"O Worship the LORD in the Beauty of Holiness"

“O Worship the LORD in the Beauty of Holiness”
(Psalm 96:9).

Two weeks ago we had worship without music or instruments it was such an anointed season as for an hour the children of God spoke of God’s goodness and how he is utilizing them in ministry. The Lord gave me a word on the “Beauty of Holiness of the Heart through Surrender”. We Christians have got so good of using religious jargon to justify our disobedience by qualifying it with the endorsement of being led of the Spirit in stead of saying that which is truly in our heart “I’m running and want my way”, “A half hearted Lover” God has a problem with “half-hearted lovers,” People who claim to love Him, but have “other loves” that they really love more than God. How it must break God’s heart to see us pursuing other loves: gambling, pornography, drugs, money, sexual sin, power, greed; or a life that mostly revolves around “self.” Recently I was talking to a man who had been very committed and active in a local Church for a number of years when there was division. He was extremely hurt and I could completely understand his heart with lost trust in relationships. I shared with him that his hurt was blocking him from experiencing the presence of God and only through the cross could he let that hurt go and let Christ heal him.

Someone who pursues these “other loves” cheats themselves of an encounter with the awesome power of God’s love. God’s love is experienced when you genuinely surrender your life to Christ, and put your complete trust in Him.

If you surrender your heart to Christ, you will discover a love that is pure, constant, and unfailing. If you’ve been hurt by someone who has pursued “other loves,” you can receive the healing love of Christ, which is a better love than any other kind of love in this world. Because this love of God is so pure and so precious, it cannot take “second place” to any other love.

It is through surrendering to the cross of Christ and dying to self that we learn to love others again through the resurrection life of Christ. It is through this love we demonstrate how to walk out the one another’s of the bible in the local church and that Christ would be glorified in all the earth. Abandon the half hearted love that “self” produces. Let us embrace the cross of Christ and live the “Beauty of Holiness of Heart”.

Admonish One Another

Early in my Christian walk I found myself having to separate my self from friends I had run with before I became a believer. And for several years I surrounded myself with Christian brothers and sisters in the Lord to help me with my testimony and my Christian character. I truly did appreciate the accountability and love that we shown to each other as we walked out our faith with integrity of character. But as it usually happens one night some friends from my past called asking if I would go with them to town to the festival, they where very gracious in letting me know that they would not be drinking, so I accepted their invitation and I really did miss these guys whom I had grown up with. It all started out innocently enough but what I didn’t realize was the incredible pull and power of the lust of the flesh and the spirit of this age drawing me into my old mind set. As it so happened, we met up with some girls at the festival, we started talking and making arrangements to go out with them later on, when out of the blue, some of the girls from my church showed up. I remember so well my humiliation as the girls challenged me to stay pure and not damage my Christian walk – right in front of my friends! Now I didn’t get offensive, thank goodness. On the contrary, I truly did appreciate their admonishment in love.

Colossians 3:16 (New International Version)

16Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.

What does it mean?

The Greek word for “admonish” literally means “to set right, correct, warn, and lay on the heart of someone.” Admonish one another is a confrontational command, intending to challenge or correct someone.

To admonish means to help someone who is out of step with the Spirit to get back in line. Notice that admonish is linked to teaching and wisdom, admonishment must always be guided by “the Word of God.” Admonishment calls back the believer who has drifted off the Spirit’s path. Praise God when a believer receives admonishment in love and makes the necessary changes.

All Christians should be willing and able to admonish as well as encourage. In Rom. 15:14 notice that Paul is confident that all of the Christians in Rome can admonish one another—not just the leadership. He has never been in Rome to train them, yet he is confident of this! Notice also two qualities that he says enable them to admonish effectively:

Rom. 15:14 And concerning you, my brethren, I myself also am convinced that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, and able also to admonish one another.

“Goodness” – This obviously doesn’t mean moral perfection, but rather good will—loving concern for one another’s well-being (which any of us can have with the help of the Holy Spirit) vs. lack of concern, delight in another’s failure, etc.

