Author: Christopher
•8:42 AM

There are two kinds of people in this world: the Lost and the Saved. And there are two kinds of Christians: those who have entered into Rest, and those who have Not.

In both cases, the difference is a heart issue. The book of Proverbs tells us to 'keep our hearts with all diligence, for out of them are the issues of life.' The contents of your heart are what flows out of your mouth, and out of your hands. The Lost man behaves differently (most of the time) from the Saved man because his heart is fundamentally different. The Lost man, John Q. Public, has a heart of stubborn rebellion against God; he is self-sufficient and capable. The Saved man has a new heart upon which God has written his laws, and into which he has placed his Spirit. The difference is quite evident to those who know what to look for (usually).

Believers are also divided into two groups. Those who have accepted Jesus as their Saviour, and those who have entered into the Rest of faith. The first group knows that they are going to heaven when they die; the second group knows that Christ is their Life right NOW. The first group, having been given the gift of eternal life, is now trying to repay the debt by being good. The second group has finally come to understand that grace cannot be repaid and they have stopped trying; they simply say Thank You, and relax in the gift that they have been given. The first group is characterized by religious-ness and rule-keeping; they are judgmental of the brethren and truly believe that Truth is more important than Love. The second group believes that Truth has led them to the understanding that Love is God, and that by walking in love they will walk in God, and God in them.

Just as the Saved man, who has left the world of the Lost, can usually spot the difference between a Saved man and a Lost man, so too the believer who has entered into Rest can tell when another believer has not.

Each group is smaller than the other. All men are Lost. A few find the narrow way and enter into eternal life. And then an even smaller group will continue pressing deeper into God until they enter into Rest.

The Lost are the great masses of slaves in Egypt. The Saved are those who have crossed the Red Sea of Christ's blood. Those at Rest have followed the presence of God into a land of plenty, of giants, and of miracles.

The Lost are deaf to the words of God. Until they respond to the invitation to drink from the Fountain ("Whosoever will, may come."), they will not normally hear any other words from God. The Saved have followed the Lord out of darkness and into his marvelous light, but like the Israelites of old, the majority lack the faith to "enter in." They wander. They look for an external pillar of fire or smoke, or a neon sign, to point them in the right direction. They walk by sight even as they follow the invisible God.

The final group, those at Rest, are like still pools of water. They have discovered a quiet place before the Throne of God. Their lives are hid with Christ in God. These few have ceased from striving, self-effort, and self-judgment ("Yea, I judge not my own self," said Paul). As the grapevine effortlessly bears its fruit, these have found that the Life within them is all that's needed to accomplish what needs to be done in their lives. Activity is good, but there is a difference between the works of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit.

When a pool is quiet, the tiny effects of the smallest droplet will ripple across the entire surface. The words of God are quiet like the smallest droplet. When they find themselves falling upon the still hearts of those who Rest, they find open ears and ready hearts. Those who have not yet come to the end of themselves must "labor to enter into rest," they must quiet themselves before God if they are to hear his words.

So then, hearing God is not so much a matter of listening but of being a person who has the ability to hear. It is not a straining to hear the slightest sound, it is a surrendering of all. It is about loving Jesus, giving him your heart, and rejoicing in that love.

When you can pass through the Courtyard, and through the Holy Place, and through the torn Veil into the Holy of Holies, then you will hear from God. He meets with us there, above the Mercy Seat, which is Christ Jesus, in a place of Cherubims and light.

Here you will hear from God.
Author: Christopher
•10:24 AM
This post is again for the kiddoes ~ Aidan, Evan and Meagan. I want to make sure that I leave them a clear presentation of the Gospel, since there is so much muddy water out there right now. So here goes:

Are you a good person? (Seriously, are YOU? Look inside your heart.)

I'm going to assume that you said, "Yes." Everybody does. We tend to look at ourselves through glasses that we ourselves have made, and we look pretty good to ourselves.

But how do you think you're doing by God's standard?

(Everybody pretty much thinks that they are good by God's standards, so I'll assume that you think you're doing pretty good, too.)

