Does A Spoonful of Sugar really help the Message go Down?

images-56I refuse to think that I was the only kid that would fake being sick for the sole purpose of getting a spoon full of sugar. It wasn’t until sometime later when I saw the popular Disney movie called “Mary Poppins” that I realized that my mother along with many probably adapted the same method of dowsing a little medicine with sugar just like the song in the movie. It was such a catchy jingle that most of us can sing it to this day, “A spoon full of sugar helps make the medicine go down”. My


Repackaging the Gospel so that it will not be offensive is a dangerous and slippery slope of deception


question is does the little bit of sweet really help or hurt in the long run? Have we sweetened the medicine so much that now society doesn’t want the medicine anymore just the sweets? What seemed like a good idea might have had some serious consequences.

I believe in a similar way we have done the same thing in the church today with the message of the cross. Repackaging the Gospel so that it will not be offensive is a dangerous and slippery slope of deception. When we take the power of God out of the message of the cross, it becomes empty and hollow. Paul in his letter to the Corinthians said, “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1 Cor 1:18) I believe


The message that Sin destroys but the Savior restores when there is Serious repentance must be preached!


we have put so much sugar on the message of Christ that we have lost the power of the cross in the church today! Some of our worship services have become nothing more than a Disney production! It might look as if they are useful and productive, but are powerless and un-effective. Salt that has lost it’s usefulness is how Jesus described it. (Matt 5:13) He says we are the salt, but when the salt looses its flavor it’s useless and should be tossed out. The flavor is the message of the cross, the death, burial and resurrection of Christ! The message that Sin destroys but the Savior restores when there is Serious repentance must be preached!

Many have veered from scripture and jump on the bandwagon of “feel good tickle my ear messages”. It might line up people at the door of the church but does it really bring a lasting change in peoples lives? I believe it’s time for the church to wake up and line up with the Word of God. We are called to be reflections and ambassadors of Christ.

In His letters to the seven churches Jesus tells the church of Laodicea in Rev 3:16-17 “…because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth”. Jesus goes on to say that this church was basically coasting along with a mentality of satisfaction and contentment. They arrogantly thought they had everything they needed yet Jesus says in verse 17 that they “…are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked”. What they thought and what was reality was very opposite to the truth. Because of this self-sufficient attitude Jesus declares He will spew them out of His mouth, representing His disapproval as one does with bad flavored food. Have we produced congregations with that same type of attitude and ineffectiveness?

We need to have such a passion and love for God’s word that we will cry out saying, “give it to us straight with no additives”. Our message doesn’t need to be covered in sugar or ear tickling, but full of truth. In John 8:32 it says, “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

 

 

 

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The Highest Call to a Believer is …

images-53Whether it’s dreaming to be a lead singer of a band or a top billed movie star or MVP of the Super Bowl we are infatuated with importance and becoming what we believe is success! Isn’t it amazing how we, as well as our whole society identify with what we feel is the most important position.

Unfortunately, we have allowed that exact thought pattern to invade the church. In an era of a mega churches on ever channel and ministers of the Gospel being exalted as we do to rock stars, it can distort our understanding of what is


What we think is important and successful to God is often totally opposite and upside down to what is in God heart.


viewed a success in God’s eyes. We have been deceived in thinking the most important thing we can do to honor our Lord and Savior is found in the limelight. We have been distracted from our heart devotion to God to become defiled by our own determinations to be famous.

I am reminded of God’s word in Isa 55:8 that says, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.” What we think is important and successful to God is often totally opposite and upside down to what is in God heart. Even though being a successful minister, and ambassador is important and needed in the body of Christ it is not the highest call of God for us.

Jesus sets the record strait in the story of Mary and Martha in Luke 10:38-42, where Martha had welcomed Jesus into her home. I can only imagine like most women Martha was getting things ready and wanting to serve Jesus with the best of


We have been distracted from our heart devotion to God to become defiled by our own determinations to be famous


her abilities. I am sure that Martha wanted nothing less than to please and honor Jesus. But when she saw her sister whom was just sitting at Jesus’ feet and not helping with the serving she was distracted and became agitated and frustrated going to Jesus to complain. We read in verse 40 where Martha says, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.” Martha’s words reveal that she was not only distracted from what was important, but discouraged at Jesus for not helping and disconnected from Mary due to offence. I think if we are honest we can all identify with how she was feeling and reacting.

