Handle Your Life With Care, it’s Your Only One


This weekend I start a new series “Handle With Care”.   The verses for this weekend are:

“So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise.  Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days.”  Ephesians 5.15-16 (New Living Translation)

We only have one life.  We only have the present.  Our decisions are important as they impact so many people. We need to live wise.  Not like fools who have no regard for their family, their future, or their God.  Fools live selfish. Fools make decisions without the Lord. Fools waste opportunities.  Proverbs teach that  fools come to ruin.  They dishonor their parents, they make decisions for their own benefit, they have  lost sight of the gift of life.

The Lord has a will for us all. We can’t control what others do, say, or decide. But we do control our decisions, our speech, our daily choices.  We have so many opportunities, and we need to live wise to make those times prosper with all the good fruit of the spirit.

  • Loving and spending time with your kids is a wise opportunity.
  • Responding to the Lord and others when we fail and not blaming is an opportunity for honesty and humility which are  wisdom.
  • Making the most of your marriage, repairing it, granting grace, serving is sure an opportunity to make the most.
  • Living for Jesus and all the benefits of those choices, make a our lives a legacy.
  • Honesty, morality, sexual purity, love, forgiveness, and being content, are all virtues Christ makes available to us if we walk in them.  This evil world rejects it all.  Greed, lust, materialistic ambitions, always being right is the norm of the day—sadly.

God has called us higher and gives us the power, relationship with him, and the love to live every day to our best and that’s His best.

Handle your life with Care. You only get one. Ask the Lord to help you honor Him, and live without regrets.

Press On  PN

 

 

Nine Ways to get your zeal for Jesus back


Many are struggling with the level of passion for Christ.  Some have drifted back into old patterns and old ways.  The zeal and fire for Jesus can easily grow dim.  Is that happening to you?  Do you know your love and passion for Christ and His purposes is diminishing in  your life, thoughts, and heart?  What can you do? Can you receive back a white hot focus on the Lord?  Yes.  Here are some of my practical suggestions.

  • Identify and admit you are in need of being close to Christ. Once you know it, the victory is almost there. Most deny their true state.
  • Spend some time alone.  Solitude is a good thing. No TV, no Phone, no Screens, just you and the Lord.  Take a walk and invite the Holy Spirit to just speak to you.
  • Respond to the Lord.  Make a commitment to respond.  Respond in prayer, to his voice, to messages, to altar calls, to being obedient. Just move in response. Don’t allow your heart to get cold or hard. Respond.
  • Ask for help.  The Bible says “We have not because we ask not.”  This morning I prayed that God would set me on fire for Him, more than ever before.  I feel that. The Lord immediately began to flood my heart and mind with thoughts, messages, vision, people.  Ask for Help.
  • Stop  Procrastinating.  Get that Bible back out and that journal and read, and receive.  No excuses, no whining, no wimpering. It is what you need. He is who you need.
  • Put the phone down. Yep, put it down. Kill the OCD that thinks we need to have the phone near us, constantly looking, scrolling, pinging, alerting.  Gosh, what an interruption. I have turned off all alerts, notifications, deleted facebook, and I am making an effort to not be addicted to my phone. It is wasting my time.  It is interrupting my efforts for the Lord.  Just put it down.
  • Watch what you watch.  Our addiction for new things, new movies, new posts, new pics, can get us watching things that will steal our zeal for God.  Watching swearing, violence, sex, dirt, and vileness on TV/Sling/Netflix/prime/cable/youtube will steal your desire for Jesus away.
  • Just receive His love. He loves us and wants to be close to his children. He wants to encourage us, strengthen us, love through us, and reveal more of Himself to us.
  • Enjoy Jesus.  He is contentment. He is our all in all.

Verse page

” data-hasqtip=”1″ aria-describedby=”qtip-1″>1 Corinthians 15:58

“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.”

Need Some Help?


Psalm 121 (NLT)   “I look up to the mountains— does my help come from there?My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth!He will not let you stumble; the one who watches over you will not slumber.Indeed, he who watches over Israel never slumbers or sleeps.The Lord himself watches over you! The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade.The sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon at night.The Lord keeps you from all harm and watches over your life.The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever.”

