Importance Of Training

Training is one of the greatest fundamentals of our Christian walk and can be one of the more neglected practices. Why is it we have Christians who have sat in churches for years yet do not know much about scriptures or how to share their faith? Some Christians act like they are being burdened when suggesting they form a habit of prayer, worship, and reading their bible. One of the saddest positions you run into are those who agree they need to practice these things, and their response is, “tomorrow”, but they never follow through.

Every Christian should be concerned about the development of their individual spiritual growth. No matter where you may be in your Christian walk you should always be concerned about growing in your relationship with Jesus. If we are not growing then we are dying. To ever think we are old enough and mature enough that we can just somehow put it into auto-pilot is just wrong. It doesn’t matter how old we are in the Lord we should still have practices that keep us strong, sharp, and in tune with what the Lord is saying and doing. 

This is the reason training is so important. Here is a familiar Bible story to illustrate this point. We all have heard the story of David and Goliath. A small shepherd boy goes out and defeats a giant with a sling. The giant had a spear and sword, David had five smooth stones and his sling. David said he had killed the bear and the lion with just his sling and the giant would be no different. He said God was with him then and God would be with him now. Not to take any of what God did from this story because God truly was with David, but the sling was a very powerful weapon of its day. Here is what you should know about slingers of this day. Slings were long leather straps with a pocket. Slingers were as important in an army as the archers. Slingers could hurl their projectile as far as an archer, up to a quarter of a mile. Good slingers could hit any part of the enemies body they aimed at. Their projectiles would leave their slings at 60 even up to 80 MPH. 

Judg 20:15-16  At once the Benjamites mobilized twenty-six thousand swordsmen from their towns, in addition to seven hundred chosen men from those living in Gibeah. 16 Among all these soldiers there were seven hundred chosen men who were left-handed, each of whom could sling a stone at a hair and not miss. NIV

1 Chron 12:1-2 These are the ones who came to David at Ziklag, while he yet concealed himself because of Saul son of Kish; they were among the mighty men, his helpers in war. 2 They were bowmen and could use the right hand or the left to sling stones or shoot arrows from the bow; they were of Saul’s kinsmen of Benjamin. AMP

1 Sam 17:40   Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd’s bag and, with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine. NIV

1 Sam 17:49-50   Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell facedown on the ground. 50 So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him. NIV

The point here is not to give a lesson on the sling David would have used, but to understand David had been using his sling since he was a small child and by this age was extremely proficient and very deadly with his sling. He said he had killed a bear and a lion with his sling. This is how confident he was with the use of his sling, he said Goliath would be like one of them. Now with the hand of the Lord with him in battle, unbeatable.

The point here is practice and the use of disciplines will give us an amazing edge in our walk with God. We start off learning to do something and may feel a little insecure. But over time by continual practice we become better at it and more confident. 

Here are the three main reasons for us to be trained in Godly practices.

1.They help to discipline our flesh and form the right habits. 

2. The more we practice something the better we become at it and our trust and confidence in God grows. 

3. When we are trained we are confident in His ability in us which allows Him to call on us anytime to be used as He has need.

The serious problem which happens to many Christians is they learn to sit in a pew and get comfortable. We need to find those disciplines Jesus practiced and taught His disciples and never stop growing in our knowledge of them. Whatever discipline you begin to train in you need to become proficient at it.

There are many men and women who have been Christians for years and still struggle with practices of prayer, reading their Bible, hearing His voice, and spending quality time with the Lord. These are simple truths which they should have learned and become semi-confident at within their first year or two. Obviously these are the areas we will always be growing in but the question remains, are we still growing in these areas? Are we still going deeper or have we plateaued and become stagnant or just never learned certain practices? Remember you are either growing or dying, there is no in between.

Well the good news is, no matter where you are in your walk with Jesus  you can learn and train yourself and grow as a Christian. We are never too young nor can we ever be too old to be used by God in His Kingdom. If you are just starting out find methods that will train and discipline your life and form habits that will keep you strong. But establish the habits which will be like a good tool you will use in spiritual growth your whole life. Remember it’s not the habit that gets us anywhere with God, but it does keep our heart in the right place in which God can speak to us and use us mightily.

Look at it this way, it is not the discipline of a consistent prayer time that gets us anything, but it is a consistent time with God that gets us where we can learn and grow. The more He communicates with us the stronger our walk becomes, and the more we keep growing deeper with Him. Our training and practice in Godly disciplines is a must for every Christian in maintaining a strong healthy walk with God. Look at this scripturally:     

1 Cor 9:24-27
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. 27 No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. NIV

2 Tim 3:16-17
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. NIV

1 Tim 4:7-8
Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. 8 For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.NIV

Heb 5:14
But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. NIV

Heb 12:11
No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.  NIV

Gen 14:14-15
When Abram heard that his relative had been taken captive, he called out the 318 trained men born in his household and went in pursuit as far as Dan. NIV

1 Chron 5:18
The Reubenites, the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh had 44,760 men ready for military service — able-bodied men who could handle shield and sword, who could use a bow, and who were trained for battle. NIV

1 Chron 25:7
Along with their relatives — all of them trained and skilled in music for the Lord-they numbered 288. NIV

Luke 6:40   A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher. NIV

Mark 1:35-36
35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. NIV
(Mk 6:46, Lk 4:42, 6:12)

Hopefully we can see through these scripture references how important training is. From battle ready warriors, musicians leading worship, to prayer or studying scriptures, all of life and godliness, it is the trained which have the advantage. It is the trained that know what to do and it is the trained God uses because He knows they are ready.

Hearing & Obeying

Jeremiah 13

13 This is what the Lord said to me: “Go and buy a linen belt and put it around your waist, but do not let it touch water.” 2 So I bought a belt, as the Lord directed, and put it around my waist.

