Sunday, December 28, 2008

House For Sale?


You see the signs posted on every street….sometimes more than one… as our nation faces financial pressures like it has not known since the crash of 1929. Mortgage companies fold up their offices...Big box stores post their going out of business signs...and strip malls have vacancy signs in every window. It’s the ‘signs’ of the times!
Many of the youthful generation don’t have the base of knowledge that the seniors in our culture have, whose parents survived the breadlines of the ‘30’s, and some think it just a passing ‘phase’ that will soon pass and prosperous times will come again. Perhaps….and perhaps not… Only God knows the future. But while it is all a little scary for most of the population, not knowing if they will have a job tomorrow, or if they can continue living above their means as they have done for most of the last few decades...I am concerned for the spiritual state of the nation! Finances come and go. People eventually learn to deal with the way life is. For some it takes a little time as they learn to withdraw from opulence. For others, reality hits quick. But the spiritual state of what used to be called a ‘Christian’ nation is becoming more and more concerning.

The Church:
Let’s look first of all at the church… More and more, we can expect the state of the church here in America or Canada, to be like the state of the church in Europe. In France alone, only one fourth of one percent attend church regularly. In many European nations, churches stand dark and closed, or bought out by businesses or cults, or alternate world religions. The business of ‘faith’ has put the church up for sale. There is a new ‘dark ages’ looming on the spiritual horizon. Missionaries have been struggling to hold the line against the darkness. As costs skyrocket, faith takes a nosedive. When did it all begin? When skepticism, doubt, and atheism rose, and the Word of God lost it place of respect, not only in the educational circles, but in individual hearts.
The more tradition arises, so does apathy. With apathy, comes a lack of prayer and reading and study of the Word of God. It’s the little foxes that spoil the vine. As individuals allow new restrictive laws to hinder the freedom of worship and religion, soon, the general population accepts the status quo as ‘life’ and resists the effort it takes to change things. The church has posted it’s FOR SALE sign and when it’s gone….it’s gone! Recent news postings have informed the world that Christianity is not popular in some parts of the world. In Vietnam, a brand newly constructed church was destroyed on purpose by the local government officials and the Christian believers held back with cattle prods… In India, Christians are under severe attack for their faith. In Europe a recent survey reported: When the European Union asked citizens to rank values representing Europe, religion came last -- far behind "human rights," "democracy," "peace," "individual freedom" and other choices. Only 3% chose religion. A passive indifference has left Europe’s churches nearly empty. While atheism thrives, so does the Muslim faith and that frightens the few remaining Christians, especially as these non Christian groups become more dominant and assertive. In Germany, a wealthy furniture manufacturer is funding a "think tank of Enlightenment," a group of scientists and others committed to debunking religion...Around three-quarters of Europeans still describe themselves as Christians. But only a small minority go to church. In Western Europe, according to polls, fewer than 20% do. The pattern we see in Europe, we can expect here in America. Already, we have seen the massive decline in Sunday Schools. The role of the evangelist is already extinct in many denominations. Sunday night services have yielded to the priorities of our ‘entertainment generation’ who go to churches that please the media pallet. It appears that it’s an either/or taste...either the big mega church in entertainment mode, or the small home church movement. Traditional churches struggle to survive as never before. Tough finances are causing pastors to take secular jobs. Those once committed to a lifetime of serving God are taking a second look at their lives. Tithe paying members are holding their wallets tighter than ever. Those who attend the mega churches often don’t see the struggles of the smaller community church. Denominational officials are seeing a huge decline in pastors continuing in the profession they trained for, and instead learning new professions. Money has become the guideline for ministry. Certainly, there is a remnant out there of Godly men and women who are determined to weather the storm, by taking salary cuts, spending hours on their knees in prayer and raising a high spiritual standard for their church. But they are becoming more and more scarce. If you have such a pastor...take good care of him. Give him all the support you can, both spiritually and financially.
So what’s the problem? Where does one begin to point a finger? What do we begin to change now to stop the dyke from leaking? We live in an age of compromise. One of the dangerous attitudes the church has often adopted is the need for constant change….new ways of doing things to please the limited attention span of the media motivated generation...new songs, new choruses, new bands, new d├ęcor, new buildings, new business-like church organizational structures, new titles of church pastors...and worst of all, a passion exalting love and unity above purity of doctrine. In recent years, I have been increasingly alarmed at the pervasive views of fundamental and evangelical believers who seem to adopt whatever they see or hear on the radio or TV as if it were good Bible doctrine. Cults are on the rise. Those who do not know their Bibles are easily deceived. Pastors who fail to preach the clear doctrines of the Word, fail to feed their people the truth that will set them free and keep them that way. More and more of our younger generation are questioning the reality of ‘judgment’, the definition of ‘sin’, resulting in a ‘softness’ that is less offensive. There is weariness and impatience with those who do ’spiritual warfare’ because of it’s negative nature, opting for a ’positive’ faith that makes one ‘feel good.’ Yes, the church is for sale… but who is buying?

The Temple of God…You
We can point our fingers at the leadership of our churches, at denominations who slowly accepted such things as divorce, homosexuality and ‘prosperity’ rather than hold the old hard line of previous years. But in each of our lives, each one of us must give an accounting of our lives, what we have done for God, where we choose to stand and what we choose to believe. For many today, their lives of compromise have taken them down a path leading further and further from the Word of God. The Tyndales and the Wesleys and the Spurgeons of another generation would be shocked at the tolerance of most of today’s generation of ‘believers’ who no longer stand by the absolutes of the Bible.
Where do you stand believer? Is the Bible the absolute Word of God? Did He mean it when he called adultery and fornication “sin”? Have God’s standards changed? No, of course not. God does not change. We do! And we must change! We must have a restoration to Biblical values as never before! Faith in God and the freedoms our nation has preserved up to this point depends on it. It will take spiritual ‘guts’ to take a stand today like the spiritual giants of the past. Where is the church today who longs for a pastor with a heart after God rather than a heart after prestige, position and power. God give us people once again who will choose to serve God, no matter what their salary, no matter what their benefits, no matter how much flack they get from their peers. God longs for a people with clean hands and pure heart. Those that want to feast in His holy presence need that requirement. I learned recently that the Jewish people, before eating bread, will wash their hands in a special way, then say a special prayer of blessing before the meal of bread begins. Today, we need to be feasting on the ‘Bread of Life’, but we come to the table with dirty hands and soiled hearts. We ask God to bless us...rather than bless the bread. Then we reach out and grab all we can get. It must break the heart of God! Yes, too many have the For Sale signs up in their own front yards, selling out to the highest bidder… We listen to the voices around us, flattering our ‘new enlightenment’ which in reality is just a little more compromise. We let that flattery change us and adapt us to the culture around us. We become like chameleons, changing with our surroundings. But if we would stay in the Word, we would remain steadfast...marked by the absolutes that Jesus taught his disciples. If Jesus were to come back today to find a band of disciples He could use to change the world, would he find men and women of integrity? People of absolute values? People whose lives matched their walk?
We face a challenging year ahead of us. Some cities are already in a depression such as Detroit MI. where unemployment is 21% and the average house sells for $18,513. They face a bleak year. But even in the leanest of times, when we put our faith and trust in God, when we look to Him for our resources, when we believe He is able, He will come through. He is still the God of the supernatural. But we must be a people who will listen to and obey our supernatural God. We must want Him more than anything around us. We must be willing to sacrifice the things we think are important for what God thinks is important. We cannot take our houses and lands and bank accounts with us into eternity...but we can take people. And that’s what we are all called to do…”go and make disciples of all nations…”
If you have had your spiritual house up For Sale this past year, doubting the ability of God or the willingness of God to intervene on your behalf, it’s time to get back to the basics once again. Nothing is more important than time spent with God...in His Word, in his presence, at His feet. Miracles come to those who put their trust in God. Take down your For Sale sign and replace it with a sign that tells the world you are a building dedicated to God, ready for miracles, open for the impossible, believing for the supernatural. This is God’s opportunity to bring glory! Let your sign read: “Sold Out...for God!” Take some time to give yourself to ministry. Remember His promise…. “Give and it shall be given…. pressed down, shaken together and running over….” give of yourself, and let God meet all your needs. A loving God responds to generous hearts! I’m not For Sale! How about you? J. Johnson

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Wedding Bells!


We want to wish all our friends and family around the world---a beautiful Christmas. In this picture you will see our family, celebrating the wedding of our Son Jarred, and his new wife and our new daughter-in-law, Jenny. They were married in Waupaca WI on November 15th, 2008. God bless you all!

Turn on the LIGHT!


