Monday, February 19, 2018

Forgiveness and Trust: Related but Not the Same

Psalm 118:8 It is better to trust in the Lord Than to put confidence in man.

Forgiveness and Trust are two different yet related Concepts.

Forgiveness is about a release from the past, and trust is about investing in the present and the future.

BOTH forgiveness and trust help you move forward in God.

Forgiveness is about releasing people from past debts. We must forgive others in order to be forgiven by the Heavenly Father according to Jesus. It helps us let go of past hurts, and it prevents us from being trapped in the past. And Trust is an investment into the present and the future. You are never commanded to trust anyone except the Lord. But trusting other people wisely will be needed. Trusting the Lord is required for LIFE and SALVATION and SECURITY. And trusting individuals will be needed many times. That is what relationships are built on: trust. If someone violates your personal trust, either willfully or unwittingly, forgive them. Perhaps they are sincerely sorry and they need more chances. That is what mercy is for. The Lord promotes MERCY. The Bible is all about sparing the humble and repentant soul and offering MERCY. That is what you and I should do, because in time, we ourselves will fail, and will need MERCY also! None of us are flawless and we all need forgiveness from time to time. The Lord knows I make mistakes, and I repent and try my best to learn from them and correct such mistakes. We may see those in the SAME position around us getting away with the same failings and being held to a lower standard and yet we are expected to rise up. That is called a "double standard". Such things sadly do exist in marketplaces of different kinds.
When two people in the same job are held to differing standards that is sometimes very disheartening because you are seeing injustice. But forgive and repent for your own failings. Don't worry about the other person, just concern yourself with your own failings and repent and improve! Remember that the Lord will balance all the books in the end. Have a gracious and humble attitude. God promotes humility! Forgive people as often as needed. Be humble and gracious. Someday you will need forgiveness too.

Mark 11:25 “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.
However, should someone neglect you and take your trust for granted, then that is a time for biblical DISCRETION. You are not required to keep trusting the untrustworthy person. Yes we forgive the PAST failings, but we prevent FUTURE failings by removing the investment of our TRUST in that person.
Proverbs 1:4 To give prudence to the simple, To the young man knowledge and discretion— Proverbs 2:11 Discretion will preserve you; Understanding will keep you,

Proverbs 10:26 As vinegar to the teeth and smoke to the eyes, So is the lazy man to those who send him.
So you are not required to endlessly trust the untrustworthy person. As Prov. 2:11 says, discretion or discernment will preserve you (and your life, your business, your family, your finances etc etc) If someone breaks your trust, and you learn of it, there are three things to do. 1. Be prepared to Forgive them unconditionally. The Bible makes this very clear in passages like Mark 11:25.

2. Speak with them kindly about the situation with an attitude of mercy and forgiveness.

3. Trust them conditionally. It is based on if they have repented and tried to make things right with you or not. If they show no signs of change or repentance, then the conditions of trust have not been met.

So if the Lord is showing you that such a person is just using you, abusing you, or neglecting you, it may be time to withdraw your trust. Still always love and be kind. But lovingkindness and trust are also two different concepts. Always be courteous as the Bible tells us to be so (1 Peter 3:8). There is never a need for rudeness or meanness or accusations or gossip. Just kindly release the untrustworthy person from your trust. Your trust is a VALUABLE resource, a kind of wealth. The Lord has given you to that wealth to invest it primarily in HIM! Trusting people is up to your discretion as the Holy Spirit is leading you. Be wise as serpents and harmless and as gentle as doves. Don't judge a matter too quickly. Give it time and prayer always. And always place your trust in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Jeremiah 17:7 “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, And whose hope is the Lord.
Psalm 146:3 Do not put your trust in princes, Nor in a son of man, in whom there is no help.
Psalm 18:2 The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
Jesus says:
John 14:1 “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.
John 6:47 Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life.

