Looking Unto Jesus Ministries
|Posted on September 14, 2016 at 9:55 AM||comments (302)|
Genesis 22:13-14 (NKJ) – 13 Then Abraham lifted his eyes and looked, and there behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up for a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 And Abraham called the name of the place, The-Lord-Will-Provide; as it is said to this day, “In the Mount of the Lord it shall be provided.”
Tragically, many of we Christians today, unlike Abraham who recognized God as his ultimate source and provider, instead look to man as our source. Doing so, we may even succumb to methods (as do many non-Christians posing as Christians) that are ungodly and unwarranted. How so? The methods vary, but let us look at a few of them: 1. We may quote to others (often more at them) verses that are intended to make them feel emotionally accountable or guilty so they will provide us with material blessings (money, material goods, etc.). 2. We may learn and emulate strategies from others so we can manipulate others into giving. 3. We may by repeatedly asking others for material gifts seek to wear them down so they will provide those gifts to us.
4. We may show others pictures of needy children (and adults), much like animal protection agencies in the United States do with neglected and abused animals, so they will become emotionally entangled, guilty, and easily manipulated into giving.
Obviously, we should recognize that God desires for us to give to the poor and needy. However, our motivation for giving should not be based on the manipulative strategies employed by some to gain our material support. We need to remember that Jesus never used manipulation (nor did His disciples) to gain material support from others. That does not mean it is wrong for ministers, ministries, or those in need to ask for our support. However, when we respond that we do not believe it is the right thing to do or that we cannot do something presently, those asking for support need to honor us and back off. Those asking then need to trust God that if He so desires to use us to help support them materially He will speak to us about giving. Having asked, let us never allow ourselves to become habitually in-your-face manipulators.
Sadly, some of us who habitually seek to manipulate others into giving have not learned what Abraham did, that, ultimately, God, not man, is our source. Sure, He uses others to provide material blessings, but we need to remember to keep the focus on Him, trusting Him to use whom He desires, not seeking to manipulate others into giving. That is not to say that all of us who manipulate, though manipulation is always an ungodly technique, are charlatans. Some of us, due to poor teaching and/or a lack of knowledge, have yielded to fears and/or have been trained to use ungodly methods to seek support. However, some among us are charlatans. Related to charlatans, we never want to enable their ungodly and improper methods by succumbing to their manipulation.
When we recognize that we are guilty of using manipulation to gain material support from others, we need to immediately cease from doing so. Then, we need to learn to focus on God as our Source and Provider by consistently studying and meditating on the many verses and passages in the Bible that reveal Him as such. Allowing more mature believers to mentor us as we learn how to look to God as our Source is also wise. Meanwhile, if we made a request for material support from another and they declined that support, we need to leave them to God. What we certainly do not want to do is badger them about giving every time we come in contact with them. If He wants to use them, let us trust Him to lead them in that way.
If we recognize that we are charlatans, those who have purposely deceived others in order to gain material support, our error is even greater, as it reveals that our motives have been impure. Apprehending that we are charlatans, we need to repent, asking God to forgive us for embracing ungodly motives. Where possible, we need to ask those we duped to forgive us and make material restitution to them. It would also be wise to enlist a seasoned Christian to mentor us as we learn to walk free of the temptations to deceive others.
Ultimately, we are accountable as Christians to refrain from manipulative behaviors when asking others for material support. It is also our responsibility, when asked, to not succumb to manipulation and give. Furthermore, if there are charlatans among us, we need, when possible to confront them, and, if necessary, protect others from their schemes by making them known to the uninformed. We should never do this as those relishing the role of got-you-police, but rather in the role of those, based on love, seeking to protect others from schemes. Finally, the real issue is that we all need to learn to fully recognize God in the form of Jesus as our Source and Provider. Doing so, manipulations and deceptive behaviors related to material issues should become less and less a part of our lives.
|Posted on June 27, 2016 at 11:35 AM||comments (7)|
Homophobia – irrational fear of, aversion to, or discrimination against homosexuality or homosexuals – Merriam-Webster
We use the term “word spin” to describe the misuse or twisting of words in order to marginalize or vilify those with whom one disagrees. Homophobia is a word often used in the process of “word spin” to marginalize or vilify those who, based on biblical passages and teachings, do not view as God-ordained homosexual behaviors or same sex marriages. Generally, Christians who do not view those behaviors as godly, rather than forming their perspective on irrational fears or irrational aversions to them, instead base their outlook on numerous passages from the Bible, both in the Old Testament and New, which describe homosexual behaviors as sin, including the fact that both Testaments describe marriage as being exclusively between a man and a woman. Obviously, some do not recognize the validity of Christians to form their perspectives based on what the Bible says about homosexuality and same-sex marriages, which is not basing their views on irrational fears or irrational aversions to those topics. Instead, they often seek to marginalize and vilify those Christians doing so, some even going so far as to chide those Christians for not rejecting what the Bible says on the matter, indicating that the “word spinners” in many cases do recognize that the Bible does not support such behaviors. Clearly, those who use the word homophobia to marginalize and vilify such Christians are often guilty of “word spin.”
