The Bachelorette: Reflections of Living a Christ-Like Life

This article is about professing Christians entering into the public eye through ABC’s The Bachelorette. Before discussing the ramifications of what happened on the show, I will attempt to establish the Biblical responsibilities of being a Disciple-maker to teach new converts the way of Christ in order to avoid these types of blunders.

Discipleship is one of the most important things to be involved with in Christian ministry. By being a teacher and leader of the gospel of Christ, this sometimes involves focusing on lifestyles of professed Believers, not judging them, but bringing to their attention how to live a Christian lifestyle as opposed to allowing them to continue in a lifestyle that is unholy. A new Christian may not know nor understand sin in their life. They may only be what we call a “Baby Christian,” but has never grown into a “Mature Christian.” If a person accepts Jesus as one’s Savior but then never really studies the Word of God, they will have stunted growth in their faith walk with Christ.

If we read 1 Peter 2:2-3, “Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation—if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.” New Believers are like infants and they need to be fed spiritually. They do not automatically know how to live the Christian lifestyle. Peter uses this imagery of new birth as mentioned in 1 Peter 1:23, “since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God.” New Believers are “born again.” They are “babies” in Christ. In order for their faith to grow in understanding on how to live a life of Christ, they must be spiritually fed. As Peter writes, as a newborn baby drinks the milk of his or her mother, a new Christian should have the same yearning for spiritual food.

Mature Christians should be teachers of God’s Word to these new converts by discipling them with teaching that is pure and nourishing based on God’s Word. Look in Hebrews 5:12-14, “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.” Again, although milk is nourishing for infants, the author of Hebrews desires that his readers become mature Christians in which solid food is more appropriate. The maturity needed to grasp Christ’s priestly ministry consist of a spiritual discernment which comes from consistent obedience to God’s will.

Paul wrote in Philippians 1:9-11, “And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.” Paul is telling the Philippians through his prayer for them that the Christian faith which is knowledge and discernment, comes to expression through Christian love and behavior that is pure and blameless. It is important to note that through discipleship, the teaching of a new convert is important so that they will grow into mature Christians and not stay as infants on spiritual milk.

As I mentioned in the second paragraph, Discipleship is very important in helping a new convert in their daily walk with Christ. It is important to help them grow spiritually and to pour into them the gospel and ways of God. It is my hope that this article will bring to light what Christians should be doing when they profess Christ in public and then act in a different manner in the public arena.

As most of America watched most recently was the journey of Hannah B on ABC’s “The Bachelorette.” Hannah was looking for a husband. She was a professed Christian on the show and was immediately attracted to a man who also proclaimed to be a Christian by the name of Luke P. What they had in common was that they both professed Christ as their Savior. I do not think they realized that their lives would be so scrutinized by their actions on the show or how the show portrayed each of them. Their lives were under a constant microscope through the social media platform as well as the viewing television public. Choices made as well as actions on both parts lead to an ugly public break-up. Both had admitted that when they came on the show, neither were virgins. Luke admitted that after his conversion to follow Jesus, that he chose to remain celibate until marriage. It appears that the show made Luke out to be a “bad” Christian with camera shots of Luke’s anger and clenched fists.

In contrast to Luke, Hannah’s profession of faith was tainted with nude bungee jumping with a man, having sex four times with Peter in a windmill, spending the night with Peter in the “Fantasy Suite,” spending the night with Jed in the “Fantasy Suite,” and admission to Luke that she had sex twice with one of the other men (Peter), and that “Jesus still loves me.” These are just a few of the things that Hannah admitted to on the live show. She never had sex with Tyler, one of the three remaining contestants on the show.

Hannah ended up picking Jed, which he in turn proposed to her and she said “yes.” She later found out that Jed had slept with his former girlfriend the night before he came on the show. Hannah later broke off the engagement and gave back the engagement ring to Jed. On the live show, Jed was interviewed with Hannah and was shamed in his action of coming on the show and having a girlfriend.

Now do not get me wrong, this article is not meant to “shame” Hannah or Luke, but is written with hopes of bring to light how this generation views Christianity but does not follow God’s way of life. Unfortunately, the American Church has not done a very good job in discipling new Believers and are not feeding their congregants with solid spiritual food. As pastors, ministers, and disciple-makers, we must get back to basics and teach and preach the solid Word of God and not a politically correct watered down version of it. I truly believe that the reason that many young adults today are falling away from the Church is because the sound teaching is no longer being preached and taught from the American pulpit. That in itself is another story.

Recently on Twitter, I saw a Tweet about Hannah and Jed from the show and she shamed Jed in his multiple hookups with women prior to coming on the show. The problem I see here is that although she is judging Jed in his own sin, her sin is not addressed and her lifestyle does not match up with that of a Follower of Christ. The relationship with Jed, although at one point was intimate, was a throw away relationship when it came to light of Jed’s sin. It is hard to understand that if there is a true love relationship, forgiveness is not granted, therefore breaking up with the man she said that she loved and she had given herself to him.

Before the engagement, she had had carnal knowledge (sex) with Peter four times in a windmill. Having sex before marriage and in a dating relationship is called fornication and is as bad as adultery. As for a true love relationship, a true born again Christian would save himself or herself for marriage. Certainly, our society today may not live up to this because Christian leaders do not teach young people about sex, purity, and the righteous way to live holy lives based on the gospel of Christ.

