Friday, September 30, 2011

"Us Being Us"

When major league baseball player Manny Ramirez was with the Boston Red Sox and used to "act up" and perform his strange and eccentric antics, his team mates coined the phrase, "That's just Manny being Manny". It's followed him to the Dodgers and will probably be used to describe him for the rest of his life.

There was never really anything really wrong with "Manny being Manny". He just looked and acted a little strange at times. Then Manny got caught by a drug test for using performance enhancing drugs and was suspended for 50 games last season. This season he was caught again, and rather suffer through a 100 game suspension, he just quit baseball.

If that starts to define Manny as being Manny from now on, it's no longer cute or funny. It becomes sad and disappointing.

Such is life. "Manny" is no different than us.

We are just us trying to be us on a daily basis, from the rich and famous and powerful, to the rank and file of people who have to punch in to be noticed every day.

People being people.

1 Corinthians 4:12 (AMP) - "And we still toil unto weariness [for our living], working hard with our own hands. When men revile us [wound us with an accursed sting], we bless them. When we are persecuted, we take it patiently and endure it."

In other words, we act upon or respond to our world in certain ways.

What he is describing is how a disciple of Jesus Christ gets through the day.

We "despised fools for Christ" are just "disciples being disciples".

We choose to be that just as everyone else including Manny choose to be who they are.

Your mission today, should YOU decide to accept it, is to be you being Christ.

Keepin' it Real,

Pastor Kevin <><

Thursday, September 29, 2011

"The Reapers"

Matthew 13:38-39 - "The field is the world, and the good seed means the children of the kingdom; the darnel (weeds) is the children of the evil one, (39) And the enemy who sowed it is the devil. The harvest is the close and consummation of the age, and the reapers are angels."

Someone has tried to destroy God's crops.

An evil, despicable enemy has sneaked into the perimeter and planted weeds designed to choke out the good seed and crop of God.

There are sappers on the wire.

This has resulted in conflict. Good crops (disciples) surrounded and intertwined with evil. Children of the devil in cohabitation with the children of God.

Sometimes we are mingled into the same neighborhoods, the same city, the same culture, the same workplace.

Sometimes it's right under your own roof.

Along the way of biblical instruction it has become erroneously assumed that the job of the good seed (the children of God) is to eradicate the children of the devil.

Not so. That's the job of Jesus Christ and He will dispatch angels to take care of that at the culmination of the ages.

The Reapers.

You see, as Spirit filled and pious as we can get, we are not equipped to deal with plucking out evil from our midst. We are qualified to plant good seed and help it grow into a good crop, but we have no control over the eradication of evil. We can resist it, and even control it, but we cannot eradicate it.

This is why things have gotten progressively worse in the big snow globe over the centuries.

The more good seed we plant the more the devil sprinkles in weeds. Sometimes the weeds seem to outnumber the good crop. It seems that way because I believe it does.

One could start to feel like General Custer at Little Big Horn.

Even the disciples asked Jesus to reap the harvest.

Verse 28: "The servants said to him, Then do you want us to go and weed them out?"

Jesus' response?

Verse 29: "But he said, No, lest in gathering the wild wheat (weeds resembling wheat), you root up the [true] wheat along with it."

I believe it's because we are dealing in a different realm of the supernatural that we can't cross over to until we revert back to being completely a spirit being. Our flesh gets in the way.

Some things we just have to trust over to God while we continue to obey and be sowers .

He will take care of the weeding and harvesting.

He will someday send the Reapers.

We are not to speculate on dates and times. We are to patiently wait.

I believe it is not far off.

We may only have to contend with evil for a just a little while longer.

In the meantime. Plant and water. The more good in the garden the better. As numerous as the weeds may be they will never choke out the beautiful flowers that God is growing, and someday the culmination of the age will be at hand.

Revelation 14:16-18
(16) "So He Who was sitting upon the cloud swung His scythe (sickle) on the earth, and the earth's crop was harvested. (17) Then another angel came out of the temple [sanctuary] in heaven, and he also carried a sharp scythe (sickle). (18) And another angel came forth from the altar, [the angel] who has authority and power over fire, and he called with a loud cry to him who had the sharp scythe (sickle), Put forth your scythe and reap the fruitage of the vine of the earth, for its grapes are entirely ripe."

Your responsibility as part of God's great Vineyard is to be sure you are ripe for the harvest!

Look to the sky each morning. Pray to the Lord of the Harvest to return quickly.

The scythes and sickles are being honed.

Keepin' it Real,

Pastor Kevin <><

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

"Scenes From A Prison"

The earth shook. The prison went dark. Walls and gates collapsed. Chains and shackles were broken apart. Prisoners were free to escape. The jailer was on the verge of killing himself as he believed many surely took full advantage.

Acts 16:28 - "But Paul shouted, Do not harm yourself, for we are all here!"

The jailer, so stunned, and so impressed and thankful for Paul and Silas, and recognizing they represent God, falls at their feet.

He sees something supernatural in them. He senses their rightness in Jesus Christ.

He had been listening to their songs. He had been listening to their preaching to the other prisoners.

The Philippian jailer wanted some of that!

Acts 16:30 - "And he brought them out [of the dungeon] and said, Men, what is it necessary for me to do that I may be saved?"

He was probably thinking there was a great work to be done. Some chores. Some duties. A club to join.

He must have been surprised at the response.

Acts 16:31 - "And they answered, Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ [give yourself up to Him, take yourself out of your own keeping and entrust yourself into His keeping] and you will be saved, [and this applies both to] you and your household as well."

A simple task as far as performing goes.

Let go of yourself and trust Jesus Christ.

My, how we've complicated that over the centuries.

Stop trying to do it alone. Put yourself squarely in the hands of your Creator, and not only will it work for you, but your family as well.

The least common denominator? Trust Jesus.

Anything that teaches anything more or less than that is a corrupted gospel.