|Posted on June 27, 2016 at 11:35 AM||comments (209)|
Xenophobia – intense or irrational dislike or fear of people from other countries – Oxford Dictionaries
“Word spin” involves the misuse or twisting of words in order to marginalize or vilify those with whom one disagrees. Currently, xenophobia is a word often used in the process of “word spin” to marginalize or vilify those who desire that our government change its immigration policies and practices, even placing a moratorium on immigration, especially from parts of the world where Jihad-driven Islam is rampant, until it can properly vet or investigate those immigrating to our nation. Given the fact that the Director of the FBI, James Comey; the Assistant Director of the FBI, Michael Steinbeck; and the Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Mike McCaul, to name a few, have noted our inability to properly vet or investigate refugees from Syria, those who rely on critical thinking skills rather than “word spin” question the propriety of bringing improperly vetted refugees to our nation, especially, given the known agendas of Jihad-driven Islam. Questioning such things is not about xenophobia, an irrational dislike or fear of the people in question, but rather a factual understanding of the risk that Jihad-driven Islam poses to our citizens. Tragically, some politicians and those opposing such questioning, rather than seeking to create and implement citizen-protecting changes to our immigration policies and practices, continue to try to marginalize and vilify those engaged in such questioning via the use of “word spin.” However, given the carnage that has been committed in our nation and around the world in the name of Jihad-driven Islam, those of us who value critical thinking skills must not yield to the goals of what is often emotionally not factually driven “word spin” and continue to call for changes to our immigration policies and practices that provide for the safety and protection of our citizens.
|Posted on May 5, 2016 at 12:05 AM||comments (12)|
As a child I remember that attending the Baptist Church in Arnold, Missouri was a regular part of my regimen. And I remember too during those years that I consistently heard the message of the gospel, the good news or glad tidings of salvation via faith in Jesus Christ. However, hearing the good news and embracing the good news personally were and are two very different things. Thus, upon arriving at my teen years I had heard a lot about God but I did not know Him. I did not have a personal relationship with Him via His Son, Jesus Christ. Not having a personal relationship with Christ, I had not experienced spiritual regeneration (what is often called being born again) through Him.
Thus, at the age of 15, not having a personal relationship with Christ, I ran away from the godly upbringing I had experienced. Though I knew that God was calling me to experience the wonders of salvation via His Son, I chose instead to follow a path of my own making. Mine was surely not a unique choice, as so many run from God, but for me personally, as is ultimately true for all of us, the decision was a very costly one. The pleasure that one experiences in the realm of sin surely has its limitations, as that pleasure is but for a season. Pleasure soon turned to bondage, including the bondage of an early stage addiction to alcohol. The realm of sin was so blinding that I even succumbed to embracing the view that there was no God. Obviously, my choice to reject God and do things my own way was a very unwise choice as my life. For a life without God is one without His peace and joy, one void of experiencing the blessedness of knowing His plans and purposes for our lives.
During this period of bondage I began searching for answers via philosophical questions: What is the meaning of life? What is the purpose of life? Such questions occupied much of my focus. I began writing a book entitled The Mirror in which the main character (a thinly disguised version of me) discovered the meaning of life and shared it with others, but I never finished it. The reason for that was I did not really have a clue as to what the meaning or purpose of life was. So I stumbled on through this period of darkness, often exhibiting a carefree demeanor on the outside, but void of real peace or joy on the inside. Then something began to change.
Not knowing then that it was the Holy Spirit who was at work in my life, He revealed to me that my choice to reject a belief in God was a gravely mistaken one. So, I came to know there was a God but I did not know who this God was. But I kept searching, albeit not via churches as I still wanted no part of what had been a part of my regimen during my early years. The bondage of an early stage addiction and the ever decreasing pleasures of sin served as catalysts in my search for answers and deliverance. A purposeless life, one void of having a relationship with Christ, was not a place I wanted to stay, but I did not yet know that a relationship with Christ was what I needed. However, that would not remain true.