Jesus addresses this viscous cycle that we find ourselves often caught in with what is important to Him. He says to His host, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. Jesus calls Mary on the carpet and gets her focus on what is important. Her heart was in the right place; Martha was trying to be a good host and desired to please Him. Yet, even though her motive was right her method was off.

Jesus’s words in vs. 42, “only one thing is needed” expresses the necessity of what Mary was doing. He lets us know that her action was needed, was good, was her choice and ends with a promise that would never be taken from her. What was Mary doing? She was sitting at Jesus feet, listening to His words. This isn’t about a posture but is about the priority of Gods people positioning themselves in God’s presence, pondering His words and understanding His promises.

It is our intimacy and worship before the Lord, which is of most importance to God’s heart. (Ex. 28:1-4, Deut. 10:8-9) We are created to worship Him. (Jn. 4:23-24) I encourage you to be established in what God thinks is priority and not be distracted. Then and only then should we venture out to be about His business!

 

Thoughts to Ponder:

  1. Do you remember growing up wearing your NFL teams sports jacket or dressing like your favorite movie star? What kind of things did you do to mimic those you thought were successful? Explain? 

 

  1. What do you think are some of the most import jobs you can do for God? How would you describe sitting or standing before the Lord? Is it talking about a posture or position?

 

  1. Describe what kind of benefit there is in ministering to God? Are we wasting Time? Shouldn’t we be about His business? How would you encourage others to value a place of prayer and worship before the Lord?

 

 

The Ultimate Parade of Victory!

images-47As far as you could see there was a sea of blue clothed fans packed in the streets. The atmosphere was filled with excitement and resounding shouts of victory as the crowds pressed in to see the oncoming parade. It was the fall of 2015 and the Kansas City Royals had just clinched the World Series pennant. The city couldn’t have been more committed in the celebration parade; schools were closed as well as some businesses and many took the day off to make a family day of it. The parade was filled with local marching bands, ticker tape and most important, the bigger than life team players.

After being involved in this city-shaking event it makes Paul’s words to the Colossians come alive more vividly. He says in Col. 2:14-15 concerning Jesus work on the cross, “…having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the


At the End of the Age we will be shocked at the devils weakly appearance!


cross. Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it”. The word “triumphing” Paul uses here and also in 2 Cor. 2:14 is a figure of speech drawn from the ceremony that greeted a Roman general who had won a decisive victory over a enemy. This “Via Triumphalis” parade usually featured a display much like our “parade of champions” in our sports enthused societies.

The parade would wind through the most occupied places of the city. At the front would be musicians, dancers and maidens carrying perfumes and incense, throwing flower petals along the way, much like the flower girl at a wedding. The air and atmosphere would be filled with the smell and sounds of victory! Then in a chariot pulled by white horses, came with the conquering general wearing a crown on his head given by Caesar, and in his right hand a palm leaf symbolizing victory. Behind him came his son’s and officers sharing in the victory.

Yet there was one more group following and it was those captured. They were being displayed before the citizens of the city, stripped of weapons, armor, clothing, bound in chains and tied to the conquerors chariots. These defeated foes would be revealed as humiliated and powerless opponents in front of the cheering crowds.

The apostle Paul used this triumphal procession as an analogy of Christ’s victory at the cross. He was painting a picture for us so we could see that the enemy


 If the devil was defeated at the cross and we are victorious through Jesus why don’t we live like It!  


was totally defeated through Jesus’ work. Therefore, as a Christian we need to see the enemy of our souls as just that, a defeated foe! To often we still imagine the devil as a big bad threat in our lives instead of the humiliated spectacle beheld on the parade route!

