Celebrating Sin

Scotty-thumbThere is a celebration going on in America.

Across the nation this summer, the party spilled into the streets as Pride was flaunted and celebrated. Big corporate sponsors like Coca Cola, Marriott, Netflix, Burger King, and many others opened their wallets to bank roll the festivities. Elected officials and entertainers lined up to bask in their own political correctness, wave the rainbow flag, and loudly proclaim their gratitude that the chains of American morality are being thrown off.

For the lackadaisical, live-and-let-live American, who views the celebration through the eyes of the six o’clock news, it may all seem rather harmless. But for those who understand the role of religion and morality in maintaining American freedom, a look beneath the sanitized surface is gravely troubling. The images of the nearly nude costumes, the same sex lip-locks, the unashamed lusting, and the unadulterated display of flaming-hot pride in the public square are like a thousand red flags all waved at once.

The American model has flourished because, historically, the Bible has been the foundation of its legal system and provided a common code of morality and rightness that Americans embraced. In short, Americans understood that God was the ultimate authority in this world and that honoring Him and His Word brought favor upon the nation. The parading of abominable acts through our streets brings us reproach. And, as politically incorrect as it may be to say it, these actions, the celebration and flaunting of sin, will bring the judgment of God upon a society that embraces them. The prophet Isaiah said this:

“The shew of their countenance doth witness against them; and they declare their sin as Sodom, they hide it not. Woe unto their soul! for they have rewarded evil unto themselves.” (Isa 3:9)

You see, the lewd behavior is revealing much more than skin; it reveals the heart. The revelers very countenances bear witness against them that they disdain God and his ordinances. Shame over sin has been replaced with a pride that parades sin in the streets for all to see. Their actions are a collective snubbing of noses towards God himself. Woe unto their souls! I tremble for them because in their blindness they choose not to hear the warnings of judgment. Their actions are earning an evil reward that shall be reaped in due time.

The countenances of the revelers also reveal a pompous pride that says, “We neither desire nor need your God. Who is He to place boundaries on my behavior? Who is He to condemn my lust for pleasure?” The Psalmist said it this way:

“The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts.” (Psa 10:4)

Humility, not pride, is the hallmark of a godly person. Is it any wonder that the term “gay pride” is the banner under which they march?

But be certain, a day of reckoning is coming. To him who has ears to hear, let him hear. God will not be mocked. A fearful day of judgement is ahead for the abominable and the society that turns away from God to embrace their actions.

“Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush: therefore they shall fall among them that fall: at the time that I visit them they shall be cast down, saith the LORD.” (Jer 6:15)

Is anyone listening? Will America stand by in apathetic stupor as drunken, naked men walk through our streets groping one another? Have we as a society really fallen this low? Have we become so naive that we cannot see through the cloak of tolerance that has been draped over this movement? Or maybe we simply don’t have the backbone that those who came before us had to stand and unashamedly proclaim truth. This issue is not neutral. This issue is not inconsequential. God is not slack concerning his promises, both for good and for judgment.

Will you stand by as the moral foundation of our country crumbles and sends us careening towards the pits of hell? Speak the truth in love today! Take a stand! If you don’t, who will?

Go Forward

Scotty-thumbThe Christian life is not always easy.  Indeed, the Apostle Paul testified that,

“Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep;   In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by 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 watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.”  ( 2Co 11:25-27) 

Nevertheless, he continued with a single-minded purpose.  He endured, he persevered, he pressed forward.  I find it interesting that in Phillipians 3:13, he made it clear that his focus was not on those things that were behind him, but rather on the things that still needed to be accomplished for the kingdom.

“…forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before…”

We cannot be focused on the things that lie ahead unless we forget the things the lie behind.  The perils of yesterday must not prevent the work of today.  Previous victories are not a license to sheath our swords.  And, the things that we have forsaken to pursue God’s greater purpose must be counted as loss.   

When the children of Israel departed Egypt, they were immediately confronted with what, no doubt, seemed an insurmountable obstacle…the Red Sea.  And to further complicate matters, the Egyptian army was in hot pursuit.   And though the demonstration of God’s power had to be fresh in their minds, fear and doubt overcame their focus on the future.