3 Then the word of the Lord came to me a second time: 4 “Take the belt you bought and are wearing around your waist, and go now to Perath[a] and hide it there in a crevice in the rocks.” 5 So I went and hid it at Perath, as the Lord told me.

6 Many days later the Lord said to me, “Go now to Perath and get the belt I told you to hide there.” 7 So I went to Perath and dug up the belt and took it from the place where I had hidden it, but now it was ruined and completely useless.

8 Then the word of the Lord came to me: 9 “This is what the Lord says: ‘In the same way I will ruin the pride of Judah and the great pride of Jerusalem. 10 These wicked people, who refuse to listen to my words, who follow the stubbornness of their hearts and go after other gods to serve and worship them, will be like this belt—completely useless! 11 For as a belt is bound around the waist, so I bound all the people of Israel and all the people of Judah to me,’ declares the Lord, ‘to be my people for my renown and praise and honor. But they have not listened.’

“A call to listen intently on the Lord“

The Lord will speak to you in any situation if we can listen. Just as Jeremiah had a dynamic relationship with the Lord, God desires the same with us. What would be the outcome to Jeremiah if he ended just with the waistband? 

Ask yourself this, God tells you to go out and buy a car. It is not a question of finances or payment because you have enough faith to do what the Lord asked of you. It is not just any car but the finest car you can think of. Spotless all that the specs offer, everything that the dealer would throw at you, you take. God tells you, don’t wash this car because it has the finest polish on it and it just shines. So you go and get the car and you are driving around town. A week passes and then God tells you to go downtown to the worst part of town. Get out of the car, open the doors and walk away. At what point would you start to question what the Lord told you to do. If Jeremiah stopped at the wearing of the waistband he would have been just a guilty as Judah and Jerusalem, not only that but he would have declared the waistband more important than God. God gives us the Call to Listen to Him. What are the things in our lives that keep God’s word from coming in and what are we doing to overcome these things before they consume us?

We are the waistband of the Lord.

God desires that we adhere to Him just as a waistband adheres to the waist of a man. We are for the Lord. We are His praise, His Glory and His renown. Everything that we do should be a call to the weight and power of who God is. The waistband during this time was a symbol of wealth and prestige, it showed class and status. Jesus says “You are the light of the world, a city on a hill.” Jesus is the status and the class that is to be shown. It is important to remember that the most important part of evangelism is our relationship with the Lord. If we speak of repentance and salvation and don’t have the relationship with God, we are going to show whoever it is we speak to that it is ok to not listen to the Lord and thus become worthless to the call.

Stubbornness Kills the called.

What Jeremiah received in revelation was a wake up call to God’s chosen, You are to be a waistband for me but you did not listen and thus became worthless. And now I am going to release you to the very things that blinded you. You will walk thinking that you are in light but in darkness.

2 Timothy 4:3-4

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

They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over weak-willed women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these men oppose the truth—men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected. But they will not get very far because, as in the case of those men, their folly will be clear to everyone.

Paul’s Charge to Timothy

You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions, sufferings—what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

So what is the call for us men today? It doesn’t change. We are to stand our ground and listen to the Lord no matter what the situation is. It may be a difficult request from God and it might not be, but the reward and the relationship that follows is the Kingdom of God. 

Spiritual Slumber

Why does a person Spiritually go to sleep, especially in the latter part of their life?

As we look at the church throughout the ages it seems that this is an occurance we see quite a bit. We also see it was a problem for Israel as well as the church throughout the Bible. I believe that this can happen at any age with Christians, a loss of passion for Jesus. You realize it’s just not what it once was, your heart doesn’t resonate the same passion it once did. It does seem to be a little more prevalent with those that have a few more years on their lives. However, no matter which stage of life this has caught you in, I offer the following to help identify and possibly help you get out of this funk and offer you some tools to guard against this from stealing away your time and life, but especially your life with Jesus.

What are some identifying characteristics of this stage of slumber.

RISK

It may or may not be obvious but you don’t risk like you use too, why? For those who have lost their passion, if honest, would say they do not enter into risk like they once did. Now we are not talking about the daredevil who is jumping out of planes or hanging off of cliffs. But we are addressing an attitude shift in one’s thinking from risk to playing it safe. This doesn’t necessarily happen instantly but gradually. We play it safe one day. You know, a little safe here and then a little safer there and before long we are sitting back doing nothing. We are no longer doing the things that we were once on fire about. We are not engaging ourselves in His Kingdom Business like we once did. Our chart of how we evaluate what is worth the risk and what is not, has changed. Risk involves your image and position or status in life. Maybe you were just a worker in a company, but now you’re the manager. The reality is that your chart has changed because you have changed. You dress different, you have to act different, more professional. These can be great changes, but should never affect your heart toward service in His Kingdom. You back off sharing as much as you use to. You are just not as forthcoming about your Christian witness as you once were. However, who you were at the start, as far as your heart in serving the King, should be the same. Granted you have matured and this is good, but that should make your service and heart toward Him even greater. Changes in life and our maturing in life cannot be excuses for not risking it all for Him.

COMFORT

You built a life around you that you are use to. We live in a world that tells us to work hard and achieve, so we do just that and we grow in our responsibilities. We work hard to have better and get the better things in this life. We then grow accustom to these things we have worked hard to achieve. After all, it took you hard work and time to get to this level of comfort and we are going to enjoy it. Now, who in their right mind wants to be uncomfortable? Sometimes I wonder if this is not one of the more dangerous places for a Christian. I mean, we believe God for things to be added to our lives, and slowly over time they are added and they are for our enjoyment. God does want us to be fulfilled and we know He wonderfully and abundantly takes care of us. But, these comforts and fulfillment should not lull us into a false sense of security. We need to always see ourselves dressed and ready for battle. Not at ease waiting for someone else to pick up the fight. No, it is still up to us to fight, God is still wanting you to go forth at the same strength as when He recruited you. Comfort and fulfillment in this life should make our going forth easier. It should provide us with the ability to run faster and more efficiently for God, not become a warm blanket to pull over us and go back to bed.