God bless,
Pastor Curtis

Mon Feb 19 2018 2:15pm EST

Sunday, January 14, 2018


Walk Only in Tested Gifts and Tools
God wants spiritual unity in the Body of Christ. That unity is in spiritual understanding, in thought, and in general practice. That unity is when we all have the mind of Christ.
Ephesians 4:13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;

That unity allows for flexibility from generation to generation. Tools may change, styles may change, creative approaches may be developed and become different over time, but Jesus and the Word of God remain perfect, flawless, unchanged, and timeless.
A good example of this is the youth in my Sunday class. They do not dress like I do. I love to wear a good neck tie and a shirt and a suit jacket... they are more casual with jogging pants and sweatshirts. That's OK! No problem because God looks on the heart, not appearances. James ch 2 tells us not to show partiality based on clothing or appearances.
I tend to appreciate emailing, which became big in the 90's... but my youth students tend to prefer social media platforms over email. That's ok! I have also been using social media in my ministry.
 They do not like to sing, while I love singing. That's OK, not to worry! They DO love to play musical instruments, so we find a common ground in that regard. I have been teaching them the Word, Prayer, and how to play music to Jesus with bongos and pianos. Two of these youths are on my Sunday morning worship team! Just because I taught the generation before them how to sing to the Lord does not mean that THIS generation needs to "SING". They can be just as effective by PLAYING INSTRUMENTS. No sense in forcing a tool or style or activity on someone who does not feel able to walk in it.
Ultimately, we find common ground in Jesus Christ... and they love the Word of God and they love to play musical instruments... so I have chosen to help them by equipping them with the tools that work for them. They are a different generation than I am. They are young, full of life and energy, and they have their own style of dress and their own style of ministry expression in Jesus. So I say: let them have their own style. I refuse to place my own style or gift or tool expectations on them. They must discover and test out all the tools and gifts for themselves. My job, as their pastor, is to support and guide them in the Word and in prayer, and to be there for them when they need help or have a question.   

 What might vary from person to person is the set of tools they use in the ministry, and the gifts they employ in such a ministry. David was activated as a deliverer for Israel by the present leadership, King Saul, but David needed tools that he could walk in... tools and gifts that differed from the previous generation. That does not mean one set of tools is BETTER than another, it just means that each person is used by the Holy Spirit in equally legitimate, but diverse ways. Read about David's need to test equipment and tools before using them:
1 Samuel 17:38-40
38 So Saul clothed David with his armor, and he put a bronze helmet on his head; he also clothed him with a coat of mail.
39 David fastened his sword to his armor and tried to walk, for he had not tested them. And David said to Saul, I cannot walk with these, for I have not tested them.” So David took them off.
40 Then he took his staff in his hand; and he chose for himself five smooth stones from the brook, and put them in a shepherd’s bag, in a pouch which he had, and his sling was in his hand. And he drew near to the Philistine.