“And they said unto Moses, Because there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us away to die in the wilderness? wherefore hast thou dealt thus with us, to carry us forth out of Egypt?   Is not this the word that we did tell thee in Egypt, saying, Let us alone, that we may serve the Egyptians? For it had been better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness.”  (Exo 14:11-12)

But when the Word of the Lord came, it was clear and concise.

“And the LORD said unto Moses… speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward (Exo 14:15)

It is the same Word He is speaking into the lives of Christians today.  Do not fear, do not look to the left or to the right, but set your face like a flint, and go forward.  God will take care of the obstacles.  That is His job.  Our job is to move; to put one foot in the front of the other and press in to Christ’s calling on our lives.

Will you go forward in faith today?

So Hungry

Johnna-thumbI woke up today with a familiar feeling.  It is not a feeling I have every day.  But when I do have it, it can consume me.  The feeling?  I’m hungry.  I am not talking about physical hunger.  I am talking about spiritual hunger!   Do you ever experience it?  Your soul is empty and dry.  You need nourishment so badly, but it seems that there is no food around.  Today, I decided that I could not go on like this.

I began by doing what I do every day, I read my Bible.  It was good, as always.  But, I still was not satisfied.  I needed a special touch from the Lord.  I needed to feel His presence and His love.  So, I did the only thing left to do, and that was go into my closet and shut the door.  Friends, that can be a powerful thing somehow.

I began to cry out to God.  My prayer went something like this:

“Lord!  I am so hungry for YOU!  Nothing else can satisfy me.  YOU are the only source of my life and health.  And I cannot make it without you, EVER!  I can’t do a single thing without YOU.  I can’t breathe.  I can’t be a wife and mother.  And I certainly can’t make good decisions.  Oh, Lord!  You know my heart.  You know I have loved YOU since a child!  And all I have ever wanted to do was serve YOU and bring YOU glory!  I ask YOU today to revive me and fill me with your love and strength!  Restore the joy of my salvation!  Restore the joy of my heavenly calling!  And cause me to bow out of the things that would hinder my growth in YOU!  Empower me with YOUR WORD and YOUR SPIRIT!  In Jesus’ Name, Amen!”

I got up from there feeling a LOT better.  I don’t know why God chooses to meet us in prayer, but He does!  Prayer is a powerful thing.  The Lord consistently meets me there.  I do not possess any special powers, I can tell you that!  I am just a frail human being who is in desperate need of the touch of the Lord!  And I try to give Him an opportunity to touch me.  Otherwise, I don’t know where I would be.

Are you needy today?  Do the things of the world disappoint you, over and over again?  If so, I understand.  You, like me, have a part of you that can only be spiritually filled.  You may just be hungry!  Please make today the day that you give the Lord a chance to do for you what you cannot do for yourself — give your spirit life!

~Johnna

Hijacked Grace

Scotty-thumb“I’m telling you, when you truly taste grace, life is a freaking blast!” – Bart Millard, lead singer of MercyMe

The above is a quote from Bart Millard’s recent tirade on Facebook after many conservatives called him out for tweeting accolades for Bruno Mars’s Super Bowl halftime show.  In case you are not familiar with MercyMe, they are one of the leading contemporary Christian music groups of today and have been around for many years.  If you visit their Facebook page, you will find they have over 1.1 million “likes.”  And, if you visit their website, you will see they are about to release a new album entitled, “Welcome To The New.”  On Feb 4th, Bart tweeted that “The grace message will be in full swing!!!!” on the album.

Why am I highlighting this information?  Because the “grace message” as promoted by MercyMe and so passionately embraced by today’s mega-churches and mega-church wannabes, has hijacked modern Christianity.   The hijackers boarded the Old Gospel Ship disguised as regular passengers, but soon had the passengers shaking to a new beat and the ship on a difference course.  Tradition, holiness, and reverence were tried by the court of popular opinion and found to be significantly in the way of having a “freaking blast.”  So, they were promptly tossed overboard and guiltless Christianity rushed in to fill the void.  Even the most revered hymn of all time was no longer fit for such a church; a new tag was needed…

“My chains are gone, I’ve been set free.”

