Monday, November 29, 2010


There will always be ‘Scrooges’ in the world who don’t want to celebrate Christmas. There are even some Christians who ‘hate’ this season of the year. Even though there are many pagan concepts mixed in with the traditions of the season, it is up to those who are mature in the faith, to choose what parts we accept and what parts we reject. Why is it so important that Christians continue to celebrate this season?

Someone is Watching…

There is always someone who is watching you,—your children or grandchildren—your neighbors—your co-workers—even your family members. They are looking for consistency and reality in the lives of believers. Do your actions match your values and your theology? But even more important, God is watching! What does God think about the way you celebrate? Is your focus on Him or on the ‘stuff’ we fill our homes and lives with? What do you value most at the Christmas season? Is it the Christmas meal as family and friends gather around the table? Perhaps it is the opening of presents. For some it is going to a service on Christmas Eve. For others, it is taking the time to volunteer to help those in need. Perhaps it is the Christmas music you look forward to along with the special children’s programs at school and church. Who are we trying to please? If it is family and friends, then we buy lavish gifts, and celebrate just the way everyone else does. If we are wanting to please the Lord, then perhaps we need to take a little longer look at what we choose to value. We often ask each other, “What do you want for Christmas?” But have we taken the time to ask the Lord, “What do YOU want for Christmas this year?” What is He looking for in us? “Who may ascend the mountain of the LORD? Who may stand in his holy place? The one who has clean hands and a pure heart” (Psalm 24:3-4) He is looking for actions that match the heart. What we do speaks louder than what we say. As we gather together with family, some of whom may not know the Lord, we need to be a shining light in the darkness, not pushy or obnoxious, not ‘holier than thou”, but loving and kind. Believers should never compromise their testimony. It is sometimes a temptation to ‘give ‘em a piece of your mind’ but when we fail to act like the Christ we represent—we fail. If you must preach a sermon, do it with your life...not your words. Keep your hands clean and your heart pure. But be an example (pattern) for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity. (1 Tim 4:12 Amp)

Someone is Hurting…

For some, this season of the year is the most painful of all seasons. It brings back memories from the past of gatherings with loved ones who are now gone. Sometimes those memories are of childhood abuse, rejection, and mistakes. Some spend the day a jail cell, in a nursing home, or in a lonely apartment. This is a time, an opportunity, to reach out to someone and be a light in their darkness. Help them make some new and healthy memories. Look around you and see who you can bring some joy and put a smile on their face! We often tend to look away from pain and suffering. We fear intimacy with situations we don’t understand. We want to help, but we all too often get the attitude—”let someone else doe it!” We need to learn to do things the way Christ did. He refused to back down from pain and suffering. He chose to touch the ‘untouchable’ in His path. I read a story recently of how one of the greatest fears of St Francis of Assissi was of leprosy. One day while walking, he saw in the distance a man coming towards him who was white with leprosy. His fear rose up within him. His hearts desire was to turn and to run the other way. But as he faced his fear, he made a deliberate choice to not only meet the man, but reached out and hugged his neck and kissed his cheek. As he went on his way, he decided to look back and speak a final word of cheer to the leper. But to his surprise, the man had disappeared. He was convinced that it was a vision of Christ himself and as he chose to reach out in love, God himself was the miracle in the road. We do not know what lays ahead of us, who will be walking on our path, who needs a loving hug or a cheerful smile. God will send you what you need. Who knows but you may be entertaining angels! Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. (Hebrews 13:2)

Someone is Weary…

Perhaps you are the weary one. Today’s schedules often overwhelm us each day. We sometimes get too weary to take the time to do the most important things in life. All we want to do is crawl into a hole and hide from the stresses of life. As you grow older, weariness seems to become a way of life. You go to bed weary and wake up feeling the same way. What tends to lift the spirits of a weary person? It is a loving and caring hand, willing to step up and get involved, expecting nothing in return. Two hands make the work load lighter. Another thing that lifts the spirit is music. But the kind of music you choose to listen to is very important. Choose music that is happy, loving, friendly and that changes a dreary atmosphere into one of happiness, joy and expectation. Good music feeds the soul. Music that ministers to God, ministers to the heart as well. Hallelujah! Thank God! Pray to him by name! Tell everyone you meet what he has done! Sing him songs, belt out hymns, translate his wonders into music! Honor his holy name with Hallelujahs, you who seek God. Live a happy life! (Psalm 105aTMB)

Someone is Learning...

We sometimes meet people who think they know all the answers to life’s dilemmas. But there are also those who are learning and growing. If we are continuing to learn and grow, we become much healthier people. Learning is a life-long process. We start out learning to walk and talk, learning the skills we need to make it through successfully. We go to school and learn about history, and math and science and learn skills to provide us with a way to make a living. As we then go through life, we must continually learn, especially in today’s world in which technology is always leaps and bounds ahead of us all. You are never too old to learn to use the computer, or other techno-gadgets. You are also never too old to learn new ways to get along with people who are difficult. If you have anger issues, you can learn new ways to channel that emotion and use it for God. You can learn new disciplines (daily devotions and prayer). We can learn how to share our faith with those who don’t know the Savior. We can decide to read the Bible from cover to cover. We can choose to memorize one scripture each week. Learning is challenging, but it keeps us growing and both spiritually and emotionally healthy. What have you learned this week? "True wisdom and real power belong to God; from him we learn how to live, and also what to live for. If he tears something down, it's down for good; if he locks people up, they're locked up for good. If he holds back the rain, there's a drought; if he lets it loose, there's a flood. Strength and success belong to God; both deceived and deceiver must answer to him. (Job 12:13 TMB) Start with God—the first step in learning is bowing down to God; (Proverbs 1:7 TMB)

Someone has a need. Perhaps you have been so focused on your own needs that you have not looked around you enough to see others with even greater needs. This Christmas season, remember to reach out to others, and give from your heart. Remember this verse when you are tempted to withhold a blessing. Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.” (Luke 6:38) Remember that God gave us His best gift...His Son. Can we do less than our best? Someone is waiting to hear...and you have the Words of Life!                  J. Johnson

Dear friends,

We want to wish each of you a blessed Christmas filled with the Presence of God! Christmas is a time to refocus on what is really important—Christ! Please continue to pray for us as we seek God’s placement of our ministry. We are so thankful and so appreciate each of you who take the time to pray and write. God bless you all! God is faithful and we anticipate great things in the future… …Serving the Master

Dave & Joyce

Thursday, November 04, 2010


“I’ll never forgive him!” “I can’t forgive!” How often I have heard other people make these statements. They have been through some horrendous pain that has left a gaping wound and multiple scars in their everyday life. They somehow feel that refusing to forgive, refusing to put the pain into the hands of the only One who can really help them heal, will somehow justify their statement. We have all experienced some kind of pain in our lives. Some have experienced abandonment, while others have experienced abuse of the worst kind. Others have been bullied, and intimidated until their spirits were crushed. They want the pain to cease. They want the person who wounded them so badly to change. They stand alone, hoping, wishing, dying on the inside. But nothing ever seems to change. Even God seems not to notice. What’s a Christian to do?


One of the most valuable lessons I have learned in life is that I cannot change anyone. Only God can change someone’s heart, and He can only do that if they allow Him to do it. As much a I might want to change the behavior, the thought patterns, or even the future relationship—nothing that I can do will guarantee their change—except prayer. Even then, prayer has a way of changing us rather than others. Sometimes we want God to change. But God never changes. He is ever the same. His very nature is marked by His unchangeable character—His immutability. Malachi 3:6 tells us “For I, the LORD, do not change…” He is the One who will continue to be faithful, even if all mankind is faithless. He will continue to love, even when we feel unlovable. When we allow bitterness and anger to build in our hearts, He continues to love us anyhow. He does not love the sin in which we often choose to wallow. But He does love His child. Though God never changes, there is one person that can change—YOU. You can choose to change your attitude about those who hurt you, about the God who seemed to abandon you. Your attitude colors the whole world around you. Those with a wound often carry a boulder on their shoulders. It weighs them down, hinders everything they do. It influences everyone in their lives. That boulder is like a bag of rattlesnakes. They wonder where they can leave it, yet they continue to carry it into every day of their lives. Change must come. It begins with putting Christ in full charge of all of your life. We say we have given Him our heart, but we often don’t give him our mind, or our bodies. We hang on to just the parts we want to control. He tells us to give it all to Him, and we grip that bag of rattlesnakes a little tighter. We know that God wants to control all the uncontrollable things in our lives, yet we tend to hang on to the things we think we can change, as if we deserve the credit. We want to be right. We tell ourselves, “We deserve it!” But the tighter we hang on to our unforgiving attitudes, the more we deserve all the pain we get. God cannot and will not violate our strong and sometimes childishly stubborn wills. He is like the prodigal’s father, who knew the mistakes his son was making by taking his share and leaving home before he should. He knew that a hard lessons would be learned. But he stood there, gave the boy the money, and watched him go down the road while his own heart must have been breaking. He waited, and waited and watched and watched….and one day his faith was rewarded. He longed for his child, and that desire caused him to look longingly down the road, watching for the return of the wayward child. God is like that father. He did not scold the son...he did not lecture him. He did not demand repayment of the money squandered. He ran to him with open arms. He took his coat and put it around his shoulders, put his own ring in his finger and he called him “Son” again. Earthly parents who are at odds with their children do not always behave that way. They want to continue to parent them. They want to show the wayward one they were wrong. It’s silly how we do that. When we make mistakes and learn from them, we know we made the mistake. Forgiveness looks beyond the sins of the past, and accepts the individual just as they are. God does that for us. We don’t deserve forgiveness. We often can’t forgive ourselves. We tend to be hardest on “me.” But there are lessons to be learned, and the prodigal son while still in a far country, had a sudden revelation. Why starve to death, when you can go and work for the finest employer in the land...Father—not as a son, but just as a hired hand.


