Tuesday, July 31, 2012


Today. You can't live on your yesterdays. Your tomorrows are impacted by your todays. 

Today. This moment. Right now. It's all you really have.

What will you do with it?

Hebrews 3:7 - "Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says: Today, if you will hear His voice..."

Verse 8 says, "Do not harden your hearts."

All sorts of opportunities are available to you right now, oops! Another one just went by! It's a "yesterday" now. Never to be recaptured.

Jesus speaks to you everyday. Every moment. Do you hear Him? And if you even hear Him, what do you do with what he says?

Do you harden your heart?

What is a hardened heart anyway? It's a heart that turns sour and bitter. It's a heart that in spite of everything being done for it, still remains bitter and angry and reacts to the bitterness rather than the voice of Jesus. People with hardened hearts make life tough on themselves. They make poor life choices for themselves, their families, and essentially everyone they come in contact with pays a negative price for it.  

All because of a catastrophic failure of obedience to the Word.

Hear Him today, and do not harden your heart. That is the instruction. We are hardpressed to blame God for making it too tough to understand.

Yet, another person has somewhere just crippled their walk with God, and put themselves and their family at risk, by another self-inflicted bullet to the foot.

Hear Him today, and do not harden your heart. It's downright remedial. 

Conversely, ignore Him today and build up self-destructive barriers around your heart.

I don't think people purposely set out to do that, but they just sort of arrive there after jealousy, frustration, pent up rage and anger, bitterness, self-hatred, and a host of negative emotions build up that stronghold of deafness to God.

The phenomenal thing is that one can actually think everything is just fine with God, and that all of their woe is because of other people!

Oh, the devil is an artisan of well crafted scenarios designed purposely to sneak you away from God.

See, that's why the verse says "Hear HIS voice".

If you hear the voice of Jesus you will not listen to the other competing voices, and your heart will not be hardened.


Keepin' it Real,

Pastor Kevin <><

Monday, July 30, 2012

Thank You For Your Lying Deceptive Spirit

Sounds funny doesn't it? Thanking someone for the cruel, insulting, hateful, lying, false, deceptive, and downright evil things someone may have said to, or about you? 

Well, I've exaggerated it a bit. I don't think Jesus intended us to be confrontational in our joy.


Matthew 5:11-12 - "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you."

Blessed. It actually means "happy".  Happy are you when people cut your throat, or stab you in the back, because their lives are going poorly and they strike out against you because their unhappiness runs rampant. Sounds almost cyclical, doesn't it? They are unhappy, and because they are unhappy, they try to make you unhappy, but their unhappiness toward you has only served to make you happy!  I love it! Only God can come up with that!

There is good reason why Jesus made special emphasis about this. First of all, it happened to Him personally. He knows what it is like to have the people you love the most turn against you in a hateful and persecutory way.  Second, He loves to turn dark clouds into rays of light.

He really does cover all the bases in this one verse. It's part of his larger message called the Sermon on the Mount. He was trying to show the supernatural element of God's Kingdom on earth as being completely opposite to religion.

Jesus says rejoice when you have been wronged. Religion says to strike back and try to harm the person who has afflicted you. 

Notice He is not telling us to gloat or throw it back in someone's face. He is merely saying "Be happy anyway. In spite of it all, you are blessed beyond their sick and sad behavior! You have the ultimate prize that religion and the world will not have. You have Heaven as your promise!" Incidentally, do we read that conversely as well? Deceivers, beware.

Jesus is very subtly insinuating that it is because of Him that people do these things. If it's because of Him then it indicates it is coming from some religious environment, or from some religious individuals. If it's because of Jesus then they know ABOUTJesus. They obviously don't actually KNOW Jesus or it wouldn't happen.  Catch my drift? That's the difference between religion and relationship. 

The prophets experienced it. The apostles experienced it. Every true disciple will experience it as well. Even, and perhaps mostly, at the hands of the fake disciples (religious).

I will say this. It usually happens out of the blue. Rejoice in that as well. It shows you have a trusting and loving heart. It shows that your love for them blinded you to their deceit and phoniness. It will hurt. It may even devastate you. Don't let it turn you bitter.

