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.

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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.

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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.

Cancer: We had the cure but we killed it!

As I was praying this morning for a friend who is having bladder cancer surgery today, I asked God why hasn’t there been a cure for cancer? With all the bright minds and God given talent and intellect, why hasn’t the cure been found? Then I felt God telling me, “I have given you the cure for cancer as well as cure for all the dreaded diseases! Mankind in their finite wisdom and selfish ways have murdered the ones who had the knowledge and intellect to develop the cure for all the dreaded diseases! Mankind has murdered over 54 million babies through abortion, therefore killing the very people that I gave the gift and talent to end cancer.” This was such an impression in which I felt God was speaking directly to me.

The facts are the over 54 million babies have been brutally torn apart out of the womb because of the belief of “Pro Choice!” The Bible is very clear in God’s Sixth Commandment, “You shall not murder” (Exodus 20:13). We have been a selfish society, who have murdered well over 54 million babies. I can almost imagine hearing the cries of the innocents! Cries of over 54 million children. Some of these children had the knowledge and intellect and the key to the cure of cancer. Many were great leaders who had God given talent of discoveries which would have made the world a better place to live. But mankind killed their own and destroyed most of the God given talent.

We live in such an evil society where many of the leaders in our nation do not “truly” believe in God. Many say that they are “Christians,” but this is only because they want votes from whoever they can please. These leader’s lives and their choice in how they make laws does not match up to the plumb-line of what God has given mankind as a guide to live holy lives. They cater to what their constituents want as opposed to leading in a godly manner. There is no value in Biblical truth since the Ten Commandments or any image thereof has been ordered to be removed because man does not want to be reminded of God’s laws and requirements. The Political Correctness movement has been authored by Satan himself. Followers of Political Correctness assert that pastors who preach and teach against political correctness are inciting hatred. What was considered deviant behavior is now considered normal and what was once considered Holy is now considered hate. We live in a world where mankind has rebelled against God and His ways. The Politically Correct will no longer tolerate God or any of His teaching. The evil one is alive and doing very well in the United States as well as throughout the world. Our politicians are not hearing God but listening to the voice of the prince of this world.

God gave us the cures and the very best talent. Unfortunately for mankind, we killed it through over 54 million abortions. Over 54 MILLION INNOCENTS, destroyed in the most horrific ways imaginable. The promoters of abortion are likened to the NAZI Regime of World War II, where over SIX MILLION Jews were murdered. Since the world found out about this horrific war crime against an entire race of people, they attempted to put an end to genocide. Margaret Sanger was the first woman to start an abortion clinic in the United States. Yes, mankind in their finite wisdom, thinking that abortion and the killing of innocents is their god given right and been misled by the voice of the prince of this world!

We had the cure, but didn’t give it a chance to develop and grow up into the woman and man that God had given us. These babies would have grown up to be the very best leaders, doctors, and researchers. Their lives and talent, lost forever. We had the cure but we killed it!

Copyright © March 15, 2019. The Lantern & Shield Times, a Division of Marketplace Evangelism Ministries Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Millennials: Why Are They Leaving the Church?

Most recently, while reading through comments made by people I follow of Twitter, I read the following comment from a 26-year-old female. “From now on, I’m not replying to criticism. The churches obviously don’t preach the truth anymore, there’s way too many patting on the back and tickling ears going on. That’s why I don’t go. I just read my Bible and pray for understanding.”

My reply to her Tweet was, “Please be open to find a church. The Word states do not forsake the assembly. There are Bible believing churches. Send me a PM and I will help you find a church in your area. Blessings! See Hebrews 10:25.” Hebrews 10:25 reads, “not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” Many others responded similar responses.

Her response back to everyone, “I’m sorry to have to say this, but if anyone has one more know it all thing to say, I’d rather that you didn’t reply to me at all. I don’t want to hear it. I’m fed up with your attitudes, none of you know me in person. I hate sounding mean, but do what you tell me and judge yourself.”

I did respond back to her, apologizing if I had over stepped in my comment. I said that I would pray for her and that I would ask the Holy Spirit to go and minister to her.

After reading this, it has made me wonder why many Millennials feel this same way? As a transformed man of God, I love people and genuinely care for their souls and their well-being.

The Bible is very clear that we as Followers of Christ are not to forsake the assembly. Let us review some Scriptures that deal with attending church and meeting on a regular basis so that we might encourage one another.

