Saturday, May 28, 2011

God's Favor From Being Obedient ( a testimony)

After several weeks of what seemed like spinning my wheels, I remembered from my prayer journals that whenever blessings seem to stop flowing in my life, that is God's way of letting me know He needs to talk to me, as it was first taught to me and explained in detail in my blog, God Will Get Your Attention.

At this particular time, blessings had stopped to the point where I said, "Okay God! What is it that I am not doing?" or "What am I doing that is not in your will?"    Immediately, God showed me in the spirit how I had gotten complacent about working on getting my two Christian mini-books and two Christian CD projects to the next level of exposure.

I immediately began to pray for guidance as to where to start in this area becuase now we're talking about a lot of money you need on hand to get thing moving towards that next level.  During my prayer, a Christian book publisher called, whom I had tried to reach weeks before. After telling him about my projects, we came to the agreement that he would take my projects on and be my publisher.  In addition, I had levels of expertise in praise and worship and music that would benefit his ministry.  As a result, by bartering, the cost of publishing my projects would be more manageable.

Right after the conversation with the publisher and happy to be back on track with God's assignments, I received two phone calls from my agent with two auditions for the television shows, Watchin' Ellie and Sate of Grace, and was cast in both shows the following day, praise God.

"Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these THINGS will be added to you", immediately came to mind to remind me that as long as we are obedient to God leading and living our lives seeking to keep God's will and purpose for our lives in mind, then the blessings that follow are God's way of saying, "Well done my good and faithful servant."

May we all seek to stay tuned in to God's guidance that we may be used mightily in His work in helping spread the gospel throughout the world.

God's Favor at the Car Dealership (a testimony)

Many years ago, while writing one of my mini-books entitled, "Your Life, Your Testimony, I remember thinking I don't know what to write in this book.  At the time I hadn't realized the importance of keeping track of all the ways the Lord has moved in your life and the power of inspiration a testimony can have on someone.  In fact, that book has yet to be released because the Lord instructed me to wait until I've written a number of testimonies that He wants me to add to the book.

Suddenly, the Lord gave me the realization that one of the main reasons He delivers us from one situation to another is so that we can share our testimony with others who may be blessed and encouraged by how the Lord's blessings are apparent everywhere we go if we slow down long enough to recognize them.

This testimony is about a time when both of the cars my wife and I drive broke down with major repairs needed to the point where we just decided to give one of the cars to charity and pray for funds to get the other car a new engine, if needed.

A new engine, in this particular case , was estimated to cost no less than $1300.  Until then, my wife and I were forced to either rent cars for work assignments or catch the bus, which is enough to test anyone's religion.

A frustrating cycle began, I would get a job assignment, rent a car to get there, get paid for the job and then watch much of the hard earned money disappear going to the cost of the rental car.  How was I going to save $1300 for a new engine or save $1,000 down payment for a new car if all the money available to be saved was constantly being eaten up by the cost of renting cars.

I applied for a car loan online just to see what I could qualify for.  My credit rating wasn't the best so the results came back with a qualification that I had been approved but with a whopping 23% interest rate attached.  Ouch!  So I just sighed and filed the information away.

Finally, after a few more weeks one weekend, I told my wife, "That's it!  Were getting out of this rental car situation.   I saw several job assignments ahead but I also saw how much of my money was going to be spent on the rental car.

So I went first to a used car lot where I had seen several very nice looking used cars and , in the past, had encountered a very friendly salesman who garanteed me that he could work with me on any kind of credit.

The problem I was facing on this venture was that I had no money to put down on anything that day because of the upcoming rental car bill, but I could get the down payment paid throughout the month.

So on this day, a different and less cordial salesman ran my credit check and came back laughing.

"Ah, have you looked at your credit report lately?" he smirked.

"No, but I'm sure you're about to tell me," I replied.

"There is NO WAY we can put you in a car on this lot for less than $2,000 down today.   You're too much of a risk."

 "Well, thanks anyway!" I told him, and he walked away.

I knew my credit wasn't the best in the world but the way he laughed at my rating really rubbed me he wrong way.  So feeling a little frustrated, I headed back to my rental car.

As I was about to get in the rental car, the Lord told me to turn around, go back and write down all the cars I like on this lot.  Learning many years ago what happens when you are not obedient to the Lord's voice, I pulled out a piece of paper and pen, went back onto the carlot and ended up with a nice list of 14 cars that I liked on this lot.

The salesman was looking at me the whole time like I was crazy, probably thinking, "Why is this man writing down what he likes if can't afford to get any car on this lot?"

Now from this point on, everything else about that day seemed surreal to me.  It was almost like I just came along for the ride.

I went home and told my wife to get dressed, we're getting a car today.  She, of course, looked at me like, "Do you know something I don't know?"  Actually, I was acting with a frightening confidence which even I didn't understand at the time.

I went into my file cabinet, pulled out the approved online car loan, jumped in the rental car and off we went on our way to driving down a part of Van Nuys BL that we in the San Fernando Valley call "dealership row."

As we approached, looking only a cheap new car or medium-priced used car, we saw a cute car marked $7999 and stopped as if that was the car to get.   I got out of the rental car to examine the used car more closely.   All the white collar salesmen gave me this judgmental ''once-over", obviously concluding that I was probably going to waste their time.  So, as a result, they sent a young black rookie salesman to come help me.

"Yes, sir!" I greeted,"I need car today.!"

The young rookie salesman was obviously shaken that he didn't need to use his sales pitch greeting.  He showed me a 2003 version of the same car that made us stop in the first place. After a short test drive, I said, "We'll take it."

Now the fun begins.  I was immediately passed to a more experienced white salesman, who ignored me earlier, whose main job was obviously to close the deal.  For the next two hours, he kept coming up with all kinds of down paymemt options.  However, no matter how many times I said it, he wasn't hearing my repeated statement that "I don't have anything to give you today."

Finally, with the threat that we were about to leave and come back at another time, the salesman left and came back and said, "I've figured out how to put you in a car today.  Give me two checks to ut on hold until you tell us to deposit each one and you've got a car.

"No problem!" I said, "Now that's what I'm talking about!  Praise the Lord!"

Over the next hour, all the paperwork was processed and completed and we drove off the lot with a nice 2000 Dodge Neon which was $2000 higher than our original choice.   However, the dealership knocked $700 off the price of the car so that it would fit into my loan application requirements.  Praise God again for favor.

God truly showed up in the dealership that day.  Coming into the dealership, the only thing I knew for sure that day was the fact that I had no money to put down that day but I had faith that somebody was going to sell us a car, at some dealership that day.