We live in a dark world. You watch reports of the growing darkness every night on the evening news. We are no stranger to darkness. Yet in the midst of darkness, there shines a light that dispels darkness. In the beginning of creation, God created light. He called the light day and the darkness night. And though we still have both to remind us of the creative hand of God, we often forget about the power of the light. God first reminded the Children of Israel in their flight from Egypt that light has great power over the darkness…. They watched as God in the tenth plague, at the command of Moses, brought darkness down upon Egypt. It was not just a momentary storm or and eclipse...as it lasted for three days. It was a supernatural darkness so thick you could feel it. Then later after they fled from Pharaoh, God gave them “ by night...a pillar of fire to give them light” (Exodus 13:21) Just like the people of God who were coming out of the darkness of sin and bondage of Egypt, so today, we need the light of God, the pillar of fire in the darkness of the night around us to give us light.
That Light came after 4000 years of waiting for the promised One… the Light of the world. First it was just a flicker...a star shining in the eastern sky, noticed by some astronomers who recognized its significance. They were willing to travel great distances to find the One whose Light was about to shine in the darkness. The prophet Isaiah has spoken of this One, hundreds of years before it ever happened...The sun shall be no more thy light by day; neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee: but the LORD shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory. Isaiah 60:19 and The people who walked in darkness Have seen a great light; Isaiah 9:2 and I will make darkness light before them, And crooked places straight. Isaiah 42:16
Then along came John the Baptist who declared to his followers about the ‘light’ that was coming..... 6There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. 7He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. 8He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. 9The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world. (John 1:6-8)
The Purpose of Light
God made light to dispel the darkness. It would be impossible to see what we are doing down here on this earth without light. Without light, nothing would grow, and life would be so limited. Without the light in our physical lives, some often suffer from depression, and some from Season Affective Disorder or SAD. Without the Light in our spiritual lives, we walk in despair and darkness. We all have a choice about whether we walk in darkness or in light. In the natural, we can turn on a light switch and the darkness of a room leaves us. If we light just a single candle, the darkness is dispelled. Jesus told his followers, in John 8:12 "I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life"
We must choose to follow the Light of the world. Those who think they can be their own light continue to walk in spiritual darkness. Jesus was not just the light for Israel, not just the light for Jews, not just the light for the time when He lived on the earth...but He is a Light of the whole world. His light shines wherever people give him an open door….wherever folks open their hearts to the Light of lights.
It amazes me that some folks love darkness when they can have light. I have been in homes where they have beautiful sunny windows covered by dark and depressing draperies. They never open the curtains and let the sun shine in. Some folks do that in their spiritual lives too. Fear paralyzes them and keeps them from trusting in the One who is Light, who brings light into the darkness and who overcomes the fear generated by the enemy.
There is coming a wonderful day for all who will trust the Savior and let Him shine the Light of Life into their lives. The world around us does not have much to offer when considering eternity. Folks often live with just a ‘hope’ that after they die, they will end up in a good place. We can do more than hope. We can know! We can anticipate a glorious future living in a city that needs no sun to light it… no moon at night...for there is no night there… and yet there is no darkness at all. There is One who will radiate the glory of God.
Revelation 21:23 And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. It’s soon Christmas again...and though the world seems dark and bleak, though the economy is suffering and folks wonder how they can celebrate the season with joy, there is One who gives us a reason to rejoice! Life was not easy for Joseph and Mary when Jesus came into their lives. They were living under a repressive Roman regime, taxed beyond measure, and without much hope for a reprieve. Yet in the midst of the political turmoil of that age, Jesus came...the Light of Life! And in a stable in Bethlehem, a light shone through the darkness that few understood. Few were even sensitive to what was happening around them. Are we any different today? Do we listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit as He speaks into our hearts? Are we obedient like the shepherds were? Do we follow His leading as the wise men did? Do we give to the Lord with their kind of generosity? Are we trusting as Mary and Joseph were? Do we recognize greatness in our midst as the prophetess Anna and the devout Simeon did when his parents brought Jesus to the temple after His birth? For many of us, we would have to be honest and say, “No”. Today we are a skeptical lot. We rarely trust others. We tend to believe the worst before we even know the truth. We hoard our resources instead of giving as Jesus did. We tend to do our own thing instead of walking in spiritual obedience. Thank God, Jesus is not like us!
Turn on the Light! We desperately need His Light! Yes, even today, His Light still shines. The darkness still goes. The path is made clear, the fear is dispelled! No darkness can remain in His presence! As you gather with your families around the story of His birth, make Him the focus of your day. It’s not the goodies on the table or under the tree that matter. It’s the Light that counts! Without Him, we would all be walking in darkness without hope, without a future…! Just as the Light shone brightly into the darkness of Bethlehem on that night so long ago, His light still shines brightly, not dimmed by the years, not overcome by darkness...shining to our churches, our homes, our businesses, our families and our own hearts—-if we let Him.
The Power of the Light
While the sun above us radiates both heat and light on our world, the Son also is an endless source of energy and power. From Him, all power is available to meet the needs of humans who will turn to Him for help. Divine energy flows from His limitless source and empowers believers to stand strong in the face of the enemy. Healing power flows down from the Son to enrich and bring vibrant health and strength to His children. The anointing flows through this power to meet the need. It is power to heal, to witness, to be bold, to pray, to worship, and to serve.
Does your world seem a little dark lately? Turn on the Light! Let the Son shine in! J. Johnson


From our house to yours, we wish each of you a blessed and Christ-filled Christmas season. Thank you for your faithfulness and prayers throughout the year. God Bless you all!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

A Salt Covenant...


You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.” Matthew 5:13
Most people like salt. Men have a bad habit of adding it to their meals before they have even tasted the food. We use salt today mostly to enhance flavor. But long before today’s habits developed, salt was used much differently in the Bible. Salt was a valuable commodity. Nations would fight over access to salt. Salt was used as money. Soldiers would be paid part of their wages in salt and from it we get the word ‘salary.’ Salt was necessary to preserve life. In the hot middle eastern climates, salt was needed to be healthy. It was used to preserve or cure all kinds of foods—fish, meats, grains, cheese. It was used as a weapon against those who rebelled. The enemy would salt a field to prevent it from being used to produce crops, making it useless. (Judges 9:42) Salt was used as an export to barter for other needed items. Salt was commanded to be used in all the sacrifices. It was used to remove the blood from the meat. It was used in the grain offerings. It was part of everyday life in ancient times, but not like we use it today. The Bible gives us more insight into the importance of salt. It was a symbol of unchanging, incorruptible purity. The Bible tells us that there was a covenant that was called a ‘salt covenant.’ We have heard of ‘blood covenants’, but who has ever heard of a ‘salt covenant?’ Yet it is mentioned three times in scripture.
And every offering of your grain offering you shall season with salt; you shall not allow the salt of the covenant of your God to be lacking from your grain offering. With all your offerings you shall offer salt. Lev 2:13
All the heave offerings of the holy things, which the children of Israel offer to the LORD, I have given to you and your sons and daughters with you as an ordinance forever; it is a covenant of salt forever before the LORD with you and your descendants with you.” Numbers 18:19
Should you not know that the LORD God of Israel gave the dominion over Israel to David forever, to him and his sons, by a covenant of salt? 2 Chron 13:5
So what is this ‘covenant of salt?’ Salt represents permanence. Take note in the verses above how it uses the word ‘forever’. In our world today… nothing seems to have that kind of eternal quality. We live in a throw away world. But God is eternal. He wants his special creation, to be a people of salt. It is not that we are to become salt, as Lot’s wife, but we are to be found in perfect balance. Salt, when used properly and productively is very useful. But when used all by itself, it is horrible. Just take a teaspoonful and you will know what I mean. It tastes good on raw vegetables, in pickles, on your favorite cut of meat, but all by itself, it is awful.
God wants each of us to be ‘salty’ Christians. We are to change the flavor of the world we touch. The words that come from our lips should be words that reflect the permanent change Christ has worked in our lives. Jesus Himself spoke of salt. "Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with each other." Mark 9:50 How often have you said words you wished you could take back? How often have you also heard other Christians cursing and swearing and it made you wonder about their real relationship with God? When we pretend to be Christians, we are like that deceptive salt that has lost its saltiness. Our lips betray us.
You have lots of salt in you. It is in your tears, in your sweat, and throughout your body. A little salt is necessary for good health. But too much salt is bad for you. Doctors will take heart patients off salt. It tends to thicken their blood and increase blood pressure. Salt needs to be kept in a balance. It may be used to melt snow on our highways, but it is also used to make ice cream. Moderation is the key word here. If we are to be salty in our lives, it is with moderation. But there is some salt that does not taste like salt. It has lost it’s flavor. That is what Jesus talked about. Paul taught in Col. 4:6 Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one. Here he ties grace and salt together. It speaks of our speech being tasteful and moderate, reflecting our love for the Lord. Just as salt can melt ice, so our words, when seasoned with salt can melt the hearts of those who listen to the gospel message. The Word of God flowing from our lips must be salty.
Salt can make a person thirsty. Theatres often salt their popcorn just enough so you will also want to buy a drink. We live in a spiritually dry world that is looking and longing for a drink that will satisfy them. Jesus offered that kind of drink to the woman at the well. His words were ‘salty.’ She longed for that living water.
But why a covenant? A covenant is a binding agreement between two parties. God made a covenant agreement with David, that his family would rule Israel forever. (2 Chron.13:5) That covenant was fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Jesus has dominion over Israel forever. There is an eternal consequence to a salt covenant. When God made a covenant with David… it was all up to God to fulfill his promise. Jesus came from the line of David through both Mary and Joseph. By his death, he became the salted sacrifice offered before God to cleanse the people from their sin, not for a moment, but for all time. It is eternally available to all who will accept His provision of cleansing and forgiveness. It does not just cover the sin, but it removes it. It is a binding contract that God made on your behalf….a better covenant and a better sacrifice that we read about in the book of Hebrews.
So what about the salt in your life? Are you living in this ‘covenant of salt?’ Does your life reflect the saltiness of His love and peace? Perhaps you are struggling with some of the habits of the world around you...gambling, drinking, smoking, sexual promiscuity, gossip, bitterness, greed and pride. This list could go on and on. You know what’s wrong in your heart. It is up to you to place your life on the altar of the Lord and let the High Priest of your soul prepare the sacrifice properly, cutting away the sin, and corruption, and pouring in the salt that will preserve your soul and make you presentable for his mercy seat. Salt will hurt on an open wound, but when mixed with water in moderation it can speed the healing and bring cleansing.
Sometimes folks get too much salt, and they do it without thinking—like men who over-salt their wife’s tasty cooking. Too many people today eat just about anything spiritually that is set in front of them, before tasting it to see if it is balanced. That’s how cults get a foothold. They hear a Bible teacher on the radio or TV or even on the internet and they swallow it without measuring it against the Word of God. It sounds good. It feels good. It looks good. But inside there is poison. The salt of cults is salt that has lost is flavor. Sometimes it masks the flavor of rotten food. It does not compare to the genuine salt of the Word. We must be on our guard and measure false doctrine against the genuineness of the Word.
Christians need to sweat more. Many have become lazy believers. You know that in your sweat is all the excess salt that your body no longer needs. It oozes out of your pores, drips down your face and soaks your clothing. When we live in a world where we sometimes get too much of the wrong kind of salt, we need to be working for God, sweating as we labor for the Lord and crying salty tears as we pray for the lost. Too long the church has sat back and demanded that it be entertained and coddled. It’s time to put on our work clothes and get busy serving the Master. When we press in and work hard, we sweat. The closer we get to the fire of the Holy Spirit, the more our lives should shed that unneeded salt. The fire of His presence and the fire on the altar will bring out the impurities we have inadvertently taken in.
Did you know that newborn babies were usually washed with salt in the Bible days? It removed impurities from the skin, cleansed them from contamination of the blood. It helped to keep them from deadly infections. One of my children came into contact with a dangerous staphylococcus infection as a newborn and it nearly killed him. It all happened because the hospital changed their policy of what was to be used to wash down newborn infants. Perhaps those Bible days practices were not so bad after all. It makes me think of new-born believers, who often come in contact with spiritually deadly and dangerous contaminants. They need their lives salted with the Word of God and the power of the Holy Spirit. They need to be daily bathed and cleansed from the worldly pollutants that would destroy them before they are strong enough to survive on their own.
Jesus told his disciples, “You are the salt of the earth…” Are we? Are we this vital commodity that causes life instead of death? Health instead of illness? Spiritual wealth instead of poverty? Do we represent purity in a corrupt world? Do we create spiritual thirst? Next time you say “Pass the salt please”… remember that you too are to be the salt of the earth! J. Johnson

