AUDIO Courtesy Calls

By Rev Bill Woods

2 Corinthians 2:11: “lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.”

I’ve been getting plenty of these pushy telephone solicitors who don’t want to take “NO” for an answer. – In fact, one just now called me while I was working on this sermon.

Wow, was he a smooth talker!

“Mr. Woods, this is a courtesy call on behalf of Blah, Blah, Blah Credit Card Company and we’d like to tell you about a limited time offer…”  – “Medicare supplements,” or a “free vacation”…….

Sometimes when they’re extra persistent I tell them, “I’m going to hang up now, but you can keep talking to my phone line if you like.”   Or maybe, “I’m busy and not really interested, but my dog’s right here and he may be interested in what you’re selling, let me put him on.”

“I’m not interested.” Click. The receiver went quickly back into its position. You see, I wasn’t about to listen to this guy’s “offer.”

Why? Because I’ve learned one thing about telemarketers…
    – …if you don’t hang up on them quickly, you might buy something you don’t really want.
                                                                                                                                                                
Telemarketers are clever. They try to convince you that they’re doing you a favor, thus the “courtesy” call.

They want you to believe what they’re about to share is really in your best interest and they’re trying to be a help…
   – …yeah, they want to help you right into making a decision that you don’t really want to make!

I’ve got to credit telemarketers with one thing, though. When you quickly hang up on them, they usually don’t call you back again that day.

The guy that called me didn’t. Oh, he may call me again tomorrow or some other day, but for now he’s leaving me alone.
                                                                                                                                                                 When we lived in Seattle, I had a couple of unique experiences.

We needed a car because the one we had was nickeling and dimeing us something terrible.  – Everything that could go wrong was going wrong!

I went to one car dealership and the salesman said, “Let me take the keys to your car so our appraiser can see what we can offer you for a trade-in.” – I handed him the keys and he would not give them back until I bought one of their cars.  – I literally had to steal my car keys back when I saw them laying in his cubical. 

I went to another dealership and told the salesman I liked the car he offered me, but would have to pray about our decision whether to buy it or not. 
    – The car dealer said, “I’ll help you pray about it.”  I asked, “Pray, or Prey?”

I especially love the presentations for time-shares…………………

The last one Marty and I suckered into was trying to sell us vacations.  – I told the lady that we didn’t take many vacations and really were just curious. – She asked me if we were there just to receive the gift they were giving out for listening to their spiel admitted that we wanted something to do that afternoon and we really weren’t that interested in buying into their program.

She said, “Please follow me.”

We had no idea where she was taking us.  She led us to a door, opened it, and we stepped through to find ourselves in the alley.  She slammed the door shut and we had to walk clear around the building to find our car.

I DIDN’T EVEN GET ONE OF THE DOUGHNUTS THEY WERE SERVING!
You know, Satan’s a master telemarketer. His skills are razor sharp. His technique is flawless, precise and well rehearsed. He knows his stuff. And, wow, is HE a smooth talker.

“Brother Christian, this is a courtesy call on behalf of SSI” (Satan’s Systems International…but he doesn’t tell you what it stands for!)

“We’d like to inform you about a limited-time offer.  If you act fast you can avoid giving your tithe by…(use your money to get something  you want) We’ve got a really great deal on unforgiveness and ill will, you can develop a lifelong grudge in just seconds, it’s so easy. Oh, let me tell you about the special of the day…little white lies, why you can get a whole case of them for all kinds of occasions. 

What about these handy little devices…excuses. Why we’ve got plenty of them for you to choose from. There’s one to keep you from reading your Bible each day, here’s one to help you avoid prayer time, this one will allow you to sleep in on Sunday mornings, there’s one for…”

You see what I’m saying? Satan’s a master telemarketer.

He’s smooth and silky. Let him keep talking and you’re asking for trouble! If you don’t hang up on him quickly, you might just buy something you don’t really want!

There’s good news, though. There’s a way to get him to shut up, at least for a little while…

The Bible says in James 4:7, “resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”In other words, hang up!

Oh, he most definitely will call again, but at least for now he’ll leave you alone.

Make no mistake about it, Christian. Sometime this week that spiritual telephone is going to ring. Satan will call, you can count on it. When He does……tell him you’re not interested and hang up the phone!

1 Corinthians 10:13 – No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.

PAY ATTENTION TO THIS WARNING:  The strength of a temptation lies in how long you play with the thoughts of yielding to it.  The longer you play with the temptation the stronger it gets and the more apt you are to yield to it.

As a small boy, my Grandma used to read to me every evening.  One of the selections she read to me was Laura Wilder’s, “LITTLE HOUSE” series which I enjoyed thoroughly! – One incident from the books that I remember was when Laura and Mary’s Pa and Ma had to go to town for supplies.  Pa had just harvested the hay for the animals for the winter  and piled it into a haystack.

– He specifically told the girls not to jump on the hay because they would knock down and scatter the hay. –  It looked like it would be so much fun that Laura decided just one jump wouldn’t hurt the  haystack. – That was fun!  One jump led to another and etc.

When Pa got home the stack was scattered all over and Laura and Mary were in trouble!

The problem came when the girls didn’t walk away, but stayed there thinking about how much fun jumping in the hay would be.

Satan knows if he can get you thinking about the temptation long enough that he can defeat you and cause you to yield.  THE POWER IN THE TEMPTATION IS IN HOW LONG YOU WILL THINK ABOUT IT!

The way to defeat Satan’s enticements is to get away and quit thinking about it.   

There are radio towers all over our country.  Each is putting out a signal on a certain frequency.  If you don’t like what they’re offering you can switch the station and find something more suitable to your taste.