Overly dramatic?  I don’t think so.  Over the last several years, grace has become the most prominent word in religious circles.  Why?  Because the “grace message,” is embraced by a materialistic, consumer-minded American audience, and therefore, it fills the pews (sorry, I meant it fills the padded chairs…pews are way too traditional).  It is low-impact religion, allowing people to live life as they always have and to feel good about themselves while doing so.   It proclaims God’s love for people while making no demands for holiness.  The only “sins” for which you may not be forgiven are a judgmental attitude or legalistic theology.  Both of these are out-of-bounds. 

But is this teaching in line with the Word of God?  In short, no!  Why?  Because the gospel message has been supplanted by the “grace message.”  Faith in the person of Jesus Christ as Redeemer and Savior has been replaced with faith in the message of grace.  This false salvation does away with the need for repentance and remorse over our sins and absolves man of any responsibility.  Much like the prodigal son, adherents to the grace message have broken free of the responsibilities imposed by the Father and have demanded their inheritance now.  The riotous living fed by this freedom and funded by a seemingly endless wealth of grace has produced a church happy to wallow in the ways of the world.  The command to “love not the world” was apparently lost in the scramble to freedom.

Sin, in the grace-driven church, is a nebulous creature that lacks definition.  Sometimes, it seems as though sin no longer exists.  And if it does exist, this church denies the power of God that enables Christians to rise above it.  Bearing the burden of the cross has also been relegated to the past.  This idea is simply unappealing to pleasure-seeking Americans.  However, even a casual reading of the New Testament will show that the apostles knew nothing of having “a freaking blast,” nor were their desires in that direction.  They knew the cost of their salvation.  And therefore, they sought to glorify God with their lives and taught others to do the same.  This is typified by Paul’s words to the Corinthians,

“For ye are bought with a price:  therefore, glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” (1 Cor 6:20)

The apostles witnessed first-hand the terrible price paid for their salvation:  the horrific death of Christ and the pouring out of His blood.  It wasn’t a far-removed theological idea that gave license to their lust.  It was painful.  It was sobering.  It was life-changing.  It is no wonder then that Peter would write:

“Wherefore, gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;   As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance:   But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;   Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:13)

An unholy people will never reclaim control of the Gospel Ship and right its course.  And, the “grace message” will never produce a holy people.  It is well past time for the American church to lay aside our sins, to come out from among the world and be a peculiar people.  We have been hindered for too long.  May the judgment begin at the House of God and in each of our individual lives.

~Scotty

The Best Thing You Can Give Your Kids

Johnna-thumbI will just go ahead and say it . . . the day I became a mother is at the top among great days in my life. I will never forget when I saw Hannah . . . it was just a feeling that I cannot describe! You have to experience it for yourself to know the deep love, among so many other emotions, that fill your heart when you meet your child for the first time. I also had two dear sons come along, Jacob and Andrew, and I felt the same feelings of incredible love when they were born. My heart was never the same. There was now precious emotional cargo inside of me. I was always thinking of them, what I could do to better their lives, and shape them into the best people they could be.

Yet that proved to be a more complex task than I had planned on. There were almost moment-to-moment decisions that I had to make, decisions such as:

Should I let this ten-year-old girl, who is not very experienced, hold my baby? What if she drops her?

Should I have my children immunized? There is so much to be concerned about with shots, yet so many places require them!

Should I homeschool my children? Or will that harm them in some way?

As time went on, the questions didn’t stop:

Is my child experienced enough to drive alone now?

How often should my child be allowed to text with others, especially of the opposite sex?

What about music and movies? What should I allow them to see/hear or not?

Should I send my child to a state college? Or Christian college? Does it matter, in the long run?

So many questions. We have literally made thousands of decisions about our children before they are grown. We cannot possibly make perfect choices all the time, because we are human, and will surely make mistakes. But we hope to make a lot more good ones than bad ones, Amen?! How in the world can we do this? How can we protect our children from harm, point them in the right direction, and make sure they turn out to be fine people in this complex, information-saturated world we live in?

This question plagued me when I became I mother. I wanted to do everything right. I wanted to give my kids the best I could — not materially, but spiritually. I wanted to, if I could just borrow an old phrase, “raise them right!” But I knew that I couldn’t shield them from every harm, every mistake, and every poor decision. That seemed like such a scary, depressing thought. What to do?

I searched the Word of God for answers. It didn’t take me long to find good news! I began to read about something that still excites me as I write this . . . PRAYER!