What works for one may not work for another. What counts is the presence of God's anointing. Your ministry leader has sent you to do a new work, and you have his blessing. But you may not operate in the same tools and gifts he or she can operate in. You need to discover and test the set of tools and God-given gifts that work for you. Don't feel pressured to do things the old way if it hinders your walk and your ministry in Christ. Let your style and your creativity in solving problems be like David's: full of faith in the Lord and full of zeal for taking a Godly stand. And here's the thing: what tools and gifts you DO use, they might make you LOOK ill-equipped to meet the challenge ahead! Just consider what Saul must have thought about David facing the Giant Goliath in battle WITHOUT the traditional tools of war!! But yet, by the Spirit of God, David got the victory using his own creative and unconventional tools and gifts!  
What natural tools and technologies have you tested in the Lord? What kinds of gifts have you tested?
There are many technologies available now: internet, computers, live streaming, social media, video sharing sites, cameras, microphones, tablets, phones, texting, email, cars, buses, etc etc. Use the tools that will help YOU personally glorify the Father in Jesus' Name and that help you walk with Jesus... and help you share His Gospel with others. If a tool is not a good fit for you, or for your generation, that's ok. Just keep true to the Gospel message and find other tools that will work for you... test them out and then walk in them!
There are many spiritual gifts from the Lord, and not all people possess all the same gifts - see 1 Cor 12. There are gifts of prophecy, healing, miracles, tongues, interpretations of tongues, teaching, administrations, etc. The Body of Christ finds its unity in the Holy Spirit - and the Holy Spirit issues out diversities of gifts as He chooses in the local churches.
Ephesians 4:3 endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
1 Corinthians 12:12 [ Unity and Diversity in One Body ] For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ.
1 Cor 12:4-7
4 There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.
5 There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord.
6 And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all.
7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all
There is also the gift of singleness and the gift of marriage, as Paul describes them in 1 Corinthians 7:7.
1Cor. 7:7 For I wish that all men were even as I myself [single]. But each one has his own gift from God, one in this manner [singleness] and another in that [marriage].
1Cor 7:32-33, 35
32 But I want you to be without care. He who is unmarried cares for the things of the Lord—how he may please the Lord.
33 But he who is married cares about the things of the world—how he may please his wife.
35 And this I say for your own profit, not that I may put a leash on you, but for what is proper, and that you may serve the Lord without distraction.
Walk only in those things that have passed the test... the test is: will those gifts and tools allow you -personally- to walk fluently in the call of God? If not, don't encumber yourself. Don't allow yourself to be distracted or encumbered by gifts or tools that may not be a good fit for you in this season of life. Just walk true to Jesus, as JESUS has called you. 
Be respectful to those who lead you but don't feel as though their methods, gifts and tools are always a good fit for you. What you have in common is Jesus and the Word of God. The methods, tools, and gifts you use in sharing the Word may be different, but never the Word itself. Styles may change, but never Jesus. Tools may improve, but Jesus and His word are already PERFECT, and cannot be perfected any further. Gifts will be in your possession, but they may be different than the gifts the previous generation operated in. Both sets of gifts and tools are IMPORTANT. But it is also important that a pastor or a minister personally tests things out for himself or herself. Test all things and only hold onto what is good for your personal walk. This does not mean that any tool or gift is BAD... (far from it... ALL GIFTS from God are GOOD!!)... but rather it means that some gifts and tools are BETTER than others for YOUR personal walk with God.
1 Thes. 5:15-23
15 See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all.
16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies. 21 Test all things; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil.
Blessing and Admonition
23 Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.
THEREFORE: Don't worry if your method seems different than others. Your true empowerment comes from the Spirit of Jesus Christ and from the inner creativity He gives you to meet ministry head on and win spiritual victories. (Eph 6:13-18). The Holy Spirit and the Armour of Jesus Christ are spiritual, and universal. The Lord will tailor the armour to fit you, so you can WALK in the calling God has given you!! You will walk HOLY and in the ANOINTING of Jesus Christ! You may be unusual, in your methods, like David and his humble shepherd's approach to battle.... and others who love you may not always understand you, but your walk is unhindered and ministry is bringing forth victory and fruit in your life.
It boils down to Jesus: Jesus has called you and equipped you in a unique and personal way. He called you to walk a unique road: be true to Him.
Live as You Are Called
1 Cor. 7:17
17 But as God has distributed to each one, as the Lord has called each one, so let him walk. And so I ordain in all the churches.
God bless!
PC - Jan 14, 2018 5:07pm EST  

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Priesthood Vs Priesthood - 8 Ways Melchizedek is Better than Levi

If you want an indepth study of Melchizedek, please read Genesis 14, along with Hebrews chapters 6, 7, 8. It is a worthy topic to discuss why Jesus, after the Royal Priesthood, the Order of Melchizedek is superior to the Levitical order.

Hebrews 6:19-20 NKJV
19 This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, 20 where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.

Revelation 5:9-10 (NKJV)
And they sang a new song, saying:

“You are worthy to take the scroll,
And to open its seals;
For You were slain,
And have redeemed us to God by Your blood
Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation,
10 And have made us kings and priests to our God;
And we shall reign on the earth.”

 Here are eight reasons why Melchizedek is better than Levi (but this list is not exhaustive):

1. Our High Priest, Jesus Christ, lives forever. The Melchizedek priesthood is based on eternal life. Levitical priests died and had to be replaced.

2. Levitical priesthood was exclusive. You had to be a Levite (Levi was only ONE of the 12 tribes of Israel) in order to be a Levitical priest. Melchizedek is INCLUSIVE. ALL who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ can be made into a Melchizedek priest! But it must be by faith in Jesus Christ. ALL may come by the ONE WAY.

3. Melchizedek priesthood is based on RIGHTEOUSNESS and BLESSING. Jesus our High Priest is completely RIGHTEOUS, with NO sin, and has atoned perfectly for the sins of the world using His own perfect sinless blood. The Levitical order was based on covering SIN, both the sin of the people, and the sins of the Levitical priests as well. The Melchizedek order completely wiped sin out, while the Levitical order could not fully eliminate sin.