Acts 16:32 - "And they declared the Word of the Lord [the doctrine concerning the attainment through Christ of eternal salvation in the kingdom of God] to him and to all who were in his house."

Paul and Silas went to the jailer's home and preached the gospel to his family, and they were all saved as well.

How do we know? Because they submitted. They agreed to be baptized.

Acts 16:33 - "And he took them the same hour of the night and bathed [them because of their bloody] wounds, and he was baptized immediately and all [the members of] his [household]."

We have even turned that into a ritualistic religious endeavor.

Have you ever contemplated why we are to be baptized? Why Jesus commanded that we do that?

Well, there it is.

It's proof that we submitted.

Unless the jailer and his family submitted to be baptized we would not have the proof 2,000 years later that they had actually believed in the first place.

Even today our submission to the waters of baptism is simply an outward sign as to what Jesus has done in our heart.

What's the point of all this today?

Submit and don't complicate it.

You can choose to grow the Kingdom.

Or you can be religious.

Keepin' it Real,

Pastor Kevin <><

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

"Hurt And Hindered"

Mark's gospel gives us the account of when Jesus went back to his hometown of Nazareth and was rejected by all of the people who knew Him when he was a boy and a young man.

They just couldn't get past the fact of who he used to be as a carpenter.

They couldn't accept Him in His present role as Messiah.

The Word says that Jesus "marveled" at their unbelief.

The tragic part of the passage is contained in Mark 6:3 - "And they took offense at Him and were hurt [that is, they disapproved of Him, and it hindered them from acknowledging His authority] and they were caused to stumble and fall."

It says they were hurt and hindered. They disapproved of Him. They were offended by Him.

They couldn't put away the image of perhaps a runny nosed little kid trampling over their rose bushes.

They couldn't get past the fact hat the guy who once fashioned their tables and chairs was now claiming to be the Son of God.

Can you identify?

How about when you get saved and in your exuberance evangelize your family and friends and co-workers only to be met with a lesser exuberance than your own?

How about when they start to avoid you because you are just going to start talking that "God stuff" again?

How about under you own roof when you hear Sunday after Sunday, "You go to church honey, I'm just not really into that religious stuff".

Jesus relates.

Jesus doesn't like being limited, which is what He was as a result of unbelief.

Mark says that Jesus could only do a few minor acts of healing at Nazareth because the level of unbelief was so high.

The one place where perhaps He wanted His greatest triumph became the place of His greatest failure: His own hometown.

"A prophet is not without honor except in his own hometown."

From what I can ascertain from that passage the culprit really is stubborn unwillingness to submit to the authority of Jesus Christ.

It's typical, but not insurmountable.

Those of us who are His disciples today have done it.

We are healed and assisted instead of hurt and hindered.

Many are puzzled by our testimonies of miracles and God's providence in our lives.

It confounds the stubborn who refuse to yield.

The Rock of Offense becomes a tripping stone instead of a place of refuge.

I would like to say this is all about "the others".

However, I have seen it right in the very place one would least expect.

I have seen it in the churches.

Time and time again.

There are people in the pews who have never submitted it all to Jesus.

Not in 5 years. Not in 10 years. Not in 50 years.

The rising tide of problems and difficulties always sits just below the nostrils, not quite consuming and drowning them, but never allowing for deliverance into the full flow of grace.

I call it treading water.

Jesus wants us to swim, not merely tread water.

So how about yourself today?

Fully submitted?

It might cause some rejection from your own household, but Jesus has disallowed any excuse for not following Him fully.

Become all of His. Every fiber. Sold out lock, stock, and barrel.

The decision carries eternal benefits.

Be blessed today!

Keepin' it Real,

Pastor Kevin <><

Monday, September 26, 2011

"Meaningless Words"

We say them to people all of the time. Our intentions are good. We are only trying to help.

They are words we say that we either think will really help, or they are words that just take up awkward moments of time when we really don't know what to say.

I'm talking about advice. Not necessarily bad advice, but should I say it... generic advice.

I've narrowed it down to three simple phrases in the interest of time and space.

"It's probably nothing." "Don't worry, everything is going to be OK." "Maybe it will just go away."

It's generally "something". It's not going to just be "OK". It never just "goes away."

That is unless the advice is given prayerfully with great contemplation and in the power of Christ and the Holy Spirit.

That changes everything.

Matthew 6:33 - "But seek ( aim at and strive after) first of all His kingdom and His righteousness ( His way of doing and being right), and then all these things taken together will be given you besides."

Yes indeed.

I wouldn't phrase the advice this same way, and in fact, it could be scaled down to a more concise declaration.

How about, "Jesus Never Fails!"

I have a friend who has that very passage on the front of his pulpit so that it is constantly before everyone who looks that way. Jesus never fails.

Poor, empty advice turned into powerful words of truth.

All because of Jesus.

So, if (or I should say "when") the storm hits and the weak advice starts to flow, accept it all in the spirit given, as folks only mean well in those moments.

However, keep ever before you that as you continually strive after Jesus and His methods for righteousness, He is forever meeting your needs and more (continually adding more things to you).

Jesus never fails.


Be blessed as you implement His Word into your life.

Keepin' it Real,

Pastor Kevin

Friday, September 23, 2011

"Things That Are Out Of Place For $1,000, Alex"

Ever watch the game Jeopardy on television?

If you answer incorrectly you can "jeopardize" all that you have.

Life can mimic that sometimes.

Check out something that John says in his first epistle.

1 John 2:15-16 - "Do not love or cherish the world or the things that are in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. (16) For all that is in the world--the lust of the flesh [craving for sensual gratification] and the lust of the eyes [greedy longings of the mind] and the pride of life [assurance in one's own resources or in the stability of earthly things]--these do not come from the Father but are from the world [itself]."

Note the buzz words here: craving, lust, gratification, greed, longing...

This is jeopardy for the believer.

John is specific. This is not to say that there are things of the world we cannot have. On the contrary. There is nothing wrong with having a nice home, car, good paying job, nice clothes, etc.