It is the beginning of forgiving yourself. It is the awakening to reality. Yet how often we want God to do the humbling. He can’t do it. We must humble ourselves. “Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord and He will lift you up.” (James 4:10) How do we do this? By sincere repentance. Real humility comes when we choose to do the very thing that we hate to do—submit. Submission to God means total yielding of every area of our lives—our past, our present and our future. We fight submitting because it means that we are no longer in control...God is. But what better place to be—in His hands. He knows the future. He knows the pain. He knows all about our relationships. He knows the deepest hidden secrets in our hearts that we have never told another soul. He knows how to fix everything that is broken and make it like new. He is the one who totally forgives, and acts like it never ever happened. But family—well, that’s another thing. The prodigal’s younger brother who now owned all the rights to his Father’s remaining wealth, was shocked by the forgiving Father. He was jealous of his brother. Family may not respond like God does to us. But how should we respond to them? How did Jesus respond to those who hurt Him? “Father, Forgive them, for they know not what they do….” (Luke 23:34) Jesus knew the wicked hearts of those who crucified Him. He was not like many of us who as children were sometimes forced to say “I’m sorry,” when in our hearts we knew we were not sorry one little bit. We were play acting to appease our parents. Sometimes we carry forward into our adult lives those little pantomimes, and we say we forgive on the outside, but inside we are just waiting for the right moment to seek revenge. Jesus never pretended. Jesus, from His wounded heart, chose to deliberately forgive. Why? He knew the consequences of unforgiveness—sin, separation and death. He would have failed in His divine mission. He did not fail—He forgave!

This year, as you meet with family and friends during the holidays, take a moment in the privacy of your home and kneel before the God who chose to forgive you. Then choose to forgive those who have hurt you. It demands obedient hearts. He will walk with you into the most painful moments and put peace in your heart. If there has been a wall dividing hearts, take the adult step of offering your repentance and saying those two little words “I’m sorry” and “Forgive me”. If you want to truly experience God in your life, forgive. You can chase revivals, seek out the prophets and evangelists, have others lay hands on you, but if you do not forgive, God can’t forgive you. Unforgiveness causes all kinds of grief, including sickness, unanswered prayer, and broken relationships with God and man. “Don’t grieve God. Don’t break His heart. The Holy Spirit moving and breathing in you is the most intimate part of your life, making you fit for Himself. Don’t take such a gift for granted. Make a clean break with all cutting, back biting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:30-32 TMB) J. Johnson
Praise reports and prayer requests…..

Pray for revival! Pray for those who are struggling with forgiveness.

Pray for the Johnsons as they seek a new place of full time ministry...a church that needs strong leadership. Pray for grieving families who have lost loved ones.... Pray for Pastors, Evangelists, Missionaries, and Teachers. Pray for US Army Chaplain Steve Maglio

Pray for those needing a healing touch in their bodies: H Johnson (having back surgery Nov 1 recovering nicely) T Johnson (still having pain from her heart problems) J Deike (cancer) D Barth (cancer), J Brandon, (cancer) D Sherwin (cancer), L. Gardner (cancer). Pray for those dealing with chaos, anger, abuse, temptations and carnal sinful habits. Pray for the nation, for the President, for our service men and women, for Israel, for the unsaved, and don’t forget to Praise and thank the Lord!

Dear friends,

We have enjoyed a ministry opportunities in October in southern IL. Had a wonderful time in the presence of the Lord. Please pray that more doors of ministry will open for us in the days ahead. Please continue to pray for us as we seek God’s placement of our ministry. We are so thankful and so appreciate each of you who take the time to pray and write. God bless you all! God is faithful and we anticipate great things in the future… …Serving the Master

Dave & Joyce

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

The Ignorant Church

There is no truth or mercy or knowledge of God in the land…. My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. (Hosea 4:1, 6) This was God’s message to Israel during the days of Hosea the prophet. I wonder what God would say to the church today? Israel lacked a knowledge about God. They were ignorant, and their ignorance led them into both spiritual and physical bondage.

A recent Pew research has come up with some challenging statistics based on their recent survey. In asking Christians, atheists, Mormons, Jews, and other religions, the results revealed where the church has failed. For example, the results state: Four out of ten Catholics (45%) do not know that their church teaches that the elements of communion, the bread and the wine, are not symbols, but actually become the body and blood of Jesus. It makes we wonder how many folks come to church on a Sunday morning out of ritual and tradition, but who do not know what they believe or why they believe it. If they were asked the reason for their faith, how would they answer? The Bible tells us that ‘as a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” (Prov. 23:7) What is the church thinking today?

The Ignorant Church

The Apostle Paul wrote to the early church, challenging them because of their seeming ignorance, their need for milk and not meat. They were acting like small children instead of mature saints. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. (Hebrews 5:12) Paul knew that if the church was going to survive, it needed to mature, grow up and challenge each succeeding generation to spiritual maturity. That maturity depends on our diet. What kind of spiritual food are we eating. Our natural man often demands that we feed it many kinds of things that are not good for us. Our cupboards are filled with junk food, foods that put on the pounds and destroy our immune systems. Somehow I wonder if what we tend to eat in the natural is a reflection of the lack of spiritual discipline and wisdom in our spiritual lives as well. It was a problem in the early church, so it is probably still a problem in the church today. Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. (2 Timothy 4:2-4) What a danger for any church to fall into! We can so easily fall into a trap of “not enduring sound doctrine.” The moment the church clamors for entertainment rather than sound doctrine, we begin the long trail to ignorance of the Word of God and solid teaching. When pastors and teachers fail to teach their congregations the basic doctrines of the Word, and clearly explain their importance for today, we risk being turned aside to fables. It is sad to say I have heard of some churches who no longer use the word ‘sin’ in their messages. In an attempt to not offend ‘sinners’, we tend to coddle them into an understand that God sees their ‘mistakes’ and loves them. They fail to get the sound doctrine regarding sin—that sin is an offence to a holy God, For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; (Romans 3:23)

Others have eliminated the Sunday School classes due to poor attendance or lack of teachers. When do we get to teach this next generation the basics of the Christian doctrine? Can it all fit into the neat package of 90 minutes most churches have for their Sunday morning Worship service? How will they learn what is wrong with the many cults and world religions clamoring for their attention today?

A New Generation

The Millennium generation (ages 19-29) is one that is moving more and more away from the church and all formal religion. They most often claim to be atheistic or agnostic or have no affiliation with religion at all. How does the church reach this generation today? They are not moved to action or to allegiance by our institutions (home, school, church,) or by our buildings (mega churches) or even by our religious code of conduct. They become passionate about a movement, as every generation in the past. Christ came not to establish an institution (church) but a movement...a kingdom of believers who would carry the message forward with passion and commitment. A movement is alive, something you can believe in and feel part of, and whereby you can change the world. This generation has seen how a ‘movement’ led by Muslims is changing the face of the world for Islam. It has seen how a movement of political agendas has sent America into a pit of debt. But what are they seeing from the spiritual camp? In the past they have witnessed the disgrace of individuals who have fallen into sin. But they have not seen the rise of any strong spiritual leadership that can change the world for God. Spiritual ignorance coupled with sinful behavior has crippled the church and turned off a generation. It’s not the size of your church sanctuary, nor the money you spend on missions, nor the fame of your pastor that matters. What motivates you to serve God to the point of sacrifice and even death? It takes us back to the basics. Jesus prepared His disciples to become the apostles. He told them in John 14: 11-15 Believe me: I am in my Father and my Father is in me. If you can't believe that, believe what you see—these works. The person who trusts me will not only do what I'm doing but even greater things, because I, on my way to the Father, am giving you the same work to do that I've been doing. You can count on it. From now on, whatever you request along the lines of who I am and what I am doing, I'll do it. That's how the Father will be seen for who he is in the Son. I mean it. Whatever you request in this way, I'll do.15-"If you love me, show it by doing what I've told you.

