Thursday, April 19, 2007

Atheism at Its Worst

Atheism at Its Worst

I Peter 2:20 tells us "…but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God"

Christianity has always been under fire from the world and Satan. Being a Christian associates us with Jesus Christ. Jesus warned us that the world would hate us because it first hated him. His message, even the gospel that we are to deliver to the world, offends the sinner. It does not coddle. It is not politically correct. It stirs up the soul as only the God who created that soul can. Since we are Christ's ambassadors and the bearers of God's message, it should come as no surprise to us then that the world hates us.

Not too many years ago, I listened to a self-professed atheist on television say that Christians had no social value; that we did not contribute positively to society. This was most disturbing to me. It is one thing to be hated by the world for who we are and the message we preach, but to be unfairly and unjustly accused of being social slackers is quite egregious.

Even an elementary review of history will reveal that where immorality, poverty and political injustice reared their ugly heads, Christianity was the first to stand up to wage war against it. More charities have been established under the banner of Christianity than all others combined.

No one showed more compassion to the downtrodden and poor than the Lord Jesus himself. When the worldly publicans and sects turned their noses on the so-called lower class, Jesus sat and communed with them. He fed them and met their needs. His instructions to those who would stand in his stead after his ascension included the admonishment to show compassion to those in need and to be socially responsible. One need only read what we call the beatitudes to understand this.

Throughout the ages, his disciples have kept this charge. Multitudes of Christians have faithfully helped the downtrodden behind the scenes in their respective communities, while some have been used publicly by the Lord to positively impact in greater ways. For example, William Wilberforce, who fought vehemently against slavery in the 18th century; and George Mueller, who established orphanages in England to help the children that society rejected.

The people who name Christ as their Lord and Savior have not only contributed to society, but often have taken the lead and stood alone to fight for social justice and equality. They view each individual, regardless of any social factors, as being precious to the Lord Jesus Christ and therefore of great worth.

Conversely, where atheism rules a nation and God is disallowed, injustice and human atrocities occur. In a godless environment indignities are perpetrated upon the lower class and they are kept in a downtrodden state. Ungodliness prevails in societies governed by godless people, because there is no fear of a Holy God.

That an atheist would try to portray society-minded Christians in such a bad light is simply outrageous. It only shows how very dark her world is without God. That notwithstanding, we are told that to be acceptable with God, we are to suffer patiently when our well-doing is called into question.

Christian, be strong. Let those who rail on you unjustly answer to God, for he is the avenger. You keep on for the Lord. Though society's cold wind blows across your path, though you are treated unfairly, though the whole world convene against you, keep on for the Lord for this is acceptable with him and he is the only one you need to please.


The author is a retired Coast Guard Officer with over 32 years of service. He is also a Baptist Preacher and Bible Teacher. He helps those grieving the loss of a pet to understand the Biblical evidence that proves they live on. His most popular book, "Cold Noses at the Pearly Gates" delivers hope and comfort to the reader in a very gentle, yet convincing way. Visit at for more information and tips.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Seeking God

Seeking God
Copyright © 2007 Good News Publications

All too often it seems that people go to God in order to get what He can provide for them rather than simply having a loving relationship. But this is not new as we can see in the Gospel of John.

John 6:24-27: When the people therefore saw that Jesus was not there, neither his disciples, they also took shipping, and came to Capernaum, seeking for Jesus. And when they had found him on the other side of the sea, they said unto him, Rabbi, when camest thou hither? Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled. Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed.

Christ knew that they were not there to learn more about God; they just wanted more miracles. They were not seeking him with their heart; they just wanted to be fed. In light of this there is a very interesting verse recorded earlier in the Gospel of John.

John 4:23: But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.

Very few were seeking God, but He was seeking those who would want to worship Him. It seems that people want God's peace, the blessings of health, prosperity and protection. But all too often they look to get these things of God and forget about God Himself. He is more than willing to give us all that we need if we simply come to Him.

Matthew 6:31-33: Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

God says to seek Him and all that He has is ours. The Gentiles had to worry about food, clothing and shelter because they did not have a heavenly Father that would take care of them; but for us, there are no worries when we have a heavenly Father Who cares.

Why look for just the "things of God" when you can have God Himself? Those who only wanted part of God were warned.

Jeremiah 2:13: For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.

Why settle for just a cistern of water (a vessel to put water in and walk away) when you can live at the fountain of living waters? He has already told us that He seeks those who will worship Him. The word "seek" means to strive to find, to ask after, to inquire and it shows intensity and effort. We should be as eager to seek Him as He is to seek us.

Even when the Children of Israel turned away, God was willing to take them back if they would just reach out and seek Him. How could anyone not want to seek such a loving God?

There is a wonderful record in the Gospel of Luke that once again describes the depth of seeking that we should have.

Luke 2:43-49: And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it. But they, supposing him to have been in the company, went a day's journey; and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance. And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking him. And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions. And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers. And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing. And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business? If you were a parent, would you be seeking your lost child with your whole heart? This is the same word "seek" that refers to us seeking God and God seeking those to worship Him. As truly wonderful as our God is, we should seek Him daily with all our hearts so that we can know Him, love Him and worship Him.


Duke Clarke is a teacher/minister/writer/coach/father/husband with a passionate zest for life. For the past 30+ years Duke has helped others grow and expand their lives. His articles and websites are designed to get you to think and discover life. Check out his information at or

Monday, April 16, 2007

Life is Not Fair

Life is Not Fair
Copyright © 2007 Good News Publications

The United States Constitution declares that all men (referring to men and women) are created equal and that they are entitled to such rights as life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It's a wonderful concept and we have seen those who have benefited tremendously in their pursuit of happiness and we have seen those who, with little or no pursuit, have not benefited.

Somewhere along the line, we natural-born American citizens have adopted the idea that our constitution puts a demand on life that says life must be fair to us.

This thinking says that since I am born equal to everyone else, I should have what everyone else has as well. There are two problems with this-first they have overlooked the word "pursuit" and secondly, life is not and never will be "fair".

For those that look to God for the matters of life, this is a good thing. While we do believe that life comes from God Who created all things, life is still not fair. Life may present an equal opportunity to all, but there is still "pursuit" involved and even with this pursuit, the results of those opportunities may be unequal. Let me explain.

Matthew 13:3: And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow;

Now just looking at this verse we have to consider something. When someone sows seed do they receive back just what they've sown? That would be called "fair"-sow one and get one back. But when a farmer sows seed, he always receives back much more, way out of proportion to what he has sown. Now let's look at the whole parable.

Matthew 13:1-9: The same day went Jesus out of the house, and sat by the sea side. And great multitudes were gathered together unto him, so that he went into a ship, and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore. And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow; And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up: Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them: But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.

All seed was the same and had equal opportunity, but not all had the same results, depending on its situation. Even the seed that landed on good ground all had the same opportunity but they produced at different levels. The seed planted did not yield seed for seed but some thirty, some sixty and some hundredfold.

In this parable, Christ tells us that the seed is the Word of God and I John tells us that the Word of God is life.

Life in its basic state has two major components-first that life itself is to be lived and enjoyed then secondly, life has the ability to reproduce itself. Some Christians would say that our main purpose is to give this gift of life away to others meaning to witness to other about life after death.

I believe that the church epistles contain much more about living this life we have now than only being here to evangelize others. The wonderful side benefit of living this life to the full is when we do it, we attract others who want what we have so we can then give it away.

Let's look at another example.

I Peter 1:23: Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.

The physical seed is called "corruptible" not because it is bad, but because it doesn't last forever. But that one seed and one egg unite and multiply many times over, producing more seeds or eggs-once again showing that life produces more than just itself.

Is it "fair" or "equitable" that all we had to do was confess Jesus as lord and believe that God raised him from the dead and we received salvation and everything that comes with it?

God did not design life to be fair or equitable-that would mean equal return for equal effort. Thank God He created it with far greater capacity than that. God designed life to return bountiful, limitless portions to all who pursue it. We desperately need to understand this truth, so we can live our lives to the fullest and enjoy God's blessings are without limit.


Duke Clarke is a writer/teacher/coach to help individuals reach their full potential in life. Go to or for more information.

Homesick for Heaven

Homesick for Heaven

One of the most common concerns in Christians new to the faith is assurance. New converts spend a lot of time working out their own salvation in their minds. Too often they convince themselves that they are not born again after all, because they don't 'feel" like they are.

As they work through their doubts, they fear that the Lord might return before they have ensured that they are right with him. Essentially they fear he may come back too soon. This is human nature. I think most Christians go through this phase. It is hard to accept that reconciliation with God can be as simple as asking his forgiveness and accepting his son, and that one need not feel saved to be saved.