The salesman's original attitude was telling me there was NO WAY I could drive off the lot with a car with no down payment that day.  I guess he thought I was joking when I said, "I HAVE NO MONEY TO GIVE YOU TODAY!"  But when I said, "Then we'll just have to come back at another time", all of a sudden, the saleman made everything work.

Now, in reality, you and I know that it was the Lord making everything work, praise God!  When salesmen want a sale they usually work with you to a point, as long as they have something to gain. But normally, once the advantage is not theirs, they don't want to deal with you.

In reflecting on the blessings of that day, I realized that from the time the Lord told me to write down a list of cars I liked on the other lot, to when we drove off the second car lot, the Lord was in total control.  Never once did I listen to the salesman tell me what I couldn't do.  Never once did I doubt and ask the Lord what He was doing.  I felt an incredible peace the entire time.  I just confessed my desire, believed I'd have a car by the end of the day and watched the Lord do His thing, "making the impossible a possibility."

Then I thought, why can't I apply this to everything in life, put it all in God's hands.  So many times, I've confessed something and then doubted I could really get it.  Once you doubt, you've recalled your request to God because your doubt is really doubting God can bring it to pass.

I share all my testimonies with you in the hopes that they can inspire you with the comfort of knowing God is with us everywhere we go and ready to help us any time.  However, if we don't ask Him for help or don't put it all in His hands, then we are standing in our own way and blocking the very blessings God is trying to get to us.

May we all strive forever to be obedient to God's voice.

Friday, May 27, 2011

God's Favor in the Court System ( a testimony)

Recently, I was served the infamous jury duty notice, as we all get from time to time.  However, this time around, I misplaced the notice until after its deadline to respond and was therefore automatically called in for mandatory service.  Upset at my carelessness, I was particularly disturbed at this mandatory service because of a recent law passed at the time which no longer respected "financial hardship" as a reason to get out of duty for any trials expected to go one week or less.

For me, that could still be devastating as all my jobs were either "on call" or paid by the day.  So, as I thought about it, a short week, as they put it, could still put me out anywhere from $750 - $1500 for that week.

I still had to go through the selection process by the lawyers.  How long would that take?  As I sat in the court room awaiting the dreaded selection process to begin, the Judge asked if there were any hardships other than financial, he would hear them at that time.  Then the Lord guided me to stand up and request a specific week, which was a few weeks later, one that I particularly projected that financially I could possibly afford to take off.

"I don't know," replied the Judge. "I've never had that request before.  Let me check."

Quickly the clerk called the Jury room and came back moments later with the approval for me and to be released that day with the court order to return in 2 weeks.

The two weeks went by quickly and that day was upon me again.  As I headed towards the courthouse, I remember saying a short prayer, "Lord, I know that you cancel debts, but I ask you now, if it be Your will, please cancel this jury duty." 

Even after saying that prayer, if I had to serve then I had to serve.  It was already a blessing for my time to be postponed to a week I was off, spring break.

As I enter the jury room, there were only eight people in the room unlike the 100 plus that were in the room two weeks earlier.  The clerk came out to give instructions to us like before but told me to just sit tight because my situation was different.

"Uh-oh, they've got me for sure now!" I thought.

Following her instructions, she told all of us to wait, as she had to check with all of the neighboring court rooms and their need for jurors.  About five minutes later, the clerk returned and said that all needs for jurors had been full-filled and that we would not be needed this time around.  Our time was served. We were then released.

Trying to withhold the fact that I was doing a praise dance inside, I gave a very controlled smile and quietly left the building.

Outside, I must have said,"Thank you, Jesus" or "Praise the Lord!" about a hundred times.  The Lord showed favor towards me in preserving that week of work I thought I was going to lose.  The Lord also knew that the week I was requesting was going to be a slow trial week or a week where no new trials were beginning.  I knew none of this, of course.  I just had the faith that everything was going to work out. God is so good!

Then I thought about how we sometimes limit all the places where we think God's blessings can show up.  Why not in the courthouse too?  I have been consistently trying to be obedient and apply HIs word to my life in every way.

That day only continued to strengthen my faith in God's blessings.  For deep in my spirit, I knew that even if I did have jury duty, God would have provided some other way for my finances beyond my imagination, IF I did not doubt.. "for He is able to do exceedingly and abundantly above all that I can ask or think according to the power that works in me." (Eph.3:20)

No matter what your situation just remember that "God did not create a spirit of fear, but of love, and of power and of a sound mind."(2 Tim.1:7)  It is when we keep fear out and put our trust in God that blessings are released into our life.

May the Lord bless you and keep you.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

God Will Get Your Attention ( a testimony)

TEXT: (Matt. 6:32) - "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you."

My life is filled with testimonies of God's goodness and awesome power as I'm sure your life is as well, when you stop and think about it.  That's part of how you increase your faith.

Think how God came through for you in the past.  Write them down if you have to, no matter how small the incident may seem to be.  On a day when you're in a real hurry and God has a parking space waiting for you right in front of your destination, that is just as much of a miracle as a miraculous financial blessing when the times are tough.

When you keep a log of God's blessings in your life, you suddenly realize that He has never let you down.  He may not have come through the way you were expecting but nevertheless He came through.
Sometimes, what seems like a trauma at the time, when you look back at it, was God's way of getting your attention for some divine purpose.  He had been waiting for you.  The problem was that you've been too busy to hear His voice of guidance.

I am reminded of a paragraph in the book, "Elijah Task", which states, "If God has to remove everything in your life that is important to you in order to get your attention and get you where you are supposed to be, He will do it."

The above-mentioned quote is the basis of what this testimony is all about.  The testimony I am about to share with you is part of a larger testimony described in detail in one of the books in my mini-book series, "Guided To the Light."

I've been living in Los Angeles since 1978.  I came out here knowing only a few people.  So I had to pretty much build my career from the ground up.  It's been a slow, methodical climb, building my career in television, film, industrial and educational films, plays and most recently, voice-overs.

I've had a number of survival jobs in between my acting jobs ranging from security, temporary agencies, taxicab and substitute teaching, just to name a few.  Finally, in 1992, I was making enough as an actor to live on residuals and session fees.

Suddenly, from 1995 to the first half of 1997, I had the slowest audition/interview period ever experienced since being in Los Angeles which turned into little to no income from acting.  This began with an unusual series of events.