Notice these verses:

“He will regard the prayer of the destitute, and not despise their prayer.” (Psalm 102:17)

“The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord: but the prayer of the upright is his delight.” (Proverbs 15:8)

“The Lord is far from the wicked: but he heareth the prayer of the righteous.” (Proverbs 15:29)

Also note what Jesus did:

“And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.” (Luke 6:12)

Wow! All night. Why do we struggle to pray for a few minutes? What is it that is so much more important to us that covering our husbands and children in prayer? I really think we need to ponder this question, because all my thinking about how to protect my children yielded this thought:

I CAN’T . . . BUT GOD CAN!

I cannot shield my kids from heartache, accident, or even poor parenting sometimes. I cannot make everything turn out right for them. But I CAN pray. I can go to the Lord, free of charge, night or day, and He hears me. Not only does He hear me, but He cares about my situations! He loves me and longs to hear about what I need! His Word tells me so!

This is quite a privilege. But how often do I pray? How much faith do I put in His ability to work for my good? The time I spend on my knees will answer that.

What about you, young mom? Do you pray? Do you bring those little ones before the Lord and ask Him to place His hand mightily upon their lives? What about you, mom of teenagers? Do you pray that God will impart wisdom to them, and be with them at every turn? Do you pray for your husband, that God will be with him and bless Him in all he does? Do you pray that your family will serve the Lord faithfully? These are all prayers that you can freely pray if you are in a right relationship with the Lord today!

The reason that I am excited about prayer is that I have seen the results of my prayers on so many occasions. The Lord has put me in places where He reminded me of prayers I prayed years before. He has been faithful to me! And yes, He has done the impossible and things that were beyond my wildest dreams. My feeble efforts at prayer have not gone unnoticed by the Lord. I only desire to pray more!

If you love your children, the best thing you can do for them is simply pray. Take time for it. Don’t pray for five minutes . . . give Him more. Get into the Scriptures and note the promises of God . . . and claim them. I believe that you will see the beautiful Hand of the Lord in ways all around you! You will crave time spent with Him and look forward to prayer times. And, I can say with all confidence, you will be blessed. And your precious children? They will be in the most excellent care. 🙂

~Johnna

Discouraged in the Faith

Scotty-thumbThere have been times in my Christian walk when I wanted to give up.  On those days, I felt that if I never picked up my Bible again, if I never darkened the door of another church, if I never preached another word, if I never sang another song, no one would care.  During these times, a feeling of insignificance and defeat settled over my spirit.  I felt alone in my Christianity and useless in the Kingdom.   

Have you ever been there?   Maybe, just maybe, you are in that place right now.

You are not alone.  In 1 Kings 19:10, Elijah, a mighty prophet of the Lord, said, 

“…the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.”

Jeremiah, another prophet said,

“…I am in derision daily, every one mocketh me…I will not make mention of [God],  nor speak any more in his name.” (Jeremiah 20:7,9)

How must Moses have felt when he ran to the wilderness to save himself from Pharaoh?  Or Samson, when he was blinded, grinding in a Philistine prison?  Or Joseph, a slave in a foreign land, after being betrayed by his own brothers?  Or Paul, when so many deserted him after he found himself in prison?  Surely, those were dark and lonely days.  Can you identify with what these men might have felt during these times in their lives?

If you can, you also need to know that God’s promises go beyond our circumstances.  He has plainly told us,

“I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” (Hebrews 13:5) and

“I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” (Matthew 28:20) and

“Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”  (Isaiah 41:10)

 And Paul reiterates this thought to us in Romans 8:37-39,

“Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.  For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,  Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

The knowledge that Christ and His love are forever with us gives us the strength to overcome discouragement!  It gives us the courage to be more than conquerors!  It gives us the determination to press on in faith knowing that God is working in our circumstances in ways we cannot see or know!

If you are discouraged, claim these verses as your own.  Read the story of Joseph.  Read the letters of Paul.  Study the life of Moses.  Get in the Word of God!  You will be encouraged and raised up to continue the work that God has called you to perform!  Amen.

~Scotty

Trusting Him and Not Giving Up

Johnna-thumbI have been enjoying some sweet days with the Lord.  I am truly amazed at the results I get just by taking time to read the Word of God . . . I am always encouraged, strengthened, and somehow providentially given what I need for that very day!  The time spent reading and studying the Word of God is never wasted.  Not only do I consider it time well-spent, but absolutely necessary for me.  I look forward to the morning times of fellowship with Him!