Do you know what God's standard for goodness is?

God's standard is the Ten Commandments. Have you ever heard of them? Let's look at them one at a time, and see how you do!! (They are in the Bible in Exodus chapter 20.) We'll just look at a few of them.

#9 says, "Thou shalt not lie." Have you ever lied before? Even a little white lie? Of course you have! Think back on your life. Remember the last time that you lied? The last time you 'fudged' the truth a little bit?

What is a person called who lies? A liar. Are you a liar?

#8 says, "Thou shalt not steal." Have you ever stolen anything? This includes cheating on tests, and taking things so small that 'nobody will ever know.' It includes being lazy on the job which is taking money from your boss when you didn't do the job.

What do people call a person who steals? A thief. Are you a thief? (You may say, "But I only did it one time." How many times does a person have to murder to be a murderer? Just once. How many times does a person have to lie to be a liar? Just once. And, how many times does someone have to steal to be a thief? Just once.)

#3 says, "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain." Have you ever used God's name as a cuss word? Have you ever used the name of Jesus in a dirty joke? Is "G-- d--" something that you might say when you hit your thumb with a hammer?

What do people call a person who blasphemes? A blasphemer.

Are you a blasphemer?

#5 says "Thou shalt honor thy father and thy mother." Have you ever at any time disobeyed your parents? Have you ever talked back to them, even once? What would your mom say if I asked her how you're doing?

God's Law requires perfect holiness. How are you doing? We still have 6 commandments to go!

#6 says, "Thou shalt not murder." Before you say that you have never killed anyone, the Lord Jesus clarified this commandment by saying that if you're angry at a person without cause then you've committed murder already in your heart. Have you ever been angry at somebody just because YOU were in a bad mood even though they didn't do anything to you personally? How about getting mad at the driver in front of you who is going slow when you are in a hurry? How about getting mad at your mom when she is telling you to turn off the video games because it's bed time?

Have you ever been angry at somebody without a cause? Jesus said that you are guilty of murder.

#4 says, "Thou shalt remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy." Do you honor God by giving him one day each week? Have you ever missed a day?

As you can see, God's requirement for being 'good' is too high for anyone to attain. James 4:10 tells us, "For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all."

Why is this? Take a mirror which represents the righteousness of the Law, and write on it with a magic marker the numbers 1 thru 10; these numbers represent the 10 commandments. Now, whack one of the numbers with a hammer. Pick only one number and whack it only one time; you have to break just that one number without breaking the entire mirror when you do it. It's impossible. And you break God's laws every day.

Or write the numbers 1 thru 10 on a balloon. Try to pop one of the numbers without popping the entire balloon. Again, it's impossible.

You see the issue of righteousness requires you to be 100% good. Even a tiny transgression disqualifies you for heaven. That's right. You have to be righteous to go to Heaven. 100% right with God.

"The soul that sinneth it shall die." This verse refers to the second death, the death of the soul in Hell.

But doesn't that make God a meany? Not really. Think about this: A 10-year old boy slaps his father. What are the consequences? He may get a spanking, a good talking to, or be grounded for life. Or all three! Now, the same 10-year old boy slaps a police officer. What are the consequences? He will probably go to jail, and it'll be on his permanent record. Now imagine that the same 10-year old boy slaps a king or the ruler of a country. What are the consequences? He may end up with his head on the chopping block.

A spanking, a jail term, or the chopping block. The same offense but with very different consequences. What made the difference? The authority of the one who was offended!

So what happens if we offend an INFINITE Ruler like God? Offending an infinite God by breaking his infinite laws brings the infinite punishment.

This is why the Bible states that all liars will have their place in the Lake of Fire. Hell is simply the reward of sinning against a holy God.

"But I didn't know about God's laws!" you might say.

God responds, "And if a soul sin, and commit any of these things which are forbidden to be done by the commandments of the LORD; though he wist [know] it not, yet is he guilty, and shall bear his iniquity." (Lev. 5)

Ignorance of the Law is no excuse! If you transgress the Law one time, you are guilty of all. If you are guilty at all, you justly deserve the full punishment of an Almighty Holy God.

