Empty House

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I live in an empty house in many ways…  I desire my house to be emptied.  What is it about my house that I really don’t care for?  I guess it’s the body of death that I wander around in that I’m referring to.  This temple, or as Paul said this tent.  We all live in them and the Christian hopefully has a better understanding of it than the average person.

2 Corinthians 5:1-3

For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked.

I want my earthly home to be destroyed because it’s not a very good one.  In fact it’s a mess and the closer I draw to Christ and see His amazing goodness the more I’m overwhelmed by my wretchedness.  I desire a better place.  A cleaner place, a place that glorifies and honors Him instead of bringing Him the shame I so often consider in my fleshly life.  I see that my desires continue to shift in that I really hate my sin.  I really hate that I try to overcome certain things and the going is very slow.

Lest I sound too gloomy there is hope…  But shouldn’t we sometimes just stay in this place?  Shouldn’t we just bathe in our own filth for a while?  Not that Christ hasn’t overcome because He has but I mean for me?  And for you?  Shouldn’t this help us understand what it took to accomplish our redemption?  Really give us a glimpse of the misery we are in?

2 Corinthians 5:4-5

For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.

Here is the good news!

For believer’s we have a guarantee.  We have a guarantee of salvation because the Spirit has been given to us.  The word means a guarantee, earnest money, a down payment and the full amount to be paid subsequently.  It’s a sure thing.

We see two truths existing side by side in the way that God so often shows us things that are sometimes hard to understand.  The fact that we need to detest ourselves yet in that have the utmost of all hope.  We hate our sin, but we love our Savior.  We detest our flesh but seek the Spirit.   There is this bizarre thing going on that is almost too much for the human mind to make sense of.  It’s like a puzzle that makes no sense on the surface but as we stand back and gaze upon it later on it all comes clear.

God is that way in so many of the things He does.  We don’t understand how sorrow and mourning produce repentance and faith.  We don’t get that persecution brings joy.  We don’t get it because we can’t see it the way God sees it.  We only see the short term, the temporary state of our being.

We don’t always recognize that God is producing in us something that is far more valuable than what we want for ourselves.  Perhaps we want something that seems good but maybe God says you are not ready yet.  And so we wish for things but God says, “No, not yet, or maybe ‘No, never’ because I have something different for you.”

It’s hard to understand sometimes and I must admit in my flesh I don’t like it and I want this earthly tent to be gone.  I want to be in glory with Christ where the struggles of the world are done.  But then again, He says “No, I’m not done with you yet…”

And sometimes it’s just great to say it all out loud and cry out to Him for help.  “Lord, cleanse me….  Lord forgive me for I am  in a sad state of affairs… “

In all of it I find if we don’t know what to do  then we can only trust and we can only do our best to obey.  It seems obedience is a recipe for success if you will.  There is a time when just laying down our arms and giving in to that which we know is true is the best way to go.  But yet so often we fight against it.  And I don’t want to do that but yet when I do, when I receive the chastening, it produces a peaceable fruit of righteousness and I know I’m a son that has been trained for it.

2 Corinthians 5:6-10

So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.

The day is coming friends when we will appear before the judgment seat.  All I have to offer the Lord is my obedience and that is not enough so my hope must be in the Lord Jesus Christ and that is enough.  My focus and my desire needs to be Him and all the rest falls into place.  That is my desire.  I hope it is also yours.

 

Kevin

Fluffy, Sparky & Acceptable Idolatry

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I promise, I’m not intentionally trying to offend you, but I might.  I don’t really desire to agitate or irritate people but I do sometimes.

My job is to proclaim the truth.  If I’m going to sell something I’m going to sell the truth.  The truth is not cheap.  In fact most people don’t want it because it’s sort of offensive…  I know there have been plenty of times when I don’t want the truth because it hurts.  It cuts and it opens you up. That’s what the Bible tells us it will do.

Just before the writer of Hebrews tells us it’s important to go to church he tells us part of the reason why.  And it’s a good reason why and it’s also part of what I desire to do today.