There is a difference between liking or even needing something, and loving it and lusting and craving after it.

The believer never has to do any of that. God knows what we need and desire and willfully and graciously provides (Matt. 6).

In fact, all of the things described are "Things That Are Out Of Place" for the believer.

These are the things that will run the believer off the rails and wreck their faith.

Lust of the flesh is coveting. We know God hasn't liked that one since the beginning. It's Number 10 on the Big Ten Sin Parade.

Pride of life? That one sunk Lucifer's (Satan) high hopes. He and 1/3 of the angels of heaven. It precedes a fall. The serpent talked Adam and Eve into that one as well.

I could sit here and rattle off probably fifty different varieties of the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.

All of them would be out of place in the life of the disciple of Jesus Christ.

John didn't issue this warning for us to have to keep a checklist of what to do or what not to do. He was making a comparison so we could make a an informed assessment of our lives.

If we find ourselves living closer to the world than God wants for us, we should recognize that fact and make the proper adjustment.

The adjustment is not to purposely decide in our own strength and power to make changes. That doesn't work. It didn't work before we knew Jesus and it will not work now.

Thats' a hard concept for some folks to wrap their brain around.

It's never what we can do.

It's always what the power of the Holy Spirit can do in us. When we allow Him to.

It's about yielding to Him, not fixing it ourselves.

Closeness to the world means further from God. Grow closer to God, and the world and its lustful cravings shrink.

Think of Abraham and Lot. When they split up and went their separate ways, Lot chose to pitch his tent in Sodom. Abraham chose the fertile lands of the Jordan area. We see the tragic results of craving what the world offers in the choices Lot made.

When you pitch your tent too close to lustful sinfulness God will be offended.

When things are out of place that means things are in disorder and disarray.

A life in disarray is not a sign of a life consecrated to Christ.

It might come as a rude awakening today...but...'s essentially...

...Keepin' it Real.

Pastor Kevin <><

Thursday, September 22, 2011

"Remember Lot's Wife!"

Interesting concept about the "Pillar of Salt". The Bible says it is what happened to Lot's wife as their family fled the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.

I think it has been often misinterpreted as to what that exactly means.

First of all, there is no mention that Lot's wife was the victim of some sort of personal judgment by God just because she turned around to catch a glimpse of the destruction. I mean it wasn't like "Zap! You are now a pillar of salt".

However, it does appear that she most definitely suffered her fate because she paused and looked back.

She paused and looked back. Most probably long enough for the ash, brimstone and particles from the large salt quarries that were known to be in the area rained down upon her and buried her where she stood.

From then on she has been known as Lot's Wife: The woman who stopped to look back.

When we head out from the past destruction of our previous lives before knowing Christ we are to keep going in that direction.

We are never to look back in wonderment of whether we made the right choice. We are never to mourn the "old life".

When or if we do, there is a good chance that it will "catch up to us" and bury us in our past.

There may be no coming back out again. It would be is as if we have been turned into a stone monument of our sins.

What does Jesus say?

He says in Luke 17:32 - "Remember Lot's wife!"

Not as as a question, but as an emphatic exclamation!

"Remember what happened to Lot's Wife!"

Don't go there! Stay the course!

Be a Pillar of Strength, not a Pillar of Salt!

When does Jesus bring up the remembrance of Lot's wife? During his message on the day He will appear to us again.

He says in the previous verse 31: "On that day let him who is on the housetop, with his belongings in the house, not come down [and go inside] to carry them away; and likewise let him who is in the field not turn back."

Be alert. His return is imminent. There will be no time to gather up your stuff or to make up your mind. Once you are on the road with Him there is no room for looking back.

There never has been. There never will be.

We are either all in, or we are all out. We cannot straddle the fence. There is no gray area. No DMZ.

Matthew 12:30 - "He who is not with Me [definitely on My side] is against Me."

Lot's wife wasn't sure.

You need to be sure.

Today and every day.

Be assured that you are in my prayers today.

Keepin' it Real,

Pastor Kevin <><

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

"Shadow People"

Psalm 39:6 (Amplified Bible) - "Surely every man walks to and fro--like a shadow in a pantomime; surely for futility and emptiness he is in turmoil; each one heaps up riches, not knowing who will gather them."

There's a portrait of a life that needs to change.

Shadow People. Living life as a pantomime of reality.

Filled with emptiness. How's that for a paradox? A true oxymoron.

An exercise in futility. Always in some sort of turmoil.

Some people live their entire lives in that fashion.

It's the life of self-control.

People in trouble lament they have no self-control. On the contrary. They have too much.

How can you tell if someone has not given themselves over completely to Christ?

Simply look at the outward signs.

How one lives is how one is.

How a person prioritizes their life is a big clue for me.

Hey let's face it, everybody has their difficulties. Christians are not immune.

It's when those difficulties are self inflicted because of a simple misalignment of priorities that cause some to walk among the shadows mimicking life instead of living life.

Did you catch that? I said some mimic life rather than living life.

Order your life.

God ALWAYS comes first. In everything.

Blow off this simple advice (and I have seen it firsthand), and watch how life dissolves from a tangible solid into a shadowy, vacuous mist.

Shadow People are selfish and therefore are oblivious until it's too late when (or if) they realize that they have sucked everything and everyone around them into their black hole of nothingness.

The children do not need Shadow People for parents. With no direction and Godly example, they will become Shadow People too.

Dad's what are you doing to your children by choosing against God?

Mom's what example do you set with your unhappiness and self-anesthetizing?

Shadow People need to step out of the ethereal darkness and materialize as Children of God.

There is a lot more at stake than what most think.

Future generations are relying upon you to take your place and be counted among the brethren.

Bound in the dark shadows of a living tomb, Jesus says today, "Come forth!"

Know that I am praying for all of you.

Run everything past Jesus first!

Keepin' it Real,

Pastor Kevin <><

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

"Pilgrim's Regress"

Bunyan's great allegorical work from 1678 has proven to be a timeless classic. "The Pilgrim's Progress From This World To That Which Is To Come."