“Knowledge” – This has nothing to do with having a high IQ or a professional degree, but knowledge of God’s Word which provides objective, absolute moral guidance vs. personal opinion, current secular wisdom, etc.

Sadly, in our pluralistic, postmodern age, even gracious admonishment is often viewed as negative and critical. Admonishment is considered unnecessary, unwanted, and down-right mean-spirited in a relativistic age. To spend even a small fraction of time admonishing against false teachings, lack of Godly character and sin (as our Lord directs us to do) is to invite charges of negativism, division and worse.

Within the community there will be times of admonishing one another in an loving and encouraging way, with a heart to restore one another within the instruction of the Word of God and the love of Christ.

(Heb. 10:24,25*) and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, 25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more, as you see the day drawing near.

Did We Make A Difference?

Steve Highlander of C3M Ministries and Co-Pastor of Christ’s Church of Nevada has written a provocative article to challenge our concept of Christianity.

I must admit I am a sucker for good motivational speeches in movies, especially when the odds are against the good guys.

I loved the speech in Independence Day when they go to fight the aliens: “‘Mankind.’ That word should have new meaning for all of us today. We can’t be consumed by our petty differences anymore. We will be united in our common interests. Perhaps it’s fate that today is the Fourth of July, and you will once again be fighting for our freedom… Not from tyranny, oppression, or persecution… but from annihilation. We are fighting for our right to live. To exist. And should we win the day, the Fourth of July will no longer be known as an American holiday, but as the day the world declared in one voice: “We will not go quietly into the night!” We will not vanish without a fight! We’re going to live on! We’re going to survive! Today we celebrate our Independence Day!

How about the speech in Lord of the Rings, Return of the King, when it looks like the age of the humans had come to an end and Aragorn says: “My brothers! I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me! A day may come when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship. But it is not this day….when the age of Men comes crashing down! But it is not this day! This day we fight! By all that you hold dear on this good Earth, I bid you stand! Men of the West!”

You can’t forget William Wallace in Braveheart saying, “Aye, fight and you may die, run, and you’ll live… at least a while. And dying in your beds, many years from now, would you be willin’ to trade ALL the days, from this day to that, for one chance, just one chance, to come back here and tell our enemies that they may take our lives, but they’ll never take… OUR FREEDOM!”

I am not sure how I missed it before, but tonight I watched the Star Trek Generations Movie for the first time. For those who haven’t seen it, a time anomaly puts Captain James T. Kirk and Captain Jon Luc Piccard (80 years apart) in the same time frame. At one point Kirk tells Piccard, “Don’t retire, don’t let them transfer you or promote you. When you’re in the captain’s chair you can make a difference. I haven’t made a difference since I retired.”

Later, after they save the day and kirk lays dying, he asks Piccard, “Did we make a difference?” Piccard says, “Yes, we made a difference.”

What a question for you and me to consider. Today. Tomorrow. When we lay dying. “Did we make a difference?” Is any one’s life better because I was here. Did I change anything for the better? How much of what I have done has eternal value?

We should also ask that question concerning our churches. Do they make a real difference? For all our worship and teaching and events, are we really changing anyone? Are people getting saved? Are disciples being made? Are ministries being raised up?

Sometimes I look around and wonder if the things we are expected to do really make an eternal difference. As the old saying goes, “give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach him to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” What happens if he spends his whole life fishing and ends up in hell? Did we make a real difference?

Is that too cynical? Or does it beg us to answer the question of what eternal purpose our activities, events, worship and sermons are. Are we teaching people to be happy and comfortable, or are we teaching people to take risks and make sacrifices for the King of Kings?

In a tongue in cheek essay, Wilbur Reese penned these words that, unfortunately, capture the unspoken sentiment of many that call themselves Christians: “I would like to buy three dollars worth of God, please. Not enough to explode my soul or disturb my sleep, but just enough of Him to equal a cup of warm milk or a snooze in the sunshine. I don’t want enough of Him to make me love a black man or pick beets with a migrant. I want ecstasy, not transformation. I want the warmth of the womb, not a new birth. I want a pound of the eternal in a paper sack, please. I would like to buy three dollars worth of God, please.”

