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|Posted on April 18, 2015 at 1:55 PM||comments (43)|
There is debate among the Christian community whether one can lose their salvation. Certainly in the Roman Catholic Church the doctrine of mortal sin is an example of this concept. Yet, if we live in fear of losing fellowship with God, we let Satan win. There is little the Evil One wants more than to make us believe we are not beloved by God - that our Father is on the verge of rejecting us at any given time.
While always understanding the immensity and glory and omnipotence of God, we do well to remember that He loves us so intimately that He has counted every hair on our heads. We have the joy of knowing we not only have fellowship with the Holy Trinity which will never be broken, we also have the privilege of living in confidence that our Father is continually loving us more deeply than we can ever understand.
In reality, just as the Holy Spirit moves in us to love God in the first place, the Holy Spirit will keep that flame of love alive throughout our lives - even when we stray or rebel. We feel in our hearts the separation between us and God, but the Devil magnifies it to the point where he wants us to believe there is a chasm between us and God that cannot be crossed. What we must remember is Jesus' promise that He will never leave or forsake us.
Christian, rest assured it is God who brought you to Himself, and it is God who will keep you in His heart. We are blessed to be His children forever.
|Posted on March 5, 2015 at 9:09 PM||comments (63)|
For the last several months we have been aware of the persecution of Christians by ISIS in the Middle East. For decades Christians have been persecuted in Asia and in African countries. And yet, Christianity is thriving in these areas.
I often think we in the West (I live in California) have a very shallow understanding of what it means to be a Christian. We are concerned over which church has the best worship music, the shortest sermons, and the most people attending. In some ways, the church we attend is "trendy." And we often confuse going to church with being a Christian.
If we read the Epistles in the New Testament, Paul, James, and Jude all introduce themselves as "Bondservants" of Christ. They are willingly slaves to Jesus. They know the gospel message and have no "weasel-clauses" about their dedication to Christ. In today's vernacular, they are "all in."
Perhaps if Christians had to endure a basic training similar to our military forces, we would understand the meaning of commitment to Jesus. Our brothers and sisters in the persecuted church know the extent of what it means to live and die for their faith. We have so much to learn from them - those who meet secretly in homes or isolated places. Those who treasure a Bible, even if they cannot read it. Those who love the Lord so much that they are willing not only to die for their faith, but to watch their children die at the hands of demonic oppression in the form of terrorists.
When we go to church on any given Sunday, let us come radiating Christ living inside of us. Let us leave invigorated to share the gospel in-season and out of season. Let us, like Paul, when we find ourselves imprisoned (political correctness, fear of looking foolish or insulting someone) love Jesus so much as to share the good news of salvation with those who are intimidating us. Compared to having a sword slicing into the back of your neck, a fear of rejection seems very trivial.
|Posted on March 8, 2013 at 5:14 PM||comments (61)|
The Joy of Spiritual Discipline
Modern American culture, and increasingly within the walls of Evangelical Churches, finds a wide chasm between “discipline” and “joy.” Spiritual discipline often brings to mind such exercises as reading the Bible in one yearand (to a less comfortable extent) tithing.
In this blog I will briefly discuss the origins, purpose, necessity and benefits of spiritual discipline.
We can begin in Genesis, chapter four, where Cain and Abel offer their sacrifices to God and tithing has its origins. While we can see Abel’s gift as pleasing to God, the fruit of his gift does not appear evident when Cain kills his brother. Perhaps the joy in the discipline of giving with a pure heart was that Abel was the first to enjoy being absent from the body and present with the Lord (2Cor. 5:8).
Throughout the Bible God calls His people to acts of spiritual discipline. Abraham was challenged with sacrificing his own son (Gen. 22), Moses led the people of God through the Exodus, David exercised tremendous spiritual discipline throughout his life, and we find Jesus fasting and praying in the desert (Luke, 4). Additionally every true follower of Christ from the Apostles through today was faced with spiritual challenges.
One of the more useful disciplines in studying Scripture is contemplation. If we are to be enlightened by Him, we must stay focused on the God of the Bible. We know from Jesus experience in the wilderness (Luke, chapter 4) that Satan is present to twist the Gospel and suggest a false version of it to satisfy our desires. In contemplation, we must still be wearing the “full armor of God” (Eph.6:13-17).
Spiritual disciplines are a means of preparing us to be like Christ in daily life. They serve to bring us to an awareness of the Holy Spirit keenly working in us and interceding for us. They help us to die to ourselves and live for Christ. We have only touched on the Spiritual disciplines and have not acknowledged the great contributions of the Desert Fathers, including Antony of Egypt, St. Patrick, St. Columba, St. John of the Cross, St. Teresa of Avila, the Waldensians, the Cistercians, and a host of others who pioneered spiritual discipline in its various forms.
A person in love receives great joy in the discipline of knowing the one who touches his heart. We have a great Lover of our souls, and we do well to strive to know Him intimately.
|Posted on July 7, 2012 at 4:50 PM||comments (52)|
Living life with a deep and longing desire to be with the Holy Trinity in heaven (when God's purpose for us here is complete) helps keep us grounded in the turmoil life on earth inevitably sends our way.
Let us pray for the elderly who are confined to their homes or in convalescent centers. Let us pray they have assurance God has them in this season of their lives for a purpose, even if it is as simple as showing kindness to their caretakers.
If you have time and feel the good Lord directing you, stop by an elder-care home and bring a smile to the forgotten ones in our midst.
Br. Joe, CRO. Carm.
|Posted on May 27, 2012 at 1:29 PM||comments (108)|
Today, 08/27/2012, we celebrate the feast of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit descended on the hearts and souls of Jesus' disciples and renewed their hearts and minds. Please read Acts chapter 2 for the incredible account of transformation by the power of the Holy Spirit.
We must remember that as Christians, the Holy Spirit dwells within us. I like to consider the indwelling Spirit as the engine in a very powerful car. We have the Spirit of God living in us, just as the vehicle has the engine idling in it. Our prayers, obedience to the Lord, and Love for God our Father and one another provides the fuel by which the Holy Spirit can and will give us more power than the horsepower of all the muscle cars in the world.
If we keep the car (our spiritual life) covered up in the garage, the Holy Spirit still dwells within us, but we are not giving God the Holy Spirit the opportunity to transform our world
and those of whom we touch.
May we be instruments of the Holy Spirit today and always.
|Posted on April 22, 2012 at 7:23 PM||comments (22)|
We are often assaulted with tribulations and trials that may seem overwhelming. The key to remember is the lesson learned from the Book of Job. God allowed Satan to plague poor Job, yet not beyond the point of breaking.
Two lessons for this blog...
1) God is always, ALWAYS, in control of what Satan can and can't get away with. If we hold on to the Holy Trinity, we have a strong and steady anchor.
2) God never has to sit down and explain things to us. We just need to trust Him and love Him, and know He is our ever-loving Father.
|Posted on February 11, 2012 at 10:24 AM||comments (44)|
After a wonderful sleep, I have an opportunity to touch others with the love of Jesus - what a blessing!
|Posted on February 6, 2012 at 9:48 PM||comments (45)|
The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection is a simple collection of letters by a simple monk who lived in the seventeenth century. He simply wanted to live every moment in conversation with God. He wanted to out-love God, but found it impossible. The little book has survived for three centuries for a good reason. Please do yourself (and those around you) a favor by reading and living this book.
|Posted on February 4, 2012 at 8:26 PM||comments (50)|
Love always, at all times, especially when it is difficult.