Today as I am writing this blog, it is Good Friday. It is a beautiful day but that day itself was horrible as Jesus the Messiah our Savior was crucified, murdered by His own, the ones He came to save. John 1:9 “The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” Before this day Jesus said to His disciples, John 12:23 “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. 25 Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me. 27 “Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name! Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.” 29 The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him. 30 Jesus said, “This voice was for your benefit, not mine. 31 Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. 32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”
                Jesus died for all of humanity but you must believe. God is not looking for lip service. Mark 7:6 “He replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: “‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” We do not want any part of that; we must truly believe. John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” Romans 5:6 “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10 For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!” John 3:36 “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.”
                Yes on this day Jesus was crucified but that is not the end of the story as Jesus rose from the dead. Mark 16:19 “After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God.” Peter said Acts 10:39 “We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a cross, 40 but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen. 41 He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen—by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42 He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. 43 All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” At the time Peter was speaking to the Gentiles and that is good news for us today. 44 “While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. 45 The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on Gentiles. 46 For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God.”
                Today we have great hope because we know the whole story but we must believe it. We serve a risen savior who is King of kings and Lord of lords and Jesus reigns on David’s throne. If we repent His kingdom will come near. If you are reading this and have been following along on this journey, you obviously want more. Hopefully you want the power of Jesus and less manmade church. Many of us have gone to church our whole lives and we know the stories. Some have recently started to go to church and the stories are still told but the church is still void of power because they are just stories. Jesus did not die a horrible death on the cross, bearing the sins of the world so you and I could sit in church for an hour a week. Many have been taught that sitting in church guarantees your salvation. Pray a prayer and go to church but you have to ask what have you been saved into? Many have been assured with a false sense of security. Today Christianity is equated with going to church and whoever does it best draws the biggest crowds but best isn’t always the answer as we see with leaders like Joel Osteen. Yesterday in the article I quoted, Rob Bell was highly praised that is until he revealed his unbelief in the word of God. Many in the church really do not want to think about hell but hell is very real and that is where you will spend eternity if you do not believe and obey God’s word.
                I grew up going to church. One of the songs sung was called “Blessed Assurance,” written by Fanny Crosby in 1873. The lyrics - 1 Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine! Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine! Heir of salvation, purchase of God, born of his Spirit, washed in his blood. Refrain: This is my story, this is my song, praising my Savior all the day long. This is my story, this is my song, praising my Savior all the day long. 2 Perfect communion, perfect delight, visions of rapture (not the movie rapture) now burst on my sight. Angels descending bring from above echoes of mercy, whispers of love. [Refrain] 3 Perfect submission, all is at rest. I in my Savior am happy and bless’d, watching and waiting, looking above, filled with his goodness, lost in his love.” A lot of people have sung this song and many believe in their blessed assurance even though they are not perfectly submitted. Another more recent song is called “Let the Praises Ring.” The lyrics - O Lord my God, in You I put my trust, O Lord my God, in You I put my hope. CHORUS: In You, in You I find my peace. In You, in You I find my strength. In You, I live and move and breathe. Let everything I say and do be founded by my faith in You. I lift up holy hands and sing. Let the praises ring. O Lord my God, to You I give my hands. O Lord my God, to You I give my feet. O Lord my God, to You I give my everything. O Lord my God, to You I give my life.” Ask yourself if you are really doing this? Have you really given Jesus your life?
                Singing songs is the easy part. Many will sing these songs yet their lives show something different. Many will also sing these sings who have been deceived into believing they are secure as they sing at churches who follow false gospels. While singing on a Sunday morning may feel good for the soul; if you are not obeying God’s word, they are just noisy songs to God. Ezekiel 26:13 “I will put an end to your noisy songs, and the music of your harps will be heard no more.” Isaiah 1:2 “Hear me, you heavens! Listen, earth! For the Lord has spoken: “I reared children and brought them up, but they have rebelled against me. 3 The ox knows its master, the donkey its owner’s manger, but Israel does not know, my people do not understand. 12 When you come to appear before me, who has asked this of you, this trampling of my courts? 13 Stop bringing meaningless offerings!” Are you robbing God with your meaningless offerings?
                We have looked at the miracles of Jesus and have seen how those miracles did not stop but continued in His disciples and their disciples. The power and authority that was available at the beginning was to still be available today. Most in today’s church have no idea what power is really available to all who believe. As I have said read the gospels and Acts and then ask yourself why the church looks nothing like them. The answer is that the church has rebelled against God’s word and refuses to repent and turn from wicked ways; therefore God has turned His face from us. Many may have a story like mine so I thought I would give you a shorter than readers digest version of my life so far.