Seasoned Christians, who have grown under the teaching and preaching of their pastor and others in ministry, no longer need such assurance, because the evidence of their conversion is seen in the change wrought in their lives by the Holy Spirit. Somewhere in one's Christian experience, a metamorphosis takes place and we go from worrying that God will come too soon to worrying that he won't come soon enough. Indeed, many older believers have a longing deep inside them to be with the Lord.

While on a break from a workshop he was attending in a neighboring city, a young man rushed to the corner café for lunch. When the waiter came to his table to take his order, both the man and the waiter were stunned at the other's appearance. They were mirror images of each other.

Shaken, the man asked the waiter to sit and talk. They soon discovered that they were brothers, identical twins, who had apparently been separated at birth due to separate adoptions, but who were never told about each other.

As they shared their experiences and got to know each other, they learned that both of them had felt a longing and emptiness that they could not explain for as long as they could remember. It was as if they were incomplete and were waiting for something or someone. Meeting each other by chance had satisfied that longing.

Believers experience a similar longing in their hearts. It is more than just the Holy Spirit's presence in our lives. There seems to be an unseen bond connecting us to our savior. We feel an emptiness that makes us long for heaven's shore. Consequently, until we see him face to face, like the twins, we feel incomplete.

I am reminded of the words of the wonderful song "Beulah Land." The first couple of lines capture splendidly the longing of the Christian heart for that place where they will be in their Savior's presence.

"I'm kind of homesick for a county to which I've never been before"

Young Christian be of good cheer. If you have asked the Lord into your heart, it doesn't matter how you feel, because feelings change. We are fickle, emotional creatures. Trust his Word and not your feelings. You name is written in the Book of Life and it can never be blotted out. If you must feel badly let your ailment be only that you are homesick for heaven.


The author is a retired Coast Guard Officer with over 32 years of service. He is also a Baptist Preacher and Bible Teacher. He helps those grieving the loss of a pet to understand the Biblical evidence that proves they live on. His most popular book, "Cold Noses at the Pearly Gates" delivers hope and comfort to the reader in a very gentle, yet convincing way. Visit at for more information and tips.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Is the Gospel for the Poor?

Is the Gospel for the Poor?
Copyright © 2007 Good News Publications

Today I want to show you a misconception that I believe dominates the Christian Church and has distorted our view of the truth of prosperity. In the Gospel of Luke, Christ said,

Luke 4:18: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,"

Now, having heard this, what picture comes to mind? Most people say, "Look, it says it right there. The Gospel is to be preached to the poor. Doesn't this sound familiar? Almost everyone has bought into it, but I say that it's wrong. Look where it takes your thinking: - We preach the Gospel to the poor - They are the ones who need God's Word - The rich don't need God - The rich don't want God - That's why I never want to be wealthy and get to the place I don't need God - That's why money is bad.

All this thinking is wrong and the reason is, we don't understand the word "poor". People think it is talking about money, but the word "poor" simply refers to lack or meager supply. Have you ever heard the term "poor health"? Does that mean that his or her health has no money? Have you ever heard a farmer say the land was "poor"? Does that mean the land had no money? In both cases it is lack-lack of health and lack of nutrients in the soil.

In verse 18 of Luke 4 it says that he was sent to heal the broken hearted-they were lacking a whole heart and thus poor. He preached deliverance to the captives-they were not free and thus poor. He helped others recover their sight both spiritually and physically-they were blind and thus poor.

It is religion that has taught us that prosperity and wealth are wrong.

Psalm 35:27: Let them shout for joy, and be glad, that favour my righteous cause: yea, let them say continually, Let the Lord be magnified, which hath pleasure in the prosperity of his servant.

As wonderful as this verse is, it takes on even more meaning when you realize that the word for "prosperity" is the word "Shalom" which means "peace". It is a beautiful translation. When you are at peace, you are content, you don't have any needs or lack and that is the perfect picture of prosperity.

Abundance without God is folly: you are spiritually poor so you are not prosperous. But most Christians don't think they have the right to be wealthy or prosper. Prospering is part of being whole; if you don't have it, you aren't whole and that is not how God planned it. You are not whole until you are financially whole and in order to receive that wholeness you must believe that this is at least part of what God wants for your life.

How often have you heard, "You're being spiritual so, you don't need money or abundance-that will just distract you." Distract you? Some of the most distracted people I know are the ones who can't pay their bills. When my checking account is overflowing, I'm not distracted by bills at all-in fact I have more time to spend with God because I am no longer concerned about money. The fact is the only time you don't need money is before you came into this world and when you leave it-but while you are here you will need material things and God wants you to have them in abundance.

Now, I am going to teach you something that will really open your eyes and you had better be careful about sharing it, because you could make some people very mad.

Psalm 112:1-3: Praise ye the Lord. Blessed is the man that feareth the Lord, that delighteth greatly in his commandments. His seed shall be mighty upon earth: the generation of the upright shall be blessed. Wealth and riches shall be in his house: and his righteousness endureth for ever.

Here is a man whose heart is with God and God has blessed him abundantly.

Psalm 112:9: He hath dispersed, he hath given to the poor; his righteousness endureth for ever; his horn shall be exalted with honour.

In verse 9 it says that this man has given to the "poor" and here is where you might get upset. E.W. Bullinger says in his Companion Bible that the word "poor" means "working for a living; poor, not in extreme want, but simply having only what one earns, having nothing superfluous, living sparingly".

How many Christians use their meager living on bare necessities as a badge of their Christian faith, when God says plainly that they are poor? Don't get mad at me; I didn't write the book. So does living meagerly represent God? Not according to this section of scripture.

Now please understand that if you are just getting by, God's Word says you are poor because there is lack. And if you have a billion dollars, but lack health or don't know God-you are also poor because of your lack. So to go back to our original question, "Is the gospel for the poor?" Yes it is, but just make sure you understand what poor means.


Duke Clarke is a writer/teacher/coach/lecturer and minister. He has started a new website to get people to think about their lives and walk with God. He is nondenominational in background and invites anyone to visit and take a look.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

What a Difference a Day Makes!

"What a Difference a Day Makes."
The 1950s song by Sarah Vaughn with the same title as this article could not have rung more true. Indeed a day can make quite a difference. The routine of our lives is usually measured in days. There are seven days in the week. This does not vary under any circumstances. It is the same today as it was centuries ago. It is the same in the United States as it is in China. Earth-wide, our week is comprised of seven days.

What does vary, and that to conflict, is the regard assigned to the first day of the week. Christians and the world are at odds as to which day that is. For example, I received a calendar as a gift from my local bank and on the calendar Monday was designated as the first day of the
week. In the Bible, however, Sunday is referred to as the first day of the week.

It may seem like much ado about nothing, but it makes me think of the basic differences between the world and Christianity. The secular world sees Monday as the first day of the week because Sunday is considered part of their weekend. Sunday to the world is a day that belongs to them. It is a day for hedonistic indulgences. It is the end of their hard work week and a time to relax and enjoy their hobbies and pass times. Consequently, they do not attend church.

For believers, Sunday is not the close of a week, but the beginning of a new one, and a new opportunity to serve the Lord. The first day of the week has special meaning for the Christian, for scripture designates it as "The Lord's Day". It is the day that the early church met to worship. It is also the day that the Lord rose from the grave and the day Jesus stood in the midst of his disciples after his resurrection. For the Christian, it speaks of a new beginning, not an ending.

The contrast in perception reflects a deeper problem than just a squabble over which day is which. It reflects the inclination of the human heart to disregard the Word of God and its teachings in order to embrace one's own personal beliefs. Is this not the basis for almost all religious error? The Bible says of the human heart "the heart is deceitful and desperately wicked, who can know it?"

Despite the warning that our hearts (or own understanding) will deceive us, people readily shun Biblical authority and replace it with their own. Once a heart starts down that slippery slope, it is unlikely that it will ever embrace truth again. It may seem much ado about nothing to argue
which day is the first day of the week, but oh what a difference a day makes.

The author is a retired Coast Guard Officer with over 32 years of service. He is also a Baptist Preacher and Bible Teacher. He helps those grieving the loss of a pet to understand the Biblical evidence that proves they live on. His most popular book, "Cold Noses at the Pearly Gates"
delivers hope and comfort to the reader in a very gentle, yet convincing way. Visit at for more information and tips.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Christ's Death: Was It Good Enough?

Christ's Death: Was It Good Enough by Rob Marshall.

I was feeling very heavy and burdened, or as some people put it, I was depressed. The weight of my sin was hanging on me and I felt that I had to do something about it. My wife suggested that I meet with our pastor, so I called him and set up an appointment.

The pastor and I sat at the table as I began to outline to him why I was certain that God was punishing me. I had committed some sins and felt that God had allowed our son to die because I had been such a sinner. I had scripture references all lined up and I fully expected him to agree with me that, yes, I was a rotten, horrible sinner and God was angry with me.