Peter describes in his letter the devil as someone that roams around acting like a roaring lion. (1 Pet. 5:8) And if we look further at some other passages in scripture we can even paint a broader picture of satan being nothing more than a toothless fake lion on a leash with a bashed in head eating dirt! (Gen 3:14-15, Ps 3:7, Job 1:12) He is nothing that we should be intimidated by as sons and daughters of God. (Gal. 3:26) In Isa 14:12-17 it tells us concerning the devil at the “End of the Age” that we will “gaze at you, and consider you, saying: ‘Is this the man who made the earth tremble, who shook kingdoms”. We will be shocked at his weakly appearance! So let’s not wait until then to get a right perspective. He is defeated and we are victorious through Jesus our Lord! So live like It!

 

Thoughts to Ponder:  

  1. Have you been one of those that have imagined wrongly the devil as a big bad scary enemy?   Why do you think you have believed that?
  2.  If the enemy of our souls is already defeated why do you think many people are in bondage by him?
  3. What must a person do to be included in the triumphant parade behind Jesus? In other words how do we become a son and daughter of God?

 

Quotes to Tweet:

At the End of the Age we will be shocked at the devils weakly appearance! www.billvirgin.com

If the devil was defeated at the cross and we are victorious through Jesus why don’t we live like It!    www.billvirgin.com

 

#TheDevilIsNothingButADeafeatedFoe        #WhyShouldIBeAfriadOfTheDevil

 

 

I am not some Grasshopper I am a Kings Kid?

images-4There are only a few things that come to mind when I think about grasshoppers. They’re great bait, they were fun to catch when I was a kid and they make a horrific mess on the windshield. So what on earth would make ten distinguished representatives describe themselves as grasshoppers? There are certain profiles that depict our personalities and compare them to certain animals, but is a grasshopper really something that has any good features to compare us with? I choose to say no!

In the story of God’s children coming out of their bondage and come to the verge of their promised land, we find a very interesting statement that was made. Let’s look at a few passages in this story in Num. 13, 14.

First we are introduced in verse 2 where God tells Moses to have each of the twelve tribes pick out a representative to be a part of an exploration team to the land that God said He had given them. Remember, God had delivered His children from


Don’t “blow it” when finally arrive on the brink of your destination, your God given inheritance as a child of the King, which was divinely hand picked by God.


being abused slaves through demonstrating His power through incredible signs and wonders. God even wipeout the enemy that was pursuing them without even having the Israelites lift a finger. Now they are on the brink of arriving at their destination, a land that was abundantly blessed with God’s goodness! It was their inheritance as His children, which was divinely hand picked by God.

Now after forty days of exploring we read in Num.13:25-33 as they bring back specimens of the new land. The twelve give their report before all the people saying how great the bounty of the land was. But then ten of the twelve began to take a serious noise dive from the positive to a deep negativity spreading their fearful propaganda to all that listened, saying in vs. 30-33 that there was no possible way they could occupy this land of inheritance. They concluded with these words in vs 33, “There we saw the giants …and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.” What? They’re calling themselves grasshoppers? If there is ever a bad confession that is it! The sad thing is this isn’t just a bad confession but is evidence of a much deeper problem. It wasn’t just a bad choice of words but was the results of not understanding or knowing who they were!

Jesus says in Luke 6:43-48 that the fruit of our lives come from our heart and specifically says in vs. 45, “For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”


When you face difficult situations are you quick to declare “you are able” because of your confidence in God or that you’re nothing but a grasshopper?    


Also in verse 46 Jesus brings out that the people He was talking to were speaking words but they weren’t in their hearts, “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say? Solomon says in Prov. 4:23, “Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life.”

God had called these people His children (Ex. 3:10, 6:6-8) and confirmed it through fighting for them and showing His power in their behalf many times. Yet, ten of these men evidently were lacking that understanding in their heart. The result was it brought devastation and hindered them from receiving what was theirs.

Where do you stand? When you face difficult situations are you quick to declare like Caleb and Joshua in vs. 30 that “we are well able” because their confidence in God or that you’re nothing but a grasshopper? Do you realize that you’re a child of God (Rom 8:15-17) or just caught up in some sort of empty religion?

