Our God is a Consuming Fire!

I love camp fires! The smell the warmth, the comforting Joy it brings me. My wife and I built a fire pit in our beautiful Arizona backyard. There is just something about a fall evening with a warm fire and the crickets chirping in glorious harmony. I’m enjoying these moments as I’m writing this.

God is so good! As I sit at the fire I can feel the warmth, it’s comforting. When we are in harmony with God, His presence is that warmth that overcomes us, the overwhelming Joy that embraces us, even in times of despair.

But for those in the wrong side of God’s Grace is the all consuming fire that leads to the other side of eternal salvation. This is the fire of Hell that nobody wants to talk about. It’s submission to our sins, or submission to a loving God! It’s a choice, Salvation through Christ Jesus, or any of the other options that don’t lead to God. There are religions that claim salvation, but they simply cannot deliver.

Jesus answered, “I and the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

John 14:6

For those who haven’t given it much thought. Take your time, you’ve got a lifetime to decide. You can enjoy an eternity with God, or another more temperate location… Don’t get burned, get Saved!

Lamentations – Is America the next Jerusalem?

Our great nation was founded nearly 250 years ago with a firm foundation of Faith in God. The Declaration of Independence clearly proves this truth with the words that have shaped our nation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

The United States of America was founded through a firm belief in Divine Providence… For those unfamiliar with this term, let me define it for you. Divine Providence is the governance of God by which He, with wisdom and love, cares for and directs all things in the universe. This doctrine asserts that God is in complete control of all things. He is sovereign over the universe (Psalm 103:19), the physical world (Matthew 5:45), the affairs of nations (Psalm 66:7), human destiny (Isaiah 46:10), human successes and failures (Luke 1:52), and the protection of His people (Psalm 4:8). This doctrine stands in direct opposition to the idea that the universe is governed by chance or fate.

Through Divine Providence God accomplishes His will.

In 1956 Congress adopted the official national motto “In God We Trust“, it’s on our currency. This begs the question….

In Whom do you Trust?

See, Lord, how distressed I am!
    I am in torment within,
and in my heart I am disturbed,
    for I have been most rebellious.
Outside, the sword bereaves;
    inside, there is only death.

Lamentations 1:20

Our nation is in turmoil. We have a two party political system that is at odds with each other, our Congress battles with each other, it is a government that is hungry for power and control. Those we voted to represent the people, represent themselves…. They plot, they undermine, they scheme…. The United States of America is anything but! America the Divided, divided and in a state of moral decline.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

Ephesians 6:12

Moral depravity is commonplace. It is not even shocking. The movie industry glorifies it, television shows centerpiece it, and we are not even blinking. Not sure what I mean? let’s list some of the television shows and motion pictures that have been out that really are pushing the line towards embracing darkness and morally inappropriate themes.

  • Evil – Yes, there is plenty of evil in the world, let’s make a television show about it..
  • Lucifer – Yup, a TV show about Satan who leaves Hell and move to Los Angeles, the irony.
  • Almost Family – a comedy about a Doctor at a fertility clinic who apparently fathered 100 children through his patients without knowledge or consent… Isn’t that considered rape?
  • The Sons of Anarchy – Drugs and violence galore.
  • Preacher – an alcoholic priest who has special powers is searching for God with a vampire?
  • Joker – A movie that glorifies a deranged man’s decent into darkness and violence.

If we want to know why our society is so angry, so bitter, so entitled…. Just take a look at what they are watching, reading and listening to. Oh, I forgot to mention the countless violent first person shooter games where the only purpose of the games are to kill.

Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.

Matthew 6:21

And we wonder why God is looking the other direction…. He is removed from the schools, politicians want “so help me God” stricken from the swearing in of those who testify before congressional hearings. We allow abortion (legalized murder), we destroy God’s Biblical views of marriage, we as a nation embrace sin…. Sin is Sin is Sin!

My eyes fail from weeping,
    I am in torment within;
my heart is poured out on the ground
    because my people are destroyed,
because children and infants faint
    in the streets of the city.

Lamentations 2:11

The punishment of my people is greater than that of Sodom, which was overthrown in a moment without a hand turned to help her.

Lamentations 4:6

Suicide rates are up, drugs run rampant in our streets, vaping is the new dangerous addiction, and alcohol is nothing new. Sex is for sale, pornography is normal, nothing is sacred. We are a society lost, depressed and trying to numb ourselves. We struggle, we fight, we rise and fall with success and failure.

