“So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32 (ESV)

In the text above, a transition happened. The people Jesus is speaking to are coming out of a religious system that is rejecting Jesus. They are coming out of that system into this kingdom system. They have believed, and Jesus states to those who have believed Him, here’s how you stay with Me, here’s how you stay believing, here’s how you stay free: continue in My Word.

Now listen, this is the most complex thing I will ever say: Do you know how to stay free? Stay, or continue, in the Word!

The Scripture says abide in My Word. The word abide is an interesting little word. The definition is below:

Accept or act in accordance with (a rule, decision, or recommendation).
“I said I would abide by their decision”

So, Jesus is saying: To stay with Me, you must act in accordance with My Word, accept the Word, and accept the rule of the Word in your life. Act in accordance with what the Word says you are, what the Word says you can do and what you should not do. If you read His Word, then act in accordance with it, you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

When you read God’s Word, it is all about freedom. Being set free from the bondages comes about by accepting God’s truth in your life.

The way to stay free is to be tethered to God’s Word. When you read, hear, or speak God’s Word, the byproduct of that will be freedom. On the other hand, if you entertain, listen to, or read the lies of the enemy, the byproduct of that is bondage. I can think of a lot of bondages. The one I believe is the most dangerous though is this one: The belief that it is the will of God for you to live in the condition you are in.

I think many believers in Christ believe they deserve the trial they are in. You cannot read God’s Word or sit in a Bible-believing church and come to that conclusion. That thought process, of living in misery, is a contradiction to the Will of God for your life.

One of my favorite filter verses is found in John 10:10. Look at this verse. I mean, really look at it. Don’t overlook a single word.

“The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” John 10:9-10 (NLT)

The thief’s purpose is to do what? Steal, kill, and destroy.

What is Jesus’ purpose? Give you a rich and satisfying life!

Take a moment and compare the situation you are in against the purpose for which Jesus came and the purpose that the enemy comes. Which purpose is trying to be fulfilled in your life? Which purpose are you more focused on? Which purpose do you have more faith in? Call me what you may; a Prosperity Preacher, a Word-of-Faith Preacher, or whatever you want to call it. I choose to believe that God doesn’t send things into my life that will steal, kill or destroy me. That isn’t His purpose. Why do I choose to believe that? I choose to take God at His Word. If I believe the Word for Salvation, why wouldn’t I believe it for all parts of my life?

Because I believe that, I act in accordance with that decision. I believe that serving Jesus, and having Jesus in my life, is the best decision you or I can make! The way I stay with Him is to take Him at His Word. How I know what His Words are – I read them. As I read them, I accept them and then I act in accordance to them.

“But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.” James 1:22-25 (NLT)

A Letter To Remind Me

To the leadership of SIWC:

Thank you for your willingness to serve and to serve well in caring for the people of SIWC. The time of your serving is unprecedented. Unless you were born in the early 1900s and faced the various crisis that a person of that era had met, there has never been a time quite like this for the vast majority of people living today.

I believe a little perspective may help concerning the season we live in versus another period.

I read this recently about those that were born in 1900. At the age of 14, World War I would begin and would end when they were 18 years of age, and roughly 22 million would be deceased in the four years.

Shortly after World War I, a global pandemic would cover the earth in 1918 called the “Spanish Flu” that would kill nearly fifty million people. You are now 20 years old.

Nine years later, the Stock Market would crash! A global economic crisis abounds; the great depression commences.

Just four years removed from the most significant economic collapse, you are 33 years old and the Nazi’s rise to power in Germany. Six years later, six million Jews were exterminated, and over sixty million would die in those six years. You are now 39 years old.

Finally, a brief respite from war, plague, and financial ruin! At least until you are 52, then the Korean war begins. Twelve years later, the Vietnam war begins and lasts until you’re the age of 75.

Think about the people who lived, or maybe you lived through most of this! Consider the nation that was built, churches that were built, and the revival that was had despite the News, Finances, and War that was happening all around.

From my perspective, the main reason we see the rise in despair, depression, divorce, distraction, and dismay; is that we have focused the church (people) on the atmosphere of the church versus their relationship with Jesus. The church is the new drug; if I can’t get to church, I can’t “stay” saved, holy, married, or committed to Christ.