Do You know Who You Are?

images-45When I was in Junior High my brother and I were riding our bikes on a hot August evening through a section of our small farming community when a neighborhood “Bully” came riding up between us yelling, “Do You know who I am?”. The question he was asking was not a wrong question but his arrogant and blunt manner of how he was asking it was definitely out of place. At the time my brother and I were confused and not sure what we had done to stir this assault with words and anger. Thinking back, I guess we must not have had permission to go through his turf. He must have been a self appointed kingpin of that block. Yet in an uncommon fashion and complete unison we decided to just ignored him and keep riding along our journey.

Honestly, when I think of that event it still brings a smile to my face and makes me chuckle. But in a more serious note it also reminds me of how the devil, the enemy of our souls, comes to us often and arrogantly tries to intimidate us and convince us he is in control.

In 1 Peter 5:8, we read Peter’s exhortation to Jewish believers, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour”. The devil has no other thought than to accuse you and destroy you. Stopping you from fulfilling your God given purpose. The enemy does that through stealing, killing and destroying in your lives. (Jn. 10:10) He is a master intimidator and manipulator, an transform himself as a angel of light” as it says in 2 Cor 11:14. He looks and waits for you to leave the gate open in the fields of your life.


The devil has no other thought than to accuse you and destroy you, stopping you from fulfilling your God given purpose.


In other words the devil is a squatter, which is a person that unlawfully occupies land or a building making and saying it is their own. The devil is a self appointed kingpin and can only overpower you by deceiving believers.

In the same manner that the neighborhood bully tried to intimidate my brother and I with the words, “do you know who I am”, the enemy is also doing the same to many immature Christians. Paul declares he wasn’t ignorant of satan’s devices, desiring to take advantage of God’s people. (2 Cor 2:11) There’s to many Christian that don’t know who they are, therefore, the enemy pushes them around!

In all reality my brother and I should have said to the bully in our past, as well as, every believer should say when the enemy comes knocking is… “Do you know who we are?”. Instead of cowering to the intimidation of the enemy we need to stand


We have the privilege of being in the family of God. You are now a child of the King.    


in confidence of our identity in Christ. We are children of the most high. We should be quick to announce to the enemy “You are messing with the wrong person! We are a kings kid”.

In Gal 4:4-7 we read, “God sent forth His Son … that we might receive the adoption as sons… Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.” Through our receiving of Jesus being the Son of God we are adopted into being His sons and daughters. We now have the birthright of His bloodline. That’s what it means to be an heir! A person legally entitled to inherit and continuing the legacy of a predecessor. We have the privilege of being in the family of God. You are now a child of the King.

There’s Nothing like Sitting by the Campfire!

 

campfire-082-f-0611mld106657_sqPaul’s pointed remarks to the believers in Corinth, who he states as acting immature and childish gives us understanding in walking out our faith in Christ. As we build on the Rock Christ Jesus which is our foundation. (1 Cor. 3:10-17, 10:4) Paul says, “each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is.” Paul declares that there is a day that our life’s activity will be unveiled and dealt with through a process of God’s fire. Those things, which remain, will be rewarded.

My brother and I had such a desire to be outdoorsmen when we were young, that one day we planned on getting some of our friends together after school and meeting in a grove of pine trees behind a row of houses on the edge of our subdivision. All five of us Elementary students had agreed to bring some needed things from home and the school lunchroom such as matches, milk carton and more.