Hebrews 10:24-25, “24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”

Matthew 18:20, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”

Colossians 3:16, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”

Ephesians 4:11-13    And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.”

Acts 2:42, “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.”

Romans 10:17, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”

Matthew 16:18, “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock[a] I will build my church, and the gates of hell[b] shall not prevail against it.”

Acts 9:31-32, “So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied.”

Matthew 6:33, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

James 1:22, “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.”

2 Timothy 4:2, “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.”

Matthew 28:19-20, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Attending church is vital for one’s growth as well as encouraging one another. It is essential to our walk with Christ. The Gospel is for all to hear and we as Followers of Christ are all called to priesthood, to take the Gospel and share it with others. See 1 Peter 2:5, “you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”

The Church needs people who will come and contribute, not only their tithes, but more of themselves for the cause of Christ. If you want to see change in the church that you yourself criticize, then you need to become engaged so that you can help bring to light what you find offensive or what you deem to be a fraud. Please do not judge all assemblies and congregations by only one or two pastors who may be teaching heresy. Yes, the “Truth” should be taught and preached. Anything else is heresy. If it does not match up to Scripture, anything else is heresy. Yes, I said heresy several times. Hopefully, it will be driven home!

As I was writing this piece, the young lady responded back and wrote, “It’s not your fault, there was some others that offended me, it wasn’t you. God bless you brother.”

What I do know is that young people are leaving the Church. What they are embracing is not Christianity. We as Christian leaders must do a better job in reaching these people for Christ. We must be teaching and discipling young people with the truth of the Gospel, not some watered-down version to tickle the ears of congregants. If we truly want to see Millennials come back to the Church, we better start taking seriously what Christ has called us all to do, not just sit in the pews as the status quo, thinking that is the Pastor’s job! No, you are wrong in that thinking! It is EVERY CHRIST FOLLOWERS JOB! It’s time to get off the pew and get to work! Don’t be known as a sleeping church, but as a Body of Christ that is on fire for God.

John 4:35, “Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest.” The fields are ripe for harvest. Stop preaching sermons that tickle and fancy others with a political correct message, but preach and teach TRUTH, the Gospel of Christ, God’s TRUTH!

You can follow this author at @JosephTLee on Twitter or on Facebook @JosephTLee777.

Copyright © March 12, 2019. The Lantern & Shield Times; a Division of Marketplace Evangelism Ministries Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Pornography Addiction: There is Hope

You see, no one really knows how pornography will affect them until they start to view it. Some people can become addicted because they are basically looking for the next sexual fulfillment. When they achieve that through masturbation…

Overnight on Twitter, I was followed by three pornographers. As a rule, I do not allow pornographers to follow me on Twitter or any other social media. I can hear what you are about to say next? “But you are in ministry! You should allow them so that they will hear the Word of God.” The facts are that these accounts are not real people but the pornographers themselves. These accounts most likely contain malicious viruses that are meant to steal your identity and information. Not only that, but delving into pornography can become an addiction for both men and women. Viewing it can destroy marital relationships and you could become estranged from your family. If you view it, you in fact are supporting sexual slavery and human trafficking.

According to www.ProvenMan.org, “approximately two thirds (64%) of U.S. men view pornography at least monthly.”[1] Pornography (Porn) addictions is known as a process addiction which can affect an individual in a negative way. According to www.RecoveryConnection.com, “A general definition of any addiction is behavior repeated over and over again despite negative consequences to oneself or others. … Pornography addiction, a type of process addiction, is predicated upon an ever-growing need to see sexually explicit images. … Statistics indicate that a large percentage of those who suffer from a pornographic addiction, including internet porn addiction, will suffer the loss of a marriage and career. Similar to what occurs in drug and alcohol addiction, neurochemical changes occur in the brain which contributes to the maintenance of the pornography addiction.”[2]

The signs and symptoms can be found on the Recovery Connection website. According to the website, the consequences of porn addiction include destruction of intimate relationships, self- shame and guilt, loss of a career, interference of work or school, financial problems, promiscuity which can lead to sexual encounters with others and sexually transmitted diseases.[3]

On a spiritual level, addiction and the mere viewing of porn can lead to a separation of a full relationship with God. According to www.ProvenMen.org, “There are three ways that porn will affect your relationship with God. 1. Unrepentance prevents your spiritual growth. 2. Secret sin subverts God’s will. 3. Lordship requires surrendering fully to God.”[4] According to Peter in The Didache, I.4, “Abstain from carnal and bodily lusts,” II.2, “…Thou shalt not commit adultery, sodomy, and fornication,” III.3, “…be not lustful, for lust leads to fornication and adultery.”[5] The Didache were the teaching of the Twelve Apostles and referenced Peter’s teaching in God’s Word.