Friday, October 03, 2008

Taming the Tiger


It’s fascinating to see a new tiger kitten—so small and cute and harmless. They sometimes appear on TV news shows and late night comedy shows. Guests can pick them up and cuddle them in their arms….but in just a few months, they can become deadly. Some have tried to take them home and make them pets, trying to tame the wild nature of an animal whose nature was designed to kill. Sometimes believers play the same kind of game with Satan and his temptations. They take home the ‘tiger’ of temptation and stroke it and feed it and play with it until it grows into a deadly killer.

Selfishness
There are all kinds of ‘tigers’ in our culture today. There is the ‘tiger’ of selfishness that often results in a broken marriage and shattered family, destroyed when the spouses focus on themselves and their needs, instead of on the needs of each other and the children. Humanism has taught a generation that ‘my’ needs come first. They tell themselves “What about me? I deserve something!” What they have failed to recognize is the Biblical principle taught in Luke 6:38 “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." When we are tempted to be selfish, we risk the gradual development of a wild tiger in our homes. To destroy this tiger once and for all there is only one sure remedy...giving! Giving is the exact opposite of selfishness.
But most folks don’t want to give when they have been trained to be takers. Takers spend lots of time developing the fine art of seeking out the best of everything around them, and filling their lives with things that make them feel good and give them comfort . They inadvertently teach their children to do the same. They model for them a ‘taker’ mentality. Christianity teaches a giving mentality, yet some believers continue to respond to their carnal nature and continue taking, thinking that they are doing what is right and proper. But Jesus in Luke 6 chose his 12 disciples and one of the first things He taught them was the principle of giving. The unselfish giving of Jesus originated in love. Jesus also taught them to love their enemies. "But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” Luke 6: 27-28
But how often do Christian couples today divorce on the terms of incompatibility, when they have refused to follow the teachings of Jesus… The apostle Paul taught that husbands are to love their wives and wives are to be submissive to their husbands, and Jesus taught that we are all to love our enemies. When the ‘enemy’ lives in our own household, we are to continue to love. Loving does not mean becoming a doormat to abusive physical behavior, substance abuse or any behavior that would endanger a life, but it does demand that we treat each other with respect and maturity. It means learning to discuss problems and work through them to a resolution.
The situation can change when each person involved begins to start giving. They must begin acting like Jesus. And they must start treating the “enemy” like you would treat Jesus. If Jesus lived in your house, how would you treat Him? Knowing what Jesus did for you...giving His life for your sin, motivates most believers to be willing to give Him whatever He wants….serving Him with absolute unconditional love, just as He loved us as gave Himself for us.
All sin begins in selfishness. It demands its own way. It seeks it’s needs met without considering the needs of others. But love is the opposite. Just read the familiar 1 Corinthians 13 passage: “4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8Love never fails.” Yet how often in a heated situation do Christians allow their emotions to be aroused to the point of rudeness, rage and rebellion. They begin to tally up a list of grievances—wrongs, unmet expectations, and the moment selfishness shows it’s ugly face, trust is destroyed again and again until the relationship crumbles into oblivion. I often wonder if just one person had begun to act like Jesus, had chosen to love when the other was unkind, or had chosen to be patient when the other lost patience, or chose to be humble when one became arrogant and pride filled—could it have changed the dynamics of the confrontation? The love chapter teaches us that genuine love looks beyond the sin and protects...reaching beyond what it sees to what it believes God will make through the power of love. He promises us that love NEVER fails.
Some have the worldly notion that love is an emotion one feels on the inside, and when they don’t ‘feel’ loved...that love is gone. But this is a lie from the enemy. Love is not a feeling! Love is a choice. It is not an adjective, but a verb. Love is something you do. Love is not that tingly feeling you have when you first meet a person of the opposite sex to whom you are attracted. Love chooses to love regardless of what it sees, hears, thinks or feels. That is how you can tame a savage tiger. With the love that God gives us, modeled by Jesus Himself, genuine love transforms the tiger into a kitten. How? Well, in Christ Jesus, when we yield ourselves to Him, He makes us new creations. He kills the old vile nature and makes it into something altogether different. It chooses to love, seeing the possibility of change in others who also need to become ‘new creations’.

Unforgiveness
“I’ll never forgive what they did to me!” How often have you heard that phrase? Somehow we think if we don’t forgive, it will punish our ‘victim’. But the reality is it hurts you far more than your victim. It places in you, that seed of bitterness that grows and sours your life. Forgiveness tames the ‘tiger’ in you and places the weight of responsibility on the perpetrator. When you choose to forgive, a load lifts, freeing you from a lifetime of hurt and pain. But where do we begin? It starts to change when we do what Jesus did.

Self Denial
Jesus practiced love and unselfishness to show us how to do it right. He began with self-denial. “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me…. (Matt. 16:24) We begin doing this when we look at others with humility and see them as God’s very own blessing in our life. God placed them there to teach us something we lack. Humility is a must. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for “ God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.” (1 Peter 5:5) and Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. ( Phil. 2:3) Humility is something only you can do. No one can do it for you. You must choose it, and know it will make you a better person.

Self Control
To bring healing and closure to any heated situation requires that believers learn to exercise self-control. Unfortunately they all too often spend time trying to control each other. Self-control begins when we recognize that the only one who has control of anything is God. We can never control other adults, only ourselves. As obedient children we must subject ourselves to Him, allowing His Spirit to control our uncontrolled lives. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control….24 And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” (Gal 5:22-24) So it is not getting our own way that matters, but yielding to His, killing our selfish desires. The person who exercises Godly self-control is one who brings every thought and action into conformity with the will of God. What is His will? His will is found in His Word. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (Romans 12:2)and that will includes refraining from fornication….  For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: 4That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honor; (1 Thess. 2:3,4) Self control will keep you from falling into sin’s traps made by the enemy. Every person who falls in sin, failed in the area of self-control.