When Satan is bombarding you with a temptation you can switch the station!

Mark Twain said, ‘YOU CAN’T STOP BIRDS FROM FLYING OVER YOUR HEAD, BUT YOU DON’T NEED TO LET THEM NEST IN YOUR HAIR!”

How do I change the station when the Devil is tempting me?

Memorize scripture: Psalm 119:11  “Thy Word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against thee.”

Learn hymns and choruses to remind yourself how good God is to you.  By the way, Satan doesn’t enjoy you singing them to him.

Testify to Satan.  Tell him what Christ has blest your life.  Ask what he has done for you.

When he knocks at the door send Christ to answer.

You don’t have to fall if you don’t give him a foothold. – The comedian, Flip Wilson used to get a laugh every time he said, “The Devil made me do it.”

Listen, as funny as that line seemed to be it was totally inaccurate.  The Devil can’t make you do anything.  He can present the temptation, but you are the one who makes the decision.

James 4:7-8: “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”

There is something I need to clarify.  Some people think if they are tempted that they have sinned.  TEMPTATION IS NOT SIN!

TEMPTATION IS WHEN THE DEVIL SAYS, “WILL YOU?”

SIN COMES WHEN YOU SAY, “I WILL!”

Every Christian faces temptation, but every one of us has the ability to say “NO!”

Remember:  1 Corinthians 10:13 – No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”

 Put God first in your life and He will show you the way to be victorious!

Remember: When Satan solicits you it is not a Courteous call!  You don’t have to be courteous to Satan.  What he’s trying to sell you will destroy you if you buy into it!

Keep in mind that the pleasures of sin are only temporary.  The guilt and consequences of sin are long lasting and far outweigh the pleasure sin brought for you.

If sin persists it will lead you to an Eternity in Hell!  YOU DON’T WANT THAT!

There is a courtesy call that you ought to take.

The best courtesy call you will ever get comes from God.  There are no hidden clauses, no small print that you will regret later. – He is just offering you straight forward the opportunity to find forgiveness from sin and guilt, He wants to make you part of His Family, a joint heir with His Son, Jesus, and He wants to provide to you Eternal Life in His home in Heaven!

John 14:1-3 “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.                                                                            

The benefits and joy of obeying God last forever.  GOD’S WAYS ARE BEST!


PODCAST COURTESY CALLS

https://www.buzzsprout.com/824359/8437130


AUDIO King of The Coyotes

By Rev Bill Woods

1 Peter 5:8-9 (KJV)
8  Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:
9  Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.

It was Thursday, March 5, 2009.  I came back into the Church parking lot and found 8 young Mexican men huddled together by the Nursery building. 

– I went to see what was going on and what these guys were up to. 

The Mexican people that I’d hired to do the yard work knew why these young men were there.    

 – The young lady told me they’d just escaped from a house in the neighborhood where they were being held prisoner by coyotes. 

 – The coyotes were demanding $4000 a piece for them to gain their freedom. 

The police had been there and now these men were waiting for friends to come pick them up.

COYOTES — PROMISE A BETTER LIFE, THEY’LL TAKE THE VICTIM’S MONEY UNDER FALSE PRETENSES, AND THEN BETRAY THAT PROMISE FOR RANSOM MONEY. 

THESE REFUGEES HAD ESCAPED FROM THE COYOTES — THE COYOTES WANTED $4000 RANSOM MONEY FOR EACH OF THEM.

– According to Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was Sheriff at that time, many victims have been murdered when the ransom wasn’t met.

– It’s not uncommon for a coyote to abandon his victims to die on the desert if he thinks the authorities might be aware of them.

The next night I noticed a helicopter flying around our house and later learned the  police had closed down another coyote house.

It all sounds a lot like Satan:

    – SATAN IS THE KING OF THE COYOTES — HE’LL PROMISE ANYTHING TO GET YOU TO FOLLOW HIM.

    – HE’LL GET YOU TO INVEST YOURSELF INTO HIS LIES, BUT HE WILL ONLY DELIVER DEATH, DESTRUCTION AND HEARTACHE. 

    – HE’LL HOLD YOUR SOUL FOR RANSOM, BUT GOD DOESN’T PAY SATAN RANSOM, HE SETS THE SOUL FREE THROUGH THE BLOOD OF JESUS CHRIST.

Satan is so deceitful!  He will make you think he’s on your side even while he destroys you………….   

That’s why we should stay away from things that are questionable……..

Many parents have a hard time explaining to their youth why some music, movies, books, games and magazines aren’t acceptable material for them to bring into the home, for them to see, or hear.

One dad came up with an original idea that’s hard to refute.

He listened to all the reasons his children gave for wanting to see a particular PG-13 movie.  – It had their favorite actors. – Everyone else was seeing it.  – Even church members said it was great.

It was only rated PG-13 because of a little nudity and the suggestion of sex — they never really showed it.                                                                                                                                                         

– The language was pretty good. They only used the Lord’s name in vain 3 times in the whole movie.                             

                                                                                                                                             

– The video effects were fabulous and the plot was action packed.

Yes, there WAS one scene where a building and a bunch of people got blown up, but the violence was just the normal stuff. It wasn’t very bad.

Even with all these explanations for the rating, the father wouldn’t give in.

He didn’t even give them a satisfying explanation for saying, “No.” He just said, “No.”

Later that evening this same father asked his teens if they’d like some brownies he’d baked.

He explained he’d taken the family’s favorite recipe and added something new.

They asked what it was.

He calmly replied that he’d added dog poop. But, he said, it was only a little bit. All the other ingredients were gourmet quality.