A true Christian does not brag about how many times one has sex with a person or uses phrases like “Jesus still loves me” after admitting to committing fornication (sex before marriage) or adultery. This poses a flawed theology of the professing Believer. Jesus does love everyone and He wants a true relationship with all who come to Him. But don’t think that being promiscuous and willfully committing a sexual sin doesn’t mean that God will honor that behavior. On the contrary, that behavior causes a separation in our walk with God.

God’s grace is not cheap! Do not grieve the Holy Spirit by living a life in “willful sin.” If you love God and you call yourself a Christian, one would not want to brag about sin, but strive to please God through holy living, living a life of Christ, according to His guidelines, through His grace, love, and mercy.

Speaking the truth about how Jesus taught us to walk and live as a Christian Believer should not offend those who proclaim to be Followers of Christ. After all, Discipleship is teaching others how to walk and live the Christian life. As a minister of the gospel of Christ and a Disciple-maker, I will question those who willfully sin and attempt to disciple those so that they will fully understand the consequences of their actions.

Paul wrote in Romans 3:23, “all have sinned and fall short of God’s glory.” But this Scripture does not give us a pass or an excuse to continue sinning. We are to strive to live holy lives pleasing to the Lord. We are not to willfully sin and be proud of it. The Bible is very clear in Hebrews 10:26-27, “For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgement, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.”

If you are a new Christian, but have fallen back into sin, you can come back into a full relationship with Jesus by confessing your sin and asking Jesus to forgive you. Living the life of Christ can be difficult since our human bodies are designed in carnality, but through the Holy Spirit, He will lead and guide you as you study God’s Word. It is time to grow up into the man or woman God has called you to be, and that is through being spiritually fed with solid spiritual food as opposed to spiritual milk.

I will close with this one last piece of advice coming from Ephesians 4:17-32, “Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds.  They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart.  They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity.  But that is not the way you learned Christ!—  assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus,  to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires,  and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds,  and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

 Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.  Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.  Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.  Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.  And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.  Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.  Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”

Photo Credit: PEXELS, Hassan Ouajbir

Copyright © August 3, 2019. The Lantern & Shield Times, a Division of Marketplace Evangelism Ministries Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Causing Little Ones to Sin

Today’s Devotional is taken from Mark 9:42-48

In our world today, people have an aversion to talking about Hell and sin. It is very offensive and distasteful. People would rather talk about Heaven and forgiveness. It is important to understand that when we ignore sin and the consequence of Hell, we are robbing the power of the Gospel of Christ.

Please look at Mark 9:42-48, “42 “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea. 43 And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. 45 And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. 47 And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, 48 ‘where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’”

Verse 42 is not just about children, but about those in the faith that have been led astray to sin. A child is used as an illustration for the followers of Christ. Those who follow Jesus are little, small, and vulnerable. To lead someone who is a follower of Christ to sin, it would be better if a millstone were tied around their neck and they were thrown into the Atlantic than the consequences of them going to Hell. This is a warning about causing others to sin. Jesus loves us so much. We are all little ones in the sight of God. Therefore, if you are the cause of a Christian to sin, fall from their faith, mess up their relationship with Christ, then it would be better if a millstone were tied around your neck and you were thrown into the sea. Doing this calls for the most severe punishment, going to Hell. If your life is the cause of another’s life’s shipwreck, then you will be held responsible for your actions.

Verse 43 is directed for us. If we are doing something in our lives with sin, then we will be held accountable for what we do. Although Christ died for you, if you have asked Him to forgive you, you should not want to continue to sin. But if you intentionally sin, read what Jesus said about that in Verses 43-45, “And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. 45 And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell.” Your hands and feet need to be under the control of Jesus so that you will not do things that are not pleasing to God. Your feet should be under the control of Jesus so that you will not be tempted to go somewhere where you shouldn’t go.

In verses 47-48, “47 And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, 48 ‘where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’” If you are looking at things that you shouldn’t look at, then you need to stop. If your computer is tempting you to look at pornography on line, it would be better for you to smash your computer. Jesus said that you would be better to tear your eye out that to go to Hell. Understand this, if you are still playing with sin and not growing in Christ, then you have a spiritual problem which you better get eradicated as opposed to going to Hell for sin.

Although, the exaggeration of the millstone, gouging your eye out, cutting off your hands and feet are used to make a point. Jesus is talking about the costly and radical renunciations of sinful habits. He has identified the fallen heart as the origin of all defiling sins as mentioned in Mark 7:20-23, “20 And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. 21 For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22 coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”

In verse 48, Jesus’ images of the undying worm and unquenchable fire teach the unending torment awaiting those who die under God’s wrath, and thus the eternal significance of each’s individual response to God’s holy law and His Gospel. Mark 9:48, “‘where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’”

Playing fast and free with sin in your life can affect others and potentially cause them to sin. Your indifference to sin can cause others to stumble and fall away from faith. If you feel that you can come to Christ and He set you free; that you can just do what you want or continue sinning, you are greatly mistaken. What defiles a man or woman comes from inside of that man or woman. Each of us are tempted by our own evil desires.  It is only through Christ and total commitment to Him that we can fight these desires. Total and true commitment leads to a transformation of the heart and a change in our lifestyles and actions. If one was involved in sexual sin prior to coming to Christ, it is not good to go to an R rated movie where you are watching sexual situations on screen or over the internet. This temptation can open yourself up to sin. Your eyes may take a second, third, or fourth look at the pornography you are watching in this R rated movie. You were bought with a price; therefore, you do not belong to yourself. You belong to Jesus, therefore glorify God with your body. You must do this in a way that is radical, because without holiness, no one will see the Lord. We must work out a strategy to eradicate sin. The only way to do that is to trust God and refrain from participating in opportunities to sin. If one was an alcoholic before coming to Christ, it would be best not to frequent bars. Taking that one drink can cause you to fall backwards.