Self Sacrifice
Jesus gave the ultimate self sacrifice. He died. He chose to lay down his life for those He loved—us. He expects us to do the same.  I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. (Rom. 12:1) Self sacrifice means doing what your carnal flesh tells you not to do...to yield to God, to yield to the Holy Spirit, to listen to His voice and obey what He tells you to do. We are to place our lives on the altar of God and yield to His control….come what may. It means not getting ruffled when others criticize or fail to appreciate. It means patiently dealing with repeated annoyances and walking in humility when others rise in arrogance…. knowing that God is working a higher good. Paul recommended that husbands love their wives this way...as Christ loved the church.
Each of these ‘tigers’ requires you...yourself...to respond. Others cannot do it for you. You must choose as Jesus would choose. Spiritual maturity must rise up within us. You are called to a role others may never attain. Yield your life to Him and let Him help you tame your tiger….by transforming you.
J. Johnson
 

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Choosing Godly Leadership...


Every time you turn on the media you hear one voice after another proclaiming the virtues of the leadership of choice. Sometimes the voice is talking about a politician, and sometimes it is talking about a new product for consumers to buy. Everyone loves success. The culture around us feeds on climbing up the ladder of success, improving leadership skills, learning to deal with difficulties, and in the process producing results that influence the bottom line. The market driven culture around us has made a religion of leadership principles. Today, much of the church has bought into those principles and we have a market driven church. But God’s guidelines for leadership are far different. In fact, those in business who have succeeded often borrowed their leadership guidelines from the Bible. Today however, the tables have turned and the church is trying to learn from the world. It has caused an upheaval in the church culture of the 21st Century.
While the world looks for strong personalities, God often looked for the weak. Moses, though trained in a royal household, had some major problems. He was a murderer. He stuttered, or had poor speaking ability. He ran from confrontation. He did not see himself as a leader. But God did. God was not looking for the most confident but the most humble. He was not looking for outward beauty, but inward spirituality. He was not looking for someone who could ‘sermonize’, but someone who would follow directions from above. God wanted a man of faith who knew the voice of God, and did what God said.
David was an unlikely candidate for King. Even Jesse, his father thought all of his brothers were more likely candidates, leaving David in the field tending the sheep. But God saw something special in the young lad, even as he was growing up, qualities that marked him in the eyes of God of a position of greatness. David was an obedient son. He knew how to follow directions. His listened to his father. He willingly did the most humble job...tending smelly sheep. He took on the tasks given to him and did them with excellence. He learned early how to lead as he led the sheep. He developed skills for each task, protecting the flock, and protecting Israel from giants who challenged his God. He was not tall and handsome as King Saul had been, for the Bible describes him through Goliaths eyes as “was only a youth, ruddy and good-looking.” And it tells us that Goliath “disdained him”. ( 1 Samuel 17:42)
These were all men who were on the same page with God. They believed God and did what He directed them to do, and they did it with excellence.
It is unfortunate today that too many ‘spiritual leaders’ take their cues from the world around them. That does not make them spiritual leaders. I like what Dr. Henry Blackaby says about a spiritual leader. “A person can hold a religious position and be a leader but that doesn't make him a spiritual leader. Position does not identify your leadership role…..God's goal is to reveal Himself, so if we're leading but not leading people on to God's agenda, leading them to a relationship to Him where they are releasing their lives to Him, then we're not spiritual leaders.” But of course to be able to do this, each person needs a genuine relationship with God first of all, for a leader can not lead others to a place where he himself has never been. It’s hard to lead a revival if you’ve never been revived. It’s hard to be led of the Spirit of God if you have not been filled to overflowing yourself. Too often, we tell ourselves and those who are following, we need a vision….after all the bible says “without a vision the people perish.” But in reality this passage is poorly translated. We think of a vision as our idea of what God wants. But it is never ‘our idea’ that God wants. The NIV puts it this way…”Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint;” (Proverbs 29:18) or in other words, ‘when the people do not hear from God, they do whatever they want., or are uncontrolled.” That’s certainly not vision as we think of it, but spiritual anarchy, self-will, and rebellion. So we don’t need a vision, don’t need to ‘cast a vision’...but instead we need to get a new revelation of God. When we see God for who He is, that revelation changes us. It makes each believer a leader, a minister. The mission of a spiritual leader is to lead others to God. If your mission is leading others to follow you, or a denomination, or a set of rules, and not getting people to follow God and his agenda, you are leading in the wrong direction. What you want does not matter!

Jesus Leadership Example.
Jesus took 12 raw recruits and made them into dynamic spiritual leaders. He did not choose men who were studied in the religious schools of their day. They did not have the ‘paper work’ that marked them as successes. He used blue collar workers: fishermen, tax collectors, laborers, and ordinary folk. He did not look for the ones who came from the ‘good’ families….but the ones who were willing to listen and learn. They were teachable. They were humble. They were hungry for God. When He was done with them, they turned the Roman Empire and the Jewish religious world upside down.
Jesus was never into ‘success’. Instead, He was into obedience. He was not into greatness, but servanthood. “Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 44and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. 45For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."( Mark 10:43-45)
Every week, churches are choosing new leadership for their pulpits. They have been trained by the world around them to look at the pedigree of the candidate. Does he have a Master’s degree? Has he written a book? Is he dynamic? Is he contemporary? Instead they should be looking at his spiritual life. Is he a man of prayer? Does he know the voice of God? Is he actively Holy Spirit filled? Is he humble? Is he a David or a Saul? Has he had a personal encounter with God that dramatically changed his life?
Every week, a pastor somewhere fails in his ministry. It devastates the church. It causes baby Christians to stumble. The world magnifies the failure for all to see. Sometimes the church does the same. What would Jesus do? How would He respond? He would have continued to follow his heavenly agenda, to lead men and women into a relationship with God. This calls for the church to become a hospital to our wounded world. While we are to not excuse or whitewash sin, we are to forgive it and learn from it.
The Political World
There is a vacuum of Godly leadership in the political realm. The mistakes of spiritual leaders of the past have not helped. But the nations must still choose a leader to guide it into the next few years. What is a Christian to do? Find the candidate that does not make you happy, but makes God happy. The candidate with godly principles in place in his life, will choose to guide the nation by Biblical principles. I would rather have a man who has a real relationship with God in charge than one who just says he does. How do we know the difference? How does he treat the most vulnerable in our society—the unborn? Is he humble, a servant, a man whose track record speaks of God’s agenda? If you choose a leader because he is handsome and well spoken, that is not part of God’s agenda. If you choose because it will mean you have to make fewer sacrifices, that’s not part of God’s agenda. God sent His only Son, to die for His agenda. Because He did, you have life! It takes a great deal of integrity to buck the crowd and listen to God and do the right thing even when it hurts. But that’s what spiritual leaders do. Spiritual leaders have one ear to heaven, and an eye on the needs around him. They have a sense of urgency to accomplish the task. They want to get on with it! Fear of man does not stand in their way. They fear God first. They want you to see God’s agenda as they do, whatever the cost. The moment we realize that God is Almighty God, and we are not….we begin to march to a different drumbeat...one that begins in heaven. Following God makes great spiritual leaders. Our culture has grown fond of the idea that we can be little ‘gods.’ But it only makes little men when they discover God is still in charge of it all.
Church, it’s time to lead God’s way. It’s time to get back into the Word, and back to the presence of God, and back to the simplicity of following God. It’s time for spiritual leaders to find their way back to the spiritual altars of God, back to the Living Water, back to the Bread of Life. It’s time to turn our ears to heaven and turn off the clamor of the world around us. It’s time to begin leading as Jesus led. Godly leadership always begins with God.
“Jesus got them together to settle things down. "You've observed how godless rulers throw their weight around," he said, "and when people get a little power how quickly it goes to their heads. It's not going to be that way with you. Whoever wants to be great must become a servant. Whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave. That is what the Son of Man has done: He came to serve, not to be served—and then to give away his life in exchange for many who are held hostage." (TMB) Matt 10:41-45
J. Johnson

Friday, August 08, 2008

Restore the Balance!