My great fear is that too may churches and ministries are providing the warm milk and hammocks. How many are opting for the excitement of the event rather than a true life-changing encounter with God. How many times has the cup of warm milk been in my own hand?

I suppose you can tell I am reflecting. Lately I’ve looked around at spiritual needs that are not being meet by having another meeting. I see the people who don’t need another service, they need the investment of love and time of Christians. The need someone to take them under their wing and disciple them. In some cases they need a place to live where they are constantly encouraged in their Christian life until they take spiritual root and start to grow themselves.

In fact, I wonder if having another meeting doesn’t sometimes hinder Christians from going out and doing something for God? We don’t have time to SERVE, because we are always running to SERVICES! We invite people to discipleship classes instead of disciplining them. We hand them a book on prayer rather then praying with them. Hmmmmmmm!

At one time I worked for the McCook Daily Gazette in McCook, Neb. Harry Strunk was the spunky Publisher back in the 50’s and 60s. His famous saying was, “Service is the rent we pay for the space we occupy in the world.”

Are we serving or going to services?

“Did we make a difference?”

Taking the one another’s to the World

Wow, I can’t believe it been so long since I last log on here but it has been a good season for some of you who don’t know an group and myself of believers who are walking out the one another’s started a fellowship. As one brother stated yesterday after a conflict resolution process had taken place this is much easier to read than to walk out through the dying of our flesh. I guess Jesus did have a plan for designing the Church as he did, but it’s interesting how now we feel we have the right (or better plan) to change the design. It much easier to look good on the outside than to deal with the ugliness of self, to look at how many we have in our Churches than to focus on the maturity of growing in Christ through reality checks of the Holy Spirit and the body of Christ. We have had fun as we are meeting in houses and then have a celebration service where we all come together and have breakfast, worship and prayer, shared testimonies of the goodness of God, life and instruction from the elders. It is so neat to be apart of a group where all are involved, functioning as the body of Christ and not by standers waiting for the next big event in a program.

Recently, in a group setting a couple of guys practicing the homosexual lifestyle knowing I was a minister wanted my input on this. Now my impression was they where going to expect the typical statement of “you are going to hell!” but instead I said “I am personally interested in you as a person as I hope you would with me and as there are things in my life that God would see as being ugly he will deal with it in His timing”. Yes, I know of all the scriptures that deal with this topic but sometimes I feel throwing out scriptures is so easy and it gives us a false gleam of pride of I guess I told them. But it is much harder to walk up beside someone and say “you have value, you are significant person, and are of great worth can I get to know you and earn the right to speak words of life, truth and love.” In Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates His love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us”. Ephesians 5:2 states, “Walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave himself up for us…” as I type this tears are flowing down my face as I think of how God demonstrated His love to me on a gravel road when I cursed Him full of my arrogance and pride yet through only His ability He revealed to me this love and changed my life. How do I demonstrate His love to others? Is it through the works of my flesh of manipulation, control, intimidation or the fruit of the Spirit of love? You see the one another’s that Christ has us to demonstrate to the members of the body of Christ is also what we demonstrate to the world? Let us love one another as Christ has loved us.

Declaring the Gospel of Christ


-by David Smithers.

In the year of 1647, a large man with piercing eyes named George Fox started preaching throughout the towns and villages of England.

He prayed and fasted often, traveling with no other companion but his Bible. He proclaimed a gospel of purity, power and repentance.

When George Fox began preaching, many churches were dead and bound in man-made traditions and formalism. When the Church drifts into formalism, the world drifts into further ungodliness. The methods and appearance of George Fox to some, seemed quite offensive and extreme. It is sometimes necessary for God’s prophets to be unconventional in order to thoroughly awaken the indifferent and hard hearted.