Motivating a Generation

What will motivate this generation to see and become a part of a powerful movement of believers who walk in the Spirit...who are not afraid to do the “greater works” Jesus talked about? It will take an honest demonstration of the mighty power of God at work in the lives of needy people. You may have heard the famous quotation by Rod Wolford—“A man with an experience is never at the mercy of a man with an argument.” The church that is maturing today needs that fresh experience of the mighty power of God. It needs to see bodies healed, lives transformed, and the kind of ‘revival’ that changes people, cities and nations. When I experience something dramatic, I never forget it. It becomes a part of me. When the church experiences the revitalizing power of God, it too will never be the same again.

Walk in the Spirit

Ignorance is swept away as we learn to walk in the Spirit. The Holy Spirit is our teacher. His role is to guide us into truth, keep us from error and give us power to speak boldly to those who will listen. He wants to flow through believers to touch a hurting world. How does God want to use you? What part will you play in allowing the Holy Spirit to flow? It is tempting to sit back and let others do it—the pastors, the evangelists, the deacons. But we are all His servants, His ministers, His disciples. He has called us all to disciple others, to teach and repel the spiritual ignorance that surrounds the church today like a fog. His wind want to blow in, and sweep away the fog. His fire wants to burn up all the dross, the chaff, the things that cannot stand the test. We may be challenged in the fire, but it must come to cleanse us.

When the church of today becomes rigid and unmoved, unwilling to change and experience the presence of God, it becomes an ‘institution’ rather than a ‘movement.’ An institutional mindset breeds attitudes such as—be faithful but don’t rock the boat, do enough just to get by and then leave unchanged. That attitude will destroy the church and cripple the next generation. If your church has fallen into this trap, it is time to call the church to prayer, to challenge each heart to spiritual change and growth. As times get tough, and terrorism and elections shake our world we need to know and experience the God who shakes hearts and minds and who transforms people and churches from ignorance to conviction and commitment . What is our part? 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, 20 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.” Amen (Matthew 28: 19-20)
J. Johnson

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Why I Am A Christian!

Do you know why you are a Christian? I am certain that I became a Christian for a number of good reasons, but today, people everywhere are beginning to question their faith in God, in the church, and in Christianity. Why?

We are a very self centered bunch of humans. If life does not always go our way, we tend to throw in the towel and try something different. We often tend to reject the faith of our parents, question the faith of our peers, and go on a journey of discovery, trying to find the answers to life’s troubling questions: Why do children suffer? Why does God allow pain and war? Is the devil and hell real? Does God really care? We set our minds to thinking it all through. Usually, we end up more frustrated than when we began our quest. Today, many people tend to shelve their faith, not because they don’t believe in God, but because the God they have seen modeled before them in the lives of other believers is sometimes inconsistent, and irrelevant. The message they hear from the pulpits does not give them the answers to the questions they are asking. Meanwhile the secular world continues to point an accusing finger at those who claim to be “Christian.” Soon Christians find themselves wavering on the fence of faith and Christian values. Let me raise a flag for you today…..I am a Christian because:

1. God is real and never changing. He is the eternal existent God who transcends time, history, and our ever changing world. It is the consistent nature of God that keeps me serving Him. I change with every emotion, every experience, every pressure of life. But God never changes. He is consistently a God of love, who chose to love a sinful fluctuating mankind who continues to make awful choices. His love and consistency requires that He both reward and punish, much like any good parent will do for his own children as he brings them to maturity. So why do children suffer??—Usually innocent children suffer because of mankind and sin, not because of God and his anger. Sin always has consequences. Disobedience requires justice. All too often, we see the suffering faces around the world and our hearts go out for them. What does God want? When I look back in history at the social injustice of slavery, it often came into a culture because of greed, laziness, immorality and a culture that accepted it as the ‘norm’. It was the rise of faith in just a few men that began to turn the tide of slavery toward freedom. Men such as John Newton, author of ‘Amazing Grace’, William Willberforce, who took on the slavery issue with gusto, John Wesley who preached salvation and social justice—these men changed the moral values of nations, ending slavery within 100 years of their ministries. It is genuine Christianity that changes our world for the good where Christ is exalted and man is humbled in His presence. Of course, there are always those who are counterfeit, who pretend for selfish purposes. Some have political agendas, and others seek fame and glory through a stage and monetary gain. All will one day stand before the King of Kings and give an accounting for their motives and life. Though men may try to change Christianity, making all kinds of claims, the God of Christianity never, ever, changes! Yes, I am a Christian because:

2. God is love. To understand the real love of God, you must experience it for yourself. Love is a very intimate thing. It is a choice. We choose to love. God chose to love us, in spite of our ugliness and sin. God is pure holiness and love. Yet He chose to love us—sending His only Son to die for our sin. I have four fine sons. Yet I could not offer them up to pay for anyone’s sins. But God did! His ultimate gift of love bought freedom for all who would accept His free gift. His love is not conditional, choosing to love us only when we toe the line. Today, many couples choose to fall in love, only to walk away in a year or two because someone failed to live up to their expectations. God does not do that. He never divorces us….we are the ones who walk away. But like the Father of the prodigal son, He is always there, always looking for us to return home, always longing for us and loving us, even when we do selfish stupid things. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Rom 5:8) He accepted us in our filthy condition, chose to love us in spite of our failures. His unconditional love sees us, not as we are, but as His ‘new creation’. “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, the old is gone and the new has come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17) Yes, God is love—not the kind that is tarnished by sexuality or human frailty. His love is perfect! And I am a Christian because:

3. God is the source of absolute truth. Pilate asked Jesus, “What is truth?” and society today is still asking the same question. Either God is the source of all truth or He is not. If He is not the source of truth, then can it even be found? The secular world spouts the idea that there is no absolute truth. If they believe this statements is the bottom line, absolutely true, then the very statement itself (being an absolute statement) violates their stance. Making statements such as “Everything is relative”… “It’s alright to believe what you want, just as long as you do not impose it on others”… and “The material world is just an illusion” and “There is no such thing as truth”—all these statements are philosophies that are self-defeating, imposing their ideas on others, and in the real world, they just do not work. If the material world is an illusion….just don’t bother eating material food for a month. You will soon discover you have died. When Christians choose to believe the Bible, it is not some grand spiritual leap into mysticism. It is founded on the proven teachings found in the Bible, on historical evidences, on modern proofs that God still interacts today with His creation, changing lives. Scientists have proven the value and power of prayer.

Secular humanists do not like the idea that they must one day give an accounting to a God they spent their life rejecting and denying. Biblical evidence says that they will do just that. A desire to escape divine judgment through a man made idea is preposterous. We don’t make the rules. God does! This is His world! Eternity is also His. Where will you spend it? You have a choice right now. Failure to choose now will determine your destiny. Yes, I am a Christian because:

4. I am forgiven! You may think of me as a very nice person. But I know the real me. I sometimes think things that are awful. From the day I was born, my human nature was bent on sinning. My parents had to discipline me. I was sometimes angry. I used to steal things. But today, I am free from my past. I am forgiven...just as if I had never sinned. Living under a cloud of guilt is a heavy weight to bear. You may have been abusive—in your behavior or with your mouth—God forgives it all if you ask Him. You may have been a thief or a drunkard. He wants to lift your load and set you free. You may have been a very good person, trying to do nice things all of your life, but still, you know the real you...The Bible tells us that all have sinned. None can escape it—except for Jesus and His forgiveness. But we must ask for that forgiveness. It is how he wants us to come to Him, humbly, in need of Him. He wants to forgive and make us a part of His wonderful family. Are you forgiven? Are you part of the family of God? Are you ready for heaven? It’s never the good things we do that gets us there. It’s only what Jesus did and how we respond to His gift that matters. Are there many ways to God? No...just One—Jesus. He said so Himself “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) Yes, I am a Christian because:

5. God Gives Me Hope! As you look around you, you can see in the eyes of many people that there is not much hope in their lives. They look at the economy and the job prospects, at the retirement outlook and the world chaos. They see a world without hope. Politicians promise hope and change, but nothing ever changes and what they hoped for never comes to pass. But because of my faith in God through Jesus Christ, I have hope. My hope is not based on earthly things, but on eternal things. That glorious hope is spoken of in the Bible. “ The Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.” (Psalm 147:11) We also look forward with great anticipation and joy to the moment we see Him face to face…. “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known, but we know that when He appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. Everyone who has this hope purifies himself, just as He is pure.” ( 1 John 3:2,3)

Where do you stand today with God? Are you ready to stand before Him? Are you trusting in your own efforts, or in what Jesus has already done for you? Have you asked for His forgiveness? Do you have any hope for your future in eternity with God? Have you discovered that God is real and that He really loves you? The enemy of the soul would try to discourage you, fill your mind with doubts and questions. It takes faith to trust God. You can try to trust the ideas of men, question the mistakes so-called Christians have made in the past, and turn away from the One who loves you. Or you can turn to God in faith, trusting that the God who made it all, knows all the answers and that He has a plan for your eternity. Will you trust Him today? Just as a child trusts its earthly father, we must reach up to God trusting He has everything under control. He knows the past, the present and the future. He knows your deepest secrets and He still chooses to love you. Will to decide to make Him the One who is in charge of your eternity—the rest of your life? If you made this decision, write me today and let me rejoice with you!