When I was little, my brother and I used to go to the park at the end of our street and play on a device called a ‘teeter-totter’ It was great fun when we were about the same size and weight. But as he grew, the fun disappeared as things got all out of balance. Because he was bigger, he could take advantage of me, sometimes holding me up in the air, sometimes causing me to land hard on the ground. The result was painful and unpleasant. Being out of balance tends to do that.
We live in a world out of balance. Those with power and strength tend to take advantage of those who are weaker. Those with money victimize the poor. Those in power use their positions for their best advantage. While Jesus taught just the opposite—-to be a servant to all. Where are the servants? Where is the balance?
Jesus operated in perfect balance. He knew his purpose and He kept His focus on fulfilling that purpose. Some might say he was ‘purpose driven.’ I tend to think He was ‘balance driven.’ He understood the need for teamwork and co-operation. That teamwork began at the top and flowed downward. The Godhead worked in perfect balanced precision. Each had a key part to play in the redemption of mankind from the curse of sin. Without that balanced precision, the plan of God would have failed miserably.
Belshazzer was weighed in God’s balances and found wanting, lacking...not measuring up to God’s standards. His life was out of balance. He enjoyed his party life, until something happened that he could not control, could not explain and could not change. While giving a huge drinking party for thousands of his rich friends, he decided to ‘thumb his nose’ at God, asking his servants to bring the holy vessels of gold and silver which were sacred, to be used in the temple. His purpose was for all his guests, both men and women, to drink from them, and to praise gods of his own making, the gods of gold and silver, bronze, iron, wood and stone. When they began to abuse these holy vessels which were dedicated to the Lord God Jehovah, God’s hand appeared, writing on the banquet hall wall. Belshazzar had stepped over a line. Judgment was about to fall.
Just as King Belshazzar was warned of impending doom upon his kingdom, so today God continues to warn mankind that judgment is coming. All whose lives are out of balance will face the ‘handwriting of God’ as their ‘kingdom’ comes crashing down.

Balance in the church
America has often been compared to Babylon. Although it was a nation founded on Biblical principles, guided by godly men and the local church, it has gradually deteriorated into a nation that no longer reveres God, and instead tolerates compromise, taking what was once sacred, and using it for pleasure, lust, perversion and self-satisfaction. While 90% of Americans say they believe in God, only 47% act like they do, by regularly going to church, and less than that read their Bibles, pray daily, teaching their values to their children. I fault the church for failing to hold the standard high. While not all churches have failed, the majority of churches in America refuse to take a stand against sin, against laws that undermine faith and values, and at the same time fail to model for their people, the God who works in power and might. We need the hand of God writing on the walls of our churches as they party and entertain each other. The church has become a theatre and restaurant instead of a place of spiritual transformation and miracles. It needs to discover that God is still God, that He has power, that He is a jealous God, and that He has power to judge the sinner.
I do not like to see people suffer. However, suffering has a way of restoring values and focus. When the church of God discovers that God sees them, that He cares about them, that He is grieved by their sin, they must repent. Only repentance can change the judgment that is coming. A balanced church teaches a balanced Biblical doctrine, based on a solid foundation of proper Biblical interpretation. A balanced church will be a servant church….not just serving each other, but serving the Lord. Each member of a balanced church will desire to find their place of ministry and do it—no complaining, no excuses, no bargaining. Jesus is lifted high in a balanced church.

Balance in the family
How does the family unit today fail to measure up to God’s standards? For the most part, today, a family consists of a single parent with multiple siblings from multiple fathers. Premarital sexuality, divorce and co-habitation have destroyed what used to be a family in America. Children come home from school to empty homes and wait for their work-a-holic parents to arrive and toss some fast-food supper on the table. It’s both amusing and sad to watch families struggling with trying to be parents in shows like ‘Super Nanny’. Where is God and faith and gentleness motivated by love in these homes? Many had worked so hard to provide a glorious ‘house’ but have no clue how to make it a real ‘home’. They have forgotten how to have fun together. They are so busy being busy.
Belshazzar was raised in a home that had been a godly one. He knew the story well of how his grandfather Nebuchadnezzar had spent 7 years out of his mind until he finally came to his senses and repented to God. But he ignored the warnings. He ‘did his own thing.’ Are you and your family doing your own thing? Or are you setting a godly example for your children and grandchildren? Does it include faithful church attendance. How you choose to spend your time sends a message to those little ones watching you. Your example speaks louder than your words, even if you shout. What do you value most? Take a look at your monthly expenses and see where you spend most of your excess funds—that’s what you value most! How many fail to give generously to God, yet give generously to themselves. The mark of a family that has healthy priorities is one that gives joyfully to God so His work can go forward—-giving time, giving talents, giving material goods, and giving finances. Jesus was a giver. He gave His all. Teach your family to give generously to the Lord.

Personal Balance
It’s one thing to point a finger at the church, and at the family...and another to point it at yourself. Yet everything you do for God begins with a one-on-one relationship with God. Without God in your life, you are already out of balance. As each person in the body of Christ maintains a balance, the whole will also be balanced. God is the balancing point in the ‘teeter-totter’ of life. We each struggle with keeping a balance between the things of the ‘flesh’ and the things of the ‘spirit’. Paul warned the church in Galatia… “So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.” (NIV) Galatians 5:16,17 The spiritual is at war with the carnal sinful nature in man. But when we learn to identify the sinful, we can steer clear of it. He clearly identifies it: “It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community. I could go on…..If you use your freedom this way, you will not inherit God's kingdom.” TMB Galatians 5:19-21 The Bible tells us not only what we need to avoid, but also what we need to be like. “But what happens when we live God's way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.” TNB (Galatians 5:22-23) When the Holy Spirit is in charge, guiding our daily walk, things are different. The Spirit filled, Spirit-led believer will be growing spiritually, will be spiritually discerning, and will be motivated to do the things that please the Lord. Too often today, Christians tend to tolerate sin in their lives. They loose their tempers, they lie, steal, cheat, and do it all because ‘everyone else is doing it.’ Too many Christians have chosen to live together without the commitment of marriage, have decided even if they did marry, that divorce was their choice to solve their marriage problems. When we fail to thrive spiritually, we fail to maintain a spiritual balance. Flesh dominates the spiritual. Choices become selfish. The world points its finger at the carnal Christian and says “You are no different that me.” We wonder why our friends and family do not want our ‘faith.’ It’s a flawed faith.
Let’s restore the balance—balance in the church, balance in our families and balance in our lives. We will meet many along the way whose lives are out of balance and who will need assistance in steadying their out of balance world. Let’s get back to the basics where balance begins...Jesus Christ!
J. Johnson

