The Identity Theft that Changed the World

images-55One of the most pointed and enlightening statements of Jesus in scripture is found in John 10:10, where he said, “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly”. In this small short statement Jesus gives us the agenda of the enemy and God the Son’s plan for our lives. The enemy wants to steal from us and ruin our lives, but Jesus says He Himself has come to give us life to the fullest. Yet, we must realize this abundant life Jesus is talking about is to be lived out in a real world filled with pain, rejection and failure. Jesus isn’t talking about


Abundant life is experiencing God’s love, forgiveness, and power in the midst of life’s problems.


a perfect heaven but a “heaven on earth” reality in the midst of the storms of life. Abundant life is experiencing God’s love, forgiveness, and power in the midst of these problems. Scripture warns us that we live within a warfare that can destroy our faith, devastate our self-worth and send us into depression. That’s been the plan of the enemy from our beginning.

I remember the feeling that came over me when I found our shed had been broken into and the power equipment had been stolen out of it. It was feelings of violation and confusion, let alone the anger that rose up, because someone had the nerve to trespass against me. In this world there are those that look and connive to steal from others!

One thing is for sure; to those that have never had identity theft happen to them it might seem a very small and distant thing. Yet the reality is that the rise of identity theft is running rampant through our society. Whether it is a headline news story or a person that we know, we have all been made aware of this evil scheme to steal from the innocent.

In Gen 3:5-7 we see the biblical story of Adam and Eve’s epic sin in the garden. We have heard the story many times over of the original sin that sent man headlong


Adam and Eve were magnificent creations, complete and perfect in the image of God.


into a spiritual spiral through life. The enemy stole their identity through his deception. But, unless we examine the nature of their life before the fall we can’t comprehend the magnitude of the result of the enemy’s plot, which caused them to lose their significance.

Adam and Eve were magnificent creations, complete and perfect in the image of God. They were living in intimate fellowship with God where they were secure and free. Created to reign over all the earth (Gen. 1:26-28). Their purpose was to reflect God’s glory and demonstrate His holiness through humankind. (Ps. 99:3-5) To meet their spiritual needs God walked and talked with them personally. Through intellect, free will, and emotions, God showcased His glorious character through mankind.

Through the deception and plot of the enemy, Adam and Eve sinned and had their identity stolen from them. Through this sin all of mankind has lost his secure status with God and began to tumble down a miserable slope of distorted and warped feelings of inadequacy, rejection and shame. This tragic event has robbed man of his original identity and plunged him into a struggling journey of searching for significance.

Yet, that’s not the end! God has sent His son, Jesus to redeem us and restore us back to that original position with Him. We are His sons and daughters made in His image! Jesus has restored our true identity on the cross. (Jn1:12, Rom 5:8, Gal 4:6, Eph2:6) Will you receive the truth or are you still listening to the lie of the serpent?

 

 

Thoughts to Ponder:  

  1. Have you or anyone you know ever been stolen from or had their identity stolen? How did it make you or them feel? Explain?

 

  1. When you read the story of creation and Adam and Eve’s life in the garden how do you picture it? When it says that God walked and talked with them, how does that make you feel knowing that is exactly how God planned for you and Him?

 

  1. Do you realize the privilege we have in Jesus? When Paul calls us children of God in Rom 8:16   and heirs of the God in , what does that mean to you?

 

 

Quotes to Tweet: 

Abundant life is experiencing God’s love, forgiveness, and power in the midst of life’s problems. – billvirgin.com

Adam and Eve were magnificent creations, complete and perfect in the image of God.    – billvirgin.com

Through the deception and plot of the enemy, Adam and Eve sinned and had their identity stolen from them – billvirgin.com

 

#RejoiceWhenTheHeatIsBeingTurnedUpInYourLife

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When you get Bucked off the Horse… get back on!

RODEO: MAY 10 Mother Lode Round-upNot everyone can say they have been bucked off a horse during their life. Well, it would seem that not only was it a “right of passage” in my upbringing but it was something that happened more than once. Even though my father had a talent for training and breaking horses. I had just the opposite effect on them. Whatever the reason might have been, whether the horse was ornery, poorly synched or just a wild hair, I’ve landed on the ground more than I would like to admit. But my father’s words


Just because you get bucked off the horse doesn’t mean you don’t get back on!    (tweet)


always echoed in my mind, “Bill, you must get back on”. His point being, if you allow the fear of “what if it happens again” keep you down, you will never get back on and enjoy the ride.

