cross, even those that are conservative, describe a horrific pain. But Jesus was enduring this for me and you. He was guilty only of love and obedience to the Father. This pain was tweaked by the sense of abandonment that Jesus died with. His cry "why have you forsaken me" describes the feeling in his heart. But Jesus was able to push past his feelings and cling to the hope of life eternal gained for others. Above all this was a truly heroic moment. It is finished refers to the agony of the cross.

But more so than all that was the determination that Jesus was "finishing" the atonement. The term is a declaration of completion. Salvation accomplished on teh cross is complete. To the thief on the cross the promise of paradise demonstrates that even if our hands and feet are nailed down we can be saved. There is literally nothing left for us to accomplish! All the human emotions of trying to earn God's love or trying to justify ourselves are inaccurate feelings. Rather, the Christian believer needs to walk in the confidence that all that has been accomplished on the cross is enough to satisfy the love of God and the justice of God. Our sins of the past and future are washed away. Our failings are linked to our inability to think of ourselves as redeemed people. The longer I walk with the Lord the more I recognize that Christ's loving sacrifice is all there is for me to stand upon.

"When all around is sinking sand, On Christ the solid rock I stand..."

This week as we look to the wonderful cross- be careful not to add a single effort of your own to salvation. It is not because you chose so correctly, nor that you attained some spiritual wisdom, nor that you have straightened out your crooked life. All these have happened because of the cross.

Glory to the Lamb of God that took my sins to the cross! Glory to the love of God that sent the Son! Glory to the One who sent my sins to the depths of the sea. My life can begin again because "It is finished!".

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Holy Week Poem by Max Lucado

Road. Dark. Stars. Shadows. Four. Sandals. Robes. Quiet. Suspense. Grove. Trees. Alone. Questions. Anguish. 'Father!' Sweat. God. Man. God-Man. Prostrate. Blood. 'NO!' 'Yes.' Angels. Comfort. Footsteps. Torches. Voices. Romans. Surprise. Swords. Kiss. Confusion. Betrayal. Fearful. Run! Bound. Wrists. Marching. Courtyard. Priests. Lamps. Sanhedrin. Caiaphas. Sneer. Silk. Arrogance. Beard. Plotting. Barefoot. Rope. Calm. Shove. Kick. Annas. Indignant. Messiah? Trial. Nazarene. Confident. Question. Answer. Punch! Peter. 'Me?' Rooster. Thrice. Guilt. Proceedings. Court. Rejection. Prosecute. Weary. Pale. Witnesses. Liars. Inconsistent. Silence. Stares. 'Blasphemer!' Anger. Waiting. Bruised. Dirty. Fatigued. Guards. Spit. Blindfold. Mocking. Blows. Fire. Twilight. Sunrise. Golden. Jerusalem. Temple. Passover. Lambs. Lamb. Worshipers. Priests. Messiah. Hearing. Fraud. Prisoner. Waiting. Standing. Shifting. Strategy. 'Pilate!' Trap. Murmurs. Exit. Stirring. Parade. Crowd. Swell. Romans. Pilate. Toga. Annoyed. Nervous. Officers. Tunics. Spears. Silence. 'Charge?' 'Blasphemy.' Indifference. Ignore. (Wife. Dream.) Worry. Interview. Lips. Pain.