This issue is not only true of the pew. It’s also true of the pulpit! I recently read the statistics concerning ministry related to the “fall out” of this pandemic!

80% of full-time ministers are currently looking to leave the ministry.

94% of their spouses say the ministry is personally damaging.

In 2020 1500 ministers left the ministry each month in the USA.

If that bears out in our churches, that will be a devastating result, further hampering our nation’s spiritual awakening and health.

A religious denomination leader listed out his seven reasons why Pastors, Church Leaders, and people in ministry are leaving. Here they are!

1. The pandemic.

2. Discouragement.

3. Empty buildings.

4. Finances.

5. They are punching bags.

6. They sense persecution coming.

7. Workload increased.

Personally, I have faced all of those issues. I understand the emotions and do not fault those that cannot stay in ministry. However, the pandemic will pass, discouragement is overcome by encouragement, empty buildings will not remain empty, finances (that’s a whole other blog). While I may be a punching bag for some, that comes with the territory. Indeed, there is persecution; Jesus said there would be! Workload has increased; it is the “work” of the ministry! I could go through each of those and take opposing views on them.

The pandemic is more about perspective than the crushing crucible that some are making it out to be.

Perspective is being driven by the media, social media, and thoughts that are not aligned biblically. There is so much discouragement because we don’t have enough encouragers. People pass on what they possess. If they are steeped in negativity, they will not pass positivity on. If they have despair, they will not sow in faith. Finances, there are so few who truly trust God in this arena. From that, punches are thrown (verbally) out of fear, frustration, and financial hardship. The pandemic has increased the workload of all of us, collectively.

It’s all connected to a lack of genuine relationship with Jesus and proper biblical views! This crescendo of shallow Christianity has resulted in an overflow of burden upon those carrying the load.

Our view has to be biblical. It is appropriate biblically speaking to assist in carrying loads of others. However, a little diagnostic work will help us decipher which loads we need to assist in carrying.

Let’s look at the letter written to the church! Paul wrote it to the church at Galatia, and it is the conclusion of the letter that I call attention to today!

Galatians 6:1-10

Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespassyou who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. 2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. 3 For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4 But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. 5 For each one shall bear his own load.

6 Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches.

7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. 8 For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. 9 And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to allespecially to those who are of the household of faith.

Let’s break this down. 

Paul says, “If you’re spiritual, when someone fails, when they are overcome in any trespass don’t rejoice—restore.”

Noah lay in his tent, naked. Ham couldn’t wait to share this news with his brothers. On the other hand, Shem and Japheth walked backward into their father’s tent, a blanket stretched between them, to cover his nakedness (Genesis 9:21–23).

Scripture declares that love covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8). Love doesn’t talk about sin, doesn’t draw attention to sin, doesn’t throw it out on social media, and doesn’t call a prayer meeting to discuss sin. Love walks in backward and covers sin.

He further states that we should consider ourselves. The question then is how much of our day is analyzing others versus taking a personal inventory of ourselves? That is indicative of your spiritual barometer. The carnal man wants to reveal. The spiritual man wants to restore!

Then Paul states that we are to bear one another’s burdens in so doing, we fulfill the Law of Christ. What is the law of Christ? To love God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:36–40).

Then there is the deceiving thought that we could be too important to carry another’s burden. Paul said, be careful that you do not think too highly of yourselves. Paul would go on to say in so many words in verse four. Don’t try to impress others with your importance. Just do the things God has called you to do regardless of whether anyone notices or appreciates you. We are working as unto the Lord (Colossians 3:23)!

Then in what would seem a contradiction of verse 2, Paul says in verse 5 that every man should carry his own burden. “Wait a minute,” you say. Didn’t Paul say that we should carry another’s burden and fulfill the law of Christ? Yes, Paul said both. The Word translated “burden” in verse 5 speaks of a soldier’s pack, while the word “burden” in verse 2 refers to taking a hit in the chest. You see, in this battle, we’re in, we’re each supposed to bear our own pack. But when someone has been attacked and sideswiped by the Enemy, we’re supposed to carry his load with him.