Let me ask you the same question that we started with: "Are you a good person?" The Bible says, "There is none righteous, no not one," and "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God."

That's the bad news. Now comes the Good News! (Gospel means 'good news').

Imagine a courtroom setting. The Judge is sitting behind the bar. Your case has been reviewed, and you are guilty. The Judge raises the gavel and bring it down with a loud BANG! You have been officially declared guilty by God (Romans 3:19 states that "all the world" has been declared "guilty before God." And that includes you.)

The gavel is raised a second time, this time to declare your eternal punishment. But before it can be lowered, a Person steps forward and volunteers to take your guilt . . . and also your punishment! This Person loves you. His name is Jesus. He wants to die in your place!

The Judge says that he will allow it, but that only a man can die in the place of another man. Jesus would have to leave Heaven, leaving behind everything that made him God, and become a Man. And then, he would have to live a totally perfect life so that his death would not be for his own sins. He would have to be sinless. Righteous in every action, word, and thought.

Jesus takes up the challenge. He comes to earth, is born in a manger, and then grows to an adult. He never sins one time. He is then falsely accused and crucified. His blood is shed. He dies.

But three days later, he rose from the grave! He ascended to the Father, the Judge. And there, he presents to the Father his precious blood. Is it sufficient for this man's sins? For your sins?

Yes! The Judge accepts the blood, the life that was given in your place!! We know this because the Father raise Jesus from the dead.

The Judge now turns to you and makes the following offer: "You have sinned against God. Being guilty of breaking the Law, you are guilty of breaking the entire Law. Because you have offended the INFINITE authority of a holy God, you will be punished with an infinite punishment ~ infinite in scope, in strength, and in duration. But Jesus has died as your substitute. Will you accept his sacrifice in your place? If you do, you will be free from any and all condemnation for any and all sin that you have committed or will commit in your life. This Court will hold you as RIGHTEOUS before God forever. Will you accept Jesus sacrifice? Or will you go it alone?"

That is the question that God sets before you today. Will you accept Jesus' blood that was given in your place, knowing that you will be declared right with God if you do so, or will you reject Jesus knowing that you already stand guilty before God, and that your eternal punishment is as certain as the word of God.

If you accept what Jesus has done for you, then bow your head and tell God that you accept Jesus' sacrifice in your place. If you do, the Bible says, "Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." You will be saved!

If you reject what Jesus has done for you, then bow your head and tell him that. The Bible tells us, "There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth." Rejection of the blood of Jesus leads only to Hell.

Just because you're my child, doesn't mean that God will accept you into Heaven. I love you. I accepted Jesus' gift of eternal when I was 18-years old. I want you to be with me in Heaven some day. Please accept Jesus today. Right now.

Author: Christopher
•9:04 PM
I was saved shortly after my 18th birthday. At that time, I struggled inside with a lot of depression. I would often walk down the road to a park, walk up to the top of the hill, and there I would pour out my complaints and tears to God.

On one such occasion, it was after nightfall. I wept and wept. I'm not even sure what I was praying about, but my whole life hurt. After I had been there for a long time, at least an hour or so, I stopped. I wasn't sure what else to say. I had listed every sorrow and complaint that I had. There was nothing left.

And the Lord quietly asked me, "Am I still good?"


My life was, I believed, a hopeless mess. I felt alone, shrouded in depression. I was angry, and I was hurt. The darkness around me was not just the night sky, it was a 'thing' that surrounded me and engulfed me, threatening to destroy me.

"Am I still good?"

I looked beyond my circumstances, passed the darkness and sadness. High above, untouched by my screwed up life, was God.

Jesus, my loving Jesus.

And yes, he was still good. That was a very important lesson for me: Even when my life is a mess, God is still good.

Tonight at church, I learned another lesson.

I have been feeling around in my heart trying to discern what I want to be when I grow up. A pastor? A missionary? Perhaps a life coach, or speaker? Perhaps a business owner who supports missionaries? Or, maybe I'll just continue with being an office manager?