Soon after George Fox began to preach, he had a remarkable spiritual experience that lasted fourteen days. A certain Mr. Brown, while on his death bed prophesied many great things concerning Fox. “When this man was buried,” says Fox, “a great work of the Lord fell on me.” During this mighty baptism of the Spirit, Fox received a remarkable gift of discernment. “He seemed to be able to read the character of men by looking at them.” Miraculous healings also accompanied his ministry. Through prayer and the laying on of hands, the sick were often healed and devils were cast out to the glory of Christ. When George Fox preached men would shake and tremble. “The name Quaker was given to Fox and his followers because of the quaking of the men who came to scoff but stayed to pray.” This remarkable power seemed to accompany the preaching of Fox wherever he went.

Fox preached that Jesus Christ is the author of a faith which purifies and gives victory over sin. He fervently exhorted men to pursue complete holiness rather than empty religious ceremonies.

As a result, he was often beaten, stoned and driven out of town.

It is estimated that perhaps no other man since the time of the Reformation was persecuted and imprisoned as often as George Fox. He usually went about the country on foot, dressed in his famous suit of leather clothes, which it is believed he made himself. He often slept outside under a tree or in some haystack.

Fox also often pointed out that what was commonly called the Church was only a building. He boldly declared that only the fervent believers of Christ were the living stones of the true Church.

“Above all George Fox excelled in prayer.” It was his habit to wait in silence for the movement of the Holy Spirit and then begin to pray, causing whole congregations to be shaken and humbled under the hand of God Almighty. “As he prayed the power of God came down in such a marvelous manner the very building seemed to rock.” Through the ministry of George Fox, a glimmer of Apostolic power was revealed to seventeenth century England. He was a man of the Spirit in an age that emphasized theological and scriptural accuracy at the expense of the power of the Holy Ghost. He always stressed the importance of a Spirit filled life and refused to let dead orthodoxy be a veil for the works of the flesh.

If we as believers are content with a gospel that merely comforts our conscience and perseveres our traditions, then we are also content to forsake the gospel of Christ and the Apostles. God help us to truly seek the kind of praying and preaching that will once again make men tremble in the presence of Jesus Christ.

Hospitality to One Another

Hospitality to One Another

I have been fortunate enough to have met some really godly people who have been in the ministry and have taken notice of me. One of those couples has been Lattie and Barbara McDonough, Lattie has given me sound advice not only in life but also in ministry and they have always welcomed Denise and me to come and spend time with them. Barbara is such a beautiful woman, full of grace and kindness and truly demonstrates the gift of hospitality when ever we have come to spend time with them – I remember how special Barbara made us feel to be guests in their home, our room was filled with all kinds of special “little extras” –fragrant soaps, lotions, candies, etc. and even a big fresh fruit basket to welcome us! It was such a pleasure to go to the McDonough home and you felt like you were apart of the family.

My grandparents would tell me that in their day, many people would keep the front light on there homes on in case some one was stranded and you might not have much but you also offered a meal and drink before sending someone down the road. These concepts are somewhat foreign today as we have adopted more of an individualistic view of life.

What does hospitality mean?

The Greek word for hospitality literally means to love or to welcome strangers. Webster’s dictionary defines hospitality as “the act or practice of one who is hospitable, reception and entertainment of strangers or guest without reward or with kind and generous liberality.”

“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. I Peter 4:8-9

Peter urges us to offer hospitality to one another without complaining, not as duty, but as participation in our life with Christ. This is the mark of a Christ follower, someone whose heart and home are open to others.

Denise and I are so thankful for Lattie and Barbara for the investment they have sown into our lives. May we express the same hospitality towards strangers and guests as they have and reveal a love that covers a multitude of sins as Christ has done for us.

Truly an expression of brotherly affection

Several years ago at a Mennonite funeral in the lobby area, I noticed two men who apparently had not seen each other in some time give each other a kiss on both cheeks and embrace one another. This was very interesting to me as in scripture I Peter 5:14 stated, “Greet one another with a kiss of love. Peace to all of you who are in Christ.” This was the first time that I had seen this custom in a Church setting.

What does it mean? The Greek term for “greet” literally means, “to draw to one’s self; to salute one, bid welcome, wish well, ‘to receive joyfully, to welcome.”