Over the years, many believers have been bucked off the wall of their responsibility as intercessory prayer warriors. Many have become discouraged from not seeing prayers answered; some have fallen asleep spiritually or grown spiritually weak and frustrated. But now is the time to shake off the spirit of fear, rejection and apathy and get back on the wall as intercessors and watchmen. For God has called you in these crucial days to be alert and watchful more than ever before in behalf of His people.

Just like getting bucked off of a horse—it is essential to get back on. Enough is enough! Whatever has caused you to be distracted, whether just or unjust, your fault or someone else’s, bottom line is it has knocked you out of your post,! The Father is lovingly saying, you must get back on the wall and fulfill your responsibility.

If the wall is broken down and needs restored, we must roll up our sleeves and build it back up. When Hezekiah saw the enemy’s onslaught, he realized the need to strengthen himself and his kingdom, (II Chron. 32:5). Things had gotten relaxed, the walls had eroded and were weakened; therefore, the King was alerted to set things Continue reading

Don’t Stomp off Mad just Play Nice!

kids playing w toys 1Recently, at a local park I over heard a mother question her child and his friends if they were playing nice? Those words captured my thoughts back to a childhood memory of my own. Where my father had to sit my brother and I down after supper and had one of “Those” talks. My father had been concerned by what he had seen earlier that day when my older brother’s friends had been making fun of me in a derogative way with out any objection from my brother. My father with a tone of seriousness told us that there is never a time for family to side against one another. My father went on to say at all cost we should stick together and not side against each other. I know he was emphasizing the importance of a family bond. Many times we see this same scenario with the different age groups or even different generations. We forget we’re family and allow our differences to bring a collision of generations. It’s not a bad thing to think differently or have different strong or weak points. We must see the value of God’s gifts in each person. In 1 Kings 12, We see a tragic story where this type of limited thinking brought a great disastrous result. It was at the time of transition from the great king Solomon to his son Rehoboam now becoming King. It says in verse four that a representing group from the people came to the new young king asking, “Your father made our yoke heavy; now therefore, lighten the burdensome service of your father, and his heavy yoke which he put on us, and we will serve you.” Israel had gone through an incredible generation of building and prosperity under the former king. The people didn’t want to rebel but wanted to enjoy life for a while. It was a reasonable request don’t you think? King Rehoboam consulted with the older advisors of the former regime. These men had been a crucial part of the success and would surely know what to do. Their advice and counsel in verse 7 saying, “If you will be a servant to these people today… and speak good words to them, then they will be your servants forever” was abruptly rejected! The king then went to his childhood friends and peers and asked them what they would advise. Now these where probably friends that the king had played army with and chased girls and even boasted on what they would do when they grew up? We read their shockingly different advice in 1 Kings 12:11, where they tell the king to say, “now, whereas my father put a heavy yoke on you, I will add to your yoke; my father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scourges!'” It was an answer of arrogance and immaturity, yet the young king agreed with it. It was a collision of two generations that had long lasting results of epic proportions! The people were devastated and offended choosing to not follow the new king. This unwillingness to blend the thinking of two different generations caused a wall and great division. Verse 16 – 21 tells lets us know ten out of twelve tribes defected from king Rehoboam and chose their own likeminded king. In the next chapter we see this king leads this whole group astray from God. When the generations don’t “Play Nice” and value God’s gifting’s in each other it will lead people away from God!

Roll Up Your Sleeves and Fight Vultures!

imagesNot only is the story of Abram fighting vultures away from his sacrifices captivating in Gen 15, but also has helped me in my walk with the Lord over the years. It demonstrates that we have a responsibility to keep our commitments to God as living sacrifices. This story in brief shows God revealing His promise to Abram through a covenant that both agree upon. Also in Deut. 7:9 Moses shares about God’s covenant, “Therefore know that … God (is) faithful … who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments”.

Growing up we have all had childish promises and agreement as friends. Whether it’s a promise to be best friends forever or a promise to keep a secret we have experienced them. But, it’s not until we get older in our life’s journey that we really


Man has proven his inability to keep any agreement without God’s grace and empowerment.   (text)


understand how common covenants and promises between individuals have been throughout history. They were used for territories, peace treaties and passage rights through other lands. Today, we use them in our everyday lives, such as marriage, loans, jobs and etc. Even though most looked much different, all were based on the philosophy of a serious promise. They came with the agreement that if one side or both ever break the agreement it could bring severe consequences.

