Things Are Tough Out There

Nehemiah 5:1-6

New Living Translation (NLT)

Nehemiah Defends the Oppressed

About this time some of the men and their wives raised a cry of protest against their fellow Jews. They were saying, “We have such large families. We need more food to survive.”
Others said, “We have mortgaged our fields, vineyards, and homes to get food during the famine.”
And others said, “We have had to borrow money on our fields and vineyards to pay our taxes. We belong to the same family as those who are wealthy, and our children are just like theirs. Yet we must sell our children into slavery just to get enough money to live. We have already sold some of our daughters, and we are helpless to do anything about it, for our fields and vineyards are already mortgaged to others.”
When I heard their complaints, I was very angry. After thinking it over, I spoke out against these nobles and officials. I told them, “You are hurting your own relatives by charging interest when they borrow money!” Then I called a public meeting to deal with the problem.

In the last week two different Christians whom I greatly respect have referred to Nehemiah. Yes, we can learn stuff from the old testament. No matter what your politics; things are bad out there. It’s not enough to rant and rave at the politicians. We need to do something.

One wise friend said it like this: After teaching from Nehemiah 5:1-13, my Pastor had me rushing home to clean out my garage of “displaced treasures.” There were so many things that I’d held on to, for no other reason than to collect dust. In his teaching, he told the gathering that, “Your extra might be somebody’s everything.” Do you have something “extra” that is gathering dust? It may not be stored in your garage, but in your wallet. Remember those in need… “Your extra….might be their everything.” 

Matthew 6:19 – “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy.” 

Good word my good friend Rev. Doyle. Couldn’t have said it better myself. So I haven’t.

Spread the wealth and be blessed. It’s only socialism if the government does it. If we do it ourselves, it’s the gospel.

Nick

God Loves You; But I Don’t Trust You

John 10:10 ( NKJV ) 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.
We have an alarm system at our house. An intruder has never set it off. We are pretty good about arming it. It’s kind of a pain; but we do it anyway.
We have signs around the house that advise potential thieves that we have the alarm system. I suspect the signs are worth as much as the actual system.
I am a devoted fan of David Jeremiah (but a follower of Jesus). For the last month he has been promoting his new book, “God Loves You. He always has and he always will.” For a donation of any amount, his ministry will send you a yard sign, wrist bands, and witness cards to support this theme. In a political season in which we are putting up yard signs which might contend with those erected by our neighbors, it seems a great idea to have a campaign to remind ourselves and others that God first voted for us.
My yard sign and kit came in a couple of days ago, but I dragged my feet in putting out the sign, or wearing the wrist bands, or giving out the tracts. Yesterday I felt a strong word from The Lord to put out the sign, so I did. Within hours the battle I have been deeply engaged in for 10 days broke open in a miraculous way.
My wife pointed out how the sign, which I had without intention planted near our security system sign, sent out an interesting message. God loves you; but we don’t really trust you.
Sadly, it’s a message for today. We have to work to love as Jesus loves; but the thief is active and working. We need to keep our guard up as we practice his command to love.
He has given my family a great victory. The alarm system He puts around those who trust Him works. But the battle goes on. He’s fighting the battles; we need to keep doing what He told us.
Keep on loving with alert and open eyes, even more as His return draws near. Remember that when the battle heats up, He’s busy doing something and so should we. He’s fighting and we’re to be wisely and alertly loving.
Be blessed.
Nick

Good, Evil and The Gospel

Last night, as so often happens with a Good God, I got just what I needed. I spent time listening the members of the Massai channel Jesus. I don’t want that to sound too new age; but it best describes what I saw. Joy like that only comes from Jesus. It doesn’t come from possessions or accomplishments. As one of these tribesmen told us last night, America needs Jesus.

You can come away with many different things from an event like this. I came away with this: There is evil in the world. There is good in the world. The only real good comes through Jesus and that’s the Good News. Why have we made the gospel so complicated? Typically these Christians would introduce themselves with their names and the phrase, “I’m saved.” Is anything else of eternal significance. If you can get saved in Massai Land. You can get saved where you are.

If you missed last nights service, bad on you. But God is a God of second chances. These brothers and sisters will be with us for a while. Catch them somewhere. I suggest Pamoja Bonfire, Sun, September 30, 7pm – 9pm, at Harvest TIme in Abbeville. It’s near the high school at 901 Wildcat Drive. Here are the directions. Tell Brother Wells, “Nick Send me.”

Thanks to all those who have been joining us on Sunday nights for Nick’s Talk at Amana in Maurice. This Sunday night we are going to the Bonfire in Abbeville so hook up with us there. If you show up at Amana instead, it will be proof you failed to do your homework and didn’t read this blog. We will leave those folks a note and a map to Abbeville. Everyone gets a second chance.

Get simple

And be blessed. 