But what are we fighting for? What are we placing our Hope on?

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
    for His compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, The Lord is my portion;
    therefore I will wait for him.

The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,
    to the one who seeks him;
it is good to wait quietly
    for the salvation of the Lord.
It is good for a man to bear the yoke
    while he is young.

Lamentations 3:22-27

Wow! There it is brothers and sisters. Hope is in the LORD! For those who seek Him, for those that quietly wait for Him, His salvation awaits! We are a nation that is great when we are One Nation under God, Indivisible! We need to seek God’s Face! To Repent of our sins and return to His unwavering, unending and amazing Grace! It starts with you, it starts with me!

Let us examine our ways and test them,
    and let us return to the Lord.
Let us lift up our hearts and our hands
    to God in heaven, and say:
We have sinned and rebelled
    and you have not forgiven.

Lamentations 3:40-42

God is waiting for us to Repent and return to His loving favor. Obedience is never easy, but His ways are always best for us, He is our loving Abba Father! Lamentations paints a vivid picture of the utter despair of the City of Jerusalem that was laid to waste as a result of the people’s disobedience to God and their sinful ways. The events of 2,000 years ago may be a foreshadowing of what our nation could face if we continue to rebel against our LORD and King.

And so I close with the final four verses of Lamentations. Within these verses are two questions…. The answers are undeniably and unequivocally tied to the same questions that God asks of us….

You, Lord, reign forever;
    your throne endures from generation to generation.
Why do you always forget us?
    Why do you forsake us so long?

Restore us to yourself, Lord, that we may return;
    renew our days as of old
unless you have utterly rejected us
    and are angry with us beyond measure.

Lamentations 5:19-22

Hi-Tech Christianity – Growing your Faith or lacking in depth?

Yes, I have a smartphone with several Bible apps (YouVersion, Life Application, NIV and several others). Our church uses the YouVersion app to download the message being preached on so that you can add electronic notes and save them for later digestion. I bring my very large Life Application Bible to church simply because there is nothing that takes the place of the written Word; I can touch the pages, feel the texture of the paper, to actually smell the cover and pages…… It becomes more real to me….

Now, I am approaching this posting as a literal discussion with those who read this. I use both printed Bible and electronic applications. I am not about to sit here and write this article in such a way as to say that one is better than the other. It is not for me to do so. My focus of this article to get some feedback. To ask some difficult questions to raise awareness. To question if our walk is growing or weakening as we lean on technology…..

We now demand glamour and fast flowing dramatic action. A generation of Christians reared among push buttons and automatic machines is impatient of slower and less direct methods of reaching their goals. We have been trying to apply machine-age methods to our relations with God. We read our chapter, have our short devotions and rush away, hoping to make up for our deep inward bankruptcy by attending another gospel meeting or listening to another thrilling story told by a religious adventurer lately returned from afar. The tragic results of this spirit are all about us. Shallow lives, hollow religious philosophies, the preponderance of the element of fun in gospel meetings, the glorification of men, trust in religious externalities, quasi-religious fellowships, salesmanship methods, the mistaking of dynamic personality for the power of the Spirit: these and such as these are the symptoms of an evil disease, a deep and serious malady of the soul.

A.W. Tozer (The Pursuit of God)

When I began reading A.W. Tozer I was hooked! The depth of his walk is truly remarkable and an inspiration to me. When he wrote The Pursuit of God in 1948 it is quite amazing how spot on he was in his views of our society today. He began to see how advances in technology even back then was changing how people were more “on the go”. To get a feel for what he was seeing I did some internet searches about some big advances that took place in 1948; here is what I found:

  • 1 Million televisions are in homes, previous to 1948 there were only about 5,000.
  • Transistor Radios were invented (No, Pandora Radio or Spotify yet….)
  • Random Access Storage Device was patented…. This was the beginning of what is now RAM (Random Access Memory) which is a significant part of any and all computers today.
  • 33 RPM Vinyl records were invented.
  • Notable births in 1948 were: Prince Charles, Glenn Frey, Alice Cooper, Al Gore, Samuel L. Jackson, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Olivia Newton-John and Ozzy Osbourne.
  • The average new car price was $1,250, bread was $.14 a loaf, it costs $.60 to get into a movie and gas was an atrocious $.16 per gallon.

Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.

Hebrews 10:22

I will be the first to admit that I love technology. It makes life so much easier. My wife will be the first to agree that without Google Maps, I would be lost! Literally, I would be lost…. I am directionally challenged and if not for my wife, I would still be driving around trying to find my way home. Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, the NFL App… You name it, I’ve got it. But this is the question that is haunting society today.

Has technology made us into self-serving, on-demand, instant-gratifying, I want it now, hurry up and a what’s taking so long society?

I did a Google search of “The Bible” and got search results of websites, images, books about the bible and , videos, news, current events, maps, shopping sites to purchase a Bible, just to name a few. The search results are exhaustive. In my use of the internet to find “The Bible” what do you think the results were when I did a search for “God”!? Equally exhaustive! The Multiferous Pleathoritude (yes I made that up) of information about God and the Word of God on the internet is staggering.

In your search for God, do you think that you can find Him if you solely used the internet as your only source? In the bytes of data and the millions of web search results, can you find God? Can you draw closer to the Creator through the use of technology? In our quest for instant results are we in such a hurry that we forget to actually make time for our LORD?

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

Psalm 46:10

Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.

Psalm 37:7

The Social Media Paradox

It really does trouble my heart to see how in our longing to be connected through Social Media, that the opposite effect has resulted…. In our desire for closeness, a crevasse of loneliness and distance is ever present. We share our lives with each other, but only the parts that look good. We hide the darkest parts that nobody needs to see or know about; if they knew how bad I really was, they would never want to know me at all! So, we only show off the happy shiny feel-good things…. We desire acceptance so much that we post things to see how many “likes” we get…… If we get lots of likes we feel a euphoria, if we don’t get likes we get depressed. And so we wear a mask, we tell people what we want them to see and hear and in the process we keep people at a distance.

The God’s Word and Prayer or God.com?

This might sting…. You would rather spend 15 minutes on Facebook rather than 15 minutes with God. That’s me! That is so painfully true and I have been guilty of this so many times! Facebook does have many good things about it, please don’t take my statements to say that it is completely evil. But everything in moderation brothers and sisters! Spend time connecting, but make time for God! It is my heartfelt belief that God can never truly be found on a computer screen, God can truly never be found on a Facebook posting and admittedly so not even in my blog. God is found in reading the scriptures (the living Word of God) and in private prayerful meditation with Him. It is listening in complete silence for His gentle whispers. It is your heart in unison with His; the stillness between heartbeats.

Be in the Presence of God!

If this is you today, just as much as it is me, there is Hope! GOD LOVES YOU JUST THE WAY YOU ARE! Stop pretending to be somebody that you are not. Stop trying to convince others that you are living the perfect life when you are not. Take off the mask and let people see who you really are. Take a courageous step and be transparent, you would be surprised to know that we are all alike…. Broken! We are all alike in that we were all created by God! God has put on my heart the truth that you are acceptable in His eyes as you are. He wants you to stop seeking approval from a sinful world and look to Him for the ONLY place where you will acceptance.

For me, my journey towards God is quite simple. Give me God, my Bible, my morning coffee and the quietness of the glorious morning He has given me. That is the beginning. Yes, I use the internet to spread the Gospel. Yes, I use technology in my earnest desire to tell the world The Good News! But, that is not where I found God, it is just a means to prick the heart, to plant the seed and openly invite the Holy Spirit into your hearts! We can get so overwhelmed with technology and information that we overcomplicate our Faith. I like the K.I.S.S method with my walk with Christ…. Keep It Simple Sinner! Meditate in the Word, Talk with God, and He will do the rest!

How easily we overlook the Amazing Provider that God is!

Shoes….. How often to do buy new shoes? How easy is it for you to buy a new pair? I could buy a new pair today if I really needed to. I could also go onto Zappos.com (not a paid advertisement or endorsement) and probably have a nice pair of sneakers in a few days. The same things applies to my shirts and pants…. I could easily acquire any number of clothing items at my local Walmart, JCPenny’s or Target…. Today, within minutes.

But do we stop to really think about this? Do we stop and appreciate the enormous amount of blessings that we have? I can say that the oldest piece of clothing that I have is maybe 8 years old if that, oldest pair of shoes maybe 3 years old.