Determined. 'King?' 'Heaven.' 'Truth.' 'Truth?' Sarcasm. (Fear.) 'Innocent!' Roar. Voices. 'Galilean!' 'Galileee?' 'Herod!' 9:00 A.M. Marchers. Palace. Herod. Fox. Schemer. Paunchy. Crown. Cape. Scepter. Hall. Elegance. Silence. Manipulate. Useless. Vexed. Revile. Taunt. 'King?' Robe. Theatrical. Cynical. Hateful. 'Pilate!' Marching. Uproar. Prisoner. Hushed. Pilate. 'Innocent!' Bedlam. 'Barabbas!' Riot. Despair. Christ. Bare. Rings. Wall. Back. Whip. Slash. Scourge. Tear. Bone. Moan. Flesh. Rhythm. Silence. Whip! Silence. Whip! Silence. Whip! Thorns. Stinging. Blind. Laughter. Jeering. Scepter. Slap. Governor. Distraught. (Almost.) Eyes. Jesus. Decision. Power. Freedom? Threats. Looks. Yelling. Weak. Basin. Water. Swayed. Compromise. Blood. Guilt. Soldiers. Thieves. Crosspiece. Shoulder. Heavy. Beam. Heavy. Sun. Stagger. Incline. Houses. Shops. Faces. Mourners. Murmurs. Pilgrims. Women. Tumble. Cobblestone. Exhaustion. Gasping. Simon. Pathetic. Golgotha. Skull. Calvary. Crosses. Execution. Death. Noon. Tears. Observers. Wails. Wine. Nude. Bruised. Swollen. Crossbeam. Sign. Ground. Nails. Pound. Pound. Pound. Pierced. Contorted. Thirst. Terrible. Grace. Writhing. Raised. Mounted. Hung. Suspended. Spasms. Heaving. Sarcasm. Sponge. Tears. Taunts. Forgiveness. Dice. Gambling. Darkness. Absurdity. Death. Life. Pain. Peace. Condemn. Promise. Nowhere. Somewhere. Him. Us. 'Father!' Robbers. Paradise. Wailing. Weeping. Stunned. 'Mother.' Compassion. Darkness. 'My God!' Afraid. Scapegoat. Wilderness. Vinegar. 'Father.' Silence. Sigh. Death. Relief. Earthquake. Cemetery. Tombs. Bodies. Mystery. Curtain. Spear. Blood. Water.

Spices. Linen. Tomb. Fear. Waiting. Despair. Stone. Mary. Running. Maybe? Peter. John. Belief. Enlightenment. Truth. Mankind.

Alive. Alive. Alive!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Problem of Self Deception

Untrustworthy. That is my assessment of my own heart. I have made poor decisions in the past based upon my emotions. I have trusted my own thoughts and plans and found them to be in error. I have convinced myself in the past that wrong is right and right is wrong. I know it to be true that the "heart is deceitful", as Jeremiah says.

Being Decieved is easy. But it is the ultimate betrayal when it is your own heart that betrays you. James tells us that this has roots in a shallow relationship with the Lord. "Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says." (James 1:22) Amazingly, it is possible for us to be in church hearing the word, read the scriptures often and yet have a predetermined plan that we will only obey those commands that "make sense" to us. This, of course, means that we are our own Lord and Jesus... well Jesus isn't. As scary as that may be, it gets worse.

We spiral into a deception that is self induced and get farther and farther from the will of God. This is further exasserbated by the religious veil that is cast over our lives. We can lie and decieve, cheat and connive, and lust and covet- all the while we are singing "Praises to Jesus". What we are sometimes to dull to percieve and what others cannot tell at all is that our praises and prayers are rejected from heaven. God rejects those attempts are relationship with him. Isaiah's generation had their hypocritical religious actions rejected by God. He said in Chapter 1
When you spread out your hands,
I will hide my eyes from you;
even though you make many prayers,
I will not listen

It seems like the people going through these actions needed Isaiah to tell them they were wasting their time because they had so decieved themselves.

A sobering thought.

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Secrets of Self Control

Gal 5.22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

In a recent article Daniel Akst bemoans the fact that we are losing the personal battles in self control. He warns, "...Human nature hasn't changed, but the landscape of temptation sure has. Technology is a leading culprit. From refrigeration to credit cards to automobiles to the Internet, technology makes it possible for more and more people to live surrounded by "supernormal" stimuli. Technology goes hand-in-glove with capitalism, which plays a large but complex role as well...In the future, self-control is only going to get harder. People across the world are more affluent, more mobile, and less tradition-bound. Behaviors that were once taboo or outlawed are gaining acceptance, and so can be indulged stigma-free."

This is all bad news to those of us who are charged to "walk by the Spirit" and "not gratify the desires of the flesh". In a world where there is such a lack of personal integrity , where morality is seen as passe and archaic, and where self indugence is celebrated as 'self actualization', it will be increasingly difficult for men and women of God to live out a Biblical morality.