Nick

Unchanging God

Last night my wife and I gathered with some old friends. It was great as we remembered the past, caught each other up on our lives and enjoyed powerful prayer together. It seems inevitable when “old” friends gather that comparisons will be made between the lives we have lived and the lives being lived around us. 
I am sure that each generation has struggled with the changes they see in the world as they move through life. I am not just talking about technology or politics or sociology. It seems that today there is a different concept of the purpose of life and the place of God in that life. The gathered group last night shared life histories that included one marriage partner who was your first and only romantic love. The group shared concepts about what is right and what is not and a disconnect with younger loved ones whose concepts and life experiences are already so different. 
There is a tendency to believe that God changes as we change or if He doesn’t He must be dead or never was. I can’t help but wonder what God thinks about all this. I am as convinced of His reality and His unchanging nature as I am of any concrete fact of life 
I feel a sense of loss that something wonderful I had is not part of the inheritance I am passing on. Rick Warren tweeted this morning, “Truth never changes, but the channels that communicate it change constantly.” But I’m flipping through the channels I’m aware of and I am just not finding the right one. I pray that I will find it, because the message to be communicated is too vital to go to heaven with this generation.
There are great young Christians struggling with issues in some ways not that different from the ones we faced; but those issues involve challenges which seem starker and more threatening. The world seems so less ready to hear the message of Good News, yet so much more in need of it. The God that reached the hippies of the sixties will surely find a way to reach their offspring. That is the only hope. It will somehow have to come through us.  But how He will do it, I just don’t know.
Be prayerful and be blessed.
Nick

Be Grateful

I feel like I am walking through the valley of death. There are dark forces that seek my destruction. 
On Friday morning I went to get my blood drawn. I didn’t feel like it. This summer I was poked and prodded and had enough blood drawn to fill a pool. Besides, a semiannual checkup seemed irrelevant in terms of other things going on in my life. Why bother?
I arrived at the blood collection center fifteen minutes early. There were already a couple of people waiting for the door to open. They open at 7:30 and I had a meeting that was much more important miles away at 8:30. I needed things to be quick and efficient. 
As the doors opened and the few folks waiting began to file in, vans descended upon the center from every direction. It seems that every agency in the parish which houses or treats “special” people were bringing their clients in for blood work. Soon the waiting room was filled with people… different people. People with silly smiles on their faces. People who walked with only great difficulty. People who mumbled unintelligently. People who had to be brought to the center who could not and would never be able to drive themselves anywhere. People who would require special care until Jesus returns or takes them home. Older people and younger people all facing challenges I will never fully understand. 
My trials are temporary. Blessings are already flowing from adversity. My soul is being restored. My cup overflows. 
My God is great and, even through this, I am blessed.
Look around and appreciate the trials of others, get some perspective,  and be grateful and be blessed.
Nick 

Last Ounce of Courage

You know when you consider going to a movie and check it out online and find that 76 percent of the people enjoyed it and zero percent of the critics, that’s a movie you need to check out.
The acting in Last Ounce of Courage is weak and the production does not impress. The story is great and the message is fantastic.
I drug my wife to this movie. She only came along because she knew I just had to “get out of the house.” A few minutes in she turned to me and said, “We should have brought the grandkids.” On the way out she added, “That was fantastic.”
I don’t know about you but I need some encouragement to be more courageous. The real message of this movie may be: “What are we afraid of?”
It talks about losing our freedoms and taking a stand. But it may be just as much about getting off our Blessed Assurance and doing something.
Don’t we all need to do that?
Watch it. Take a Kid. Be blessed.
Nick

Pawns of Satan

Ephesians 6:12

New Living Translation (NLT)
12 For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.

Satan uses people like a chess player uses pawns to carry out his schemes. There is no doubt about it. He tried to use Jesus. He will try to use us. 

This leaves us with two challenges: 1. To recognize it’s a spiritual fight and see the real enemy. 2. Not be pawns ourselves. 

The key to this is to recognize that satan uses folks when they are tired or hurt or discouraged or frightened, when they feel trapped, AND when they are not in Christ. When we are in Christ, people will see Jesus in us. It just happens. It’s not something we do. Jesus acts as our shield and our fortress.

When Satan is using someone, he tries hard not to be seen. We need to use our spiritual eyes and recognize the person causing havoc in our lives as a tired, hurt, discouraged, frightened, trapped and lost person. We need to see the manipulator and not the pawn. The pawn needs our prayers and love. (Yea, I know that’s a tough one.) Jesus takes care of the “great” manipulator; that’s a fight that’s already won. 

Our second task is not to be a pawn. When we begin to feel tired, hurt, discouraged, frightened, and trapped, we need to remember we are in Christ who fights our battles and has already won. It’s tough not to get dragged in. We need to be alert and stay fresh, encouraged, courageous and free in Him. 

Peace and joy and safety is in Christ and no place else. Those who find themselves outside of Him need our prayers. They are victims, just like we used to be. They are not the enemy, although they sure can seem like it.

Stand and be blessed.

Nick

Mama Didn’t Burn the Biscuits

Yesterday someone sent me a great story about Mama and burnt biscuits. I passed it on because it was a great story. I did so in a hurry and didn’t mention I was passing on what someone else had sent me. The story was not original with me. My mama was not a great cook,  but I don’t remember her burning biscuits. In fact, I’m not sure I remember her making biscuits. My apologies to my mom up in heaven and to anyone who thought the story was from my childhood. Now I could tell you some stories, but that’s for another day.

Be blessed and remember only Pastor T burns the biscuits and they only at Men’s Group on Wednesday mornings. Men, see what your missing. By the way men, we have a meeting Friday night at Amana. No biscuits, I promise.

Nick