When life gets rough for a number of reasons, we often look for some help. A quick fix to ease our broken heart, upset emotions, or dilemma.  unfortunately we turn toward something that we know we like and may make us temporarily feel better.  Shopping, a Netflix binge, an addiction, or the such.

But true help, deep help comes from the Lord.  Through the tough times He is speaking, teaching, guiding.  We want relief, peace, and no suffering.  He wants us to listen, embrace the moment, and deepen our spirits.

Psalm 121 is on my mind this morning.  I read it over a few times. The words feed my soul.  As I read it slower, pray about it, reflect and listen to the Holy Spirit in silence and solitude, faintly, I begin to hear the voice of my Father as “deep calls to deep.”  I want to move on, get about the day, but I must, force myself to wait, to patient my spirit, and listen, for my help is coming. I can’t miss this.

Many times I have not benefited from hard times, because I can’t stop, listen, and patient my spirit to wait for the help that my Father’s voice brings me.

-Natefog

A Very Dark Saturday


As we understand from the Scriptures, the week of the Passion of Christ, Jesus died on the cross for us on Friday, that we now traditionally call Good Friday. We also know that on the third day he rose from the dead. Resurrection Sunday or Easter Sunday, now traditionally called.  But what about that in-between day?  Saturday. What a dark day that must have been.

The disciples had scattered, denied, wept, and may have lost hope.  over three years that had been with Jesus.  He was not just the promised Messiah to them, he was their friend, their close friend and now he was gone.  In Matthew we see on Saturday that Pilate sent guard to secure the tomb as they recall that Jesus said “After three days I will rise.” I smile a little that even they believed this was a possibility.  But on Saturday, the second day, he was not there.   Psalms 16, tells us that on Saturday Christ went to the place of the dead. I believe Christ was busy on that dark day. descending to the place of death to free and liberate, and smash the gates of hell, the gates of death. the tombs of hopelessness (See 1 Peter 3.18-20, Psalm 16.10; Acts 2.31; 1 Peter 4.5).

What a dark day for the followers and believers of Christ.  They must have felt so hopeless, confused, abandoned.  But even though they could not see or know what Jesus was up to, he was working on their behalf. In their darkness they may have had trouble remembering the truths that Jesus taught. That he would rise, that this was the plan of the Father, that he must die, and he would sit in glory. The darkness of their present state, diluted all they knew to be true.  The present “facts” of the moment, upstaged the “faith” of what was really going on.

Life can seem very dark at times and Jesus can seem far away.  We can wonder why things are not going very well. We don’t see the Lord working. Your present situations envelope you in a reality of hopelessness that is not real.  You encounter shattered dream, broken relationships, disappointments, difficult times and this dark present chases away the truths we know to be true.

That Saturday the disciples did not know what Christ was doing but He was working on their behalf. They could not see with their eyes, but He was going to keep His promises.  On that quiet and painful Sabbath, Jesus was preparing to shock and shake all of humanity, all of history, and change all of eternity.  They just had to get through that dark Saturday.

May I encourage you. Should you be living through a “dark Saturday.”  Remember, Christ is working on your behalf even though you do not see Him doing what you thought He should be.  His presence escapes you as you become enveloped in what seems to be suffocating sadness, and overwhelming loneliness, or unending hopelessness, but He is working, and even though you don’t know the future or His plans, you can know they are going to be best as your life is in His hands.

On the dark Saturday, don’t decide much, just wait, as His work in your life is going to spring forth,and remember,  waiting is part following, and trust is part of believing.  The dark Saturday will past and the Sunday will come.  Just do not give up because you can’t see what he is  up to.  Trust what he has said.  Trust in His Words, trust in His sovereignty, and trust your life with Him. The dark Saturday will not last forever, it’s fleeing even now as you read. Faith, trust, hope, and belief in a Father who has the best for you, and is working, even though you feel like He is not because you can’t see him.  -Peace, Pastor Nate

God’s Words for Faith and Hope

Psalms 34.17, 18  The LORD hears his people when they call to him for help.
He rescues them from all their troubles. The LORD is close to the brokenhearted;
he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.