ENERGY

No question about it, as you move on in life you stop exerting as much energy into life as you once did. Now for some who are in the middle or latter part of life this is obviously due to your physical body aging. For some, maybe something has caused your physical body not to be whole. But energy is really more about activity not so much about physical strength. However for those aging you tend to do less and your physical body will respond the same. You become more sedentary, you start picking up weight, slowing down while the whole time telling yourself this is okay, after all this is what happens. Here is a question, what are you doing to stay as active in building His Kingdom as you possible can? The truth is, our activity slows down and eventually stops because we slow down and eventually stop. Remember, we are addressing why Christians go to sleep. In God, we can be as active as we want to be for Him. Maybe you can’t run a marathon physically, but are you still running it spiritually? I will take this place to say, maybe you need to get running physically again, drop some weight, start getting back in shape. Many times you will find the two of these are linked together. Because you have allowed your physical body to decline your spiritual state is right there as well. You don’t have to stay there, you can be a steward of your temple for Him, both physically and spiritually.

WISDOM AND EXPERIENCE

As we mature spiritually and physically we should have more wisdom and experience than when we were younger. But this is so we can build and produce more wisely. It is meant for our benefit as well as others who needed to learn from us. A danger here can be when we use the wisdom and experience on ourselves and help no one else. You might think that no one is listening to your wisdom and experience but your wisdom and experience you have gained is always to serve your fellow man. It isn’t just about how smart you are now. God’s wisdom and experience that He allows us to gain for ourselves, if not shared, is worthless. While no one may be asking you what you think or what is the best way something should be done, demonstrate it. Demonstration is the way Jesus did it. When demonstrated properly people want to know what you know. We should never quit serving or demonstrating the life of Jesus in us because we have gained some wisdom. Instead, we serve wiser from our experience.

CHANGING VALUES

Things change and we haven’t because we just don’t care to change. Maybe the way you viewed certain things that at one time were correct, no longer are. Mark Twain said, “the only person that likes change is a baby with a wet diaper”. The items on your top of the value list may not be what others around you value as important, even if they are to you. Things just flat changed and you need to rise up and re-evaluate your list again. Everything at sometime or another needs updated. This includes us. Just because they were important at one time does not mean they are important now. Although this does not mean everything on the list is wrong. Obviously, there are certain positions and items that need to stay the same. But it’s the things that we hold precious to us that may be keeping us from changing that need to be re-evaluated. I’m 59 and hear people make statements such as, “it was good enough for us, it’s good enough for them”. When we shut down completely from change we miss the things that are of true value. We must remember God is working on us at all times and there is never a time to think we have all we need. Never think that there can’t be more. Of course this will require change. We need to take a hard look at the things we value, is it personal, is it God? Does it need updating, do I need to dump it and change my ways, or add something new? We should always be open to change, not just for the benefit of ourselves but so we can help those who are still learning to walk with God.

BUSYNESS OF LIFE

It could be that as this section is so named, you find yourself in life part 2. Your children are raised and have moved on in life. You realize you are not as busy as you once were. There seems to be more time than earlier in life. Maybe you’re at that stage in life where you are very busy. You are raising children, pursuing your career, taking care of the house and the list goes on and on, or it seems to. Either scenario requires us to always stop and look at what God is saying and wanting from us. There is never a time whether busy or not busy, to let our relationship become distant with God. Younger, older or in between, it’s always about God’s will for your life. If you are older and it seems not much is happening, then I challenge you to find something or someone in God to serve. You are still to build His Kingdom. It’s not over, He is still planning your life. If you are young or in between you may be wondering when you have the time. If you don’t take the time to ask Him and find out, you could be missing some excellent opportunities that he has planned for you. Remember we are living for Him, and no matter what stage of life you are in, we are living for Him.

Strong Memories (good or bad)

” Ahh,Those Good Ole Days”, “I remember when”, “back in the day”, “ I will never forget what happened”.

When people live in the past they get struck in the present. It’s not that everything in the past is bad, although, there can be some bad memories. But there are also those good memories that are just as hindering to people. Some have lived so long in the past (good or bad) they don’t see how it now hinders them now. The reasons may vary, but here are some common ones.

  • You believe it was a better place
  • You were happier
  • Life was more enjoyable, fun
  • You felt more productive, useful
  • There were more things to do then
  • You had achieved certain accomplishments
  • Things were simpler, easier to understand
  • You can predict conclusions or outcomes
  • You cannot get over a hurt or loss-because you keep reliving it, it stays alive inside you
  • You were traumatized, or victimized by someone or something

We need to be aware that all of these revolve around your memories. The way you felt at the time with what was happening. These feelings produce a powerful memory that is etched in a way permanently in your mind. So alive are these memories, that you can actually go to them and relive them. Of course the more a person does this the more this becomes where they are at now, in this present time. Nothing wrong with the right perspective on memories of the past. They are to teach us and remind us of how to live now and in the future. They are not meant to keep us in a holding pattern, like a plane circling the airport but never landing, it just stays in the air. If you need to let go of something, then do so. If you need help in doing this, get it. We must move on, because God wants to give us many more new memories.

So here are a few things you may need to do to get back on track.

1. Make the decision that you are not going to sit in this slumber any longer. Come on, awaken yourself. Weed out any and alll thinking that keeps you sleeping. Begin to pray for change, passion, and fire. Pray and tell God you are not going to remain in this place anymore. Ask him to help you identify the areas of your heart and life that have caused you to slumber. Ask Him to renew your heart.