Akst further reminds us that this is a predictor of success."We now know that small children who can refrain from seizing a treat grow up into more successful adults in almost every way. Among students, self-control is a better predictor of academic success than IQ.." I suppose we should not be surprised that God's way ends up blessing those who walk in self-control.

Self-control gives us the ability to manage our anger, our lusts, our appetites, our covetousness, our money, and a thousand other impulses that assail our senses. We are better people for learning the secrets of self-control.

Accountability. Making ourselves accountible to another is a key to self-control. Sometimes we do that after the fact, such as letting your spouse review your calorie intake when you are on a diet. Sometimes we do that before the fact, "Honey, don't let me drink too much at this party we attending." This takes some minor organization and must be set up ahead of time.

Predetermined consequences. We might commit to ourselves that if we have difficulty watching inappropriate movies that we cancel the cable package that allows that channel into our home. Or we might precommit to only go out to eat Saturday night if the garage gets organized. This can be a motivational method but it still requires discipline.

Contagious Discipline. I have discovered that when I am disciplined in one area I find a way to be disciplined in other areas of my life. Exercise, for instance, helps my prayer and Bible reading habits.

Spirituality. But ultimately, walking in self-control is equivalent to walking in the Spirit. When I am submitted to God totally, loving him with my whole heart, and surrendered to his will I don't want to personally grieve Him. By discovering God's opinion of my issues I learn what pleases Him and can adjust my life accordingly. Knowing my life pleases Him is an amazing feeling. It is a powerful motivator to be 'right' with God. And that is likely the greatest secret of all in this world.

Study scriptures Prov 25.28; 2 Tim 1.7; Prov 1.2; Phil 4.13; 1 Thess 5.6-8; 1 Pet 5.8-9; Mt 26.41

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Letter to my Enemies

Yeah, you know who you are.
You are more interested in tearing me down than in helping me grow. You spread stuff about me to others and some of it is true. You do everything you can to entice me to sin- be it in rage, or lust, or covetousness, or whatever. You try to discourage me and when that doesn't work, you go after my family- hoping to discourage them from walking in the ways of God. You hinder my relationship with friends and confidants and try to poison their thoughts concerning me. You are a hitman to assassinate my character. You judge me. You provoke me. You entice me. You tempt and torture me.

I hate what you do to my friends, too. You twisted perverts! You suck all the joy out of their lives, and destroy every precious thing in their lives. You are so slick sometimes they can't even see it is YOU that did all that. You are quite the liars!

I am sick of it. Sick of giving in to your discouragement. Sick of the flesh acting out. Sick of the lies. Sick of the slick sales job you use to entice. I am sick of you using my own lusts against me. Sick of the emptiness that I feel when I give in to your despair.

So I am determined to humiliate you. You better watch out because I am coming right at YOU. I will continue to live my life for God. I will not care about what others think about me, and I will not compromise because of you! You are losers- everyone of you. That will be clear soon enough. I am sure that God will smite your jaw and rattle your teeth soon enough. So I hope you enjoyed this cause this is the last time I am giving you a thought. You are of no account to me. I am done with you.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Grand thing about Grandsons

Last night we went to a restaurant that usually has enough distractions to keep my gluttonous mind occupied. We had family members there and were celebrating a birthday. Food was great and the atmosphere was warm and inviting. We laughed and enjoyed each others company. Generally, a great evening.

There was one family member who was a great distraction, though. It wasn't because he is too big - he is only 7 pounds. It wasn't because he was loud because he slept though out the dinner. It wasn't because of his health challenges- there are no symptoms of those yet. It was because he is so cute!

We sit around the table and pass him along like he is a rugby ball. Amazingly, he remains asleep for the full trip around the family table. Occassionally, he opens an eye or two to squint at the new "full back" who has taken the hand off.

I know that there will be times when he really is loud and probably will cause a different kind of scene in the restaurants but these days he just sits sending out the "vibe" and disturbing the wait staff around us with his cuteness. It is pretty cool.

