Three hours a day! Five days a week! Two years!

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Three hours a day!  Five days a week!  Two years!

While speaking recently at Calvary Chapel School of Ministry in Costa Mesa, I had an interesting conversation with Pastor Carl Westerlund, who started the school in 1989. He showed me pictures of every graduating class, identified the graduates and told where they currently serve in ministry. Many had graduated years before and yet more than 80% are still in ministry today! That’s an amazing success story.

I asked why so many of their graduates remain in ministry when it is common that many leave ministry after only a few short years.

His answer, “We train our people for 3 hours a day, 5 days a week, for 2 years.” Contrast that to the fact that up to 88 percent of the children raised in evangelical homes leave church at the age of 18, never to return.

If so much can be accomplished with intensive training during a short two year period, how much more can we, as parents, pastors, Bible teachers, Sunday School teachers and brothers and sisters in Christ, influence our youth in the 18 years from birth until they leave the nest?  Shouldn’t we be doing exactly what this school is doing — training our youth to be missionaries, ambassadors for the Lord, and equipping them with knowledge and understanding of God and His Word? I wonder how many homes spend even three hours a week biblically training their children? Our children are being “trained” by the world, so if we aren’t training them at home it’s no wonder that they’re walking away from their faith in such large numbers and turning from the Lord to the ways of the world.

I’m not saying that you’ll need to spend many hours each day teaching Bible lessons. What I am saying is that as parents we need to be involved, and we need to take the Christian education of our children as seriously as we do their other studies and activities.

In the course of researching family life in America, the Southern Baptist Council on Family Life uncovered some gut-wrenching statistics. 

“The majority of children in America have less than 10 minutes of significant and meaningful conversation with their parents each week.”

Contrast that with the fact that the average amount of time a child spends in school each week is seventeen hours. Seventeen hours a week versus 10 minutes a week. Which will have the greater influence?

The research findings further stated...

“if you remove the mother, you can measure this statistic in seconds.”

Now, what does that say about the influence of fathers on their children? That’s a very sad statistic and it’s the reason that rforh is seriously challenging dads to “step-up” and get more involved in their children’s lives and education (especially biblical education). We’re in a battle — a battle for the minds and hearts of our youth. We need to put on the full armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-20) and get in the battle! We love our children. Let’s love them enough to fight for them.

At rforh our battle cry has become, “Know it! Live it! Share it!” — all for the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ. Our website, and innumerable others, provide biblically sound resources to help parents and other caring adults in strengthening, equipping, encouraging and challenging our youth to be faithful in their walk with the Lord. Find something and use it. OR...just open your Bible and start reading to them. The Holy Spirit is faithful and He will lead them into all truth (John 16:13). 

Don’t be out-witnessed by the world. Don’t let the world steal, kill and destroy your child’s faith (John 10:10).

Intentionally and diligently set aside time every day to instruct and build into your children. Jesus commanded that we “go...and teach all nations…” That teaching includes right in our own backyards and in our own homes. 

As I close, I ask you to think about your children and the other children in your life. What can you do to build into them with the Word of God? I challenge you to find three resources and/or Bible passages that will equip them to Know it! Live it! and Share it! and then begin teaching them to your children. You will bless them and, in turn, you will be blessed.

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

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The Bible says It’s a Sin

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The Bible says It’s a Sin

 

I watched a Christian being interviewed by a talk show host who is notorious for his antagonism toward those who believe in a biblical morality, especially in regard to homosexuality. At one point in the interview, the host very bluntly asked the Christian if homosexuality was a sin. Although the Christian did an excellent job in responding to the hostile host throughout the interview, at this particular point, I think he dropped the ball. Not that he doesn’t believe homosexuality is sin, but for some reason he was hesitant to come right out and say it. Instead, he said things like it was unnatural, harmful, and destructive to civilization, all of which may be true, but the wrong way to approach the matter, in my opinion. Why do I say that? This is why: because all of those answers are, to a certain degree, subjective. Since they are subjective, they can be dismissed as “just your opinion.” One person says homosexuality is unnatural; another says they find it perfectly natural. Some say it’s harmful; others say it’s beautiful and fulfilling. Some argue that it’s destructive to society; others argue that homosexuals have made many wonderful and beneficial contributions to society. And the arguments go on and on.