But instead of agreeing with me, he looked across the table and asked, "What, wasn't Christ's death good enough for you?"

It hit me pretty hard, but I realized that he was right. God wasn't punishing me, I was punishing myself. God had forgiven me, but I had not forgiven myself.

In Galatians 3:3, Paul writes, "Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?" He was confronting the Galatians because they were falling into the mistake of believing that they needed to be circumcised and obey the Law of Moses. And when we look at Paul's statement, we can see that it has broad implications for us.

We may not be looking to be circumcised, or obey the law, but we might find ourselves believing that God only loves us when we read our Bible for an hour a day and pray for at least two hours each day. And while those things are good, and we should always want to spend more time with God, those things do not make us more righteous.

Ephesians 2:8-10 says, "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them."

In his letter to the Philippians, Paul talks about the righteousness that we have by faith in Christ (Philippians 3:8-9). Our righteousness is not our own, it is God's gift. God gives us His righteousness when we put our faith in Christ. There is nothing that we can do to earn it, and there is nothing that we can add to it, it is already perfect and complete.

We come boldly before God's throne because Jesus died for us and paid the price for our sins. We never have to be afraid, and we never have to try and earn His love. He loved us while we were still sinners, and as His children He loves us even more.

If you are in Christ, you have been given the most incredible gift, God's righteousness. Let the knowledge of His saving grace sink deeply into your heart, and know that God is working in you both the desire and the ability to do what pleases Him (Philippians 2:13). We never have to struggle and wonder about being good enough, because Christ was perfect, and we are perfect in Him.

When you feel that you have to try and earn God's love, or His favor, just ask yourself the question: Was Christ's death good enough for me? The answer should be a resounding: Yes!

About The Author

Rob Marshall is the author of "Taking On Goliath - How to Unleash the David in All of Us." Learn how you can unleash your faith and overcome any "Goliath" that may stand between you and your dreams. Get two free chapters from "Taking On Goliath" when you sign up for our free newsletter. Just visit:

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Difficult Verses in the Bible

Difficult Verses in the Bible by Gary Kurz.

Can anyone deny that there are passages in the Bible that are very hard to understand and sometimes hard to accept? The question is of course, rhetorical. Certainly no one could make such a claim. Those who would deny that there are difficult scriptures either do not spend much time in the Word or they are simply dishonest. I am not sure which of the two is worse.

From simple questions about where Cain's wife came from, to more complex issues such as the apparent misquote in Matthew 27:9-10; there are literally scores of passages where there seems to be confusion. In some instances it is seems almost impossible to reconcile what is being said with other portions of scripture.

In ministry, it would be relatively easy to avoid the difficulties and not bring attention to them at all. Who would know? And if the Bible was just a book written by men, Biblicists such as me might be inclined to do just that. But the Bible is not just a book. It is the transmitted thoughts and will of Almighty God. It is the Word (and words) of God. It is the final and only authority on truth and fact.

Many have attacked it. Many have tried to prove it false, and in so doing, have been converted by its awesome power and authority. Men will claim that it is full of contradictions, but are not able to point out a single example to support their argument.

Knowing there are those who would jump at the chance to find problems in scripture should not make believers apprehensive or shy in declaring it the plenary word of the Living God. Nor should we refrain from using those portions we feel might pose difficulties to explain. Too often Bible teachers will avoid passages in their sermons and lessons because they imagine there is conflict in what the scripture says.

Difficulty in understanding a passage does not discredit what is being said. Rather it reflects on the knowledge level of the one who sees it as difficult. The fact that we cannot immediately understand or explain the difficulty away does not mean it cannot be solved with proper research and prayer. Sometimes that research takes a long time, but this is the case with almost anything that one wants to learn. I may not understand what the mechanic is telling me about needed vehicle repairs, but I could learn mechanics myself and gain that understanding if I was willing to make the effort.

In my formative years as a Christian, I came across many difficult or hard to understand passages in my studies. Indeed, some of what I read seemed illogical, perhaps even impossible and they tested my faith. Yet I trusted the authority of scripture and accepted it as truth. Years later, with a more sound knowledge of scripture, those same passages posed absolutely no difficulty to me whatsoever. With experience and broader familiarity with scripture, the once difficult passages became very easy to understand.

The Apostle Paul spoke of the "milk" and "meat" of the word. Christians must start out with the milk or easier-to-digest things of God before they are ready to consume the meatier things. It is the superficial or inexperienced reader who adds calamity to a difficult verse. They read something they do not understand and panic. Too often young Christians get bogged down trying to understand something that they simply are not capable of grasping at their present knowledge level. Sometimes spiritual anxiety over such small issues completely consumes them and they run around like Chicken Little declaring that their faith is falling.

The seasoned, faithful reader of the Bible knows that understanding will come in time after appropriate effort is invested in researching the perceived difficulty. They have been down this road before. They have come up against seemingly unexplainable passages that subsequent studies explained. There is always an explanation. God's Word is always correct and without conflict or contradiction.

I am not trying to diminish the fact that there are very difficult passages of scripture that are problematic to the student of scripture. II Peter 3:16 confirms this. We are told:

"As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures…"

God openly tells us through the Apostle Peter that some of the things written in the Bible are hard to be understood and we wrestle with them. Why are they hard? Is it because God purposely wanted to hide something from us? Is it because God wants to play a game of cat and mouse with his higher knowledge? No. God does not play games. He wants us to understand, but that understanding must come when we are ready for strong meat. Believers must go through a growing process. Verse 18 of this chapter confirms this:

"But grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."

In keeping with all the other passages that tell us to "study", "prepare" or "learn", we are told to "grow in grace". The only way to grow in grace is to read the manual (the Bible) faithfully and consistently, building ourselves up in knowledge and understanding.

Increasing our knowledge in the Bible is like any other thing we learn - we must study and learn in order to grow and excel. That is precisely why it is important to not shy away from difficult passages. We need to learn what they mean. If we shy away from them, our confidence in the word will wane and our regimen for study will eventually wane as well.

There really are no difficult passages. There is just a lack of understanding of those passages. This can be remedied through faithful study. The wisest advice I ever received from a man of God I would like to pass on here. He said "Put your nose in the book and keep your eyes on Jesus." The meaning is clear; study and trust the Lord to bring you to a place of understanding.


The author is a retired Coast Guard Officer with over 32 years of service. He is also a Baptist Preacher and Bible Teacher. He helps those grieving the loss of a pet to understand the Biblical evidence that proves they live on. His most popular book, "Cold Noses at the Pearly Gates" delivers hope and comfort to the reader in a very gentle, yet convincing way. Visit at for more information and tips.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Physical Daddies and Spiritual Daddies

Physical Daddies and Spiritual Daddies by Bishop Eddie L. Long

All of us have been birthed by a physical daddy. A good many of us have been lost because of what happened with the relationship of our physical daddy. There has to be a birthing of a spiritual daddy that brings you into everything God has ordained for you.

We have been stifled in this because instead of operating in the covenant order of God, we are suspicious that someone’s trying to take advantage of us. The covenant between the pastor and the congregation is unique. It is not based on a friendship, not exterior performance, but inside. You are in covenant with God because of something inside. It’s spiritual. Don’t worry about the church being so large that you can’t shake the pastor’s hand. There are a plenty of folk who can shake your hand, but not too many can speak to your spirit. It is a spiritual covenant. Circumcise yourselves to the Lord, and take away
the foreskins of your hearts. (Jeremiah 4:4)

This does not refer to a physical circumcision. When you hear the word of God, you know there are things God is trying to pull from your heart. For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. Therefore I urge you, imitate me. (I Corinthians 4:15-16)

The pastor is but a vessel that God uses to tell you what He has to tell you, to circumcise your flesh, so that you do not continue to carry around the things that are not of God. If you do, and those things are not circumcised, your flesh will get infected. The biggest problem in the church is when God allows the church father (pastor) to come do circumcision, but the congregation does not allow it. Tell me about being blessed but don’t tell me to stop fornicating, they say. For God to allow your inheritance and blessings to flow to you, there has to be a circumcision. There needs to be a mark on your spiritual life so that people can tell that you are a son of God.

Understand that there has to be order and covenant. Maintain the spiritual relationship, the order, the covenant, so that you will receive your due inheritance.

About The Author:
Bishop Eddie L. Long is an acclaimed teacher, entrepreneur, author, and modern day prophet to the nations. He currently serves as Senior Pastor of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, Georgia just outside Atlanta. Visit him at or go to

Monday, April 2, 2007

Don't Forget to Remember to Forget

Don't Forget to Remember to Forget by Gary Kurz

One of the greatest aspects of God's forgiveness for sins in Christ is the fact that he also forgets them. We have the assurance that he remembers our sins no more. He purposely and permanently puts them out of his memory and never revisits them.