A new agent I had just signed with at the time was suddenly fired during the reorganization of her agency.  I soon found a second agency.  Shortly afterwards, the owner of that agency decided to close down.  I then remained with one of the second agent's associate agents, who merged with a third agency.  I didn't go out for auditions one time over the next year.  Then the two agents in that agency had a major disagreement and split up.  Since the previous year was so slow, I decided to stay with the third agent.

Three months later, the third agent vanished into thin air without warning.  He was there one day and then "puff", the next day his office was empty with no warning or word as to what happened.

Almost three years had passed during all of these events.  With no acting jobs during this time, before I knew it, the residuals that were previously sustaining me had reduced to insignificant amounts.  Things had gotten so slow that I had to go back to my old survival job of graveyard shift, security work.

During the shift on my security job, the devil immediately attacked my mind with the old "You're a failure" angle or "You're going backwards now, you might as well give up on your crazy goal."
I responded with ministry tapes, gospel audio tapes, bible study, prayer and whatever else I could find or think of to offset the devil's attack.

The graveyard shift was perfect in that there was very little activity during the shift.  I found myself praying and studying the Word more than I ever had before, just to keep a sane mind while warding off the devil's constant mental attack.

"Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you" began to ring in my spirit nightly.  During all that quiet time on each shift, the Lord's quiet voice instilled several revelations in to my spirit.

"If this is what it takes to get quality time from you, the maybe this should be your career choice and not acting."

Around the same time, another dear friend of mine prophesied that the Lord wanted me to rise to a new level in spreading the Word, which was practically non-existent at the time.  She explained that "works" are fine but the Lord wanted me also to spend some quality time talking to Him more.

MY COMMITMENT - God's timing for the prophecy was incredible, as usual.  It was very easy to talk to Him at that time because, once again, bills were starting to add up.  However, unlike earlier in my life, I was doing my best to live by the Word.   I remember that I had a total of $2,500 in creditor deadlines that had to be paid yesterday.  Attempting to relax my mind, I went fishing and talked to God like He was sitting next to me on the riverbank.

MY BLESSING FROM OBEDIENCE -  Later that day, when I got home, I went to the mailbox and there was a residual for $3,000 net in the mailbox.  I almost had an accident on my way to the bank, shouting and praising His name in the car.  The lesson I learned from that experience was "Trust God and have faith!"

"If you are going to be useful to Me in the entertainment industry, then you need to minister to at least one person in every project you're involved in.  It may be to a group or just to one person.  Sometimes you may just need to be that listening ear or sometimes you'll be ministered to by someone else.  I'll determine which form of ministry is needed from project to project.  You must be ready at any time."

I responded, promising to commit and be ready to minister as directed.

MY BLESSING FROM OBEDIENCE - Almost immediately, I was cast in several consecutive "guest starring" roles spanning over the following television season.   The lesson learned here was "the blessing from obedience and seeking God first."  Everyone was asking me what did I do to get all this work?  Get a new agent, new pictures or what?  Whether they liked it or not, the answer was a direct testimony about my commitment to the Lord.  For some people, I could tell my answer was ministering to them.  For others, I could tell they'd wished I had given them a different answer.  Still, the seed was planted and will hopefully take root over time.

"All of our desires are goals based on the talents we each posses.  But that's only the small picture. The big picture is that the various directions our talents take us are designed to make us "spiritual beacons" in our chosen field.  This will allow us to spread His word.  It is when you refuse to become that beacon that God has called you to be, that you have problems succeeding in that field.

COMMITMENT - I have committed that whenever I have a divine assignment or vision from God, I will act on it in a timely manner.  Typing this testimony was a divine assignment because originally all that was written here was clear revelations in my spirit.

MY BLESSING FROM OBEDIENCE - the blessings from being obedient to this revelation continue to this day.   Whenever God wishes to adjust my path or talk to me, everything in my life comes to an abrupt halt.  I have come to learn whenever that happens, God is saying, "we need to talk.  You're getting distracted from the assignment I have given you."

If I am too busy to obey immediately, it is almost as if all the blessings run away from me and brings everything to a halt until I talk to Him and get back to the assignment at hand.  Oh, but praise God, when I am obedient and follow his lead, blessings flow from all directions.

So if you ever come to a point in your life when nothing seems to work right for you or everything seems to be out of sync in your life, it could be that the Lord is calling you to take that step closer to Him.  Or has He given you an assignment that you've been reluctant to act upon?  If either is the case, you're standing in your own way until you allow Him to take complete control of your life in every way.  Go for it!  Let go and let God!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Deliverance From Pornography & Sex Addiction Through the Word of God

Do find yourself drawn to pornography on a daily basis, whether it be internet, magazines or videos? Do you find yourself being aroused more by pornography than your significant other? Do you find yourself visualizing the images you saw in pornography as you are being intimate with your significant other? Finally, is pornography and self-gratification your drug of choice when you are stressed or emotionally upset?

If you answered "yes" to any of the questions above, pornography addiction is a part of your life, man or woman. I know firsthand because I was addicted for 30 years, helplessly caught in a repeating cycle of pornography and excessive sex and/or self-gratification like a pothead who couldn't put down his joint or a drug addict who had to have just one more fix. Pride had me too shame to call out for help or even admit that I had a problem at all.

You see that's where this addiction is the most dangerous - in your secrecy, in your shame, in your denial, in your guilt, in your feeling too unworthy to be used by God, in your stubbornness to admit that you do indeed have a problem in this area. For the longer you stay quiet the stronger the addiction gets and even allows you to justify to yourself that this is just normal behavior. It wasn't until I gave my life to the Lord and sought to live like Christ that I began to see a turn around. Scriptures began to ring in my head (see ) and every sermon on television, in church or on the radio seemed to be talking about the dangerous spirits of lust and what the Word says about them.

That's when I realized that this addiciton was truly spiritual warfare; good vs evil, the "old you" vs. the "new you", the lustful horny you vs. the you who has those lusts under control. I have been delivered from pornography addiciton for 19 years now at the time of the writing of this blog and delivered from self-gratificataion addiciton and sex for over 9 years. Why didn't they happen at the same time, you might ask? Because the devil actually had me believing that self-gratification was very important in a marriage so that it keeps one satisfied and also keeps one from cheating on their spouse. What a lie that was? I was so busy celebrating my victory over pornography addiction that I didn't realize that sex and self-gratification had become my new addiction. It hit me like a ton of bricks one night when I realized that I was not allowing my spouse to arouse me. It was the fantasies in my mind, like the pictures years before with pornography, that was getting me aroused. Then I simply transferred the arousal to my wife.