When do we need to take action? The Bible says that we need to act now but in contrast, Satan says that we can do it tomorrow. We must humble ourselves and we must turn all our focus on Jesus Christ and ask Him to forgive us, change our hearts, and live our lives in a way that is holy and acceptable to Christ.

References:

Alistair Begg, Truth for Life, Sermon “Sin is Serious, Hell is Real.”

The Reformation Bible

Photo Credit: Trinity Kubassek; Pexels.com

Copyright July 16, 2019. The Lantern & Shield Times, a Division of Marketplace Evangelism Ministries.

“Here I am! Send me!”

About three years ago, my Mother-In-Law was hospitalized for a severe blockage in her bowel. While at the hospital, sitting in the cafeteria, I noticed a man and woman sitting at the table next to ours. The woman was weeping and appeared to be in anguish and sobbing. I could not sit idly without going over to speak with her. Little did I know that this was the beginning of my ministry. I was nervous, did not know what to say, scared that I would say the wrong thing, unprepared, not scripted, very raw, unpolished, but willing to heed the leading of the Holy Spirit, to at least pray for this woman.

I introduced myself and told them that I did not know why I was led to them, but felt that God wanted me to pray for them. I prayed and we exchanged numbers. The hospital was in Massachusetts. They were from Pennsylvania and I lived in Virginia. My Mom-In-Law was a patient in that hospital and the lady’s sister was in ICU because of a long battle with cancer.

Apparently, the chaplain in that hospital was scarce and this family needed prayer. They needed someone to pray over her sister. There was no one else around. They invited me to come to ICU and to pray for her sister. I accepted their invitation and went. I remember that her sister was hooked up to life support and was very ill. I stepped out on faith, laid hands on her, and prayed for her. I prayed for the family. The next day, I went back to ICU and prayed for the sister again. I read Scripture to her and the family. A few days later, my new friend’s sister went to be with Jesus.

I mention this, not because I want to boast, but because I want you to know that God can use Christians, even if they are not fully prepared. I know many Christians that do not want to pray out loud because they do not know what to say. Many may not take a step of faith to do something out of their norm for the gospel. I have had an aversion in my past where I would leave it up to a chaplain or a pastor to go pray. But God is calling all of His Believers to accept the call to serve.

Look at Isaiah 6:8, “And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.” Many times, people ask God to use them, but then when the time comes, people turn down those Divine Appointments because they feel that they cannot be successful because they just do not know what to say. Let me point this out. It is not about me or you! It’s about Jesus Christ and His Gospel.

In 2 Timothy 4:2, Paul is giving Timothy instructions. He wrote, “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.” “Preach the Word; be ready in season or out of season.”  Let’s just focus on this part, “be ready in or out of season.” I truly believe that Jesus wants us to be willing, in or out of season. He wants us to be obedient to the Holy Spirit. You may be in a circumstance where you are the only pastor that people will see. If you don’t do something, you may be the only one who God is allowing and calling to minister to others in need. In my case, I was the only one at that time to minister to my new friends. You may be the only Christian that will ever witness or pray for someone.

Every day, we must live our lives and be open to be ministers of the gospel for those who are in need. If we want to be a servant of Christ, then we must not be so self-absorbed in ourselves but be open to Divine Appointments that present themselves daily for us to minister to others who are hurting and in need of a friend. This can only occur when we are in tune with Christ Jesus. Were you aware that going to visit someone in the hospital and laying hands on them and praying for them for healing, not only will strengthen the faith of the patient, but will strengthen the faith of the family as well?

My friend recently posted the following on my Facebook page: “I’ll forever be grateful for you dear Pastor Joe… for coming alongside of my Husband and I to pray with us over my Beloved Sister in the ICU. You went from being a complete stranger to a forever friend that day… and though- to such indescribable heartache- we didn’t get the miracle so many of us were desperately longing for… we know Lizzy will be there awaiting you in Heaven someday, and count you among her dearest of friends, too. God Bless You! Yours always.”

Again, I did not post this to boast, but to encourage all Christians to be open to the Holy Spirit. Step out on faith and pray for one another. Be obedient and the Holy Spirit will do the rest. If you truly love God, then you will love your neighbor by praying for them and helping them in time of need. “Here I am! Send me!”