He’d taken great care to bake it at the precise temperature for the exact time. He was sure the brownies would be superb.   – But, even with all the explanations of the perfect attributes of the brownies, the teens wouldn’t take one.

The father acted surprised. There was only one little element that would have caused them to act so stubbornly. He assured them they’d hardly notice it if at all. They all held firm and wouldn’t try the brownies.                                                                                                                                                                      – He then explained the movie they wanted to see was just like the brownies.

Satan tries to enter our minds and our homes by deceiving us into believing that just a little bit of evil won’t matter — just a little gossip,  just a little disobedience — after all, I have my rights………..

With the brownies, just a little bit makes all the difference between a great brownie and a totally unacceptable product.  – He explained that even though the movie people would have us believe the  movies that are coming out are acceptable for adults and young people to   see, they’re not.

Now when this father’s kids want to do something or see something they shouldn’t, he merely asks them if they’d like some of his special dog poop brownies — and they never ask about it again.

Satan and his demons are masters at deceiving people into rationalizing why it’s OK to go against what God wants in our lives.

There are a thousand or more varieties of mushrooms that are good to eat….The most dreaded of the poisonous mushrooms are two members of the Amanita group. – One is the death cup, and the other is the fly amanita.

The death cup grows in the woods from June until fall. Its poison acts like the venom of a rattlesnake, as it separates the corpuscles in the blood from the serum. – No antidote is known for the poison of the death cup. – The only hope for anyone who has eaten it is to clean out his stomach promptly with a stomach pump.

It’s small wonder that one variety is known as the destroying angel.

The death cup has often been mistaken for the common mushroom. A person should not make this mistake if he observes carefully. – The poisonous plant has white gills, white spores, and the fatal poison cup  around the stem.

The plant that’s safe to eat has pink gills, brown spores, and no cup.

Many of the mistakes come from picking it in the button stage, for it doesn’t show all these differences until it has grown larger.

The problem most people have is they don’t want to obey Jesus and do things His way.  – They think Jesus just wants to keep them from enjoying their lives.  They  want freedom to do their own thing and really enjoy themselves by having no restraints.

Augie, “I’m too old for temptation!  Satan doesn’t have anything he can tempt me with.”  He’d say this as he displayed temper, bitterness, and wrong judgmental attitudes.  We don’t get too old in this life time for Satan to figure out how to trap us and make us fall.

We need to live close to Jesus, no matter how old we get.

Monkey trappers in North Africa have a clever method of catching monkeys.

Several gourds are filled with nuts and firmly fastened to a branch of a tree. Each has a hole just large enough for the unwary monkey to stick his hand into it.

When the hungry monkey discovers this, he quickly grasps a handful of nuts, but the hole is too small for him to withdraw his clenched fist. And he doesn’t have enough sense to open up his hand and let go in order to escape, so he is easily taken captive.

What a picture of many Christians.

The devil with his crafty devices tries to ensnare them. He appeals to the appetites of the flesh which can lead to their spiritual downfall.

As long as they hold on to worldly bait, they cannot escape from Satan’s trap. But he keeps on urging, “Don’t let go! Enjoy the pleasure of your sin just a little bit longer!” So, listening to the tempter’s alluring voice, they continue in their evil way.

Paul explains 1 Corinthians 10:13 (KJV):
13  There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

These are comforting words. We can open our hand and let go of the “nuts!” God is on our side, he will not let us fall into Satan’s trap. We have to be willing to let go — open our hand and let go of those sinful things we find in the world.

James writes, “When people are tempted, they should not say, ‘God is tempting me’. Evil cannot tempt God, and God himself does not tempt anyone. But people are tempted when their own evil desire leads them away and traps them. This desire leads to sin, and then the sin grows and brings death” (James 1:13-15 — NCV).

The desires of this world lead us to sin. Once we latch on, we find it hard to let go. It continues to grow, until it consumes our life. In the end, this sin leads to death.

Are the sins of this world preventing you from obeying God? If so, you have to let go! It’s the only way out of the trap!

The devil comes to tempt us away from the safe boundaries God has set for us (His Commandments, His Word and His specific area of calling for us).

The devil will come time after time to tempt us and capture us. However, true freedom only comes in being a servant of the Lord! — John 8:36:  If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.

We should recognize Satan’s tactics and resist him to his face and he will flee — James 4:7-8:  Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.

Satan, that Old Coyote, is out to get you, but you don’t need to get got! – “Turn your eyes upon Jesus!”…………..


PODCAST: KING OF THE COYOTES

https://www.buzzsprout.com/824359/6373390



Related

Distinguishing between Coyotes, Wolves and Dogs

https://wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/Mammals/Gray-Wolf/Identification

AUDIO Is There A Dead Dog In Your Life?

By Rev Bill Woods

I want to remind you that without question, the biggest problem a Christian has by far is temptation.                                                   

If you can eliminate temptation, you can eliminate sin.

1 Corinthians 10:13: No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.

James 1:14-16:  But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.  Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.  Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.  

1 Peter 5:8:  Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.

A pastor told his congregation, “I learned a great lesson from a dog.”

He said, “His master used to put a piece of meat, a biscuit or some kind of food on the ground, and say to the dog, ‘Don’t eat that,’ – The dog would run over and eat it, so he’d spank the dog.

He put another piece of meat on the ground and say, ‘Don’t eat that.’

The dog would go over and eat it, and he’d hit him again.

After awhile, the dog got the message: eat meat, get spanked.                                               – So the dog decided he wouldn’t eat the meat.”

The dog finally got to where he didn’t look at the meat.   – He felt if he looked at the meat, the temptation to disobey would be too great, so he constantly looked at his master’s face and never took his eyes off him.  – Then the temptation didn’t cause a problem.