This is why Jesus said be happy! Rejoice! Don't be bitter! It proves your worthiness in Him! And if there is nothing else in this world that can make you happy, be joyful that you have been found worthy in Jesus Christ!

Keepin' it Real,

Pastor Kevin <><

Friday, July 27, 2012

What Is Vital

Abounding love. The Spirit of Christ is abounding love. Love that transcends all situations and conquers the negative in Him.  Love that extends beyond the shortsightedness of our own anger and disappointments. Abounding love is unconditional and never tainted by narrow minded self effacing dogma. If one has the abounding love of Christ they will never turn away in frustration and fear, but will allow that love to strike out ahead and in advance of every step they take. Paul said in 1 Cor. 13, that if we have not this abounding love of Christ, this "agape" love (Greek for the God kind of love), then we are just clanging, banging, noisemakers.

Paul expounded further.

Philippians 1:9-10 - "And this I pray: that your love may abound yet more and more and extend to its fullest development in knowledge and all keen insight [that your love may display itself in greater depth of acquaintance and more comprehensive discernment], 10) So that you may surely learn to sense what is vital, and approve and prize what is excellent and of real value [recognizing the highest and the best, and distinguishing the moral differences], and that you may be untainted and pure and unerring and blameless [so that with hearts sincere and certain and unsullied, you may approach] the day of Christ [not stumbling nor causing others to stumble]".

It's my prayer as well. 

Learn what is vital, and understand it through the love of Christ. Do not be found in error especially where there is much at stake.

Be conscious of the fact that your stumbling and bumbling retributive knee jerk responses to issues you disagree with in life will not only cause others to start to take on your poor example, but will destroy the foundation of love for you and all around you.

Love must display itself, or bitterness will replace it. There is no gray area. There is love or absence of love. No middle ground. Either/or. A little love in the midst of much hatred is no love at all.

This is why Paul prayed that it would be revealed to us. He knew the consequences. He was wrong once himself when he misunderstood his participation in the stoning of Stephen as being the result of his love for God.  In reality? God HATED what Paul (as Saul) had done.

Terrible atrocities are committed in the name of religion.

I am glad (true) Christianity is not a religion, but rather a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus never fails. Never. Place Him first and foremost smack in the middle of EVERYTHING!

You will do well to do that today. 

Keepin' it Real,

Pastor Kevin <><

Thursday, July 26, 2012

All For You

"They hung him on a cross, They hung him on a cross, They hung him on a cross For me
 One day when I was lost, They hung him on a cross, They hung him on a cross for me"

That's the words to an old blues song. Simple. Succinct. To the point.

It's also great theology.  How so much truth could be contained in two repetitive lines to me is amazing.

Think about it. All but one sentence continuously repeats over and over that Jesus died on a Cross for us.

But then it briefly goes deeper. "One day when I was lost."

Deep spirituality from a man whose nickname was "Leadbelly". A violent repeat offender who was in and out of the worst Southern prisons and work camps. A man who stabbed a man to death. A man who consistently got into violent drunken altercations and stabbed several men over his short life. He was dead from Lou Gehrig's Disease by age 62. He was also inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame in 2008. 

In spite of all his shortcomings, Leadbelly seemed to understand what Jesus did for him.

Leadbelly knew one of the deepest truths of Scripture.

Romans 5:8 (Amplified Bible) - "But God shows and clearly proves His [own] love for us by the fact that while we were still sinners, Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One) died for us."

"While we were still sinners", or, "One day when I was lost", and,  "Christ died for us", or, "They hung Him on a cross for me".

Any way you cut it. It's the gospel truth.

Is it that simple for you? When you were deep in your sin, even perhaps in your gutter, that's when Jesus died for you.

How is that possible to have had Jesus die for me 2,000 years before I was even born?

It's possible because Jesus Christ is the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world! (Rev. 13:8)

He didn't die for all the world, even far into the future, with a guarantee that everyone would accept and receive Him. He didn't die for the fine, upstanding Christian man or woman you would become. He died for you when you were the worthless sinner no one in their right mind would touch with a ten foot pole!