2. Go back to scripture and look at Jesus’ absolute life, zoe life, the God kind of life. His life never changed and never will change. It still has all the power to live life to its absolute, overflowing, fullest measure. He is the source of all life. This is a truth that always remains the same. He is a signs, wonders, and miracle working God. But the question is, how strongly do we believe this? Do we still see Him this way? Do we still believe He has a plan for our lives and we have only seen part of it? Get back into the life of God.

3. Start finding any and all ways to encourage yourself. I’m not talking about feeling happy for a day. I’m talking about putting faith back to work in your life. Begin to desire and believe for things beyond yourself right now. Even things that may seem impossible for you now.

Go get encouraged. Go build yourself up, daily. Do whatever it takes to get faith going. Attend a conference, maybe one you never would have before, listen to sermons, read some books on faith, and above all this, put His Words in you. Read them, confess them, tell yourself that in Him you can do this. I can do all things through Christ who strengthen me.

4. Give away from yourself. Self is your problem. Go bless someone, help serve someone. Don’t just sit there in the same state. This is not God’s plan. Dump the self pity, introspection, and yes, laziness if that fits. Life really is too short to allow disappointments, discouragement, people, or things to dominate your position now. It’s your life, take control back. You gave this life to God, believe He is still wanting to use you. Allow Him to be in control.

Real Men & Women Of God

Real Believers Know They Are Sent

Real Believers know that they are not just drifting in life. They are SENT by God to represent Him in this world. When examining the scriptures you will see that God the Father sent Jesus, Jesus sent the 12, then sent the 72. He then told the 120 to wait for power to go and be His witnesses, so He sent the 120. We see that they went out and represented Jesus with His message. Through the book of Acts there were nameless men and women sharing His message of hope, life, and salvation everywhere they went. Some of them were even establishing churches. My point is simply this, all Christians are SENT. They are to represent their King. They are to do this with excellence. They are to do this with all their heart. This is not a part -time gig of, “When I get time I will be His witness”. No, everywhere at all times, with all of what we have in time, energy and resources are we to represent Him. It’s all for Him, it’s all for our King. He is worthy of it all, the whole of us, all we have, all the time. And real Godly men and women live their lives in this way. They live their lives with this purpose and this purpose only. They live it out loud in front of the whole world to see. Worldly people want to say they are Christians, but live their lives in front of the world their way, on their time frame. Selfishness is really the purpose for which they live, thinking of self first. Giving it all to Jesus is just a phrase they like but don’t really live it full time. But real Godly men and women know their King and give Him their all. They give Him their best. Even if they are afraid they get over it and move ahead for Him. They deal with the fear and selfishness by representing Him because He is greater than their fears or momentary selfishness. They live this way on purpose. They are more concerned with what Jesus, their King thinks than what people around them think. So go out with this purpose in mind, I’m SENT by the King of all Kings, God Almighty, the Lord Jesus Christ. He gave it all so He is worthy of me giving it all. I am on this earth here and now to represent Jesus Christ. I will represent You, My King, out loud and out front with no reservations as to what man may think. Live His Life On Purpose.  

Real men and women of God own their lives.

Owning their lives, means, no excuses. They take full responsibility for their lives. They are not looking or trying to blame others. Real believers don’t see themselves as victims, but as overcomers. This doesn’t mean things always go according to plan. This doesn’t mean that there will not be times things happen that are beyond their control. There are times bad things happen, your fault, their fault, nobody’s fault, something happened that was not the way it should have happened. So what? Get over it and move on. Are you a victim? Even if you are the victim, how long are you going to stay one? Real men and women of God won’t live in a realm where everything has to be fair or they won’t move on because it would make them a victim. They go to God draw on His strength and ability and move on by looking to overcome the situation or obstacle.

Things that happen to us are not fair sometimes. Big deal! Get over it and move on. Our society has slowly moved to a mentality where everything has to be fair, or everyone is some type of victim. Nobody is ever at fault and in turn they don’t have to take responsibility for their lives. Let’s say it wasn’t fair or they are the victim, a person still must cope with it and move on or they will remain a victim and eventually die this way. It’s like they quit living any quality of life anymore. What happens to them becomes their life story and this is where they sit. 

But a man or women of God must go to God and pick themselves back up and get back in the game. God has so much more He wants to do with them and through them. A man or women of God can’t let setbacks, the hard knocks of life stop him. They must look to the future with the hope of God. However, often what we see in our culture today is the opposite. Because of what happened to them, they now believe they are entitled to sit around, circle attention around self, draw pity to self, whoa is me, poor me, they want everyone around them to see their situation is different. I think you get the picture. They think this gives them the right to be irresponsible. They now begin to make excuse after excuse and therefore never take true responsibility for their lives. I like what David said when confronted by Nathan, the prophet, about his sin, the sin David thought was hidden….wrong. David repents and says to God that against Him and Him only had he sinned.

It’s amazing how many believers today, blame their sin or inconsistencies of their lives on their circumstances, their special situations, their past, their parents, their childhood or whatever. It’s the internet, I was doing good until…, or my personal favorite, you just don’t understand. Real men and women of God don’t blame shift, or pull out some excuse to cover. Come on, we as believers need to break free of such nonsense and take full ownership of our lives. Take full responsibility for who we are and what we do. We are living for God not ourselves. If we are wrong then say so, if we are at fault then say so, say you’re sorry and mean it, and whenever its necessary, if possible, make it right. Show by words and actions that you are responsible for your life. Learn to get over things that don’t go right. Train yourself to move on, maybe we can’t change what just happened to us, but we don’t have to stay there either. Tell yourself I can change this by moving forward with God, I am not going to let what happen to me dictate who I will be tomorrow. I take responsibility for my life. If you find yourself starting to excuse or shift the blame off of yourself be quick to see where, and laugh at yourself for such nonsense. Own your life! With God there is always a tomorrow that has His love, goodness and favor working for us to move forward with Him into all that He has for us. Don’t excuse your life, OWN IT!