In New Testament Community, to greet someone meant to embrace warmly with love. It was much more than just saying “hello.” It was saying, “You make life better because you are here, I am glad to share in your life.”

The French are famous for the custom of greeting people with kisses on the cheeks. This custom is called in French se faire la bise, which is not translatable into other languages: literally, it means to do the peck (little kiss).

A number of years ago a man of God, Brian Graham had come to visit the Church. Brian had been diagnosed with cancer and we where fortunate to have him in our midst. One afternoon I had went to the hotel room to visit with him as I sensed that this would probably be my last time to see Brian. He was tired and lay in bed and I just sat on the edge of the bed and listen to his counsel as a father to his son. When we came to the place of ending our discussion this scripture came to mind found in Acts chapter 20 of Paul’s departure. In those short moments of embracing, the kissing of the cheeks and the sharing of tears the ancient communication of brotherly love was being affectionately demonstrated which said, “You make life better because you are here and I am glad to have shared in your life.” It was my last time to spend time with Brian before he entered into heaven, yet I can only picture Jesus Christ walking up to Brian that day embracing him and giving him a holy kiss and saying, “Come, blessed of my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” Let us greet one another with the same brotherly affection, amen.

Who is putting up with Me!

Eph. 4:1-3

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.

Wouldn’t it be nice to attend a church where everybody was like you, looked at life the same way you do, same sports, same enthusiasm, same affection, gosh wouldn’t it be great just to have another you. We would have a perfect Church, ..NOT!

No Jesus takes different personalities of all different backgrounds and blends them together to make up his Church and at some point we find we must bear with one another. So what is the scripture trying to teach us in walking out the Christian faith in the body of Christ?

The Greek word for “forbear” literally means “to put up with” and carries with it the idea of restraint, endure, and tolerate.

So to bear with one another in love, means to look beyond their personality faults and quirks. It means to give them some room to be themselves, Wow what a neat thought that people in the Church didn’t have to be under pressure to conform to someone else’s standards but have the liberty to become what God desires without judgment.

Bearing with one another keeps us from being critical and spiritually arrogant and requires there to be honest; disagreement and differences do exist. Its alright for individuals to not see life the same way but truly have brotherly love for one another, seeking to overlook one another’s faults, just as Christ has overlooked your faults. This requires grace and discernment.

Now there are times when one steps over the theological line and enters into sin against someone and in this instance sin necessitates the process of confession (and that is not just saying I’m sorry, but specifically naming the offense), praying together and forgive one another. There will always be times that we will sin against one another and must humbly take the road of reconciliation for the health of not only the Church but ourselves.

Bearing with one another helps us to see ourselves in the weakness of others and together, submits our lives to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

Life takes strange turns sometimes…..

My Sister in the Lord has touched on an issue that many in the body of Christ can identify with and the move of getting back to simplicity of the Gospel of Christ and faith.

Life takes strange turns sometimes….

I’ve attended the same small close knit church for 30 years. I was a young single mom when I first started attending this small fellowship that started out meeting in a home. Here I learned the practical walking out of the gospel and was mentored by several different families and sometimes by those even younger but more mature than I was. As a young Christian the Lord drew me to this group who loved me and my young son unconditionally. I knew I was at the place God wanted me to be and I was content because I had found a family who not only loved me but who loved God and served Him with their whole hearts.

This past week I attended the funeral for the wife of one couple that was so instrumental in the early days of my Christian walk. It fills me with sadness on one hand to see these men and women who gave so much of their time and energy and wisdom to a group of us that so needed their help pass on. But then I remember how much rejoicing must be going on in heaven today as loved ones are reunited and for the first time in a long time are feeling no pain. You may be gone Bud and Ruth and Bud and June but your memory lives on in our hearts. And we are eternally grateful for your giving of yourself to a younger generation that included myself.