References:

Photo Credit- Pexels, Luis Quintero

Copyright © July 10, 2019. The Lantern & Shield Times, a Division of Marketplace Evangelism Ministries Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Do You Pray?: Politicians Curse Prayer

Most recently, I read a news article on CBN News, written by Will Maule, Faithwire, “’We’re Not Going to Give Thoughts and Prayers’: 2020 Candidate Cory Booker Curses Prayer,” dated May 14, 2019. Maule wrote, “Democratic hopeful Corey Booker has issued some harsh words of criticism to those who vow to send ‘thoughts and prayers’ in the wake of mass shootings.” Maule wrote that other Democratic politicians have called that prayer is basically ineffective and Booker called it “Bulls**t!”

You can read the entire Will Maule article here: http://www1.cbn.com/cbnnews/politics/2019/may/lsquo-we-rsquo-re-not-going-to-give-thoughts-and-prayers-rsquo-2020-candidate-cory-booker-curses-prayer

Let’s discuss for a moment the impact of what these politicians are saying. The Bible is very clear concerning the action of praying to God for help. An author by the name of J.C. Ryle wrote in the 1800’s the following, “I have looked carefully at the lives of believers in the Bible. I cannot find a single one (where we know something of their lives) who was not a person of prayer. Quite the opposite. It is often said of the godly that they ‘call on Him as Father’ or ‘call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;’ we are told that the wicked, on the other hand, ‘do not call upon the Lord.’”[1]

Ryle took this statement from the following scriptures: 1 Peter 1:17, “And if you call Him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile.” 1 Corinthians 1:2, “To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours.” Psalm 14:4, “Have they no knowledge, all the evildoers who eat up my people as they eat bread and do not call upon the name of the Lord?”

Anyone who professes to be a Christian and then tells the world that he will not pray and encourages others not to pray does not have a relationship with Jesus Christ or with the Father. This person is separated from God. When one becomes a Christian, they are filled with the Holy Spirit, who in turn teaches the new convert how to pray. Anyone who claims to be a Christian and does not pray has no true relationship with God. Ryle wrote, “The Holy Spirit makes us new creatures and adopts us into God’s family, and He leads us to cry out to Him, ‘Abba Father.’”[2] Let’s look at Luke 18:7, “And will not God give justice to His elect, who cry to Him day and night? Will He delay long over them?” Romans 8:15, “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba Father.’”

The Bible is full of encouraging promises to those who pray. I will list a few to consider:

Matthew 7:7-8, ““Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.”

Matthew 21:22, “And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”

John 14:13-14, “13 Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.

These were just a few encouraging promises to pray. Now, let us look at what prayer did for those in need and during times of peril.

In the Bible, prayer opened the Red Sea when Pharaoh was chasing the Israelites down after they left Egypt. The Israelites were going towards the Red Sea and they started crying out to God for help.  In Exodus 14:16-17, “Lift up your staff, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, that the people of Israel may go through the sea on dry ground. 17 And I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they shall go in after them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, his chariots, and his horsemen.” Exodus 14:21-22, “21 Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the Lord drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. 22 And the people of Israel went into the midst of the sea on dry ground, the waters being a wall to them on their right hand and on their left.”

Ryle wrote, “Prayer brought water from a rock (cf. Numbers 20:1-13); Bread from heaven (cf. Exodus 16); Prayer made the sun stand still (cf. Joshua 10:1-15); Prayer brought fire from the sky onto Elijah’s sacrifice at Carmel (cf. 1 Kings 18:36); Prayer overthrew armies (cf. 2 Kings 19:20-26); Prayer has healed the sick (cf. Matthew 8:5-17); Prayer has raised the dead (cf. John 11:38-44); He never stopped giving until Abraham stopped praying (cf. Genesis 18:16-33).”[3]

Let us not forget that prayers were answered and Israel won the Six Day War back in June of 1967. God continues to answer prayer today.

For a man or woman that curses prayer and encourages others not to pray, in my opinion, those are not the words of one who has a true relationship with God, with Jesus Christ.  As J.C. Ryle wrote, the wicked does not pray to the Lord.

Folks, we are living in a time where Christianity is on attack. Please join me in prayer to pray for our leaders, that God will change and transform their hearts and that they will come to know the loving and saving grace of Jesus Christ. We are living in a time where spiritual warfare is real and what we fight as Christians are not of this world. See Ephesians 6:12, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”

 

References:

CBN News, May 14, 2019, http://www1.cbn.com/cbnnews/politics/2019/may/lsquo-we-rsquo-re-not-going-to-give-thoughts-and-prayers-rsquo-2020-candidate-cory-booker-curses-prayer

[1] J.C.Ryle, Do You Pray? A Question for Everybody (Welwyn Garden City, UK: EP Books, 2018), 14.

[2] Ryle, Do You Pray?, 13.

[3] J.C. Ryle, Do You Pray?, 26.

Copyright May 19, 2019. The Lantern & Shield Times, a Division of Marketplace Evangelism Ministries Inc. All Rights Reserved.

I Used to Love My Neighborhood!

I used to LOVE my neighborhood! That was until I experienced people complaining on their neighbors for minor violations and want the Board to do something about it!  These complaints ranged from their neighbor’s dogs pooping in their yards to people driving by or walking by someone’s home and measuring the height of their grass to overnight parking violations on the street. What has happened to society where they do not have love and compassion for others? Maybe that person whom one is complaining about their grass height has had a medical emergency and cannot cut the grass every week! Have people heard about talking to their neighbors and politely asking that they don’t allow their dogs to poop in their yards?