Still not willing to give churches a try, I was asked to be a pall-bearer at my aunt’s funeral at Helitag Funeral Home in Arnold. There a local minister spoke, actually my Mom’s pastor, a guy who had not seemed to be bent on hounding me as so many of my Christian relatives had over the years. Armed with the knowledge there was a God, that is where my search for meaning ended and my personal relationship with Christ began. The minister shared the gospel with us that day, the good news or glad tidings of salvation via faith in Christ. It was the same message I had heard hundreds of times as a kid, but things were different. I was tired of a life without purpose, a life where the bondage of sin was bringing increasingly diminishing returns. And, when the minister shared the gospel, the Holy Spirit made it clear to me that the meaning and purpose I had been seeking were found in a personal relationship with Christ. Thus, it was that day I embraced the gospel by believing. That was in September of 1978.
It is now August of 2015. It has been almost 37 years, 35 of which have been alcohol free. During those 37 years (as a part of a local church) I have known plenty of trials, so many of my own making. Yet Christ in my life has fulfilled His promise to believers to never leave nor forsake us (Heb. 13:5). He has continued to reveal Himself to me, mainly through His word to us, the Bible. He continues to reveal to me the purpose I so long ago sought. He continues to bring deliverance in my life by giving me insights as to living a godly life.
Have I arrived at perfection? Only someone bound by delusion would answer yes to such a question, as I understand there is much about me that still needs to change. Sometimes I am too crabby. Sometimes I am not loving enough. Sometimes I am not sensitive enough to the pains, hurts and trials of others. Yet, please forgive me for my shortcomings and remember too that He is not done with me yet. And, if you know Christ as Savior, may we embrace and encourage one another on this blessed journey.
If you don’t know Him as Savior, please take a moment where you are and offer this heartfelt prayer to Him, “Father, I recognize that I need to have a relationship with Your Son, Jesus Christ. I believe that He came to earth, lived, died and rose from the dead. I now confess Him as my Lord. By Your Spirit lead me that I may grow in Your ways. In Jesus’ name, amen.” If you prayed that prayer and do not have a local church of which you are a part may He lead you to one. Welcome to the family of God. May we hereafter encourage one another in this miraculous and blessed walk with Him.
|Posted on May 3, 2016 at 6:15 PM||comments (147)|
John 15:13 (NKJ) - Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends.
Back in 1978, I was dealing with an early stage addiction to alcohol. Though that was not my only challenge, it was the challenge that was most overwhelming, as it brought about entanglements that permeated every aspect of my life. Thankfully, the addiction had not yet progressed to where I drank at work, especially based on the fact that I was a high school teacher. Yet, my students were not unaware that I was what some called a "party teacher." Sadly, many also mislabeled me as "cool" based on my substance abusing lifestyle. However, I did love those students and even told them that at the beginning of the school year, making sure that the girls knew my saying so was not a romantic overture and that the boys did not misinterpret my words.
It was during the 1978-79 school year that I came to know Christ as Savior. What a blessing it was, too, when during that school year I experienced deliverance from my increasingly troublesome alcohol addiction through my newfound relationship with Christ. I was last drunk in the spring of '79. However, after finding freedom from alcoholism a question began to consistently cross my mind. If I loved my students, as I had told them before I came to know Christ as Savior, how could I, with the school year coming to a close and aware that I was moving permanently away that next summer, not tell them about the magnificent blessing I had experienced in coming to know Christ's salvation? More and more it became apparent to me that, loving them, I must tell them. However, telling them involved risks, as the public schools with the secularization of our culture frown on sharing such things, sometimes taking punitive actions for doing so. Of course, laying down our lives for others often involves taking risks on their behalf.
So, I decided to tell them about the great blessing I had experienced in coming to know Christ as Savior, even if it meant risking punitive actions by the school system or, perhaps, rejection by the students. Thankfully, none of my superiors in the school system ever said a word to me about my sharing about Christ with my students. And, amazingly to me at that time, the majority of my students, rather than rejecting, chastising, or seeking to humiliate me for what I shared, expressed a desire to experience the wonder of knowing Christ as Savior as well. I told them how they could do so, and, eventually, observed that over two-thirds of my students did as I had done, embracing Christ as Savior. These many years later, I also realize that much of the success I experienced in sharing the message of salvation with the students was based on the fact that I truly did love them, and, for the most part, they knew it.
Loving others by telling them about Christ, especially in our secularized culture, is not without risks. However, to not take those risks is to not fully lay down our lives for others. Tragically, if we do not take those risks, those we love may never experience the wonder of knowing Christ as Savior and could spend an eternity separated from God. Their perhaps never knowing His salvation due to our silence, that is a risk that none of us should be willing to take!