Real Men and Women of God are Dead to Self.

Real believers are dead to self. Jesus stated the two main requirements to follow Him was to deny self and pick up your cross. So for anyone who says they are following Jesus, these two ingredients should be visibly noticeable. Denying self means, you choose the path Jesus would choose. It’s not about what you want because self comes second to the will of Christ. Picking up your cross means you are choosing to remain dead to your will and your wants when these conflict in any way with what Jesus wants and what His will is for your life. So this is why I picked the term dead to self. Here is a short list of what this looks like.

A Dead Person Does Not have Any Rights:

I never saw a dead person exercising their rights to something. Think of how many people we meet who state they are Christians but are living large for themselves.They still have all their rights intact and following Jesus is a second thought. They exercise their rights first, then if it’s convenient they do something for God. They have never spent the time and taught themselves scripturally what it means to “deny self” and “pick up your cross”. They still have what they want and their will is still in charge. Self is who they are still following. Real men and women of God do not think this way. To follow Jesus, all rights were turned over to Christ, the minute they decided to follow Him. The only rights they have now are the rights which God gives them. All decisions now made are based upon this choice. The Bible reveals that Jesus gave up all of of His rights to do the will of His Father. He suffered and died because it was the path laid out for Him. That doesn’t seem fair now does it? Scripture states that He did it with joy. This is the example for us to follow when it comes to our rights. Real believers follow Jesus, and the only rights they have, and the only rights they need are the rights Jesus gives them.

A Dead Person Does Not Have Any Options:

I’ve never seen a person with any options. Christianity is not some kind of game show like Let’s make a deal. Well I don’t like the way God is dealing with me in this certain area, so I want door number two. We are suppose to be following, not leading or being dragged. We think that if we don’t like the way God is leading that we have a plan B. No, plan B is usually what you make up for yourself. When a leaf falls off a tree and into a stream, the leaf has no options but to go with the flow of the stream. Real men and women of God flow with the stream. In case you have not learned this yet, you’re dead to self so there is only plan A and you must flow by following. Remember, you’re dead to self. Plan A is always going to be God’s best for you even when it’s not comfortable or the way you wish it to be.

A Dead Person Can Not Voice Their Opinion

(Opinion:) a view or judgment formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge.

You hear this one all the time, “well in my opinion”. It’s funny, but whatever opinion a person has about whatever, when they are dead that opinion means nothing anymore.So often with this statement comes the attitude that the world is suppose to stop and agree wholeheartedly. It’s as if their opinion is the only one that counts. Your opinion is just that, your opinion. If you haven’t noticed, everyone has an opinion. My two year old granddaughter has an opinion. Our opinion should never be so lofty as to project that it is the only one that is right. Real believers speak the truth with conviction, the real weight that backs up the words, is God.  Now, I am not saying you don’t or can’t have an opinion. But I am saying, that when asked, it should be what the scriptures reveal, not our opinion.

A Dead Person Can Not Draw Attention To Themselves

Anything they could do for fame and glory is over. They can’t get any glory for themselves any longer, they’re dead. They are no longer self-seeking or self centered. They are no longer able to get that pat on the back, you know, the look at me and what I’ve done. They are not getting any self gratification anymore, because they are dead. Real men and women of God have made the decision that is no longer about themselves but about Jesus, their King and Lord. Its all for His glory. It is about drawing attention to Him and His life.

I believe the list could go on, but I wanted to address a greater issue about believers today who say they are living for God, but have also picked up their lives and are living for themselves. They live in a compromised state, or they still think its okay to be a little worldly, even carnal. Their commitment is to self first, simply because they don’t or won’t die to self and follow Jesus. They are giving their lives to God when its convenient, or when they get a chance, Jesus is really second, their life is first. But true believers, when they have made the decision to follow, give it all, and they never look back or go back to what they may have given up. They are in the King’s service, and loyal to Him, by denying themselves and picking up their cross, they follow Him. It is not always easy, there are going to be real trials and tests, the Bible tells us this. By keeping this position of death to self is what obviously makes this easier. As Christians who have picked up their cross, the decision has already been made. Throughout history real men and women of God, when push came to shove, they stayed with plan A. They remained faithful to Him to follow Him and Him only. I think the missionary Jim Elliot, who gave his life as a martyr serving indians of Ecuador, stated it best, “he is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose”. As men and women of God may we have the same attitude of heart. We have decided our lives are fully for the Lord of Lords and King of Kings. We are dead to self but alive for Him and His service.

I Won’t Give Up

The following was found among papers of a young pastor in Zimbabwe after he was martyred.

I’m a part of the fellowship of the unashamed. The die has been cast. I have stepped over the line. The decision has been made. I’m a disciple of His and I won’t look back, let up, slow down, back away, or be still. My past is redeemed. My present makes sense. My future is secure. I’m done and finished with low living, sight walking, small planning, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tamed visions, mundane talking, cheap living, and dwarfed goals. I no longer need preeminence, prosperity, position, promotions, plaudits, or popularity. I don’t have to be right, or first, or tops, or recognized, or praised, or rewarded. I live by faith, lean on His presence, walk by patience, lift by prayer, and labor by Holy Spirit power. My face is set. My gait is fast. My goal is heaven. My road may be narrow, my way rough, my companions few, but my guide is reliable and my mission is clear. I will not be bought, compromised, detoured, lured away, turned back, deluded or delayed. I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice or hesitate in the presence of the adversary. I will not negotiate at the table of the enemy, ponder at the pool of popularity, or meander in the maze of mediocrity.