Maybe you haven't come to that realization yet. Maybe you think there is some inherent goodness in you that God will focus on while ignoring your self righteous, selfish, and worthless nature you were born with.

Let me remind, or perhaps even inform you for the first time.  It's not true. You are not good enough. Any goodness you can ever hope to acquire can only come through the Spotless Lamb of God who died for you on a cross.

Even a broken down, old drunken convicted murderer finally realized that.

I hope you have. If not, I really hope you will.

Keepin' it Real,

Pastor Kevin <><

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Keep A Sound Mind

We are living in some tumultuous, yet exciting times. Well, they are exciting to me because I know that one day, whether in my lifetime or not, Jesus Christ is going to return to reconcile all of the troubles this world is facing. Some folks use the term "the end is near", but while people like myself know what that ACTUALLY means, I think it freaks out the vague minded and uninformed.

It takes a sober mind to discern the truth. I don't mean exclusively a mind free from drink or drugs, although that is certainly a necessity, but rather a mind that is free from all of the "noise" competing against the Word of God being presented to you.

1 Peter 4:7 (Amplified Bible) - "But the end and culmination of all things has now come near; keep sound minded and self-restrained and alert therefore for [the practice of] prayer."

I like the way this version expands or "amplifies" the meaning to say "the culmination of all things". Very well put. "The end is coming" scares people into thinking the planet is going to blow up. Please understand that the planet Earth will never go away. It is here for eternity regardless of what NASA, or Stephen Hawkings, or scientific think tanks say. The sun is not going to send out radioactive "death rays" that will destroy the Earth's magnetic field in 2012, heating the Earth's core to a degree that it will interfere with the planets rotation and knock Earth off its axis. Not going to happen. The bible says Earth is part of a "world without end."

If there is anything we should be watching for  it is the return of the Lord Jesus Christ. Now that might happen in some form in 2012. Perhaps the rapture of the Church will occur. It could happen in 2012. It could happen today!

Are you clear minded enough to live in prayerful expectation? Or is your mind wrapped up in nonsensical conspiracy theories and science fiction?

What kind of noise is filling your head this morning? Do you watch the news each day and cringe in fear? Are you numbing your mind with artificial stimulants to avoid having to deal with your fear?

I hope not, because if you are you will be caught by surprise when Jesus returns "like a thief in the night".

Listen to Paul and determine what category you fall into.

1 Thessalonians 5:2-4 (Amplified Bible) - "(2) For you yourselves know perfectly well that the day of the [return of the] Lord will come [as unexpectedly and suddenly] as a thief in the night. (3) When people are saying, All is well and secure, and, There is peace and safety, then in a moment unforeseen destruction (ruin and death) will come upon them as suddenly as labor pains come upon a woman with child; and they shall by no means escape, for there will be no escape. (4) But you are not in [given up to the power of] darkness, brethren, for that day to overtake you by surprise like a thief."

Are you of those who "know perfectly well"? Or are you "given up to the power of darkness"? Perhaps you are ignorant of the facts and are thinking "All is well."

All of that is unclear thinking and I am telling you that if you do not heighten your spiritual awareness and stay close to Jesus (picking up your cross daily and following Him), you will be caught unaware and surprised!

A sober and clear mind is a Holy Spirit guided mind. He will help you to read the Scriptures more clearly, and He will help you to discern perfectly what you are reading. He will best encourage and direct your prayers for enlightenment as well. If you don't know what or how to pray, the Holy Spirit will fill your mouth with utterance.

Pray! Pray and watch! Pray and listen! Pray with expectation! His Word has said nothing He will not fulfill. 

Jesus is coming, and I believe He is coming soon. Watch and pray.

Keepin' it Real,

Pastor Kevin <><

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Real Tough Stuff

Sometimes the believer is called to some tough duty. I'm not talking about performing a ministerial type task such as teaching a bible study, or serving on the church board. Those things might be a minor inconvenience at times, but the real tough stuff we face is when the Word calls us out on an issue and expects us to do it! It can make for some squirming in the pews on Sunday morning.

Today's words from Jesus is exactly one of those moments.