            In the scripture we see how God’s love for His people is portrayed through His unfolding of His purposes through the making of covenants to individuals through out the ages. Looking at the 9 covenants in scripture give us understanding that God who is the originator of His promises reveal that He is a covenant-making God. He has the right to set up the conditions in which man can enter into or maintain the covenant. He is also a covenant- keeping God. Once He makes covenant with us He will not Continue reading

Go for the Gold without being Disqualified

588666430-1There is no greater exhilarating feeling than pushing yourself beyond the natural limit during the last seconds of a race. It’s as if every muscle and fiber in your body is working together to thrust forward to cross the finishing line first where with pulling off a victory.

Paul writes to the Corinthians in 1 Cor. 9:24-27, comparing the same type of commitment in athletics as to the believer in their Christian journey. He begins by exhorting the believer to run to win not just participating. Then Paul goes on by saying in verse 26-27, Therefore, I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one


He that spends all their life speaking a message to others and not walking that message themselves will end up disqualified (tweet)


who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified. Paul is most likely speaking in light of the Isthmian Games that took place every two years during the spring in Corinth.

The athletes would compete in various competitions such as, long jump, footraces, wrestling, throwing the discus and javelin and more. Unlike our modern day Continue reading

Getting the Hindrances Out of your life

Felsengruppe Externsteine im Teutoburger Wald bei Horn-Bad Meinberg, Nordrhein-WestfalenEager to get on the way, we loaded the car and began our journey. The crisp Sunday morning couldn’t have been any more perfect. We were scheduled to minister in a church on the south side of Chicago that morning. So we got an early start for the trip from Milwaukee, to insure plenty of time to get there.

We had already gone a good distance when all of a sudden there was a loud noise followed by a lot of shaking. We pulled over to the side of the road only to find the tire was shredded to pieces. Surprisingly, it only took a few minutes to grab the spare and get back in the car heading for Chicago. This little setback seemed only to confirm to us that God had great plans in store for the meeting ahead.

Halfway to our destination, another loud noise came from the tire that I had just changed twenty miles earlier. The car began to shake in the same manner it did earlier. Once again, I pulled off the road and took a look at the tire, finding that it was also flat and ripped to shreds. Knowing that we were all out of spare tires, I began to get a little worked up and agitated. Yet, we began to feel more than ever that it was God’s will for us to be at that meeting. Even though it now looked as if something was hindering us. We began to be stirred up in our faith and began asking the Lord to move in the meeting. Before I could finish the prayer, a car pulled in behind us to help. To Continue reading

Seeing with Eyes of Faith

465104663Are you a person who knows how to pray with expectant faith? In James 5:16–18, Elijah was not superhuman, but was an ordinary person like us. The scripture goes on to say that he prayed earnestly that it would not rain and for three and a half years it did not rain, not even one drop. Then, in verse 18 it says, “He prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.”

Looking at this story a little bit closer in I Kings 18:41–45 we see, Elijah told Ahab to go back to his kingdom to eat and drink, because in the Spirit there was “the sound of coming rain. Elijah knew what the will of the Lord was for that season, even though it had been a drought for three and a half years. He had been sent by the Lord to declare there was the sound of abundance of rain coming in the land. Now


We must pray with expectancy and confidence as we see with the eyes of faith, and hear with the ears of the Spirit.       (tweet)


, Elijah had just witnessed the power of God in magnificent force on top of Mount Carmel where God had accepted Elijah’s sacrifice before all Israel.

Now, Elijah is back on top of the mount after he had declared the coming of rain to the king. It says that he knelt down in a praying position and I believe, like it says in James, that he prayed with expectancy. Telling his servant to go and look for the coming rain clouds seven times. Six times the servant came back saying, “There is nothing in the sky.” But on the seventh Continue reading

Determined to Reach the Summit

605374893Have you ever tried to climb a mountain and felt as though your heart was going to pound through your chest? If you’re like me the answer is more times than I’d like to remember. One of those times was when I was returning back to my parent’s ranch, which is settled in the midst of the beautiful Rocky Mountains. I had decided to climb one of the peaks that I had conquered many times growing up. Whether it was self-deception or a shortage of oxygen that made me think I was in shape enough to start


The ultimate prize of every believer is to achieve the prize of the upward call of God, through Christ Jesus.    (tweet)


out in a full stride, I will never know. I guess you could say I was feeling rambunctious and over confident until moments later everything within me began to scream for me to quit! The more air I needed the less I was getting. My heart was thumping in my chest so loud I thought it would explode.