Temptation works like that.

As long as we stare at it looking at the baubles or the bangles Satan dangles in front of us and entertain ourselves on that and feed on it, we’re susceptible.

Temptation’s a common problem for all of us — often victory over temptation isn’t so common.                                                                                                                                          .    –1Corinthians 10:13:  No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.

We have the same problem the dog had. – If we entertain the temptation rather than keeping our eyes on Christ, we’re  going to fall.

The strength of a temptation is in how long you play with it and think about it.     – The longer you toy with temptation the stronger it becomes and the harder it   is to resist. – If you dismiss it immediately, you’ll not have a problem.

How do you do that?                                                                                                                    

– There are hundreds of radio towers all around the country, sending out different frequencies with different programming.

If you don’t like the program on one station you change to another station!          – When Satan bombards you with temptation you can change the station too.

By Praising Jesus, quoting scripture, testifying to Satan how God’s forgiven your sin, plea the Blood, sing a hymn, and remembering you aren’t having a private moment.  There’s a crowd of witnesses watching you!

 Hebrews 12:1:  Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,

We’ve gotten used to surveillance cameras watching us everywhere, but that’s nothing to what Hebrews tells us — “There’s a great host of witnesses watching how you’ll respond!”  – Knowing this has always helped me resist temptations.

Remember when Satan offers you a temptation, he wants to destroy you.           

1 Peter 5:8: Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.

– Bait on a fish hook.

Whatever Satan offers you might gratify for a moment — when it’s over you’re not satisfied. – You’ll deal with guilt, feel miserable and know you’re out-of-step with God.

Any deal Satan offers you is a bad deal!

I know many people think God is too restrictive — they don’t want to be tied down to a bunch of rules — they want more freedom to indulge in what the world offers:

A German shepherd lived with his master who loved him very much. Every day when the master went to work the German shepherd would be on a long chain in the garden, long enough to cover all the grounds and be able to go inside through the dog-door if need be.

One day when the German shepherd was keeping watch over his Master’s property, a Bulldog came bouncing up to him laughing and taunting.

The bulldog said, “Hey, Look at you, all chained up. Not free! I’m free; I can do what I want. If I’m hungry I go to the garbage cans and find food, I can chase all the lady dogs. You can’t be happy!”

“Actually”, said the German shepherd, “you have a point. I do wonder what it’d be like to have more freedom and go beyond the boundaries set by my master. But my master’s good! He takes care of me and loves me — I’m secure in his care.”

The Bulldog came every day with the same old tactics. Finally, the German shepherd started listening to the bulldog and said, “OK, if I want to be free how is it possible? I’m chained up!”

“Ah!,” said the Bulldog, “You’ve got to be smart like me. When your master is away you go into the living room, right to the center of the rug and do a big job”

“But my master will beat me!” gasped the German shepherd.

“He’ll beat you a few times, then he’ll let you loose!”  Said the Bulldog.

The German shepherd couldn’t sleep that night. – He tossed and turned deciding whether to listen to the Bulldog or not.  – The next morning his master hugged him and left with the usual loving   words, ‘Be a good dog, look after my house’.

But the German shepherd was under the spell of the Bulldog — he went to the center of the living room and did big business!

The next day the Bulldog saw the German shepherd still chained sitting silently in the garden.  His nose was bright red!

“What happened?” asked the Bulldog, “You did it didn’t you? What happened?”

“My master was so angry, he took me to the living room and rubbed my nose painfully in the mess!”  replied the German shepherd.

“Ah! That’s just the first step. You do it a few more times and you’ll be free”, said the Bulldog running circles around him.

“No”, said the German shepherd, “This experience taught me one thing”.

“What is that?” asked the Bulldog.

“Now I know why your face is like it is!”

Satan tries to tempt us away from the safe boundaries God has set for us (His Commandments, His Word and His Will for us).

He tempts us to make a mess instead of being watchful and caring for our Master’s house (body). The devil will come time after time to tempt us and tell us we’re not really free. – However, true freedom only comes in being a servant of the Lord!

We should recognize Satan’s tactics and resist him and he will flee. – Martin Luther did. One night he woke up and the devil was the end of his bed.  Martin Luther said, “Oh! It’s only you!”, and he went back to sleep.

Satan knows what bait you’ll go for and tries to entice you with that! – Beth George was part of a coven and was assigned to make me fall morally  while I was pastoring in Cheyenne.  She later became a Christian and told me about that assignment. Annette, with big brown eyes and long black hair, wanted to have personal counseling with me.  She said she wanted to “sit at my feet and learn about spiritual warfare!”   – SORRY SATAN, I SEE A TRAP!

LISTEN!  Temptation IS NOT SIN!Every Christian is tempted  – If the Devil’s leaving you alone check your relationship with Christ because                            .     evidently Satan’s not worried about you!

Satan works harder on Christians than on the patrons at the neighborhood bar or brothel because he already owns those people!

James 1:14-16:  But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.  Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.  

Temptation is when the Devil says, “Will you?” – Sin comes when we say, “I Will!”                                                                                                                      

Flip Wilson drew laughs by saying “The Devil made me do it!”

Satan can’t make you do anything: — James 4:7-8: Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.  Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

You choose to live for Jesus and do His Will or to disobey Christ and fall prey to Satan.

“Pastor, I try, but the battle’s too hard.  I find myself constantly giving in to temptation and I’m constantly defeated.  The Christian life isn’t working for me!”

Your problem is you’ve never totally committed your life to Jesus!

    – You need to be sanctified!

When you’re Saved you confess the sins you’ve committed in the past, you’re freed from the guilt of past committed sins and have become your own person, but you still have that carnal nature of rebellion (wanting your own way instead of God’s Way).