Today, I am no longer attending that small fellowship as over time what we started out as has changed into something unrecognizable. Sometimes in the process of growth, we forget the Lord is the head of the House and I believe when that happens the Lord just steps back and waits. Why? Maybe to see how long we can continue on without Him? Maybe to bring us back to a place of simplicity. Back to where we first started at. Because when I first started this walk, I knew how desperately I needed Him in my life. How desperately I needed His love and mercy and forgiveness and mostly how desperately I needed His Presence with me. And I knew how important it was to surround myself with brothers and sisters who would love me even when I messed up and who would always be there for me but who would also love me enough to hold me accountable to changing those things in me that were displeasing to the Lord. What was different about me in the early days of my walk with the Lord? I was desperate.

This morning as I sat in a new church I was thinking how I have now come full circle. Am I happy about it? No, but I have matured over the years enough to realize God will begin to cause us to become discontent with our life when we begin to put other things ahead of making Him the Head of all things. That includes our personal lives and our church life both. Sometimes God brings us back full circle and it is for our own good. I feel like for the past several weeks and months I have drifted. Drifted from one church to another trying to find something elusive. Feeling like I never really fit in. Like I was missing something. I believe God was allowing me to come once again to the place I was at 30 years ago. To a place where I allowed myself to wait upon Him and allow Him to lead me where He wanted me to go. To once again become desperate.

This morning I realized what coming full circle really means. God is bringing me back to what I once had. Bringing me back to the simplicity of the gospel. It’s not about the place you worship in. It’s not how big or how many people attend there. It’s not the kind of music you play. It’s not about the denomination you attend. It’s not about how wonderful a youth program you can build. It’s not about things. And too many times we forget that.

It is all about having a relationship with the Creator of the universe on a personal level. It is all about walking out that relationship with others who want more than anything else to serve a living God. It is about love. About loving one another and loving the lost and the hurting just as our Heavenly Father loves. It is about realizing time is short, the harvest is ready and the workers are few. It is about praying Thy Kingdom Come , Thy will be done…..

Remember the first Bible verse you ever memorized? Mine was “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosover believeth in Him, should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16.

Oh, to get back to the simplicity of the gospel. I’m on a journey and that’s where I’m headed!

Do nothing out of selfish ambition

God truly sends blessings along the way of life’s journey and I can think of three Christian men who I would consider diamonds to me personally. One of those blessings to me is a gentleman well into his 70’s. In my studies of authentic New Testament faith and practice I have sought his advice out and he has been so generous to correspond and to dialog with me in seeking out answers. But he has also been so gracious never making me feel belittled and has shown honor and concern for my family.

Another gentleman that I have known for years, who discipled me in the beginning of my years of ordination and who I seek counsel from today as a spiritual father. He has always been there for me speaking to me the things that I needed to hear sometimes stern, but mostly words of encouragement. His guidance is priceless and there are few words adequate to express my gratitude for this relationship.

But my former Pastor Bud & his dear wife Ruth Curtis who have now passed on into the presence of God to receive their crown of glory who discipled Denise and I , I can only hope that when we are in our older years we can express the same care , encouragement and pleasure of blessing the next generation of men and women of God.

Each of these relationships never lorded over me their prestigious positions, titles or wealth of experience but has taken the role of servants. With generosity they have expended their lives for the betterment of the body of Christ.

Romans 12:16 “Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.

So what does it mean to live in harmony with one another? The Greek word here is “phronesis”, it expresses a way of understanding or practical reasoning that has concern for another, a kind of comprehensive moral discernment.

Paul uses this same Greek word in the letter to the Philippians.

Philippians 2:2-4 (New International Version)

2then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. 3Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Philippians 2:5 (New International Version)

5Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus

The words translated “like-minded’ and “attitude” come from the same word, phronesis. Paul is saying we are to live with one another in a way that our thoughts, feelings and actions should model the character of Jesus Christ. To accomplish this we must allow the Holy Spirit to work in us humility and in doing so treat one another with the utmost respect and honor. The question arises; do we have this heart attitude to those we consider beneath us? It’s much easier to express this to those who we feel are greater or equal to our status in life, but it is my prayer that we would model Jesus Christ who emptied himself and became a servant to all.