The protagonist character is "Christian", who begins his journey from "The City of Destruction" (this world), to the "Celestial City" (heaven). The burden he carries is the weight of the awareness of his own sin.

Along the way he meets "Evangelist" who points him toward salvation, and immediately he leaves his own wife and children to venture to attain it.

This book, where once revered and a staple in any Christian library, would be at the least ignored today. It would be banished as irrelevant.

It's clear message straight from the Word of God is easier to rebuke and refute without fear.

People don't like to come right out and debunk the Bible because they fear it if not anything else.

They won't pay heed to it, but they'll fear it.

Peripheral oxymoron.

I'm finding it harder and harder for people to be convinced about their life in Christ.

Oh, they jump at Christ fast enough. They just don't want to live like Him.

I have to be reminded of the mentoring of Paul to a young Timothy:

"I can’t impress this on you too strongly. God is looking over your shoulder. Christ himself is the Judge, with the final say on everyone, living and dead. He is about to break into the open with his rule, so proclaim the Message with intensity; keep on your watch. Challenge, warn, and urge your people. Don’t ever quit. Just keep it simple. You’re going to find that there will be times when people will have no stomach for solid teaching, but will fill up on spiritual junk food -- catchy opinions that tickle their fancy. They’ll turn their backs on truths and chase mirages. But keep your eye on what you’re doing; accept the hard times along with the good; keep the Message alive; do a thorough job as God’s servant." (2 Timothy 3:14-4:5, The Message)

Wow. Spiritual junk food. Catchy options. Chasing mirages.

It's unraveling right before my very eyes.

The "options" for a Christan today are so many. They are shiny and pretty and inviting.

But they are a mirage as far as being fulfilling in one's life.

Here today. Gone tomorrow.

For goodness sake, Jesus is being swapped off on any given Sunday for "appointments" and "other commitments".

Bunyan would be amazed. Christian doesn't just fall into the Slough of Despond anymore. He swan dives into it.

The By-Ends have formed a party and are gaining strength.

Good Lord, we are finding more pillars of salt along the way than we are crosses.

I am starting to understand Jesus' fearful parable of the wide and narrow gates more thoroughly as I go.

So many have one foot in the Kingdom and the other in the grievous losing of their past sinful life that it is sometimes horrifying to me.

When one considers the stakes...and the way some so carelessly, even ignorantly place themselves and their family at risk...

Fight people. Fight for your self. Fight for your spouse and family. Fight for your church.

This is not the time to start pondering whether you had it better in the old life.

This is the time to run full speed toward Jesus. This is the time to chase the demons from inside your brain and embrace what you KNOW is right.

Be blessed today my friends and know that I am praying for all of you.

Keepin' it Real,

Pastor Kevin <><

Monday, September 19, 2011

"If You're Waiting For Bubbles..."

I'm not sure if any of the great painters of religious art ever captured the scene of the angel of God stirring the waters for healing at the Pool of Bethesda.

The picture in my mind is a pathetic one. I see hundreds of people waiting for the water to be stirred and then trying to be the first one in the pool to get healed.

That had to be a sorry, if not somewhat disconcerting sight.

John 5:3: "In these lay a great number of sick folk--some blind, some crippled, and some paralyzed (shriveled up)--waiting for the bubbling up of the water. (4) For an angel of the Lord went down at appointed seasons into the pool and moved and stirred up the water; whoever then first, after the stirring up of the water, stepped in was cured of whatever disease with which he was afflicted."

I do know this: it grabbed Jesus' attention. Particularly one man's plight.

There was one crippled man who never seemed able to get into the water fast enough to be the first one in. Someone else always beat him to it.

It appears he was a failure at this for some 38 years.

He was bitter. Angry. Disgruntled. Some would look at him and think he was cursed.

Now, my read on this might be a bit different than some, and I can't say I have a leg to stand on other than my own speculation, but it seems to me that this guy must have blown a good chance a time or two in 38 years.

Me personally? I think he likes being a victim. I think he likes complaining.

I think he doesn't really want to get into the pool.

Why do I think that?

Mainly because of Jesus' reaction to his complaint.

Jesus asks him, "Do you REALLY want to get well?"


The response? More complaining.

"No one wants to help me." "Someone always beats me to it!" "I try and try, but I always come up short."

You know what? I know people like that guy!

Always around the action, but never in it.

I actually have known people who have lived and died and lived their entire existence out of the loop. They heard the message. They knew WHAT to do. They just never made it happen for themselves.

Jesus' reaction and response to the man was simple and concise: "(8) Jesus said to him, Get up! Pick up your bed (sleeping pad) and walk!"

That's it?

Yes, apparently so.

Because when the crippled man heard this "He became well and recovered his strength and picked up his bed and walked." (vs. 9)

Need something in your life you have been waiting a long time for?

A healing? Of some sort?

Yet, you sit there and "wait for the bubbles...".

News flash!

Get on with it. Get it to Jesus. Give it over. Listen to His words today and heed them.

Whatever it is today that has been defeating you, holding you back, depressing you, keeping you from being what God has intended you to become, stop lying around and waiting for the bubbles.

The angelic whirlpool is out of order.

Jesus has the plan.

Assess your situation. Listen to the voice of Christ. Obey.

The old hymn says, "Trust and obey for there is no other way."

Keepin' it Real,

Pastor Kevin <><

Friday, September 16, 2011

"Soil Check"

I have to admit that I am not much of a gardener, or a farmer, etc. I have been fortunate to have thrown some seed down and watch grass grow where it hadn't before, but over the years I have come to realize by trial and error that for stuff to grow, whether it be flowers, veggies, or grass, it needs good fertile soil to start with.

Jesus unloaded a rather lengthy and somewhat cryptic parable on the disciples, and the result was sort of a collective "Huh?", followed by blank stares and head scratching.

Jesus knew He had overshot His audience.