Sexual fantasy addictions causes you to compare your significant other with your fantasy in a number of ways; by comparing their behavior, their beauty, their sexual skills as well as their willingness to want sex any and everytime you want it. It is these comparisons that are breaking up marriages and long time relationships. Sexual addictions and fantasy effects a man's view of women as a sex object, ready for sex all the time. Women become addicted to the sex toys rather than to her man. Both sexes are effected and destruction is sure to follow if you don't call out the problem and share with someone else about your struggles.

My "cold turkey" deliverance was not clinical, according to several counselors and sex therapists. Normally, sexual addictions take a lot of sessions to help you work through what caused you to choose this addiction early in life. Why do some just pass through these addictions in their teenage years and keep going, while others get trapped for several decades until someone helps to pull them out?

After the Lord delivered me, He specifically instructed me to share my testimony with all those seeking freedom from sexual addictions. And to let you know that you can enjoy life without having to constantly think about sex. If you are married, control over your lust will enhance the love life between you and your spouse. For the first time you will not only be in love with who they are, but aroused by who they are. If you are single, it is a little more difficult because you have to recognize in advance what arouses you and then make sure you never get yourself into a situation past the point of no return. In both cases, for control, the key is keeping your mind occupied with the Word, your goals in life, creative projects, poetry, writing, music, exercise. As the old saying goes, "An idle mind is the devil's workshop." So you have to make sure your mind is not idly sitting around doing nothing but fantasizing about sex. Once you plant that thought in your mind, your body will not stop until you have fulfilled that lustful thought.

Immediatrely after my deliverance, the Lord assigned me to write, "Men Let's Talk: Pornography, the Quiet Addiction",  a book about my testimony in dealing with pornography addiction, followed up by a workbook by the same name, to share scriptures, revelations, scientific facts and statistics on your way to victory over this devastating addiction ( ). It took 4 years to write the book and another year to write the workbook because pride had me feeling to shameful to let anyone know I was struggling in this area.  My latest book at the time of this blog is, "The Victory Over Lust Survival Handbook", which takes surviving temptation a step further by revealing all of the things we have control of in our lives that will either help make us strong facing temptation or make us weaker and give in to temptation.

Since my deliverance, I have come to learn that what is a weakness in the world can be a strength in ministry as I can be used as a tool or beacon light to let others know there is a way out through the Word of God. I am a living example.

Let's talk! Looking forward to your comments. And please, take this topic serious. Many have joked about it not realizing it takes you farther away from your healing,   Not everyone is addicted, but all of us knows at least one person who is struggling in this area. 

God bless! (Prov.3:5-6)

Powerful Scriptures - God's Promises of Victory Over Our Finances

As we face various financial challenges today, our only peace of mind can rest on God promises on how to deal with our finances and our prosperity.

(Ps. 91:1-12) “ He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.  I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, My God, in Him I will trust.’  Surely He shall deliver me from the snare of the fowler and from the perilous pestilence.  He shall cover me with His feathers, and under His wings I shall take refuge; His truth shall be my shield and buckler.  I shall not be afraid of the terror by night, nor of the arrow that flies by day, nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness, nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday.  A thousand may fall at my side, and ten thousand at my right hand; but it shall not come near me.  Only with my eyes shall I look, and see the reward of the wicked….. Because I have made the Lord who is my refuge, even the Most High, my dwelling place, no evil shall befall me, nor shall any plague come near my dwelling; for He shall give His angels charge over me, to keep me in all my ways.  In their hands they shall bear me up.”

(Romans 10:17) “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Ps.1:1-3) “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night.  He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season.  Whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.” (3 John 1:2) “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.”.

(Malachi 3:10) “Bring all the tithes into the store house, that there may be food in My house.  And try Me now in this,” says the Lord, “If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it.” (Luke 6:38)”Give and it will be given to you, pressed down, shaken together and running over will be put into your bosom.  For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”

(2 Cor.9:6-9) “But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and  he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity, for God loves a cheerful giver.  And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every  good work.”

(Gal.6:7,9) “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked, for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.”   I believe that when I sow seed into good ground, I reap an immediate, hundred-fold return, in the name of Jesus. (Hab.2:2-3) …”Write the vision and make it plain on tablet, that he may run who reads it.  For the vision is yet for an appointed time.  But at the end it will speak and it will not lie.  Though it tarries, wait for it; because it will surely come.  It will not tarry.”

(Psalm 35:27) “Let them shout for joy and be glad, who favor my righteous cause; and let them say continually, ‘Let the Lord be magnified, who has pleasure in the prosperity of His servants.”

(Prov. 4:23) “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it flows the issues of life.”  .... (2 Cor. 10:5) ...”casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.”
.. ..(Prov.36:11) “If they obey and serve Him, they shall spend their days in prosperity, and their years in pleasures.  But if they do not obey, they shall perish by the sword, and they shall die without knowledge.” (Ps.25:12-14) “Who is the man that fears the Lord?  Him shall He teach in the way He chooses.  He himself shall dwell in prosperity, and his descendants shall inherit the earth.  The secret of the Lord is with those who fear Him, and He will show them His salvation.”

(Deut.28:1-14) If you obey the Lord your God and faithfully keep all His commands that I am giving you today, He will make you greater than any other nation on earth.   Obey the Lord your God and all these blessings will be yours.  The Lord will bless your towns and your fields.  The Lord will bless you with many children, with abundant crops and with many cattle and sheep.  The Lord will bless your grain crops and the food you prepare from them.   The Lord will bless everything you do.  The Lord will defeat your enemies when they attack you.  They will attack you from one direction but run from you in all directions.  The Lord your God will bless your work and fill your barns with grain.  He will bless you in the land that He is giving you……The Lord your God will make you the leader among the nations and not a follower; you will always prosper and never fail if you obey faithfully all his commandments that I am giving you today.  But you must never disobey them in anyway, or worship and serve any other gods.”

(Phil.4:6) “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made know to God, and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

(2nd Cor. 4:18)  …”while we do not look at the things which are seen but at the things which are not seen.  For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”  (1 Peter 5:7) “I cast all my care on You O Lord for You care for me.”  (Phil 4:19) “You O Lord shall supply all my need according to Your riches in glory through Christ Jesus.”

(Deut. 8:18) “And I shall remember the Lord My God, for it is You who gives me the power to get wealth, that You may establish Your covenant which You swore to my fathers, as it is this day.”  (Phil 4:13) I can do all things through Christ who strengthen me.”  (Eph.3:20) “Now to You, O Lord, who is able to do exceedingly and abundantly above all that we can ask or think according to the power that works in us.”  (1 John 5:14) “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.  And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.” ( Mark 11:23-24) "Have faith in God.  For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, 'Be thou removed and be cast into the sea' and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says.  Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them."