I have known men as well as women who were addicted to porn. Their lives were rooted in sexual deviant behavior in which caused broken relationships, divorce, and even attempted suicide. They were so hooked on viewing sexual images, that they continued down a path of destruction to the next thrill and persuasion. One such person was an acquaintance of mine who was in law enforcement. This guy was also a photographer. He started out photographing strippers and was in fact producing pornographic images. He ultimately lost his job as a police officer, his wife divorced him, and he ended up marrying an exotic dancer. He became estranged from his faith in God and he ended up becoming an alcoholic because his world fell apart.

You see, no one really knows how pornography will affect them until they start to view it. Some people can become addicted because they are basically looking for the next sexual fulfillment. When they achieve that through masturbation, then many times they may become depressed because the act of masturbating to a sexual image has stolen the joy of a true relationship with their spouse. Over time, what may have aroused them before may no longer arouse them. Their next step may be to view more deviant images or even act out a fantasy.

Pornography is a tool of Satan. The facts are that Satan will use whatever he can to destroy lives, deceive Followers of Christ, tear apart families, and tear down and obliterate martial relationships. Satan is a liar and a deceiver. We live in a world where what was once considered deviant behavior is now normal according to the world’s standards. We live in a world where God and Jesus Christ is not loved and worshipped, but where everything should be accepted because after all, we don’t want to offend anyone. This last statement is another lie from the evil one. Porn should be considered vile and evil because it defiles marriage and invites evil into your life.

What does the Word of God say about this?

Matthew 5:28, “But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

2 Timothy 2:22, “So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.”

1 John 2:16, “For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world.”

Proverbs 6:25, “Do not lust in your heart after her beauty or let her captivate you with her eyes.”

Galatians 5:16, “So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.”

Romans 8:6, “The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.”

James 1:14-15, “but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”

Romans 12:1-2, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Pornography is a tool authored and used by the evil one, the prince of this world. There is hope. You must take a step of faith to ask God to forgive you of this sin. Once you have done that, then you need to take a second step. I would encourage you to reach out to www.ProvenMen.org for help. Not only can they help you but they will partner with you in overcoming this addiction. God uses Christian men and women to help others to not only come to Christ but overcome their sexual addictions. Please don’t allow pornography to rule your life. Make a change today.

If you want to pray and ask Jesus into your life and heart, just stop right now and pray this prayer:

Dear Jesus, I am a sinner. I am not worthy of you. Lord Jesus, I want you to come into my life and into my heart. Please forgive me of my sinfulness against you and my Heavenly Father. I ask you to come into my life and forgive me. In Jesus name, Amen.

References:

[1] www.ProvenMen.org

[2] RecoveryConnection.com, https://www.recoveryconnection.com/addiction-resources/other-addictions/pornography/, retrieved February 15, 2019.

[3] RecoveryConnection.com.

[4] ProvenMen.org, https://www.provenmen.org/pornography-affect-relationship-god/.

[5] The Didache, http://www.thedidache.com/

Copyright © February 15, 2019. The Lantern & Shield Times, a Division of Marketplace Evangelism Ministries Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Racism and Hatred: Derived from One Source

Christians, we need to be on our knees praying for the lost, our leaders (regardless of political party), and for the unborn. The war we fight is not a physical war but a spiritual war. We need to practice our faith in love and stop vomiting hatred towards others.

Most recently, in Virginia we have been faced with accusations against our Governor, Ralph Northam because of a racial picture that appeared in his medical school yearbook under his name. He originally apologized for it, then the next day, he denied that it was him. He then went on to say that he dressed up like Michael Jackson and painted his cheeks black with black shoe polish. He is adamant that he will not step down.

Then the Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax has been accused of sexual assault. This allegedly occurred in 2004 at the Democrat National Convention in Boston according to news sources.

Now our Attorney General, Mark Herring admitted that he painted his face black as an undergraduate in college.