Saturday, June 28, 2008

I Can't Hear You


I have been a Christian for 50 years. Yet never have I seen the attitudes I am seeing around me in the church world. It grieves my heart and it must also grieve the heart of God. I am talking about the “I’m right and you are wrong” attitude. It appears to be coloring every aspect of church life. It causes believers to be angry with each other, to leave the church and then go no where. I sometimes wonder how many folks are out there, who used to go to church every Sunday, joining their hearts in harmony to worship the God they love, but today finds them, at home, trusting the TV or radio to provide their spiritual nourishment. What’s the problem?
Eyes on Man
All too often the problems begin when we get our eyes off God and focus instead on man and his problems. We must ask ourselves when we find we are in the middle of strife in the church, “Why do I go to church?” Is it to listen to the preacher, to fellowship with my friends, to grow in my own ministry, to serve the Lord. Or is it to worship God? When we forget that the original plan of God was to gather the people together to worship Him, we often fall into patterns we call ‘worship’ but it often is not worship at all. While we are to be careful in what we adhere to in our doctrine, we must also be careful that we do not neglect the teachings of the Lord… And now, Israel, what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul (Deuteronomy 10:12). For Jesus Himself told satan in the wilderness temptation… “Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.” (Matthew 4:10) When we cut ourselves off from corporate worship we invite all kinds of problems into our lives. Our focus at first seems to be self-preservation. We don’t want to be hurt or deal with people who continually seem to hurt us. So we remove ourselves from their fellowship. But all too soon, our wounded hearts rationalize that the risk is too great that we might experience more pain and so we go no where at all. As we focus on the problem man has caused in our lives, we are like turtles, pulling inside our shells to protect. But in fact we do more harm than good. We set a poor example for those who look to us for guidance. We fail to forgive, and we often live in continual pain because of it. Our children and grandchildren see that church and Christian fellowship is not important. We no longer have the encouragement of other believers to work together for the cause of Christ. Some fail to tithe. Others fail to serve. Some eventually turn away from God altogether...all because they got their eyes on the wrong things.
Ears to Hear
Too many today are getting caught up into cultic teachings. As the church becomes more and more passive in it’s approach to try to please everyone and not offend anyone, leadership often fails to declare the Word of God with boldness. People don’t know what they believe or why. When they pull away from the church they often turn to TV or radio and begin to listen to voices declaring their opinions instead of the Word of God. They lack spiritual discernment. I have met far too many in recent years who have slowly bought into such ministries as the “Shepherd’s Chapel” and Pastor Arnold Murray, and his non-biblical beliefs, which are based on the cultic “Serpent Seed Doctrine” which teaches that Eve had sexual intimacy with Satan to produce Cain, who began a ‘hybrid’ race of people who were cursed by God, called them Kenites, and are now the Jews, and dark skinned peoples of the world. This is pure racism and has absolutely no basis in proper Biblical interpretation!!! Yet folks watch his programs because he takes the Bible in hand and reads it verse by verse, explaining his ‘doctrine’ with the American flag behind him.
Another odd teacher some are heeding is Mr. Harold Camping on the Family Radio network. His voice comes across the airwaves via his 150 radio stations across the nation on this call-in talk show called “Open Forum.” Some find themselves buying into his odd doctrines which declared that Christ would return in 1994 but when that failed he re-evaluated and now has determine that the rapture will take place May 21st, 2011, and that the Lord will return on October 20th 2011. Some of his other non-biblical teachings include…. annihilation of the unsaved, the rejection of the total depravity of man in denial of Romans 3:12, no visible Return of Christ, no resurrection of the unsaved, no final judgment of the unsaved, no eternal hell, the Holy Spirit has already lifted from the church, God has abandoned his apostate church. Therefore he advocates that you no longer need to go to church—any church, just listen to his radio station and send your tithes to him, while you wait for 2011. One of his most ridiculous declarations is that no one in the world was saved between 1988 and 1994. We must remember the scriptures which teach us… (1 John 4:1 KJV) Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. We must be discerning in the body of Christ! We must know our Bibles. We must not neglect the teachings of Jesus Christ. One of the last things Jesus told his disciples is found in Matthew 28: 19-20 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” We are not to abandon the church, to stop making disciples, to stop baptizing the converts, because He, Jesus, is still with us, “even to the end of the age.” Time has not stopped and God is still with the church! The age of the church is not over! Just as we are to observe communion ‘’til He come”, so we must continually “occupy til he comes”. (Luke 19:13) We have work to do for God! There are lost souls who need to find the Savior. The Word of God teaches us “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. (2 Timothy 4:3-4) And this culture today is abounding in fables. The more Biblically ignorant the world becomes, the more they become the victims of unscrupulous teachers of lies and fables. That is why Paul told young Timothy in the previous verse, “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine.” ( 2 Tim 4:2) It takes courage to take a stand in the face of blatant error. Sometimes it causes divisions, especially when loyalties are stretched. We need a new generation of pastors and teachers who will fearlessly proclaim the Word of God, who will not be afraid to reprove and rebuke in love, those who are falling into error. Boards need to stand firmly behind their pastors as they preach the Word. Just as a shepherd would leave the 99 and go in search of the one lost sheep who has wandered from the fold, so must we, as servants of the Lord, seek to bring back into the fold, those who have wandered into spiritual error.
What are you listening to with your ears? Are you just listening for ‘something new and novel?” Or, are you carefully listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit who promised to lead us into all truth? One of the often repeated phrases given to John in Revelations in the messages to the churches was…”He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches;” (Rev. 2:7) The Spirit filled believer must be listening, not to the voices around him, but to the Spirit, who will confirm the Truth and reveal the errors. The Holy Spirit is still at work in the church and is still speaking to believers. He is going to do that until Jesus returns for his Bride, the church. That is why we must also be cautious today when we listen to those who call themselves ‘prophets’. Some would try to manipulate for personal gain. Others try to make a name for themselves. Both are wrong. The Lord left us with the Holy Spirit so that all of us could now serve the Lord as prophets, priests and kings. But that does not mean we fall into imbalance, to use it for selfish purposes. We are to ‘try the spirits.’ We are to ‘preach the Word.’ We are to ‘teach all nations’ and bring them to the truth. Jesus set the example… “And Jesus, when he came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and he began to teach them many things.” (Mark 6:34) Parents, teach your children and grandchildren the Word of God. Take them faithfully to the house of God and teach them to worship and value the presence of God. Pastors, stand tall in your pulpit, and with holy boldness, declare the message God has placed on your heart without apologies. You are guarding your flock! Teachers, wherever you teach, use your gift to declare the truth! Be a student of the Word! Be aware of the dangers in our culture. Warn the innocent! Expect opposition! Be ready with an answer and let the Holy Spirit give you an answer when you have none. Be faithful! Keep a cool head. Stay alert. The Devil is poised to pounce, and would like nothing better than to catch you napping. Keep your guard up. You're not the only ones plunged into these hard times. It's the same with Christians all over the world. So keep a firm grip on the faith. The suffering won't last forever. It won't be long before this generous God who has great plans for us in Christ—eternal and glorious plans they are!—will have you put together and on your feet for good. He gets the last word; yes, he does. 1 Peter 5:8-11 (The Message Bible)
J. Johnson

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Will You Pray?





The Harvest Season is coming once again! It happens every summer as we go into the fair grounds with the God Mobile and take the gospel message to those who really want to know if they are ready for heaven. But we have a great need. We need faithful prayer warriors who will be willing to stand with us throughout the summer months, who will pray behind the scenes for the workers, for those who come seeking the answers they long to know, for safety on the highways moving the God Mobile. We also need those willing to help us with the expenses this harvest incurs. It takes money, to provide the gas to get to the fairs, to provide printed materials to give out to the seekers, (tracts, gospels of John, follow up materials directing them to churches etc), as well as costs to rent space at each fair. Pray for more workers. Your gifts this month will enable us to win the lost. In the last 5 years over 9,000 have prayed, one-on-one! The task is joy-filled yet very exhausting as they come drawing from you sometimes in groups of 3 to 6. We need your prayers! Will you stand with us once again? Your gifts are tax-deductible as always when made out to “Word of the Lord Ministries” Thank you for your faithfulness!


Donation to this event may be made above via Pay Pal if you have a Pay Pal Account.
They may also be sent to: Word of the Lord Ministries, PO Box 210015, Milwaukee, WI 53221

The Valley of Decision




We are amazed at what we see on our TV screens and via the internet today as we see moment by moment news flashes from around the world. We can watch as after shocks and new quakes hit China’s Sichuan Province and in the next moment see the devastation in Myanmar or bombs exploding in Iraq. We can go on the internet and see all the recent earthquakes shaking the ground all around the globe. We can pull down news feeds from networks around the world and hear the latest news that speaks of prophetic fulfillment and warns the believers that it is possible that Jesus could return at any time. Yet, though we have all this technology at our fingertips, the world rumbles on—going through the daily motions and routines. The Bible gives us the warnings of God’s judgment on the nations in Joel 3:14-17 "Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision. 15 The sun and moon will grow dark, And the stars will diminish their brightness. 16 The LORD also will roar from Zion, And utter His voice from Jerusalem; The heavens and earth will shake; But the LORD will be a shelter for His people, And the strength of the children of Israel. 17 “ So you shall know that I am the LORD your God, Dwelling in Zion My holy mountain. Then Jerusalem shall be holy, And no aliens shall ever pass through her again.”
God will be bringing the nations of the world to a point at which they must choose….a valley of decision. When we are so busy, so distracted, so apathetic, we are not ready to make important choices. But when the pressure mounts and the times get hard, we begin to look at our options a little more carefully. We begin to make priorities. Some are already doing that with their cars. As gas prices climb, we choose what we will go for, and we plan our trips carefully for the best use of our gas money. We park our gas-hogs, pull out our bikes or walking shoes and get some exercise instead. Suddenly we take the time to think about other options. We choose what is really important and what is not.
God wants us to do the same with our spiritual lives. Soon, all around us, there will be millions, in the valley of decision. They will be looking for answers to the dilemma’s they face. They will want to know what to do and where to turn. They will want help with their questions, and will want to know about God and eternity. Some many be very angry, blaming God for their circumstances. Some will be in a state of utter despair. But the believer is not to be this way. He is to be ready, not indecisive. He serves God, who knows all things. For the believer, there need be no panic or fear. When we see the signs, the divine notifications, we can be sure that God is working His plan and He has an eye on those who are His own….But the LORD will be a shelter for His people. While the multitudes are in the valley of decision, we are to take note that the ‘the day of the LORD is near .' This tells us that in the divine calendar of God, we will see things to point us to the Lord. In a recent broadcast on Prophesy in the News with J.R. Church, he hosted a Messianic pastor, Rev. Mark Biltz who shared an interesting interpretation regarding the signs that Joel talked about here….the sun and moon growing dark and the stars diminished brightness. Back in the days when it was written, they did not understand what was happening when the sun or the moon experienced an eclipse. Today, we understand what causes this to happen. Yet, to God, He uses these rhythmic occurrences to remind man of His existence and His plan as well as His calendar. Today we use a Gregorian calendar. But the Jews have a calendar all their own. Their New Year begins in Sept/Oct instead of January. Rev. Biltz noted by looking back in history via NASA that God often allowed historic events to occur on the 9th day of Av (July or Aug) including the destruction of two of the Jewish temples(423 BC and 69 AD), the expulsion of Jews of Spain(1492 AD) and England(1290 AD), the 6 day war in Israel(1967), and the expulsion of Jews from Gaza (2005). When comparing these dates with eclipses of past history, they coincided. God marked each sad day with a sign in the heavens.
While we tend to look at the catastrophes like just another news item, God marks them in His divine calendar. He tells us in His Word, that we can expect to see these things all happening at the same time. It is a sign to us all. While some think God has abandoned the Jewish people, it is amazing that the prophecies spoken thousands of years ago, continue to point the people of God to the reality of a God who loves his creation enough to warn them in advance. When God speaks from Jerusalem, and the heavens and earth shakes at the sound of His voice, we need not fear. God is in charge!
Shaking!
How is God shaking your world today? If I have to pay $4.00 a gallon for gas, I find it hard to complain when I hear that others in the world are paying $9.00 for the same thing. If I have a small ache or pain, I just can’t complain when I see the sad destruction of thousands crushed under crumbling buildings, and homes washed away. When I look up to the sky, and I see the creation of God, the moon and the stars, the sun shining on my world, what can I say? God is still God. Even if I should be wounded or killed by some catastrophe, does God stop being God? No!
We ask ourselves, why do the righteous suffer? We must remember that this world is not our final home. We are strangers and pilgrims in a ‘foreign land.’ The suffering that the righteous may have to endure here for a moment of time is nothing compared to the eternal home He has prepared for us all. We often forget those in the past who also suffered and died. Of the 11 remaining disciples after the death of Jesus, only one, John the beloved, died of old age. The remainder died a martyrs death. Throughout the annals of time, great men and women are listed in Foxes Book of Martyrs, including Polycarp, Wycliffe, Luther, and Tyndale, who suffered persecutions and death because of their faith. Today, websites record stories of modern day martyrs for the cause of Christ. Perhaps you heard of the Christians who were burned alive in their church in Kenya this year. This week as China was mourning it’s losses, it also was putting on trial pastors of house churches. In Pakistan, a mob of 200 Muslims are calling for the hanging of a Christian medical doctor who has served faithfully for years. Since 1985 it is estimated that 2 million people, many of them Christians, were killed in Sudan because of their faith. While we sit on our comfortable sofa’s and watch the news like we watch fictional dramas, people are dying for their faith. If such persecution were to come to North America, I wonder how many would stand and how many would fall.?!
Jesus spoke to his followers in Luke 18:1, 8 “he spoke a parable to them that men ought always to pray and not to loose heart…. Nevertheless, when the Son of man comes will He really find faith on the earth?”
While some are busy, caught up in accumulating their wealth, souls are dying without a Savior. Where are our priorities? Even in the churches today, we get so busy with our spaghetti dinners, and our seasonal presentations that we forget to go outside our walls and talk to the neighbor next door, or the stranger at the bus stop. While we should be spending quality time with the Lord in prayer, modeling for our families what is really important in life, instead, we spend our time with frivolous video games. How many churches have closed their doors on Sunday night due to poor attendance? How many evangelists have left the road to take a church because churches were too busy to have a revival service? How many missionaries have abandoned their call to the world because they were unable to raise their support at churches who use their buildings only on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights? Multitudes, multitudes—in the valley of decision…. And what are we doing to reach them? Look around you! Who needs Jesus? He did not come for the righteous, but sinners. Are there any sinners in your life? Jesus moved about. He went to the most unlikely places….the home of the tax collector…. The funeral procession of a child… The pool where sick people lay about…. And He went up into a mountain to pray…! It takes time and effort and prayer to do the work of God. If you are physically unable to go… then give...and pray...and love...and encourage those who can.
When you begin to get a little self-centered….turn your thoughts toward others who are facing the valley of decision. Some must choose to pay the rent, or buy some food. Some must choose to stand for Christ and face beatings and death, or recant and be lost. When you put your own problems into an eternal perspective of such magnitude, they really seem much smaller. We have been in the valley of decision and we have chosen to follow the Lord. The rewards of that choice are ‘out of this world.’ “And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work.” Revelations 22:12 We must be about our Father’s business….ministry to the multitudes in the valley of decision.