(Prov.18:20) “A man’s stomach shall be satisfied from the fruit of his mouth; from the produce of his lips he shall be filled.  Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”  (Is. 55:11) “So shall My Word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void.  But t shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” (Psalm 103:20), “Bless the Lord, you His angels, who excel in strength, who do His word, heeding the voice of the Lord.”
(1 Tim. 6:17) “ Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy.  Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life."

May the Lord bless the reading of His word.

A Divine Lesson Learned on the Bike Path

Being a fitness enthusiast all my life, since being saved, I have observed that God has taught me a lot of lessons while working out by relating certain fitness challenges to challenges in the spirit or in life. Riding my bike recently, I received a lesson from the Lord on my bike route that led to a revelation that opened my eyes in the spirit.

I bike several times a week, various routes and various distances from 5 miles to 25 miles. On this particular day, I was feeling like a challenge. So I chose one of my longer routes of 25+ miles, which included a 2 mile hill beginning at mile 10. As always, I like to make all of my challenging hills represent a major challenge in life and approach it with the intent of conquering it and the problems it represented. And many times when I conquer a physical challenge, it helps me conquer whatever the problem I face in life during the same time.

As I approached the 2-mile hill, as usual, I told the Lord, “Today this hill represents all of the financial challenges I am facing as of this day.” And up the hill I went. About a fourth of a mile up the hill I was surprised to find that the street was under heavy construction. The pavement had been ripped up for repaving and the traffic lanes were reduced from four down to two. This was a problem because the reduction of traffic lanes meant the cars were passing me on my bike path a little closer than usual. To my left the cars passed frightfully close and on my right the curb was higher than normal because of construction. This gave me no room for error while biking on this quarter mile section of ripped up road. If I drifted to the left I could get hit by a car and if I drifted to the right the curb would cause me to fall off the bike.

At first my thought was to turn around and ride this hill another day, but because I made this hill represent all of the financial challenges being faced that week, I felt a determination that I should not stop. This hill must be defeated this day in order to defeat the life challenges the hill represented. I was praying in the spirit the entire time during that section of road for the Lord to give me strength and focus to make it safely to the paved section approaching up ahead. As long as I focused on my praying and the Lord, I didn’t think about the danger close by. As I did that, the Holy Spirit reminded me that that’s what I need to be doing throughout the current financial challenge, keep my eyes on the Him. The Spirit reminded me of His word, (Phil.4:13) “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Phil 4:19) “My God shall supply all my need according to His riches in glory through Christ Jesus” and (1 Peter 5:7) “ I cast all my care on You, O Lord, because You care for me.” These scriptures could be applied to both the hill I was facing as well as the challenges I was facing.

Before I knew it, I was back on the paved part of the road continuing up the second half of the hill. The lanes widened back to four lanes and the bike path felt safe again. This part of the hill is much steeper than the first half and the only way to not get discouraged and stop is to only look several feet in front of my bike, keeping a steady pace that I knew I could handle, a little bit at a time. The Holy Spirit revealed to me during this time that it is easy to get overwhelmed by problems when you look at them as a whole. However, when you look at them one at a time and deal with them one at a time, you chop the debt monster down in size one limb at a time.

I finally reached the top of the hill successfully, praise God. Now my thoughts were focused on whether or not I should return by going down the hill and dealing with all that traffic chaos and ripped up road or continue on by crossing over the overpass and return on a different road back avoiding that snarled mess completely. I chose the second choice to continue on and go back a different route.

After crossing the overpass towards the other road home, I discovered that a shorter but steeper hill, to my surprise, stood between me and the road home. This second hill wasn’t even half the length of the first hill but still pretty steep. What made it hard was the fact that it was unexpected. I had mentally prepared for the first hill but I had to fight not to get overwhelmed by the unexpected second hill. My body fought against my will trying to get me to get off the bike and walk but to me that wasn’t a choice. This unexpected hill was no different than unexpected problems that pop up in our life by surprise that can so easily discourage us if we don’t keep our eyes on the Lord at all times.

Half way up the second hill, I was exhausted but determined to make it. I had to stop two times, just long enough to catch my breath and keep going. Giving up and walking was not an option. With each push of the bike peddle, I encouraged myself by saying “God.. is.” over and over until I made it to the top, praise God. Finally, the road leveled. After short quarter of a mile of level road, I came to the street that would take me down the hill and on my way home. The test was over, physically, mentally and spiritually.

When I reached home, my feeling of accomplishment in making it over both hills transferred to the confidence of attacking my financial challenges head on and knowing God is with me in defeating the mountain of debt facing me just as He was with me as I called on Him to give me the strength to get over those hills. (Jer.33:3) “Call on Me and I will answer you and show you great and mighty things which you do not know.” (1 Cor.9:8) “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have a abundance for every good work.”

God can give you a word in any environment, if you listen for His voice of wisdom and guidance. (Eph. 3:20) “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly and abundantly above all that we can ask or think, according to the power that works in us.” Since being saved, it has amazed me how many lessons or words He has given me during all of my various workouts. He will take the things you enjoy doing, insert His word like He did during my bike ride, then give you revelation knowledge on how to apply that lesson in your life. All we have to do is trust Him. (1 John 4:4) …”because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” (Prov.3:5-6) “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not to your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path.”

Powerful Scriptures - Spoken by the Son of God

The most powerful scriptures are those spoken by the Son of God Himself!

(John 4:24) “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in sprit and truth.” (John 3:16) “For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 7:37-38) “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.” (John 8:12) “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” (John 8:26-29) “I have many things to say and to judge concerning you, but He who sent Me is true; and I speak to the world those things which I heard from Him…. When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and that I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me. I speak these things. And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him.”

(Matt. 5:3-11, 16) “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”

(Mark 11:23-24) “Have faith in God. For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. Therefore, I say to you, whatever things you ask for when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.” (Matt. 17:20) “If you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.” (Mark 10:27) “With men it is impossible, but not with God, with God all things are possible.”

Matt. 18:18-20, 19:26) “Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.”

(John 8:31-32) “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.” (John 10:9-10) “I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief does not come except to steal, kill and destroy. I have come that they may have life and have it more abundantly.” (John 13:34-35) “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 14:21) “ He who has My commandment and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will he be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.”