4. Melchizedek is a ROYAL priesthood. Jesus is both KING and PRIEST. He is both LORD and SAVIOUR. He holds a Bivocational role in the office and order of Melchizedek. As a result, all who follow Jesus are joined into the same bivocational role of kings and priests. That is why Jesus is called KING OF KINGS. He is the Big King, and we believers are all His little kings! The Levites were NOT royal. They had no authority to rule in civic circles, only the authority to carry out the priestly duties as prescribed in Moses' law. But on the other hand, Melchizedek has ALL authority and power in ALL spheres and circles of influence in life and in the nations, in heaven and in the earth! The Name/Title of "Melchizedek" literally means "King of Right" and he is described in the Bible as the King of Shalom (King of Peace). Jesus Christ is the Righteous King and the Peace-bringing Priest. He brings peace between God and humans.

5. Melchizedek's office is based on divine eternal OATH, not lineage. God swore an oath to His Son Jesus Christ calling Him a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek. The Levites' office is based on lineage.

6. The Melchizedek priesthood's past, present and FUTURE is eternally secure through Jesus Christ. Jesus lives forever. Thus the Melchizedek priesthood brings a balanced emphasis to both the single lifestyle (examples: Jesus on earth, The Apostle Paul, the Prophet Ezekiel (became a widower), and the Prophet Jeremiah) and the married lifestyle (examples: Peter had a wife,  and Priscilla and Aquilla were married to each other). Single people, and married people can BOTH join the Melchizedek order, through Jesus Christ, the only Door to Heaven. As created by God and ordained in the Garden of Eden, Marriage is sacred, and natural children are a natural blessing. So are spiritual children. Through adoption in Jesus, we are all made spiritual children of GOD!

SO the Melchizedek order WELCOMES natural children but CONSISTS of Spiritual children.

Melchizedek does not depend on natural childbirth for its existence, in the way that the Levitical order did. Melchizedek has ALWAYS existed, and always will. The ONLY WAY to be a Levitical priest was to be naturally BORN to a LEVITE. But the ONLY WAY to be a Melchizedek priest is to be BORN FROM ABOVE (Born in the Spirit) through faith in JESUS CHRIST! (John 3:3) Natural lineage/natural birth does not earn you the right to become a child of God or a Melchizedek priest, nor does it secure the Melchizedek line.... it is already eternally SECURE!
ONLY by GRACE through FAITH in Jesus may we become a child of God and a Melchizedek priest. Even if you die without children, the Melchizedek order continues! And by Jesus Christ, you will be resurrected! So your future is secure and so is the Melchizedek priesthood! There is no pressure for you to get married or to stay single. The choice between these two seasonal gifts is yours, take whichever blessing you would like to take in Jesus Christ! This blessed choice is yours because of the nature of the Melchizedek order.

 Because death is defeated by Jesus, (Heb. 2:14-15) He lives forever. And even when we die a natural death, as His followers, that is not the end for us. Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life. If we believe in Him, we WILL rise again, regardless of natural heritage or lineage.
 We WILL be resurrected in POWER by His Spirit at His return! Marriage and Natural children are always a blessing. Jesus was born of the virgin Mary, by special miracle of God. And Jesus built His priesthood using 12 spiritual sons. Jesus Christ alone is who secured the Melchizedek order, and it is perpetually secure and final in the Heavens and earth!

7. The Levitical order existed as a temporary measure until the Messiah, Jesus Christ, came to earth and accomplished the perfect atonement for all our sins. The Melchizedek order is a PERFECT and PERMANENT solution and is fixed in place FOREVER.

8. The Melchizedek order is ETERNAL. It had no start, and it has no end. It has no mother or father, it has no genealogy. It exists from before the earth began and it will continue to exist eternally in the New Heaven, the New Earth and in the New Jerusalem. The Levitical order had a start and an ending. It was finished when Jesus died on the cross and finished the work of atonement. The veil was split in two and the way to the Most Holy Place was now made available through Jesus Christ. All who want to come, may come by the way of Jesus, to meet with God. Isn't that just AWESOME!

