Posts Tagged ‘faith’

“And the same time there arose no small stir about that way.”  (Acts 19:23)

We read in Colossians that the Laodiceans were to read Paul’s epistle to the Colossians.  What an event for them to get a letter from Paul!  You can almost feel the anticipation in the air.  This was a church under persecution with an enormous job before them. The whole known world was lying in pagan idolatry and on their way to Hell, but the Christians knew they had the Truth and they were excited!.

The name of Jesus was viewed as some new god that had come out of Judea which, in itself would not have created much of a stir, but Jesus’ followers wouldn’t let well enough alone.  They had to keep pressing their doctrine of salvation, repentance from dead works, adherence to the commandments of God (which most flesh does not enjoy), and this constant reproof that anybody who didn’t go along with their ideas was going to a place of torment for eternity.

Now the idea of Hades was not new.  Different shades of the concept had filtered down through the ages ever since Noah, but most often it was mollified by some simple deeds you could do in the temple.  You could light some candles, burn some incense, and mutter some repetitious chants over a string of beads.  And in case that didn’t work, there would always be a priest there who could intercede for you to the gods.  Especially to some mother figure like Astarte, who would have compassion because she was a mother and would go talk to God for you. (Wasn’t that nice of her?)  Then of course, there were always the statues of various gods which all had their own fields of specialty which you could pray to – travel, war, family, love, etc. As long as you showed up at the Temple, you were OK.  Does this sound familiar?

Why did the Christians have to be so pushy?  Just because everybody didn’t believe the same way, did that mean everybody was going to hell?  After all, they believed in god.  As long as you didn’t harm anyone, what was so bad about that?  Why couldn’t the Christians just leave everybody alone?

Persecution was rampant against that early church.  It would have been so easy for them to

adopt a policy of laissez-faire and be satisfied with just going to church, but there was a great commission hanging over them.  They had to win the world for Christ, and so they plunged into the challenge. They knew, without a doubt, that they had the Truth, and that if they didn’t evangelize the world, multitudes of people would be lost forever. God’s people have always grown under persecution, and languished in times of peace and prosperity.

Is it so different now?  Human nature has not changed.  The fashions may change, but the basic nature of man will always exhibit itself in the same ways.  There will always be those who are comfortable with a laissez-faire form of religion that makes allowances for the flesh, and would rather not be bothered with something that calls them to a deeper walk in God.  But then there are always those for whom this world is not worthy; those who need nourishment from the Throne of God; those who hunger for more than what can be seen with their eyes.  They feed off of Truth and the life-flowing Spirit of God.  Nothing else will do.  The great commission hangs over them.

There is a whole world out there that is lost and dying, and it’s up to us to tell them before it’s too late. No wonder there was no small stir!


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 A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.  Proverbs 17:22

Remember the woman of Canaan in Matthew 15 who cried to Jesus to heal her daughter?  She cried and cried unto him until the disciples begged Him to send her away.  His answer was that He was not sent to the Gentiles, and her desperate answer was that the dogs eat of the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.  That got His attention, and He proclaimed how great her faith was.

Another story:  A brother I know, while traveling on an airplane, was subjected to one of the other passengers continually taking the Lord’s name in vain.  When he had finally had enough, he approached the man and said, “Praise the Lord!  I am so glad to hear that you’re saved!”  To which the puzzled man replied that he wasn’t a Christian at all.  The brother responded with, “Oh, but yes.  The Bible says that whosoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.  And you’ve been calling on His name this whole flight!”

It’s so easy to say that we’re a Christian and our spiritual life is covered.  Everything is going just fine.  We have some kind of a measure of faith in God, and, as long as we maintain that status quo, life is good.  We are saturated with messages of prosperity, peace, and good things to those who profess Jesus Christ.  But what happens when the sky blackens, the storms come, and your tranquil life is blown away?  How do you come to grips with the adversity that life sometimes hands us?  Does your faith still apply?  Did God just dump you?  What happened to all the messages you heard that told you that all you had to do was call, and He would answer with a snap of His fingers?

Life is good, but there comes a time when we are brought to the reality of the fact that we are still just flesh.  You cry out, but there’s no answer.  You cry out some more, but nothing but stillness.  Where’s God?  And why doesn’t He jump to our plight?  What’s going on?

As easy as it is to proclaim the goodness of God when all is well, we have a tendency to forget that this life is not reality, and that God is not something to store away in a box until Sunday. Sometimes prayer is easy.  But there are those times when you absolutely have to have an answer from God.  One fellow told me that if God answered our prayers right away, then we wouldn’t realize how much we need Him. We can send up token prayers and tell ourselves that we’ve done what the Bible says to do.  There is a depth of soul, however, that He wants to bring us into where our spirits are broken and our bones are dried out.  A place where we finally give up and surrender to Him.  It’s a place of desperate, broken prayer.