Mark 11:25-26 (Amplified Bible) - "(25) And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him and let it drop (leave it, let it go), in order that your Father Who is in heaven may also forgive you your [own] failings and shortcomings and let them drop. (26) But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your failings and shortcomings."

Jesus has the uncanny ability to let us know we need to be doing something which effects our relationship with others, all the while turning the focus right back on ourselves (where it really needs to be).

Is that you today? Have you pondered blessing someone with your forgiveness in order to show them and God how gracious you are? Do you really think that's what this passage is about?

I am always surprised when I see how often this passage is preached from the very narrow perspective of us doing something for others.

You know what? The tension of the verse is on "In order that...".

This is about "Us" not "Them".

We need to forgive for our right standing with God. It's about our shortcomings and failures. And way too often our failures are all wrapped up in a hardened unforgiving heart. Festering anger due to not being able to forgive an abusive parent, cheating spouse, non-appreciative child, overbearing boss, and on and on and on...

There are no abuses we have suffered at the hands of people in our lives that don't qualify to be forgiven as far as God is concerned. At least none that I have found in scripture.

And as distasteful as it might be to even give one second in thought over the forgiveness of some people who have actually single handedly destroyed the quality of your life for perhaps many years...the fact remains God says we MUST!

Actually, we MUST so surely, that if we obstinately refuse to obey God on this issue, our very forgiveness of our own failures and shortcomings (and yes, we all have them) are at risk of not being forgiven by Him.

That's scary. 

So, just how angry are you? How much hatred is pent up inside of you? Enough to go to hell for?

A man said those very words to me years ago. I explained that he needed to forgive those who had so deeply offended him. His response was, "I will go to hell first!" When I explained that it could be a very viable option if he doesn't forgive, he approached the subject more soberly. He eventually was able to open his heart and forgive and reconcile the people who had hurt him.

You see...unforgiveness is a shortcoming. It's a spiritual and moral failure before God and man.

Unforgiveness will eat your breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and all snacks in between. It will dine on your heart and devour you from the inside out. It will send you to your grave broken, mean, and nasty. Do you see why that person does not get into heaven?

Fortunately, if your breathing and reading this, you have time to react to the Word of God and satisfy God's demand.

You won't be able to do this on your own. Why not pray God's help? Why not appeal to the Comforter? 

It is God's desire for you to be set free from this. He is simply waiting to see what your desire is.

Be blessed!

Keepin' it Real,

Pastor Kevin <><

Friday, July 20, 2012

You Shall Have It!

This is a bit long this morning, but I promise you will be blessed if you stick with it. This devotional today has the potential to change your life completely.

There are some passages in the Word of God that some find tough to deal with. Many are tougher for some more than others. From what I can gather after almost 25 years of teaching and preaching the Word, is that the level of one's faith is the determining factor. Sorry, I know some folks don't like to consider the "faith factor", but that's what I have personally found. 

I have further found that most bible passages are pretty straightforward and not too difficult to understand particularly in the gospels when dealing with the words of Jesus directly. So, the issue must rest soley upon the receiver and not the Author. Jesus IS the WORD so He knows what He is talking about.

Let's take one of the most simplest of Jesus statements. It's easy to read, and appears to be intended to be simple to obey.

Mark 11:22-24 (Amplified Bible) - "(22) And Jesus, replying, said to them, Have faith in God [constantly]. (23) Truly I tell you, whoever says to this mountain, Be lifted up and thrown into the sea! and does not doubt at all in his heart but believes that what he says will take place, it will be done for him. (24) For this reason I am telling you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe (trust and be confident) that it is granted to you, and you will [get it]."

Let's tear into it a bit.

The first thing Jesus says is "Have faith in God."  Easy right? Well, easy to read. Easy to understand. Apparently not so easy to do.

Many, many, many people fail at the starting gate, and this is why they fail to appropriate the rest of the passage. They fall down and skin their nose at "Have faith in God."

Note that it is intended to be understood as to have faith in God "constantly".  All of the time. Never ending. Always. It's not meant to be understood as have faith in God only when you need to. This attitude will break down eventually. You may have enough faith in God one moment for His ability to find you a new job, but not enough the next moment to cure your disease.