Psalm 42.5  Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again— my Savior and 6 my God!

Psalm 66.17-20  For I cried out to him for help, praising him as I spoke.  If I had not confessed the sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. But God did listen!
He paid attention to my prayer. Praise God, who did not ignore my prayer or withdraw his unfailing love from me.

Psalm 146.5 But joyful are those who have the God of Israel* as their helper,
whose hope is in the LORD their God.

 

FIVE Reasons why we still need a lifestyle that includes repentance.


Many times the word “repentance” brings up a negative connotation or an intense revival-type situation.  But may I encourage you to have a daily lifestyle of repentance?  I believe it is healthy, and will cause you to grow in Christ deeper, and quicker.

Repentance means to have a response of sorrow that lead to a changed mind, life, and direction.

So when the Lord, by His Spirit reveals to us that we are  “off course” in honoring God, or that we are in need of change, in attitude, heart, or behavior, we need to engage in this spiritual discipline called “repentance”

This would include a chat with Jesus that would include 3 components.

  1. An acknowledgement of sin (confession) with asking forgiveness.
  2. Praise and thanksgiving for God’s mercy, grace, and total forgiveness.
  3. Asking the Lord for the power and strength to overcome and not repeat the sin, but to continue to be like Christ.

A growing Christian is sensitive to the voice of God that lets us know when we need some “repentance”

Let me give you FIVE reasons we need repentance as part of our lifestyle.

  1. We become more sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s voice and direction
  2. We become more sensitive to since, thus we get more victory.
  3. We grow closer to Jesus and the relationship become more intimate.
  4. You become more like Christ as unChrist-like behavior, speech, and attitudes are weeded out of your life.
  5. You experience a few things, joy, peace, contentment, and the mercy and love of Christ.

Would you consider, if you are not, making “repentance” part of your lifestyle? You will never be the same,  you will never stop growing, and you will never regret what Christ can do for a heart that always wants to be totally right with him, and sin free.

The Sickness of Self


We live in a world where self is god, and our feelings are first.  At times, it seems everyone is consumed with self. Their health, appearance, clothes, hair, and so on.  People mostly resist correction, spiritual direction, and no one likes it when it is pointed out that they are wrong.  Crossing someone’s will can bring deep conflict.  We are honestly a people that appears to be consumed with self. It is accepted and it is normal.

Lately it seems the Lord is reminding me of a verse I learned in College at North Central.   “I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me, and the life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and raised himself for me.”  Galatians 2.20

Here is the problem and sickness I deal with. It is the sickness of self.  It is the opposite of dying for Christ and letting your flesh stay in the grave, and being risen in newness of Jesus.  Denying self is not necessary in our society because everyone seems to be so narcissistic, being intoxicated with self is the norm. But it is very, very necessary to truly know God, and to have Christ seen through you. The Lord is showing me deeply, and painfully, this basic truth and the reality of the power there is in denying self, along with the joy that this alligns me with my creator, which brings me close to the Lord.

How do you know if you have this sickness? I offer these pointed symptoms.

  1. You are currently breathing.
  2. You talk about how you feel a lot like Aches, pains, tiredness, hunger, etc.
  3. Comfort is king and we find ourselves thinking of ways and purchases that make us more comfortable.
  4. You are distracted by your appearance.
  5. You insist on your way.
  6. You must always be correct.
  7. Your opinion must be known to all.
  8. You avoid the uncomfortable things in being a follower of Christ. Things that push against self.
  9. You must control your kids, your marriage, your finances, and anything else you actually believe you are in control of.
  10. Worry about what people think of you. This consumes a lot of your thoughts.
  11. You put yourself ahead of your family, and your time is yours and you deserve _____________.
  12. You struggle with giving things away and giving money to the Lord and to missionaries.
  13. You covet your stuff, and you want more, updated, and bigger.

I think  you get the idea. When these kinds of thoughts and behaviors rule us there are effects in the Kingdom of God, and to our character, attitude, personality, and of course relationships.