When people begin to drive around or walk around looking for violations, then it makes the neighborhood feel like a hostile place to live. I know that there are many people who may not identify themselves with the Bible or Christian values, but most religions have some sort of moral code to live by or some sort of honor and decency. Instead of being the “HOA Covenant Police,” try talking to your neighbor. I can assure you that your neighbor would appreciate hearing it from you than getting a “formal letter of action” from the HOA.

If someone is in need, has anyone heard of reaching out and offering them a helping hand? If someone’s grass is too high and the homeowner has had a medical condition, instead of complaining on him or her, why not offer to cut their grass? Random acts of kindness are so beautiful in a world and culture that is full of extremism, hate, and selfishness. I understand that there are HOA rules, but talking to your neighbor is better received than complaining on them behind their back!

Try building a relationship with your neighbor and showing some compassion to others. People are hurting and need love and support. Be a good neighbor, someone the community can look up to! What caused me to write this post was that I was copied in on an email on yet another complaint about one of my neighbors. I used to be the Vice-President of our HOA, but wanted to resign after serving only three months. It’s amazing how the actions of a few can destroy living at peace with your neighbors.

The Bible says in Matthew 22: 34-40, “34 But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. 35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him.36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

If you love God, then you will love your neighbor. Not loving others will separate us from God. Loving your neighbor means that you want the best for them. It means that you have the very best intentions for them. It means that we show grace to others. Philippians 2:13 states, “or it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”

Being a good neighbor means that you have compassion for others instead of sitting and watching and judging! Philippians 2:4, “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

Loving your neighbor means that you will serve them. See Matthew 20:28, “even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Serving others with kindness in your hearts shows that you actually love your neighbor. Loving your neighbor means that you will also forgive them. See Matthew 18:21-22, “21 Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.”

I LOVE my neighbors and would do what I can for them! I pray that these few people will start to have compassion for others. Do I really hate my neighborhood? No! I LOVE my neighborhood, but I grieve for those who do not have love and compassion in their hearts. Many may not know the Savior of the world! I pray that they will change their hearts and come to know the love and grace that can only be found in faith in Jesus Christ.

Copyright April 26, 2019. The Lantern & Shield Times, a Division of Marketplace Evangelism Ministries Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Meteorite over Brazil: God’s Creation

Hallelujah! Praise the Lord from the heavens; praise him in the heights. Praise him, all his angels; praise him, all his heavenly armies. Praise him, sun and moon; praise him, all you shining stars. Praise him, highest heavens,and you waters above the heavens.

Seeing that video of the meteor over Brazil reminds me of the awesome Creation of God. Look at Psalm  148:
 
Psalm 148
Creation’s Praise of the Lord
1 Hallelujah!
Praise the Lord from the heavens;
praise him in the heights.
2 Praise him, all his angels;
praise him, all his heavenly armies.
3 Praise him, sun and moon;
praise him, all you shining stars.
4 Praise him, highest heavens,
and you waters above the heavens.
5 Let them praise the name of the Lord,
for he commanded, and they were created.
6 He set them in position forever and ever;
he gave an order that will never pass away.
 
7 Praise the Lord from the earth,
all sea monsters and ocean depths,
8 lightning and hail, snow and cloud,
stormy wind that executes his command,
9 mountains and all hills,
fruit trees and all cedars,
10 wild animals and all cattle,
creatures that crawl and flying birds,
11 kings of the earth and all peoples,
princes and all judges of the earth,
12 young men as well as young women,
old and young together.
13 Let them praise the name of the Lord,
for his name alone is exalted.
His majesty covers heaven and earth.
14 He has raised up a horn for his people,
resulting in praise to all his faithful ones,
to the Israelites, the people close to him.
Hallelujah!
Watch the video below:
 

Please Pray for God to Send Someone to Witness to My Best Friend!

I told her that I would not pray for that. Instead, I told her that I would pray for her, that the Holy Spirit would lead her to share her faith with her friend.

About a year ago, a lady asked me to pray for God to send a person to witness to her best friend. I told her that I would not pray for that. Instead, I told her that I would pray for her, that the Holy Spirit would lead her to share her faith with her friend. The lady looked at me in astonishment! You see, she had never been challenged by anyone to share her own faith with another person.

The Bible teaches us that we are all called into priesthood. Look at 1 Peter 2:9-10, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”

Jesus commanded His disciples to take the gospel to Judea, Samaria, and the utmost parts of the world. Jesus was not just speaking to His disciples, but to all Christians throughout time. Look at Acts 1:8, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

As a Christian, you are filled with the Holy Spirit, which gives you the power to be Christ’s witness. You have all the tools to share your faith. If you say that you are not confident to tell people the right things, let me just say that it is YOUR responsibility to learn how to do this. As a Follower of Jesus Christ, it is not an option, but a commandment that we spread the Good News of Jesus Christ not only to our friends but throughout the entire world.

The tools you have at your disposal is the Holy Spirit, who is the “Teacher, Jesus Christ” and you have the Word of God which is the Holy Bible. I challenge every Believer to get into God’s Word, study, and learn the essential Scriptures to share Jesus without fear and with confidence.