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.  And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works… – Hebrews 10:23-24

The word “stir up” is also “provoke”  παροξυσμός paroxysmós, par-ox-oos-mos’; (“paroxysm”); incitement (to good), or dispute (in anger):—contention, provoke unto.

It means to irritate and agitate.  I’ll be honest I don’t like doing that with people.  I don’t like to get people angry with me.  But that is the purpose of other believers and the church.  So we can stimulate other believers to love and to good works.

I want to address an acceptable form of idolatry today.  There are lots of things that we accept as idolatry in our world.  Our children, their sports programs, their extracurricular activities, our sports programs, our leisure time and on and on…

But what about our pets?

Do you think you have an idolatrous relationship with your pet or pets; because one is never enough right?  I mean they need companionship don’t they?  Don’t they get lonely also?  Here goes a few ways we might want to consider our pets.

Who serves who? 

Paul discusses this doesn’t he?  I don’t think that all Christians worship their animals the way Romans 1 tells us, but there are those that do.  They are four-footed animals and they do need to be served.  A cat won’t clean its own litter box and a dog won’t pick up after itself, have you ever seen people walking their dogs down the street?  What is it they are carrying?  Who is doing the serving?

Romans 1:25 who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever, Amen. 

Is it good stewardship? 

This might be touching a raw nerve for some but we must sincerely ask this question.  What kind of money do you spend on your animals?  Does this honor God with all your possessions?

Proverbs 3:9 Honor the LORD with your possessions, and with the firstfruits of all your increase.

Seeking Comfort in them and not in the Lord? 

Jesus Christ is to be our only need and our only desire when it comes to needing comfort from the ravages of the outside world.  Do you love to see your dog because he has no demands of you?  He licks you and wags his tail and never says, “Hey Kevin, did you get that done today?”  He seems to “love” you unconditionally right?  This is comforting.   Is the Lord Jesus Christ being replaced by Fido?

Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. – Hebrews 4:16

Are you a slave to your animal? 

Does your pet keep you from being able to go do things?  I can’t go to this place because I need to find a “sitter” for the cat.  Our older girls are constantly watching the neighbor’s cat and dog.  It’s easy money for sure, but what if you didn’t have to worry about it?  Wouldn’t that provide some freedom?  It seems things have been reversed and animals have taken dominion over mankind.

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” – Genesis 1:26

Dominion means to subjugate and to rule over.  Man has done that with dogs when they used them for working purposes, such as to herd or hunt but just like so many other things in our society these roles have been reversed.

Animals are only temporal creatures.  Man was created with an eternal soul and that soul will live on forever in one of two places.  For believers they will forever worship their King.  For those that have never turned to Christ for forgiveness and repented of their sin they will live forever in Hell under the wrath of God.  It is an awful and fearful thing.

Animals will die and return to dust.  You take away their breath, they die and return to their dust. – Psalm 104:29 

I realize this is a sensitive topic because people love their pets and I’ve been there.  I’ve seen it and lived it.  I’m not making a blanket statement that having a pet is a sin or it is even necessarily wrong, but I want us to ask to what end and for what purpose.  What is the goal and am I honoring God in all of this.  Nothing is neutral.  What is not from faith is sin and that is something we should be consistently thinking about.  Me especially.

Kevin

Bruce Jenner and a Reprobate Mind

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I am not a social commentator, I’m a Christian.   I have no desire to be a social commentator, but I’ve found myself commenting on things in the news lately. The world we live in is a dark place, and it’s going to get worse and for those that are Christians we will find ourselves being more and more marginalized as society continues to degenerate.

I can remember Bruce Jenner as a great Olympic athlete, and not only an athlete, but a gold medalist in one of the toughest events in the Olympics, the decathlon. His commitment to achieve this level of “success” must have been hard to imagine.

And now he’s a she… at least in his mind. If you were to run into him somewhere you might think he’s a she also, but appearances can be misleading. As a Christian I’m a seller of truth. I only want to deal in truth, and my calling is to tell others about the truth.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. – Genesis 1:1

This is true. This is what God did.