  1. We can’t submit to the Word of God (self is first).
  2. We are unable to see other needs, as our needs are at the front of the line.
  3. No one dare disagree with us, our opinion and will must be first.
  4. The voice of God, becomes distant…then gone, we hear our voice in our head, putting us first.
  5. We actually cannot truly see Christ unless we die to self.
  6. We have a lot of conflict with spouse, friends, and family.  We get offended and hurt a lot it seems.
  7. We become shackled with self, and miss the freedom of only glorifying Christ, not us.
  8. The “Lord” is always moving us to different churches, or we just don’t even go anymore.
  9. Many don’t become saved and born again, they can’t break away from the god of self, and let Jesus be Lord.

How do I know these things? I am like everyone else. I wrestle and struggle with self.  I find myself, needing to be heard, needing to be right, needing to be selfish, BUT I really need to “die” to self, and let the life of Christ shine through me, and so do you.  This morning I again knelt before the Lord and crucified my flesh and repented of my selfishness and thoughts of me, and not of Him.  I love the freedom that living for Christ and dying to self brings to my heart and spirit.  Take some time with Jesus and ask him if you have this sickness, and let him heal you.

Luke 9.23  And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.

Six Signs Your Heart is Drifting From Jesus


This weekend I am going to be talking about the heart of a disciple.  The heart is our center.  So naturally, when the heart becomes deceived by incorrect thoughts, wrong priorities or spiritual neglect we then begin to drift from the Lord. When we drift from the Lord we drift from His ways. When we drift from His ways we drift toward our ways. Our way is selfish, self-centered, and not Christ-centered.  In my experience and knowledge of the Word I offer these five signs that manifest when a believer’s heart begins to move away and drift.

  1. Behavior and Beliefs no longer match up. What you know is right and true begins leaving your life.  What you lived with passion and grace was once fed by your convictions and commitments. Now things are changing. Your behavior is being compromised and sadly most people will align their beliefs to their behavior sooner or later, and simply stop believing.
  2. Time alone with Jesus rarely happens anymore. There is time for TV, IPAD, phone, friends, Facebook  and constant looking at social media, but your private time to be in the presence of Jesus in prayer and the Word has, or is, disappearing from your daily routine. Your desire for that connection with Christ is being lost in the desire for other things of this world. The world’s ways is gripping stronger on your heart.
  3. Being part of the faith community (church) is stopping. There is always a reason why skipping church, not being in a community small group, or serving is now more normal. Always a reason to appease a conscience, but in your heart you know you are jeopardizing a lot. Your kids are learning the habits of their parents. The body of Christ misses out on what you have to offer and the opportunity for worship, encouragement and the voice of the Lord in your life is lost.
  4. Desire to see other’s saved has vanished. There is no thought of the commission to make disciples. Talking about your faith with unbelievers or inviting them to church is the farthest thing from your priority list.  Gone is giving to missions, volunteering for missional events, and crying in God’s presence as you pray for unsaved family and friends. The heart has been deceived that their salvation is not a priority. Your own life and thoughts of you, your needs, wants, hurts, desires,  has gobbled up your heart.  You are into “you”, and others and their eternity has become or is becoming irrelevant.
  5. More connected with your time, money, and interests to the things of this world, than the things of the Kingdom of Christ. My brother Steve once told me; “let me look at your checkbook and your calendar. I will tell you what you really believe.” I have never forgotten that. It’s true.  Talk is cheap, and actions and priorities are manifested.
  6. Your kid’s sports, and schedules, are more important than their faith. The five things above, affect your children’s faith. Parents, not to be fears-ish but we are accountable to the Lord for how we raise our children. I know when they are adults they make up their own minds, and choose their ways, but until then, it’s our ways that affect them.  More is caught than taught. We must lead by example and by heart.  They will follow us, but we must lead them and be a godly example with Jesus and His word a priority of our life.  Disciple your children. Don’t let the world do it.

What to do if you know this message applies to you?

