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Evangelist, Baptist, Husband, Father, Mid-30's.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Holy-Days

In Responce to On-Faith's question, Why are many holiday family gatherings marked by tension and unhappiness?


I've spent Thanksgiving apart from my family in England, France, Sicily, the Middle East, and now, the East Coast. I've eaten all sorts of things for Thanksgiving dinner, in Palermo I ordered camel, in Paris, the closest they could get to turkey was squab, and we just decided to drink Thanksgiving Dinner in England, after all, it was a four-day weekend. I've been served Thanksgiving dinner by Muslims, eaten it with atheists, Buddhists, and Christians, had it brought to me in a Styrofoam box as I rewired the countermeasures set on an F-15. Probably my worst memory is the pumpkin pie in Qatar, it was so processed and old that my plastic fork shattered in the process of trying to eat it. But I was thankful that I had people to care about, and people that cared about me in each place.

It puts a whole new perspective on things when the most you have to worry about is if everyone is pulling their own weight in getting the meal ready. We should ask ourselves, "What did Jesus do?"

Lets go see, the date is AD 28, the town is Bethany. Jesus and his disciples are welcomed into the home of His good friend, Lazarus, and his two sisters, Mary and Martha. Martha is busy with serving, and is visibly upset that Mary is content to sit and hear the amazing teachings of Jesus. Martha consults Jesus, she reprimands Jesus, "Do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone! Tell her to help me!"

But Jesus answered, "Martha, you are anxious and troubled by many things, when only one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen this thing, and it shall not be taken away from her."

The greatest Commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind, and love your neighbor as yourself. If you do this, everything else will follow. The next time we see Mary and Martha, in AD 30, they both have jobs to do and are content with their roles, and the result is much rejoicing at dinner.

Now, of course, this rejoicing may have been spurred on by the fact that they now knew that death had lost its sting, that the Messiah had come and would indeed take away the sins of the world.

How many of us are guilty of placing the creation above the Creator? Martha sought to please her guests by her own doing, by serving an impeccable meal, which was sure to impress everyone. When it wasn't going the way she expected, she got angry, and the meal was almost ruined. But Mary was content to trust in God, not to strive to please men, but only to please God, and she was rewarded for this.

How many of us are guilty of wanting just a little more? When God gives us enough, we want just a little more? How many of us have come to this Thanksgiving and wish we could have afforded that new car this year, or are disgusted that we couldn't buy an X-Box because gas prices drained our wallets? What an insult it must be to God, who has given us life, knowledge, breath, love, food, and this beautiful country, that we would say it's not enough, could I have just a little more?

We've succumbed to the fallacy of equality, that I am at least as good as everyone else and therefore I deserve to be happy, to have a new car, and to have an X-Box. Martha was working hard and believed that it was only fair that if she was working hard, Mary should be working hard. After all, she set herself up as the measurement of how much ought to be being done.

But just how good are we? The Bible says "there is none good," then in order to drive the point home, it finishes the sentence, "no, not one." How much do we deserve? Job tells us, "Know that God exacts of you less than your guilt deserves." What guilt? I don't have any guilt...or do I?

Have you ever taken God's name in vain? The Bible is clear that God will not hold him guiltless that takes His name in vain.

Have you ever committed adultery? Jesus said, "Whosoever looks upon a woman to lust after her has committed adultery already with her in his heart." The Old Covenant punishment for adultery was instant death, today you get a few more years before the wages of sin are exacted upon you.

The truth is, we're all going to die someday, just like a criminal waiting to see the judge, we are in a holding cell. On this beautiful Thanksgiving we should be grateful that our holding cell is so huge and has such a beautiful blue ceiling and wonderful fresh air, but be assured of this, Alcatraz and San Quentin have nothing on this holding cell, because no one has escaped yet.

When you stand before the just Judge of all the Universe, how will you plead? The book of your conscience has recorded every thought, word, and deed, and it will be opened by your prosecutor. Deeds done in darkness will be brought to the light; every idle word will require an account.

Your guilt is assured, the evidence is overwhelming. What will you say? I have done good deeds? Good deeds do not commute sentences on earth, and they will not help in front of the Great White Throne in Heaven, at best the Judge will ignore this insult, at worst He will multiply your sentence for trying to bribe Him.

Will you repent and ask for forgiveness? To what avail? The Judge will say that your repentance is good, you should be sorry, you've done terribly wicked things to the detriment of all of humanity and creation, but the punishment requires payment. The Judge reads your sentence:

"But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the fornicators, the adulterers, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death."

This punishment is almost assured, but here is the Good News, the eternal reason to be thankful. Two thousand years ago, Jesus Christ, God manifest in the flesh, was born of the Spirit through the virgin Mary. He lived a perfect sinless life, He was tempted but He didn't succumb, He was perfect in every way. Love hath no greater man than this, that he would lay down his life for his brethren. Not that you loved Him, but that He loved you, Jesus Christ willingly gave Himself up to be crucified in your stead. Your fine was amassed, Hell awaited, but Christ stepped in and took your lashes, and died in your place so that you can be absolved.