In the same manner that mankind needs fire the Christian needs the fire of God even more. It’s a game changer! (more…)


We were going to have a bona fide cook out with a real campfire. It was such a perfect day…until the crackling of the fire and the growing smoke alerted a lady working in her backyard. She screamed out to her husband, “call the police, there’s some boys trying to burn down the forest”! In a moment’s notice what seemed to be an innocent fulfillment of our childish imaginations was now beginning to come crashing down and turn into a marathon escape from the law. Scrambling in every direction all five of us ran as hardened criminals. I took the shortest route home through the houses. The others took their choice path of escape from the fear of the long arm of the law. Each one quickly being apprehended by the police and put in the back seat awaiting a free ride home to talk to their parents. I had almost made it safely home franticly riding my banana seat bike, when I hear the sounds of a car pulling up alongside of me. The deep authoritative voice “put the bike down and get into the car” drew my attention to a police officer that was speaking from his car. With a glance I could see my brother and friends looking from the back seat with eyes that told the message of “we’re in so much trouble”. After a humiliating lecture from the officer and my father letting us know that even though fire can be good it can also destroy things, we were released into the loving arms and custody of my parents.

Fire has been a part of mankind all down through history. In scripture we see fire is used often whether for sacrifice, judgment, natural use as well as, to describe God Himself. One of my favorite authors, Leonard Ravenhill said “Holy Ghost fire both destroys, purifies, warms, attracts and empowers.” In the same manner that mankind needs fire the Christian needs the fire of God even more. It’s a game changer! If we will embrace the Fire of God and the fire that He allows in our lives it will change us for the better. Peter says in 1 Peter 1:7, that our faith will be purified like gold when it is made more pure by fire and will bring honor and glorify to Jesus when He returns.

We all have things in our lives that are displeasing to God that need to be tossed like wood in the campfire. Let’s choose to throw another dishonoring log on the fires of God, so we can be more like Him.

 

Yes, I am my Fathers son

images-37  I love when different ones identifying me as my father’s son. It immediately gives me an identity in our family as well as, there comes a comfort and sense of privilege when I represent by family name. That was a big part of the birthright we see in scripture. The first-born son would receive the authority and privilege of leading the family once the father would pass it down. It was a position of honor, prestige and authority but also carried the burden and weight of responsibility. Any place for arrogance and pride in this position would quickly be swallowed up by the demands that were on the person who would carry the fathers’ name.

Unfortunately, we have an epidemic of children being raised up without or not knowing their father living in our society, which breeds’ emptiness and a orphaned mentality. Once we have lost that identity it quickly flows into forgoing the


We will never know who we are until we have understanding of who Jesus is. (tweet)


blessings of the father’s name also. Esau is a sad but real biblical example of so many others that have given up their identity and birthright with lead to the deteriorating of the blessing. (Gen.   )

I believe that is why Jesus when coming into the region of Caesarea Philippi huddled up His disciples and asked them some pointed questions. He started off with wanting to know what they had heard about who He was around the water fountains and the coffee shops of their day. In Matt 16:14, we read that they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets”. So there was a lot of religious talk going on in the area, but as we know ourselves, that can lead to confusion if it is not ground on the truth. So Jesus probes a little deeper and asks, “who do you say that I am?” This was a “pop quiz” just like your teacher would give you growing up after a long weekend. She wanted to make sure you were learning correctly so everything else she taught would fall in place that next week. Right? So in the same token Jesus was now pressing the envelope to see what the disciples were learning or maybe catching. Did they really understand the depth and truth of who He was? Was it sinking in or was this just a casual social club that would have no lasting impression for them? Jesus wants us to know Him.

The bottom line is we will never know who we are until we have understanding of who He is. We will go through life knowing the surface talk of religion without ever being penetrated by the power of knowing who He is and what


We will only begin to walk in the benefits and authority of son-ship with Christ when we really catch the revelation of who Jesus is ourselves.


He has done for us. Making the statement of thanks to the “man upstairs” after a sports game or the action of pointing up once a touch down has been made is not enough to settle the dilemma of birthright in our lives.

Peter blurts out a download from heaven that he probably hadn’t really digested himself in response to Jesus’ question. He says, in verse 16 “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus immediately let’s them know that this answer was straight from the heart of God the Father. It was a divine revelation that Jesus would establish His church in the earth. And that would be the prevailing truth that would sustain His people from the onslaughts of the enemy.  When you and I come to that understanding ourselves we will truly begin to walk in the benefits and authority of son-ship with Christ.