Repent, which means to change direction.  Adjust and calibrate your life to Jesus.  Pray and ask the Lord for forgiveness and recommit your ways to Him.  Open the Bible and read once again.  Raise your hands to heaven and thank Jesus for His grace and patience.  Bask in His love for you and the knowledge that He wants the best for your life, your marriage, and your children. Pray for your family, pray for those that are not saved yet.  Get back to your church and don’t let the enemy give you anymore weak excuses.  Manage your life daily and don’t let the things of this world dilute your fresh commitment to Jesus.  Then, never look back.  Serve Jesus with all your heart.  With prayer and the heart of God.

– Nate

Calling Men to Fight


Sometimes we might get the idea through the church-culture world or the imbalanced view of Jesus that he is just a loving dude. We might view our savior as passive, detached and unengaged.  Sometimes we can also feel this way about our faith. That it should all just fall into our lap. All the victory, the faith and blessings just, “plop” into our laps and we have little to do with them. We don’t have to put any effort in at all.  I am here to tell you:  the things of God, the presence of Jesus, the power of the Spirit, it takes a little fight.

Men of God it is not time to be passive about our faith or unengaged about the devil. It is not time to be detached to pursuing the power of God.  Many men walk in a mediocre relationship with God. They don’t decide to fight. They don’t decide to engage and pursue their God. Their decisions do not result in a closer and deeper walk of victory and godly masculinity. We need men of God. These men are gentle enough to worship on their knees. They pray through tears in their eyes and act humble and gentle even when it does not go with the culture we are living in. Yet these God-chasing men are not afraid to war with the Enemy. They face their flesh and the pressure of the world around them. They understand that being a sissy for God is not a dent in their manly exterior, but seeds they are sewing into their eternal reward. 

                Let’s be like David; full of faith and courageous enough to face Goliath. Trusting in God and bringing the giant down, then to cut off his head so he would never have a chance to breath again. We need humble warriors.

                Let’s be like Paul; boldly proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus before Felix and Caesar without worry of his reputation. Never caring what these other men thought of him or his life. We need fearless proclaimers.

                Let’s be like Peter; who failed Christ and then denied him, but instead of living in his failure took the second chance of God. He boldly proclaimed Jesus, being filled with the Spirit, resulting in thousands of new followers. We need forgiven sinners.

                Let’s be like Thomas, who was not afraid to go and die with Christ. We need faithful givers.

                Let’s be like Stephen, who told the authorities the truth, and died because of it. Jesus stood in honor in the heavens to Stephen. We need fearless martyrs.

                Don’t be like Demas, who did not have the guts to stay strong. He loved the things of the world more than his faith, and walked away. Men, let’s walk to Christ, not away.  Our family will follow us to him, if we lead.  Don’t be a chicken about it.  Man up and lead for God.  Like a gutless, wimp, he walked away.  Don’t be like him. 

                 Feed your Spirit men. Read the Bible and pray.  Pray with your family. Get them to worship.  Master your flesh through the Spirit and make a great difference in this world.  Let’s engage in the things of God, and let’s not be passive about the Devil who wants to Kill, steal, and destroy. Let’s defeat Him in our lives, our families, and our church. Walk in Jesus’ power and His victory.  I encourage us to fight.

                 Fight against being spiritually passive.

                Fight against contentment with mediocrity.

                Fight the enemy that is always lurking in our midst.

                Fight against your flesh that is prone to wander.

                Fight the urge to live without self-control.

                Fight spiritual laziness that results into spiritual weakness.

  If you think Jesus called men to be passive little wimpy disciples then read this verse from Matthew 11:12:

“From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force.”  (NASB)

Men Let’s take it by force, let’s fight!

Spiritual Agitation


There is a stirring in my heart.  It’s sort of a “holy” or “Spiritual” agitation for something that I can’t put my finger on.  I know God has some plans, and I feel them coming, but they are not here yet, so I am restless.  I seek the Lord.  This morning I have asked Him.  I know it is forward in some way.  There is an adventure awaiting but I wait patiently (sort of) for my Leader and King to come and lead the way.  I know it’s coming, not sure what it is. I know this feeling. I have had it before.  Good things come because of it, and uncomfortable stretching does also.

Do you get “stirred” and “restless” spiritually. 

Do you know God is directing you forward?

What does that look like to you?

 

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