We can conclude from God's example, that sometimes it is better to forget than to remember. It is apparent that Joseph understood this as Moses records in Genesis 41:51 "And Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh: For God, said he, hath made me forget…."

Joseph had suffered many terrible injustices in his young life. His own brothers hated him for no reason and sold him into slavery. He was accused of a crime he did not commit. He was thrown into prison for an undetermined amount of time. Surely Joseph could have been justifiably bitter. He could have lamented over all that had befallen him. He could have resented that God allowed great adversity and suffering in his life.

Instead, Joseph reached down inside of himself, where his faith was housed, and found the strength to persevere. In faith, with a grateful heart, he named his son Manasseh, which means "forgetting". He reasoned "for God…hath made me forget". The things that had befallen him could have weighed heavily on his heart, but God had given him grace to not only forgive the wrongs that were done to him, but to forget them.

A Pastor I knew sold an automobile to a man. He received half the payment upfront, with the remainder to follow a month later. When he went to the man's house to receive the second and final installment, the man said "I am not paying you another dime. I have the car and I am keeping it". He then slammed the door in the Pastor's face.

Several parishioners advised the Pastor to take legal action. A lawyer friend offered to take the case to Small Claims Court without charging the Pastor for his services. The Pastor politely declined and explained that the few thousand dollars owed did not outweigh the worth of the man's soul and that it was better to forgive and forget the debt than to injure his Christian testimony to the man.

Several months later, this Pastor was called upon to help a needy family in the community. It turned out to be the family of the man who had misappropriated his automobile. When the door opened to the Pastor's knock, the man immediately recognized him and expected that the Pastor might recognize him and turn around and leave.

Instead, the humble man of God greeted him with a warm smile and brief embrace. As the Pastor reached into his pocket for the church check, he looked into the man's face and hesitated for a moment. The man thought that surely the Pastor had just recognized him and had changed his mind about helping. He knew this was a bad idea, asking the man he had cheated to help. He might as well just tell him to leave.

Before the man could speak however, the Pastor said in a soothing voice, "You know, I just don't think my church is doing enough to help. Please allow me to add my personal check to this amount. I am sure you and your family can use it."

As the Pastor wrote out another check, the man fell under heavy conviction and wondered what to say. Surely this Pastor was trying to make him feel guilty. Surely this act of kindness was nothing more than a ploy to work on his conscience.

While the man was pondering these things, the Pastor finished writing the check out and handed both checks to him. The Pastor then asked if he could pray for the family. The man knew that the prayer was going to be a sermon in disguise about fairness and doing right, but he did not know how to say "no" after the kindness he was shown; and so he reluctantly acknowledged "sure, that would be okay."

The Pastor bowed his head and asked the Lord's blessing upon the man, his family and their home. He asked the Lord to bless them financially and to lead the church to know if there was anything else they could do for them. He closed by asking the Lord to draw this family near to him. There was no mention of the automobile, no sermon, no ulterior motive. It was as if the Pastor had completely forgotten the wrong this man had done to him.

A few weeks later, the man and his family came to visit the church that had paid their debts. They heard the gospel message. They heard how the Lord Jesus Christ had paid another debt that they had not even known about. The whole family walked the aisle and received the Lord.

Like Joseph, this Pastor had emulated his Lord and added forgetfulness to his forgiveness. Had he held on to the terrible injustice this man had done, he would never have been able to be a witness to the love and mercy of the Lord. By forgetting, God was able to use him in a tremendous way

Forgetting should be a word used often in the Christian vocabulary. It is far better to forget and forgive than it is to remember and resent.

The author is a retired Coast Guard Officer with over 32 years of service. He is also a Baptist Preacher and Bible Teacher. He helps those grieving the loss of a pet to understand the Biblical evidence that proves they live on. His most popular book, "Cold Noses at the Pearly Gates" delivers hope and comfort to the reader in a very gentle, yet convincing way. Visit at for more information and tips or write to Gary at

Article Source:

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Christians in America - An Unbelieving Generation?

Christians in America - An Unbelieving Generation? by Rob Marshall

In a lot of ways I'm pretty average. I may be a bit taller than some, and probably weigh more than I should, but there isn't really anything extraordinary about me. So when I read the stories in the Bible, and think about how the majority of the people who were there reacted, I assume that I would have done what everyone else was doing.

One example is the story in Mark 9:14-29 about a father who brought his demon-possessed son to be healed. When the father came to the disciples, Jesus wasn't there. He was with Peter, James, and John and they were on their way back from the mountain where they had seen Jesus transfigured before their eyes. As they approached the other disciples they noticed that a large crowd had gathered, and that the teachers of the law were arguing with them.

When Jesus asked what they were arguing about, the man whose son was demon-possessed came and explained to Him how his son was being tormented by the spirit, and that he had asked the disciples to cast it out, but they hadn't been able to. It's at this point that Jesus says, "O unbelieving generation, how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me." (Mark 9:19)

Like I said, I'm pretty average. If I had been one of the disciples it's a good bet that I would have been in the middle of the crowd, arguing with the teachers, and trying to figure out why I hadn't been able to cast them demon out. And it's not like casting out demons was a foreign concept to them. When we look at Mark chapter 6 we see that Jesus sent them out, two by two, and gave them authority over demons. This was actually something that they had done before.

But when I look at my life, I realize that even though there are things that I've done before, it doesn't mean that it will be easy for me to do it again. All I have to do is look at how I spent the last few days, or weeks, in my life and realize that Jesus could very well look at me and say, "O unbelieving Rob, how long will I have to stay with you? How long will I have to keep reminding you of all that I've already taught you?"

I don't know about you, but when I'm faced with a new problem, or just an ongoing old one, I tend to forget all that God has already done for me. When struggling with financial issues I usually get discouraged and depressed. I focus too much on the problem, or what I don't have, and I forget that all things are possible with God.

One of the scriptures that I battle with the most is in Matthew 6:28-34, especially verse 33 which says, "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." I find myself worrying about what I'll eat, or wear, or how I'll pay my mortgage this month. In other words, I worry about "all these things."

This verse isn't hard for us because God is asking to do something that is impossible. We have difficulties with it because it's so unnatural. If we look around us we can see dozens, hundreds, maybe even millions of examples of people who worry about how they are going survive, let alone doing any better than that. The fact that we worry about it is normal in the sense that it's something everyone does.

But I wonder if Jesus would look at us, those of us in America and other countries where the Word of God is readily available, and just shake His head in frustration. Would He look at us and say, "O unbelieving generation, when are you going to finally understand? When are you finally going to believe?" We are surrounded with God's word, it's being preached in our pulpits, over the airwaves, and at us in our daily email devotionals, but do we believe it?

In all fairness it is a frightening thing, the prospect of really believing God's word, or really trusting Him. And it's not about us having to do anything that is really crazy, or risky, but just trusting Him with our daily battles. It's sad to think that Christians in America are just as likely to get divorced, struggle just as much as everyone else financially, and are just as unhappy with their lives as people who don't believe in God at all.

But I know that taking a step to trust God, to begin to pray with the expectation that He will answer and do amazing things in our lives, won't be easy. Too often we end up like the disciples who watched helplessly as a demon-possessed boy fell to the ground and foamed at the mouth. We end up overwhelmed by our circumstances and unable to see how God can change things.

Because I'm not particularly extraordinary, I'm just an average Christian; I have to realize that the same thing applies to me that applies to everyone else. I have to allow God to change me. I need to ask Him to open my eyes so that I can see beyond what's happening to me and finally see what's possible with God. I must let Him put my faith to the test so that He can remove my doubts. And even though that will be hard, the reward is that I will finally begin to truly have faith in God.

Get two chapters from Rob Marshall's book, "Taking On Goliath - How To Unleash The David In All Of Us" when you sign up for his free weekly Faith-Full Life Newsletter. Visit:

Saturday, March 3, 2007

The Ten Suggestions of God

The Ten Suggestions of God by Gary Kurz

Most of us have heard preachers passionately warn in their sermons, "They are not the ten suggestions; they are the ten commandments". Factually, no one can argue that point. Indeed, no one should argue that point. God gave us commandments. He did not mince his words. He said "thou shall" and "thou shall not".

Practically speaking however, as we apply the commandments to our lives, we might do well to consider them as being suggestions as well. In no way does this diminish the authoritative intent of these providential edicts. Rather, acknowledging the suggestive tone of the commandments underscores the importance of obeying them and reflects a little more on how they should impact positively upon our lives.

As commandments, or law, we all fail miserably at keeping them. Is there one who has not lied? Is there one who has not coveted? The question is rhetoric as scripture already provides the answer for us in Romans 3:23 (kjv), where it says: "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God".

The chapter goes on to tell us that all are guilty before God. When an elderly preacher was asked by a young Christian what the word "all" meant in that verse, the wise old servant replied "All means all and that is all, all means". In other words, the verse says not some, not many, not even most, but all are guilty of sin and all have broken the commandments.