Then God said, “Let Us, make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the seas, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. – Genesis 1:26-27

God created man in His own image, and gave man an eternal soul. Man is valuable to God, as he is an image bearer of the Creator. Of all the creatures on the earth, man has been created with a soul that will live forever.   Bruce Jenner was created a man, and an image bearer of God, but what happened that caused a man to think he should be a woman? Isn’t that a legitimate question to ask ourselves?

Well, if you are a Christian, you should know the answer. But do you really know the answer, from the source of truth, and will you be prepared to have a conversation with someone when asked about it? Are you prepared to give an answer for the hope that lies within you?

Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. – Genesis 6:5

There is a great battle that rages, and all of mankind seeks some meaning to life. Most seek some form of meaning through happiness. They believe they are called to happiness, and they even “deserve” to be happy. I would imagine, Bruce Jenner thinks becoming a woman will make him happy. Mankind seeks fulfillment through consumption. They desire to consume the joys of the earth whether that be entertainment, vacations, sex, or a bigger home. Man is always seeking the next big thing.

Man seeks to numb his pain, or consume through the use of some form of medication. He drinks himself into a state of no feeling. He brags about how much he enjoys strong drink and his prowess as an addict.

He doesn’t realize his problem is sin. He doesn’t realize there is joy in Christ, and God is in none of his thoughts, so he tries to rationalize his life, and he rejects the very God that created him in His image. He continues to reject the grace of God, and does all sorts of abominable things all the while declaring his own goodness. In the depraved mind of Bruce Jenner, he thinks he is doing the right thing and it’s proof that he doesn’t know the truth.

He doesn’t know that the truth could set him free…

He doesn’t know that when the Son sets him free, he is free indeed…

He doesn’t know that he will face God’s wrath unless he turns from his wicked ways…

Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever, Amen. – Romans 1:24-25

Bruce Jenner, has been given up by God, and he has dishonored his body, and the Creator that created him. He has believed the lies that his sin will make him happy, and will offer a fulfilling life. He has served the created being, primarily himself. He doesn’t want to hear about it, because he believes he’s done the right thing. His mind and his heart are darkened. He has fully rejected the goodness of God.

And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting… – Romans 1:28

The King James Version says a “reprobate mind” which is a word used of metal that is cast away. It is unfit for use, unproved. It is a mind that has been so corrupted by sin, that it no longer thinks properly. The conscience has been so seared and hardened that it has lost its grip on reality.

The problem with God’s word, for most, is they won’t or can’t discern the truth from the lie. This is not difficult to understand, but it’s difficult to accept for those that don’t cherish the truth. This is an offense, and stumbling block to understanding Christianity. I expect this article will be an offense to many.

In the classic work “The Pilgrim’s Progress” on his journey to the Celestial City, Christian must face the trials of Vanity Fair. That place where sin and temptation run mostly unrestrained.   The word vanity connotes a smug or egotistical complacency joined with emptiness, futility and a touch of frivolity. It’s not ironic that the magazine we most associate with this title has Jenner on its cover. The wisest man to ever live, told us that it is all vanity and not to be pursued (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14). He told us how worthless of an endeavor it really is. All will face the temptations of the Vanity Fair, and in Bunyan’s allegory, those that prove to be true Christians will face great trials and persecution over their desire for truth, but will strand firm in the face of adversity.

If you are a Christian or you profess to be a Christian, you must be prepared to stand for the truth. How you react to this and the countless other acts of depravity that will come, determine whether you are truly in the Lord. Make no mistake, this will be the line that divides the pretenders from the true believers. If you believe you are somehow being progressive in your thinking or supportive of this lifestyle you are deceiving yourself, and you risk death. You risk the same death and judgment that awaits Bruce Jenner, lest he turn from his sin and live.

who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them. – Romans 1:32

Will you stand on truth or crumble under the weight of popular opinion? Will you be hated and persecuted for righteousness sake? Jesus said you must, or you’re not. A great dividing line is forming, and which side of it will you stand? Will you fear those that can kill your body, or fear Him that can kill your body and soul?