Yet the LORD says, “During the forty years that I led you through the wilderness, your clothes did not wear out, nor did the sandals on your feet.

Deuteronomy 29:5

Let that sink in. For 4o years, the Israelites wandered in the wilderness with the same clothing and sandals that they left Egypt in! And God merely provided that their clothes and sandals lasted all 40 years. It’s not like there were stores available, but with God, He provided!

I bet you won’t look at your clothing the same again. Boy, these shoes are pretty comfy!

The Storms…. Oh, they will come!

“Terrors overtake him like a flood; a tempest snatches him away in the night” Job 27:20
Tempests abound, darkest decay;
terror surrounds us, into the fray!
Prince of the air, stalking around;
be still, don't make a sound!
Death, madness, nothing is right,
the horror chokes me, no sleep tonight!
Why is this nightmare keeping me awake?
Sweating, can't breathe, my soul to take!?
Is this hell one that I have made?
the bottle drops, crashes to the floor,
the stench, the vomit, I can't take it anymore!
I promise, this is my last time, you can take me at my word,
But she looks at me, tears flowing,
tell me something I haven't already heard?
Lies, deception, towards the one I love,
O' God, I cry to the Holy one above!
Lord, why have you forsaken me!?
My wife, departed,
no longer she could bear;
the agony, the prison of my despair!
I lie here married to my liquid hell,
death is creeping, time to say farewell
I drank myself into this pit of desolation,
Nobody to blame, just myself, in my isolation
I lie here in this hospital bed,
soon to be dead.
It's better off this way, I am not fit to be loved,
The clouds are forming, the storm is brewing....
My time has come, God why did I leave you!
I need you now, Lord make me new!
Darkness surrounds me, my breaths are growing faint,
Hell awaits, eternal torment for I am no saint.
Jesus! Save Me! It's too late to repent!
My heart ceases to beat, no time to lament....
From the clouds of darnkess, beams of light emit!
from death I awaken, His verdict - Acquit!
My sins forgiven, my destination set above,
God in His Glory, radiating with Love!
My child, I was with you, every moment since you came to be,
And though you suffered, I suffered with you.
This I want you to see.
Your choices determined your outcome,
death is inevitable for all.
The storms of sin surround us,
a tempest of temptation, origin.... The Fall.
God created us for communion,
Eternity with Him, His perfect design,
My Lord, my Savior, Thine so Divine!

What’s wrong with the world? ME!

Since they did not know the righteousness of God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness.

Romans 10:3

It is so very easy to do. I can sit here for hours looking at our world and come up with a litany of reasons as to why it is broken and shattered. I can play the blame game like the best of them. I can blame the “right” or the “left”, doesn’t matter. I can point out all that is wrong all day long and and I will have missed the mark every time. Attacking others is an easy target, “they” don’t have a name, but “they” are responsible for your lot in life. It has been this way since the beginning of time, this is not new, this should not be a surprise to all those reading this. We are dissatisfied, we are angry, we are fed up, we want change, we are sick and tired!

We are the problem….. I am the problem!

But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.

Romans 2:8

I am selfish. There is no way around it. I want what is best for me. It comes down to this inescapable truth….. It is all about me! Deny it if you will. The world’s problems are the result of the other 7.7 billion people’s decisions and not mine.

If everybody would just listen to me, I can solve the world’s problems. Give me the microphone, I need my 15 seconds of fame. Vote for me, I know what is wrong with you. What is the world is going on here? Why can’t we just all get along? Why can’t we simply have a conversation about things without getting all bitter? Why can’t we agree to disagree peacefully?

I am the problem!

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
enjoying one moment at a time;
accepting hardship as the pathway to peace;
taking, as Jesus did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
so that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
forever in the next.
~ Amen.

I am unhappy, depressed, discontent, angry, bitter, unwanted, unloved, unworthy, resented, resentful, dishonest, prideful, lustful, unwavering, hateful, needy, stubborn, lazy and selfish.

The mirror is harsh….. It shows my flaws….. It shows me who I am….. It does not lie.

I so very much want our world to be a better place, who doesn’t? The hate, the poverty, the famine, the homelessness, the diseases and wars are all around us. There has never been a time in all of humanity that there has not been something wrong. It started with Adam…. He blamed God and Eve. It started with Eve, she blamed the serpent.