J. Johnson

PO Box 655, Waupaca WI 54981

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Paganism or Pentecost???

We never gave a thought to how the church has been gradually changing over the past few decades, but recently, you may have noticed how church is just not the same as it used to be. Something has changed attitudes, behaviors and theologies. We have been warned over the years about the dangers of humanism, yet we have been helpless to keep our children from it’s indoctrination. Humanism glorifies the abilities of man to solve the dilemmas of the human race by looking within rather than to God. It is a new form of a very old Gnosticism.

But today, the problem goes even deeper as the church is being strongly influenced to adopt the practices of paganism. Paganism has always been looked at in a broad sense as anyone whose faith rested in any practice or ceremony that was not Christian. Some believe that a pagan is anyone whose religion is outside of Christianity such as Buddhism, Hinduism, or Islam. Others see a pagan as anyone without any religion. Today, pagans are all around us. Some even worship with us side by side on Sunday morning. Their god is not our God. They have remade God into a god that suits their way of life. Pagans have always been worshippers of many gods. But today’s pagan are a whole new breed. They may call themselves “Christian” but their Christianity is far removed from the Biblical Christianity Jesus taught His disciples to share. How can we recognize paganism today?

Modern Paganism

Today’s pagans are often referred to as neo-pagans. One blogger described them this way: “neo-paganism” is becoming a favorite feint of the “spiritual-but-not-religious” crowd, a means to continue their undiluted worship of their own reflections while avoiding the inevitable demands a god would make on them. It often includes Wiccans and earth worshippers. While pagans often are polytheistic, believing in many gods, they often focus on just one god to worship, or none at all. In Christianity, we do not believe in many gods—there is just one God.

Paganism does not have a foundational book of writings on which to base their religion. As a result, what is believed changes from group to group, country to country, culture to culture. In Christianity, we have the Bible which keeps our truths consistent, inerrant and infallible. Our belief, when founded on the Word of God, never changes.

Pagans often recognize the beauty of the life of Jesus, seeing him as a good man. But Christianity sees him as the One God chose to send as a redeemer for the sin of all mankind. He was more than a good man, a prophet, and teacher. He was and is the Son of God.

Because of the beliefs of modern pagans, it is impossible to be a Christian and a pagan. Christianity is exclusive. That is one of its strengths. It keeps our faith pure. But today’s culture is demanding more and more that we become more inclusive in our acceptance of groups that are variant to Biblical Christianity. Some of our Bible translations have been watered down. A recent example I read about was how the Today’s New International Version (TNIV) has changed the attitude against homosexuality to only against “practicing homosexuals.” (1 Cor 6:9). Yet the term ‘practicing’ is never applied to other sins and is not in the Greek text.

Today, one of the facets of the modern church is the ‘emergent church movement’. It is a confusing multifaceted philosophy of doing spiritual stuff that is appealing to both Christians and non-Christians. When the church in the name of renewal, waters down the message of the gospel, and by its adoption of new philosophies and theologies commences redefining Biblical Christianity—we are walking a dangerous line. Their own web site defines the emergent church this way: “Emergent is a growing generative friendship among missional Christian leaders seeking to love our world in the Spirit of Jesus Christ.” That sounds nice...but, what happens in practice? The many mega churches of our day have strongly influenced even the churches in small communities to become ‘seeker sensitive.’ It sounds nice to make the church a place where anyone can feel comfortable until you realize that it means not offending anyone who believes anything different from the Bible. In doing so, we end up offending the God we come to worship, failing to make Him our priority, we have chosen to make the sinner and his comfort our priority. It is as if God can not handle sinners, and conviction is too much for them. It’s as if the Holy Spirit and His vital role in the church just does not matter anymore. We become tolerant of all kinds of belief systems, and the idea of ‘belonging before believing’ often makes the church compromise its morals and values while ignoring the need to denounce sin and call it by its Biblical name, we endure it in order to keep the ‘seeker’. It is a method of religion that causes the church to conform rather than be transformed.

One of the greatest soul winners of a previous generation was D. L. Moody. When others criticized his way of doing things he said: “I like my way of doing it better than your way of not doing it.” His witness transformed lives!

Today, instead of doing the work of the ministry, we love to read about it. Some are fascinated by books like Jesus CEO: Using Ancient Wisdom for Visionary Leadership by Laurie Beth Jones—"Following the example of Jesus-a "CEO" who took a disorganized "staff" of twelve and built a thriving enterprise." Here Jesus is demoted from redeeming Messiah to a CEO. Others pick up “The Shack” and fail to see the subtle wrong teachings regarding the trinity, the character of God and sin. In it the author has ‘God” saying… “I don't need to punish people for sin. Sin is its own punishment, devouring you from the inside. It's not my purpose to punish it; it's my joy to cure it" (p. 120). Yet sinners who continue to reject God will be punished for their ultimate choice. The only ‘cure’ for sin is Jesus and our making Him Lord of our lives. Unfortunately many will think after reading this book that God will overlook our sins and ‘understand’.

Another book that is fascinating Christians is “The Secret,” a book made very popular by Oprah and her book club. It is a book that deals with the ‘law of attraction’, a very ‘New Age’ or pagan concept of mind over matter. Wikipedia describes it this way:The tenet of the book is that an individual's focused positive thinking can result in life-changing results such as increased wealth, health, happiness and more. As a result of practicing what this book teaches, mankind supposedly rules the universe and what WE think is what makes a difference. But the Bible teaches us that in us dwells nothing good. We are lost, sinful, carnal, lusting, wounded people who need a Savior—the kind of Savior that Jesus is—One who can free us from our bondages, our sin, our hurts, our past, and prepare us for an eternal home with Him. Nothing I can do—good thoughts, kind words, positive attitudes—can make me into something different. But in Christ, I am a new creation. All the old is gone. He takes away the sin and the desire to sin. He frees me from addictive behavior. He heals my heart and helps me to forgive those who hurt me. If I want life changing results, I need divine forgiveness. If I need healing, I need the touch of the Master’s hand. If I need happiness, I need His transformational power in my daily life.

Paganism in Pentecost?

Is it possible that paganism has even seeped into the ranks of the Pentecostals? I was raised in a Pentecostal church. Yet the church I often see today is not the same as the one in which I grew up. How has it changed? The focus is changed. Instead of being concerned with what God wants to do in our midst, we concern ourselves with what WE want to do today. As a result, most believers attend church when they want to. They do not feel compelled to be faithful to His house of worship. Yet scripture clearly teaches “not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” Heb 10:25 Another change is in worship, a hot button in many churches. Worship has often degenerated into entertainment. When people are entertained, they do not participate—they watch and listen. I have been bothered by churches who used people who are not sensitive to the Holy Spirit, whose goal is to ‘perform’ rather than worship. Some use non-Christians and those with compromising habits. In Jewish temple service, cleanliness of heart, mind and body was paramount. How about today?

Another change I have noticed is in the preaching. Too often pastors are afraid to “preach the Word.” Because their church is compromised, they know such preaching will step on toes and jeopardize their salaries. It takes courage to be a genuine voice for God. I have heard too many ‘how-to’ sermons, and psychology lessons combined with a Bible story to make it palatable. There is a famine in the land for the Word of God. Paul commanded young Timothy  “I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: 2 Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers;” (2 Tim 4:1-3) That time has come. Pastors—be bold in the power of the Spirit! Preach the Word. Convince and rebuke without fear. Exhort those who are standing strong. It is the only way we can keep paganism out of Pentecost!

J. Johnson

Praise reports and prayer requests…..

Pray for revival! Pray for those who are the midst of their storm of chaos.