I quickly had an epiphany of the possible health trauma and looming defeat of not accomplishing the summit, so I adjusted from a sprint mentality to a marathon mindset. Taking one step at a time while focusing on shorter distant goals in front of Continue reading

Leave Room For Cream!

coffee and CreamAre you so busy you’re not sure if you are coming or going? Or are you like so many other people that are so schedule oriented that you don’t have any room for God to bless your day. One day as I was ordering some coffee at the shop down the street, I felt God speak to my heart. It was at the moment when I said, “leave room for cream” that as an electrical shock going through me, the realization of God’s heart struck me. His will is for us to leave room for God’s goodness in our day.

Like most coffee drinkers I want my coffee just the way I like it. I don’t want burnt coffee, plain coffee or some kind of coffee drink decorated with whip cream. I like my coffee with some creamer in it; therefore, I ask the server to leave room so I can add the good flavored cream to blend it just the way I enjoy it.

It’s the same in our daily lives; we must leave room for God to bless our day with His goodness.


Stop your rat race and make room for the Father’s good pleasure. (tweet)


Yet, in the busy society that we live in we so often get caught up rushing here and there all day long. We jump out of bed and rush to work, so we can finish and then rush to the kid’s soccer game, all to close our day exhausted and miserable. We are so occupied that we Continue reading

We Need the Good Stuff!

fresh water1

It was growing up in the mountains, that taught me how thirst quenching fresh water was after a long, hard day. The Spring thaw causes the snow water to roar down the mountain creek with thunderous sounds. The white water flows against the rocks and banks with such power and determination that it brings the water to a pure freshness. It’s good stuff!

People know when they taste the real thing verses some polluted water. In some places, you can hardly call the water refreshing. Jeremiah 18:14 says, Will a man leave the snow water of Lebanon, which comes from the rock of the field? Will the cold flowing waters be forsaken for strange waters?” In other words, will any person pass up the fresh crystal streams of Lebanon to drink from strange waters?

I remember when I was about 11-years-old, I went down behind my aunt’s house to a pond in the woods. It wasn’t until I jumped out of a small tree into the pond to catch a turtle that I realized pond water wasn’t as clean as the mountain streams I was used to.


The River of God brings life and revives whatever it touches. (tweet)


I was thrashing around in the muddy water trying to grab hold of the turtle. It was a wonder that I came up with its tail instead of the head, since it turned out to be a big snapping turtle. I will never forget my family’s expression when I came walking out of the woods covered from head to toe in stinky pond mud and the turtle in hand. I didn’t have time to smell Continue reading

Let’s Quit Talking about It and let’s Fish!

IMG_2453Fishing along the Little Salmon River was incredibly invigorating to say the least. I remember there were days growing up that my father would intentional get off work early and grab me to go down to the river and fish before dust. He seemed to know the right seasons and days that the fish would be biting the best. Thinking back I honestly have to say that those times of fishing were some my most joy filled memories.

Jesus told his disciples that if they would follow Him, He would make them fishers of men. Since Jesus was speaking to men that were professional fishermen it struck home. Jesus was connecting with them through their way of life and how they made a living. We read in Luke 5:6-7 where it says “…they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking“. The disciples after having a bad day of fishing in which they had not even


God wants to turn our vocation into our motivation for winning souls for the kingdom of God. (tweet)


 

caught anything, heeded to Jesus’ direction and went back out to fish again. The result was a net breaking catch. They went from catching nothing to catching so many fish that they needed help getting all of them to shore.

There is a saying that says, “A bad day of fishing is better than a good day at the office”. If that’s true then we should be constantly fishing. My grandmother always kept her tackle box, a chair and a fishing pole in her car trunk. Why? Because she wanted to be ready at any opportunity to fish that might arise along her daily journey. The scripture tells us in 2 Tim 4:2 to be ready at any season to share the gospel. God wants to turn our vocation into our motivation for winning souls for the kingdom of God.