He had to back up, simplify, and restate.

Without going through the entire parable here this morning, the place we need to start is to understand the terminology.

The Sower is Jesus, the Seed is the gospel, the soil is the heart of man.

That said, look at Matt. 13:19 - "While anyone is hearing the Word of the kingdom and does not grasp and comprehend it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the roadside."

This is seed sown into poor soil.

Next look at Matt. 13:23 - "As for what was sown on good soil, this is he who hears the Word and grasps and comprehends it."

There it is. Don't blink or you'll miss it.

Seed in bad soil reaps a failed crop (no gospel understanding, unsustainable Christlike attitude).

Seed in good soil reaps a healthy crop (understanding, comprehension, and love of the gospel).

So what do we do with that? The issue of responsibility crops up (no pun intended).

Who is keeping your soil fresh and fertile and receptive to the gospel on a continual basis?

Who's responsibility is it?



Jesus (and His chosen sowers) will continue to sow.

What kind of soil will it fall upon year in and year out?

Were you happy six months ago, but now are unhappy?

Has church gotten boring? Hum-drum? Ho-hum?

I'll bet you think something has happened to "IT" or to "THEM"...

Have you checked your soil lately?

Is your heart drying up?

Have you made steady paths to the sower of the seed?

Are the ravens stealing your seed before it can even take root?

Soil check people.

It should smell fresh and free from putrefying anger and discouragement.

It should be moist and soft and ready to receive a fresh seed when planted.

It should be healthy and nutritious and well fed and watered, not dry and dusty from neglect.

Jesus said we are prepared when we "perceive and comprehend by hearing" (vs. 9).

Don't just hear with your ears today. Hear with every fiber of your senses, both flesh and spiritual.

Filter out the negative voices. Some of he most negative voices can be coming from the place you least expect.

Listen to Jesus. Receive the Seed into fertile ground.

Stay spiritually healthy. Stay spiritually focused. Stay spiritually fertile.

Keepin' it Real,

Pastor Kevin <><

Thursday, September 15, 2011

"Jack In The Box"

It's got to be tight in there.

Hot, stuffy, cramped.

In the box.

I was infatuated with that as a child. The little clown was stuffed in a musical box and I would eventually allow him out.

He would pop out with such joy and excitement.

Who wouldn't?

You'd be surprised.

The box we may have chosen is much larger, less physically confining...

...but a box nonetheless.

It's restrictive, and the sad part is that it is predominantly self imposed.

God hasn't designed it that way, but we often credit Him with the patent.

Listen to Jesus here:

Mark 2:27 (Amplified Bible) - "And Jesus said to them, The Sabbath was made on account and for the sake of man, not man for the Sabbath."

I happen to think that Jesus wasn't JUST talking about the Sabbath day here, but of everything man does associated with his relationship with God that self imposes him to doing things in one religious fashion.

In the box.

Think of how many millions of people all over the world drag themselves off to church on a Sunday thinking that it HAS to be Sunday, when in all actuality Jesus taught the complete opposite.

I'm not arguing against church, I'm arguing against that we think it has to be done one particular, stringent, unchanging way.

Jesus instructed that the Sabbath day was important, but that it was created as a time where man could take time to worship and praise God without restriction from other encumbrances, particularly religious ones (which is really what He is addressing here).

If you're really a true disciple of Christ, every day becomes a special day of honor to God anyway.

One "day" a week we should gather together and share that with each other.

You have seven. Pick one.

Let's stop all forms of religious constriction of any type.

Let's put the Sabbath day, and any other function we do in the name of Jesus to work for us, not against us.

Jesus said it was made for our good use, not the other way around.

One way is freedom, the other is confinement.

Be blessed today in all you do.

I am praying for you every day!

Keepin' it Real,

Pastor Kevin <><

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

"Don't Limit The Whatevers"

I'm talking about God here.

About when He responds to a need, especially those needs we have already rubber stamped "Impossible".

About when you walk into the doors of the church thinking one way, and by the time you leave everything has changed and a victory has been achieved.

All because we have asked God to do something.

Hey, why not?

Matt.21.22 - "And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”

Sometimes we limit the "whatevers".

When God gets moving in response to His children having a dire need, we might have to find ourselves getting out of the way because look out, He might just take it further than we ever expected.

I am often amazed and I'm glad I am.

If I didn't still get amazed I would be bored. If I was bored I might look outside the circle.

God doesn't bore me. He excites me.

Does He still excite you?

Do you get butterflies in His presence?

Does your heart rate increase in anticipation of Him doing something powerful?

I pray all of that for you today.

These are tough times, but they are also fertile times ripe for God to do some real miracles in people's lives.

Live in that expectation.

It's not all about what we see, or what we can do, or how sharp we are.

It's about what Jesus Christ can do through a willing vessel still excited to be used by Him!

Keepin' it Real,

Pastor Kevin <><

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

"Fire Tested"

In music, "it don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing."

In the Church, it don't mean a thing unless it's gone through the fire.

I have my druthers as to who I place my trust and confidence in other than Jesus Christ.

When I have to trust somebody, I want to be sure they have been tried, tested, and tempered by the fires.

In other words, they have faced adversity and trial time and again, and not only have come out the other side better for it, but become a bigger blessing to others as the result each time!

It confounds earthly flesh bound reasoning. It's a total and complete God thing!

Nobody likes to go through it, but the fact remains that we are made stronger by the tough stuff we face when we trust God with it.

Sort of some truth to the adage, "Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger."

Who knew it better than Peter?

1 Peter 4:12 - "Dear brothers, do not be surprised, as if it was something strange, if your faith is tested as by fire."

If we read the gospels closely we will find that Peter wasn't really worth the leather on his sandals as far as being a "go to" person for Jesus until he suffered tremendous trials and temptations.

Peter finally got it. The final fire for him was getting nailed upside down to a cross.

There are some folks I know personally being refined daily by fire. Each day seems to present even newer and more difficult challenges.