To be Sanctified means you dedicate your life and all it entails to God’s Will and let the Holy Spirit cleanse you of that bent toward sinning and rebellion (inbred sin).  The Sanctified Life is cleansed BY GOD, and set apart for God’s Holy use.

Romans 7:21-8:10:
21  I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good.
22  For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man.
23  But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.
24  O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?
25  I thank God–through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.
8:1  There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.
2  For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.
3  For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh,
4  that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
5  For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.
6  For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
7  Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be.
8  So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
9  But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.
10  And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness
.

Romans 7:24: O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?

Paul’s referring to the practice Rome had of chaining prisoners together.  If one died he remained chained to the living one who had to drag that dead body every place he went until that rotting carcass poisoned and killed him too.

Paul’s saying the sin you refuse to let go of is a horrible burden like a rotting corpse which will eventually bring your death too.

The reason you’re struggling with the Tithe, witnessing, prayer, devotions, turning your life over to Christ 100% is because you’re still fighting for what you think are “your rights” — “the body of death.”

This attitude will take you right to Hell!

    – You’ve no rights to fight for when you belong to Christ.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20: Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?
20  For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.

If you’re fighting for your “rights” and refusing to give God your obedience “that body of death” is decaying in your spirit and will eventually destroy you.

Sanctification is an experience you maintain by a daily commitment to Jesus Christ.  “NOT MY WILL, BUT THINE!” 

You still have the power of choice and Satan will continue to challenge and tempt you, but if you’re committed to Christ He will guide you and you will remain victorious!

A man wanted to buy a house in Haiti for $2000.

    – The property owner wasn’t sure he wanted to let the house go permanently,    but was willing to negotiate a sale on the condition he could buy the house  back if he ever wanted to.

      – One stipulation for the sale was he could put a nail above the front door   and would continue to own the nail.

The buyer thought, “What could one little nail hurt if I own the rest of the house?”

The buyer agreed to the condition of the sale and paid the $2000 asking price..

2 years later the original owner wanted his house back. 

    – By then the new owner wanted to renege on the agreement.

The previous owner said he owned the nail and could do what he wanted with it.

    – He found a dead dog and hung it on the nail.

The new owner protested, but was reminded the contract read the nail belonged to the previous owner — he could use it anyway he wanted to.

The dog carcass continued to hang — rotting and decaying and smelling horrible.

Finally, the new owner could take it no longer and moved his family out and sold the house back to the original owner.

When you hold something from God, you’ve a nail Satan will use to hang his poison on and defeat you. — Romans 7:24:  O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?

Is there something dead hanging in your life today?

    – Are you being defeated by “that body of death?”

      – God can clean it out for you and restore your relationship with Him.


IS THERE A DEAD DOG HANGING IN YOUR LIFE?

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Why Do Some Pastors Sabotage Their Own Ministries?

And how can they avoid the allure of the self-destruct button?
STEPHEN L. WOODWORTH

Why Do Some Pastors Sabotage Their Own Ministries?

Can we be brutally honest with one another for a moment? Can I ask you, pastor to pastor, the question that no one dares to ask.

How often do you want to quit?

How often do you fantasize about doing something else, something that refuses to weigh so heavily on your soul, something that offers more money? Or less? Something that doesn’t cost your family so much of their time, energy, and privacy? Something that helps you feel “normal” when you talk to fellow parents at your child’s school or their weekly sporting event? Do you ever wonder if there might be another way to make a living that doesn’t cost so much?

I do.

I do on those Monday mornings when the post-sermon blues hit me so hard I could stay in bed for days. When people judge my children, second-guess my motives, and criticize my teaching. When I spend another sleepless night on the couch, in the silence and stillness of my house, wondering if there might be anything else in the world someone like me could do, but when the thing I know how to do best is pastor the souls of broken men and women.

These haunting questions are the unspoken underbelly of the pastoral calling. They are asked by those torn in two by the burden of their calling and the desire for escape, those who have invested too much time and money building a platform they can’t afford to lose, and those who wake up some morning to discover that all the years of preaching truths they never experienced themselves bored a deep cynicism into their souls.

This kind of pressure pushes some pastors toward the light, draws them closer to Christ, and grows them into greater spiritual maturity. Yet it casts others into the darkest of corners, sends them running away from Jesus, and tempts them to give in to temptations that have haunted them for years. While many pastors handle the burden of ministry with grace for decades, why do some crash and burn in only a few years?

Many people believe the reason is quite simple: the sinful human heart. This is true, of course, but also vague enough to be of little value for those seeking a specific prescription. Others suggest pride or a culture of celebrity that elevates pastors above the law. Still others talk about pastors’ isolation, their lack of confession, their diminished willingness to engage in self-reflection. Or as my wife suggested, some pastors have gotten so used to faking it that this becomes the norm in every sphere of life. Undoubtedly these all play a role in pastoral failure.

But I want to suggest another option: Some pastors sabotage their ministries on purpose.

Hitting the Self-Destruct Button

I often read that pastors never decide one morning to become addicted to pills, to bed down with someone other than their spouse, to endlessly click through pornographic websites, or to drink until life becomes a dull blur. And while it’s true that these decisions probably aren’t spur of the moment, we deceive ourselves if we pretend pastors never willingly and intentionally decide to fail. Some do.

As Carey Nieuwhof reflects, failure is sometimes the quickest escape.

When I first started out in ministry, I met with a pastor who had just had to resign because of an affair. He was 20 years my senior, and we met for lunch.

I asked him why he had an affair, and he told me in part it was because he couldn’t handle the pressure of ministry anymore but couldn’t find an easy way to get out. The affair forced him out.