Armed with this knowledge, one might question why God gave us the commandments at all. If we were all not able to keep them, if we were all guilty of breaking them in God's eyes, then why even go through the drill of trying to keep them?

Is God testing us? Is God tricking us? Is he being some kind of a bully, who, because he has the power, can just force his will upon us and order us to keep his commandments, or else?

If one views the commandments exclusively as commandments, one might arrive at that incorrect conclusion. However, if we also view the commandments as guidance or suggestions on how to live our lives, we can draw a clearer picture on just why God gave them to us.

Simply, God knows us. He made us. He searches hearts and knows the inner-most thoughts of men and women. He understands our old nature and how it contrasts with his holiness. In a perfect world (which he tried to give to us) we would live righteously and holy. There would be no need for commandments, because there would be no sin.

Of course, this is not a perfect world. Sin is present and often wields great influence over people, even Christians. Knowing our propensity to give in to temptation, God gave us commandments that would educate us about sin. That is why he referred to the law as our "schoolmaster" in the epistles.

He didn't lay these commandments upon us because he is the boss and we have to listen to him. He gave them to us because he loves us. He knew the hardships and suffering that would come from doing evil and he wanted to protect us from all of that.

God knows that if we steal, for example, it will hurt not only those we steal from, but it will hurt us as well. First, there are the ramifications that come if one is caught stealing. You may be tasked with making restitution to those you stole from. You may be assigned many hours of arduous community service. You may even be incarcerated.

Next, there comes societal scorn and a ruined reputation as you are branded a thief. You lose friends and credibility. You have a record and authorities keep close tabs on you and your activities. It is harder to find good work. Generally, everything in life becomes a little bit more difficult for you.

Finally, if the previous results do not deter you from stealing again, your conscience might grow weak it will become easier for you to steal again. Eventually, you will lose your conscience altogether and become progressively more reprobate.

Breaking any of the commandments can have similar disastrous effects upon your life and upon the lives of those you love. For that reason, the commandments become practical suggestions on how you should conduct yourself in life.

Moreover, as suggestions or guidance, the commandments carry promises or rewards with them. For example, we are told in the fifth commandment that if we honor our father and our mother, our life will be long on the earth.

As commandments, an "or else" connotation is inferred, but as suggestions for living righteously we are given positive incentives. Without doubt, the commandments should first be viewed as commandments. They are the will of God for mankind. But they should also be viewed as providential tutorials for successful living, where God offers good results for those who keep them.

We are faced with many decisions in life. God has given us free will to make choices. This free will to choose applies to the Ten Commandments. You may choose to abide by them or you may choose to ignore them. You have free will. If you want a long and successful life, God's counsel, God's suggestion, is that you incorporate these ideals into your life.

The author is a Baptist Preacher and Bible Teacher. He helps those grieving the loss of a pet to understand the Biblical evidence that proves they live on. His most popular book, "Cold Noses at the Pearly Gates" delivers hope and comfort to the reader in a very gentle, yet convincing way. Visit at for more information, tips and gifts or write to Gary at

Friday, March 2, 2007

Introduction to Prosperity - Be Faithful With Money

Introduction to Prosperity - Be Faithful With Money by Rob Marshall

It's not a new problem, and it probably started almost immediately. How did Peter, the struggling fisherman, feel about Matthew the wealthy tax collector? Did the disciples have debates about money on top of their usual arguments about who would be the greatest?

Probably since before the beginning of the Christian church, there have been discussions about prosperity. The questions of whether or not a person can be rich and spiritual have probably been raging for millennia, maybe even since the beginning of man's existence. And the idea that wealth was the sign of God's favor on a person's life was prevalent even in Jesus' day.

The September 18, 2006 edition of Time Magazine had a cover picture that was the front of a Rolls Royce with a cross as a hood ornament. The title of the cover article was: "Does God Want You To Be Rich?"

All in all, the article was pretty much what I would expect from a magazine like Time. The bias was somewhat toward that idea that the current resurgence of "Prosperity Theology" is not a good thing, and that it's just a handful of American mega-churches that are preaching it, while more "mainstream" pastors find the whole idea ridiculous, if not downright evil. I found it a bit disappointing that the writer felt the need to comment on one "prosperity" preacher's expensive shoes.

No matter where it got started, the idea that truly spiritual people are the ones who have forsaken worldly riches and pleasures is definitely firmly entrenched in the minds of many people. And for those involved with the prosperity teachings, the idea is that God does want His people to have all the worldly goods and heaven too.

Whether they are believers, or scoffers, isn't so much the issue. The real question is: What does the Bible teach us about being wealthy? Does the Bible really teach us that it's wrong to be rich? Or does it really say that poverty is sin and everyone should be rich? And, if we are supposed to be rich, what does that really mean?

In this short introduction to prosperity, we will take a look the general idea that it's not so much a matter of being rich, in terms of our possessions, but that prosperity really has to do with being faithful with what we have been given. And because it has to do with being faithful, it applies not only in American mega-churches, but also all over the world.

In Luke 16:10-12 Jesus says, "He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much. Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in what is another man's, who will give you what is your own?"

There are a couple of points in this particular statement that we need to highlight. The first is that Jesus is saying our faithfulness with "what is least" affects how faithful we will be with much, or more. He then goes on to point out a couple of "least" things: "Unrighteous mammon" and "what is another man's".

When I read these verses, I hear Jesus telling us that our faithfulness with money affects every other area of our lives. And if we have not been faithful with money, and the things that don't belong to us, we will never enjoy true riches or have real responsibility (things that are our own).

And, when it comes to what belongs to another man, we should always remember that nothing really belongs to us, it all belongs to God.

Many people will say that money isn't that important, but Jesus is telling us something very different. When we look at what Jesus says here, we see that our attitudes towards, and use of, money are extremely important. Jesus tells us that our faithfulness with money will control the degree to which we are entrusted with the true riches.

The same faith that helped David defeat Goliath is in everyone of us. In "Taking On Goliath - How To Unleash The David In All Of Us," author Rob Marshall shows you how to unleash your faith, overcome any obstacle, and live your dreams. Get two free chapters of "Taking On Goliath" when you sign up for the Faith-Full Life newsletter, just visit:

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Prosperity or Poverty - What Does the Bible Really Say?

Prosperity or Poverty - What Does the Bible Really Say by Rev Michael Bresciani

I have never been so determined to keep an article short. The point here is so important that I would not want it to be buried in a lengthy diatribe that only added more confusion to the abounding controversy that has already arisen.

The saddest thing about the whole controversy is that it may become yet another reason for unbelievers to remain just as they are. Christianity should be known for its presentation of the immutable gospel of Jesus Christ not a series of constant controversies and disputations. It strains the credulity of any reasonable man to read about the horrific persecution of believers in over fifty countries while the big question in America is whether Christians should all be floating in God given riches.

Today thousands of Christians in Islamically controlled countries are facing the very loss of life and limb while American Christians are debating whether God is supposed to be giving them all untold riches, houses and lands. Sound silly, it is but that’s exactly what one proponent of the goody gospel espouses. In the Time magazine article “Does God Want You to be Rich” Kirbyjon Caldwell said “God wants you to own land. The entire Old Testament is all about land. Land represents that God is with you and God has blessed you.”

Between the recent interview of Joel Osteen by Barbara Walters and the September 18, 2006 issue of Time on the same subject one question comes to mind. Why is America so engrossed in this question about Christians seeking wealth or resigning to poverty? More importantly is the question, does the Bible really present a conflict on the issue or is it yet again, man meddling with the message?

Time, a largely secular news outlet gave a fair presentation of both sides and included the scriptural proof texts used by each side. They quoted such Christian notables as Rick Warren, Joyce Meyer, Kirbyjon Caldwell and Ron Sider. They gave a fair breakdown of the general views of others on the subject as well such as T. D. Jakes and Creflo Dollar. How I wish they might have attempted to balance it all with a quote from the late Kathryn Kuhlman.

I will have to paraphrase the statement I once heard on Kathryn’s radio program because it was so long ago that I heard it. But forget it I never will, I hope no one else will ever forget it either.

What she said is that we should never isolate and amplify any verse of scripture to the exclusion of other verses that also speak to the same subject. Simply put this means, don’t teach or make a big deal out of one verse and forget the other verses that also talk about the same thing.

The verse of scripture I will quote here gives support to neither side of the argument and yet it is the final and consummate answer to the whole matter. The verse takes its authority as final in the matter not from me, but rather from a sovereign God who decides each mans destiny, and each mans wealth or the lack of it on a one to one individual basis.