Yet, not only do they endure, but they seem to be able to keep their edge, their excitement in Christ, their optimism that in Him everything, bar nothing, will be alright.

I want them with me in the fire. I want them in my foxhole.

The doubts and fears have long been burned out of them.

This is the purpose of fire. It purifies. It burns off the dross. It melts away the slag.

"Slag and dross". It even sounds undesirable. It's because it is.

It's dead weight. It weighs you down. It's your old bad attitude. It's the old chicken heart.

It's what makes the tongue waggin' lip flapper turn to jello when the going gets tough.

In the midst of the fire I see glorious light at the end of the tunnel. He has led me through a minefield. I have dodged snipers from hell.

I have to tell you that this morning I feel like Superman. Each test as it is "piled on" seems to forge my armor of God into an impenetrable protective force. (Yeah, I know, I'm a pastor. I HAVE to be that way, hahaha!)

I wish it was more contagious.

Oh Lord, please let it be contagious.

There is little spirit willing and so much weak flesh.

Only God can burn that out.

How about you today?

Is it "me first"? Or is it, "Lead me on Lord!"

Lean forward right into the fire filled with nothing but expectation that it's all God today.

Or recoil in fear and be a spectator.

Thank you my fire tested friends. You know who you are *wink*. I am believing that there soon will be many others in the flames with us!

Be blessed today in EVERYTHING!

Keepin' it Real,

Pastor Kevin <><

Monday, September 12, 2011

"The Strangers"

We get caught up so much in the doldrums of church type stuff that we often completely miss or ignore the absolute supernatural aspect of it.

For many people, church is never, and I mean never, going to more than forcing themselves up on a Sunday morning and hauling themselves to a place they really don't want to be. They will sing a few songs, drop a few coins in the basket, endure what is to them a longwinded sermon, and then rush back home in time for the football game or BBQ.

If that ain't pure ineffective religion I don't know what is.

Some other aspects of the Church needs to break through into that scenario, because I'll tell you, given the present state of the Church on many fronts, I tend to believe that the example given is often more the rule then the exception.

Maybe more people need to see an angel now and then.

Ever wonder why people tend to acknowledge the demonic more than the angelic?

How about this instruction from the bible:

Hebrews 13:2 (Amplified Bible) - "Do not forget or neglect or refuse to extend hospitality to strangers [in the brotherhood--being friendly, cordial, and gracious, sharing the comforts of your home and doing your part generously], for through it some have entertained angels without knowing it."

Interpreted properly "in the brotherhood" becomes important. No one is asking anyone to open their doors to potential home invaders.

However, the Word is instructing us to be more aware of the supernatural ministrations of God through some very non-earthly means.

"says she talks to angels
they call her out by her name
oh yeah, she talks to angels
says they call her out by her name"
~The Black Crowes~

Sometimes those we don't expect to be very spiritual are able to accept more easily what we should be seeing plainly.

The gist of the passage in my interpretation might be a bit looser than the hard line statement it appears to be making.

I think it is saying to stop being so religiously tight. To loosen up on the death grip you have over everything in your life and begin to look at what's really around you.

Entertain (be open and willing). Be hospitable (fond of others). Open your heart (be a pureheart).

Ah...the purehearts. I have had the joy of knowing a few in my life. Even right now in the present.

Always willing to give even when there is seemingly nothing to give. Even the most dire of circumstances or pains of life are unable to douse their love and joy in the Lord.

I have had the privilege to see and speak to whom I believe were angels sent by God. It wasn't manifest at the moment, but the aftermath made me think I was in a supernatural presence engineered for the moment by God.

Bottom line? Stop being strangled by the cares of this world and open up to the supernatural workings of God.

We expect God to operate like we do and be confined and restricted by the things we are.

However, God is not restricted, and He has far more greater resources than we do, and the good news is He's willing to share them with us and intervene on our behalf.

Expect them. Seek them. Open up to them.

Be blessed in your life today in everything you do and everything you say.

Keepin it Real,

Pastor Kevin <><

Friday, September 9, 2011

"Bait And Switch"

Anytime someone promotes or advertises one thing, and then provides an inferior product in place of what was originally offered, it's called a "bait and switch".

There's a lot of that in the Kingdom of God.

Religionists practice the bait and switch by offering a more complicated gospel padded with man made rules, rituals and regulations.

Evangelistic hucksters practice the bait and switch when they convince their trusting and unsuspecting followers to purchase salvation and healing from them.

Satan is the author and main practitioner of the bait switch, and has been since the beginning, as he offers what appears to be a rosier path than what God offers, but is really a garbage strewn fast track to Hell.

Galatians 6:7-8 (Amplified Bible) - "(7) Do not be deceived and deluded and misled; God will not allow Himself to be sneered at (scorned, disdained, or mocked by mere pretensions or professions, or by His precepts being set aside.) [He inevitably deludes himself who attempts to delude God.] For whatever a man sows, that and that only is what he will reap. (8) For he who sows to his own flesh (lower nature, sensuality) will from the flesh reap decay and ruin and destruction, but he who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life."

"Do not be deceived". God will not be left holding the bag for you. He will never be made to look stupid or embarrassed.

Accept no substitutes.

Nothing other than the pure gospel of God, which is contained in His Holy Word, is authoritative.

When you unwittingly or purposefully accept or follow a perverted brand of the gospel you are sowing into your lower nature.

It is an endeavor completely in the flesh, and you are sowing a seed of destruction and decay into yourself. It is greed and selfishness.

You think you have advanced yourself, but in reality you have decreased.

There are no better deals.

It's Jesus, or a lesser, putrid, weaker version of Who He is.

Check yourself. Be careful who you listen to and follow. Be mindful of what you read and watch.

Are you getting the truth?

It is the truth and nothing but the truth that sets us free!

Keepin' it Real,

Pastor Kevin <><

Thursday, September 8, 2011

"The Reckoning"

People deal with their problems differently. Some enjoy, even thrive, on confrontation. Others are more willing to try to wait things out and see how they develop.