Now the Judge can look at you and say, it is good that you have repented, and because your fine is paid, you are free to go.

Today as we remember what we are thankful for, I am thankful that I didn't get justice, because justice is what I deserved. I am thankful that I received mercy, because mercy is not getting what I deserved. But I am the most thankful for grace, that I get what I don't deserve, that being the righteousness of Christ attributed to my sake, so that when God looks at me, He no longer sees an enemy, but an adopted child.

Mary and Martha were rejoicing that death had been defeated, Jesus Christ first showed that this was possible by raising their brother Lazarus, but made it permanent by raising Himself on the third day, He defeated death and will live forevermore, and so will we if we will approach the throne of grace in humility, and repentance, and absolute trust.

On this beautiful Thanksgiving, I ask that you don't let another day go by without being reconciled to your Creator. He has provided the means, please reach out and receive this gift which was purchased at such a price. I cannot promise you that after you are born into the family of God, that you encounter prosperity or persecution, but I will bet that your Thanksgivings and Christmas' take on a whole new meaning after you do.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Letter to a Pagan Nation

To the godless, the heathens, and the willfully ignorant,

God will ultimately do the judging, not me. But I am the watchman, calling out that the sword is coming, that God is going to be judging you in righteousness, either on the day of your death, or when He returns.

He has given me the keys to the kingdom, the authority to say who is going to Heaven and Hell.

If you are a good person, then rest assured, you will go to Heaven. That is why it is so imperative that you are a good person.

God is going to judge you against perfection, against Himself.

He demands that you have at your core the love of Him and righteousness. But Paul tells us that none seeks after God.

Combined within having Him at your core, He forbids making up a god to suit yourself. This god can be money, science, or yourself, but it can also be making up a god that looks like God, but one that won't judge you based on these criteria of righteousness, or send someone to Hell.

The Bible tells us in several places that God's name is above every other name, it is the only name that is blessed forever. God will not hold him guiltless that takes His name in vain. Consider that no-one ever says, "Allah Damnit!" Or screams out "Sidartha Buddha" when they hit their thumb with a hammer. The reason being, these names are already cursed, and you cursing them doesn't matter. But we declare our hatred of God that we try to drag His name into the mud by using it in place of a four-letter filth word.

Paul warns us about loving the creation more than the Creator. God asks for one day out of our week to remember Him, are you giving Him that one day, or just a portion of it? He is asking for less than 15% of your week, and most people won't even give Him that. Consider that God executed Ananias and Sapphira for withholding this portion of their lives from Him after they said they had given all.

The Fifth Commandment demands that we obey our parents (contained in this is that they are commanded to obey the other nine Commandments), and by dishonoring God, we dishonor our creator and our parents.

God considers all life precious, and He says, "Thou Shalt Not Murder." Most of us (not me) have not removed the gift of life from someone. But consider this, that 1 John 3:15 says that if you hate someone without cause, then God considers you a murderer at heart. He is going to judge the intentions of the heart, and not just the actions.

You have heard it said of old, "Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery." But Jesus says to you, "Whosoever looks upon a person to lust after them, has committed adultery with them already in their heart."

At what value does petty larceny turn into grand-theft? What have you stolen, maybe a song on the internet? A toy from a sibling? Time from your employer? Or air from God?

Did you know that the Bible says that all liars will have their place in the lake of fire? How many lies, and I'm not talking about discretion here, do you need to tell to be a liar? I only needed to murder one person to be deemed eternally a murderer. (I'm covered from man's laws by the Geneva Convention and that the non-combatants were in the wrong place at the wrong time as they tried to be a human shield for some Al-Qaeda leaders, but not from God's Law) A person only needs to rape one girl to forever be called a rapist. One lie makes you a liar, and lying lips are an abomination to the Lord. Out of the mouth, the heart professes.

In light of the criteria above, do you think God owes you anything? When you covet things, whether they be happiness, money, people, or possessions, you are telling God that what He has given you is not enough.

These are God's standards of judgment; consider yourself warned. The cup of His wrath abides on you, all that is keeping you safe is His patience and offer for reprieve. But this patience will not last forever, on that day your life on this earth will be snuffed out, and you will stand before the Judgment Seat of God. You will stand naked before God, your shame exposed, the book of your conscience opened. What will you say? I wasn't warned? You have been, and I'll bet this letter is not the first time.

Jesus Christ described Hell in more detail than Heaven. It is a place of eternal torment, where the fire is never quenched and the worm dieth not. There is wailing and gnashing of teeth! The fire is unique to Hell, because even though it burns hot enough to melt sulfur, it is not a consuming fire, it is specially formulated to inflict pain. This fire also does not give off light, because Hell is a place of infinite darkness. This is telling, because God is light, and if Hell is totally dark, then God is NOT there, you will forever be separated from all of the graces of God, including love, joy, peace, and comfort. The Bible says God is the foundation we stand on, but because He is not in Hell, the person in Hell will forever feel the sense of falling, like that gut feeling you have when you miss a stair in the dark, you will forever have this sensation. God holds you in His hand like a spider suspended over the fire. In every way you disgust Him and like a spider biting at the hand, so is your transgressions tempting God to tip you, at this moment, into the fire.