Years later I would discover the pain of burnout personally. … I was so burnt out an escape from my life looked appealing. By the grace of God, I knew enough to keep my head in the game even though my heart had stopped working. As a result, during my darkest months, I kept saying to myself “whatever you do, don’t do anything rash—don’t cheat on your wife, don’t quit your job and don’t buy a sports car.”

In its simplest terms, self-sabotage, or self-defeating behavior, includes any behavior that undermines a person’s own goals. Psychologist Ellen Hendrickson suggests that, among other reasons, many people self-sabotage because it gives them a feeling of control over their situation. She notes, “It feels better to control your own failure. At least when you’re steering the ship, going down in flames feels more like a well-maintained burn.”

Others may sabotage themselves due to insecurity. Many pastors feel like imposters, and it may feel easier to fail morally than face the potential of being fired for inadequacy. “How does this manifest?” asks Hendrickson. “Feeling like a fraud easily leads you towards procrastination and diversion—if you’re faced with a task that makes you feel like a phony, it’s a lot more tempting to … realize there’s no time like the present to immediately start a DIY spice rack project.”

And then there are those who pursue self-sabotage as a way to return to a sense of equilibrium. To one degree or another, every pastor feels the gnawing sense of their own hypocrisy. We are called to preach, week after week, about a vision of Christianity that we may not fully experience, a love from God we sometimes don’t feel, prayer we don’t practice, parenting and marriage advice we forget to employ in our own homes, forgiveness we struggle to give, an identity in Christ in which we struggle to stay rooted. Amid that tension, pastors may look for a way to balance others’ external expectations with their internal reality. The higher the pedestal, the stronger the pull back down.

For this reason, it doesn’t surprise me anymore to see those in some of the largest and most influential ministries in America jumping toward the ground. Sin is the norm and sainthood our elusive goal, so it can be a bizarrely cathartic act for some to give in to their temptations in order to feel “normal” once again. I have watched this principle play itself out among colleagues who have confessed to retreating to their office immediately after the sermon to look at porn, swallow a pill, or drain a bottle of liquor.

I do not believe pastors misunderstand the ramifications of these sort of actions. Certainly, many have successfully hidden their sins for years, but the truth usually finds its way to the surface. And when it does come into the light of day, pastors can’t speak about biblical ignorance or moral ambiguity. Indeed, perhaps the greatest irony of pastoral failure is the amount of teaching, preaching, and writing pastors have often dedicated to decrying the very sins that lead to their fall. Pastors are uniquely positioned to understand the gravity of their immoral decision. This is precisely why their moral failures are more shocking, and why it is difficult to deny that, at least in some cases, pastoral failure is an intentional push of the eject button.

Even while I use the word intentional, it is important to remember that the motives for our self-defeating behavior may be hidden from us in the moment. As with many poor decisions we make, our motives may be limited to hindsight. Such is the case for Darrin Patrick, who underwent three years of restoration since his firing from The Journey church in 2016. After years of counseling, reflection, prayer, and repentance, Patrick came to understand his own act of ministerial self-sabotage was driven by a deep need to be rescued and rebuked:

In my own story, this self-sabotaging was a cry for help. It was me throwing the white flag up and saying, “I need help.” I was saying, “I want to be known, I want to be accepted despite my flaws, I want people to know I have struggles, I want people to know how hard it is and how much I have sacrificed.”

Perhaps most important for Patrick during his season of restoration was the counsel he received from CrossPoint Ministry founder Richard Plass, who shared with Patrick, “You have been crying out for help since you were a little boy; you’ve been wanting somebody to come and be your dad, be your older brother. You’re acting out in order to be rebuked.”

Stepping Back from the Ledge

I shared these reflections recently with some pastoral colleagues who resonated with many aspects of the self-sabotage temptation. When I asked them how they had managed to avoid this fate, a few themes repeatedly rose to the surface of these conversations.

1. Avoid Isolation

Several pastors mentioned that their primary driver of frustration, disillusionment, and sometimes despair is the inherently dehumanizing nature of ministry. In too many churches, the pastor is a role, not a person. Pastors fulfill certain duties—they pray, they preach, they visit, they counsel—but many don’t feel seen as individuals. When someone or something makes a lonely pastor feel “human” again, that pastor may struggle not to run straight into its arms. And the temptation grows even stronger when giving in to it might provide an easy out from a ministry that otherwise feels unavailable. This is the temptation Henri Nouwen was guarding against when he wrote about the need for constant community in the life of a pastor:

When spirituality becomes spiritualization, life in the body becomes carnality. When ministers and priests live their ministry mostly in their heads and relate to the Gospel as a set of valuable ideas to be announced, the body quickly takes revenge by screaming loudly for affection and intimacy. Christian leaders are called to live the Incarnation, that is, to live in the body, not only in their own bodies but also in the corporate body of the community, and to discover there the presence of the Holy Spirit.

2. Watch for Patterns

Second, my colleagues suggested that pastors on the verge of self-sabotage begin to notice the moments in which temptations strike hardest and keep track of when their particular struggle rears its ugly head. Is every spiritual success, every instance of high praise, met with a plunge into the depths of darkness? Pastors on the verge of collapse should ask those who love and know them best if they recognize a pattern in their bouts of depression, anger, despair, or defeats with temptation. If these pastors are seeking a sense of stability to help balance their external persona with their internal reality, they should talk to older pastors about their feelings of inadequacy, their guilt of hypocrisy, and their desire to leap off the pedestal. More ministry “success” will only aggravate the problem.