Jesus appears to be a person who went right to the source of the problem and hashed it out as soon as possible.

Mark 1: 12-13 - "Immediately the [Holy] Spirit [from within] drove Him out into the wilderness (desert), (13) And He stayed in the wilderness (desert) forty days, being tempted [all the while] by Satan; and He was with the wild beasts, and the angels ministered to Him [continually]."

Jesus has just embarked upon His earthly ministry, and has just been baptized by John, and then filled with the Holy Spirit.

The verse says "immediately" He was driven into the desert.

Driven. Holy Spirit driven.

He was driven and He did not resist.

He would spend the next 40 days and nights being tempted and harassed by Satan himself.

It was a reckoning. It needed to happen. Jesus was just the person to do it.

He was always the One. He still is the One.

He won't stand for injustice and sin.

When He found the temple turned into a flea market He immediately confronted and reckoned with it.

He has been our role model. He attacked and conquered sinfulness and unrighteousness the same way we are supposed the power of the Holy Spirit.

This is how we roll.

Our temple is our body and we are to keep it righteous. Not religiously in our own strength, but through the power of God.

By submitting to Christ we are allowing all the power of God to be released into us by the Holy Spirit.

Don't waste any time. Don't think things are just going to straighten out on their own.

If God's not at work in you, if you have grieved the Holy Spirit away by your poor choices, it isn't happening for you.

Grace works as God pours it out. It fails as we refuse to receive it.

Perhaps you need a reckoning. Maybe you need to have your desert experience where you confront and conquer all your demons and temptations the same way Jesus did.

The Holy Spirit is a mighty force and power whom we cannot afford to live without.

He was the power in Jesus and He is the power in us today!

Why prolong it? How much more will you stand for? Draw your line in the sand.

Keepin' it Real,

Pastor Kevin <><

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

"Tin Men"

Mark 12:30-31 (Amplified Bible) - "(30) And you shall love the Lord your God out of and with your whole heart and out of and with all your soul (your life) and out of and with all your mind (with your faculty of thought and your moral understanding) and out of and with all your strength. This is the first and principal commandment. (31) The second is like it and is this, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these."

I can't do this.

I remember thinking that at one time.

"I can't do this."

I was right. I couldn't do it.

And neither can you.

In our own strength we cannot fulfill these commandments of Jesus Christ.

This is why we need God.

We cannot love God, ourselves, or anybody for that matter without God.

1 John 4:19 (Amplified Bible) - "We love Him, because He first loved us."

This is why we are able to love.

We can love Him, our own selves, and others because He took the first step toward us.

Love is always the first step, and the reason for all the steps after.

Love initiates, love keeps it all flowing.

My heart was stone. He softened it to flesh.

It was a rocky soil, He made it fallow to receive His love.

Ezekiel 36:26 (Amplified Bible) - "A new heart will I give you and a new spirit will I put within you, and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh."

I was a Tin Man before that. A "clinking, clanking, clattering collection of caliginous....junk."

Useless. Rusting away. Ready for the scrap heap.

Now there is a beating heart of flesh softened by the Spirit of God.

Tin Man's new heart was tested and proven when it started to break at Dorothy's farewell.

"Now I know I've got a heart -- 'cause it's breaking."

Yes, it breaks, but it keeps us in touch with God.

In my humble opinion the breaking heart, and the sometimes overwhelming feeling of helplessness that accompanies it is our tangible link to God.

Maybe it's different for you, but I know there was a time when it didn't break and I was far from God.

It breaks today and I sense a closeness to Him I wouldn't trade for all the cold hearted stoicism in the world no matter how much money it brought with it.

How's your heart today? Warm? Beating?

Is it breaking? I hope so. There is much surrounding you that will cause it to.

Get in touch with it. Embrace it. It's the heart of God in you.

Keepin' it Real,

Pastor Kevin <><

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

"Press Nine For More Options"

Ever notice how the option for more options always seems to come at the end of a long line of options you didn't need to listen to?

It seems when I make a call like that I always need to speak to a live person and that is almost always NOT an option.

As the bottom line last resort if you can hang in there long enough before tossing the phone against the wall you will eventually hear "Please stay on the line to speak to a representative."


This is what life has become.

An impersonal endless line of people avoiding people.

What do these menu options really tell us about society?

There is no Plan B when Plan A goes awry.

That would be fine except Plan A always seems to go awry.

Joseph Heller (Catch 22) would have had a field day with this just a mere 38 years after his novel.

Has it all really become FUBAR (Fouled Up Beyond All Repair)?

It's going to have to come full circle and get back to simplicity.

Or completely implode into a huge self destructive fireball.

I'm not holding out a lot of hope for simplicity.

We are too "advanced" for that.

This is why I enjoy being a part of God's simple way.

I am offended by the way the rest of the world conducts itself.

I watch the news and afterward feel like I need to take a shower with lye soap and a wire brush.

Is it really that bad?

Well what do we have to compare it to?

Listen to Paul here:

1 Cor. 1:13 - "For we write you nothing else but simply what you can read and understand [there is no double meaning to what we say], and I hope that you will become thoroughly acquainted [with divine things] and know and understand [them] accurately and well to the end."

If God can communicate simply, why can't we?

Because today people need to get their story straight first. They have to rewind to previous lies and misinformation to make sure they don't get caught in the trap of their own false pretense.

Say what you will about me, but I have found the better way. I choose the door that opens to simplicity, honesty, purity, understanding, love and concern.

I have become thoroughly acquainted with divine things.

Given the alternative I scratch my head and wonder why more people do not.

I hope you choose divine things as well.

Just because you live in the world does not mean you have to be force subscribed to it's ways and methods.

There is an alternative.

It's Jesus Christ.

He teaches us the better way.

It truly is an option for you today.

Keepin' it Real,

Pastor Kevin <><

Monday, September 5, 2011

"Trying Or Trusting?"

