I Pledge…

A past look into the past…

11-20-13

“I pledge allegiance to the Bible, God’s Holy Word. I will make it lamp unto my feet, a light unto my path, and I will hide its words in my heart that I might not sin against God.”

I have recited that pledge, along with Pledges to the American and Christian flags, each year at Vacation Bible School.  As I reflect on these words, I pause to wonder… How serious do we take this pledge? Do we really believe the Bible is God’s Holy Word? If so, then we also must believe it’s inspired… God breathed.

There are Bible scholars that will tell us that the first eleven chapters of Genesis is a myth, a “fairy tale”. One dear friend once told me that he believed it was simply a story, but there were certain truths God wanted us to know. As I spoke with him I realized that he was still telling me that the scripture was inspired and that he and I were experiencing a difference of interpretation.

There is a similar difference between “Day-Age” creationists and “Young Earth” creationists. The “Day-Agers” say that a day in Genesis 1 is an indeterminate amount of time and the earth is billions of years old. The “Young Earthers” maintain that a day refers to 24 hours and that the Earth is only six thousand years old. Then there are ideas located somewhere between these two extremes. I have my ideas, but to tell the truth, I wont be surprised either way at what God or His angels tell me when I reach eternity.

You see I know one thing for certain… Every word in that book is truth. Now I may not fully understand that truth to its fullest, but someday I will and that’s good enough for me. Look at what Paul wrote the church at Corinth. I Cor 13: 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part; 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. … 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. At the moment, we don’t know everything. God lets us know what we need to know and what we need to know is the way to salvation and eternal life. The day will come when we know fully. That will be when The Creator says we are ready, and not before then. It is enough to know that God don’t lie.

I have discovered two amazing truths… The less I read the Bible, the less I want to read… but the more I read, the hungrier I get for His Word and the more I read, the more I remember.

These words have life, and life abundantly. I really do not understand how a person can read any portion of this book and not be changed. Yes, I know the “Begats” can be a challenge, but there is some interesting information contained in those genealogies.

Check this out… Methuselah died before his father. The flood occurred the same year that Methuselah and His son, Lamech, died. Interesting…

I have found that every time I read a scripture, I gain a new understanding of God. It matters now how many times I’ve read it before. You cannot read the Bible enough. Just when you think you know it all, God shows you some hidden gem in an obscure passage. Reading the Bible goes hand in hand with prayer. When we read, God talks to us. When we pray, we talk to God. Conversation is good and reading with a prayerful mindset, puts in tune with the Creator.

He died for me; I’ll live for Him

Steve (Hoss)

Lessons from James

10-06-13

Today’s Sunday school lesson came from James 5:1-11. It was an Interesting lesson and I came away with some new angles at some concepts.

Before we look at these concepts, let’s remind ourselves of whom James was talking to and whom is he talking to today. For starters, The Bible, in a general sense, is written to all humanity. But we must realize that the general message, besides a history of God’s people (both the nation of Israel and the early church), is to accept Jesus of Nazareth as LORD and Saviour. That is really all the nonbeliever is really able to comprehend. The nonbeliever’s eyes and ears are not open to the specific truths God wants to reveal to us as His people, as His children. Now in the specific sense, this book we as Christians hold sacred is a blueprint for life. It IS the TRUTH, the whole TRUTH, and nothing but the TRUTH. In that sense, God is speaking to His people.

Now for starters, to the rich who we’re “successful” because of their misuse of those less fortunate, the LORD’S brother was saying, “God will get you for that!” These rich we’re Christian rich. Why would a nonbeliever care? He won’t believe these words anyway! But to a Christian, especially one who has not fully grasped the concept of love thy neighbour as thyself and who one’s neighbour is, these first 5 verses hit home.

Then James, in verse 7, shifts gears a bit. “Don’t worry about retaliation, revenge, etc., that’s Gods job, so let God be God. You have your own chores to tend to.” When our mind is on payback, we aren’t able to focus on serving God, and that is our job. We have no business trading evil for evil. It is our place to turn the other cheek. I am reminded of God’s admonition to the Hebrews in Deuteronomy, “Vengeance is mine.” Sayeth the LORD, “I will repay.” James is telling us to be patient, keep on sharing the Love of Jesus, Leave any retaliation for evil to God.

Now you may ask, “Well what am I supposed to do?”

In Verse 7 James starts to tell us.

First, Patience is a virtue… God will take care of everything, but it is on His timetable.

Second, strengthen one’s spirit. Now that, like patience is easier said than done. But it is done by spending more time with God, more Bible study, and more knee work. Yep, I’m lacking there myself. I can study His word and sometimes I feel I know it well enough to head for the cemeter… , er seminary and teach a few classes. My problem is that I don’t spend time actually talking and listening to God. Simply reading our Bible is not listening. We … I need a stronger attitude of prayer and working to be as David was… a man after God’s own heart.