I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings. Jeremiah 17:10

The heart is still deceitful and desperately wicked (Jer 17:9) in the twenty first century and we would like to level the ground that God alone has reserved to his own regulation. Those who persist in this argument could find themselves coming under the same kind of rebuke that Peter got when he questioned the fate of another apostle after hearing of his own. (John 21:19-22)

Only a sovereign God has the right and the wisdom to decide who gets what portion in this world. Teaching believers that God has one plan for all is flying in the face of Gods authority to plant, lead and call to accountability every person he calls. Each of us must account for what we do with what we are given; the parable of the talents is proof that not all receive the same portion. (MT 25:15)

Here’s the bottom line. Whether you believe in the prosperity gospel or the austere life of denying worldly possessions there is one rule for all and that rule comes from God not either one of the aforementioned groups. That rule is, and always will be Jeremiah 17:10.

The real danger especially in the prosperity gospel is that it is not a universal gospel. The Gospel of Jesus Christ can be preached and produce genuine converts in any nation or community on earth. The prosperity gospel can only be preached in America and Western Europe in large part. That means it is coming dangerously close to what the Apostle Paul called “another gospel” (Galatians 1:8-9)

Years ago God spoke to the heart of Pastor David Wilkerson of New York’s, Times Square Church about a coming time of great distress in this nation where the entire fiscal health of the country will collapse. He spoke the same thing to my heart over two decades ago. I’d rather not mention this to anyone, I’d rather I didn’t hear it, but I did and I have no doubt it is nearer now by far than when I first heard this message so clearly.

Whether anyone heeds the message and whether they have the heart to see through the obvious weakness and error of the prosperity gospel is not up to me. One thing is certain. Those who insist on this gospel and their respective churches will be hit the hardest when the time comes. Conversely, those who have learned to live in the portion they are given and are content, will be affected least. As always with the great things God does…the choice is yours.

Suffice it to say that when such a question reaches the height of being examined by one of the media’s biggest interviewers, Barbara Walters it may be time to dig in and find the real answer. The Time magazine front cover was splattered with a picture of a Rolls Royce sedan with a huge gold cross as a hood ornament. The caption for the picture read “Does God Want You to be Rich.”

For some Christians Time’s cover may be a bit embarrassing but what it should really do is make us ashamed. Where have all those preachers gone who used to ask only, “Does God want you to be saved?”

Rev Bresciani is a Christian author and columnist. His articles on many important subjects are now read in every corner of the globe. For a list of subjects and news from around the world visit

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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Heaven Is Going to Be A Shock to You

Heaven Is Going to Be A Shock to You by Gary Kurz.

You are a born again believer. You have placed your faith in Christ and know your eternity is secure. You enjoy this life, but inside, like most believers, you yearn for that moment when your soul will take flight for that heavenly shore. Most of us do not want our earthly life to hurry by, yet our souls thirst for the time when we shall bid the cares of this woeful world and our toils goodbye.

You have heard so much about heaven from preachers and your Sunday School Teacher. It is a grand place where all the cares and problems of this life are left far behind, where your dreams and hopes are fulfilled. Many promises are made in scripture concerning this wonderful place and every one of them is positive and uplifting.

But what if heaven isn't what you expected? What if when you get there, you find that everything you imagined is not so? The truth is, most Christians are in for a very big surprise, perhaps even a shock. Heaven will not be at all what they expected.

If you ask the average person what heaven is like, invariably they will respond with "it is a place of happiness", or words to that effect. Then, if queried further, they will elaborate on what they think it will take to make heaven a happy place for them. One will imagine that they will be playing marathon golf, sporting an unearthly handicap. Another envisions endless championship fishing tournaments with them as the star. Still others imagine unlimited charge accounts at enormous malls that never run out of stock and never close.

It is human nature to create our own personal utopia in our minds. It is how we visualize and categorize our hopes. But human nature is exactly that part of us that God does not want in his heaven. Human nature is in contrast with God. It is referred to in scripture by many other names and all are seated in negative context. It is referred to as self, the flesh, the old man, and the old nature just to name a few.

Our old nature is our sinful part, the selfish, self-centered and self-serving part. It is shown as the cause of our sin and problems. The sum of it is told to us in Romans where it is called "enmity (or hatred) against God". In other words, the only thing our flesh is capable of is hatred toward God.

It is this human or earthly nature that imagines a customized heaven. It is our self-centeredness that dictates what it would take for heaven to be our personal utopia. Herein then is the surprise for many believers; that heaven will not be at all what they are expecting, but will be rather what God wants it to be.

So then, what is heaven like? What does God have planned? The short and simple answer is "I don't know". We are not given much detail on God's plans for eternity, except that we will spend much time around his throne fellowshipping with him. Indeed, if we could quantify the heavenly experience in terms of time, most of our time will be spent worshipping and praising the Lord.

Now, at the risk of shocking you further, let me say that I find the prospect of constant worship quite boring. I do not mean to be irreverent to the Lord, for certainly he is deserving of my eternal praise, but somehow golf and fishing seem to resonate with my excitement sensor more than a perpetual church service. If worshipping 24/7 was something that thrilled me, why do I have so much trouble being faithful to church on Sundays when I get the sniffles?

But that is just "me" talking, or my old nature. The best my old man can imagine for heaven is to concede to God cursory time of praise and worship. The rest of the time, my old nature wants for myself. In my present condition, though regenerated and indwelt by the Holy Spirit, my old flesh still has a modicum of control and influence in my thinking. Consequently, I often think in terms of what "I" want and what will make "me" happy.

Fortunately, that is not how I will enter heaven. In I Corinthians 15:53 we are told "For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality" (kjv). Right now, I am corruptible, because of my flesh. But when this mortal shall put on immortality, I will also put on incorruption. In reality, incorruption is not so much put on as corruption is put off. Either way, I will be without my old nature.

When we accept the Lord, essentially our salvation comes in three phases. First, immediately upon confessing Christ, we are saved from the penalty of sin. Our sins are forgiven forever. There is no longer a penalty. The wages of sin were paid by the Lord Jesus and our account is paid in full.

Then, as we live our Christian experience on earth, we are saved from the power of sin. We are told that sin no longer has dominion (or control) over us. This is a quantitative term that means influence still is present, but not control. We have the Holy Spirit within us teaching, convicting and growing his fruit or attributes within us.

Finally, when we pass or when the rapture occurs, we are saved from the presence of sin. This is huge. Sin is no longer a part of us. The old man, the flesh, the old nature is supernaturally extracted by God and put off. No longer is self important. No longer do we think in terms of "me" and "I".

In this new state where self is no longer the center of our world, where sin has no presence, then our new man will soar and excel. Then worshipping God and praising his mighty works will be thrilling and exciting. We will hardly be able to contain the praise that pours from our lips as we fellowship with the one with whom we have to do. Golf and fishing will not even register on our "to do" list as all we will want to do is sit in the presence of our Lord, overwhelmed with his majesty and wonder.

Yes, heaven will be a surprise for many, but it will be a pleasant surprise when we arrive there without our old nature. It will be a time unparalleled in our previous existence, where we no longer are influenced by the selfish flesh that housed our soul for so long.


The author is a retired Coast Guard Officer with over 32 years of service. He is also a Baptist Preacher and Bible Teacher. He helps those grieving the loss of a pet to understand the Biblical evidence that proves they live on. His most popular book, "Cold Noses at the Pearly Gates" delivers hope and comfort to the reader in a very gentle, yet convincing way. Visit at for more information and tips.

The Final Key To Getting What You Want

The Final Key To Getting What You Want by Rob Marshall

In my previous two articles on the topic of getting what we want, I looked at the importance of knowing what we want. If we haven't clearly defined what it is that we are trying to be, do, or have, then it's going to be impossible to know if we ever get it. Making a decision may not be easy, but we have to make a decision or we will never make any progress.

The second key dealt with our faith. We need to develop the kind of faith in God that won't wither when problems, setbacks, or disappointments rear their ugly heads. There is no escaping the fact that we will have to overcome obstacles on the road to what we want. The reason is that God wants to bless us beyond just helping us get what we want, He wants to work something much more powerful in our lives, a little something called perseverance. Because when we add that to our faith, we will never lack anything in our lives.

The third key to getting what we want is the third part of my simple formula for faith. Hebrews 11:1 says, "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

When we break that statement down into the individual parts, we see that faith consists of three things. First is what we hope for, or what I covered in part one of this series, it is deciding what we want. In other words, it's our desire.

The second part is the second key, something the writer of Hebrews called "substance". It is that unshakable, persistent faith that expects to receive what we desire. It is what we really expect, and not simply what we wish for.

The final part is called evidence. This is where the rubber meets the road in our journey toward getting what we want, because this is all about action. It's about the words we say and the things we do that are the tangible evidence that we know what we want, and we truly expect to have it.

The simple formula is:

Desire + Expectation + Action = Faith

There are three kinds of action we need to take.