All three of Virginia’s top leaders have controversies that most likely will end their political careers.

In reference to the sexual assault, it is reported that the assault was reported to Virginia Congressman, Bobby Scott, as a #MeToo allegation. It is unknown why this was not investigated a year ago.

In contrast to all of this, there are people who have so much hatred against Democrats and Republicans, that they revert to name calling and distasteful conversation on social media. As Christian’s, we should not be name calling and spewing hatred from our lips. Jesus calls Christians to love the sinner but hate the sin.

The Bible tells us that we should keep our tongue from evil and keep our lips from speaking deceitful speech (1 Peter 3:10). Colossians 4:6, “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Ephesians 4:29, “Do not let unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Proverbs 10:19, “Sin is not ended by multiplying words, but the prudent hold their tongues.” Proverbs 15:4, The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit.” There are many more, but these are a few to meditate on.

The issue at hand is a heart issue. Many people are angry at leaders, both on the Democratic and the Republican sides. I am not here defending abortion promoters, but I am here to say that the words one speaks against others that do not have your same views can come across as hateful and pushes the unsaved farther from the Christian faith. Name calling will not win souls.

Giving excuses to substantiate hateful speech and comments do not hold water when compared to the Word of God. Calling unsaved people names will destroy any evangelistic opportunities that may come their way. God is aware of what these people believe. Please don’t play God, as if you know best. Anything you do that does not match up with the plumb line in how Jesus has commanded us to live is not godly. There are other ways to change people’s hearts.

Most recently, I read a fellow Christian’s post to a news article in response to the Rev. Al Sharpton coming to Richmond to speak to Virginia Union University students. The fellow Christian posted Matthew 7:15, “Beware of False Prophets.” Someone pushed back with a disparaging remark against Christians only for the Christian to post a disparaging remark back to most likely an unsaved person. Folks, we cannot be speaking like this to people. Proclaiming Scripture and then telling someone to do something that is vile is destroying evangelical opportunity to bring people to Christ. These types of words destroy opportunities and will only close doors to spiritual dialogue which could possibility lead another to Christ.

If Christian people want to take a stand for justice for the unborn and other atrocities, they can do it without hate filled comments of name calling and profanities. Calling an act evil is not name calling. As Christians, we should not get ourselves caught up in the evilness of the world. This is exactly what Satan wants us to be doing. Satan relished in the fact that Christian’s are telling others off with profanities and hurtful responses. Satan is the author of confusion and lies. John 10:10 says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it in full.” 1 Peter 5:8-9, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.”

Christians, we need to be on our knees praying for the lost, our leaders (regardless of political party), and for the unborn. The war we fight is not a physical war but a spiritual war. We need to practice our faith in love and stop vomiting hatred towards others. We need to put on the whole armor of God as mentioned in Ephesians 6:10-18. God will not honor our disobedience which can separate us from a full relationship with Christ. Before we attempt to pull the small speck from another’s eye, we need to look in the mirror and remove the large plank from our own eye (cf. Matthew 7:5). If we want to make a difference for the gospel, then we need to have love for one another and for our neighbor. Racism and hatred come from one source, and that is from Satan. Love comes from one source, and that is God and His Loving Son, Jesus Christ. We have a choice. I choose love. What do you choose?

Colossians 4:6, “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”

Copyright © February 8, 2019. The Lantern & Shield Times, A Division of Marketplace Evangelism Ministries Inc. All Rights Reserved.

What is Christmas Really About?: The Rest of the Christmas Story

Have you ever wondered about what Christmas is really about? The Christmas holidays are quickly approaching. The celebration about Christmas is not just Santa Clause, presents, Christmas concerts, Winter celebration, or Christmas Trees. It is about the Savior of the world who came into the world to save it and not to condemn it. It is about Jesus Christ and the beginning of His life and the man that He became to fulfill Scripture. This is just the beginning of a wonderful and divine act in which God sent His Son into the world.

This is just the beginning.

Luke 2 English Standard Version (ESV)

The Birth of Jesus Christ

2 In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 And all went to be registered, each to his own town. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. 6 And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. 8 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” 15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. 21 And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

But this is NOT the end of the story…….

May you find the real joy of Christmas that only Jesus Christ can bring. It is through the death of Jesus Christ and His resurrection that we have forgiveness of our sins. Jesus came into the world not to judge the world but to save it. It is only through Jesus that one can be saved.