It's all very confusing! I love so many things! My interests are so varied, and I love learning...but soon, my interest will be focused on something else. I'll be off down another path. Sigh.

So what am I to do? Which way should I go? What is the best thing for my life?

(Now, I know that Jesus has given me liberty to pursue any goal that my heart desires, but rather than helping, that seems to make the matter so much worse. Oh, how I wish he would just tell me the ONE thing that I should do! But he is quiet. And I am confused.)

Tonight at church, I saw myself standing on a road. But I didn't see a path to take, or a neon sign pointing the way. I was wrapped in a gray, tangled up ball that looked to be partly a ball of yarn, and partly a ball of spider's web. It was impenetrable. It was as if a fog had been wrapped around me.

And that same voice asked, "Am I still Light?"


Even when I don't know the way, even when I don't have the answer, even when my little world feels like it is floating dead in God still Light?

And I answered, "Yes, " because it's not about me. It's about him. He's never been lost. He's never been confused. He is the Way. He is the Light.

Jesus, my loving Jesus!

Thank you.
Author: Christopher
•10:04 AM

I love peace. When my heart is still, and my mind is calm, and all is right with the world, I love it. But every once in awhile, someone doesn't measure up to my expectations, or they hurt me, and I notice that my peace is gone.

It's during those times that my mind start whirring when my head is on the pillow. I talk to the person, or I yell at them, or I fight with them. And I feel anxious. And the peace is gone.

Unforgiveness has set in.

Ever been there? It's so sneaky that sometimes I don't recognize the signs until I've been doing it for several days. The thought of that person brings a look of contempt to my face. I don't like them. I don't like what they said. I don't like how they behave, or treat me. And I tell them so.

In my head.

Over and over, and over and over.

Paul talks in the Bible about a root of bitterness that gets down into our hearts, and embeds itself there. It becomes part of us. Think about that! It becomes part of our personality, shaping us, twisting us. And by it many are defiled, he says.

Have you ever known someone who was perfectly normal until a particular person came up in conversation? And then it happened. Their face changes. Their tongue begins to drip cynicism, and the bitterness flows. You can hear it in their voice, and you wonder why they can't. Are they even aware of how nasty they sound?

I don't ever want to be like that.

When I first notice that I have unforgiveness toward someone, I do something about it. Usually, I address them as if they are standing there with me. I call their name, and I say, "I forgive you."

It always make me smile. Sometimes, I have to do it a few times, but it always works.

My brother said something to me once that was very helpful:

"Whenever someone is forgiven, someone else has to bear the hurt. That's the way it was with Jesus. For him to forgive the world, he had to absorb the hurt . . . and give love in response."

The Lord Jesus had every reason to be bitter, but he overcame it. How? He offered forgiveness to them. He prayed for them. He loved them.

"Father, forgive them."

Beware of bitterness.
Author: Christopher
•8:24 AM
The other day, as I usually do when I get a little down about our financial state of affairs, I opened up the Bible to the book of Proverbs. I started reading at chapter 1, and read to chapter 9 or 10. When I first started, I had a green colored pencil in one hand and a pen in the other. I was going to highlight all the money verses and make notes as I read.

Sounds like a great idea, huh?

I soon realized that I had already done this! All the money verses already had green pencil markings on the them. Well, I figured, I'll just do it again. Did you know that the first seven chapters are all about 'NOT losing money' and 'NOT losing honor' and 'NOT losing a good life'?

It's true. Chapter 1 is the intro chapter; it warns against following after thieves and criminals. Chapter 2 briefly warns against 'evil' men and 'strange' women. Chapter 3 warns against being disobedient to parents, casting aside wisdom and choosing the ways of the oppressor. Chapter 4 again warns about ignoring the wisdom of parents, and following after 'evil' men. Chapter 5 is a huge warning against ungodly women, and a small section on avoiding co-ownership of a business (co-signing, etc.). Chapter 6 is a warning against being in debt, being lazy, and following the 'strange' woman. Chapter 7 is another HUGE warning against the hottie, I mean, the 'strange' woman.

