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 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

I might be tired but I am not Done!

images-36What seemed to be so natural and come so easy growing up, now seems to be a monumental achievement. One of those things for me is when I would walk the water ditch to the intake and clear out any blockages. That was a common occurrence since we lived in the mountains and received our water supply out of the “good ole mountain crick”. Back then I would run up to the ditch with no problem, but recently when I was back home “reality hit” when I had decided to make the climb for memory sake. Well, I sure couldn’t run up anything and actually thought someone would have to carry me out on a stretcher.

In the same manner, I have many friends that have run the Christian race tenaciously much of their lives, but now they’re out of the race all together. It reminds me of the scriptural story of King David, who we all agree was an incredible


There might be bumps, ruts and even some curves but Jesus is cheering you on in your race.


example of a “more than conqueror” as we are exhorted in Rom. 8:37 to be. In this passage he was once again fighting giants, but now finds himself struggling for the victory that in times past came easily. We read in 2 Sam 21:15- 17 that Abishai, Joab’s brother jumps in to rescue the King and spare his life.

In our lives also there will be a time that spiritually and physically you will not be as strong as you once were in your journey. That can be because of a lot of different circumstances, whether because of unforeseen events or maybe because of a season of apathy in your life. Bottom line is it doesn’t have to be the end of your journey. You might be tired but that doesn’t mean you’re done! God has ordained you to finish strong and fulfill His purposes, like David did. (Acts 13:36) There might be bumps, ruts and even some curves but Jesus is cheering you on in your race. The heavenly cloud of witnesses (Heb.12:1) are some of your biggest fans and cheerleaders.

I remember my coach in high school would always say to the team “pace yourselves”. He knew the game was going to be a tough long game, therefore if we were going to finish victoriously we would have to give ourselves times of refreshing and rest.

When David and his warriors were younger and in one of the fights of their life we see a great principle that we all need to take to heart and implement in our journey. It says in 1 Sam. 30:10, “David pursued, he and four hundred men; for two hundred stayed behind, who were so weary that they could not cross the Brook Besor”. One third of David’s mighty warriors were so physically and emotionally


You might be tired but that doesn’t mean you’re done!


weary that they couldn’t pursue and fight the Amalekites, who had taken their families captive. Yet, in the midst of this urgent dilemma we read that after recovery of their families that David stops any condemnation and shares the spoils of war with those that stayed with the stuff. (1 Sam. 30:22-24)

Paul tells the Galatians not to grow exhausted to the point of quitting, for we will reap the benefits if we stay in the game. (Gal 6:9) Paul also told the young church at Thessalonica to tenderly encourage those that were apt to quit along the way. (1 Thess. 5:14) Just like some of David’s warriors we might get exhausted and need to rest, but that doesn’t mean we will lose out of the benefits of the war. I encourage you to pace yourselves and finish strong in the faith!

What has Robbed your Passion?

images-26When the new wears off and normal comes into play many lose their passion and fire. As most of us have experienced over the years in our own lives, our passion for different things comes in and out almost as often as the Sun rises and then sets hours later. I remember my siblings and I having thoughts of making big money shoveling driveways every first snow. Yet, halfway through with a mountain of snow still in my shovel the enthusiasm and passion quickly faded and before long we gave up and were all back in our warm home.

In reading the story of Elijah in 1 Kings 18 -19, we see his passion and zeal for the God he worshipped and served. He had just been used by God to turn the hearts of Israel back to Him. Through his obedience and faith, God had showed His power


Don’t run from God into what you think is a cave or safe place, when the enemy means it to become your tomb.     (tweet)


and might on Mount Carmel in front of Baal‘s prophets and Jezebel’s chaplains, as well as the nation of Israel. Elijah’s boldness and eradication of the prophets and chaplains after God worked a great victory through him demonstrated his fire for God.

But then there is a drastic shift in the story as we see in 1 Kings 19:4 where Elijah is asking God to let him die. He says, “It is enough! Now, Lord, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!” He compares his life with those that had turned from God even after seeing God work mightily in there midst. This mighty prophet of God goes from a mountain top experience to the valley of discouragement. One moment he has a fiery passion for the things of God and the next he is nothing more than a smoking wick of a lamp. The fire had gone out in his life and there was only a faint stench of smoke. Elijah even sinks to the depth of despair by running into the wilderness and hiding in a cave. What happened to this bigger than life passionate prophet? What made him lose the fire of God? What made Him hide in the pit of life? A cave is nothing more than a tomb waiting to be shut!

What has robbed you of your passion for the things of God! Remember back when you had your first encounter with God? It was just like the two disciples on the road to Emmaus when Jesus joined them and talked with them. (Lk 24:13-32) They said “did not our hearts burn within us?” God starts His fire with in us! But then as we go through life we allow things to quench that fire! We lose our passion for the things of God!

Elijah allowed fear to come in when the evil queen Jezebel threatened his life. He began to isolated himself and have a pity party. He believed the lie that he was the only one serving God. He forgot what God had done in his life already. (1 Kings 19:1-10) Therefore, he ran from God to a desert place, into what he thought was a cave or safe place, but the enemy meant for it to become his tomb. God never left Elijah even when he was running but sustained him, empowered him, spoke to him and guided him all the way to victory!

As Matt 12:20 says, God isn’t going to let your fire go completely out even if its just smoking. He will intervene and draw near to you. But will you respond to His whisper? Letting Him rekindle your fire?

 

 

 

Stuck with a Roommate instead of a Marriage?