When my wife and I had our children we were separated from the grandparents by many miles and, therefore, they only saw them on holidays when we would make the trip north. I have regrets about that because the really grand thing about being a grand parent is being included in the family. I am sure that mom and dad can handle my grandson without my help. They are very capable individuals. But sitting at the round table and getting the occassional hand off is all I need these days. It is really "grand"!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Basic Rule of Cellphone Etiquette

by Denise McCluggage

Gone are the days when people whipped out a cell phone to demonstrate how "with it" they were. Now nearly everyone who wants a cellphone -- teenager to drug dealer -- are running about wireless. Hot it may be, but hip it isn't. And thankfully fading in impact are the "Guess where I am?" calls.

Still, there are those who think they are impressing everyone by rearing back to send their bell-like laughter into the unwired ether. And many cellphone calls are the inane (to anyone nearby) "natter" calls full of "...and then I go...and he goes."

No wonder cellphone backlash, even cellphone rage is with us. One report: Two men in a cafe were beaten and their phones destroyed by two others after the pair ignored repeated requests to curb their loud and continuous yakking on their phones.

But to digress into the future: Let us talk now of Instant Communication. Cellphones are perhaps closer to "instant" than anything else we have known, but they are like drum beats to the telegraph. How about tiny chips implanted behind the ear to power thought messages and direct them to the correct recipient? No palm this or e-that. We speak here of direct and instant. Certainly nothing as crude as a handheld gadget that plays a few bars of Beethoven to let you know someone wants a word. Instant.

The cell rule for places of worship: Leave the phone at home, in the car or at least turn it off before you enter. God may call you, but it's unlikely He will use Verizon.

There will be no audible interruption. No patting pockets or rummaging about in bags trying to track down the illusive trilling. No disrupting the foursome at the next table (who frown in unanimity). No bringing up short the preacher in mid parable; the speaker in mid point; the soprano in mid aria.

However, even with Instant Communication there will be that telltale defocusing of the eyes, that sentence left hanging, that thought sent fleeing. And there's the rub. Those quick little absences of yours tell Present Company that something more important than they are has blipped your radar screen. And that, dear cellphone user, is what's most annoying to Present Company - being tuned out, turned off, dropped out for an unknown on a phone.

That's what is inescapably rude - the disruption of a call, whether by the Instant Communication of the future or the cellphone of today. A call imposes, infringes, presumes, intrudes. That's not nice. Phones have always been intrusive from the time they were on the wall with a crank for summoning "Central." Even today few people within earshot of a ringing phone can ignore it though it may mean dinner or ardor growing cold. In business, the face-to-face customer always seems to be secondary to the prospective one on the phone. Just visit any department store and see.

As travelers, if we hear our flight is suddenly canceled we are far better served if we immediately get on the phone and not on a long line to await our turn.

Love it or hate it (or both) the phone is supreme. We inherently resent the command of the ring just as we unconsciously respond to it. I think that's why people in restaurants, airport shuttle buses, supermarket check-out lines - all those places where cellphones ring, buzz, tootle, beep or orchestrate - are so annoyed by the beck of a phone. It's because their first impulse is "I'll get it!" But it isn't for them.

Thus it is not just the cellular phone, but the telephone itself that is the source of the problem. It demands; we comply. That's rankling to us at a basic level. Untethering the phone and allowing it to roam wireless, like the neighborhood's most bothersome dog that has chewed through its leash, has simply given new range to the phone's propensity for mischief.

Keep in mind, the more available you make yourself the more available everyone will expect you to be. People will actually be miffed if you are not instantly and constantly available rather than being pleased when you do call.
We are all in our own way slaves to it, and to be mustered - mistakenly and in unfamiliar places - is off-putting. We resent it. And thus we resent the person who says: "Hello?" into the instrument.
But back to cellphones; resentment of their summoning sound is just a small part of what makes them, as some would have it, a "scourge." Actually, that part can be dealt with easily since silencing them scarcely limits their usefulness. Instead of an audible sound a vibration or a small flashing light on the end of a special pen greatly narrows the circle of those who know a phone is asking to be answered. So the noise of the phone can be handled.

But how about the noise of the user?

It's an interesting matter - why do cellphone users shout into it as if it were a tin can connected to another by a string? I have a friend whose normal tone of voice is perfectly, well, normal. But let him flip open his cellphone and you'd think he's trying to yell at deaf Uncle Lloyd in the lower forty over the pocketa-pocketa of a Fordson tractor.