3. Grieve Your Losses

Finally, and maybe most importantly, my colleagues recommended that pastors learn to grieve. Pastors everywhere, regardless of ministry context, size, or denomination, will sometimes experience a sense of personal loss, betrayal, and anger toward congregants—people who criticized their ministry, tried to get them fired, or consumed their time with petty gripes about music, sermon topics, or the youth ministry. People they poured their life into, yet they still left the church for another one down the street with better coffee in the foyer. People who tried to split the congregation over a trivial issue or personally attacked their spouse or kids. People who hurt them.

Pastors need a way to take these wounds seriously and address them in healthy ways that don’t include passive attacks from the pulpit. They should make time for regular, extended Sabbath rest and quarterly appointments with a trusted counselor who can help them process their pain.

Finally, let me say this: It’s okay to quit. You are not your church. You are not your ministry. You are not the sole bearer of the kingdom in your corner of the world. And stepping away from a role in full-time ministry is not equivalent in any way to stepping away from God. In fact, for some of you, stepping away from full-time ministry may be a step toward God. Every time a pastor escapes ministry through self-sabotage, an entire community is devastated and the global reputation of the church is harmed. Some pastors need to resign rather than escape. Yes, the church needs pastors, but it also needs to stop getting hit by shrapnel when they crash.

 

Original here

Thirsty?

May 24, 2019 by Discerning Dad, KEITH GRIGGEORY

lessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. (Matthew 5:6)

What does Jesus really mean, to be thirsty for righteousness? What is righteousness and why is it a blessing to thirst for it? The word, “righteous,” here means to stand in the right way. Does this mean the religious, that have it all together with the Big Guy upstairs, get blessed? It makes sense that God being pure love must always bless His children. So, it makes perfect sense that the prosperous must be on God’s good side. Yet we see many examples of wealthy individuals who obviously are not seeking God. Then, why are they so blessed? There’s something we missed. What about the word here, “thirsty?” A quick word study in the Blue Letter Bible website reveals this definition, “figuratively, those who are said to thirst who painfully feel their want of, and eagerly long for, those things by which the soul is refreshed, supported, strengthened” (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, 2019).

What does it mean to be thirsty then? Here in the Arizona desert, one summer season can drop even the strongest man without the life-giving, life-sustaining power of water. But thirst has more ways to be quenched besides water. If you have any teens around the home, you may already know more than one meaning of the word. I have three teen boys going to our local high school and I find myself often conversing with them about relational drama. Anyone who must have multiple relationships or must continually be in a relationship, regardless of the number of hookups and breakups, earn the name of “thirsty.” Of course, as young men, they are obviously not immune to the culture’s seductive lure, so we strategize what the best ways of maintaining focus might be. I will say my old eyes have been opened to the aggressive dating atmosphere plaguing their young existence (okay, well I’m 46 so whatever.)

I don’t know about you but, as I attended high school, I remember there being a preoccupation with relationships, but the atmospheric pressure was a little more secondary to school activities and/or hanging out with friends. Or was it? Growing up in the seventies and eighties was all about the top 40 hits and movies that were fast and furious before there was such a franchise. The phrase, “one-hit wonder,” was birthed out of what is now called the Retro Age. The music industry and the movies echoed relationships that promised forever and ever based on the youthful ego of now. Thinking more on it made me realize those events did show us wrapped up in the “perfect relationship” just like today. It’s funny how our memories tend to color facts to the point of diminishing the past’s reality. King David gives us a notable example of how easily we can forget past realities but more shows us what it looks like to thirst either for God or for others.

Some of King David’s most pointed contributions to scripture were written while hiding away from the then current king, King Saul. David had already been anointed king, so he had right to the throne, but his zeal for the relationship he had with God kept him from challenging the current king. He trusted God’s appointment to the position would eventually make his kingship a reality. Though, this was not to be in King David’s timing but God’s. In his self-imposed exile, he laments over the fact he cannot draw near to God’s presence in the Levitical Israelite way. An example like Psalm 42 shows David’s desire for God as it states, “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?” (Psalm 42:1-2). This passion of his for God was incredible but later it’s revealed that passion can be distracted.

King David’s most touching readings of relationship with God are in Psalms, but his most infamous recording of passion is in 2 Samuel. It records that while the king should have gone out to war, he stayed back. There is no mention of why, yet, in the same passage he is shown to have adulterous passion for a neighbor’s wife. This thirst led to adultery, deception, dishonor, and murder. Tell me again why this man is called a man after God’s own heart? Before getting too consumed by the question, it’s wise to look at our own world. All around we see passion plays. We pay billions of dollars a year to be entertained by the latest superhero movies with emotional relationships woven throughout the genre. Media thrives on thirst. So, if thirst runs rampant throughout society, and we believe that God created us all, then it follows that He placed the thirst in us. Why? Isn’t calling Him our Savior good enough? If God was handing out insurance plans for those that want assurance of a heavenly destination where they can experience eternal selfish bliss, then I suppose that would be enough. But scripture doesn’t show God as a heavenly Circle K clerk. Nor does it show Him as a Zeus-like impersonal jerk who sets things in motion just to see how much trouble we can get into without Him.

The history we see in the lives of the Bible are earmarked by moments of greatness mixed with human depravity. Even after King David’s example, the line of kings that followed seemed to either cling to God through devotion or rail against Him in rebellion. In all cases, whether loyal or defiant, God shows Himself to the Israelites as long-suffering yet powerful. In the book of Isaiah, He longs for the people to be faithful. He knows what’s best for His love, even if they have gone astray, as He states through the prophet, “If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river, your well-being like the waves of the sea.” (Isaiah 48:18). The prophet later reminds them regarding their ancestor’s common selfish nature saying, “They did not thirst when he led them through the deserts; he made water flow for them from the rock; he split the rock and water gushed out. “There is no peace,” says the Lord, “for the wicked.” (Isaiah 48:21-22). Scripture shows they didn’t thirst for God but wanted their own way.