Finally, James tells us to squelch the complaining and gossip. Say What? You mean I can’t even let my frustrations out to a friend? Nope… Take it to your best Friend, Jesus. Leave it there. You won’t be sorry. I know I’m not when I do.

Keep praying and seeking…

In Christ

Steve (Hoss)

 

Got Faith? Pray!

Nov 5, 2013

Got Faith? Pray!

Have you ever doubted your faith? How do you know your faith is the real thing? It’s a simple check on yourself… Look at your prayer life. If we have the faith we claim to have, we will spend time with the Savior. He is the source of power in our lives. He is our mediator between us and The Father.

If we truly believe then He will be the first person we speak to when we wake up and the last person we speak with before going to sleep. We will chat with Him several times throughout the day. Remember, “Enoch walked with God, and was not, For God took him.”(Gen 5:24)

Wouldn’t it be great if we could be so close to God that He just took us home with him one day? No one else was that close and we know of our heroes, our Hall of Faith. God referred to Abraham as His friend. David was a man after God’s own heart. Moses Spoke directly with God, as did Elijah.

How is this possible? We know they were men of faith. And we also know they spent time in prayer. Even God’s son, Jesus, who was God incarnate, spent time alone with the father. We need that time. And time spent in prayer is time spent learning about the Father and drawing closer to him. And on top of that, we show our faith. You don’t ask something of a person if you don’t expect to receive. You ask, expecting an answer in accordance to what you are requesting. But we must ask within His will and submit to His will.

“Well, why do I need to ask within His will? Seems that He has already decided, so why ask?”

Let me put it this way… If you don’t ask, then you are not showing your faith, so if you have not the faith, why try to prove something you don’t want to believe anyway?

I know, that sounds like double talk. But it isn’t. The closer we get to God, the more we realize what He wants for us. The more we will request from him and God being the generous Father will supply our needs and our desires within His will. If we are in His will, we will have no bad desires. Just talk to Him. He is in that empty chair next to you.

We all need to get closer to God and show our faith. To do that, we need to pray. When we pray we show we believe God will supply our needs. I’m guilty of not praying enough. I need to boost my prayer life. I know these letters I’m writing are helping me grow. Many times, as I write, I find myself talking to me. I pledge to you that I will spend more time with my Savior and God and work on that closer walk, and look forward to that day when He says, “Come home with me.”

In fact, nothing tells the story about your faith like your prayer life. Nothing.

And to top it off, as you pray, doubt will flee.

You have my prayers

Steve (Hoss)

 

In God I Trust

11-03-13

In God I Trust

Dan would have been 59 today. April will mark the eighth anniversary of his passing. It seems like yesterday. A year earlier he was complaining to me about low back pain on his right side. In July of 2005 we found he had a cancer that had affected his kidney and he lost the right kidney. Something told me this was not over and the diagnosis confirmed it. The cancer had moved into the bone marrow, Stage 4. I was simply a matter of time. Why would God do this to our family? Dan was the baby and here he is the first to enter eternity.

I know death of a loved one is a difficult subject for some to discuss, but I also know that bringing pain into the open among Christian friend is a great healer. There is one scripture I claim above all others when what I believe are bad things. In the 28th verse of Chapter 8 of Paul’s letter to the Church in Rome, The Apostle wrote, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”

“What good can come out of that?”

The best answer I can give is, “I don’t know, but God knows and that’s what matters.”

As I looked back at my little brother’s life I realized that during those final 9 months, he had changed. He was studying scripture and asking questions. He had never done that before. He was seeking God and he found Him. I had the honor of participating in his funeral. It blessed me to say that I knew where he is. He is with our LORD. The night before He was sent from his hospital room to ICU, He looked at me and said, “I think I’m dying.”

As I choked back the emotion welling up, I asked Dan if he was ready to meet God. He assured me he was. That was all I needed. I’ll never forget what the other minister at his funeral said at graveside. He told us that only two people know if a person is ready to meet God, God and that person. Dan knew, and I’ve come to realize that his illness and death have led at lest two people toward a closer walk with Him.

There are times we may never know why God lets things happen, He simply says, “Trust Me.” When we do we will find abundant blessings. I keep trusting Him. And when a loved one is called home, I know one thing.

We’ll meet again, I surely know where, I just don’t know when. But I know we’ll meet on a sunny day.

Sunny because the light of Jesus permeates all the darkness.

 

I love you because He loved me.

Steve (Hoss)

 

 

Whosoever

November 2, 2013

 

Romans 10: 12 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. 13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

That’s a powerful scripture. It says a lot. That second word in verse 13, “whosoever”, is all-inclusive. There is no person living or dead who could not or cannot be saved. But there is a condition. They must call upon the name of the LORD and that is more than just saying, “LORD, save me.” A person must believe and repent of sin. Many people believe, but not all repent.