Focused Action

I tend to make the mistake of trying to collect as much information as I can possibly find before I do anything. What I end up with is a lot of unused, and useless, knowledge. We all have to realize that gathering all the facts, reading all the books, will give us data, but not necessarily help us reach our dreams.

Focused action means doing the things that will actually take us to what we want in life. There are things that we won't learn, questions that we don't even know to ask, until we actually do something constructive and take action on our dreams. As Mike Litman says, "You don't have to get it right, you just have to get it going."

Even if you don't know all there is to know, take some step each and every day. Keep your focus on what you want and keep moving toward it, one step, one action, at a time. Constantly ask yourself, "Will this action get me closer to my goal?" If the answer is yes, then do it.

Inspired Action

The Bible tells us that God has given us the ability to get wealth (Deuteronomy 8:18). But how does He do that?

As much was I might like it if God would simply drop the money in my lap, that's not what He does. And if we get confused and think that that is how God operates, all we have to do is look at the lives of people who have won lotteries. Most of them end up worse off afterwards then if they had never won.

The key to inspired action is learning to listen to the ideas and the wisdom that God gives us. Proverbs 8 tells us that God's wisdom is crying out, literally begging for us to come and receive the wisdom we need to solve the problems we face. It tells us that wisdom is more valuable than gold or silver because wisdom will help us create enduring riches and righteousness (Proverbs 8:18).

Inspired action starts when we begin to pay attention to the ideas and wisdom that God brings into our lives. It is then made perfect when we trust God and take action on those ideas. The ideas themselves won't solve anything, but using those ideas will help us get what we want and create wealth that will last a lifetime.

Consistent, Persistent Action

Ecclesiastes 11:4 tells us that someone who worries about the wind won't sow, and because that person worries about all that could go wrong (looks at the clouds), he never reaps. It then goes on to tell us that we don't understand how God will cause things to happen in our lives (we don't know what the wind is doing, or how a baby is formed in the womb), but that God is in control and he makes everything happen.

What is our part in this process? Ecclesiastes 11:6 says, "Sow your seed in the morning, and at evening let not your hands be idle, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that, or whether both will do equally well."

We don't have to know how God will work things out, and wasting time trying to figure that out will only slow us down. All we need to do is to be consistent, and persistent, with our sowing. As Jim Rohn puts it, "God has the tough end of the deal. What if instead of planting the seed you had to make the tree? That would keep you up late at night, trying to figure that one out."

As we continue to take focused, inspired action toward our goals, and we stop wondering how God is going to work it all out and simply trust that He will, we will find that getting what we want was a lot easier than we thought.

The same faith that helped David defeat Goliath is in everyone of us. In "Taking On Goliath - How To Unleash The David In All Of Us," author Rob Marshall shows you how to unleash your faith, overcome any obstacle, and live your dreams. Get two free chapters of "Taking On Goliath" when you sign up for the Faith-Full Life newsletter, just visit:

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Monday, February 26, 2007

Overcoming Depression: A Lesson From The Life Of Elijah

Overcoming Depression: A Lesson From The Life Of Elijah by Rob Marshall

One of my favorite Old Testament stories is about Elijah. The story starts in 1 Kings 18 where we read about Elijah challenging the Israelites to decide whether they would serve God or Baal. To help them make their decision, he challenged the 450 prophets of Baal to a little contest. They were both going to prepare a sacrifice, and whichever god answered by fire, that god would really be God.

The prophets of Baal tried all day, and nothing happened. But when Elijah prayed, God caused His fire to come down and burn up the sacrifice, the wood, the water that Elijah had poured on the sacrifice, the stones, and the dirt around the altar.

When the people saw what God did, they fell down and worshipped Him. It was a powerful sign, and a great victory for God and Elijah, who then ordered the people to kill all the prophets of Baal.

And if that wasn't a great enough victory, the story goes on to tell us that Elijah prayed that rain would come to end a three-and-a-half year drought, and God answered his prayer with a deluge.

You might think that after experiencing such a great victory, and seeing God answer his prayer, that Elijah would be feeling pretty good. And he probably was, until he got some bad news.

When Jezebel, the queen, heard about Elijah killing all the prophets of Baal, she sent a message to him that said, "May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them." And when Elijah got her message, being the mighty man of God that he was, he got scared and ran away.

I can't really blame him. There have been times in my life when I've gotten news that wasn't half as bad as "I'm going to kill you," and I've gotten scared and run away. The Bible says that, as he was running, he left his servant behind, went out into the desert, sat down under a tree, and prayed that God would kill him.

Have you ever had bad days like that? Days when nothing seems to be going right and you just want to curl up in some quiet corner and die? I know that I have had times like that, and the bad news that I got wasn't a death threat. There have been times in my life when I've wanted to die and the only problem I was facing was a little discouragement.

In 1 Kings 19 we read that Elijah ends up going to the mountain of God and spends a night in a cave. In the morning the word of the Lord came to him, and God said, "What are you doing here, Elijah?" (1 Kings 19:9)

Elijah answered, "I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too." (1 Kings 19:10)

We read that God called Elijah out of the cave and that He brought a wind, an earthquake, and a fire to test Elijah.

When I see Elijah standing on the mountain, with a powerful wind howling around him, rocks falling and breaking into pieces near him, the dust from the rocks being blown into his face and eyes, I imagine that he must have been thinking that God was going to destroy him.

I'm sure that Elijah breathed a sigh of relief when the wind stopped, but then the earthquake came and he feared that God was going to open the ground, drag him down into the darkness of the earth, and crush him. And after barely surviving the earthquake, the fire came, and I'm sure that he knew this was it, God was going to consume him in a His wrath and his life would be over.

And all during this frightening show of God's power, God wasn't speaking to Elijah. Throughout this entire ordeal, after each potentially devastating event, the Bible says that "The Lord was not in" the wind, the earthquake, or the fire.

In times when I've felt depressed, and I've experienced a lot of times like that, I find that something happens that I can't explain. I may not be standing precariously on some mountain, but I have felt like my thoughts were destructive winds that tried to sweep me away in a torrent of negative words and feelings. Or my mind has raced on to imagining my life being shaken to the core and everything either falling apart or being completely destroyed, burned up by my own actions or God's wrath.

As I read this story I realize that most of the times when I have felt that way, God wasn't the one that was "in" the shaking. It was the anxious thoughts in my own mind that God was revealing to me. His voice was yet to come, and it came to me just like it came to Elijah, as that still, small voice, that asked me a very important question, "What are you doing here?"

When I look at how God dealt with Elijah in his fear and depression, I see that God is telling me something very important. For one, I need to be careful not to get off alone and allow my feelings to overwhelm me. I don't have to feel like I want to die just because something didn't work out the way that I had wanted.

The next thing that is important for me to do when I'm feeling like I'm stuck in a dark cave, is to put my focus on God. There are things that He wants to say to me, and most of the time, He will start off by asking me a question that will get me thinking about how I came to feel so depressed.

It was after Elijah had experienced the wind, the earthquake, and the fire, while feeling alone and without God, that he was able to hear God's voice. And when God spoke, He let Elijah know that he was wrong about many things. He was not the only prophet left and there were thousands of Israelites that still worshipped Him.

God will bring us out of our depression when we are open to hear the truth. The truth will most likely be very different from the thoughts we've been having, but it will encourage us and give us hope. And then God will give us our marching orders, just like he did for Elijah.

The way that God deals with depression in our lives may seem hard to understand, but what He is trying to do is to get us to hear Him more clearly than ever. What we have to do is to not allow the negative thoughts and emotions to so overwhelm us that we stop listening. And when we hear His voice, He will correct the wrong information that we have, give us hope, and ask us to obey Him and start taking action again.

When we do that, we will rise above depression and find victory in Him.

Rob Marshall is the author of "Taking On Goliath - How to Unleash the David in All of Us." Learn how you can unleash your faith and overcome any "Goliath" that may stand between you and your dreams. Get two free chapters from "Taking On Goliath" when you sign up for our free newsletter. Just visit:

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Jesus Never Preached Poverty

Jesus Never Preached Poverty by Rob Marshall

A recent Time magazine cover had a picture of a Rolls Royce with a cross as the hood ornament. The headline read: "Does God Want You To Be Rich?" The article talked about a trend that is developing within the American church to preach what some call the "Prosperity Gospel."

I sometimes wonder what all the controversy is about. I remember going to a meeting with some other Christians and listening to the preacher talk about God's blessings. After the event was over, one of the people I was breathed a sigh of relief and said, "For a minute there I was worried that he was going to start preaching health and wealth."

I believe that I understand what this person was getting at, but I have to ask: "Would you have felt better if he had preached sickness and poverty?"