Here are the Scriptures I would like for you to learn and memorize:

Romans 3:23, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

John 3:3, “Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

John 14:6, “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Romans 10:9-11, “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.”

2 Corinthians 5:15, “and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.”

Revelation 3:20, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.”

John 3:16-17, “For God so loved the world,[a] that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”

Once you have shared these Scriptures with a person, then ask them if they would like to ask Jesus into their heart? If they say they would, then you pray with them. You could pray a prayer like this: “Dear Father, I have sinned against you. I want forgiveness for all of my sins. I believe that Jesus died on the cross for me and rose again. Father, I give you my life to do with as you wish. I want Jesus to come into my life and into my heart. This I ask in Jesus name, Amen.”

If you pray this with a person that you are sharing the gospel with, if they also pray this prayer and really mean it in their heart, they will be saved. If they choose not to pray, but would like to think about it, don’t argue with them or feel pressure for “you to succeed.” It’s NOT about YOU! It’s about JESUS, the SAVIOR of the World. All you can do now is to pray for that person and allow the Holy Spirit to minister to that person’s heart. You have done your part by sharing the most important gift that you could ever share with anyone.

Remember, the person you want God to send to witness to your best friend might just be YOU! God has already called YOU to share your faith. You don’t need to ask your pastor, deacon, or elder to do your job anymore. You have the ability to do it.

I will pray that Jesus, through His Holy Spirit will lead you and guide you to share your faith without fear and without reservation. Be bold in your faith. Remember, someone once shared the Gospel of Christ with you!  What are you waiting for? Get off the pew and go forth and take the Gospel out the church doors and into the marketplace and community.

Copyright © April 7, 2019. The Lantern & Shield Times, a Division of Marketplace Evangelism Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Are You a Luke Warm Christian?

I have not always lived for Christ. I was once a much worse and terrible person, but thank God for His eternal love, that He changed my life forever.

I love the Word of God. I take great comfort in knowing that I am saved from an eternal hell and damnation. I have not always lived for Christ. I was once a much worse and terrible person, but thank God for His eternal love, that He changed my life forever. I was once a lukewarm Christian who barely picked up his Bible to read and embrace Christianity. God changed my heart and Jesus transformed me. I am still a work in progress. I still have a sinful nature, but now I find it easier to resist temptation. If you are not embracing your faith, reading your Bible, praying with your spouse, having a conversation with the Father, then I would say that you are lukewarm and have a casual relationship with Jesus. My regret is that I wished that I had not wasted over 30 years in being a lukewarm Christian!

The Bible speaks of being “lukewarm” as a condition that can separate you from God. In Revelation 3:15-16, “I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.” These words were written to the Church of Laodieca.

According to RC Sproul, “Laodicea’s water supply had to be provided from a distant source through pipes. The resulting water was lukewarm and barely drinkable. By contrast, the neighboring town of Hierapolis had medicinal hot springs, and neighboring Colossae was supplied by a cold mountain stream. Christ urges the church to be refreshing (cold) or medicinally healing (hot), rather than like the unhealthy Laodicean lukewarm water supply.”[1]

Being lukewarm is unhealthy. Christ would rather that you either be hot or cold, but lukewarm means that you have no real commitment to Christ. You might just be a church attender who thinks they are saved because your Mom and Dad attended church and you are attending the same church. You will not inherit the Kingdom of Heaven on your parent’s coat-tails. You do not have an identity in Christ on your girlfriend’s relationship with Christ and her faith.

I once met a young man that was dating a friend’s daughter. The daughter was a committed Christian and was on fire for Christ. He on the other hand had no identity in Christ. I asked him if he had any spiritual belief’s? His response was that he had a relationship with his girlfriend and was trying to find the Lord through her. Although his quest may be noble, she could not save him from his sin. He would never find salvation by only his relationship with the girl. It would only come through an acknowledgement that he was lost without a Savior, he was a sinner, and he could not save himself. He had to acknowledge that Jesus was the Son of God and that only through Jesus, would his sins would be forgiven. He would have to ask Jesus to forgive him, believe in his mind and heart that Jesus died for him. He had to ask Jesus into his heart and repent, meaning to change his way of life. He would have to start living his life as a changed man, on fire for God.

But many may never grow in the Lord because they may never truly have had a real heart change and transformation to live their life as closely to that of Jesus.

Jesus said in verse 16, “So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.” This means that Jesus the Christ wants His Followers to be hot, on fire for Him. He wants us to be engaged in our faith, reading the Word of God, praying, and having a full relationship with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Being a Christian is a lifestyle change, hoping and wanting the best for your fellow man and woman. It is truly loving your neighbor as yourself and treating each other with kindness. Being kind to one another is pretty close to loving one another.

Being lukewarm shows no real commitment to God or to our loving Savior, Jesus of Nazareth. Being lukewarm means that you have decided that your relationship with God is not worthy of you spending time with God. You are more or less on the fence, not wanting to offend anyone with talk about Jesus and what He came into the world to do.

Jesus said, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only Son (Jesus), that whoever believes in Him (Jesus), will not perish (die and go to hell), but would have everlasting life (Heaven). For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn it, but to save it” John 3:16-17.