But think about this. Salvation through Jesus, the Christ, God’s anointed, the Messiah, is the ONLY way one can be saved. That is a message we must repeat over and over. He IS the WAY, the TRUTH, and the LIGHT. NONE go to the Father except through Him. Now since Jesus is the way to salvation and eternal life, that way must be open to all, should they choose. I hold that right very sacred … the right to choose, the right to decide for myself, the right to be wrong. WHAT?

Wait a minit! Just hold on there! You mean a person has a God-given right to be wrong in His eyes?

Yep. But with that right, we must accept the responsibility that goes along with it. Yes there are rewards for making the correct decision, but there are consequences should one decide incorrectly. That’s the problem… everyone wants to go to heaven, but not everyone is willing to follow the teachings of the Christ. Once we manage to get that concept grounded into our psyches, we will act on what Paul told the Romans.

And then once we truly realize that Jesus came and died for ALL, we may get off our blessed assurances and do something about it. In this world of political correctness, we fear standing up and speaking out because we fear we may offend someone. Well, I can promise you one thing… Those who disagree with Christianity have no problem offending us. And yes, those people are part of God’s creation and believe it or not, God loves them, Jesus died for them.

The world needs to hear our message, but it needs to hear it in love. Whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD. That includes all races, all social beliefs, all religious beliefs, so what are we holding back for? We are the light of the world, the salt of the earth. We need to be shining and seasoning all those around us. Share Jesus. You don’t really need to talk. Just let your actions speak, besides what we do, how we act, speaks much louder than any words.

And we must believe that “Whosoever” means even that militant from another worldview. Pray for your loved ones, pray for your leaders, pray for one another. Hey! (I think I’ve listened to Si Robertson a bit too much) Even pray for that person who disagrees with what you say. Pray for that person on the other side of the church you never talk to or even want to talk to. You would be amazed at what God will do for you when you truly seek His face and ask Him to help you love others, even the unlovable.

But remember, every person, living or dead, has a right to come to Jesus. This club of Christians is not exclusive. Anyone may join. The dues cost a lot, your life, but I think you will find Heaven and eternity with Jesus more than worth the cost.

In His Love

Steve (Hoss)

Don’t be fooled!

I am amazed at truth found in Hollywood.

10-20-13

During my daily routine, like many people, I have to take my medications. Sometimes, I wonder why I even bother to take them. I still have aches and pains. On those days, I need to remind myself why I even bother to take them, if I still hurt. What good are they doing? Then I remind myself of weeks like this week. As I prepare for knee surgery this week, my doctors have told me to quit taking my arthritis meds. Anti-inflammatory medications have a side effect … they act as a blood thinner. A surgical patient doesn’t need any blood thinners before surgery.  So here I am with no aspirin or medications that help treat inflammation of my joints. And with temperature dropping and rain in the forecast, Well… Hit Hurts! And I am reminded why I take those pills in the first place.  Oh I have substitutes. Pain medications are not quite the same though. Painkillers don’t really eliminate the pain as much as they make it easier to bear, but they have a down side. I don’t call them happy pills for nothing. A person starts taking too many painkillers and next thing he knows is he starts answering the voices and following the strange little animals. I’ll be glad when this second knee replacement is done so I can get back to Aspirin and Celebrex.

Now why do I tell you about Pain meds? Well the real med treats the problem. The substitute masks the problem. I still hurt but I don’t care.

That’s like it is with our spiritual lives. There are times we don’t realize God is there, but when we drift away from Him, we really do miss Him. Then the substitute comes around, Ole Ugly. Yep, he fills us up with pleasure and we don’t seem to miss our salvation. We know we aren’t with God, but we are having such a “good time” that we don’t care. Then at times since it feels so good, we tell ourselves that God is letting us have a little fun.

Just remember… God is not mocked, whatever we sow, we will reap.  We may not see the results of our wild oats in this life, but we will wish we had seen them in this life for sure as I write, God will make sure we reap, unless we receive forgiveness and then we may still have to pay the piper. David did. A man after God’s own heart committed adultery and murder. When confronted, he pled for forgiveness and received forgiveness, but he was punished for his crime during his lifetime.

One of my favorite movies is “The Usual Suspects.” Kevin Spacey plays a small time hood named Verbal Kint. He is taken in and is talking to a US Customs agent. The conversation leads to an international criminal named Keyser Sose. During this exchange we hear my favorite quote from this film… “The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he doesn’t exist.”

Do you understand how much truth is in that statement? People are now telling us that hell does not exist. Well if there is no hell then we all go to heaven or nowhere. If there is no hell, then no devil.

We are actually falling for that lie. Let me remind you, there is a place called Heaven AND a place called Hell. Both are very real and every person who has ever walked or ever will walk this rock we live on is going to spend eternity in one place or the other. I don’t care what any other religious person may tell you; There is only one way to get into heaven, which is through Jesus of Nazareth. He IS the Christ, the Son of God Almighty. All other ways of life led to hell. Make NO mistake. That is what my Bible says and THAT book is THE BOOK!

 

IHS

Steve (Hoss)