But when I get up from my reading corner, I face a very different world.  A world that has a blank face toward God.  A world that has no problem mocking God or twisting His Word to meet their ends.  Defending my beliefs has become complicated, because those who dispute them will rarely stay on topic during a discussion and often are disrespectful towards me.  It seems that any time I call sin, “sin,” people get especially defensive, accuse me of being judgmental, hateful, or worse.  It can be a daunting process.  I don’t like being argumentative and have no desire to lower myself to the realm of name-calling and mud-slinging.  But, I do want people to know the truth.  And, I believe someone has to be willing to stand up and proclaim the truth even if it means getting dragged through the mud by those who disagree.

With that in mind, I want to say a few things that have been on my mind.  Why?  Because time is short, my friends, very short.  The Lord could return or call me on to be with Him at any time.  We have no promise of tomorrow.  If nothing else, I am writing this for my children and future grandchildren.  I want them to know where I stood on these issues, and that my faith and trust were in God and His Word.

1.  I trusted Jesus as my Lord and Savior in August of 1977 . . . He saved me then and has been with me every step of the way since.  He has taken care of me, fought my battles for me, answered many of my prayers, blessed me mercifully, and has always worked for my good, just like His Word says.  I am ELATED to be His servant and will not stop talking about Him . . . He’s just that good!

2.  A godly mate is worth waiting for.  Oh, yes!  It is still entirely possible to find a Christian man or woman who is committed to serving the Lord and has remained pure for their future mate.  Pray for him or her — God will provide.

3.  It is a SIN for a man and woman to live together while unmarried . . . they may come to church, but they are still living in sin.  The whole world may be ok with it, but God is not.  Check the Scriptures . . . they are very clear on the subject.

4.  Homosexual behavior is SIN and the Bible, in no way, agrees with it or condones it.  If people get angry about this, they need to get angry with God.  He wrote the Book and made His intentions clear when He created Adam and Eve.  Don’t get caught up in society’s false belief system.

5.  Be careful where you go and who you associate with.  No Christian young man (or woman) has any business in establishments that use sexuality as their calling card.   This seems like a very elementary idea to me, but I see many who name the name of Christ frequenting places like Hooters and Daisy Dukes.   Christians who do these things are not taking their spiritual walk very seriously.

6.  Be careful what you read and watch.  Entertainment is a favorite tool of the devil.  If you start to feel convicted about what you are reading or watching, just walk away!  That’s what Joseph did!  If you don’t feel convicted when watching provocative scenes, scenes full of foul language or unbecoming talk, maybe you need to check up.

7.  Watch how you dress, ladies and gentlemen.  When in doubt, ladies, don’t wear it.  If you are “showing,” it is too low.  If you have to “watch your skirt,” it is too short.  We should dress to honor God, not to draw attention to our sexuality.  Men, make sure the ladies in your home understand they deserve respect, both of themselves and of others.  They don’t have to dress like the world and men should not treat them the way the world does!

8.  Churches shouldn’t have to be “cool.”  Lights, sound, and action don’t make the Holy Spirit come down; contrite hearts on bended knees do.  The world’s ideas of up-to-date and modern don’t apply to the spiritual realm.  If you need a “beat” to worship, you might be worshiping the wrong thing.  Check your spiritual pulse . . . there are a lot of deceivers out there.

9.  Honesty is still the best policy.  Lying is wrong, under any circumstances.  The Lord sees those that are honoring Him with clean hearts and consciences.  It is the least you can do for Him.

10.  The Bible is still the authority on life.  It shows us the best way to live.  I have put into practice the teachings of the Bible and have seen its wisdom work in my own life.  Don’t let fools lead you astray.  Hide it in your heart . . . the secular world will always search for answers in the wrong places, but I can save you all the trouble . . . cling to the Word.

Having said all that, I just want to say one more thing:

I love the Lord with all my heart.  I am not giving up on the Lord, the Holy Bible, or the Christian life!  I still believe every promise and am looking for His sure return!  People can scorn and laugh at me, but it will not change my confidence in HIM!  He has proven Himself faithful to me, and I hope to be true to Him until the end!  I love Him with all my heart and He is worthy of my life, lived for His glory!!!