Won’t you consider coming to Christ in a full and complete way, so that the Lord will not spew you out of His mouth for you being lukewarm? Don’t be a Follower like those from the Laodicean Church, who had an indifference to Christ and His holy ways of living. Instead, be all in for Christ, not someone who sways every time the wind blows. Be a committed Christian and live your life for Christ like you really mean it! It’s time to get off the fence and engage the Gospel of Christ. Time is short. When will you fully come to Christ?

References:

[1] RC Sproul, Ed., The Reformation Study Bible, (Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust, 2015), 2310.

Copyright April 2, 2019. The Lantern & Shield Times, a Division of Marketplace Evangelism Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Are You Being Fed Biblical Truth by Your Pastor?

So many times, we hear about people stating they do not want to go to church because the pastor makes them feel guilty or that when he preaches, they feel like that he is talking about them.

2 Timothy 4:1-5 Preach the Word

“I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”

When Paul wrote this passage in 2 Timothy 4:1-5, he was writing to Timothy, to give him personal encouragement relating to the works of a minister of the gospel. Paul knew that this may be his last letter to Timothy considering his execution was soon. He wanted to give Timothy guidance for the post-apostolic age.

There is no other way to preach the Word of God except in truth. Paul’s intention was that Timothy not fall short by preaching what congregants wanted to hear but preaching sound teaching of Jesus Christ. Notice in verses 3 and 4, “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” We are seeing this in today’s American Church, pastors are watering down the Word of God, teaching prosperity gospel and heresy. Paul specifically stated that we are to “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching” as written in verse 2.

So many times, we hear about people stating they do not want to go to church because the pastor makes them feel guilty or that when he preaches, they feel like that he is talking about them. Were you aware that the reason you may feel that way is because the Holy Spirit may be convicting you of your way of life, your sin, your attitudes, your sinful self? For people to only want to hear what makes them feel good is a sign that they have not fully embraced God’s teaching. It appears they are asserting what they want to hear as opposed to hearing from God the true version of the gospel.

What nerve congregants have, to dictate to their pastor in how to teach them? I have been in a church previously where a few people wanted “their church” run a certain way. They were not open to the advancement of the gospel. They only wanted to do it “their way.” They wanted their ears tickled with a gospel that only suited their way. If the pastor tried something different in what he preached, they ran him away. They basically wanted a “puppet” to preach what they wanted to hear, pleasant to the ear, not much condemnation, a “feel good” pastor. These types of pastors, “puppet men and women,” who are not teaching and preaching “true” Biblical Truth, will potentially be leading their congregants astray and possibly to hell.

A pastor is to “reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.” They are to teach and preach the Bible. The opponents to this are guided by the “slanderer, the evil one, the prince of this world, Satan himself.” Yes, we live in a society where congregants have itching or tickling ears. Look at verse 3 again, “but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions.” Are you in a church where the pastor preaches a watered-down version to tickle the ears of his or her members?

The same goes when we as the Church should be taking the gospel into our communities. Are we sharing a watered-down version of the gospel to the lost? The Bible teaches that we are to love our neighbor, but do we truly love them if we keep our mouths closed and not share the gift that Jesus has given to us because we do not want to offend anyone? Has the Politically Correct movement affected our pastors and ourselves so much that we are afraid to speak the gospel with boldness for fear of being called hate mongers?

The point here is that we as well as our pastors should be teaching true and sound Biblical truth to people whom we come in contact with. Tickling their itching ears to hear what suits them because they are living in sin is not what Jesus Christ called us to do. If someone is living in sin, then we as Followers of Christ, as well as our Pastors must be teaching truth to those who are lost, and disciple those after they convert to Christ. That is what we are called to do as Followers of Jesus Christ and as Ministers of the Gospel. I pray that you will be bold in your faith and teach and preach God’s Truth with boldness and with love.

Copyright March 27, 2019. The Lantern & Shield Times, a Division of Marketplace Evangelism Ministries Inc. All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

 

Knight in Shining Armor or Full Armor of God

While on Twitter this past weekend, I came across a Tweet that made a profound statement. Liz @krazy4ujc wrote, “Women don’t need a knight in shining armor. They need a man covered in the full armor of God! There’s a difference!”

What a profound statement! There are men and women seeking spouses that may not be what they proclaim to be. In a dating relationship, what kind of man or woman are you seeking? If you are a non-believer in Jesus Christ, then I pretty much know the type of person you are seeking, which most likely would not be a Follower of Christ. But if you truly are a Follower of Christ, are you seeking someone who is a solid Christian, on fire for the Gospel of Christ, and shows in his or her lifestyle that they are fully engaged in their faith?

I would hope that you are looking for a man or woman that loves Jesus with all their heart, spends time in prayer, and studies the Word of God every day. These people are fully involved in their faith and they live it each day.

In contrast, “your knight in shining armor” may be a weak-minded individual who is spiritually deficient and lives by the world’s standards. They may claim to be a Christian, but in reality, they are weak and fall into carnal snares very easily because they are not grounded in God’s Word and truth.

Look at what God’s Word says about a man or woman who is walking with Christ. These people are putting on the full armor of God as written in Ephesians 6:10-20.

The Whole Armor of God – Ephesians 6:10-20

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.”