Pray for the Johnsons as they seek a new place of full time ministry...a church that needs strong leadership. Pray for the Godmobile now in many country fairs. Pray for grieving families who have lost loved ones..( Arleen Johnson and Lavern Brandon families).. Pray for Pastors, Evangelists, Missionaries, and Teachers. Pray for US Army Chaplain Steve Maglio

Pray for those needing a healing touch in their bodies: Bernie Dargiewicz (recovering from heart surgery) Dave Barth (cancer), Jim Brandon, (cancer) Diane Sherwin (cancer), L. Gardner (cancer). Pray for those dealing with chaos, anger, abuse, temptations and carnal sinful habits. Pray for the nation, for the President, for our service men and women, for Israel, for the unsaved, and don’t forget to Praise and thank the Lord!
Please address all donations and correspondence to this address :

Word of the Lord Ministries
David & Joyce Johnson
PO Box 655, Waupaca WI 54981

Thank your for your donations…

Your prayers and gifts are deeply appreciated.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Calm In The Chaos

How often do we find ourselves swept away by a flash flood of chaos that seems to turn our world upside down? Flash floods can be devastating catastrophes. In 1976, the Big Thompson River flash flood killed 143 people in Colorado when 12 inches of rain fell on just one area, sending a 20 foot wall of water down the canyon destroying lives, homes, cars and businesses. We sometimes say that the rain falls on the good and the bad, but sometimes it falls far away and still devastates those least expecting it.

Others find themselves caught out to sea in a boat when the storm of life strikes. Like the disciples, we all tend to panic. You may have been enjoying a beautiful day on the lake until the wind suddenly changed. The boat starts rocking and destruction seems certain. With Christ in the boat, there’s no need to fear. I like the song that says, “Sometimes He calms the storm, and sometimes He calms His child.” He can bring peace in the middle of any storm. But sometimes the kind of peace we want is not what we get. God has other plans for us. Sometimes life throws us a curve ball. We want it all to go nice and easy, but when the tough times come, we must be spiritually ready to face the storm. How do we do this? How do we find calm in the chaos?

God’s Viewpoint

Remember the bigger picture—God’s view. God sees it all, and he knows how much we can take. He knows all of our tomorrows. He sees into eternity. He knows the lessons we need to learn. He knows our strengths and weaknesses. Sometimes he wants to take our weaknesses and make them strengths. As you face a storm, ask yourself, “God, what do you want me to learn from this?” Perhaps we will suddenly see we have not been in the spiritual place He wants us to be. His desire is that we find our strength in Him, and we do that by feasting on the Word of God. Don’t count on your mate to feed you, or your pastor. Pick up your Bible and begin to feast as the Holy Spirit directs you to just the words you need to nourish your soul. As you read through the stories of the Old Testament historical books, you will discover that over and over again, God allowed challenges to come into the lives of the people of God. It was for one purpose—that they might come to God for help—that they might rely on Him to deliver them. Joseph needed deliverance from slavery and then from prison, and when God taught him to trust, God put Joseph in a place to deliver his own brothers (who had sold him into slavery) from starvation. God saw the bigger picture. It did not end there. In 400 years, the descendents of Joseph and his family became slaves and needed deliverance. God provided once again in Moses. Soon they were facing the Red Sea in one direction, and pharaoh’s army in the other. God used a man who had been forged on the anvil of God to lead them all, not to disaster, but to freedom and victory. God saw through the annals of time that a plan would be needed, a man who would listen to God and follow. It took faith, trust, vision, and blind obedience. From God’s viewpoint, it was all under control. But from Moses viewpoint, and the panicky throng, all they saw was water—then God stepped in and made a path in their chaos.

The Eternal Plan

God always has a plan. Usually we are too busy or too frightened by what is going on around us to seek His eternal plan. It is found in the Book. “Eye has not seen nor ear heard nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” (1 Cor 2:9) In fact God has you on his ‘daytimer’. You are on his eternal schedule. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “Plans to prosper you, and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11) We know that that wonderful plan and future includes eternal life for the righteous. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

God’s plan does not end for man in the grave. It is the beginning of a wonderful new life with Christ. That new life in Christ is eternal. It will never end. The pain and sickness and death will end. The chaos and frustrations we have known in the earthly life will end, but our spiritual end will outlast everything we have known down here. And because we can know for certain that we are a part of His eternal plan, we can go through life here and now with peace and calm in the midst of chaos.

Family Chaos

It’s not easy raising a family today. Demands pound on our doors. Expectations crowd out the ‘normal’ life of a family. What is so necessary is for a family to determine what should take priority. What do you value the most in your family life? In the parsonage, I determined that the needs of my family out-weighed the demands and expectations of those outside our four walls. God had given me a mission-field of four children and a spouse to care for, to see their spiritual needs, physical needs, and more were taken care of. If I chose to take care of everyone else’s needs and neglected the needs of my immediate family, I would have failed both God and my family. I wanted my children to know that God was more important than other people and their expectations, more important than a job or money or pleasure. Too many confuse God’s demands with church demands. When that happens it sends a silent message to our children that they are not important, and that God is an enemy who steals away vital time. In reality, it is not God stealing us away from our family, but our own choices. God wants us to live in a healthy balance, nurturing our family, creating a hunger for God, just as they hunger for food from the kitchen. It is sad to see families disintegrating, out of control, walking in rebellion, refusing to submit to the spiritual guidance needed to restore balance. Too many walk away from church altogether. The children, as they mature, adopt a new set of non-spiritual values and drift off into the attractions of the world around them. The chaos in the home spins them into the chaos of the world.

God’s plan is for a home centered in God and His love. I love what Erma Bombeck wrote in “If I Had My Life to do Over”: I would have talked less and listened more.
I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained and the sofa faded. I would have eaten the popcorn in the 'good' living room and worried much less about the dirt when someone wanted to light a fire in the fireplace. I would have taken the time to listen to my grandfather ramble about his youth…..
I would have burned the pink candle sculpted like a rose before it melted in storage. I would have sat on the lawn with my children and not worried about grass stains. I would have cried and laughed less while watching television -- and more while watching life. I would have shared more of the responsibility carried by my husband. I would have gone to bed when I was sick instead of pretending the earth would go into a holding pattern if I weren't there for the day. I would never have bought anything just because it was practical, wouldn't show soil or was guaranteed to last a lifetime. Instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy, I'd have cherished every moment and realized that the wonderment growing inside me was the only chance in life to assist God in a miracle. When my kids kissed me impetuously, I would never have said, "Later. Now go get washed up for dinner."
There would have been more "I love yous", more "I'm sorrys" ... but mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute...look at it and really see it ... live it...and never give it back.

How we choose to respond to the chaos of life makes our life. I am amazed as I read how the apostle Paul faced the chaos of ministry life. In 2 Cor 11:24-28 Paul lists the horrible experiences he faced… shipwreck, beaten five times, stoned with rocks, adrift at sea, dangers of travel, bandits, sleep deprivation, hunger and thirst and all the troubles of the churches as well. Is there chaos in your life? Paul kept it all in proper perspective. He knew strength came from difficulties. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Cor 12:10 NIV)

Is the storm of life tossing your boat? Remember the Master who is with you in the boat. He never leaves us alone in our chaos. He is there.

1.Turn to Him. Mat 11:28  Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

2. Trust God and His Word. God makes no mistakes, and His eternal plan is working for our good.

3.Thank Him in the chaos of life. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.1 Thess 5:18 Faith looks beyond the chaos to the coming calm.

Have you found your calm place in the chaos? Trust Him. Hold on. When peace comes, tell someone and let the glory of God shine hope into their circumstances.
J. Johnson

Praise reports and prayer requests…..

Pray for revival! Pray for those who are the midst of their storm of chaos.

Pray for the Johnsons as they seek a new place of full time ministry...a church that needs strong leadership. Praise the Lord for another great year at South Division High with Straight UP! Pray for grieving families who have lost loved ones...(the Arleen Johnson family 7-5-2010). Pray for Pastors, Evangelists, Missionaries, and Teachers. Pray for US Army Chaplain Steve Maglio

Pray for those needing a healing touch in their bodies: Bernie Dargiewicz (recovery from heart surgery) Dave Barth (cancer), Jim Brandon, (cancer) Diane Sherwin (cancer), L. Gardner (cancer). Pray for those dealing with chaos, anger, abuse, temptations and carnal sinful habits. Pray for the nation, for the President, for our service men and women, for Israel, for the unsaved, and don’t forget to Praise and thank the Lord!

Friday, June 04, 2010

For Such A Time....