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 ” because, 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. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11 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.”

Jesus stands at your hearts door and knocks. If you want to really experience the “true” meaning of Christmas, then consider inviting Jesus Christ into your heart and life and ask God to change your heart and transform you to be Christlike in all that you do. Believe with your heart and mind. Ask forgiveness of your wrongdoing and sins, and confess with your mouth that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Transformation means that you are a changed person for Christ.

Although many celebrate Christmas with a baby in a feeding trough, that baby grew up as the loving Son of God who died a horrible death in order to redeem us from our wickedness. He was beaten until his blood was spilled on the ground, crucified with nails driven into his hands and feet, and He died. After three days, He rose from the grave and this is evidence that He truly was the Son of God.

Christmas is really about the Christ who came to save the world! Won’t you give your life to  Jesus Christ and know the real meaning of Christmas?

Copyright © November 1st, 2018, Originally published under Pastor Joseph Lee Blog from March 30, 2017. The Lantern & Shield Times, a Division of Marketplace Evangelism Ministries Inc. All Rights Reserved.

 

A Nation in Crisis: Illegal Immigrant Attacks Young Boy on School Bus

I love people and have a heart for ministering to immigrants who are in our nation and trying to make a new life for themselves. As a Christian, my heart goes out to people who are less fortunate than myself. My wife and I have helped people from buying groceries for them to praying and helping them at worksites by handing out water on hot days and giving them Spanish Bibles. We both have a heart to help people. Many of these people are here in the United States legally. From time to time, we cross paths with people here illegally and we encourage them to apply for legal citizenship and do it the right way. I mention all this beforehand so that people will know that we really do love people and want the best for them.

At the same time, we consider ourselves to be good citizens of our local community, state, and nation. We obey the law and we expect others to do the same. I have personally been a victim of a violent crime, so I understand the fear when someone is trying to assault you or kill you! I most recently heard of a young boy right here in Virginia who was bullied on a school bus and was beaten in his face to the point that his nose was broken. The school bus driver did not stop the bus to render assistance. The boy bled profusely from his nose and face until his blue jeans were soaked with so much blood that even his underwear was soaked with blood. The victim had to ride injured on the school bus for over 20 minutes, no assistance given by the bus driver, and no assistance to break up the assault. The bully was a high schooler and he received a ten-day suspension. I found out this evening that the bully was an illegal immigrant who was from Honduras.

This is just one circumstance of many being reported across the nation. I am not releasing the name of the victim to protect him from any retaliation. Any recourse against the perpetrator’s parents are drastically diminished since they are illegals. The school district has allowed these illegal immigrants into the school’s and they cannot even protect our own children. With this migrant caravan approaching, I cannot even fathom what may happen if others who do not have good intentions for Americans are allowed in our communities.

It is my understanding that the immigration laws in the United States must take these people in, but to what expense? Not every immigrant is a bully or a criminal, but how does a nation vet these people? Our nation is changing and quite frankly, becoming a more dangerous place to live. The attack on the young boy that I have written about was in a rural area of Virginia. I am not going to tell people how to vote in the upcoming mid-term elections, but when you cast that vote, think about the safety of your children. If this happened in rural America, it could happen anywhere in the United States.

As a Christian, I will continue to be a good neighbor, help those who are less fortunate than me, love my neighbor as I love myself, and share the gospel to all who will hear. I will also encourage all illegal immigrants that if you want to honor God, then obey the laws of the land. That means that if you are here illegally, then you need to apply for citizenship, even if it means that you go back to your own country and do it the right way. There is no honor or respect in breaking the law. If you want American Citizens to respect you, then obey our laws and come to the United States legally.

This is an opinion story of The Lantern & Shield Times. Copyright © October 24, 2018. The Lantern & Shield Times, a division of Marketplace Evangelism Ministries Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Backscratchers or Heart Surgeons: The Difference between Sermons and Messages