Repeatedly, we demonstrate how we hunger and thirst for anything but God, while over and over God shows He desires us. It’s not only our focus that needs redirecting but our definition of peace as well. Even though Isaiah was written some 2600 years ago, the message from God has not changed. A later portion of the book states:
“Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to me; listen, that you may live. I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David.” (Isaiah 55:1-4.)

The hunger and thirst we have aren’t really for food or water but for the Living God who created us and sustains us. We end up searching for other things to satisfy that need though. Here, God states through Isaiah that it’s the ones who unashamedly come to Him, those that are not able to purchase, that will be satisfied by what He provides. God’s providing faithful love identified like the Davidic relationship. I know what you’re thinking. You’ve heard this before so yeah, you’ve checked out. One more question though: got milk?

Of course, there are things that go together like Oreos and milk but what about good works and faith? For some people, doing good is easier than for other people, that’s plain to see. But is doing good what counts for being in a right relationship with God or is faith in God’s ability what counts to create appropriate works? The stories regarding the rich and the Kingdom of God in Matthew 19, Mark 10, and Luke 18 all tell of the rich young man questioning Jesus about what he must do to gain the Kingdom of God. He had great wealth and lived religiously in a culture that elevated pious acts in a prescribed order to God status. Still, he obviously desired more since he continued to thirst. When Jesus told him the correct answer of selling all he had (losing all of his statuses that he made for himself) and follow Jesus (be in right relations with the King of the Kingdom he desired), the man’s response was natural, wrong, but natural. Most of the time we look at the wealth component of this story and see God saying we must be in poverty to experience God. Well, that may be true. Living in the wealthiest nation on the planet, we all might need to lose a lot of financial success to see God for who He really is. But the deeper point to this story has little to do with the amount of money. It’s much more about the desire for God and His Kingdom versus our desire for ours. What will we choose?

The issue of thirst did start at the beginning with Adam and Eve. But to say that they are to blame for the choices we make some six thousand years later is absurd. The only thing it proves is that like them, we choose to blame everyone else for our dumb choices. What of our children that have been handed the torch of thirst? We cannot make their choices for them, nor can we stop the incessant flow of temptations. As a father of six great blessings (yes, I have been thirsty too) I have found the best thing I can do for them is focused on my example. I conclude with this, for those of us who call ourselves Christian, where is the thirst for the One that first called us to Himself? For those who don’t call themselves Christian, what do you thirst for? For all involved, what do you find your mind bent on most of the time? What things have we all been allowing our hearts to crave? Whether we admit it or hide it, whether we celebrate or exhibit shame for it, the things we thirst after are the best indicator of whose kingdom we serve and who we really love. The choice is ours, what are we thirsty for?

Keith Griggeory
Guest Discerning Dad

 

Original here

The Heart of God

May 10, 2019

 

What would it be like to have the heart of God? What would it be like to know Him, fully and completely, without boundaries and without end? Would we act as we do today, with restraint in our step and caution in our tongues? Loving God is knowing God. If we love Him, we will do His will and we will know Him. His heart will then be our heart, and we will no longer hold back from proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom of God.

The prophet Jeremiah, who was still a youth when God called him, said this about God’s children:

“I will give them a heart to know that I am the Lord, and they shall be my people and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart.” (Jeremiah 24:7)

When God imparts the Holy Spirit into someone, He has imparted His heart into that person. This means that you and I, regardless of race, gender, culture, or otherwise, if God has chosen us and begotten us with His spirit, He then lives in us.

The prophet Ezekiel describes it this way:

“And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God.” (Ezekiel 11:19-20)

God wants nothing but good for his people. God wants Christians to know He loves them, will provide for them, and will bless us. In everything we do, the heart of flesh that God has imparted in us will lead us to do His will in spite of the temptation that surrounds us.

This is what it is like to have the heart of God.

 

Original here

Stressed to Temptation

May 9, 2019

 

Good morning everyone and happy Friday! I’d like to talk to you about one of the things that truly brings out the worst in many of us. Stress makes us always want to take the easy way instead of the right way. Stress makes us irritable to even our loved ones. Stress can destroy our lives if not dealt with properly and more importantly our Christ like behavior. We are always going to face it in one form or another so we should be wise to respond appropriately to it!

Here’s some of the ways you shouldn’t respond to it. Everyone wants relief but most of the time they seek the wrong reliever. A reliever that is temporary and imperfect has a habit of being self destructive. The stress of a job can lead a man or woman to substance abuse. The stress of problems in a relationship can lead to adultery or divorce. In short, stress can lead us to sin!

The King of Kings experienced stress unlike any other. When he went into the desert for 40 days, did he falter under the physical stress he endured? No, because the Word was on his heart and lips always: temptation had no power over him. When Jesus knew that he was going to be killed, the religious leaders hated him, or that he was constantly on the move with people always trying to swarm to see him, what was his solution? Prayerful quiet time kept the most stressed human being to ever live at perfect peace.

In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety. Hebrews 5:7

After He had sent the crowds away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray; and when it was evening, He was there alone. Matthew 14:23

Granted our Lord is perfect and it may make it seem like it’s easier for Him to resist the temptations of the flesh. However, he has simply shown us what to do and we just have to slowly train ourselves to respond in ways that he does. Whether it is stopping what we are doing or separating ourselves from others to cool off. Placing our focus back on God through prayer is a great way along with giving thanks for our undeserved heaven sent amazing GRACE!

Stressed to Temptation