Why are you here? What did God have in mind when He made you? What does He have planned for your destiny? These are all questions we often ask ourselves in various times of our life. As a teen, we often have no idea what the future holds, what God has planned for us. We ask, and we seek, and we knock...and when a door opens, we walk through. All too often we find our lives wrapped up in a seemingly endless parade of mundane events that flow from a day to a month to a year. Be fore we know it, life has seemed to pass us by. We wonder has there been a time when we have fulfilled that destiny God has had planned for us?

I remember singing a song at church when I was younger, and perhaps you know it too: “I’ll go where you want me to go dear Lord, O’er mountain or plain or sea. I’ll say what you want me to say dear Lord. I’ll be what you want me to be.” I knew God had a plan for me. I just walked daily in His plan and He unfolded that plan one day at a time.

Too often today, we plan our lives, we make our schedules, we choose our path. We fail to consult the One who opens and closes doors. I sometimes wondered if Hadassah had done that, what would the world be like today? Who is Hadassah? You will recognize her other adopted name in the Bible, Esther. Young Esther found herself living in a foreign land, experiencing the first anti-Semitic persecution in history. She was an Jewish orphan, living with her cousin when the king called for all the most beautiful women in the land to be gathered for his selection of a new queen. She became a candidate. Her poise and beauty would carry her into the position of becoming the new queen of Susa, wife of Artaxerxes also known as Xerxes. Esther’s wise relative, Mordecai reminded her, that perhaps God had called her to this position “for such a time as this”. In that moment of crisis which demanded she risk her very life to save the Jewish people, she chose to stand by faith in the presence of the King, unsummoned, ready to die if he rejected her. Had she chosen anything else, not only would she have died, since she was Jewish—-but all the Jewish people would have been annihilated from Ethiopia to India. Today, there would be no Israel. A huge part of the population of New York, Florida, and California would not exist. You would not be wearing blue jeans which were invented by Levi Strauss in 1873. Ladies would not be able to carry lipstick which Maurice Levy invented in 1915. We would not have contraceptives, or the laser, or even a remote control, all of which were invented by Jewish people.

We’ve all seen the famous Christmas tale entitled” It’s a Wonderful Life” where George Bailey discovered what life would have been like if he were never born. He learned to rejoice over the little things in his life that made a huge difference. When you look at your life, you may wonder, “How have I made a difference?” Instead, I challenge you to think of someone who made a huge difference in your life. Write them a note and thank them! If God is the One who made a huge difference in your life, then take some time to thank Him for all He has done in your life. Tell someone about it. Give God glory! Perhaps your testimony now is —for such a time as this!

We live in trying days, to be sure. Oil is pouring into the gulf destroying the beautiful shoreline, and the livelihood of many who rely on the gulf waters for their income. Volcanoes are pouring out chocking ash, hindering air traffic. Mexico is drowning in the blood of drug trafficking wars. People all around us are in despair over the national economy, the immoral state of the nation, and the declining spirituality in the church. What are we as the people of God to do about it all? May I suggest we look again at Esther? How did she handle her crisis? Did she throw up her queenly hands in despair? Did she go hide in her royal palace? What does the Bible tell us? "Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my maids will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish." Esther 4: 16. So we see that her first response was to mobilize God’s people to prayer and fasting. She made sure that those in her ‘household’—her maids, also fasted and prayed. This was her destiny. She was called into the palace for such a time as this! She risked death to save herself and her people. For three days, prayers went up to God. God listened. Like any miracle God performs, it is filled with incredible timing. There was the building of a gallows on which Haman intended to kill Mordecai. There was a sleepless night in the bedroom of the king, and the discovery of the unrewarded Mordecai who had saved the Kings life. Then the banquet and the request...and for such a time as this Esther was there.

What is God calling you to do for Him today? Is it to call your family to prayer, or to lead your church into a time of preparation for revival? The enemy is out there, ready to kill, steal and destroy the people of God. The church is gasping for a fresh breath of heavenly revival. The community and the world is looking for a hero. Who will be Esther to them? Everyday you have an incredible influence on the people whose lives you touch daily. Your spouse looks to you for encouragement and spiritual guidance. Your children look up to you for an example and a reason to learn. Your neighbors are watching how you respond to life’s crises. Your co-workers will follow a leader who emulates the love of God. No matter what horrible experiences you are facing today, God has called you to the place where you are “for such a time as this…” If you are facing marital strife, face it with God at your side. If you are financially overwhelmed, remember that God is the source of all that we need. See Him for a solution. If your children are wandering from God, lay them at the foot of the cross in prayer and let God go to work on them. If you are overcome with fear, rest in the gentle arms of the Good Shepherd, who loves His sheep. You are not alone. Elijah the prophet thought he was all alone, but God has preserved a remnant of Godly people who, when the time was right, would once again stand strong for God. Elijah was chosen, for such a time as this.

You may feel too young, unable to accomplish much, or so old, that there’s not much left you can do. God still has a plan for you. He uses Daniel’s to stand strong in the lions den and David’s to stand before the giant. Old or young, it means nothing to God. God uses empty vessels who are willing to be used for His glory. Unemployed? God always has a job opening for those willing to be His servants. Look around you! What needs to be done? Who can you help today? What has been neglected for too long? Take on a new task, a new responsibility and serve the King. Esther did. She may have been afraid, but as she realized that her own life was also in the balance, she stepped up to the plate and risked it all. What are you willing to risk today?

Missionaries on the field are risking their lives to tell the story. In some countries Christians are being expelled and sometimes killed for their faith. Here in the comfort and ease of living in a democracy, we complain about the littlest things while others are risking it all to serve the Lord. What bothers you today? Is it the lost who do not know the Savior? Is it the church that has lost is focus and vision? Is it a family that has become so engrossed in carnal pleasures that they have forgot about God and eternity? Is it a neighbor who is filling his or her life with drugs and alcohol? These things bother me...and I want to serve my King for such a time as this!

J. Johnson

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Lost and Found!

Everyday we lose things we value—the keys, a credit card, a cell phone, and we spend all kinds of time and effort searching all over the place, retracing our steps to where we last had the thing, hoping we will discover it tucked between the sofa cushions, or in a coat pocket. Sometimes we get to rejoice, for like the woman in the Bible who lost her coin, she was ecstatic to discover her lost coin was found. Likewise, the shepherd who noticed that one of his sheep had strayed and was missing—he left the 99 safe sheep and looked high and low until he found that one lost sheep. Then he came rejoicing. But do you know that everyday, horrible things happen because some of us lose a very valuable thing...our tempers.
The Bible warns us about the dangers of anger. A quick-tempered man does foolish things (Prov 14:17) A hot-tempered man stirs up dissension (Prov 15:18) We are even advised not to make friends with a person with a hot temper. Do not make friends with a hot-tempered man, do not associate with one easily angered, or you may learn his ways and get yourself ensnared. (Prov 22:24-25) Our jails are filled with people who chose such a friend, and who soon found themselves involved in a violent crime. But there are times we simply cannot avoid being around someone who has a trigger temper...they may be your parents or your children. Often if the child has a trigger temper, they learned it by watching how a parent, grandparent, or teacher, responded to a moment of stress. In that moment a horrible lesson was imprinted on their mind.

What is ‘temper’?
The Miriam Webster Online dictionary defines this noun to mean: “a high quality of mind or spirit” So in reality, we are saying that when we lose our temper, we are losing something very valuable—our minds...and not just any state of mind, but a high quality of our mind or spirit. Have you lost your mind lately? If we were to ask someone where we lost it...they would take us back in time to a moment where a wrong word, or a thoughtless act was responded to in the wrong way. Junior may have spilled his drink for the third time or a spouse may have cracked what they thought was a joke, only to have it taken wrong. Sometimes it is a sassy remark or a racial slur. Sometimes it is a genuine attempt by someone to push your buttons, and it worked! If you go back to that place in time in your mind, you know it cannot be undone, changed, or deleted. Let’s stop losing our minds so we can stop going back and regretfully reminiscing over something we can not change. Instead, let’s learn from our mistakes and move forward.