------------------Have a look at Hebrews chapter 7 below to learn more! God bless and Happy new Year 2018!-----------------------
PC - Wed Jan 3 2017- 9:10pm EST

Hebrews 7 (NKJV)

The King of Righteousness

For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, to whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all, first being translated “king of righteousness,” and then also king of Salem, meaning “king of peace,” without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, remains a priest continually.
Now consider how great this man was, to whom even the patriarch Abraham gave a tenth of the spoils. And indeed those who are of the sons of Levi, who receive the priesthood, have a commandment to receive tithes from the people according to the law, that is, from their brethren, though they have come from the loins of Abraham; but he whose genealogy is not derived from them received tithes from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises. Now beyond all contradiction the lesser is blessed by the better. Here mortal men receive tithes, but there he receives them, of whom it is witnessed that he lives. Even Levi, who receives tithes, paid tithes through Abraham, so to speak, 10 for he was still in the loins of his father when Melchizedek met him.

Need for a New Priesthood

11 Therefore, if perfection were through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need was there that another priest should rise according to the order of Melchizedek, and not be called according to the order of Aaron? 12 For the priesthood being changed, of necessity there is also a change of the law. 13 For He of whom these things are spoken belongs to another tribe, from which no man has officiated at the altar.
14 For it is evident that our Lord arose from Judah, of which tribe Moses spoke nothing concerning priesthood.  15 And it is yet far more evident if, in the likeness of Melchizedek, there arises another priest 16 who has come, not according to the law of a fleshly commandment, but according to the power of an endless life. 17 For He testifies:
“You are a priest forever
According to the order of Melchizedek.”
18 For on the one hand there is an annulling of the former commandment because of its weakness and unprofitableness, 19 for the law made nothing perfect; on the other hand, there is the bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God.

Greatness of the New Priest

20 And inasmuch as He was not made priest without an oath 21 (for they have become priests without an oath, but He with an oath by Him who said to Him:
“The Lord has sworn
And will not relent,
‘You are a priest forever
According to the order of Melchizedek’”),
22 by so much more Jesus has become a surety of a better covenant.
23 Also there were many priests, because they were prevented by death from continuing. 24 But He, because He continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood. 25 Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.
26 For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens; 27 who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people’s, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself. 28 For the law appoints as high priests men who have weakness, but the word of the oath, which came after the law, appoints the Son who has been perfected forever.


Sunday, December 31, 2017

Biblical Social Media Behaviour

Today in church I was teaching the youth in youth class how to use social media properly in a Biblical way:
John's 3rd epistle was a physical letter sent to the church of Gaius. In it we see behaviours from Christians in the church. Some were godly behaviours (receiving the Christian workers, preaching the Gospel, and loving the church) and some were ungodly behaviours (denying/not receiving/blocking the Christian workers).
Let us translate those behaviours into the modern world where we meet in person in church AND we also interact online through social media on the internet using devices such as phones, tablets, and computers. Social media is a TOOL in our tool kit. It does not replace physical attendance in the local churches, but can be a great AID to helping Christians stay connected in between services. It also is a great tool for reaching non Christians with the Gospel in fun and creative ways. I personally use social media to share my original Christian songs with the world.
The Apostle John writes in one verse:
3rd John v8
"We therefore ought to receive such, that we may become fellow workers for the truth."
I taught my youth class a number of things using 3rd John as my starting point:
1) Be kind to all on social media platforms, especially your fellow Christians in your own local church and community. But also be kind to strangers. Jesus taught that we can befriend even those who were socially unacceptable to the Jews.... like the Samaritans. 
2) Don't pick fights with people online, seek peace
3) being kind to strangers does NOT mean you have to trust them. Be wise and cautious.
4) don't share your personal info, address, phone number, bank info etc a public profile where the world can read it.
5) speak truth (not lies) online, and do it in polite ways that encourage others. Only speak truth in small doses... so people have time to absorb and reflect on it.
6) you don't have to accept every friend request from every Christian necessarily in order to be kind and accepting of them and to pray for them. But you should not block them either.
7) blocking should only be done when you are being harassed/threatened by someone online and/or they are sending inappropriate messages to you. In those cases, by all means, use the block feature, and gain your peace back.
8) In social media, It's better to be friends predominantly with people who you know in person. And it is best not to block harmless people. Contrary to what you may think, those personal local Christian connections will feel left out or hurt once they discover you have blocked them for no good reason. And trust me, if they care about you, they will find out.
If you do NOT want to accept the friend request, just leave it, or delete it. No need to block unless you are being endangered or harassed by someone.
I have been on both ends... both the blocker and the blockee. And trust me, if you are harmless, and you don't know why you are being blocked by a fellow Christian worker (or more than one) in the faith, it hurts. I only block when I have been threatened or repeatedly harassed online. No explanation needed there.
Receiving is better than blocking. Blocking the fellow workers is similar to the negative thing that Diotrephes did.