I won’t give up, shut up, or let up until I have stayed up, stored up, prayed up, paid up, and preached up for the cause of Christ. I am a disciple of Jesus. I must give until I drop, preach until all know, and work until He comes. And when He does come for His own, He’ll have no problems recognizing me. My colors will be clear!

A Trumpet Call

Martyr Missions A Trumpet Call by John G. Lake

The following is the transcript from a commissioning sermon John G. Lake delivered to a band of apostolic laborers in Africa before scattering into the dark continent to bear witness to the light of the Gospel a century ago. May his words pierce the hearts of another generation of martyr missionaries mobilizing into the hardest and darkest places of the earth.

The thirteenth chapter of Acts tells us the story of the ordination and sending forth of the apostle Paul, his ordination to the apostleship. Paul never writes of himself until after the thirteenth chapter of Acts. He had been an evangelist and teacher for thirteen years when the thirteenth chapter of Acts was written, and the ordination took place that is recorded there. Men who have a real call are not afraid of apprenticeships.

There is a growing up in experience in the ministry. When Paul started out in the ministry he was definitely called of God and was assured of God through Ananias that it would not be an easy service but a terrific one, for God said to Ananias:

Arise and go into the street which is called Straight and inquire, in the house of Judas, for one called Saul of Tarsus, for behold, he is praying. He is a chosen vessel unto Me, to bear My Name before the gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: For I will show him how great things he must suffer for My Name’s sake.

That is what Jesus Christ, the crucified and the glorified Son of God, told Ananias to say to the apostle Paul. He was not going to live in a holy ecstasy and wear a beautiful halo, and have a heavenly time, and ride in a limousine. He was going to have a drastic time, a desperate struggle, and a terrific experience. And no man in biblical history ever had more dreadful things to endure than the apostle Paul. He gives a list, in his second letter to the Corinthians, of the things he had endured.

Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day have I been in the deep; in journeying often, in perils of waters, in perils of the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren. In weariness and painfulness, in watching often, in hunger and thirst, in fasting often, in cold and nakedness.

They stripped him of his clothing, and the executioner lashed him with an awful scourge, until bleeding and lacerated and broken, he fell helpless, and unconscious and insensible, then they doused him with a bucket of salt water to keep the maggots off, and threw him into a cell to recover. That was the price of apostleship! That was the price of the call of God and His service. But God said, “He shall bear My Name before the gentiles and kings, and the children of Israel.” He qualified as God’s messenger.

Beloved, we have lost the character of consecration here manifested. God is trying to restore it in our day. He has not been able to make such progress with the average preacher on that line. All too often, it is, “Mrs. So and So said so and so, and I am just not going to take it!” That is the kind of preacher, with another kind of call; not the heavenly call; not the God call; not the death call if necessary. That is not the kind the apostle Paul was, or was called to be.

Do you know why God poured out His Spirit in South Africa like He did no where else in the world? There was a reason. This example will illustrate. We had one hundred and twenty-five men out on the field at one time. We were a very young institution and were not known in the world. South Africa is seven thousand miles from any European country. It is ten thousand miles by way of England to the United States. Our finances got so low, under the awful assault we were compelled to endure, that there came a time I could not even mail to these workers, at the end of the month, a $10 bill. It got so I could not send them $2. The situation was desperate. What was I to do? Under these circumstances I did not want to take the responsibility of leaving men and their families on the frontier without real knowledge of what the conditions were.

Some of us at headquarters sold our clothes in some cases, sold certain pieces of furniture out of the house, sold anything we could sell, to bring those hundred and twenty-five workers off the field for a conference.

One night in the progress of the conference I was invited by a committee to leave the room for a minute or two. The conference wanted to have a word by themselves. So I stepped out to a restaurant for a cup of coffee, and came back. When I came back in, I found they had rearranged the chairs in an oval, with a little table at one end, and on the table was the bread and wine. Old Father Vanderwall, speaking for the company said, “Brother John, during your absence we have come to a conclusion. We have made our decision. We want you to serve the LORD’s Supper. We are going back to our fields. We are going back if our wives die. We are going back if we have to starve. We are going back if we have to walk back. We are going back if our children die. We are going back if we die ourselves. We have but one request. If we die, we want you to come and bury us.”

The next year I buried twelve of those men, along with sixteen of their wives and children.

In my judgment, not one of them, if they had a few things a white man needs to eat, could but what might have lived. Friends, when you want to find out why the power of God came down from heaven in South Africa like it never came down before, since the time of the apostles, there is your answer.

Jesus Christ put the spirit of martyrdom in the ministry. Jesus instituted His ministry with a pledge unto death. When He was with the disciples on the last night, He took the cup, “when He drank, saying.” Beloved, the “saying” was the significant thing. It was Jesus Christ’s pledge to the twelve who stood with Him, “This cup is the New Testament in my blood.” Then He said, “Drink ye all of it!”

Friends, those who were there and drank to that pledge, of Jesus Christ, entered into the same covenant and purpose that he did. That is what all the pledges mean. Men have pledged themselves in the same cup from time immemorial. Generals have pledged their armies unto death. It has been a custom in the human race. Jesus Christ sanctified it to the Church forever, bless God!

“My blood in the New Testament… Drink all of it!” Let us become one. Let us become one in our purpose to die for the world. Your blood and mine together. “My blood is the New Testament.” That is my demand from you. It is your high privilege!