J. Johnson

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Divine Intervention....



So often it seems like life just goes on and on and God just does not care. At least that’s the view of many people today. They wonder “If God really cares, then why do so many people suffer?” They wonder why it takes so long for prayers to get answers, and they wonder if Jesus will ever come again.
Lessons from the Bible
Looking back through Bible history, there are so many lessons we can learn from, to see how God really does care and He really does have a plan, and He does answer prayer. We can see it in His divine intervention in the ordinary affairs of mankind. God is a God of action and a God who keeps His promises. He is also a God who loves His creation but hates the sin. This generation hates to talk about sin. So often, the negative things we have recorded in the Word of God tell us of the consequences of sin. When we deliberately choose to disobey God, there will be consequences. Mankind in Noah’s day discovered it the hard way. In a sinful, carnal culture that continued to grow worse and worse, the one righteous man, Noah, listened to the voice of God. “Build an ark…” Noah built an ark and his family found refuge when the judgment of God fell on the world. For 120 years, Noah had preached, to those who mocked his efforts to obey God. Noah remained steadfast. Nothing moved him from his commission. His confidence in God told him that when God speaks, man must obey. By faith, Noah built an ark, not knowing why—just following the orders from on high. When those first raindrops hit the roof of the ark, when those clouds took on a strange, ominous look, and when the earth began to shake and water began to come pouring out of the cracks in the ground, Noah knew—divine intervention had come. In a moment of time, God changed everything! Nothing they had known would ever be the same again!
Hundreds of years later, Jericho found themselves surrounded by an army, a motley crew who persisted in marching around this fortified city. For six days they marched, through the dust and dirt, looking up at the awesome walls of the impenetrable fortress city. They had plenty of food inside the walls, for harvest had just finished. In the natural, it seemed ridiculous! But this band of warriors had a secret weapon. They served a God who intervenes in the affairs of men and who comes to their aid when they call upon Him. He gave them specific instructions. March, six days: priests sounding the trumpets in the front and the ark behind. On day seven—march again, but this time do it seven times. On the seventh time, sound the trumpets and shout! As if on a signal from God, the city walls began to crumble. The city that could not be taken was destroyed and cursed by the people of God. Joshua and his warriors became famous in a day because of the divine intervention of God. “So the LORD was with Joshua, and his fame spread throughout the land.” (Joshua 6:27) What kind of ‘Jericho’ are you facing today? Did you know that the God who created the world cares about your crisis? He is still the same God who knows how to give orders, expect obedience, and reward those who follow. He takes the impossible and makes it a miracle! There is nothing to tough for God. Jericho had double walls, 45 feet high, yet they were nothing to God. One little earthquake right on time changed everything. For Jericho, the city was never the same again. For the people of God, their faith was now as tall as those walls used to be.
Israel had made a lot of mistakes, failed to listen to the prophets and their warnings from God, and they found themselves slaves in Babylon. But even then, God was watching and waiting. Three young lads, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah—groomed to become leaders to influence their own people to follow the idol worship of their new homeland—stood tall and bold in the face of ungodly demands. They are remembered for their bold stand. The king ordered those insolent boys to be thrown into the fiery furnace, heated seven times hotter than normal. Soldiers died just throwing them in the fire. But the king could not understand it when he noticed the three lads, walking around in the fire, accompanied by a fourth man who looked like ‘the son of a god.’ He commanded them to come out of the fire… and they came out, their hair not singed, not even smelling of fire. The King began to praise the God of these three young men. In a moment when all seemed hopeless, when the fire seemed hot and the sentence seemed irreversible, God intervened on behalf of three who stood firm for God. You may be about to be tossed by the world into a fire that appears will destroy you. Do not fear! God made the fire, and He knows how to protect His own! Praise Him in the midst of it all! God can change everything!
In Your Trial
It’s easy to think the worst. We do it all the time. We look back at all the moments when God could have done something different. We wonder “Why? Why me? Why now?” Whenever we fail to understand, we often fail to see the divine perspective. “Isn’t there some other way God?” is often our question. We wonder why God allows such awful things to enter our lives—loosing a loved one, or perhaps foreclosure, or perhaps cancer. It is in those moments of testing that God gets to hear His children calling out for help. They stop relying on themselves and turn to Him for aid. In those moments, values are re-evaluated, as eternal things take on a new perspective.
Remember Jesus, in the garden? He had seen both sides….earth and heaven, and yet when He came to his most challenging moment, He asked, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will." (Matt 26:39) Not even Jesus enjoyed suffering! But Jesus also knew that He had to work the Father’s plan. God always has a plan. This was the ultimate divine intervention on behalf of all of mankind. From this moment onward, nothing would ever be the same again. The old covenant was replaced by a new one written in His own Son’s blood. The sacrifices were ended as His sacrifice satisfied the need for all time. The veil in the temple was torn down. The old system of works was over. A new way of faith and grace was born. The God who had planned from the day Adam and Eve fell into sin, to put Satan under our feet—had accomplished His goal. The new way had begun. God intervened in the lives of men.
He Never Changes:
God is still the same God today. He still cares about you. He still reaches down from glory to touch His people and change the impossible into the possible! But He also expect us to respond to Him when He does it. We have become a most ungrateful people. We forget to say “Thanks!” We forget to give Him the glory. Tell someone what He has already done for you!
What do you need God to do for you today? Are you facing a flood—like Noah, a wall—like Joshua or a fire—like the Hebrew lads? Perhaps you are in a prison like Paul and Silas, or perhaps you are facing shipwreck like Paul. There is no challenge too great, no problem too small, no cost to exorbitant, no distance too far. God sees it all and knows it all and has power over it all. When we are faithful, and we do our part, God, in His time, will do what must be done.
In the coming days, there will be tough times, no doubt. But God is still God! It will be a time to band together as believers and encourage one another in the faith. It will be time to share our resources and aid the cause of Christ as never before. God will ask us to be mature, responsible, giving, loving, humble and honest. When we respond to Him, He will see another Noah, Joshua, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. He will see another Paul, or Silas, or Martha and Mary. He can raise your Lazarus! He can loose your chains! When your boat is shipwrecked, He will bring you safely to shore.