I said one day at lunch when his bellowed "hello" had turned a few heads, "You know, there's a microphone in that little thing. It can hear you." I later set an exercise for him - if he felt required to change the level of his voice in the transition from face-to-face to phone, try lowering it. He did. It worked famously. Now no one can tell if his talk is phone time or face time. Try it.

And if you can't be heard, don't raise your voice; raise your body and exit to the back hall where the pay phones are. Or go outside among the other jackhammers and shout all you like. Realize that shouting in a restaurant (an office hallway, a bus, a bookstore) is rude and uncalled for, whether you have a phone in front of your face or not. If you are not aware that you are shouting (and some are not) then take your cue from the response of those around you. If anyone looks, lower your voice.

I have a theory why people shout into cellphones, beyond the fact that the early instruments maybe needed such help. I think the shouting has to do with barely hearing the person on the other end. And just as we raise the decibels to make certain a non-English-speaking person can understand what we are saying, we tend to shout when we can't hear. Make sense? Of course not. We are human.

The Rules

Here are some basic rules of etiquette for using your cellphone. (Car phone use is another subject.)

First, think of your phone as a tool for emergencies (i.e. the baby sitter to say that your child has made a hole in one of a neighbor kid's head with your nine iron; the hospital to say your father's long-awaited kidney is on the helicopter; your staff to alert you the jury is returning; your neighbor to say Ed McMahon is hovering about your door with a massive rectangle of cardboard.

Second, think of your phone as a portable answering machine. It takes messages and when you are in an appropriate place, say your car BEFORE you unpark it; a park bench far from anyone else; a phone booth (!) no one else wants (phone booths are fairly quiet), etc.


Ask if there are special restrictions on phone use.

Initiate only essential calls.

Keep conversations brief to terse. Use an at-table call primarily to make an appointment for a more appropriate time for a call-back.

If you simply must be available you can put your phone on "vibrate" - say for your anticipated dinner companion to tell you that he is caught in traffic like a grape in aspic so have another drink. (If your phone does not have a vibrate capability maybe it's time for a new one.)

Practice speaking in a quiet conversational tone. If no one looks your way I think you've got it.

Theaters, concerts, meetings etc:

Check at the entrance to be sure your phone is "off." If you're compulsive, check for voice mail at breaks. (Remember, you used to have to go home to check your messages.)

If the only time you could get tickets to take the kids to "The Lion King" coincides with the only time a major mucky-muck is available for a conference call, put your phone on "vibrate" close to your heart and dash for the exit at the first tremor.

If you forget both "off" and "vibrate" and your phone rings, turn it off instantly. (And as unobtrusively as possible so nobody will suspect you are the jerk responsible). No matter what: DO NOT ANSWER IT!

Museums and art galleries:

Consider the reasons you are in such a place and be there totally. Turn off the phone, or better yet check it with your coat or tote bags.

Someone else's house or office:

Turn off your phone. If you are expecting a call of extreme importance, ask if it is acceptable that you receive an inaudible signal so you can leave the room to take the call.

Places of Worship:

Leave the cellphone at home, in the car or at least turn it off before you enter. God may call you but it's unlikely He will use Verizon.

Airline Travel:

Follow airline personnel instructions. Usually cellphones must be off as soon as the aircraft doors are closed until the doors open again on arrival. (Unless otherwise informed on long apron delays etc.)

Be particularly diligent if you have a cellphone with you but haven't used it lately. It could be on; there is adequate evidence the electronics within can interfere with those that guide the plane.

Face-to-face with someone:

Do not talk on the phone while someone is trying to take your order in a restaurant, locate an upgrade for you on an airplane or return the shoes you had half-soled. Attend to the face-to-face business totally even if you have to ask the one on the line to hold. Continuing to use the phone while nodding and signaling to the person in front of you is belittling and so extremely rude I've only seen the obnoxiously self-important do it.

Now here's a thought: Do you really want to be available all the time? Does that truly make you more productive, or does it just spread the productivity thinner over more time?

I once read studies of supermarkets vying to stay open longer than their competition. Then surveys demonstrated that beyond a point they were not necessarily increasing business, but rather spreading it out. And expensively so.