Dear friends, there is not an authentic history that can tell us whether any one of them died a natural death. We know that at least nine of them were martyrs, possibly all. Peter died on a cross, James was beheaded. For Thomas they did not even wait to make a cross they nailed him to an olive tree. John was sentenced to be executed at Ephesus by putting him in a cauldron of boiling oil, God delivered him, and his executioners refused to repeat the operation, and he was banished to the Isle of Patmos. John thought so little about it that he never even tells of the incident. He says, “I was in the Isle called Patmos, for the Word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.” That was explanation enough. He had committed himself to Jesus Christ for life or death.

Friends, the group of missionaries that followed me went without food, and went without clothes, and once when one of my preachers was sunstruck, and had wandered away, I tracked him by the blood marks of his feet. Another time I was hunting for one of my missionaries, a young Englishman, twenty-two years of age. He had come from a line of Church of England preachers for five hundred years. When I arrived at the native village the old native chief said, “He is not here. He went over the mountains, and you know him, he is a white man and he has not learned to walk barefooted.”

That is the kind of consecration that established Pentecost in South Africa. That is the reason we have a hundred thousand native Christians in South Africa. That is the reason we have 1250 native preachers. That is the reason we have 350 white Churches in South Africa. That is the reason that, today, we are the most rapidly growing Church in South Africa!

The Chocolate Soldier

HEROISM is the lost chord; the missing note of present-day Christianity! Every true soldier is a hero! A SOLDIER WITHOUT HEROISM IS A CHOCOLATE SOLDIER! Who has not been stirred to scorn and mirth at the very thought of a Chocolate Soldier? In peace true soldiers are captive lions, fretting in their cages. War gives them their liberty and sends them, like boys bounding out of school, to obtain their heart’s desire or perish in the attempt. Battle is the soldier’s vital breath! Peace turns him into a stooping asthmatic. War makes him a whole man again, and gives him the heart, strength, and vigour of a hero. EVERY TRUE CHRISTIAN IS A SOLDIER—of Christ—a hero “par excellence!” Braver than the bravest scorning the soft seductions of peace and her oft-repeated warnings against hardship, disease, danger, and death, whom he counts among his bosom friends.

THE OTHERWISE CHRISTIAN IS A CHOCOLATE CHRISTIAN! Dissolving in water and melting at the smell of fire. “Sweeties” they are! Bonbons, lollipops! Living their lives on a glass dish or in a cardboard box, each clad in his soft clothing, a little frilled white paper to preserve his dear little delicate constitution. Here are some Portraits of Chocolate Soldiers taken by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. “He said, ‘I go sir,’ and went not.” He said he would go to the heathen, but he stuck fast to Christendom instead.

“They say and do not”—they tell others to go, and yet do not go themselves. “Never,” said General Gordon to a corporal, as he himself jumped upon the parapet of a trench before Sebastopol to fix a gabion which the corporal had ordered a private to fix and would not fix himself, “Never tell another man to do what you are afraid to do yourself.”

To the Chocolate Christian the very thought of war brings a violent attack of ague, while the call to battle always finds him with the palsy. “I really cannot move,” he says. “I only wish I could, but I can sing, and here are some of my favorite lines:

“I must be carried to the skies On a flowery bed of ease,Let others fight to win the prize, Or sail thro’ bloody seas. Mark time, Christian heroes, Never go to war; Stop and mind the babies Playing on the floor. Wash and dress and feed them Forty times a week. Till they’re roly poly— Puddings so to speak.

Chorus:

Round and round the nursery Let us ambulate, Sugar and spice and all that’s nice Must be on our slate.”

GOD NEVER WAS A CHOCOLATE MANUFACTURER, AND NEVER WILL BE. God’s men are always heroes. In Scripture you can trace their giant foot-tracks down the sands of time.

The rest can be read at: http://www.wholesomewords.org/missions/msctserm.html

4th-Century Christian Monk

Chuck Colson tells the story of Telemachus, a 4th-century Christian Monk.

This man lived in a remote village, tending his garden and spending much of his time in prayer. One day he thought he heard the voice of God telling him to go to Rome, so he obeyed, heading out on foot. Weary weeks later, he arrived in the city at the time of a great festival. The little monk followed the crowd surging down the streets into the Colosseum. He saw the gladiators stand before the emperor and say, “We who are about to die salute you.” Then he realized these men were going to fight to the death for the entertainment of the crowd Telemachus cried out, “In the name of Christ, stop!”

As the games began, he pushed his way through the crowd, climbed his way over the wall, and dropped to the floor of the arena. When the crowd saw this tiny figure rushing to the gladiators and saying, “In the name of Christ, stop!” they thought it was part of the show and began laughing. When they realized it wasn’t, the laughter turned to anger. As Telemachus was pleading with the gladiators to stop, one of them plunged a sword into his body. He fell to the sand. As he was dying, his last words were, “In the name of Christ, stop!” Then a strange thing happened. The gladiators stood looking at the tiny figure lying there. A hush fell over the Colosseum. Way up in the upper rows, a man stood and made his way to the exit. Others began to follow. In dead silence, everyone left the Colosseum.

The year was 391AD, and that was the last battle to the death between gladiators in the Roman Colosseum. Never again in the great stadium did men kill each other for the entertainment of the crowd, all prompted by one tiny voice that could hardly be heard above the roar, one voice that spoke the truth in God’s name.

You know, it takes something to be the only voice. It takes guts to be the lone man or woman, sticking out in a crowd. It takes heart to speak out when it’s easier to keep still. It takes courage to stand up when you’re standing alone.

Becoming A Wall Builder

“Like a city that is broken into and without walls 
Is a man who has no control over his spirit. (Proverbs 25:28 NASB)”

In Old Testament times, major cities would often be fortified with large stone walls surrounding them. The erection of these walls was no doubt labor-intensive, time-consuming and expensive. However, once completed these walls served as an effective deterrent to invading armies, since the walls could only be breached by large armies able to surround the city and mount an extended siege.