The biggest thing, the first thing, that we need to understand is that there are some things that we should avoid (pitfalls, if you will) that will completely wreck our lives. These are listed in the first seven chapters.

And at chapter 8, we are given a BIG introduction to the subject of wisdom, and how wisdom is better than money.

At this point, a light bulb went off in my head. If money and honor are the RESULT of being wise. If they are the FRUIT of wisdom, . . .

then why were all the money verses highlighted and studied, but none of the wisdom verses were? Why hadn't I studied the cause rather than the effect?

There is an old saying that says you will never find joy by seeking joy. Joy is the by-product of focusing on others. The relationship between money and wisdom is the same thing. You will never have money by seeking money. Money is the by-product of wisdom. Get wisdom, get understanding. And the money will come.

What is wisdom, though? Everybody else always seemed to 'get' this idea of wisdom, but it's never made sense to me. It's not just knowledge. It's not just understanding. It's not even insight.

The Eskimos say that a person becomes wise when they can see what needs to be done and then then they do it successfully without being told what to do.

This definition includes the ideas of initiative, courage, and instruction. It also lives in the REAL world.

Have you ever thought about why Wisdom in the book of Proverbs hates evil? Why it loves righteousness? Why it is upright? It's because Wisdom is based upon understanding the interconnected relationships that exist in God's creation. It is based upon His laws of creation.

You may think that hoarding money will make you rich, but that is based upon YOUR understanding of things, not on God's creation. It is not based upon how things REALLY are.

You may think that it is best to oppress and be a dictator, but that is a misunderstanding. God's laws and principles state something entirely different.

So, wisdom must dwell in God's REALITY, the true reality. This is why the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Until we fear God, truly honor him as God, we will never see that he is the one in charge. His truth is the ONLY truth.

Figure out his truth and you have gained wisdom.

God's truth doesn't extend to just spiritual things, but financial things as well. Have you ever heard an excellent teaching on business? on politics? on natural medicine? on baking? And you say, "That's awesome!!" as your eyes open to something that you've never seen before. You want to tell everything what you just learned. Pieces of the puzzle just fell into place, and the world is a little easier to understand.

That's wisdom. It's upright. It's pure. It's enlightening. It's a look into the laws of God's creation.

Get more of that wisdom. Seek it with all your heart. And the money will follow. And with it honor, and joy.
Author: Christopher
•10:05 AM
Wrote this to a friend of mine. Needs cleaned up a bit, but it's got some nuggets in it for those who care to look for them:

[Penuel is the river that Jacob had to cross over to enter back into the Promised Land. He would also encounter his brother, Esau, whom he had cheated out of the blessing many years before.]

Penuel means the face of God. To see the face of God, it cost Jacob everything he had. First his stuff. Then his family. Then a good night's sleep. Finally his health when the angel (definitely Jesus in the OT) touched his thigh. In the end, he gained 1) power with God, 2) a new name.

Remember in the Laban chapter (chapter 31), Jacob talked about the God of Isaac? Well, now, after Penuel, he will be Jacob's God, too. But it cost him everything.

In the last chapters of Genesis, it says that Jacob blessed Joseph's sons 'leaning upon his staff.' This hearkens back to this event at Penuel. Jacob would have no blessings to give if it weren't for Penuel. (Heb 11:21)

I would not teach this chapter as a salvation chapter. Jacob had already met with God at Beth-el. He knew God. That was the step of salvation. The first step. It didn't cost him anything. Salvation never costs the believer anything.

What is being taught at Penuel is what most Christians lack. This is the place where it costs everything you have and are. This is the 2nd step.

If Beth-el is crossing the Red Sea, then Penuel is crossing the Jordan.
If Beth-el is entering into the Holy Place, then Penuel is entering into the Holies of Holies.
If Beth-el is the Death/Burial/Resurrection, then Penuel is the Promise of the Spirit being Given.