Keep in mind, the more available you make yourself the more available everyone will expect you to be. People will actually be miffed if you are not instantly and constantly available rather than being pleased when you do call.

Think: Do you really need to be - or want to be - "connected" 24/7/365? And ask: what's it doing for that tension across your upper back?

If you can summon the discipline to be unavailable at certain times - and even for uncertain lengths of time - it's doubtful much will change, except your peace of mind. I remember from childhood a friend's mother at an eat-over-supper halting her daughter's urge to jump up and answer the phone. She told her: "If it isn't important you've wasted the effort; if it is important they'll call back."

And that was before answering services or recording devices picked up after a few rings. That phone call was like the tree in an unpeopled forest: it fell and was forgotten, unnoticed forever.

The world still turned.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Source of Faith Radio Haiti from High Adventure on Vimeo.

Getting out of Debt

In order for us to survive the current economic misery we have to make some adaptations to the new environment. We can survive not because we are "turning the corner" economically but because we have learned the lessons from our experiences. We should be learning that a life of easy credit isn't easy except under optimum circumstances; that things won't stay the same; and that we are to be able to carry our own weight financially. Remember, when we are encumbered by debt we make Mammon the master of our lives rather than Jesus.

So a few thoughts on getting out of debt- This is something that you MUST do to get freedom and to find peace.

1. If you have credit card debts pay more than the minimum
David Braze of Motley Fool writes, "First, break the habit of paying only the minimum required each month. Paying the minimum -- usually 2% to 3% of the outstanding balance -- only prolongs the agony. Besides, it's precisely what the banks want you to do. The longer you take to repay the charges, the more interest they make, and the less cash you have in your pocket. Don't play their selfish game.

Instead, bite the bullet and pay as much as you can each month. If your minimum payment is $100, double that to $200 or more. Examine your normal expenses -- you can find the money. (For a gazillion ideas, check out our Living Below Your Means discussion board.) Skip eating out at lunch, and bring it from home instead. Eliminate desserts. Give up happy hour. We all have "luxuries," and you know what yours are.

Make a few sacrifices, and you will find the extra dollars needed to increase your debt repayments dramatically. Those increased payments will save you hundreds, if not thousands, in interest payments. Plus, you will get out of the hole you've dug for yourself much more quickly. Is it fun? No. But it sure beats living a hand-to-mouth existence, fearing bills each month."

Dave Ramsey has an alternative plan. Make a list of all your debts and sort through them. Put the lowest one on top. Make minimum payments on all your debts except the top on the list. This one you pay down as fast as possible. Continue with the plan until all your debts are liquidated. Before you can do any of that, however, you will need an emergency cushion of $1000. Save that first. Use in only for emergencies. And above all put away ALL your credit cards. Pay cash for everything.

2. Cash out your savings account
You could cash out your savings and investments and use the proceeds toward debt repayment. Yeah, no one wants to do that. But sometimes it's just wisdom. Again Braze says, "Even when debt interest is at 12%, your investments would have to pay more than 18% before federal and state taxes to equal that outflow of dollars. We doubt the dollars in your savings account are earning anywhere near that rate of interest. Pay off the debt, and it's the same as getting that 18% return without any risk on your part. The higher the interest rate on your debt, the more attractive repayment versus investment becomes."

3. Borrow against your life insurance or your 401k
Do you have life insurance with a cash value? If so, borrow against the policy. Do you have a 401k or a 403b? Borrow the money from yourself and pay your self the interest. Again- stop using credit or you will just be further in the hole. Generally, you can borrow against these at below commercial rates and the debt repayment is a short term plan. Stay on the plan!!!!

Whatever you do you have to move to a cash economy. That is tough these days but it's a lesson learned. You didn't build these debts quickly don't foolishly think that you will pay them down quickly. Financial freedom isn't for the faint of heart. But God can and will help you. Buckle down and get free.

After you knock down your debts conintue in the 80-10-10 principle. Live off of 80 percent, honor God with 10 percent, and put 10 percent in a savings account for the rest of your life. Eventually you will be in the enviable position of financial freedom.