R.O.C.K. (Who Are You Lord)?

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Before I dive into this acronym, I want to happily give credit where it’s due. This is NOT my original idea. In fact, the acronym was preached in my church (River of Life Assembly of God, 870 Savage Rd., Belleville, Mi 48111). So, the true credit goes to the author of the acronym; namely, Pastor J. Eddie Marcum. Pastor’s message was so powerful, that it caused me to really examine my personal relationship with the Lord. The basic principles behind the acronym were shared during his sermon. On my part, I wrote this piece based on some serious soul searching. My hope is that this post challenges you (dear reader) to search your own heart and honestly evaluate your relationship with the Lord. For the past few days, I’ve been asking myself a serious question:

“Who are you Lord?”

Jesus once asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?”

“Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah,” they answered.

“But,” Jesus retorted, “Who do you say that I am?”

Peter confidently replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”

Matthew 16:18 (NKJV) tells us that, “Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.'”

R – REVELATION

Simon–who was gifted with the new name, Peter, by the Lord–had received this truth by a revelation. In other words, the true nature of Jesus had been revealed to Peter by divine intervention on the part of GOD our Father. Peter hadn’t simply stumbled on the answer, on his own. He had to be shown who Jesus really is.

Family, in order for us to come into a deep relationship with the Lord, his true nature must be revealed to us. Sometimes we limit Jesus to being nothing more than our personal best friend. Sometimes we treat him as if he were our own personal genie, we call on when times are bad. I think these perspectives of the Lord are wrong. We all know a Christian brother or sister who constantly struggles to gain victory. Well…until there is a true understanding of just who Jesus really is, lasting victory is impossible. Sure, we might be able to suppress trouble areas of our lives for a time, but total victory can’t happen until we know who the Lord is and what he’s capable of doing in our lives. That’s why a wrong understanding of who he really is causes us to lack faith in what he can really do. We have to come to an understanding of who Jesus truly is. That revelation can’t come from your Pastor, your Mom, your Dad, or your best friend. They can all tell you what they may already know, but the revelation (for you) has to manifest in your heart. That revelation comes from God. He makes the true identity of Jesus personal for you.

O – OBEDIENCE

I’m going to go Old Testament for a moment here, so bare with me. When Saul was officially anointed first king of Israel, Samuel gave him specific instructions to obey the LORD. All he had to do was obey and things would go well for him. He didn’t, of course. Consequently, the kingdom of Israel was ripped from him and given over to another.

Christianity isn’t a lifestyle requiring a bunch of rules. Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross gave us the ability to live in freedom. But don’t misunderstand; our freedom (as followers of Christ) should motivate us to obey God’s Word. Let me be clear: we are not bound by the law to perform certain tasks, or else. We are instead free to live without the chains that once bound us and because of the gratitude in our hearts, we ought to be moved to obey God’s Word.

Saul didn’t earn the title of king. It was given to him; a free gift of God. All he had to do to retain his title and secure his dynasty, was obey the LORD out of the love in his heart, for the LORD. But Saul felt pressured to live up to what he thought the people wanted him to be. His aim to please the people outweighed his love for the LORD, leading him to sin against GOD. Personally, I think he also developed the big-head syndrome. He began doing things the way he wanted, without consulting the LORD first.

Sometimes we do the same. We think to ourselves, “Eh, a little bit of this won’t hurt anybody.” That instantaneous choice to disobey God can have long lasting effects on our lives. How can we honestly expect Jesus to care for us, if we don’t care for him. Obedience to the Lord is not punishment. He wants us to be obedient, so that we might live in the fullness of him. Obedience to Jesus keeps us away from troubles we can’t see. His sight is long, while ours is very limited.

I know a young man who constantly struggles with the peer pressures of life. Whenever we talk, I usually hit him with the same questions. You would think after some time, he might catch the hint.

“Have you been reading your bible?”

“Have you been praying?”

“No” is always the answer. Yet…he can’t understand why he continues to trip over the same issues. I gotta tell you, this exasperates me, which leads to my greatest personal challenge of all.

C – COMPASSION

Family, I’ve got to be the least compassionate person I know. I’m not proud of it. My lack of compassion puts a huge stumbling block between the Lord and I. The problem is I see the block coming, as I continue this walk. Still, I stroll right up to it, and trip over it constantly! It took a long time for me to be able to admit this to myself, let alone others. It makes me feel sad; ashamed. But, lately, I’ve come to the realization that this is exactly why I need Jesus in my life.

You want to know what bible verse I’ve always struggled with? John 11:35. The shortest verse in the bible has always been the most complicated verse for me to take to heart. In my humanity, I also failed to understand why Jesus cried when he saw the others begin to cry, over the death of Lazarus. I figured, “C’mon, he knew exactly what he was gonna do all along!”