There is a point when a desperate heart will reach beyond everything seen, push through the crowd like the woman with the issue of blood, and grasp hold of the hem His garment for a miracle.  That’s the point that He was trying to get you to all along.

That’s when faith takes hold, and great and mighty moves of God are birthed.


Brother Dale


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“For Demas hath forsaken me …” (2 Timothy 4:10)

How must that have felt to this old warrior who had struggled and fought to establish this Gospel that he knew was the only answer to saving the world from Hell. He had fought with demons and deacons, priests and princes. He had endured beatings, mockery and the threat of prison and death for this cause. He could have been wealthy and powerful, one of the ruling class in Jerusalem, but he turned it all away because he had met the Nazarene on the road to Damascus.

Paul knew what was at stake – Heaven for those who accepted this new revolutionary doctrine, or Hell for those who did not. Jew and Gentile alike faced the stark reality of a judgment that he must have known the utter devastating reality of. While Peter was given the ministry to the Jews, he was handed the enormous task of the rest of the Gentile world. And with that commission was the understanding that salvation would come to the Jews through the Gentiles as they fulfilled their dispensation. He had to succeed; he could not stumble and fail. Too much was hanging in the balance.

And then Demas forsook him.

I don’t suppose Paul was a soft-spoken kind of guy. Maybe he was a little too tough on Demas, or maybe he was too intense for him. He had a sharply divided sense of right and wrong, and he did not mince words to comfort hurt feelings. Rather, he made his points clear and blazingly lucid.

“Reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.” (2 Timothy 4:2)

In other words, tell them truth! Quit pussy-footing around. Do it in love, but stay true to the doctrine. Why?

“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine: but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth and shall be turned unto fables.” (2Timothy 4:3,4)

I wonder if Paul self-examined himself first when Demas left. “Was I too hard on him? Did I not consider his feelings? Do I have a bad attitude?” All questions we ask of ourselves when a good friend abandons us.

But at some point, his prophetic spirit had to take back control and say no. Even if his attitude was not socially gracious, the truth is that we are engaged in an insanely ferocious war of eternity. The destiny for billions of souls is at stake.

True love, then, is not the creamy smooth gospel that most people find so alluring. It is the stark and sometimes sharp declaration of truth that cuts away the shrouds of death to liberate the soul to walk in true righteousness in the fear of God – a doctrine that is often not the favored choice of many.

Somebody has to take that stand. Paul did. Demas did not.


Brother Dale

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“And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him.  And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.” – Luke 2:25,26

Thirty-three years later, old man Simeon was gone, and Mary was the sole survivor of all the witnesses of the birth of God’s Messiah.  This great event of the birth of Christ was the advent of a plan that had its beginning before Creation, and that had been spoken of by the prophets and dreamed of by all Israel for thousands of years.

The Savior of the world had finally arrived, but who was there to witness this greatest of all events?  Three wise men, a handful of shepherds (and maybe a drummer boy), an old woman prophetess, and Simeon.  Besides Joseph and Mary, very few people knew what had just happened, and fewer still understood the magnitude of it.

As Simeon returned the baby back to Mary, he must have looked deeply in her eyes as he realized that she alone of all these witnesses would remain at the end.  He and the prophetess Anna were old, the shepherds were scattered, and the wise men had returned to their homes.  Even Joseph would be gone.  Only Mary would be left.

Thirty-three years later, as she knelt at the foot of a cross on Golgotha and gazed up at her son, did her heart go back to those few precious moments so many years before when she held the promise of all mankind in her arms, and a cloud of witnesses surrounded her to testify that this indeed was the Son of God?  Now they were all gone, and she alone was left as the sole witness that His was truly a virgin birth, that this really was God in Man who had come to save the world.

But now, he hung upon a rough wooden cross, rejected by the church, the government, and the people.  Only a handful of outcasts clung to Him in the last dying moments, while all the crowds who had witnessed His mighty works had fled.  How many who had once believed but had now become troubled with doubt, had turned away, leaving her to weep for Him on top of that lonely hill?

Did she ever complain?  Did she ever once deny that His birth was truly the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit?  Never.  Her silence was her strongest witness, for she of all people knew who He really was and that the mission He came to accomplish could only end this way.  He had come to die.

As we gather round the Christmas tree and recite to our children the meaning of Christmas, let us never forget the young Jewish girl who once held God’s gift to mankind in her arms and, through her suffering at the foot of the Cross, gave the world an enduring witness that truly He was the Son of God.

Thank God for His wonderful gift and the price that was paid to give it to us.



Merry Christmas to everyone
Dale & Cindy

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You know, if the stakes weren’t so high, Life would be just a great game to play.  Kinda like an evening out with the boys playing Poker.