In the matter of your relationship with God, particularly as far as your salvation goes, trying doesn't cut it.

If you are trying too hard, or not hard enough, the entire action one way or another is futile.

How many times have I heard the words, "Pastor, I'm trying."

Well then stop it.

Stop trying. It will never get you anywhere.

What are you "trying" to accomplish anyway?

Are you trying to improve your old nature before God?

Why? He provides a new nature.

Are you trying to become more righteous?

Why? Our own righteousness are as filthy rags.

He gives us the righteousness of Christ.

Are you trying to do more for God?

God has endeavored to do for you.

Are you trying to improve your behavior?

Our salvation depends on believing, not behaving.

Are you trying to develop your character?

It's not sufficiency of character, but the sufficiency of the sacrifice.

Are you trying to develop a sacrificial existence?

Trust in the finished sacrifice.

Are you trying to attain?

Jesus has atoned.

On and on it can go.

Trying versus trusting.

Religion versus salvation.

You can't work your way into it. You can't buy your way in. You can't knock on enough doors, write enough tithe checks, attend enough church. You can't read enough bible passages, feed enough poor, house enough homeless, confess enough sins.

There is only one way.

Acts 4:12 (Amplified Bible) - "And there is salvation in and through no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by and in which we must be saved."

Nothing else gets the attention of God more effectively than the name of Jesus Christ.

"It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead..." (vs.10)

No other way. None. Nil. Nada. Zilch. Zip. Zero.

So tell me. Why are you trying?

Why not just yield?

Give yourself over?

There is no trying involved in that.

Just do it.

Right now.

Do it.

Say it.

Jesus, I am yours. All of me. I now belong to you.

Say it.

Say it and then leave it alone.

It's His work, not yours.

Let yourself be His work instead of trying to be His project manager.

I'd love to hear how that works out for you.

Keepin' it Real,

Pastor Kevin <><

Friday, September 2, 2011

"The Unthought Known"

Some might be thinking, "Pastor must really be tired this morning, he got the title backward!"


It's the known we sometimes don't think about.

Maybe seldom think about.

Or never think about.

I am reminded of when the disciples were on a boat during a sudden squall.

They were struggling to get the boat to the other side as the winds were making the waves difficult to work the oars through.

The Word tells us in Mark 6:48: "And having seen that they were troubled and tormented in [their] rowing, for the wind was against them, about the fourth watch of the night [between 3:00-6:00 a.m.] He came to them, walking [directly] on the sea."

Often times, maybe in the midst of the worst of trouble, He comes to us. Even when He is the farthest from our mind.

Nothing prevents Jesus from doing that.

Not our failures. Not our thoughtlessness. Not our weak faith. Not our stubbornness.

Not even self centered laziness.

He will even walk on water during the worst storm to get to you.

Not too many folks I know will get up at 3 a.m. to pull someone's fat out of the fire.

It's tough to recall Jesus when we are only hearing or reading about Him less than an hour per week.

He quickly fades in the lives of some and becomes...

The "Unthought Known."

You know He's out there somewhere, but He's more like background music. It's playing, but you're not really hearing it.

The noise of life drowns out the still small voice.

Maybe it's time for an adjustment.

The way we make time for Jesus.

We can change how we allow external interruptions to interfere with our time spent with Him.

I mean, He knows you're there, and He will go the distance to let you know that.

Be blessed today! Think about Him!

Keepin' it Real,

Pastor Kevin <><

Thursday, September 1, 2011

"My Lifestyle Determines My Deathstyle"

I think that catchy little phrase can be attributed to James Hetfield. Poet, musician, noted headbanger.

I figure it goes down a little easier if I just don't blurt out right away that it comes from a Metallica song.

(*Gasp* He listens to Metallica? I don't know if I can trust him anymore). Heh-heh.

Seriously. This is as true a word that was ever spoken.

How you live will generally determines how you die.

Even just in the flesh it's bad. Real bad.

Chances are that if you smoke a few packs a day for a long time you will more than likely die from some tobacco related illness. Cancer, emphysema, heart disease.

If you drink too much your liver and brain function will suffer.

Eat too much and your arteries will clog and your heart will give out under the stress.

What does the bible have to say about this?

Let's look at Paul's letter to the Galatians 6:7-8 - "Do not be deceived and deluded and misled; God will not allow Himself to be sneered at (scorned, disdained, or mocked by mere pretensions or professions, or by His precepts being set aside.) [He inevitably deludes himself who attempts to delude God.] For whatever a man sows, that and that only is what he will reap. (8) For he who sows to his own flesh (lower nature, sensuality) will from the flesh reap decay and ruin and destruction, but he who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life."

Whatever we sow, that is what we will reap.

Sow to the flesh and watch it decay before your eyes.

Sow to the Spirit and reap an eternal benefit.

Metaphorically, whatever we plant that is what will grow and what we will pick.

You will not delude God on this nor circumvent His will.

Plant corn and don't expect peas to grow. It won't. It's a natural agricultural law that God created (Gen. 1:12). It cannot be changed.

Neither can these.

Give cheaply but don't expect to prosper greatly.

Ignore God but don't whine that you feel neglected by Him when you suffer through one of your "spells".

Reject the hand of fellowship but don't complain that no one calls you or you don't have any friends.

Stand before Jesus someday but don't be surprised when He says, "I don't recognize you. Depart from me."

You have picked what you planted.

Plant scorn and be scorned yourself.

Plant discord and live a life of strife.

Plant lies and be the victim of liars.

We reap what we sow.

Physically and spiritually.

Our lifestyle definitely determines our deathstyle.

Plant peace and be at peace.

Sow generously and meet your commitments.

Know Jesus and He will know you when the proper time arrives.

There are eternal consequences and benefits.

To be known by Jesus and gain eternal life and to thwart eternal death.

Bottom line: what you do or don't do in this life effects where you spend your eternal life.

Your lifestyle determines your deathstyle.


Keepin' it Real,

Pastor Kevin <><