Consequently, we should not be people who are always trying to get someone else to carry our pack. At the same time, there are moments, events, and days that overcome us. During those times, we need brothers and sisters to stand with us.

We should pray to God that He gives us wisdom concerning when people need to bear their burden and when the burden is to be shared. 

Much of what we deal with as leaders, pastors, and care ministry is self-inflicted injuries due to not carrying our pack. There are certainly times when the flood of the enemy overcomes us, and we are all capable of being susceptible to it. 

The pack for a Christian is quite beneficial. It includes a shield, helmet, belt, shoes, sword, and a breastplate. However, if a believer will not carry his pack, he’s going to get crushed. Then the workload is increasing on those of us that are carrying our pack, their pack, and everyone’s pack! We also then have to carry them because they have been crushed and wounded. We are carrying our burdens, their burdens, and the yoke is no longer easy, and the burden is no longer light. 

Ministry burnout occurs when you are worn out from carrying the burdens of those that have fizzled out. They have dropped the pack, and you feel the urge to carry it. You can do so, but only for so long. Check the baggage that you are carrying from those that are under your care. It could be that spiritual exhaustion is happening because you are carrying, belts, helmets, shields, and breastplates for those that have willingly laid them down. You, you are now a prime target for an attack because you are pre-occupied with their pack and not your own. 

I learned a valuable lesson a long time ago in ministry (counseling)! A lovely couple to Melissa and I, were going through a terrible marital issue. I would go in and counsel very early in the morning. Days upon days turned into weeks, and ultimately it got nastier and nastier. Each day early on, I could leave it at the office. That was where the counseling was occurring. However, after some time, that nastiness of their marriage was seeping into my marriage. I was bringing it home. I heard so much negativity that I couldn’t be optimistic about anything. One-night, Melissa called me out on it. The next day, I changed the way I did ministry. To this day, I do not “counsel” from my office. We established the green room as a place to deal with negativity and counseling. My office then is a place for me to decompress and decipher what I need to carry and what I need to lay down. 

Up until the pandemic began, we refused to bring “ministry” issues into our home. Our home was a refuge and oasis of peace. The pandemic, though, has caused us to do more ministry at home than ever before. We’ve now adopted new strategies; we work to contain the “work” negative ministry into individual rooms in our house! That way, we can lay down the burdens we were forced to carry so that another’s burden doesn’t become an attack on my pack! I encourage you to adopt similar thoughts when caring for the flock. 

You Can Carry On

Luke 17:1-6 records an amazing conversation between Jesus and the disciples. Jesus begins the conversation by speaking about offenses. He states that anyone who offends the people with child-like faith should have a mill-stone tied around their neck.

Jesus’ reference to this millstone—a one-ton stone with a hole in the middle—hung around the neck of anyone who attempted to undermine the childlike faith of His children was in response to the Pharisees who had mocked Him in Luke 6:14.

Jesus takes quite seriously the undermining of our faith. So often our faith is undermined or questioned by ourselves and by others. Far too many individuals have stopped following Christ because they sense their inability to obey or follow what God commanded. The disciples of Jesus also recognized that they didn’t have what they needed. However, they did recognize that Jesus did! Upon recognizing this, they asked Him to increase their faith. 

The only way we can complete the race of faith is to ask the Lord to increase our faith! There is no reason to allow other people, yourself, or the enemy of your soul to continue to undermine your faith. Ask the Lord to increase and live a life of faith. Then your testimony can be that of the Apostle Paul; “I have fought a good fight, I have finished the course, and I have kept the faith!”


Love Knew It Was Going to Happen

While we were yet sinners, Christ died for the ungodly. When we were without strength…

Paul Harvey once told the story of man named Coleman whose car was damaged by a woman who had passed him too closely on the highway and sideswiped his car. When they’d pulled over to the side of the road to wait for the police, the woman broke into tears. It was her fault, she admitted. But it was a new car – less than 2 days from the showroom. How was she ever going to face her husband?

Mr. Coleman was sympathetic but explained they had to exchange information about their license numbers and automobile registrations. She reached into the glove compartment to retrieve the documents from an envelope and, on the first paper to tumble out, in a heavy masculine scrawl, were these words: “In case of accident, remember, Honey, it’s you I love, not the car.”