When addressing the issue of homosexuality, we need to be clear that according to the Bible, it is sin. It doesn’t matter if it feels natural or not. Most sin does feel natural to us because we are sinners. But even things that we initially feel guilty about or troubled over can lose that effect on us through the process of hardening our hearts. The Bible describes this as “being past feeling” (Eph 4:19). Personally, when I was young, venturing into sin began with a struggle in my conscience. But after awhile, that struggle diminished and I settled down comfortably into a life of sin. Things that at the start had caused me to feel guilt and shame lost that effect over time. Why? Because those things weren’t really wrong? No. It was because my heart had become hard and I could no longer feel the sting of my conscience or the conviction of the Holy Spirit. Everyone has that same experience to some degree or another, so that it why we cannot appeal to anything in us to determine what is right or wrong. We need an outside source, and that is provided by the Scriptures. The simple and primary reason that homosexuality is wrong is because God, who made us and gave us our sexual capacities, said so in the Bible!

When we present the case in that light, we remove our personal opinions and experiences from the argument, thus bringing the person face to face with God Himself. Those who reject the Bible’s teaching on human sexuality are rejecting God’s Word on the matter, not ours. Of course, this might require us to give a defense for the existence of God or arguments for the authority of Scripture. But again, that takes a person back to the bigger issue: God is the One who determines what is right and wrong, a truth that has been largely forgotten in our culture today.

So, the next time someone asks you if something is a sin or not, don’t say, I think so, or I don’t think so. Simply tell them what the Bible says and leave them to wrestle with God.

“For the Word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, … and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account ” (Heb 4:12-13).

 

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When to Make Peace With God

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When to Make Peace With God

Sixty years from today, you probably won't be here. 30 years from today – in the time it takes to pay off a mortgage – you're dead! You can refinance your house, but you can't refinance your life.

I recently read a story in the paper about a high school boy - a basketball player - who just lost his dad. He died in his sleep (he was only a year older than I am). Now this teenager is without a father. Out of habit, he'll look up into the stands to look for Dad and someone he probably doesn't know will be sitting in his dad’s seat. It makes me lie awake at night and wonder: when is MY last day?

Now

Statistics are sobering. Ten out of ten people die. It would be wise to make peace with God right now. It's not a given that you’ll get Heaven. Many people think it's as if God has a big scale where he weighs your good deeds against your bad. If your good deeds outweigh the bad, then Heaven is your reward. If not… well, you still think God should let you in.

But the Bible doesn’t teach that. It says, “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him” [John 3:36 NKJV]. The Book that gives us Heaven also gives us Hell.

People would love it if I only talked about Heaven and Grace. But I teach the Word of God - the whole counsel of God. I have an obligation to teach from Genesis to Revelation. If I teach Grace, I have to teach Judgment. If I teach Heaven, I have to teach Hell. I don't get a personal prerogative. I must teach the truth.

When is the right time to make peace with God? Right now. Today!

Honestly

How should you make peace with God? Honestly. Be honest with God. Some people approach God deceitfully because they only want to escape Hell. Don’t try coming to God with your old bag of sins hidden behind your back. He knows that you don’t want a real relationship with Him. God knows the secrets of your heart. When you come to God with secrets, you'll run to your sins rather than to Him when the trials of life come your way.

How do we pave the way for or more honest relationship with God? Drop the bag and come to God for the right reasons. God knows that the sins in your bag will kill you. He's asking you to hand over the sins you love because they're poison. Be honest with Him and ask for His help. You'll find that He has all the power necessary. But you need to come honestly.

Faith

Why should we make peace with God? It's a matter of faith. Your faith is reward-able.  Faith is the result of an honest, transparent relationship with God.  It is by faith that you can live the abundant life Jesus promises in John 10:10. But a warning precedes the promise: The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.

