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Archive | April, 2013

James 1

04/07/2013

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  James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,
To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion:
Greetings.
  Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
  If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
  Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, and the rich in his humiliation, because like a flower of the grass he will pass away. For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits.
  Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.
  Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.
  Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.
  But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.
  If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. (ESV)

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Being Deceived is not…

04/02/2013

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…something that is beyond you. I was deceived for many years. I continue to be deceived. This blog is proof positive of the deception I’ve struggled with. See, I was led to create this blog years ago. Notice how many posts there have been- most of which were not even posted by me? It’s time for this Watchman to start ringing the bell!

But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.2 Corinthians 11:3 (ESV)

I was a youngster when my mom literally had to drag my family to a Billy Graham movie at a local theatre. She was new to the Christian faith at the time and although she was raised in the Lutheran church in a small town north of Green Bay, she wasn’t actively part of the Church for years. My dad wasn’t interested in going to church as I was growing up either. Typically, as men of the family go, so goes the family, so it’s truly a blessing from God that my mom continued praying and praying and then praying more for her children to come to faith in Christ.

So we’re at this movie… I don’t remember much of it although I do remember it was pretty tacky. Just to be clear, I love Billy Graham. I honestly believe that God has worked through this man to bring many to Christ. To clarify, those many people who have “walked the aisle” or “prayed a prayer” at one of his numerous stadium sermons did not save themselves by doing so. Saving souls is God’s job and His job alone. So we walked the aisle and said the “Sinner’s Prayer”, which I found out many years later is not found anywhere in the Bible, and I was good.

Fast forward around 20 years. It’s 2003. I’m still good. Haven’t attended church much. I enlisted into the Army after 9-11 and I don’t think I missed a Protestant service all the way through Basic Training and AIT. I’m not sure if it was 9-11 itself or if it was the Army, but during that time between late 2001 and 2003, God was drawing me closer and opening my eyes to the world around me. I’m still not saved at this point but I said the “prayer” when I was younger so…I’m good, right?

I got home from Iraq in 2004 and blew through most of my tax free earnings from the deployment faster than you can say “Emergent Church”. I was still deceived when I got my first and only DWI after a “Welcome Home” party too. I said the prayer! The DWI was a real eye opener. I still drank afterwards though.

It then came to 2006. The Lord continued to draw me closer to Him and I continued to push back. I kept Him at a distance and He was well within His “box”. I took the box out when I needed to be forgiven of something I was convicted of and when I wanted to sin again, I’d just put the box away until I was ready to say “sorry Lord”. Seriously.

Through the prayers of my mom and a group of godly men at a local church, God introduced me to His saving grace. The gospel of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Before that time in 2008, if you would’ve asked me what the gospel was, I would’ve responded with something along the lines of, “Well, Jesus died for my sins and I’ve accepted him into my heart and that allows me to get to heaven.” That’s not altogether false, but it misses the mark and places me at the center and in control of my salvation, which is false. Yes, Christ bore flesh and died for my sin, however, the gospel is so much deeper than that. We are hopelessly lost and evil at our core because of the fall of man (Adam and Eve- Genesis 3). Sin entered the human race and separated us from our Creator at that point. Throughout the Old Testament, God is pointing to His Son. Christ was born of a virgin and lived a sinless life. He performed miracles and showed us signs during His time on earth in order that we would believe. Because of our sin He was arrested, beaten, scorned, whipped, and bled for us. We then crucified Him after a number of ridiculous trials. He died and three days after, rose victorious over sin and death. He met with over 500 of his disciples before ascending to the right hand of the Father in heaven and reigns, living, today! Praise God!!! He alone deserves our praise and worship! That is the gospel!

Not that I did anything to deserve or warrant saving, but He allowed my salvation through the work of Christ and Christ alone. As some put it, we are saved by grace ALONE, through faith ALONE, in Christ, ALONE. Can you see the difference between what I believed for almost two decades and what the Truth is?

I pray that this strengthens those that read it and all glory is given to God. I am only a weak sinner, alive in Christ, trying to save a few.

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. James 1:22-25

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