I once got as a Christmas present the best backscratcher ever!  It is made of aluminum, it has a rubber handle, and best of all it is retractable!  Consequently, it takes up very little space in my desk, which is a big draw back with a lot of other backscratchers.  Most backscratchers are long and awkward, so people inevitably put them in out of the way places where they are usually forgotten and lost.  Consequently, many backs go unscratched, which is a problem since people love to have their backs scratched.  A lot of today’s pastors are in the business of back scratching.  Pastors are called to be heart surgeons, but regrettably, a lot of us have turned into backscratchers.  There are several reasons why pastors become backscratchers.  One of the main reasons is that some congregations won’t tolerate a pastor who is passionate and has conviction, so over time some pastors learn that they better start scratching backs or lose their “jobs.”  When this realization occurs some pastors simply keep their cushy jobs, while the good ones leave and find real ministries.  Some pastors are backscratchers because they like being liked, so it comes naturally to them.  Others are backscratchers because they think it’s their job to mesmerize and entertain their congregations.  These pastors are essentially showmen.  They aren’t really backscratchers per se, but rather they are ear ticklers.  Nevertheless, the impact of their sermons is functionally the same, hearts are not renewed and spiritual arteries remain clogged.

Many backscratchers appear to be very successful because their churches are often filled with a lot of “listeners.”  So the question is this: how can you tell the difference between a backscratcher and a pastor who knows God, understands His word, and applies it to our modern lives?  A good test is to look at their impact on the hearts of those who hear them.  In other words, are people convicted and are lives changed?  We can see this kind of impact from the messages of great preachers in the Bible.  Look at Jesus, he once preached a message that caused so much consternation that the audience in the synagogue grabbed him and led him to a cliff in order to demonstrate the effects of gravity (Luke 4.28-29).  Luke actually documented that Jesus’ audience was “filled with rage” by the things that Jesus had said to them.  In full disclosure I must confess that I’ve never preached a message that had that kind of impact, so I’m preaching to myself here as well.  I guess you can say that Jesus wasn’t much of a backscratcher.

Then there is Stephen, in his very last message he gave an exceptional survey of the entire Old Testament that ended with him proclaiming the truth that his very audience had crucified the very Messiah that they confessed to be anticipating.  And what did they do?  They promptly carried him out of that same meeting and stoned him.  I guess you could conclude that he didn’t tickle many ears that day.  The passage actually describes their dispositions as being “cut to the quick” (Acts 7.54).   A lot of people, however, don’t really know what that means; in today’s vernacular it would be like saying that they were “shot through the heart.”

And then there is Paul. He once gave a message where the audience was quiet and listened intently, they were hanging on his every word you could say—that is until he spoke of God’s mandate to share the gospel with Gentiles, it was at that point that a riot broke out (Acts 22.22-25).  The text states that after Paul told them about the great commission that those in attendance literally threw their coats down and started throwing dirt in the air.  Now I’ve preached people into comas, but I’ve never started a riot.  But not Paul, what he said pricked their hearts so much that they began acting like a bunch of crazed chimpanzees.  The Roman soldiers present were so stunned that they immediately began preparing Paul for a scourging.  I’m not convinced that they even fully understood why they were about to scourge Paul, they only knew that something bad had just happened and something had to be done about it.  So in typical Roman fashion someone had to be beaten since everyone knows that scourging a single person is a lot easier than beating an entire mob.  Again, I’ve never been threatened with a whipping for anything I have said in a pulpit.  Someone may have wanted to punch me, but I never knew about it, so who knows.  The point is that Paul wasn’t in the ministry so that he could scratch backs and tickle ears; he was gunning for hearts.

I bring up these 3 events not because they are good examples of well-groomed “sermons,” but because they are excellent examples of impactful “messages.”  And there is a difference between the two.  The difference is that same as the difference between Cicero and Demosthenes.  There is a famous quote concerning these two great ancient speakers, which loosely goes like this: “When Cicero had finished speaking, the people said, ‘How well he spoke.’  But when Demosthenes had finished speaking, they said, ‘Let us march!’”  And that is the point, isn’t it?  Are we supposed to be about sermons or messages?  A sermon is what a pastor prepares and then speaks to a listening audience.  A message is when spiritual shepherds have the guts to proclaim the truth about what Lord desires to do in the hearts of those who are actually “hearing” the word of God.  And if people hear God speaking to their hearts through your message, then people will be brought to a point of decision.  Sometimes they will weep, or repent, or worship, or be strengthened, and then they will serve; and if not, then they will begin picking up stones.  Either way, they will not have had their backs scratched or their ears tickled.  And isn’t that what the church needs?  The church doesn’t need more backscratchers, it needs more heart surgeons.

Monte Shanks, Copyright © April 10, 2018. The Lantern & Shield Times LLC. All Rights Reserved.