(John 14:12-13) “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. And whatever you as in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.” (John 15:7) “If you abide in Me and My words abide in you, then you shall ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.” (Luke 10:19) “Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.”

(John 14:25) “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.”

(Matt. 5:17, 19) “”Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets, I did not come to destroy but to fulfill…. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least to the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”

(Matt. 6:25-34)”Therefore, I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; and yet, I say to you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you? O you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear? For all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”

(Matt. 7:7-8) “Ask and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” (Luke 6:38) “Give and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.” (Matt. 5:42) “Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.”

(Matt.5:27-30) “You have heard that is was said of those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you, that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you, for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you, for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.”

(Matt. 26:41) “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matt. 6:9-13,14-15,19-20, ) “In this manner, therefore pray; Our Father, which are in heaven, hallowed be Your name, Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen” (Matt. 6:14-15) “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

(Matt. 16-20) “Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moths nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where you treasure is, there your heart will be also.

(Luke 21:34-36) “But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly; for it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the earth. Watch, therefore and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass and to stand before the Son of Man.” (Matt. 24:36-42) “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. Then two men will be in the field, one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and the other left. Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming.” (Mark13:24-25) “But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars of heaven will fall, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. And the He will send His angels and gather together His elect from the four winds, from the farthest part of earth to the farthest part of heaven.”

(John 16:33) “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulations; but be of good cheer. I have overcome the world.”

(Matt 28:18-20) “All authority has been given Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

May the Lord bless the reading of His Word. Amen

HARD TIMES - a test, an attack, reaping or stubbornness?

When we go through hard times, unless you take the time to think about it, you really don't know if the reason you are going through hard times is a test, an attack, reaping from some negative seed sown in the past or stubbornness towards a God-given assignment.

A TEST? - (Job 1:1, 6-12, 23:10-11, 42:12) "There was a man named Job living in the land of Uz who worshipped God and was faithful to him. He was a good man, careful not to do anything evil… When that day came for the heavenly beings to appear before the Lord, Satan was there among them. The Lord asked him, ‘What have you been doing?’ Satan answered, ‘I have been walking here and there, roaming around the earth.’ ‘Did you notice my servant, Job?’ the Lord asked. ‘There is no one on earth as faithful and good as he is. He worships me and is careful not to do anything evil.’ Satan replied, ‘Would Job worship you if he got nothing out of it? You have always protected him and his family and everything he owns. You bless everything he does, and you have given him enough cattle to fill the whole country. But now suppose you take away everything he has – he will curse you to your face!’ ‘All right,’ the Lord said to Satan, ‘everything he has is in your power, but you must not hurt Job himself.’ So Satan left… God knows every step I take; if he tests me, he will find me pure. I follow faithfully the road he chooses, and never wander to either side… The Lord blessed the last part of Job’s life even more than he had blessed the first."

Those who feel they are doing everything right in terms of following the Lord's will are many times confused and caught off guard because their hard times is simply the Lord testing their faith and their walk to see if they will stay strong in the Lord. Is your faith as strong when it seems that the Lord has abandoned you? Christians who truly seek to live by the Word know that no matter what the source of the hard times, they hold on to God’s word and His promises. (2nd Cor. 4:18) “For we fix our attention, not on things that are seen, but on things that are unseen. What can be seen lasts only for a time, but what cannot be seen lasts forever.”

AN ATTACK? (Matt. 12:43-45) "When an evil spirit goes out of a person, it travels over dry country looking for a place to rest. If it can't find one, it says to itself, ' I will go back to my house.' So it goes back and finds the house empty, clean and all fixed up. Then it goes out and brings along seven other spirits even worse than itself, and they come and live there. So when it is all over, that person is in worse shape than he was at the beginning."

Is a demonic attack the source of your hard times? If you are not living in the will of God, then you are subject to attacks at any time. And since you don’t know the Lord, demonic forces can work through you to cause pain and anguish to yourself and others. Many of those times, you don’t even know it’s a spirit working in you until others identify your behavior as “not acting like yourself.” You find yourself with extreme mood swings, always depressed, self-destructive, hateful and angry along with a myriad of other negative emotions that suck the joy and motivation out of your life. If you don’t know what’s happening to you in this case, you don’t what do fight. If you don’t know the Word, you don’t know that you have power over the spirits behind these negative emotions. You need only to speak and believe the Word of God. (Luke 10:19) “ I have given you authority so that you can walk on snakes and scorpions and overcome all the power of the Enemy, and nothing will hurt you.” (James 4:7-8, 10) “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you…. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord and He will lift you up.”

REAPING? (Gal. 6:7-9) “Do not deceive yourselves; no one makes a fool of God. A person will reap exactly what he plants. If he plants in the field of his natural desires, from it he will gather the harvest of death; if he plants in the field of the Spirit, from the Spirit he will gather the harvest of eternal life. So let us not become tired of doing good; for if we do not give up, the time will come when we will reap the harvest. So then, as often as we have the chance, we should do good to everyone, and especially to those who belong to our family in the faith.“

Your hard times could be happening because you are reaping what you have sown earlier in your life. If you have made it your life’s duty to make other people’s lives miserable, treat them poorly for no reason at all, insult, disrespect and/or abuse others physically or emotionally, those are the seeds you have sown. In due season, unbeknownst to you, you will reap the harvest of those negative seeds which in turn will come back on you. (Gal. 6:7-8) Do not deceive yourselves; no one makes a fool of God. A person will reap exactly what he plants. If he plants in the field of his natural desires, from it he will gather the harvest of death; if he plants in the field of the Spirit, from the Spirit he will gather the harvest of eternal life.”

STUBBORNNESS? - (Jonah 1:1-4,10-12,15-17, 2:1,10) "One day the Lord spoke to Jonah son of Amittai. He said, 'Go to Nineveh, that great city, and speak out against it; I am aware of how wicked its people are.' Jonah, however, set out in the opposite direction in order to get away from the Lord. He went to Joppa, where he found a ship about to go to Spain. He paid his fare and went aboard with the crew to sail to Spain, where he would be away from the Lord. But the Lord sent a strong wind on the sea, and the storm was so violent that the ship was in danger of breaking up.... Jonah went on to tell them that he was running away from the Lord. The sailors were terrified, and said to him, ' That was an awful thing to do... What should we do to you to stop the storm?" Jonah answered, ' Throw me into the sea and it will calm down. I know it is my fault that you are caught in this violent storm...." Then they picked Jonah up and threw him into the sea, and it calmed down at once. This made the sailors so afraid of the Lord that they offered a sacrifice and promised to serve Him. At the Lord's command a large fish swallowed Jonah, and he was inside the fish for three days and three nights... From deep inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God.... Then the Lord ordered the fish to spit Jonah up on the beach and it did."