Jesus has compassion for me. Why else, and how else (for that matter) could he willingly die for me? He wept for Lazarus because of the compassion in his heart, for Martha and Mary’s pain. He defended the woman caught in adultery, because of the compassion he felt for her. Everything the Lord did for others, was done out of the compassion within his human heart.

He could have easily destroyed any of his attackers, at any time throughout his earthly ministry. He felt anger. He flipped tables. He cracked whips. He spoke a word, and a fig tree immediately withered! Jesus had every right to retaliate against his attackers, yet he chose to die for them.

This is a hard lesson for me to grasp. Even with the help of the Holt Spirit, I struggle. The young man I spoke of earlier, I constantly wrestle against the fleshy desire to wash my hands of him, in judgment. That’s what it is, family: Judgment.

My flesh says, “How long will you continue to put up with this boy? Just hit him over the head and let him drown in his own disobedience!”

Isn’t that ironic? I can easily judge his refusal to obey the Lord, while standing neck-deep in my own compassion-less judgment. This is NOT who the Lord is.

The “C” of the ROCK-acronym is my cross. I bear it everyday. I thank God for Pastor Eddie’s message, because today I recognize its importance in my walk with Christ. I can look across the landscape of my life and see instances where a lack of compassion has lain waste past relationships with old friends, put strain between my kids and I, even caused rifts in my marriage at times.  I realize the question of “Who are you Lord?” has a deep rooted meaning for me, because the blinders are coming off. I’m starting to see the relationship I thought I had, really isn’t what I believed it to be. How could it be? Jesus is all about compassion. I have to genuinely try to be more like him.

I hope this frees someone today. It’s freeing me, as we speak.

K – KINGDOM MINDED

Here’s where I go off sermon-topic. Pastor Eddie, as I  challenged myself with the acronym, the “K” hit me in a different way than what was originally preached.  That doesn’t lessen the significance of our need to bend our knees in prayer and worship to God, because the act of submission is vital to our relationship with the Lord. Kingdom Minded simply stuck in my mind as I thought this through.

I think when we try to understand who Jesus is and what he means to us individually, one of the things we must realize is that Jesus is all about advancing the Kingdom of Heaven. That’s the endgame for the Lord. He takes no interest in self gratification. He willingly became a servant in order to put the “kingdom Business” first and foremost.

I want to share something the Mrs. and I were actively trying to keep very private up until…now. We’re trusting in God to give us a new home. Fact is, our large family has outgrown our current home. The house we’re after literally contains the desires of our hearts, and we have been praying like we’ve never prayed before. The whole family is involved!

Today, the Mrs. sent a text message saying, “We need this house. I need to have a bible study. I have two ladies here (at work) that are experiencing some serious conflict about their religion.”

Amenities aside, my wife’s already committing the new house to God’s work. She’s thinking Kingdom-minded. And that’s the point. Sure we enjoy our stuff, but if we’re not using the gifts and the stuff to honor God,  what’s the point?  Colossians 3:23 (NKJV) says, “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as unto the Lord and not to men,”. Like Jesus, we need to be about the business of advancing God’s kingdom in all that we do: in church; at work; on the soccer field; in the movie theater; wherever we go and in whatever we find ourselves doing.

As a gamer, I sometimes find the occasional player with a biblical gamertag. I actively seek them out. When they find out “Dadski40plus”–I know; it sounds wack–is a believer, we usually break into kingdom conversation. Yep…even in the gaming world.

So, who is the R.O.C.K.?

R-Revelation

O-Obedience

C-Compassion

K-Kingdom Minded

Jesus embodies all of these attributes, because he lives and displays them for all time. Once we understand that, we realize who He really is.

 

The Prosperity Prayer

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Is it wrong for a Christian to want success? In Matthew 6:24, Jesus made it perfectly clear, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”

Let’s be clear: I’m not talking about the love of money versus the love of the Lord. I’m simply asking if the desire for a better way of life, a comfortable way of life, is wrong. Can we really ask God to bless the fruit of our labors with comfortable living? I’ll give you a few examples to consider:

“Lord, please take my talents and spread them across the world. While you’re at it Lord, would you please replace the old busted up car we’re driving? We could really use something a little more reliable.”

Here’s another example…

“Lord, I pray in the name of Jesus, that you would bless our finances so that we might be able to afford a home. No more renting for us, God. We’re so ready to permanently plan roots.”

One more example, here…

“Lord you told me to write, so I write. You said a book was in my future, and so it has come to pass. You told me not to worry about my future, because the desires of my heart would never compare to what you have in store for me. Will you please bless my entire family, so that not one of my children is lost?”

Yeah, these are mine. If I can be totally transparent with you for a minute, I struggle with the great divide between the desire for material comforts and desire to be completely obedient to God because he expects me to. It does get hard to ignore your circumstances when they’re right in your face 24/7. Sometimes I have to check my motives during prayer.

For a while, I believed there was nothing wrong with prosperity preaching. In fact, it sounded good when a preacher would say things like, “God wants you to be richly blessed! He wants you to be successful! He wants you to live in the midst of great abundance!”