A couple of things: the husband knew that inevitably the wife was going to cause an accident. Since love suffers long, and to show his kindness, he had placed note there to remind her the car could be replaced, but she was irreplaceable. I love you honey, not the car. 

This is the type of love exhibited to us by our God; I know that you are inevitably going to have an accident, you’re going to mess up, you’re going to cause some damage. But I left you a note to let you know, I knew it was going to happen, and it’s okay. It’s you I love and I’ll take the blame. I’ll take the shame. You remember all of that is replaceable, but you are irreplaceable. 

So read the Note (Bible), and remember I knew it was going to happen, but My true love covers a multitude of sin. 

This is the kind of love that changes lives. It’s the kind of love that changes a marriage. It changes kids. Go for love that is patient and kind. It will change your life. I know that it has changed mine. 

God loves you so much. His love is about truth. Truth can often be painful to hear, but it’s certainly not as painful as realizing that you’ve been lied to. 

God says I love you so much that I tell you the truth. You were a sinner and you were going to hell. But I loved you too much to let that happen, so when you believed in, repented to, confessed to Jesus, I forgave you. And I forgave you so we could spend time together and I could show that my love is a love that never fails; it bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

Let me say it another way: God wants you to know that His love will never give up on you, it will never quit on you, it will never stop, it will always protect you, always trust you, hope in you. 

God knew that we would mess up; so when you wreck it, just look in the glove compartment. God wrote you a letter. He knew it would happen, so He wrote, “There is therefore now, no condemnation to those that are in Christ Jesus,” Romans 8:1.

If your greatest need was information, God would have sent you a professor. If your greatest need would have been technology, He would have sent a scientist. If your greatest need would have been money, God would have sent an investor or banker. Our greatest need was forgiveness. Therefore, God knew that you need a Savior, and because He loved us so much, He sent one.

I’d like for us to accept that kind of love, experience that kind of love, and then we must purpose to model this kind of love.

Further Reading

Romans 8

A Long Way Love

In 1 Corinthians 13:4 it states, “Love is patient and kind.” (NLT)

What I found interesting was the order of these two words. Paul could have said love is kind and patient, but that’s not the way the Spirit led him to write it.

Love is first patient… then it is kind. Patience comes first.

However, the King James Version doesn’t use the word patient here. Instead it uses the phrase “suffers long.” The Greek word in this passage is actually a compound word made up of two different terms that, literally translated says: long and wrath (or anger). 

If I didn’t know any better, I might think a person who loved the way they should would be a person who would be angry for a long period of time. But that’s not what it means.

The Greek word is intended to imply that it takes a lot to make this person angry. You have to drag them a looooooongway down the road before they get mad. They suffer a lot before they ever blow up.

Think about that. I’m sure there was a time in which someone you loved dragged you a long way down that road and made you upset or angry. The truth is, most often the people you love the most know how to hit those buttons that make you spin like a top. 

Here, however, the Scripture tells us that a mark of true love is to be patient with the person who is irritating the fire out of you.

Just say, “I’ll see you after the resurrection!”

Remember what Peter wrote to us in 1 Peter 4:8: “And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.”

Let’s put that into a more descriptive way. Love covers a multitude of irritations and annoyances; love covers a whole lot, if we will love one another. In other words, love will overlook a lot of things that would otherwise cause you to get angry, irritated, and ticked off.  

True love covers. It looks the other way. It suffers long. But love that just suffers long (when we’re irritated) isn’t really Godly love. Too often long-suffering is just that, suffering for a long time. It’s quietly enduring something that can drive us to distraction. It’s simply allowing our emotions to go through a slow burn.

Godly love is long-suffering and it’s kind. It doesn’t just sit back and suffer, it does something about it. Godly love reaches across to the person who’s offending you and says, “I care for you,” and, “I love you.”

True and Godly love is what we should all be showing to one another. It’s a love that reaches a long way out to others, the same way Jesus showed love to us, even when we didn’t deserve it.

Further Reading

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

1 Peter 4:8