Living in Peace
The world around us is not a very peace filled place. Turmoil and chaos abound on every front. Each evening as you watch the news, or read the paper, or check the stories on the internet, there is one event after another that tells us we live in a tumultuous world. But God provides a haven for the believer. You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind [both its inclination and its character] is stayed on You, because he commits himself to You, leans on You, and hopes confidently in You. (Isaiah 26:3AMP) When our mind is fixed on God, when we commit ourselves completely to God, and lean on Him, we can live the promise in this verse. God will keep us in perfect and constant peace. But if we lose our mind in a fit of anger, we nullify the promise. We put ourselves in charge instead of God. When we made God the one in charge, not only of our hearts, but of our minds, we yield to His Spirit. Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses (Rom 8:26) He helps us to pray. He helps us to understand the truth. He helps us to focus on the Lord. He helps us be more like Jesus. He reminds when we forget the Word of God. He speaks to us daily, teaching us—but we must be willing to listen to Him. Our minds belong on God, in full attention mode. And when we are in the right mind-set, our tempers will also be in control—under His control. But are you listening? Listen to the tone of your voice? Listen to the volume of your voice. Can you hear His voice above the roar? Calm your tone and volume and start to listen once again.
Too often we make excuses for our lost tempers. We tell ourselves, “It’s just an ethnic thing—I’m Irish—or Italian.” Or we blame it on our temperament… I’m sanguine or choleric or some other modern terminology. But in reality, each one of us does not wear those labels. We are children of God. We take after Him. We have the indwelling Holy Spirit to empower us to boldly take on new temperaments because in Christ, we are “new creations”. We need to die to those carnal and fleshly ways and come alive in the Spirit of God. He wants to speak through us, and He can’t unless He is in charge. “ for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you” (Matthew 10:20) Just as the chains of abuse must be broken in our lives, so must the chains of anger, hatred and bitterness.

The Tongue...
James specializes in the tongue. He gives us some great advise.  19My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. (James 1:19-20) and he continues in v 26— 26If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. Just being religious does not make you a good Christian. The fruit of your mouth tells the real story. We destroy our testimonies when we lose our tempers. Even worse, we use what God created for blessing to curse. 9With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God's likeness. 10Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. (James 3:9,10) We must be teachable. We must have listening ears. How dare we abuse the God who made us and who wants to help us. The Holy Spirit is waiting and longing for us to listen to His voice so He can teach us the things we need to develop the patience we need when those stress filled moments come our way.
Those moments have a valuable purpose in our lives. God designed them to make us more mature—the Bible calls it ‘perfect’. And James teaches us how it works. 2 Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. 3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. 4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. (James 1:2-4) Now we rarely think of those tough times as an opportunity for great joy! But when we look at the purpose for which God allows them in our life—to test our faith and grow our endurance—we can rejoice knowing that He is working on every area of our lives, making us both perfectly mature, and absolutely complete. When we reach that state of spiritual maturity, we will discover that we truly do not need all those things we were fighting so hard for. We already have all we need in God. He is our supply. He is our source. He is our peace.
Tomorrow, if you think you lost your temper, and you feel like you have lost your mind, remember the One who specializes in finding lost things—Jesus, the Good Shepherd!
J. Johnson
When I have lost my temper,
I have lost my reason too.
I'm never proud of anything,
which angrily I do.
When I have talked in anger
and my cheeks are flaming red,
I have always uttered something
that I wish I had not said.
In anger I have never done
a kindly deed or wise,
But many things for which I felt
I should apologize.
In looking back across my life,
and all I've lost or made,
I can't recall a single time
when fury ever paid.
So I struggle to be patient,
for I've reached a wiser age;
I do not want to do a thing
or speak a word in rage.
I have learned by sad experience
that when my temper flies
I never do a worthy deed,
a decent deed or wise.
(Author unknown)

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Hand to the Plow......

It is spring time, and time for preparing the gardens for sowing the seed. I’m not much of a farmer, but my father grew up on the farm as did his father and his grandfather. It was their dream that he also be a farmer. Although he wanted to try his hand at other things, he ultimately continued to farm at least enough ground to feed his family. Many of our ancestors did the same. Each spring they would go into the barn and dig out the plow, sharpen the blade and take it out to the field. Some had a push plow which one man could push through the soil. Others had plows that were pulled by oxen, horses or mules. The original measurement of an acre was the amount of ground a farmer and his oxen could plow in one day. The knack of plowing a field had to be learned.
First of all, it was necessary to till up the compacted soil before planting seed so the soil could ‘breathe’ and the seed could germinate. It was hard work, not for the feeble. Hands would become blistered and calloused as they guided the plow and the animal across the field. It was not a one day job. It took days and sometimes weeks to plow the acreage. Sometimes it meant removing boulders and stumps. We don’t appreciate what our forefathers did to prepare this country for the harvests we have had in the past. When someone has prepared the way before us, we tend to take it for granted.
In the early years of the church, there were plows and planters too. They took on virgin ground, battling persecution from the religious critics of their day, but they persisted because of the words of Jesus Christ found in Luke 9:62 "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God." We read these words but often fail to understand them. A good farmer would learn to plow a straight line by fixing his vision on a point straight ahead of him—a tree, a rock, or a fencepost. He would use that point of reference until he had crossed the field at least once. It would keep the row straight and make it easier for the animals to plow succeeding rows. If he spent all his time looking backwards to see how he was doing, the row would end up crooked and the job would be much more difficult to finish well.
When Jesus spoke these words to his disciples, they were walking along side Him making their boasts… “I’ll follow you anywhere!” (Lk 9:57) Early they were even arguing about which of them would be the greatest. (Lk 9:46)It was time for a valuable lesson. Following Jesus meant becoming like a little child. It meant not having a place to lay your 5-star hotels for followers of Jesus. (Lk 9:58) It meant making sacrifices, and realignment of priorities. Following Jesus meant more than saying “goodbye’ to family and friends, to burying loved ones. Jesus had set the example. Jesus knew that His time of sacrifice was almost upon Him. “ 51 As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.” (Lk 9:51) Jesus was focused on the task at hand. He was plowing a field. He had told them already about the field of the world...and the farmer who went out to sow seed in the field ( Luke 8:5-8) and he explained to them the importance of sowing seed in good ground. But some seed would fall by the wayside in hard ground, and other in stony ground and still other in the thorny ground with weeds. But it was the seed of the Word of God that was sown in good ground that would produce a harvest. So plowing that ground and making it good ground was very important.
But there are a lot of folks who say they want to follow the Lord and put their hand to the plow until they discover the cost—the hard work, the sacrifices required of farmers. Some are lazy at heart. Others are drawn away by riches and comforts and family ties. They often struggle with indecision and focus. They often do not want to sever the old ties from the past, and choose the lonely walk behind the plow. But Jesus was very clear here. Where we turn our face is important. What we choose to face will determine our future. If the farmer is looking back, then his eyes are not on the goal, and though he may be plowing, he is plowing without focus and purpose. It brings disaster. How many have taken their eyes off the road for just a moment, only to discover that in that instant you had drifted dangerously into a wrong lane or even off the road. Texters today are learning this the hard way. The efficient servant of God will aim his plow and his vision in the same unswerving direction with the purpose of preparing a field for a great harvest.
There is one little word that often causes us to swerve… “but”. “I will follow you but…” not until the time is right, not until the finances are secure, not until I’m older. Not today, but perhaps tomorrow. Other tasks are demanding our full attention today. We tell ourselves, we need to take care of business. We look back much like Lot’s wife. Redemption was ahead of her but she chose to look back at the judgment falling. She was tied emotionally to the things behind her in the doomed city of Sodom. She disobeyed and paid a price. There is a price to pay for looking back. The verse tells us that those who do are not “fit for the Kingdom of God.” To be ‘fit’ means more than just being physically strong. It means to be ripened, prepared, and competent, ready for service. Paul the Apostle learned this lesson for he says, “One thing I do, forgetting the things which are behind and stretching forward to the things which are before, I press on toward the goal unto the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 3: 13). He had it right, with not one backward look, Paul pressed forward, knowing the goal. His high calling took him to a martyrs death. He was plowing ground with a great harvest of souls in mind. Did it work? Can we learn from his example?
How many today want to be followers of Jesus, but they just have a few issues they need to deal with. Jesus is calling us all to follow Him. But some delay because of procrastination. “Not yet...someday I’ll take care of that”. How often do we procrastinate just once and it suddenly becomes a pattern. We intend to write that letter to someone, but we put it off. Soon the opportunity to write is gone forever. We sometimes procrastinate in forgiving too. We hope time will deal with it and emotions will heal. In reality, we have just swept the dirt under the rug. When God calls, we must respond and do so immediately and decisively. There is no room for hesitancy. We are either admirers or followers. Admirers look on from a distance and say, “One day, I’ll follow too.” But followers get up on their feet and position themselves behind the plow, set their eyes on the goal, grip the plow firmly and follow the Master. They are not distracted by the past, the pain, or the people to call their name. They, like Jesus, have a purpose.
Jesus was determined to go to Jerusalem, knowing the cost. He was looking to Calvary, to the cross and to dying there for mankind. The purpose was clear. He could not just half die. It required total commitment. Death was the desired end. Why? Because He loved us! It was not a half-hearted love. It was complete, the love of a hero for someone who needed rescuing. How do you love someone half way? It’s impossible. Love means 100% commitment. It is unconditional. The only acceptable response is to love back completely and fully. We are either admirers, or followers. If we are followers, we must put our hand to the plow and follow Him without a backward glance.
I always admired the tenacity and faithfulness of Anne Sullivan who taught Hellen Keller. Anne was born into a home of Irish immigrants, and she suffered from abuse at the hands of her alcoholic father and was forced to tend to the needs of her crippled brother. They both became orphans. She became blind herself at the age of 5 and went through many surgeries to correct the problem. In spite of her past, she demanded an education and graduated as valedictorian. She knew her life had purpose and she set her hand to the plow. Helen Keller was the harvest.
As believers, we have a higher calling. Lost souls all around us are seeking guidance, wondering about life and death, heaven and hell. Angels cannot preach the gospel. Only man has the commission. But all too often we link ourselves with the stuff of the world. The Bible tells us that the plowman was forbidden to mix an oxen with a mule while plowing. They would be unequally yoked. (Deut. 22:10, 2 Corinth. 6:14) We must keep our lives pure and focused on the mission, the call, the purpose God has for us all. The plowman’s call is exclusive. There is no room for variation or experimentation. The seed must be sown in the field on time, or there will be no harvest, no time of reaping. There is already famine in the land? What will the people of God do? "No procrastination. No backward looks. You can't put God's kingdom off till tomorrow. Seize the day." Luke 9:62 TMB
J. Johnson