Now let's look at the next verse. Jesus is trying to further establish the criteria for faith. He takes an absolute impossible situation and uses it as a teaching method. Is He suggesting that you actually try to take a mountain and throw it into the sea? Not at all. But He is comparing your present problem and difficulty as being like a mountain, and if you erase all doubt and establish great belief, and trust in Christ, you can SPEAK to your difficulty (mountain) and dismiss all of your troubles in a moment of faith.

Then Jesus explains that He said all of that to say this...He puts it as "For this reason I tell you.", or "Therefore I say to you."...

...WHATEVER you ask for in prayer, BELIEVE that it has been granted, and YOU SHALL HAVE IT!

It doesn't get more simple than that. But if it is so simple, why have so many failed to receive? I betcha there are more than a few reading this right now who are beginning to squirm under the mere mention of it, and will decide against the Word by interjecting their own philosophy or inherited bad theology. Yes, there are many who will just not believe the Words of Jesus simply for what they say as written! They will feel the need to qualify them somehow or defer to some "learned scholar".  These types of folks will never get what they are praying for because they violate the very first order of Jesus which is "to have faith in God constantly".

Are there conditions to receive? Absolutely. However, they are all contained in the Word. We must understand that this criteria is for the BELIEVER. And that the BELIEVER must PRAY. And that the BELIEVER must PRAY with unlimited FAITH. And that the BELIEVER must REFUSE to DOUBT in his HEART.  And that the BELIEVER MUST BELIEVE that WHATEVER it is they need has ALREADY BEEN GRANTED!

In other words, whatever it is you need today, right now, at this moment, YOU SHALL HAVE IT, and you must believe BEFORE you see it that you ALREADY HAVE IT!

Hey, John had to believe it and he did...

1 John 5:14-15 (Amplified Bible) - "(14) And this is the confidence (the assurance, the privilege of boldness) which we have in Him: [we are sure] that if we ask anything (make any request) according to His will (in agreement with His own plan), He listens to and hears us. (15) And if (since) we [positively] know that He listens to us in whatever we ask, we also know [with settled and absolute knowledge] that we have [granted us as our present possessions] the requests made of Him."

If John believed it you can believe it!  Stop making excuses and arguing with God. Simply believe.

Keep telling yourself that today. You don't have to convince God, you need to convince yourself.

Be blessed, and live in expectation.

Keepin' it Real,

Pastor Kevin <><

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Receive Everything Right Now!

I think that the beginning verses of the epistles of Paul tend to be read quickly if not completely ignored. After all, if you've read one salutation you've read them all, right?

Well, that would be true I suppose if one were to approach the study of the Word like reading a novel instead of with the expectation of receiving promises and blessings.

Romans 1:7 (Amplified Bible) - "To [you then] all God's beloved ones in Rome, called to be saints and designated for a consecrated life: Grace and spiritual blessing and peace be yours from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ."

There is criteria to be fulfilled before you lay claim to God's blessing today.

First of all, are you beloved of God? Are you one of God's children? Do you have a relationship with Him because you have accepted and received the salvation provided by Christ and what He did on the Cross?

Are you designated for a consecrated life? If you are born-again you are therefore designated to go farther in Christ and the Holy Spirit.

If you are indeed these things than you can receive all the grace and spiritual blessings you could ever possibly contain!

Just think of it.  Suppose you are suffering needlessly because of sickness and pain, or financial or marital difficulties?

Perhaps you never read this very simple opening salutation from Paul. Let me encourage you today. NOTHING that Paul ever said or wrote is trivial! In fact there is no passage in the Word of God which is trivial.


Because Jesus Christ is the Word and to accept and receive it is a direct blessing fro Jesus Christ Himself!

So, you blessed saint of God, open your heart, mind, and spirit and find the relief you so desperately crave and need today!

Lay hold of and claim the Word for your life situation today. 

I am anticipating great blessings for you immediately.

Keepin' it Real,

Pastor Kevin <><

Monday, July 16, 2012

Separation Anxiety

Stress and anxiety accompany any major changes in lifestyle. If we are to believe the statistics gathered on such things, we will find that changes like the death of a spouse, moving to a new location, starting a new job, having a baby, etc., are high up on the list for stressing out beyond the norm. Many of them are the result of some sort of separation or another.