But, the more I learn about God and his infallible word, the more I question that type of doctrine. I’m certainly not suggesting that God wants his children to live in poverty all the days of their lives. But, Jesus never promised his disciples that they would live the good life here on earth, either. Quiet the contrary, actually.

The Lord promised persecutions would come. Love for the Lord equals emnity with the world. So the question still stands, for you to consider: Is it wrong for a Christian to want success?

What are your thoughts friends?

Pride And Arrogance

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In the book of Exodus, we see how the stubborn pride and arrogance of Pharaoh destroyed everything he coveted: his land, livestock, riches, fields, and his firstborn. Reading through the first 12 chapters, we usually look at Pharaoh as nothing more than a supporting cast member in the greater story of Moses and the Israelites. For once, I challenge you to take a closer look at Pharaoh because he actually represents us, in more ways than we might care to admit.

God knows the evil of the human heart. In Exodus 3:19, he tells Moses, “But I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless compelled by my mighty hand.” Yesterday, I heard Doctor Charles Stanley say, “When God says no to your desire, he is protecting you.” So, you say, “Wait a minute Ennis, you’re all over the place! What does the one thing have to do with the other?” Watch this.

We are a double standard people. How many times have we prayed to God to do something for us? At the same time, how often do we ignore the nudge of the Holy Spirit to set free a habit or an idol in our lives? When God chooses not to deliver on our human desires, how often do we get discouraged, and harden our hearts? The two passages above go hand in hand because our lives and our worship of the Lord boil down to our attitudes. Folks, often times we want God to do for us, but we don’t want to obey God.

Pharaoh’s pride and arrogance caused God to harden his heart. There was no way Pharaoh was ever going to set the Israelites free, because they were the ultimate source of Egypt’s prosperity. By their labor, Egypt prospered. When we have a good thing going, we don’t easily want to turn it loose, even if it is wrong for us.

When God tells us to set something free, we’re supposed to obey; no questions asked. But that’s not the way we roll. In our humanity, we demand that God find another way to work his blessings into our lives. We don’t consider the fact that his “NO” to a request might actually protect us from a fate far worse than what our perception recognizes.

I find it amazing that Pharaoh bore witness to supernatural plagues as a direct result of his disobedience to God, but still chose pride over submission. We do the same thing today! God says, “Put that down, now.” We say, “No! I want to keep it, and I want something else, too!” We’re like diabetic spoiled brats, throwing a tantrum over a box of sweets.

So, today I challenge you to think of your own life. We all have things to deal with, and we all want God to take away burdens and bless us at the same time. But, consider this: is there something the Holy Spirit has been poking you to put down; something you’ve refused to turn loose? How can we ask God to bless us, if we will not obey?

God is NOT Dead

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Freshman Josh Wheaton is set to begin his college career. He has a future of prelaw-study ahead of him, and his high school sweetheart alongside for the journey they’ve planned to take together. The future looks as if God has aligned everything in Josh’s favor. But, just when he begins to settle into his new life at university, Josh is suddenly challenged to defend the very faith he believes in. Philosophy professor, Jeffrey Radisson, prompts his class to literally declare “God is dead”, in order to move past discussions defending the faith. Josh instantly finds himself the center of attention, when he refuses to disown the Lord.

I loved everything about the film, “God’s Not Dead”. It posed a serious question we Christians will all someday face. When your faith is challenged publically, what will you do? Jesus was clear when he spoke to his apostles in Matthew 10:32-33, saying:

“Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in Heaven.”

In his humanity, Josh feared the ridicule of his peers, the loss of support from his girlfriend and the daunting challenge of defending God against a college professor. But his faith in Jesus Christ proved to be more powerful than the fears presented by the enemy. He trusted in God to lead the way, and took up the mantle of defense for what he truly believed in.

How many of us are willing to follow the word and risk everything we hold dear, in defense of the God we cannot see with our eyes, or touch with our hands; a God who is ever present despite His invisibility? How many of us are prepared to risk the security of a well-paying job over the defense of our faith? Are you willing to lose a dear friend over the defense of the bible? Can you walk away from all of the material possessions acquired over time, to honor the Lord Jesus Christ? Would you stand up in front of a crowd of strangers to publically defend our Savior, against a well-known and respected atheist? Is God dead to you?

I’d like to think that, when the time comes for me to publicly and immediately defend my Lord Jesus Christ, my courage will rise to occasion. I’ve seen God stand up for me more times than I can count. He loves me and continues to fight for me, despite my failures. Though life’s challenges may come like a tidal wave, I serve a God who spoke the world into existence. To me, He’s not dead. Jesus is very much alive. And He has my heart. Greater is He who is in me, than he who is in the world. Because of that promise, I will defend Him until I have no breath left to give. Jesus died for me. The least I can do is live for Him.