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Victim or Victor?

As a child, I could have easily become a victim of abuse. One day while riding my bike home alone from swimming lessons, I was approached on the side of the road by a man in a car who asked me about swimming in the nearby lake down the street from my house. I noticed he was sitting in his car naked. I quickly answered his question then rode my bike home in the opposite direction. I never did tell my parents until I was an adult.

Statistics have shown us all that sexual abuse is a major problem in our sin filled culture. One out of every 4 women have at some time been sexually abused, often as children. Sexual abuse has increased 350% since 1980. When we speak of sexual abuse, sometimes the church tends to stick its head in the sand in hope that the problem will go away and we won’t have to deal with it. But my experiences in ministry has taught me that as believers, we need to not only be aware of this sin problem that is so prevalent—we also need to be prepared to help those who have been victims of it. Men have also been sexually abused. The rapid rise of homosexuality in the last century in this country is often the result of sexual abuse.

All too often, there have been myths that have developed about this subject. If we as a church are going to help this hurting group of people in our churches we need to look at some of the myths, as well as how we as a church can help them through the resulting pain. I tend to see them all, abused and abusers as victims. They have all fallen prey to Satan’s attack. We know the Bible teaches us that our enemy, Satan, is like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. His goal is to kill, steal and destroy. The result of abuse causes people to be angry at God, because they think He allowed an abuser to steal their sacred sexuality and destroy their self-worth, their relationships, their sexual identities, and their very relationship to God. In many ways, you can see how Satan loves this area. It has devastated not only the Catholic church, but spiritual people across all denominational lines. I believe there are frustrated victims of sexual abuse who suffer in silence from post traumatic stress disorder, sexual identity confusion, and who spend time on the internet, involved in pornography, chat-rooms, and other questionable activities. If the church does not raise the standard from the pulpit, and learn to deal with all this in appropriate ways to help with prevention, we will all stand before God one day to give an accounting. So lets begin by debunking some of the myths many believe.

Myth #1. Normal appearing, well-educated, middle class people don’t abuse children. The Bible tells me that all have sinned and come short of God’s glory. Because we are all sinners, the potential to sin and be tempted by the enemy is in every human being, no matter how nice or educated they are. It is all the more important that we as transformed believers become protectors of the innocent, educators of the ignorant, and healers to the wounded.

Myth # 2 Children cannot be believed. Most stories are ‘planted’ by another adult with a motive of revenge or the child is just seeking attention. Most child victims of sexual abuse have little or no knowledge of what sexual abuse is or how it will affect them. It is extremely rare for children to invent such stories. Sometimes when children ‘recant’ their stories, it is out of pure fear, fearing they will loose those they love, or because the pain of their confession begins to cause so much hurt in their family. They fear abandonment, further abuse, rage of siblings, and they fear being blamed as the cause rather than accepted as the victim. Remember Jesus came to heal the broken hearted and set the captives free.

Myth #3 Good parents can always protect their children from abuse through education. In reality, even though we teach our children carefully, they can still be victims. Too often we trust those who are closest to us...our friends, our extended family members. Abusers take advantage of that trust. They are excellent manipulators. It’s important to teach our children the difference between good touches and bad ones. It’s important they learn to say “No!” and run or scream if they feel threatened in any way. Abusers will seek occasions when they are alone with their victim and have control over them. Keeping your kids in groups helps prevent this kind of abuse. But even though we teach them, they are still children, pushing the boundaries, discovering, and learning. They will learn some things they never wanted to learn—the hard way. Even when they make mistakes, Christ is always there with open arms to love and forgive them, and will heal the broken heart.

Myth # 4 The majority of children are abused by strangers. We hear of pedophiles and sexual deviants on the prowl in the community, but we should be even more cautious about friends and family. It is people the children and parents know and trust (80%) who often do the majority of all abuse. If a child tells you of abuse, listen carefully to them. If you have any doubts, trust your child first before you believe the adult. Teach your child that any area covered by a bathing suit is out of bounds for others to touch.

Myth #5 It is not abuse unless rape occurs. Wrong! We know the Bible teaches that it is even sinful to look upon a woman and lust. So touching in any inappropriate way is far beyond just looking. It damages the child. Sometimes they suffer from unresolved guilt feelings, post traumatic stress, eating disorders, flash-backs and feelings that cripple relationships with others. Jesus said in Matthew 8:16 But if you give them a hard time, bullying them or taking advantage of their simple trust, you’ll soon wish you hadn’t. You’d be better off dropped in the middle of the lake, with a millstone around your neck. Doom to the world for giving these God-believing children a hard time. Hard times are inevitable, but you don’t have to make it worse. Dooms day for you! (The Message Bible)

Myth #6 They wanted or asked for it. The abuser often subdues his guilt with this thought. Sexual abuse is about power. We must always remember that children are children, not understanding the power of adults or of sexuality. It is always the responsibility of an adult to say “no” to his own temptations...never the child’s. Children who appear seductive may already have been abused. If you are now an adult, and you failed to say “NO” as a child, you may feel like it is your fault. It is not your fault. You were a victim of the abuser and of Satan.

Myth #7 Children can stop the abuse by just saying “no.” We must remember—these are children and there is a huge difference in this power ratio. Abusers will often fail to listen to or obey the ‘NO” of a child. They often pick on a child that is weak and vulnerable. They use fear and intimidation tactics to control their victim. Maintain a healthy relationship with your kids so they can tell you anything without feeling rejection!

Myth # 8 The abused will always become abusers as well. No! There is One who wants to break the chains of sin and violence. His name is Jesus. He heals the broken in both abused and abusers. He is in the business of life transformation. He conquered sin, Satan, death, disease and fear when he rose from the dead. He desires to make all things new again. Oh, there may be scars. Even Jesus has scars. But those scars will be testimonies of the healing power of God. They will help Satan’s victims discover hope as they see you victorious in Christ Jesus. He makes victims into victors!


The real solution to the problem of sin is the blood of Jesus Christ. His blood cleanses us from all sin. Because of the cleansing power, we can become new creations...made just as if we had never sinned. When we fall into the trap of abuse, we often tend to feel all alone. We feel confused and traumatized.

The apostle Paul knew all about abuse. What was his solution to the pain? As he traveled the world telling about Jesus, he tells us We've been surrounded and battered by troubles, but we're not demoralized; we're not sure what to do, but we know that God knows what to do; we've been spiritually terrorized, but God hasn't left our side; we've been thrown down, but we haven't broken. What they did to Jesus, they do to us—trial and torture, mockery and murder; what Jesus did among them, he does in us—he lives! 2 Corinthians 4:8-10 The Message Bible) Persecution was the daily norm for early church saints. Paul never denied the pain. He just refused to be defined by the pain. He was more than ‘persecuted’—-he was God’s masterpiece! “10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” Eph 2:10 (NLV) When you know Christ and his forgiving power, you become His temple (2 Cor 6:16) and you become part of His family—sons and daughters (2 Cor 6:18). So just think of it, no matter what you have done, no matter what others have done to you, you are still His ‘masterpiece’ His ‘temple’, his ‘sons and daughters’. Let His identity define who you are! If you have repented of your sin, you are not damaged goods, but you are a blessed Child of the Almighty God, a masterpiece of His grace— a victor—that’s who you are!          J. Johnson