3rd John v9-10
"9 I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to have the preeminence among them, does not receive us.
10 Therefore, if I come, I will call to mind his deeds which he does, prating against us with malicious words. And not content with that, he himself does not receive the brethren, and forbids those who wish to, putting them out of the church."

Now, if someone is a weird stalker or abuser, then by all means, block them and deny access.
But it is my humble and experienced opinion that it simply is not necessary to block those fellow workers, those fellow local Christians. You don't have to be "friends" with them on social media either. But you also should not slam the door by blocking. What you are saying by blocking is "I am ok with the weird strangers of the world seeing my public social media profile but not with my brother or sister in Christ seeing it".
Let us find ways to make peace and promote the LOVE OF CHRIST.
These are just my opinions and some food for thought.

Happy New Year!
Sun Dec 31 2017 4:01pm

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Single or Married - Discipleship's different costs

Cost Of Discipleship
Married or single, following Jesus will cost you something. Salvation is free, but discipleship will cost you.
Your worldly life, and even some of your natural connections to the world and your family will die as you walk with Jesus.
Jesus wants you to Himself.

For singles, particularily childless singles, discipleship looks a certain way. It costs us a lot in certain ways, like companionship, personal prayer from a spouse, and sexual fulfillment. But in other ways, singles pay less than married people in order to be a disciple of Jesus. Jesus Himself was a single man on the earth. Singleness was an awesome tool in His hands which He used to bring all of humanity the way to be saved! He died on the cross, and rose again on the third day. That is the way we are saved, by faith in the grace of Jesus, who died in our place and rose again.
So salvation is truly free. No matter what sins you committed in your past, you can be forgiven in Jesus and saved. (See Romans 10:9-10, 1 John ch.1).

BUT, once you are saved, true discipleship will cost every disciple. No question about that. Indeed some Christians pay the ultimate price sometimes because they are killed for their faith. It happened all throughout history, and still happens in the world today.

In less extreme circumstances, discipleship will still cost you. It will cost you things you want in the flesh and it will cost you sometimes in popularity or in comfort or in all of the above.
If you are married, you are forced to make more use of the tools of this world- money, schooling, etc. If you also choose to have kids, that makes it necessary to make even more use of the world's tools.
None of these things are bad in themselves... but they can have a collectively heavy feeling on those who are trying to give their all to Jesus.

The Apostle Paul summed it up quite nicely in this text from 1 Corinthians 7:

1 Cor. 7:27-35 NKJV
27 Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be loosed. Are you loosed from a wife? Do not seek a wife. 
28 But even if you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. Nevertheless such will have trouble in the flesh, but I would spare you.
29 But this I say, brethren, the time is short, so that from now on even those who have wives should be as though they had none, 
30 those who weep as though they did not weep, those who rejoice as though they did not rejoice, those who buy as though they did not possess, 
31 and those who use this world as not misusing it. For the form of this world is passing away.
32 But I want you to be without care. He who is unmarried cares for the things of the Lord—how he may please the Lord. 
33 But he who is married cares about the things of the world—how he may please his wife. 
34 There is a difference between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman cares about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit. But she who is married cares about the things of the world—how she may please her husband. 
35 And this I say for your own profit, not that I may put a leash on you, but for what is proper, and that you may serve the Lord without distraction.

Having a wife (or a husband for my female readers) means you must look after her needs, by making use of the world. Having children will increase that burden even moreso. It will draw you even further into making use of the world, a world which is fading away quickly. This is an important responsibility-- raising children. But it is heavy, and it is not required in order to be a disciple of Christ.

So, if you can manage to balance natural family with discipleship to Jesus, then it is fine. Childless singles do not have such a pull on them, they do not have two forces calling their attention in two different directions.
And certainly if a man of God married a woman of God, and both are committed disciples, they have an advantage... knowing that they are both willing to put Jesus FIRST.
Nevertheless, marriage and natural family will be a challenge for the disciple of Christ. Yes, natural family was created by God and is good and is blessed. But God also created the spiritual family of Christ through Jesus. Both the natural and spiritual family is important. The spiritual family is eternal.
For married people, the cost can take on a very different look than it does for singles.
Jesus explains it in the following Bible verses:

Luke 12:52
For from now on five in one house will be divided: three against two, and two against three.