Your enemy is at work to destroy your faith by causing you to focus on what you see rather than God who can’t be seen. Satan knows that when you shift from faith to sight, you won't talk to God. You depend on you for what you need rather than God.

The only way to prove authentic, genuine love for God is through faith.

Here

Where do you make peace with God? Make peace with God right here. One day of serving God is better than a thousand days doing anything, anywhere else. When you do that, God gifts you a place in His Kingdom all the way into eternity. Today is the day of salvation.

God doesn't just gift us heaven for a time that’s there and then, though. The Kingdom of Heaven is for here and now. Don't put it off. Make peace with God now, honestly, by faith, right here.

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You’ll Laugh, You’ll Cry

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You’ll Laugh, You’ll Cry

Years ago, I read those words on an invitation to a church event.

The sponsoring church did everything they could to convince me that I ought to attend their event.

They promised that I would laugh.  There is nothing wrong with laughing.  In fact, the Bible commends a good laugh. Proverbs 17:22 tells us, “A merry heart does good, like medicine…”.

They promised that I would cry.  I can be an emotional guy, and have been known to cry in public.  Sometimes a good cry is very cleansing to the soul.  Jesus wept. (John 11:35) Crying can release a lot of tension and emotion.  There is nothing wrong with a good cry.

And yet, I objected to their flier, and to their promises.  I still do.  This was a Christian outreach, and yet they were promising to deliver these emotions to me.  They presumed to know what I needed.  There appeared to be no room for the Holy Spirit to do something else.  What if what I needed was a fresh dose of somberness in the presence of a perfectly holy God?  It wasn't on the agenda for the night.

My assumed responses were pre-planned and predicted.  They tutored me about what I would experience.  They planned my responses in advance.  Their goal was to get me to laugh and to cry. They were sure that they could make it happen.

Increasingly, I see Christians confusing emotional experiences at a church, with a God experience in the Holy Spirit.

There are many ways to evoke emotions in “Christian” settings.  The right music or no music.  The right lighting or having only candles.  There are many ways to affect emotions towards a desired goal.

Both true and false messages can evoke an emotional experience.  Some pastors teach the Word of God, and are humorous.  Other pastors read a passage, and then tell funny stories, neglecting to teach or apply God’s word to the listener.  Often, both men can be equally funny, but many Believers can’t tell that there is any difference.  This is extremely alarming to me.

It seems that many in Christendom are lacking the spiritual maturity to discern whether God or man has spoken to them.

I have been walking with Jesus for 30 years.  I have seen true signs and wonders, and false signs and wonders.  I have seen emotionally impacting Spirit led preaching, and I have seen emotionally human inspired preaching.  I have been moved to tears by “boring” preachers who were excellent teachers, and who revealed Jesus to me.  I have been bored to tears by emotional speakers that taught me nothing.

I have seen crowds of people moved by the Holy Spirit.  I have seen other crowds moved by pep rally worship leaders and charismatic, talented speakers.

In many cases, an emotional experience is the goal for a Christian event, rather than a revelation of who Jesus is.

My concern is not about how people express themselves in the presence of God.  There is great latitude concerning that.  My concern is about what causes a certain response.  Is it the incredible Spirit of Perfect Holiness, or is it a church culture where certain behaviors are predicted, arranged and manipulated?  Is it God, or is it man?

Dear Christian brother/sister…is your desire for Christ the great motivation of your life, or do you simply have a desire to laugh and cry at church?  If you prefer somber worship, is it because you are overwhelmed with God’s awesomeness, and words don’t suffice, or is it because you just need some “quiet space to chill out”?  If you prefer emotionally charged worship is it because you need a place to “get crazy” and pump your fist in the air, or is it a demonstrative, Spirit led joy in the presence of our great God?

Christian, beware of pre-programmed emotional experiences that any group or church might insist you need.  Jesus is what you need.  Sometimes, He will take us to the highest heights of ecstatic worship.  The very next day, His Spirit may move you to sit and stay silent.  He knows what you need.  Not you.  Not the preacher.  Not the worship leader. Not me.

Let Jesus decide if you will laugh, or if you will cry.

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