But God is patient, that the gavel of your eternity has not fallen means there is still time to get right with Him. But here is even more bad news. You cannot bribe God. Let me take you to an earthly courtroom, where there are ten clear evidences of your guilt, and the punishment is execution. Try telling the judge that you have done heaps of good in your life, you've given to charity, never killed anyone, been physically faithful to your spouse, you've prayed daily, and always try to be nice to people. These are all nice things, but they are irrelevant to your guilt and the sentence that is due. You are trying to put a fresh bandage on a gaping wound, and blood and the puss of sin soils your works.

But here is love, not that you loved God, but that He loved you, He gave His Son to be the payment for your fine. You angered God and earned the sentence of eternal torment, which only by the pleasure of God has not yet been carried out on you.

Jesus Christ, one of the eternal Persons of the Trinity, God manifest in the flesh, came to this world born of the Spirit through the virgin Mary. He lived a perfect life, submissive to His Father in every way. He was tempted in every way possible way by the father of lies, but He didn't succumb. He was the only man ever to live that deserved Heaven, but in order to glorify His Father and save you from the wrath you had amassed, Jesus Christ willingly gave Himself up to pay your fine. He took the wrath of His Father and was beaten in the most heinous of ways, men died from lesser beatings than the one Christ took. Then He was hung on the cross at Calvary. He didn't only shoulder your sin, but the Bible says that He who knew no sin was made sin for you. God gazed down on His most precious Son and saw only filth, refuse, and malice. Our entire sin; past, present, and future, went to the cross and was crucified in Jesus Christ. The Bible tells us that He was forsaken by His Father, the eternal Trinity was rent in twain and when Christ was separated from the Father, your sin was separated from the Father.

You can be forgiven, because your fine has been satisfied. Jesus Christ's first words to the world were, "Repent and Trust!" This is precisely what you need to do, you must turn from your sins, call out to God for forgiveness, and place your faith in Jesus Christ to save you from the wrath you so rightly deserve. You will be forgiven, not because of anything you have done, but because Christ did all of the work and your debt is stamped, "Paid in Full."

If that wasn't good enough news, on the third day Christ rose from the grave and defeated death. Death has lost its sting; to be absent with the body is now to be present with the Lord.

I have no ulterior motive other than to see you saved and God glorified. I don't care if the United States survives past 2010, whether it is a Christian nation or a pagan commonwealth of the European Union. I would be out of a job, but I don't care, I do not seek to please men but only to glorify God. What glorifies God is you calling out to Him to save you, and Him being exalted for His goodness and kindness and patience and saving you and me despite our complete depravity and hatred of Him.

Consider this forgiveness long and hard, repent and trust in the Saviour right now. As I pointed out, every transgression tips his hand closer to the fire, we are stealing air from Him, and His patience could run out at any moment. 150,000 people die every day, and 149,000 of them thought they would see tomorrow.

A minister of the Most High God,
Canyon Shearer

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Open Air Gospel Sermon - Short

Good for Street Corners
Appoximate Delivery Time - 90-120 Seconds

Excuse me everyone! If I could have your attention for just a moment!

We’re all going to stand before God someday, and because I care about you, I want to make sure you’re ready for that day. Most people would say they’re a good person, but they’re comparing themselves to other people, when they need to compare themselves to God, to perfection. Let's see how you look in God's eyes.

If you’ve ever taken God’s name in vain, then God sees you as a blasphemer, and this you know, that no blasphemer will see the kingdom of God.

If you’ve ever told a lie, then God sees you as a liar, and all liars will have their place in the lake of fire!

If you’ve ever stolen anything, then God sees you as a thief. If you’ve ever hated anyone, then God sees you as a murderer. If you’ve ever looked at someone that wasn’t your spouse with lust, then God sees you as an adulterer.

Your conscience bears witness to your transgession, it has recorded every time you haven’t obeyed your parents, every time you have coveted something, every time you knew something wasn’t right and did it anyways, and every time you could have stopped something bad from happening and didn’t.

The wages of sin is death, we have amassed the punishment of Hell, all that stands between us and everlasting torment is the day of our death, it is appointed once for a man to die, and then the judgment.

But God doesn’t want you to go to Hell. He gave us His only begotten Son, so that whosoever trusts in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life. Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, gave Himself up to die in your place on the cross. He took your punishment so that you can be absolved on Judgment Day, then He rose from the grave and defeated our greatest enemy, death.

Repent of your sins and turn towards the Saviour, and you will see Heaven, not because you’re a good person, but because you’re a bad person forgiven by a good God.

Please think about this, don't let another day go by without calling out to God for forgiveness.

Thank you for listening, have a nice day.