Luke 12:53
Father will be divided against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.”

Mark 3:25
And if a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.

The stark reality of the Gospel and of discipleship and of serving Jesus is that it will sometimes divide natural families. It is not any fault of Jesus or of the disciple. But the children will sometimes rebel. Sometimes even the spouse of a disciple will rebel.
The Gospel will ALWAYS have a unifying effect on the true SPIRITUAL family of God (The Body of Christ/The churches). But the Gospel often divides natural families because of the rebellious sinful nature of unregenerate humans. It's not Jesus to be blamed, but our own selfishness in refusing to put Jesus first.

And when we DO put Jesus first, the wife/children may get jealous or upset. Many people think the wife and kids must come first, but that is not what Jesus says. The cost is very real. Jesus drives this point home... we are to love our family yes, and treat them with dignity and respect. But we MUST LOVE JESUS MORE than anyone or anything.

Luke 14:26 NKJV
“If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.

That word "hate" in this context means "to love less". In other words, you must Love Jesus MORE than your wife and kids... if you DO in fact have a wife and kids. For women this is equally true. Jesus demands that female disciples also love Him more than they love their husband and kids.
He makes this crystal clear because He knows that natural family does not always want what God wants. So when it comes time to choose, (and the time to choose WILL come to all married people and to all parents) will you choose Jesus' practical way over your family's practical ways? What will you put into practice? Who will you follow? For singles, this choice must be made also. Things like career and friends and extended family can have a pulling effect on the childless single. But the effect of that pull may not be as poignant and demanding as the pull experienced by a married disciple from his wife and/or children.

Luke 14:27 NKJV
And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.

Luke 14:33 NKJV
So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.

So the choice is yours... marry or stay single. Either way, bearing your cross is unavoidable. But the shape that cross takes is determined by the circumstances of life which God gives you and is also determined by whether or not you get married.

 Some have already been married and ended up divorced. Some who are divorced have one or more children as a result. God bless you if you are in such a situation.... Jesus loves you and your child, in the same way He loved and blessed the single parent, Hagar and her child Ishmael.

Choose the difficult narrow path: choose Jesus and His way. He IS the way. (See John 14:6) And if you choose to get married, prepare to face the cost of discipleship in a new light. And if you do choose to have children in that marriage, that is a GOOD thing. But again, be prepared or the inevitible cost of discipleship that will eventually catch up with you. Jesus must come before your wife, and before any child you bring forth in the natural. Jesus taught that. It will cost you, and sometimes He calls us to place natural family on the altar. (See Abraham and Isaac).

Never fear though, because God gives you the strength through Christ to accomplish all this and more... if you WANT a natural family that is. (Read Philp. 4:11-13 for full context). You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you! Like Paul, we can learn to be content in Christ whether we suffer loss (of things like family support) or whether we enjoy abundance (of things like family support). Natural family is a blessing from the beginning of Creation. It is affected by the sin of Adam. Jesus redeems individuals and can even redeem entire families from sin. Division in families only occurs when some members of the house do not want freedom from sin.
So Jesus does not require His disciples to get married or to produce children in marriage.
But He gives His disciples the freedom to get married and even to have children if they so desire. He gives them that freedom with a warning: you must love Me more than you love them. And that love will always require practical proof at some point down the road. That practical proof of your First Love will be costly.

All disciples must bear a cost for following Jesus the Lamb. You may be single and childless. You may be a single parent. You may be married and stay childless. You may be married and plan to have children. Regardless of what circumstance you are in, Jesus is with you to help you bear your cross of discipleship.

AND as Paul tells us, all of these different kinds of costs we bear are temporary. So regardless of the temporary cost we bear now, it is not to be compared with the eternal glory we will enjoy in heaven with Jesus! And we are not required to have a natural family in order to be accepted by Christ. Grace through faith ALONE is what makes us acceptable and saves us.

Ephesians 2:8 NKJV
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,

2 Corinthians 4:17 NKJV
For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory,

1 Peter 5:10 NKJV
But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.

Should you get married? And if so, should you have children? That is between you and Jesus (and the person you are considering marriage with). There is no right or wrong answer here.
 If He gives you the heart for such serious responsibilities, go for it! He will help you pay the cost of such a heavy path!