Nobody took responsibility for themselves……

The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

Genesis 3: 12-13

Today I am starting with me! If I want this world to be a better place it must start and end with me. I need to change….. I need to be a better version of me….. I NEED GOD!

I am incapable of change on my own, it is simply not possible. Thinking otherwise is what got me into trouble. Avoiding this fact is called denial. I need to change me from the inside out. I need a heart transplant. It is no longer about what I want, it is about what I need, and that is the saving Grace of Jesus Christ! It is the heart-changing, life-altering, death-defying, mind-blowing, fear-decimating, give Him all the Glory Truth! We are hopeless, but He is All the Hope we will every need!

Because of Faith in what Jesus did on the Cross we are loved, cherished, accepted, redeemed, hopeful, joyful, new, never alone and forever forgiven!

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

John 3: 16-17

If you want to change the world, change you!

If you want to change you, go to the Only One who can…….

Go to Jesus!

Receiving Praise – Gracious humility or Glory Thief?

It is a real struggle for me personally; to be recognized for any accomplishments…. To be praised. I guess it is because I see it as such a rampant sin in our society today when it is done so absolutely to the extreme….. Look at me, look at what I have done today.

It is the sin of Pride.

How can you believe since you accept glory from one another but do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?

John 5:44

I see with some actors, athletes, politicians and all throughout the business industries; I’ve seen it in me! People are screaming for attention. They want to be recognized for their achievements, they want to be praised, they want to be idolized. If I am being honest about my observations, they are trying to steal the throne from the One who provided them with the skills and abilities….. They are glory thieves.

The purpose of my post today is not to point out the sinful acts of others, I am not perfect and as I began my post, it is a struggle I have. I began blogging for one sole purpose….. To point people to God! To point the broken world to the One place for Redemption and Salvation, His name is Jesus Christ!

So, when my new found brothers and sisters of the blogging community graciously provide praise for the posts of which I have written I need to accept the praise for what it really is. That they are approving of the literary works that were created by a child of God who is allowing the Holy Spirit to work in him to shine the Light of Jesus Christ to those who need it so desperately!

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Philippians 4:8

The question I am trying to raise to some degree of eloquence is this….. Is my identity based on what others think of me, or is it based on what God thinks of me? I write because of what God, through the Holy Spirit, has and is doing in me through Grace. I don’t deserve any of the gifts and abilities that He has bestowed upon me, but He did it anyways because He loves me!

I wrote a poem that God inscribed on my penitent heart about His forgiveness, and how I don’t deserve it, but He gave it anyways….. Every word comes from my Abba Father! Where it gets slippery is when I use His gifts to achieve fame and take the glory away from the Him. If I take any of the glory intended for the Father and say that it was all about me, that I deserved a glimmer of the limelight, then I move from being a gracious recipient of the praise over to glory thief….

These people are grumblers and faultfinders; they follow their own evil desires;they boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage.

Jude 1:16

Praise or a good compliment is intended to bring something delightful and beautiful to light. To express how something written, said or done brings you joy.

I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation. It is not out of compliment that lovers keep on telling one another how beautiful they are; the delight is incomplete till it is expressed.

C.S. Lewis

Flattery is a thief. When we praise somebody, are we flattering them for the purpose of warming them up for personal gain? We flatter others because we want something in return… We do this all the time in relationships, men and women alike. I know there are times I have said just about anything to get sex (you guys know this is true). We do it in the workplace in the hopes of a promotion or a big raise.

Are we praising to get or to give?

So, whether you are on the giving or receiving side of praise, it is all about the intention of the praise that we all need to be consciously aware of. What are your motives in giving the praise? Are you giving it to honor God? When somebody is praising you, are the simply honoring the Father as well, or are they seeking a reward, future payment, is it quid pro quo? Temptation is at play here. Pride and vanity is center stage. It is giving into temptation as well as offering somebody a temptation…

“Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil”

How can I avoid the sexy traps of flattery? How can I accept a compliment and not let it go to my head? It is a gift from God. If the giver of the compliment is simply acknowledging your works as from The Holy One, receive it as just that! Praise God for the words of encouragement from your brothers and sisters in Christ and continue to do the good works that He has placed in your heart to do! Be thankful that you are a shining light of Jesus, that Christ is alive in you!

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

James 1:17

For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?

1 Corinthians 4:7