College was a great time of learning life and broadening my world. But wow, roommates could really push me to the limit in the stress department. Learning to deal with each other’s quirks and habits, the good and the bad, was a whole different education. I know many can relate to having roommates, whether you went to college or just had another situation. Bottom line is though they have their place, once you move forward and find God’s soul mate for your life; you definitely aren’t looking for a roommate scenario. Unfortunately, many marriages are nothing more than a roommate arrangement.

In an age where marriage is being attacked and redefined it is essential that we understand how God defines marriage. In Gen 2:20-25 we have a look at the first marriage. It all takes place in a beautiful garden at the very beginning of mankind


Many marriages are nothing more than a roommate arrangement.   (tweet)


where Adam was diligent in his job, which was naming to the animals. The account reveals there was not a companion comparable for Adam amongst all the beast of the earth. I think that point alone should align many people to the fact that your pet isn’t ever suppose to take the place of who God has for you emotionally or otherwise! Therefore, God creates a woman from Adams side as he slept. In other words God custom made a wife for Adam out of his rib that would be designed to stand by his side.

In verse 24 we read the Holy Spirit’s definition of marriage from the start. He says, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” God’s principle of the first was to complete a man with


When we become married the “I” becomes a “We”, and two lives become one.   (tweet)


a wife. They were to become one not two individuals co-habituating together. God knows each of our strengths and weaknesses, giving us a soul mate that will not be a clone, but one that will help us in the areas that we need help in and vice versa. Just like the famous line from the movie “Jerry McGuire” where the husband of a failing marriage comes to his senses and says, “you complete me” to his estranged wife. That statement whether you liked the movie or not is what a marriage is all about, two completely different individuals coming together to make a complete and compatible marriage so they can fulfill the purposes of God (Matt 19:6). When we become soul mates the “I” becomes a “We”, two lives become one.

The world’s view of marriage verses God’s view can be very opposite when it comes down to it. The world offers pre or post nuptial agreements as well as, when things Continue reading

That Fragrance is Head Turning

82206053The aroma filled the room, as my wife sprayed her perfume each morning, as she would get ready for her day. The smell would change the very atmosphere in the room and catch my attention every time she walked by. There was just something special about her fragrance that represents more than just a good aroma. It represented her and who she was. That daily routine never seems to get old.

It reminds me of the story in Mark 14:3-9, where we are introduced to the women in Bethany who ministered before Jesus. We read in verse three she, “came having an alabaster flask of very costly oil of spikenard. Then she broke the flask and poured it on His head.” This caused an outcry of disapproval and disgust from some that thought it should have been sold and the money given to the poor. Yet, someone else’s head turned also.

Before we judge this as a menial disagreement about some cheap perfume being wasted, let’s look a little bit closer. This wasn’t a story of a bad practical joke that had gone bad, but was a sacrificial act with a much deeper meaning. This women we know as Mary of Bethany who we also read about in Luke 10:42 as well as in Mark. She had an Alabaster


When we minister to Him. It’s a fragrance of beauty that will turn His head and catch His attention.   (tweet)


box filled with a costly fragrance valued at a year’s wage. This wasn’t just any perfume but more of an heirloom that had probably been given and added to over time. It was much like a hope chest that is given to a daughter and then filled over time with things that would be useful for her future. It represented her past, present and future!

So in essence she was giving her past and present successes and failures, as well as her future hopes and dreams to Jesus. She wasn’t pouring out just a perfume but her life. The aroma that filled the room moved Jesus’ heart. It was much more than a temporary fragrance, but was her life’s incense that came before the one who would give His life as a


We are called to stand before Him as Priests! (tweet)


sacrifice for her and the world. Jesus took notice, standing up for her and declaring that this would be a memorial to her through out history. Mary was standing before and ministering to Jesus.

Mary’s actions were representative of what the Levites were separated to do before God. (Deut. 10:8-9) It says they were chosen to “stand before” and “minister” to the Lord. The phrase to “stand before” means to remain and present oneself and the word Continue reading

He Just Wants Us To Be By His Side

images-5My mother always had me dressed up with a little bow tie and suspenders as well as my hair being slicked back with a gigantic wave in front. I looked like every mothers dream little boy as she took me to Sunday school. I would sit on the small bench with a handful of other kids hearing stories about how much God loves me and that He had a plan for my life. Those flannel graph lessons planted seeds of faith that have grown and bore fruit in my life.

Scripture says in Rom 8:39, that nothing, “shall be able to separate us from the love of God”. Paul gives us a list of things in the earth and outside the earth that clarifies that there is nothing that can separate you and I from His love. Many years


God has always been forthright in showing His intent of being with His people.   (tweet)


later, though I might not be wearing suspenders or a bow tie with a wave in my hair, those foundational truths of God’s love have become an anchor in my life. Yet, His love is so much more than a one-time story that inspires us.

From the front cover to the end of the Bible we see God’s intent and love. In Gen 3:8-11, we read the first story of mankind where we see God walking and talking with Adam and Eve in the midst of the garden. It was a perfect scenario, God wanting to commune and be with His creation. Then at the back of the book in Rev 21:3 where John’s revelation of Jesus gives us a picture of the end of the age we read, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people”. From the beginning to the end of time itself, along with thousands of years in between God has always been forthright in showing His intent of being with His people.

But unfortunately, when sin entered the world through the disobedience and self-will of Adam and Eve in the Garden it separated us from God. Sending all of mankind in a tailspin in need of a redeemer. At the end of this story in Gen 3:21 we see


One of the greatest truths of Scripture is the fact that God desires to commune with His creation.   (tweet)


God’s heart in the midst of mankind’s epic failure by His immediate covering of them with the animal skin, foreshadowing the shedding of Christ’s blood for our sin, as they were banned from His presence. God began at that very moment to passionately Continue reading