We all have our hands to play and we’re betting that we’re going to be the one that wins the jackpot.  We work our hands as best we can, and if we don’t win, oh well, there’s always another hand to play.

But Life isn’t that way.  This is the only hand you get, and you’re not going to bluff your way through this one.  You either win or lose.  That’s it.

Unlike poker, you choose your cards.  You can pick any hand you’d like – there’s one for every different belief that’s out there.  Many feel that it doesn’t really matter that much which hand you pick, as long as you pick something.  We’re all in the game together, so nobody really loses – or is it that nobody really wins?  Just play the odds and have fun.  No big deal which hand you choose.

Like I said, if the stakes weren’t so high, it would all be just a great game.  But the stakes don’t get any higher.  There’s only one winning hand.  You either win it all or lose it all, and there’s no coming back tomorrow night to try your luck again.  Better make sure that the hand you pick is the right one.

Unfortunately, everybody thinks that their cards will win and they play them for all they’re worth.  Looks good enough to them, so they should probably be OK. Maybe we should take some time, however, and take a good, long look at the cards we’re holding and see if they’re the ones that the Rule Book says will win.

If we don’t, then we’re gambling our eternal souls on chance.

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You know what the difference is between Fairy Tales and Heaven?  The Fairy Tales happened once upon a time.  Heaven is yet to come…at least for some of us.

In Fairy Tales, all your dreams come true.  You might have to kiss a toad, or take care of evil stepsisters while you play with little mice, but somewhere, sometime, somehow, your Prince will always come.  Heaven is not quite the same thing.  While we all would love the idea of living in a fairy tale existence where everything will be wonderful, reality paints a different picture — not everything works out according to Walt Disney’s script.  Life can be tough and you don’t always get to live in a castle, but there is a promise that there really is a place called Heaven.  There’s only one problem:  not everybody is going there.  The Prince is coming all right, but He’s not taking everybody with Him.

In Fairy Tales, the most wonderful magical things happen for free.  Make a wish, and Poof!, in pops your Fairy Godmother.  Sprinkle a little dust, wave a wand, say a few magic words, and presto, you are a princess. Heaven, however, requires a price that must be paid to enter in.  It is reserved only for those who have labored to enter into that place of rest, who have repented of their sins and asked Jesus Christ to save their souls, and who have then gone on to serve the Lord.  Not everybody wants to do all that.

One other thing. Fairy Tales are just that – nice stories that sound good. Heaven is real and it is good.  Unfortunately, Hell is real also, and it isn’t good.  Don’t get Fairy Tales and Heaven mixed up.  We aren’t going to get carried away to Heaven just by wishful thinking, it isn’t going to happen just because we believe in magic, and it sure isn’t going to happen for us unless we prepare for it.   If we don’t get right with God, it won’t be the wicked witch that does us in; it will be the Devil that sinks his claws in us and drags us down to Hell.

Don’t live your life in a fairy tale.  If you want to walk on streets of gold someday, you have to travel the path of a Christian.  That may not be as easy as making a wish, but it is the only way to make your dreams come true.

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“Then Jonah prayed unto the Lord his God out of the fish’s belly …” (Jonah 2:1)

I imagine it was a bright sunny day – blue skies, birds singing, gentle breeze blowing in from the sea. It must have been a beautiful day. At least it was for Jonah. After three days of hell, he had finally been delivered out of the belly of that whale.  He might have been slimy and acid-eaten, but he was standing on dry ground … alive!  Yes, it must have been a beautiful day.

But this ordeal wasn’t about Jonah. The survival of 120,000 people was depending on this. I’m not sure if Jonah did not want God to deliver the Assyrians, or if he was just plain scared to walk into the midst of this fierce, merciless people and tell them they were going to hell. The point is, he didn’t want to go.

But God did.

Acts of mercy that we perform are generated, not from our own wells of charity, but from the heart of God. He just allows us to participate. And it is prayer that unlocks the door to that mercy.

It may be hard for us to believe that our little tiny prayers could move continents and drop mountains into the sea, but are we limiting God or ourselves?  James 5:16 says that the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. Much – as in, a lot, because prayer unties the hands of God so that our works of faith become His works of action. True, there are conditions that God requires for effective prayer, but there are no limitations. If you can imagine it, God can do it.

Prayer is an act of mercy.  Mercy, even unintended, is still mercy. We may be praying for something entirely different – Jonah was certainly not praying for the Ninevites – but the effects of prayer, like the random twists and turns of a stream on its way to the sea, can often take circuitous routes to reach God’s intended purpose. We are just required to pray. And prayer moves God. And it may not be in the way you intended.

The works of faith can move mountains. They may not be the mountains you were concerned about, but sometimes God puts you into a situation where you have to pray your heart out, often for your own deliverance, just so He can work through your prayers to bring about unintended consequences and move in ways that you could not have imagined.

Including saving 120,000 people who you never intended to save.


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