How about getting saved, and all that comes after that experience?

Romans 1:1-7 (King James Version) - "Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God."

Paul mentions being separated to the work of the gospel. There is a great anxiety attached to that, more for some than others.

Paul was called to be an apostle. That carries with it a heavy responsibility, and perhaps a certain amount of risk at times. Ask the people who are bringing the message of the gospel in China, India, the Philippines, and other persecuted areas in the world where the penalty is death or imprisonment.

Most of us will never know that threat. It does not mean that there isn't any anxiety.

I think the average believer struggles with feelings of inadequacy and fear of rejection. They already anticipate the worst scenario when thinking about sharing Jesus with others, which sometimes paralyzes them even though their heart is burning to share their faith in Christ.

The answer to this dilemma is as simple as one word. Faith.

As simple as that sounds I am not just merely oversimplifying the issue, but rather narrowing it all down to the least common denominator. Faith.

At the end of the day, no matter what you read, what course you take, where you go, or how you approach it, you are ultimately going to need to simply exercise, and rely upon, faith.

Now listen carefully. It's where you place that faith that determines your ability. Remembering that faith is a gift of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:7-11),  rely upon that same Holy Spirit to give you words to speak at the precise moment you need them. He will give you the right words for the right moment (Luke 12:12).

This is the perfect plan of God. It is reasonable to expect and to assume, that since God has separated you to bring the message of the gospel to others, He will also equip you.

And that my friends is where the problem lies today. People have turned what God has ordered into a scheme. He doesn't need our help in developing people separated to the gospel, but rather believers who will actually believe that He will accomplish it through them.

It takes faith, trust, and obedience. You have to exercise your gift of faith that He wants you to do this, trust the clear call of Christ upon all believers (Matt. 28:18-20), and then simply obey. Just do it!  If He has ordained it to be then He will anoint you to accomplish it!

My strong suggestion is to pray for opportunity rather than to launch into aggressive street evangelism to strangers. There is another gifting to do battle in that arena. Do that only if you are called to it. However, for the normal day to day lifestyle of the average believer, God will set you up nicely to present the gospel if you show your desire to follow through. 

Keepin' it Real,

Pastor Kevin <><

Friday, July 13, 2012

The Supernatural Order Of Things

We are effected heavily by the natural order of things. Life on planet earth means that we are governed and influenced by natural laws. Laws of gravity, motion, thermo-dynamics for examples, while being God's creation, are physical laws that keep the planet orderly and proper while we go about our daily living.

The majority of mankind will live an entire lifetime living according to those laws and those laws only. It could be said that such a person upon death had lived a very "natural" life.

What about the "supernatural" order of things? It's tragic that there are people who live and die never knowing about, or simply refusing to live by God's supernatural order of things.

Have you considered that you are a supernatural being? What could be more supernatural than a person who has a spirit that will return back to God upon death?

In essence, we are supernatural beings living in a natural world, passing through on their way back to God.

Is it not reasonable then, to suggest that we are to act upon the suggestion of the Word of God to allow our supernatural spirit and soul perform great acts of God while we are in this early body? 

Is that not exactly what Jesus did? Peter? Paul?

While we are capable of healing the sick and casting our demons (all of which are supernatural acts), the greatest thing we can do is be Jesus to someone else. To share our faith and belief in Him with others is a supernatural activity because it breaks down social and natural inhibitions. In the flesh we could never accomplish that. In the spirit we allow the supernatural to accomplish it.

Here's my point with scripture:

John 7:38 (Amplified Bible) - "He who believes in Me [who cleaves to and trusts in and relies on Me] as the Scripture has said, From his innermost being shall flow [continuously] springs and rivers of living water."

The born-again, supernaturally Spirit-filled individual cannot help but lead people to Jesus. Out of the believer will flow unlimited power to do the works of Christ (John. 14:12). 

How about you today? Is there really a River of Life flowing out of you? 

I say let it flow! Don't allow the hindrances of the natural and the flesh interfere with the work of God being done through you.