Jesus Christ came to this earth and fulfilled the law of God, that you and I have no hope of ever fulfilling. He suffered a brutal death on the cross, suffered the wrath of God that sinners can be declared righteous. That is the good news. We are all without hope unless we turn to Christ for the salvation that He freely offers, that stands true for me, it stands true for you, and it stands true for Bruce Jenner.

Seek the LORD while He may be found. Call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon. – Isaiah 55:6-7

Kevin

Will Your Children Be Saved?

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Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb is a reward. – Psalm 127:3

Indeed children are a reward, and how can we look upon our precious little ones and not consider them a gift of God. Children are also a heritage says the word of God, they are like a treasured possession that God has given to us for many purposes, one is in the hopes we pass down a godly line and continue to perpetuate the gospel. That is my hope, and that should also be your hope for your children. My hope is in the Lord, that He will save them, and that He will do all His good pleasure.

But what if that doesn’t happen?

I believe completely and trust fully in the Sovereignty of God. In some circles, I suppose I’m called a “Calvinist”, in that I affirm the doctrines of the Bible that John Calvin taught. This is a four-letter word to many in the professing Christian world, but can I trust in a God that sits back and does not have His hand upon everything; even the salvation of destruction of my children? Oh what a difficult topic this is to write about…

The LORD has made all for Himself, yes, even the wicked for the day of doom. – Proverbs 16:4

Have we not read the Scriptures? Do we avoid the hard topic of the reality of salvation? Do we assume because we are faithfully following the Lord that our children will automatically do that? This is a reality, which a Christian must embrace; because there is no guarantee of salvation for our children. We won’t explore the covenantal aspect in this post, but if we only take a cursory glance at Scripture to see how many disobedient children followed their obedient parents, it becomes obvious there is no guarantee.

“But I will sacrifice to You with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay what I have vowed. Salvation is of the LORD.” – Jonah 2:9

Do we really trust that salvation is of the Lord? This is a very good question to ask, but it’s a hard question to ask. You can do all the right things. You can take your children to church, you can catechize them, you can teach them the Holy Scriptures, but you can’t guarantee their salvation.

So what do you do now? Do you “let go and let God”? I sure hope not. I sure hope you and I will be diligent, because we also have God’s commands, and the thing I believe is more important than anything else in this conversation is our obedience; if you are a believer, than you MUST be obedient to the Scriptures.

“And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.” – Deuteronomy 6:6-7 see also Ephesians 6:4

Believing parents, and especially fathers are commanded, you’ve been given an order that you must obey, to train your children, all the time. Not part of the time, not some of the time, but at every opportunity you have. You have a responsibility to carry out the commands of the King.

Our children have a responsibility in this equation. They are commanded to repent and turn from their sin. They are without excuse, as all of mankind is without excuse, if they don’t repent and turn from their sin. There will be no “out clauses” on judgment day.

Listen to the testimony of Charles Spurgeon, in how his mother would conduct family worship and plead with them. Would you do this with your children? Would they understand the gravity of their situation, should they go unconverted? Would you not do anything and everything for your children that they might come to know the glorious gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ?

“It was the custom, on Sunday evenings, while we were yet little children, for her to stay at home with us, and then we sat round the table, and read verse by verse, and she explained the Scripture to us. After that was done, then came the time of pleading; there was a little piece of Alleine’s Alarm, or of Baxter’s Call to the Unconverted, and this was read with pointed observations made to each of us as we sat round the table; and the question was asked, how long it would be before we would think about our state, how long before we would seek the Lord. Then came a mother’s prayer, and some of the words of that prayer we shall never forget, even when our hair is grey. I remember, on one occasion, her praying thus: “Now, Lord, if my children go on in their sins, it will not be from ignorance that they perish, and my soul must bear a swift witness against them at the day of judgment if they lay not hold of Christ.” – C.H. Spurgeon

Could you say this to your children? Would you love them this much, to have them consider that you would testify against them?