Are your hard times based on stubbornness or disobedience towards a divine assignment which you have been given but have not acted on? Whether or not you feel you’re the right person for the job or not, once God has given you the assignment, your reluctance, stubbornness or disobedience blocks God’s blessing in your life. Many times it is when you feel you are not right for the job that allows God to show up in your life to the point where everyone around you says, “God is good.”

God doesn’t punish you for not being obedient. But when you step out of God’s will for your life, its like putting up an umbrella that blocks his blessings which are continuously raining down on those who are obedient.  Without the presence of his blessings, it seems that hard times abound until you get back in line with His will for your life. Living in God’s will is like riding on a smooth 5-lane freeway with occasional traffic while being out of His will is like riding on a bumpy dirt road with unexpected axle-breaking pot holes and every other kind of obstacle that can interfere with your journey.

Usually, if this is the case, you know in your heart that you are not doing something that God told you to do. The harder things go, the more that still quiet voice reminds you about what it is you have not done for the Lord. Once you realize that everyone is placed on this earth to advance His kingdom, you will quickly be able to priorities the things in your life and identify those things that have nothing to do with God or His kingdom. Your calling, whether you have discovered it or not yet, is how God will use your gift to advance His kingdom. This realization will help the Holy Ghost enable to see your true purpose in this life beyond acquiring personal things.  God knows the desires of your heart. It is nothing for him to give those things to you with no trouble at all. That’s why His word says, (Matt. 6:33) “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you.”

So if you struggling with hard times, seemingly with no hope in sight, first take the time to analyze what you feel may be the source. When you reflect on your past and even ask the Lord to reveal to you why you are going through this struggle, I assure you, one of these four reasons or a combination of them will be your answer. When you get your answer, also remember He put us here to advance His kingdom. Some of us are more willing than others. Some of are hard-headed and need several lessons. And some of us never get it. But He’s not going to let us down unless we choose to go down the road to darkness and death.

Look at your struggle as iron sharpening iron. Or think about how much pressure is placed on a lump of coal that ends up being a priceless diamond. You are that diamond. You may already be at your diamond level or you may currently be that lump of coal under intense pressure. Just know you have value in the kingdom and soon you will realize that many of the struggles we face is the devil’s attempt to pull you away from God so that you never fulfill your divine destiny. Hold on to God’s promises.

(Gal. 6:9) “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” (Rom. 8:28) “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” (Phil. 1:6) …”being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (Phil. 4:13) “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Phil. 4:19) “My God shall supply all my need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” (1 Peter 5:7) ..”casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” (2nd Cor. 5:7) “For we walk by faith, not by sight.”

Stay strong in the Lord.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Keeping Your Marriage Strong

At the time of this writing, I have been happily married for going on 18 years. Yet from day one, friends of my wife were practically betting that I’d be cheating on her as early as after two-three years of marriage. Of course, all of the negative predictions were coming from single women who had been messed over by a man. But I took offense at the confidence by which they were so sure I would fall victim to adultery like their male counterparts.

As angry as I was about them projecting negativity into my marriage, statistically I could understand where their negativity came from. The divorce rate in the church is almost the same as the divorce rate in the world, 50%. So how can you keep your marriage fresh and remain true to each other? This blog is one Christian’s answer to that question.

First of all, as a Christian, you cannot keep God out of the equation. He must be the center of the relationship, the life boat you each hang on to as the years go by and both of you change, especially physically. “God is the same yesterday, today and forevermore.” Therefore keeping Him first in your relationship is of the utmost importance. Next, nothing, and I mean “nothing” is worth more than the trust developed between two people in a relationship. It takes time to earn trust in each other. It is as precious a rare diamond. It is when you feel totally secure with each other and trust each other 100% that you know you are marrying the right person.

Don’t justify or rationalize trust, saying things like, “I’ll trust them soon enough. We’ll go on and get married.” If there is any inkling of a feeling that you are about to marry the wrong person, put your pride aside and get marriage counseling right away. In counseling you find out if the two of you are really right for each other by being asked questions by someone who is objective.

When you are with the right person, when you are together, you each seem to make the other a better person. You each have a weakness and sometimes together you have no weaknesses when united as one.
Now to the matter at hand, now that we’ve reviewed how do you know when you are marrying the right person. How do you keep your marriage strong?

If you are a Christian, the answer is in the Word itself;
(Prov.5:3-6) “The lips of an immoral woman are as sweet as honey, and her mouth is smoother than oil. But the result is as bitter as poison, sharp as a double-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps lead straight to the grave. For she does not care about the path to life. She staggers down a crooked trail and doesn’t even realize where it leads.”

(Prov.5:15-23) “Drink water from your own well – share your love only with your wife. Why spill the water of your springs in public, having sex with just anyone? You should reserve it for yourselves. Don’t share it with strangers. Let your wife be a fountain of blessing for you. Rejoice in the wife of your youth. She is a loving doe, a graceful deer. Let her breasts satisfy you always. May you always be captivated by her love. Why be captivated, my son, with an immoral woman, or embrace the breasts of an adulterous woman? For the Lord sees clearly what a man does, examining every path he takes. An evil man is held captive by his own sins; they are ropes that catch and hold him. He will die for lack of self-control; he will be lost because of his incredible folly.”

So if the Word so clearly speaks about the importance of being true to your marriage, why do the statistics regarding divorce with Christians match the world? Simply, by taking your eye of the will of God and His word for your life and marriage. It is that simple. Being a Chrisian is more than just a word. It takes work. In fact, once you become a devout Christian, truly seeking to live by His Word, you become even a bigger target than before you were saved.

In today’s media, sexual suggestions have infiltrated the billboards, magazines, music videos, cable TV, the internet, ipod capabilities to download pornography and even network television try to keep up with cable television. Lust of the flesh is being forced into our faces everywhere we look. It is painfully obvious that it is in our hands to figure out how to survive the sexual attack.

First of all, you must be accountable for taking responsibility of your actions and not exposing yourself to images, talk, friends, environments, magazine, movies, websites and TV shows that plant a seed of arousal in your spirit which manifests in your body. A couple’s true love for each other is more than enough of an aphrodisiac when it is not tainted by external images and suggestions. Once you give in to the external influences, you are being aroused by a fantasy and not your spouse which cheats the intimacy of the relationship.