~Johnna

A Laissez-Faire Church

Scotty-thumbThe freedom Americans have historically known will not survive in a society devoid of individual responsibility.   That freedom, that precious, blood-bought freedom, was not carved out by men without self-control, who laid the blame for their folly at the feet of others, or who looked to government to solve problems they rightfully owned themselves.  Nor will it be sustained by such men. It saddens and maddens me today when I see Americans pointing their fingers at others as they explain why they cannot, why they have not, or why they will not.  And it burns me even more when those who have lost their taste for responsible living are coddled by government in the name of compassion and protection.  And, I am not just speaking of economics.  American society now makes allowances for every form of human vice imaginable—drug use, infidelity, immorality, lying, cheating, and the list could go on.  Have we, as a society, no self-control?  Are we so weak in mind and spirit?  Do we, as Americans, really believe that we can have influence in the world when we cannot even control ourselves? How have we arrived here?

And, even more important to me, what role has the church played in the journey to this place?

To answer that, I think it important to take a glance back at where the church once was.  I think it safe to say that the American church of yesteryear could identify with Moses’ statement to the Israelites in Deuteronomy 28:1-2:

“And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that the LORD thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth: And all these blessings shall come on thee…”

And also in verse 15:

“But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee”

In other words, the church understood there were consequences associated with their actions.  They also understood the greatest consequence would not come here in this life, but in the life to come.  They feared God.  They feared God’s judgment and wrath.  They also understood that “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Prov 9:10).

In today’s church, the message has shifted. Grace and love have taken the preeminent spot in the pulpit while judgment and fear have been pushed to the side.  The “seeker-friendly church” emphasizes God’s desire to bless the seeker’s plans for life while overlooking their shortcomings.  There are no demands for holiness.  There are no warnings of impending judgment.  This approach is summarized well by Rev. Fred Johns, a pastor in Irondale, AL.  Commenting for an article in USA Today concerning Americans’ belief in hell and pastors’ avoidance of the topic, he said, “”It’s out of fear we’ll not appear relevant, it’s pressure from the culture to not speak anything negative. I think we’ve begun to deny hell. There’s an assumption that everybody’s going to make it to heaven somehow.”1

So if everybody’s going to make it heaven, what need have we of personal responsibility?  With no hell to avoid, why should the church be preaching against sin?  The answer…they don’t!   In fact, it seems that the church leadership has an arrangement with the parishioners, a kind of laissez-faire policy that says, “you keep supporting us and we will stay out of your personal lives.  We won’t demand holiness, we won’t inquire about your sin, we will not preach those uncomfortable messages on the coming judgment, and we will not hold you accountable for anything.”

 If preachers will no longer stand in the pulpit and preach the clear message of personal responsibility for sin, why does anyone think politicians would do it?  Most certainly, they will not.

 Proverbs 14:34 teaches us that “Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.”  A nation will only produce righteousness if the church preaches the negative consequences of unrighteousness, both immediate and eternal.  And without a pervasive righteousness in society, there will be no personal responsibility.  With no personal responsibility, freedom will wane.

We cannot allow that to happen!  The call must go out to pastors across the land—preach the Word!  America has lost its way.  Our society is sliding into the pits of hell and without a message of accountability and personal responsibility, the church is only greasing the skids.  The church must renew its resolve.  We must humble ourselves before God and seek His face for revival.  We must ask, as Peter did, for boldness to preach the whole truth of God’s word.  We must pray for our nation, and we must hold to our belief that God’s Word will not return void but will accomplish that which pleases Him.

 1http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/religion/2009-08-01-hell-damnation_N.htm

Ladies: A Sweeter Marriage is in Your Hands

webphoto7I am sitting here on a cloudy, rainy afternoon, enjoying the last of my coffee.  It will soon be time to jump up from here and start cooking supper.  But my mind can’t stop thinking about a sweet exchange between my dear husband and me today.

We have just finished celebrating the Christmas holidays . . . it was wonderful, relaxing, and busy all at the same time!  Somehow, in the shuffle of all that was going on, we failed to give each other our Christmas cards (something we do every year).  We usually open them when we’re alone, and that is not very often! 🙂

So our kids went back to their homeschool tutorial today, and we remembered our cards!  We opened them, and fell into a sweet embrace.  There is just nothing like being totally loved by your husband!  Here are the words in the card that made my day:

“You’re the very best of everything good in my life.  I love you so much.”