Kevin

My Reputation?

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Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and become obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. – Philippians 2:5-8

All of us Christians will applaud this beautiful verse of the Bible, because the death of our Lord Jesus Christ means life for those that believe in Him. We are amazed by this incredible sacrifice that proves He conquered death once and for all. Because He lives, I can live, and so can you.

But I really want to focus on something here that really struck me this past week that I doubt very few Christians consider and certainly don’t apply to their lives.

“He made Himself of no reputation…”

The Lord Jesus Christ completely emptied Himself, made Himself hollow, or useless. This is what this means. It means vanity, or of no effect. Now we certainly know that He accomplished His tasks and He was “effective” in the way He needed to be effective, but not in the way that most view effectiveness.

Look how Isaiah describes Him.

He has no form or comeliness; and when we see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him; He was despised, and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. – Isaiah 53:2b-3

I don’t think any self professing Christian would struggle to read these verses, or to even heartily agree with them, but here is my challenge today. Do you live like this? Do I live like this?

When is the last time you emptied yourself of your reputation?

This past week I had the wonderful privilege to standing on a stool in Hollywood California and publicly proclaiming the Word of God to all those that pass by. Before you start thinking that I’m getting proud of myself, I want to assure you this has nothing to do with me, because I’m going to be greatly challenged in this post as well.

But isn’t it a worthwhile discussion and an opportunity for us Christians to ask ourselves this question?

When is the last time you’ve been looked on with disdain because you boldly proclaimed the name of Christ as Lord and Savior? Do we expect that somehow the servant is above the master? That Christ never expects a thing from us?

As I walked up to the North Hollywood Metro I could hear the word of God clearly coming from one of the men, and I had the joy of meeting Tony Miano for the first time. Tony is a man that publicly proclaims the truth consistently and up to 5 or 6 times per week. He is either open air preaching, passing out bibles and tracts, or standing in front of the abortion clinic pleading for young women not to murder their babies, telling them there is hope in Christ. I’m humbled and ashamed at my pathetic attempts at evangelism when I compare myself to Tony.

But yet when I now return home and consider that if I begin doing this in my town, it won’t take long for me to empty myself of my reputation. How long before I see people in public that I know through my business or I know from high school, or someplace else? It’s not a big town that I live in, so I don’t imagine it takes that long.

What will they say? What will they think?

“Wow, I mean, what happened to Kevin?” “He was a nice guy, a “normal” guy.” “Was he seriously standing there hollering about God? That’s really weird, what a freak…”

Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. – 2 Timothy 3:12

Certainly, Paul didn’t mean that did he?

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 5:10

This is a big challenge for me, and I hope it will be a challenge for you to consider this article. You see in 10 minutes of open air preaching, more people heard the gospel out of my mouth than heard it from me in my whole 49 years of life. Just think about that for a moment.

Over 1000 bibles were given out in four days of evangelism.

And people say this is ineffective… by whose standard?

Please consider your testimony and your witness today. Please consider how bold you will be for Jesus Christ if you call Him Lord? I’m very challenged by this, and I hope you will be as well, because as my brother Tony challenged me about my fear and nervousness, he asked me to dig deeper as to the reason for the fear. “Kevin, I’d say it’s your love of self that has you be fearful.” Ouch…

I would say brother Tony hit the nail right on the head and it’s the reason most would never consider preaching the word publicly, and I hope that today we will consider speaking to someone when it’s inconvenient or embarrassing, or we risk rejection. Wasn’t Christ rejected? Are you above your master?

Are you a Pastor or a church leader, and do you have men that you are training for the work of ministry, to publicly proclaim His name? If you don’t you should, because very few will enter your church building, in comparison to those you can reach out on the streets. Or maybe Noah, Jonah, Jesus, Paul, Whitfield and countless others were wrong? I don’t know…but I suspect not…

Go out and preach, go out and fulfill the Great Commission, this is why you were saved.

 

Kevin