The whole armor of God makes a difference. Let’s say that a woman is looking for a Christian man to marry, that man should be fully engaged in his faith. When he has the full armor on, he can withstand the spiritual attacks that may come his way. I will use The Reformation Study Bible Concordance to explain what the Whole Armor of God is.

In verse 6:13, “Paul compares the whole armor of God with that of weapons of a Roman foot soldier with a number of Old Testament images of God, or Messiah as a warrior. (See Isaiah 11:1-5) Strikingly, what is said of God and the Messiah in the Old Testament is applied to believers.”[1]

In verse 6:14, fastened on the belt of truth means, “The Roman soldiers leather belt supported and protected his lower abdomen, gathered his tunic together, and held his sword. Paul seems to have in mind the confidence that comes from certainty about the truthfulness of God’s Word.”[2]

The breastplate of righteousness means, “Believers are protected by the righteousness of Christ imputed to them (Rom. 4:6-11; Phil. 3:9), and they can stand up to the accusations of the devil, whose title in Greek means ‘slanderer’ (Rom. 8:31-34). Simultaneously, Paul sees believers taking on righteous character of Christ while their growing conformity to His image gives them confidence in resisting temptation. This piece of armor is what God prophesied to wear in judging and defeating the enemy in the latter-day battle (cf. Isaiah 59:17). Believers are to identify with this armor of God’s righteousness in Christ.”[3]

In verse 6:15, shoes for your feet means the following. “This is a clear allusion to Isaiah 52:7. Paul has in mind a messenger who takes the gospel to others. The image here is of the Roman soldier’s sturdy sandals, which gave him stability and protection in battle, so that Isaiah has been combined with this Roman background. Ironically, the peace that comes from the gospel readies one for war against evil. Isaiah 52:7 prophesied that in the end-time restoration of Israel there would be peace, and this restoration has begun in Christ and all who identify with Him.”[4]

In verse 6:16, the shield of faith is described as the following. “The Roman shield was large enough to cover the whole body; it was made of wood, covered in animal hide, and bound with iron at the top and bottom. When dipped in water before battle, it could extinguish arrows that had been dipped in pitch and set ablaze. In the Old Testament, the Lord is the ‘shield’ of His people.”[5]

In verse 6:17, the helmet of salvation is described as the following. “This part of the armor is what God was predicted to be wearing when He would come to judge and defeat the opponent in the end-time battle (cf. Isaiah 59:17). Believers are to identify with this armor in Christ. For Paul, salvation is a present experience as well as future hope (1 Thess. 5:8). The believer’s final ground of confidence is the faithfulness of God to complete the salvation He has begun (Phil. 1:6).”[6]

“The sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. The one offensive weapon in the believer’s arsenal is compared to the Roman sword, short and designed for hand-to-hand combat. Jesus used the Word of God in His battle against temptations of Satan in the wilderness (Matt. 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-13). The Lord was prophesied to make the mouth of His Messianic Servant like a sharp sword (Isaiah 49:2; cf. Rev. 1:16; 2:12, 16; 19:15). Christ has begun to fulfill this prophecy at His first coming (Rev. 1:16, 2:12, 16) and the prophecy will be completed at Christ’s final coming (Rev. 19:15). Christ’s followers also have this offensive weapon when they believe in Christ and come into union with Him.”[7]

In verses 6:18-20, “The battle theme in this passage ends with an urgent call to militant prayer (‘Keep Alert’) on behalf of all believers and on behalf of Paul’s ministry (Col. 4:2-4). It is possible that, together with ‘the sword of the Spirit,’ prayer is one more offensive weapon in the believer’s arsenal.”[8]

Although Liz posted on Twitter that women should be looking for a man who puts on the whole armor of God, I would also include that men should be looking for women to put on the whole armor of God as well. If one marries a man or woman who is not as strong in the faith, then your marriage is not equally yoked. Yoked means that you are on the same level as your spouse. Take for example a farmer plowing his fields. Before the day of the tractor, a farmer used two oxen to plow his field. The farmer would place a harness and yoke on the two oxen to keep them together. If the harness and yoke were not properly aligned, then the movement of the oxen would be off kilter and therefore they would be unequally yoked. The same applies in relationships and marriage. If one spouse is living her life for Jesus every day and her husband is not taking an interest in Christian Spiritual matters, then that marriage is unequally yoked. In order to be on the same level, there must be commitments of both spouses to spend time with God, together in prayer, reading daily in the Bible, and getting involved and engaged in the Gospel of Christ.

If you are not married and are in a relationship with someone who is not a Follower of Christ, I would suggest putting off any wedding plans until you both are on the same level in your faith. It will make a difference in your marriage and in your life.

I want to thank Liz @krazy4ujc on Twitter for this profound and inspirational post. I would highly recommend that you follow her on Twitter.

References:

[1] R.C. Sproul Ed., The Reformation Study Bible, (Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust, 2015) 2101.

[2] Sproul, Reformation Study Bible, 2101.

[3] Ibid., 2101.

[4] Ibid., 2101.

[5] Ibid., 2101.

[6] Ibid., 2101.

[7] Ibid., 2101.

[8] Ibid., 2101.

Copyright March 26, 2019. The Lantern & Shield Times, a Division of Marketplace Evangelism Ministries Inc. All Rights Reserved.