There is a lot of confusion around the topic of God's blessings in our lives and what it means to live an abundant life. And I have no doubt that some preachers are simply teaching something that a lot of people want to hear, and they may not be all that sincere. But I also believe that God wants to bless His people, and no they don't have to wait until they get to heaven, and yes they can, and should, create and enjoy wealth in this life.

A story from the Gospels that is often cited when talking about the evils of riches is the story of the rich young ruler. This young man came to Jesus asking about what he needed to do so that he could have eternal life. (Matthew 19:16-26)

What I find interesting is that Jesus answered his question in some very odd ways. If we look at it from a "Christian" point of view, He said some things that really don't make sense. The first thing he told him was to obey the commandments. That's odd because Paul tells us in Galatians 2:16 that no man will be justified by obeying the law, but through faith in Christ.

And I know that some people may say, "Yeah, but this was before Jesus died on the cross." Still, even the Old Testament taught that the righteous live by faith. Even Abraham was justified in God's eyes because of his faith. God's word has always taught that we are justified by faith and not by works.

But even this young man realized that obeying the law wasn't enough because when Jesus gave him a list of commandments that he was to obey, he replied, "'All these I have kept,' the young man said. 'What do I still lack?'" (Matthew 19:20)

It was then that Jesus said, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." (Matthew 19:21) The story goes on to say that this man went away sad because he had great wealth.

Now before we begin to think that Jesus just told this man he could earn his way in to heaven by giving his money away, let's take a look at what Jesus said. He just gave this man an incredible promise. He told him that, if he would give his earthly wealth away, he would have treasure in heaven. Jesus wasn't trying to find out if this man was too attached to his wealth, He was pointing out that this man didn't really believe in heaven.

Let me ask you a question. If God said to you, "Sell everything that you have here on earth, where moths eat it, rust corrupts it, and thieves steal it, give it to the poor and I'll make sure you can enjoy it forever," what would you say?

Well, if you believed in heaven you'd say, "You got a deal!"

This young man, and everyone who trusts in their earthly wealth more than in their heavenly treasures, will have a hard time getting into heaven. Jesus wasn't preaching to this man that he needed to earn his way into heaven by being poor, He taught us all that our faith, what we really believe, is displayed by our actions.

The same faith that helped David defeat Goliath is in everyone of us. In "Taking On Goliath - How To Unleash The David In All Of Us," author Rob Marshall shows you how to unleash your faith, overcome any obstacle, and live your dreams. Get two free chapters of "Taking On Goliath" when you sign up for the Faith-Full Life newsletter, just visit:

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Sunday, February 25, 2007

How Your Dreams Can Change Your Life

How Your Dreams Can Change Your Life by Rob Marshall

What is controlling your life? If you're like a lot of Christians you might answer that question by saying, "God is controlling my life." As our pastor likes to point out, whenever a question is asked in Sunday School, most of the time you'll get the right answer if you say: God.

But the question really goes beyond that. Because when we look at what is controlling our lives we see that it is our desires, the dreams that we have, that motivate us and give us the drive to get up every morning and take action.

In Mark 5:24-34 we read the story of the woman who had suffered from bleeding for twelve years. It says that she had gone to many doctors, and spent all that she had, but that instead of getting better, she had gotten worse. But that day, in spite of the crowd that pressed around Jesus, she fought her way to Him and touched his clothes. The words she said to herself were, "If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed." (Mark 5:28)

For twelve years this woman had suffered but had never lost sight of her dream, the dream of being made whole. She had been willing to overcome any obstacle, and had tried everything she could think of, in order to be healed.

The Bible doesn't tell us how she heard about Jesus, or what she had to go through to be near Him that day, but one thing is clear, her dream, her desire to be healed, had controlled her life.

Proverbs 29:18 says, "Where there is no revelation (or vision), the people cast off restraint."

The vision that we have for our lives will create motivation, drive, and focus. It will give us the energy to persevere when the odds are against us, continue to work towards our dreams in spite of the setbacks and disappointments, and bring us to a place of wholehearted commitment to God.

The apostle Paul wrote that even though there were things in his life that needed to change, God's vision for his life had taken hold of him. He talked about forgetting his past and straining toward what was ahead of him. In Philippians 3:14-15 he says, "I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you."

As we pursue the dreams and desires that God has given us, we will change. When we allow God's vision for our lives to take hold of us and control our lives, we will put our mistakes behind us and continue to move forward toward our goals. As we do that, God will reveal every doubt and fear that we have, anything that is hindering us, and help us to overcome them so that we will reach our dreams.

The same faith that helped David defeat Goliath is in everyone of us. In "Taking On Goliath - How To Unleash The David In All Of Us," author Rob Marshall shows you how to unleash your faith, overcome any obstacle, and live your dreams. Get two free chapters of "Taking On Goliath" when you sign up for the Faith-Full Life newsletter, just visit:

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Parable Of The Sower: A Lesson On Faith And Abundance

Parable Of The Sower: A Lesson On Faith And Abundance by Rob Marshall

Many people have heard the statement, "You reap what you sow." Or, as my wife learned when she was making drapes for a living, "You rip what you sew." When it comes to sowing and reaping we often fail to enjoy the blessings that God has for us because we don't fully understand the lesson of the parable of the sower.

The parable of the sower is important because Jesus told his disciples that they needed to understand it in order to be able to understand all the parables (Mark 4:13). Most of the teaching that I've heard on this parable center around preaching the Gospel, but when we look at it from the standpoint of faith and how we sow the seeds of our faith through our words and prayers, we see that we can learn a lot about how to enjoy more of God's blessings.

Seed Along The Path

Jesus starts this parable by saying, "A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up." (Matthew 13:3-4) When He later explains the meaning of the parable to the disciples He says, "When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the seed sown along the path." (Matthew 13:19)

When it comes to our faith, the first problem we all have to face is our own lack of understanding about God and His kingdom. Hebrews 11:6 says "And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him."

If we are to avoid sowing our seeds along the path, we need to understand that God is who He says He is. His love and His power are infinite, His kingdom is within us, and all that He has for us is available to us when we seek Him with all our hearts. Nothing is impossible for God, and when we understand that, believe in it, and seek Him, it will bring joy to His heart and strengthen our faith.

Seed On Rocky Places

Jesus goes on to say that some of the seed fell on rocky places and because there wasn't much soil, it grew quickly, but then withered and died because the plants had no roots (Matthew 13:5-6). He then explains it to the disciples and says, "But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away." (Matthew 13:21)

There have been many times when I've prayed for something, but then other people have told me that what I was asking for was impossible, or God has taken longer to answer the prayer than I had wanted, or some other problem or trial comes along, and my faith has withered and died.

James 1:2-4 tells us that we should rejoice when we face various problems and trials because we know that our faith is being tested. It is the testing of our faith that helps us develop perseverance. The promise in James is that once we have added perseverance to our faith, we will be mature and complete, and that we will then lack nothing. There have been many times when I've wondered if I have suffered lack in my life simply because my faith had no roots, because I lacked perseverance.

Seed Among Thorns

One of the first things we learn about this farmer in Matthew 13 is that he never gave up. His seed fell on the path, on rocky ground, and he still kept sowing. But the next seeds he sowed fell among thorns, and Jesus said, "The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful." (Matthew 13:22)

When our seeds fall among the thorns it's because we fail to recognize that it is God who answers our prayers. He is the one who supplies all our needs. It's not the world; it's not even our jobs. If we begin to worry about how we're going to solve our problems, or start blaming the economy, the government, or anything else for our lack, we are worrying too much about our circumstances and we are forgetting God. When we trust God, we realize that He is more powerful than anything else in our lives.

The other problem that can cause our seeds to become unfruitful is that wealth will deceive us if we begin to think we got it on our own. In Deuteronomy 8:17-18 God warns the people about the deceitfulness of wealth when He says, "You may say to yourself, 'My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.' But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your forefathers, as it is today." Remembering that all our blessings come from God, and being thankful at all times, will help our seeds bear fruit.

On Good Soil

The seeds that are sown on good ground are the ones that are sown with the understanding of who God is and that He wants to reward us and answer our prayers. They are seeds that are sown with the understanding that the trials we face are perfecting our faith so that we will never lack anything. And they are the seeds that we sow remembering that nothing is impossible for God, there are no circumstances that He can't overcome, and it is through His power that we are blessed.

When we understand this parable and apply it to how we view our faith, and the seeds we sow in faith through our words and prayers, we will see that God blesses us abundantly. He will return to us thirty, sixty, and even a hundred-fold. Our seeds will bear much fruit and bring glory to Him when we continue sowing and looking for the good soil in our hearts.

The same faith that helped David defeat Goliath is in everyone of us. In "Taking On Goliath - How To Unleash The David In All Of Us," author Rob Marshall shows you how to unleash your faith, overcame any obstacle, and live your dreams. Get two free chapters of "Taking On Goliath" when you sign up for the Faith-Full Life newsletter, just visit:

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