Power for Divine Intervention
In these final days, I believe God wants to do the miraculous. God’s people must prepare themselves to be a part of a movement that will demonstrate the mighty power of God to a skeptical world who thinks they don’t need Him. Once again, God wants to heal bodies, raise the dead, provide food, change the impossible! He will use ordinary men and women just as He used Peter and Paul. Paul once wrote… “I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” (I Corinth. 2:3-5) Are you afraid? Paul was! You may feel like you don’t have the ‘stuff’ it takes to do the job, but neither did the apostles and disciples. They learned to rely on God and what He could do. It all depends on your faith. Are you counting on the government or on God? The money or the Messiah? On the promises of politicians or on the Power of God? Don’t look to the church for answers. Look to God! When your words are just not eloquent, let the Spirit flow through your lips. Speak under a divine anointing to change your world for God! Reach out to those who need His touch—His divine intervention! Use the name of Jesus! Pray! Believe! Go! God will do the rest!

J. Johnson


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Don't Panic

Are you in a panic mode? We live in a generation that lives by the seat of their pants. Everything seems to be 'last minute'. The schedule is always full, and we race at break-neck speed to accomplish everything on the list and then try to add another couple of things besides. We end up burning up our adrenalin resources as we race from one emergency to another. In the midst of it all, God never changes. Unfortunately, we do! It's time to change once more back into the kind of people who are truly the children of God. God never designed us to be programmed robots following a programmed routine of activities that drive us to insanity and exhaustion. God designed man for Himself, to give Him pleasure. I am not sure how our harried pace in life can possibly give Him pleasure. Somehow I think many of us have bought into the worldly idea that "the busier we are, the better we are." Meanwhile, God is waiting in the wings for us to slow down a little and notice He is still there waiting for us to give Him some attention. It is in this state of anxiety that we continue to breed the fear of failure that sets us up for panic.
What panic buttons have you been pushing lately? I will never forget the statement a newly widowed pastor's wife made to us. She said "God has no emergency board meetings in heaven." In other words, God knows well in advance what we are going to be facing. He allows it all for a reason. Sometimes it is to help someone else go through the same difficult pathway. Sometimes it is to get our attention. Sometimes it is to build our faith. Sometimes it is just so we recognize that God is still God even in the midst of the trials and pain.
We are so earthly! That's why we are called 'humans.' We are made from 'humus' or dirt. We are frail earthly minded beings that God wants to transform into spiritually minded beings that God wants to transform into spiritually minded beings. Our life here on this ball of dirt is so short and limited. Our spirit man is designed for eternity! We often forget we are not here on earth forever. God sees things from our limited time-oriented side. When we see things from our limited time-oriented side. When we are in the midst of a difficulty, we sometimes think that God has forgotten us, or that He just does not care or that He is punishing us and we deserve it. Usually none of that is true. He sees the bigger picture and we just see our limited emotional viewpoint. If we could just see things from God's eternal perspective for a moment, we would understand.

My mother died when I was just a little innocent 7 year old girl. For many years I wondered why God had chosen to take her home so suddenly with an aneurysm. I felt robbed. I remember standing by her grave as a teenager, now in college, talking to God and to my Mom, and determining what to do with my life, what would be pleasing to both of them. But as God unfolded the plans of my life, I realized He knew what He was ding. Although I was a relatively quiet and shy person, God made me to become very independent and adventurous. I appreciated her strengths and determination. I appreciated her hunger for spiritual things. I tried to learn from some of her mistakes. I learned not to panic but to trust. My life verse became "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not on thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy path." (Proverbs 3:5) He did just that. My life seemed to become a pathway of miracles. Each step I took by faith, God honored, preparing the way ahead of me. He helped me pay my own way through college, find a teaching position in Newfoundland, directed me to complete my degree in Springfield Missouri, led me to a wonderful husband, gave me four wonderful sons. He led me as I developed my ministry, singing and writing. He helped me travel with my husband as an evangelist all over the Midwest. Were there moments of panic? Certainly! But as I put my trust in the Lord, the panic passed and turned to faith.
It takes less effort to trust than to panic. There is no stress in trust. When a child jumps into the arms of its father, she trusts him to catch her. She expects him to catch. She expects him to be there with arms open wide. Father God is no different. He is always waiting for his children with open arms. He loves us! His love is not tainted with false expectations. There is no hidden agenda or hidden abuse waiting in His presence. He never fails to keep a promise. He lights the path ahead of us. Don't panic at the world you see around you today. Just as God has taken care of the previous generations of trusting believers, He will do the same today. He never changes. We are the ones who change. We need to turn back to God! It would be so easy to get our eyes on the failing economy, the dwindling resources, the troubled government, and the spiritually dying world. He wants us to keep our eyes on Him. Nothing else really matters. He will guide our steps. We are not the first believers to live in a world of spiritual chaos. Looking back into history, our chaos grows dim in comparison to those who have suffered persecution and martyrdom. Yet throughout the annals of time, God is still God. He never changes. He can be trusted! "It's better to take refuge in the Sovereign Lord of the Universe than to trust in man" (Psalm 118:8).
The Price of Panic
There is a price for panic. My parents once had dear friends who served a wealthy family in Chicago as butler and maid. They told us of the panic during the depression. Although the rich family still had millions in the wife's name, the husband lost it all in the crash, and in a moment of fear-filled panic, he committed suicide. Panic will cause people to rush to extremes without thinking through the consequences. Panic causes us to think of ourselves rather than others. Panic overwhelms the emotions and clouds judgment. Panic is the one thing that removes faith from the picture. We gravitate to panic when we reach the end of our rope, when it seems there is no where else to turn. When it turns to despair, it becomes deadly.
Jesus had every reason to panic. But He also had every reason not to panic. When we know who, and whose we are, panic becomes obsolete. He could have panicked in the garden as He prayed to the Father knowing what awaited Him. He could have panicked as Peter, the boldest of the disciples, denied knowing Him. He could have panicked anytime during His 3 years of ministry as He struggled to get them to understand the plan of God. But Jesus knew His Father and He knew His future. We can know our Father and He will help us with our future. We can walk by faith into the future and no matter what comes, we do not need to panic, for Father holds us in the palm of His hands. Our future is not determined b earthly standards and man's wisdom. It is determined by the mind and will of God as we yield ourselves to Him. Perhaps you have walked into panic because life seems out of control. Children have walked away from God and nothing you do seems to help. The doctor may have told you the dreaded 'cancer' word and there seems to be no hope. Habits from the past may be haunting you and trying to overwhelm you. You may even fear dying.
The Problem of Fear
It is fear that feeds panic. The only way to eradicate fear is to build your faith. Faith comes when we put our absolute trust in God. Faith comes as we feast on the Word of God, as we meditate on it and get it into our hearts. Listen to it. Read it. Memorize it. Speak it out loud. Find other people of faith and spend time with them. Remember you are building a new house of faith. It begins with a sure foundation in the Word of God, and as you allow god to build it in your life, fears will begin to slip away. They cannot stand being in the presence of faith.
Fear has a tendency to freeze you, immobilize you and keep you from doing anything. It keeps you from your purpose. It stops you from trying anything new. Fear causes you to worry about everything and anything. It anticipates what may never come to pass. It exaggerates reality and builds fantasies that seem like facts. It causes insomnia which causes high blood pressure, which causes all kinds of physical complaints. Satan uses our fears to keep us from doing things for God. If someone asks us to pray, we freeze and shake our head..."No!" If someone invites us to try something new...we anticipate what negative thing might happen. If we are asked to witness to an unbeliever by the Holy Spirit..we say... "No way...Not me!" If we are asked to teach a class, we imagine them pelting us with spit balls. No...let the other guy do it. If God calls you to ministry, you stay in your hum-drum job. Yes, fear keeps us from fulfilling our purpose in the Kingdom of God.
Rise above it! Get your spiritual eyes on the Lord! He will never call you to do anything that He does not enable you to do. He will give you the skills, the finances, the resources, the helpers and the Holy Spirit to enable you to do over and above what your mind will tell you is possible.
You have a choice. You can live a life filled with fear and panic, looking to man and self, and continually finding chaos and despair. Or, you can life a life of faith. Faith sees through the eyes of God and trust in His ability alone to provide an answer to your need. He gives you peace while man offers you panic. How do we trust in God's ability? We must walk in complete obedience. God has a plan and we must walk in His plan. It may seem the man has abandoned you. You may feel like no one understands. You may even seem like god is silent. But in His silence, He is watching for your obedience. As you obey, He will be faithful! Panic or peace! Choose you this day whom you will serve!
J. Johnson