Many times our culture tries to teach us that manhood consists solely of machismo, and that self-control is for wimps. But clearly that’s not the case from God’s point of view. Think about it: how many men’s lives and families have been traumatized by lack of self-control? Whether it comes in the form of verbal, physical or sexual abuse of women and children, pornography, substance abuse or addictions of other kinds, the lack of self-control has wreaked havoc on our society.

At the same time, there is hope! Our walls can be rebuilt, but it will take time, effort, patience, resilience and willingness to accept help from others. We rebuild our walls one stone at a time, taking the many truths from God’s word that have been given to protect us and putting them in their proper place. What it takes to start is the realization that our self-control is worth the time, the effort and the fight to reclaim and possess. Self-control is a gift of God’s Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). Don’t let the enemy take away what God wants you to have.

Welcome to the fight!

Yesturday

2 Cor 13:5- Examine and test and evaluate your own selves to see whether you are holding to your faith and showing the proper fruits of it. Test and prove yourselves [not Christ]. AMP

2 Cor 13:5- Test yourselves to make sure you are solid in the faith. Don’t drift along taking everything for granted. Give yourselves regular checkups. You need firsthand evidence, not mere hearsay, that Jesus Christ is in you. Test it out. If you fail the test, do something about it. MES

2 Cor 13:5-6- Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you — unless, of course, you fail the test? NIV

Recently one of the young men in our church shared a message with some great insight. Now I say young man because he is half my age. He is a school teacher and father, so by today’s standards you wouldn’t necessarily call him a young man but a full grown, responsible adult. He proposed ten questions dealing with the subject of living and sharing “His Story” His testimony in our lives. It was question five that I got hung up on. #5 “Are we living off yesterday’s testimony or are we seeking a new work of God.” I had to stop and think, am I doing this? If you were to come up to me and say anything of this nature to me I would probably say, “Absolutely not!”. But the kicker was two points within the question, “living off ” and “seeking a new work”. I found myself really looking at these hard. When I looked at the phrase “living off”, my first thought was when was my last significant testimony? What kind of testimonies am I sharing? Are they fresh new ones or am I having to go back a few years? There is absolutely nothing wrong with yesterday’s testimonies but do I have new ones as well? How honest we answer this question is how honest we really are about where our lives are at present.

I believe the above scripture makes this point. Am I still willing to truly, openly, honestly examine my faith. Living off a testimony is different than sharing a past testimony to illustrate or emphasize a point of faith today. “Living off yesterday’s testimony”, means you really haven’t anything relevant now because you haven’t done anything with your faith in the present. It’s like trust fund kids. They are living off what their parents worked hard to obtain and have stored up. While they have money, they are doing nothing with it except living off it. They have done nothing to prove their worth now. They don’t work, so there is nothing new coming in. They don’t have to be responsible to do anything now because they are comfortable and don’t really need to. What was earned in the past is sufficient to keep them now. Again, they don’t have to do anything now because the past takes care of it and it speaks of who they are now, it is their identity.

It’s funny the older I get the more I hear phrases like “back in the day”, or the classic, “I remember when”. Spiritually relating this means we need to ask ourselves if the past testimonies are being used to prove our spirituality now and is our identity still tied to the past? But in testing ourselves we must examine if there is actually fruit now that we are producing. Is our identity in who we are now in Christ or what we were “back in the day” in Christ. Once again, there is nothing wrong with past testimonies to encourage who we are now and what we are doing now. There are several scriptures where God is saying “remember”, so there can be nothing wrong with remembering what God did in the past. However, you can actively be involved in what He is doing now because He is the same yesterday, today and forever. Scripture states,

Heb 11:1-3

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. 2 This is what the ancients were commended for. 3 By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible. NIV

Having walked with God for well over thirty plus years, I have testimonies. I have testimonies of healings, salvations, and moments of God’s power. I’ve been there bought multiple t-shirts and have lots of pictures to prove that I was there. But regardless of how great these testimonies are, the question remains, “am I living off of them”? Am I content with what was stored from the past? I mean they really are some great stories, or testimonials. But like a trust fund kid, am I living off the past work but not really doing anything to prove my worth today?

When I looked at this question after it was presented to our church body, I saw that the second point was a key to understanding and breaking free from the past. Now before going any further, I want to reiterate the difference between living off and living now. If I am using past testimonies to prove who I am today, then I have been living off the past and not producing fresh faith in His work. Do I use past testimonies to encourage what I am actually doing at present and if so, then I’m living now and not living off yesterday. One position is about still doing the work today, which was point 2. “seeking new work in God”.

Another way of looking at this is asking yourself if you are doing things now trying to replicate or live in the past? Or, are you doing things now knowing that what happened in the past can happen in the future, again and again. It may look different and even have a different feel, but I’m looking for His power not because of the past but because of the future.

Every generation needs His power to produce testimonies for today. We need testimonies today, and yesterday is meant to encourage these to come forth now, but only with your faith that is in Christ now and not yesterday. His power yesterday is the same as it is today it has never changed but must be brought forward with today’s faith. His power is meant to move and produce new works today. So we need to ask ourselves if we are living off yesterday or are we seeking new works in God. Before you think I’m just tearing down the past, I’m not at all. The past brings a stability, maturity, wisdom, understanding and knowledge for today, and today has to have these truths. The past has taught us He will never leave us or forsake us, so we can have the faith to do the new works today. We need to use these past truths to birth new things in God, new testimonies that are a witness of the living God of today not just living off the works of the God of the past. So test yourself, give yourself a spiritual check up and see if you are in the faith. Go ahead and look at the works of God in past testimonies and know He is still wanting you to do these things for Him today. I encourage you to step out afresh in His power today. It may be different than yesterday, look different, have a different feel, but it is still the Christ in you today wanting to use you in new works today.