The first makes a son out of a slave. The second make a servant out of a son.

The first delivers from sin. The second delivers unto God.

You are correct. Penuel is very important. If you haven't been there, you need to be there before teaching this chapter. Get alone with God. And wrestle with him, giving him everything, everyone, and every breath. Don't leave until he blesses you.

The hip. Those who have been to Penuel have experienced a wounding in their earthly life. They falter in their walk on earth even as they stride confidently with God. Their home is not here, their eyes are not here. Their affections are not here. They look weak, but they have power with God. Like Paul, their appearance is feeble, but in presence, they are strong in the Spirit.

The victory. Labor to enter into rest. Wrestle with yourself and God until you cease to wrestle. The victory was not over the angel, but over himself. God wanted Jacob. Jacob wanted God. They wrestled against the common enemy of Jacob's self-sufficiency (what Jacob's name means). In the end, God and Israel walked away together. Jacob was dead. A prince was born.

If Jacob is the self-sufficient Christian, then Israel is the Christ-dependent Christian.
If Jacob is the carnal believer, then Israel is the spiritual believer.
If Jacob is the common Christian in the pew, then Israel is one of the few friends of God.

My favorite old hymn says, "Nothing between my soul and the Saviour so that his blessed face may be seen. Nothing preventing the least of his favour. Keep the way clear. Let nothing between."

Have you been to Penuel?
Author: Christopher
•9:33 AM
A quick lesson for the kids.

When we look at the children of Israel wandering around in the desert, we learn a lesson that is key to the Christian life. As they wandered, they were following a pillar of smoke by day, and a pillar of fire by night. The pillar could move at any time. And often did.

Here's the lesson: When you don't want to move, God will often move you. When you want to move, God will often let you sit there.

He is breaking your will. He's also driving you crazy, but that's another lesson. He's also teaching you obedience, joy in any circumstance, and courage.

Here's another lesson: When you make up your mind to do something, God will often cause you to do something entirely different.

I remember when I was in my early 20's. I had finally decided that I was tired of asking God to show me what to do with my life, I was going to go to missionary school. I sent off a letter to a missions ministry down in Texas. In between the time it took to mail the letter, and the time it took to receive an answer, God spoke to me and had me enroll at a local Bible college. God changed everything just that fast.

In my early 40's, the same principle applies. My wife and I had been going to a wonderful church. I was the adult Sunday School teacher for 3 years. I had just begun a process of teaching through the entire Bible ("Might as well, I can't see us ever leaving," I said to myself), and within 3 months, we're moving 2 1/2 hours away for another job.

Sometimes, I get angry with God for messing up my plans. Am I not supposed to make any plans? Everybody tells me that I am. But the moment that I have something settled in my heart, "This is what I will do," He moves me. He changes things.

Here's the lesson. Make the plans. Write things in stone. Set out to do things.

And when God intervenes, realize that he isn't spoiling YOUR plans. He sees your potential, your desire, and so he is helping you. He is moving you in a better direction than what you could ever dream of.
Author: Christopher
•9:24 AM
December 2009. I was at work a couple of weeks ago when my wife called me.

"The dryer's on fire!"

"Well, put it out."

She did. She was very happy to get to use a fire extinguisher for the first time. She opened all the windows to let the smoke out. And it was fine. But we didn't have a dryer.

I actually got giddy inside. I told my boss,

"I'm so excited!!"

"Why?" he asked.

"God's gonna give us a new dryer! He can't give you a new one, without getting rid of the old one first!"

I started praying. My wife started hanging up wet clothes on hangers all around the apartment. A few days passed. We were going to buy one, but it was Christmas time and presents came first...and besides, God would supply. My boss was going to buy us one, too. But he didn't need to.

Our friends up in Ravenna had their washing machine die. So his parents gave then a slightly used set. They now had a dryer just sitting there. They called us.

"Can you pick it up?"

Of course, I could! So I borrowed the work van and picked up our 4 year old, extra large capacity, super quiet dryer. Love it!!

Isn't God good?