Keepin' it Real,

Pastor Kevin <><

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Let's Make A Deal

It was the best deal I ever made. And I have made plenty of them. Financial deals, real estate deals, new and used car deals.

The best deal I ever made however, was back in February of 1986. It would be the one deal that was responsible for saving my life (both physically and spiritually). Not only that, but it was a two for one deal. My wife was able to get in on it as well.

It was my deal with God. 

He offered. I accepted. No paperwork. No collateral. No co-signers. 

In actuality, while it was a "deal" for me, it would be more precise to call it a covenant. 

Jesus Christ went to the Cross as a sacrifice for the human race. His part of the covenant was not contingent upon anything other than His love and willingness to die for us.

Our part of the covenant is to simply receive it.

It's amazing how much of the human race has been resistant.

So, let me offer to you what was once offered to me, which I accepted, and almost 25 years later still relish and revere as the best decision I have ever made.

2 Corinthians 5:20 (Amplified Bible) - "So we are Christ's ambassadors, God making His appeal as it were through us. We [as Christ's personal representatives] beg you for His sake to lay hold of the divine favor [now offered you] and be reconciled to God."

That's us. My wife and me. We are ambassador's of Jesus Christ, introducing (and re-introducing) people to Him. 

I am not beyond begging. If it takes me begging you to accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior then I will gladly do that.

Whether you have never met Jesus, or knew Him once, my request for you today is to be reconciled to God.

God offers you forgiveness of sin and complete and total restoration. He extends the privilege of being adopted into His family as one of His own children. He offers reconciliation to those who have been estranged.

It is truly the "deal of a lifetime". There is none better. Nothing or no one offers you more.

Just say yes to Jesus Christ today, and don't sweat the details.

Keepin' it Real,

Pastor Kevin <><

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Complete Joy

What makes you happy? Have you ever contemplated total and complete happiness? I have met few people in my life who have actually defined what joy is for them, let alone achieved it.

What does that mean? Well, I'm not about to assume what it means for you, but I can tell you what I believe.

In the world today, both in and apart from the Church, the idea of being happy revolves around how much money one has. I say the "idea" of happiness because if it's financially or materially rooted it is no wonder that so many have not found it.

They have not found it because even if you do manage to become a part of the small percentage that is considered solvent, then chances are you are working too hard to maintain it, thus gaining false happiness on one end only to lose it at the other.

I have joy this morning, but I'll be honest, it's not complete. There is a competing sadness.

The joy of Christ in others and the working together as a church to spread that joy is what really makes me happy. When that doesn't happen some of the air gets let out of my joy.

Seriously. I see money and material as a necessary evil sometimes. It does nothing to make me happy. If it did I would have stayed making the big bucks and never became a pastor. 

I sense the heart of Paul this morning. 

Philippians 2:1-2 (Amplified Bible)

"SO BY whatever [appeal to you there is in our mutual dwelling in Christ, by whatever] strengthening and consoling and encouraging [our relationship] in Him [affords], by whatever persuasive incentive there is in love, by whatever participation in the [Holy] Spirit [we share], and by whatever depth of affection and compassionate sympathy, (2) Fill up and complete my joy by living in harmony and being of the same mind and one in purpose, having the same love, being in full accord and of one harmonious mind and intention."

Yeah...that's the ticket.

The Source of my joy is Christ. The expression and encouragement of that joy is through His people, the Body of Christ. When that is fractured or minimally achieved my joy is reduced. 

If we as the Church are one in the same mind and purpose, then our joy in Christ is complete in that harmony of same mind and purpose.

It's easy to run and hide from that. I shudder to contemplate the untold hundreds of thousands of Christians who weekly simply come and go, shrinking into the sea of anonymity and shadows of the invisible church. Small or large, the local church can become a hiding place.

As much of an uphill battle it sometimes is, I will not diminish my hope for pure joy in this lifetime. If what Paul is preaching this morning is not achievable in this life than none of God's Word is!

I choose to believe in the participation of the brethren with the Holy Spirit for the completion of my joy in this life. 

The day I can no longer do that is the day I file my papers.

Keepin' it Real,

Pastor Kevin <><