                I grew up going to church but that also meant I followed the empty ways of those who went before us. As I look back even though I sang Blessed Assurance, I had no assurance of eternal life and would not have heard well done good and faithful servant. To be honest with you I had no idea about the power Jesus offered to His disciples. I grew up in church but I do not believe I would have gone to heaven. I grew up in a denomination that was supposed to be focused on the Holiness of God but it had become legalistic instead and then became focused on man’s abilities to grow a church. There was quite a pendulum swing. This denomination was void of the power of the Holy Spirit. I never wanted to be a minister. I did however think I would do well in Ministry of Natural Resources or Environment but that was a bad idea. I went to college in Michigan and majored in Biology and minored in Business. I have no idea why as I don’t even like biology. My Canadian grade 13 gave me my first year so I was only there for three. I graduated and still had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up. God blessed me with my wife who God knew was very strong and could endure the journey we were to take. Time went by and I found myself in multi-level marketing. I was pretty good at it, that is I made other people money but not for myself. I did learn that this super shy guy could speak in public. By the way stay away from multi-level marketing even if they are legal. Some of them portray themselves as Christian, though they are not and some even worship together. Not only was I shy, I can be a very emotional person. A good commercial or Hallmark movie can open the floodgates. When I went to the altar and felt God’s call on my life I did not cry at all; I just knew. What I didn’t know was the journey ahead. I said yes and then started the process according to the church. Seminary would be next, so off we went. I really do not like school but I was able to complete 4 years in three while my wife worked full time. After I graduated I went to a church and things went well until I ruffled some feathers. Little did I know how set some people are in their ways. I was also unaware that wealthy people have a big voice and people were afraid to deal with them for fear of lost income. So then the next sound I heard was the cutting of the branch I was sitting on. I resigned before I was fired and left that denomination and sought God for next steps. One of the churches we found ourselves in was an ultra-charismatic church and then a charismatic church but when you ask to many questions; that does not go well. Along the way God provided for us.
                What I did not know was that God was teaching me along the way and there was a lot I needed to learn and still is. During a very difficult time God began to reveal Himself in His word. My eyes were opened as I read and read and read. I learned to trust what I read and unlike seminary were the bible is to be dissected, I realized that this was the living word of God and I committed my life to His word. Time went by and I found myself planting a church and joined another holiness denomination. The church took off but I sensed something was wrong; I just didn’t know what. I thought this was where God wanted us but this denomination was also void of the power of the Spirit with no interest in seeking God’s power. The church I planted decided to leave and we became independent. One story I will tell is when we had a backyard baptism. There were over a hundred people in attendance and the idea was to eat outside after the baptism. As we were about to start, it rained but we kept going, then it rained harder so we had to stop. Then the sun came out, we baptized and as soon as we were done the sky burst forth with a massive rainstorm. Lunch was moved inside and what a sight it was. We don’t have a huge house; about 2000 sq. ft.(basement and main floor) and people were everywhere. Over time the church has dwindled to a few and now we are online. The next step is coming. I could say I have failed but I don’t think so because I have committed myself to God’s word and His promise to me. A long time ago God gave me a promise and I know He will see it through but I must remain faithful no matter what the cost. I had no idea what this journey would entail but I committed to it wholeheartedly. I read and study God’s word daily and trust what God says in His word, all of it, even though I have not seen yet what I preach about. This journey has cause me to be mocked, some think I have lost my mind and we have had to make some very hard decisions but God said He will bless our faithfulness to Him. I now believe I have blessed assurance. The story isn’t over yet and I believe God will once again turn His face to shine on the church. James 5:11 “As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.” The power and authority we see in the gospels is how the church will be once again. You cannot read scripture and be okay with how the church is.