I am so tired of talking about it, preaching about it, going to seminars about it. Continue reading

Taste Testing isn’t meant to Be a Free Lunch!

186849960One of the five senses that God has given us is taste! We use it to decide whether something is good and enjoyable. It determines whether we want more or not. It’s the way God created us. The scriptures use that illustration in terms of trying out God. In Ps 34:8 it says, “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!” The Psalmist encourages us to taste of God’s goodness and see that He is good. The word taste means to “perceive” and “evaluate” by consumption. So as we consume God we will see how good God really is.


Some people just want to scratch their religious itch, but not commit to a lifestyle change.             (tweet)


Unfortunately, many times people don’t take the time to see how awesome He is. Reality is until we taste and move into trusting God to the point of applying Him to our life, we will never enjoy the full blessings.

            In this day and age taste testing is such a powerful method in marketing. We all have seen tasting stations in most food stores that we shop in where the individual is encouraged to try a product in hopes that they will like it and will then buy it. The down side to this is there are those that go to such stores as Sam’s club or Costco at lunch time and cruise through the different tasting tables once and even twice in hopes of making it their lunch. They have no intentions of wanting to taste and buy, but to taste everything again and again until they have satisfied the immediate need at hand, which cost them nothing. Those people want to scratch their itch but not commit to a lifestyle change.

As I think about it, some people treat God in the same manner. They want the blessings and the immediate gratification of His problem solving, but Continue reading

This Easter what will You do with Jesus…

IMG_2002Bright colored eggs and chocolate bunnies and yes, who can resist marsh-mellow chicks? The exorbitant marketing seems to reach out and not only entice but seems to put some captivating spell on every child around. Dreams of searching and finding the most Easter eggs invade our sleeping little ones. Parents are calculating the added expense of new dresses and bows and baskets for all those attending special services.

Like so many of Judeo-Christian holidays in the past, Easter has been high-jacked by commercialization and turned into a huge money machine. Now, I want to be clear, I enjoy and probably buy more chocolate eggs then most. But I am concerned we are doing a disservice to the next generation by confusing or not defining what we are celebrating.


If we are just playing a religious game of chocolate bunnies, eggs and Jesus, then the power of the Easter story has been deflated and we are miserable people (tweet)


Let me share a story that the late Ben Haden told through his religious broadcast that I think might help clarify what I am concerned about. “A group of young children were gathered in their Sunday school class. When the teacher asked, “Does anyone know what today is? One of the little girls excitedly held up her hand and said,” Yes, today is Palm Sunday.” The teacher exclaimed, “That’s wonderful. Now does anyone know what next Sunday is?” The same little girl held up her hand and said, “Yes, next Sunday is Easter.” Again the teacher said, “That’s fantastic. Now, does anyone know what makes next Sunday Easter?” The same little girl responded and said, “Yes, next Sunday is Easter because Jesus rose from the grave” and before the teacher could congratulate her, she kept on talking and said, “but if he sees his shadow — he has to go back in for seven weeks.” Well, as hysterical as that might seem, it is also very alarming!

We have allowed the commercialization of Easter to muddy the waters of the real meaning of Christ’s resurrection. Even with a warning from his wife, Pilot still became a pawn in the hands of the enemy not having a full grasp of what was going on concerning Jesus. The pressures from the manipulated crown made Pilot defend himself by saying, “What then shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” Then the crowd answered, “Let Him be crucified!” (Matt 27:22)

In the same way the church is presented with a similar dilemma in the midst of our bunny and egg confusion. We must answer the same question, “What will we do with Jesus”? Is He just another part of the commercial holiday or is He the risen Lord!

In 1 Cor 15:16-17, 19 we read where Paul writes to the church in Corinth saying, “… if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile.” Paul continues on saying, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.” In other words if we are just playing a religious game of chocolate bunnies, eggs and Jesus, then the power of the Easter story has been deflated and we are miserable people. But the reality is that Jesus died on the cross, was buried and on the third day arose from the dead for you and me. In Col 2:13-15, Paul declares that through the cross our sin was wiped away and we were made alive together with Christ who has forgiven us of all our trespasses. The message of Easter is Hope and Redemption through Christ Jesus not just eggs and bunnies. So let me ask you, “What will you do with Jesus”?