Dedicating yourself to your spouse 100% allows you to understand exactly what becoming “one” is all about when your spouse is your love and best friend. Many times best friends and kids are given the wrong priority which ends up destroying the marriage. The divine order is God, spouse, kids, parents, friends. Any other order and you’re asking for trouble, i.e. gay marriages, single mothers who say they don’t need a man. Is it no wonder the world of happy relationships is under attack?

Of course, this article is not addressing violent, abusive relationships. Those are relationships that should not have happened in the first place without serious counseling.

What couples do have in their control as the years go by to keep the marriage strong is to remember what created the fire in the relationship in the first place. So many marriages seem to feel that once you’re married, “I got ya!” There’s no need to do any of that seductive stuff anymore. I beg to differ. Remembering why you fell in love in the first place is what reminds you of why you fell in love with each other so that when you look into each other’s eyes 10-20 years later, you still see the person you fell in love with.

Marriage is work, that’s not joke. But with God at the head and keeping each other number one in your life here on earth, you will fight to keep that fire going so that no one night stand destroys what it took years to build – trust. Once that betrayal has taken place, it takes a long, long time to rebuild it, if ever. So you’re really left with one question. Is it really worth it to throw all that away?

God’s Healing Through Obedience

Text: (Matthew 5:16) “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”

It has always amazed me how God will many times set up your testimony such that when you describe what happened in a particular situation, your only answer is your testimony giving Him all the glory.
This testimony deals with the area of divine healing. We have all probably witnessed healing services across the country, live or on television, but when you personally experience divine healing, it takes that experience to another level.

My introduction to this testimony is kind of embarrassing and that embarrassment almost prevented me from sharing this testimony with you.Then who knows how many people would not have been blessed.
In one of my other testimonies, GOD WILL GET YOUR ATTENTION, I described a period of time in my life where my “Jonah experience” was a graveyard shift security job at an inactive guard house where the only activity was God’s revelation to me as to why I was there; to get my priorities straight.

One night, while reading THE ELIJAH TASK and the chapter on spiritual warfare, seemingly out of nowhere the biggest bug I have ever seen in my life dropped on the pages I was reading. This huge moth/butterfly/catapillar was the size of the palm of my hand (about 3 inches long with a closed wing span of about 4 inches).

Needless to say, when you’re half sleep and trying your best to stay focused reading something at four in the morning, when a bug that size pops up in front of you, you experience quite an adrenaline rush, as I did that night.

I stood up and backed away quickly, pushing the roll-away chair out of my way, all in one move, while keeping my eyes on this monstrosity the entire time. As I stepped off the small rug that was under my chair on to the concrete tile, both feet left the ground. I was totally helpless a small 270 pounds landed squarely on my tail bone.

I felt my entire skeletal structure rattle and was almsot certain thatsomething must be broken. I laid there for who knows how long trying toanalyze how bad was I hurt. Finally, more angry than hurt, I pulledmyself to my feet and noticed that the prehistoric bug had elevated toabout 20 feet in the 25 foot picture window.
“Oh no, you’re not getting away with this one.!” I mumbled partly to myself and the bug as well.
I quickly went into a small closet and a few seconds later, came out with everything I could carry that would make a great projectile. However, the bug was nowhere to be found. There was no way a bug that size could descend in a matter seconds and fly out the cracked front door without me seeing it.
I told my relief about the bug at the end of my shift but it was never seen again. Now, of course, I’ve been asking myself ever since, was all of that with the bug a dream, a hallucination or a visitation in the spirit. I definitely don’t think it was a coincidence that it landed while I was reading about spiritual warfare.

Anyway, about four months later, I began to feel a dull ache in my lower back. I didn’t think much of it at first until the pain began to increase steadily over the next month and a half. Soon the pain reached a point to where it felt like I was walking around with a steak knife stuck in my back with numbness going down my left leg.

My Motrin dosages which began at 200 mg per dose had increased to 800 mg per dose with very little relief. I finally went to the doctor and found that it was a sciatic nerve problem.
You may ask why it took so long to get to the doctor. A problem many of us fitness fanatics have is that we hate to admit that, with all of our fitness prowess, there still comes a time when we need to see a doctor. Well, I was definitely humbled that day. My doctor scheduled me to see a specialist over the next six weeks or so.

Two weeks away, however, was our church picnic where I was to minister in music with my flugle horn. Even that thought was painful because when you play a brass instrument, you are blowing againsts resistance in the horn which also puts pressure against the lower back. Plus, I would be standing on my feet for at least 20 minutes or more. Still, I was determined that nothing was going to keep me from my picnic performance.
At this time, the only standing I was doing was getting up to walk to the next place where I was going to sit or lie down. The two weeks passed quickly and soon came the day of the picnic and my time to go onstage. I had taken my recent dosage of Motrin. Then my wife and I prayed and she laid hands on me and up I went to perform.

The 20 minutes went by quickly and pain-free, praise God. I was really grateful that I made it through it all. The next morning I awoke, prepared to take that long walk into the kitchen to take my next dose of Motrin. However, on the way to the kitchen I didn’t feel any of the throbbing pain and numbness in the leg. Feeling it was only because the last dose had not yet worn off, I took one tablet just to be sure.

Six hours later, I realized that the pain actually be completely gone. My belief was validated when I skipped a dose and found that the pain and discomfort was indeed a thing of the past, praise God, and has never returned. Since the time, several years ago, I have come across several people with sciatic nerve pains who asked me what did I do to finally free myself of the constant irritating pain. And look at God, my only answer could be, “Well, I had a divine healing. I performed at my church picnic and the pain was gone the next day.”
The response I get to my healing testimony varies according to each person. Some feel they should look into their relationship with God while others walk away wishing I would have said I had had back surgery or something.

I look at my determination to perform in the church picnic that year to be my version of “if I could just touch the hem of His garment, I know I’ll be healed.” Even though I wasn’t expecting a divine healing, I knew that God had given me an assignment that I was to minister in music at the picnic that day. I was determined to carry out that assignment.

My lesson here was “there is healing power through your act of obedience”. Though the are many causes for various physical ailments, how much of our diseases or dis-ease is manifested from our disobedience with God? Only you know the answer to that question but it is something worth looking into.

In looking back at my encounter with the prehistoric bug, that bug represented all of the distractions we have in life that pull our focus from the Lord. When that happens, we fall. But if we get back up and refocus on the Lord, we find Him there waiting for us with open arms ready to soothe and heal our wounds. As the songs says, “We fall down but we get up. For a saint is just a sinner who fell down and got up.”

May the Lords healing power and blessing be upon you this day.