                I want to share one more event in my life. I have struggled with my weight for a very long time. I remember after seminary in 1995 when I went over the 250-pound mark. That’s not just overweight, that is obese. That to me was astonishing as I had always been in pretty good shape. As I look back I think there was a problem with the number I used to figure out BMI. I am 6’3” but it turns out the 9 should have been a 6 when I was looking at my body mass index. It appeared that I was under tall for my weight. For my weight I should be at least 9 feet tall. I thought I needed to gain weight and I did. I excelled at weight gain and I almost went over 350-pounds. I have been morbidly obese for a long time. I have tried over and over and there were times I succeeded. I lost 40 one time and gained it back plus more. I have struggled these last years and have been mostly over 300-pounds. Lately I was on my way back up to 320 and have not been able to shake the 300 mark. I have prayed and struggled to no avail. My weight loss or lack thereof looks like Romans 7:15 “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” Yes we are supposed to try harder and have will-power but I could not win this battle. Isn’t it frustrating when you think you should try harder but can’t or watch someone eat a grapefruit and loose 100lbs. I found sitting on the couch watching infomercials about working out didn’t really help. One time I worked out for a while 7 days a week and never lost weight. One trainer told me 80% eating right, 10% working out and 10% body type. What? I was killing myself working out, (not really) but I worked out hard but I have always eaten too much and now my activity has not kept up with my eating. I would say I was stuck at a certain weight but I was just eating too much. I have used an app that keeps track, that is when I wrote it down and it paints a bleak picture of obesity. I started using the app January 8, 2016 and I was 342.8lbs. I was actually closer to 350 and my weight had built up to that number. As of February 9, 2021 I was 319.4lbs. That tells a heavy tale.
                Then I woke up one day, February 9, 2021 and everything changed. You may think what is the difference this time as I have had these experiences before but I know this time is different. Before I starved myself and my eating still controlled me. This time my eating changed. I was no longer hungry all the time. I cut my calorie intake and eat well no problem at all. Before when I fasted I might not even make it through the day and then binged and ate more than I would have. Now when I fast, I eat normal the next day with no desire to binge. I have worked out hard every other day since. I have not missed a workout, set or rep. We walk and I recently started riding my bike also. As of last Tuesday March 30, 2021 I weighed in at 287.6 and my weight continues to fall. I feel great. My next goal is to break 270 then 250 and end up somewhere around 215. I will keep you posted.
                I tell you this not because of my great willpower to change but my lack there of. God promised to remove my prison clothes and He is in the process. I have proven I cannot do this on my own. I am very grateful that I have not had heart issues or diabetes. I have strong willpower when it comes to my devotions but when it came to food I was defeated regularly and I struggled with that weakness. God has been good while we wait for Him to move in power once again. He has taken care of us and His plan for me will unfold just as He said it would. I believe what I read which leads me to your story.
                What is the story you are telling? Have you been faithful to God’s word? Do you really have the blessed assurance you think you have? Are you hungry for God’s word and do you believe what you read? Do you go to church or are you the church? Do you expect to do as Jesus did? Do you expect the power of the gospel in our day? Do you expect to see real signs and wonders, miracles healings and casting out demons? If not, why not? Are you comfortably lukewarm or are you looking for fire? Have you gone cold? Do you want more for the church than you are seeing? Is being the church even part of your life? Have you given up on God? Do you call yourself a Christian even thought you have no idea really what it means? Are you seeking the gifts of the Spirit? Have you been deceived by false teaching? Do you test the spirits? Do you have a false sense of security? Are you totally sold out to Jesus or to yourself? Did you just lie to yourself and God? Will you stand on His word no matter the cost? If Jesus asked you would you sell all you have to follow Him, how would you answer? He looks at our hearts when we answer. Do you make excuses for your life? Who do you blame? Are you angry at God? Are you tired of being confronted by the Holy Spirit? Do you believe you are a Christian because you are part of a church? Will you hear well done or depart from me? Do you fear God? These questions could keep going but you should be asking yourself how committed are you to the word of God or do you follow man? Are you committed to denominational beliefs or to the words of Jesus? The most important thing you can do is to turn from your wicked ways and follow God’s word wholeheartedly.
                Jesus said Mark 1:15 “The time has come, the kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” Romans 7 ends with 24 “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Jesus came that we would have life in abundance. We are not supposed to serve ourselves but serve Jesus our King and to follow His ways. Many are part of the church but have no idea what the church really is because they have never seen the true gospel of Jesus Christ and worship in vain. As we finish this journey; make it the beginning of a faithful life in Christ. Will you stand on God’s word, trusting and believing He will do as He said He would do? Matthew 24:12 “Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13 but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” Will you stand firm to the end no matter the cost? Acts 2:38 “Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call. 40 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” Are you content with your story or does it need a different ending? Your past can be forgiven and your future changed but are you willing to repent?