Wow!  What powerful words!  Me, the best thing in his busy world?  Me, the center of it?  Those words lifted me up, and I have been so happy all day . . . just because I heard those words.  I just want that kind of sweetness and joy to fill my home all the time!  Do I think that is possible?  Yes, I really do.  I think it is entirely possible to have a home filled with love, peace, and joy . . . but a lot of it depends on my words.  I must be willing to speak encouraging WORDS into the ears of my husband.

Listen . . .I have not always been good at this.  In fact, I have fallen on my face many times.  For example, my husband has had to travel a lot with his work.  There have been times I just didn’t think I could go another step as a “single parent.”  I let him know about it.  Yet what did I accomplish?  Very little, my friend.  What could he do?  I should have been crying out to the Lord over it, not bringing him down about it.  I regret how I handled many situations.  But slowly, I learned.  And I am still learning.

The Bible is full of beautiful, practical advice about this.  Here are some verses and tips that I need, and I hope you can use, too.

1- Always encourage your husband.  He is dear, precious, and likely works very hard for you and your family.  Be the one he wants to run to at the end of the day!  Give him pleasant words!

“Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.” (Proverbs 16:24)

2- Respect your husband in every way, but especially with your words.  Respect him publicly, too.  Live in such a way that you demonstrate how happy you are to be his wife!

“Nevertheless, let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.” (Ephesians 5:33)

3- Cater to him and his needs.  That’s right!  I said cater to him.  Never say to him, “Get it yourself.”  Rather, ask what you can do for him.  You are his helpmeet.  You should take joy in assisting him.  Don’t hesitate to make his favorite meals, iron his clothes, or do special things for him.  He will notice, and I dare say he will feel wonderful by you!

“Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.  The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.  She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.” (Proverbs 31:10-12)

I love my husband so much . . . I could go on and on about how wonderful and amazing he is.  I still am in awe, after 21 years, that he picked me.  So many girls missed out.  Anyway, I prayed a lot for Mr. Right and the Lord had great, great mercy upon me!  I have a lot to hold on to, and don’t think that the enemy won’t try to get in there and take it away.  We must guard our hearts, our marriages, and certainly, our tongues.

So don’t hesitate to treat your man like a king.  Tell him how you love him.  Tell him how good he is at all things that pertain to him.  Tell your children how blessed they are.  And watch the Lord bless your home for it!!!

“He blesseth the habitation of the just.” (Proverbs 3:33)

~Johnna

The Power of the Word

Scotty-thumbIn Ezekiel chapter 37, God shows Ezekiel a valley full of bones…very, dry bones.  As verse eleven explains, the bones represented the “whole house of Israel.”  At this particular time in their history, Israel was in desperate condition.  They were in exile and could find no reasonable hope of restoration by any human means.  The whole house of Israel had as much chance of “living again” as did a valley of dry bones.

However, it is circumstances such as these that God relishes!

Are you saying God loves to put His people into awful predicaments?  No!  The people of Israel were in exile because of their gross disobedience, not because God had failed.  God relishes these times because He desires to reconcile His people to Himself and to show Himself strong on their behalf.

How could it be possible for dry bones to live again?  The secret power lies in the Word of God!  Verse 4 says this:

“Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the LORD.

 Are you in a desperate situation today?  Have you lost all hope?  Does there seem to be no way out? Hear the Word of the Lord!

 “Thus saith the Lord GOD unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live:   And I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I am the LORD.”  Eze. 37:5-6

God is ready to speak His Word into your valley of dry bones.  He desires to breathe life back into that which, by all appearances, is forever dead.  He desires put sinew and flesh back together, restoring hope and crushing desperation.   But why, you say?  Because God desires that you understand He is the Lord and besides Him, there is none other!  He is the way, the truth, and the life! We must depend upon Him!

 “And ye shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves, and shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the LORD have spoken it, and performed it, saith the LORD.” Eze. 37:13-14

So, in your desperation, in your hopelessness, seek the Word of the Lord! Dig into your Bible and ask God to speak directly to you from His Word.  Acknowledge you have a valley full of dry bones and that you need to hear from heaven.  He has promised that those that seek will find!  You may just see your valley of dry bones stand up again as a new army for the Lord.