But just understand that if you are walking in the Spirit of God, then there is NO CONDEMNATION on you if you choose singleness or childlessness. God does not punish us for keeping our lives fixed only on Him. He rewards us for diligently seeking Him! And, He helps us to do that. If you don't have it in your heart to get married or remarried, that's ok! You are accepted in Jesus regardless.
Or if it is not in your heart to have natural children, then that is perfectly ok! You are accepted in Jesus!

 God has other things to fill your heart with like the care of His church and His spiritual children!
Singleness is not to be imposed on people as mandatory. But at the same time, it is also not to be shunned or looked at as a second-class. Marriage and natural family is important and sacred. So is singleness.
 In actuality, Jesus and Paul kept their lives single and simple in the natural and they used that to their advantage to advance the spiritual family of God. Singleness is sacred to God because of Christ.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Divorced? Why you should wait before dating again.

 If you are divorced you will need time to mourn, grieve and heal from the loss and death of a marriage. A fresh divorce is very much the same as the death of a loved one, only in this case, it is the death of a marriage. Marriage is a God-ordained sacred institution that none of us entered lightly, and yet here we are, abandoned and alone, with the certificate in hand. We can be very good at hiding our emotions from others and even from ourselves. But God sees it all and wants to heal you, tenderly console you in Christ, and put your heart back together again... over time. It takes time. Trust me, I speak from experience. I was abandoned and got a divorce over 8 years ago.
If you don't give your self space between divorce and dating again, you will be more likely to make mistakes in dating. People often rush into dating to avoid the pain of abandonment and loneliness. But in doing that they deny themselves the much needed time to collect their thoughts and reflect and release the past and forgive as needed. To avoid feeling your grief is to avoid true healing in Christ.
 We need to face our grief head on. We are not alone as we have Jesus and we can use the support of the church and friends. He will touch your heart in special and powerful ways.
 Everyone's season of grief is different. There is no set time limit. Some people need to grieve longer periods of time than others. I did not start dating for the first 7 years of divorce. I was not even ready to even think about dating in the first two years. But do I impose my 7 year waiting period on others? Absolutely not. I healed and felt ready in my own time, according to the seasons God had for me. I am now in a season of regrowth, of growing something new. Never let anyone tell you to stop grieving until you are ready to stop. Grief DOES have an end... that end is heart health and healing in the mind and spirit and soul. But only GOD and you and tell when you are feeling well enough to retry in the world of dating. Go at your own pace. If you need 2 years alone with the Lord, take it. If you need 5 years... then God is there for you. If you are like me then you perhaps did not feel ready to date for a whole 7 1/2 years. But no one is timing you. Go slow and resist the fleshly urge to date just for the sake of avoiding pain and loneliness. Only Jesus can help you in your wounded state. 
D. In time.. the season of singleness will shift from mourning to recovery and growth. No one really plans how long they will grieve. They just take it a day at a time. Don't skip grieving. It is so important that you slow down and let God deal with your broken expectations and crushed dreams. If He can help a man like me who was devastated by abandonment and divorce, He... Jesus... Can most certainly heal YOU!
 The grieving process is like a detox for the soul. It helps you slowly, in Christ, cleanse your soul and mind from: bitterness, unforgiveness, repetitive and tormenting memories. It helps you drop your bags at the cross of Jesus. You will want to open the bags and revisit its contents. Jesus lets you. He does not force. When you are done, close the bag and let it permanently rest against the foot of the cross
 It is a spiritual and soulish process with a definite start and an end. But only Jesus and you can determine how long that process should be. And your friends and pastor will be able to see your healing as you go. 
I am now healed from my past divorce. I started dating a tiny bit last year in 2016. Then I did a little more early this year. Now I am developing a new friendship - a connection that will help me focus on my future in Jesus. Whether anything serious comes of it, the Lord knows. But God has, in eight years of divorce, healed me to the point where I can now entertain the idea of trusting again, having fun again, being myself again... and being accepted for who I am. 
I pray the Lord will give you the COURAGE to face your divorce pain and give you HOPE for your future. He can and will HEAL you in the season of divorce and grief. Grief is only a season... and the season of hope is just after that! God bless! -Pastor Curtis

Tu Nov 14 2017 1:03pm EST