Category Archives: morality

Swimming Upstream: “Ouch!That hurts!”

There are times when God’s words do not comfort [us], they sting! This is because we want God on our side. However, He has no side but His own! To be truly comforted, we must see our situation from God’s angle. Comfort will come not by understanding God’s perspective, but by adjusting to it. Real comfort comes through submission. (Graham Cooke, Permission Granted)

Ouch! That hurts!

Swimming Upstream appears at this blog site on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. It’s  a little of this and a little of that, all written  to encourage and exhort believers in their Christian journeys.

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Where’s America’s Most Important Church Located?

Christ Church Stellarton

Is America’s most important church located in Lake Forest, California? At Pastor Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church.

Or in Houston? At Pastor Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church.

Or how about South Barrington, Illinois? At Pastor Bill Hybel’s Willow Creek Church.

Or maybe it’s your personal church where you go an hour or two each week to hear a sermon that may change your life?

No. No. No. No to all of the above.

For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. (Ephesians 5:31-32)

The most important church in America is your home … with you and your spouse as the main members.

So, is your home a house of prayer?

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Swimming Upstream: “Hate Crimes Legislation…Ho-Hum! Bring It On!”

“Oh no! The sky is falling!” said one Christian blog after another about the new Hate Crimes Prevention Act. “What shall we do? What shall we do?”

If you haven’t been paying attention, the U.S. House of Representatives has passed H.R. 1913 which will provide federal money to train law enforcement officers to identify and criminally prosecute speech and thought offensive to homosexuals.

What does this mean? Specifically, it means that preachers and Christians will be not be able to legally open their mouths and say, “Homosexuality is a sin!”

Now, what if preachers and Christians ignore the law and speak up anyway, then what? They could end up paying fines or serving jail sentences!

So, what’s my take on H.R. 1913?

Ho-hum! Bring it on!

The Lord God of Hosts before whom I stand has not been caught off guard by H.R. 1913. He had a plan readied and set in place before these idiots even had a glimmering thought about this heinous bill.

And guess what?

This is a battle the governmental Ahab’s and Jezebel’s can never win. I repeat: this is a battle the governmental Ahab’s and Jezebel’s can never win.

Why?

The Lord hates sin…and loves homosexuals. In fact, the Lord loves homosexuals so much that He is willing to send an army to set them free. Not just any army, but rather, he is sending in His special forces…the hidden-away, unknown Elijah’s.

So, sit back. Relax. Grab some popcorn. The show is about to begin.

Swimming Upstream appears at this blog site on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. It’s  a little of this and a little of that, all written  to encourage and exhort believers in their Christian journeys.

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Hey, Listen Up!

The wife of a missionary couple from the Philippines visited our church. Like most good evangelical groups, we held a potluck supper in her honor.

After the meal, I was in the kitchen scrapping and washing dishes. The lady visited the kitchen, saw what I was doing and wept. Her heart was broken by the huge amounts of food we threw away.

Just that morning, she had talked to her husband on the phone. He and the twenty orphans they housed and supported had eaten the last of their food. They were hungry.

And we were throwing food away. We called it waste; she saw it as life-giving.

What a paradox, right?

Mark and Christine Pedder, a couple of Aussies with a heart for God, have an awesome ministry in one of the worst slums of the world, BASECO. If you want your heart broken, check out the pictures on their blog site. Pictures don’t lie, they tell the story.

At this moment, they have posted this post asking for sponsorships for BASECO school children.

So, if you can, help them out.

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Swimming Upstream: “Casting Stones At Fallen Brethren”

In the late 1980’s, the ministry of Jimmy Swaggart was involved in a scandal that rocked the Christian world. And of course, the media had a field day exposing the scandal. It was ugly!

But out of this, I learned something that has forever changed my life.

My revelation came from hearing how two Christian leaders reacted to the news about Swaggart’s scandal.

The first man told how he jumped up and down, called his friends and said, “Isn’t it great how God has finally judged Jimmy Swaggart?” He was elated.

The second man said that when he heard the news, he pulled the curtains in his living room, laid on the floor and wept for hours. The only words he could say were, “Have mercy on him, Lord.” He was devastated.

I made up my mind to be like the second leader, and not the first.

Mercy triumphs over judgment. (James 2:13)

Swimming Upstream appears at this blog site on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. It’s  a little of this and a little of that, all written  to encourage and exhort believers in their Christian journeys.

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Swimming Upstream: “Disagreement In My Home…For Now!”

“I’m not you,” Honey said as she sipped her morning coffee. “It’s great that you have a passion to change cities, such as San Francisco, but that’s not for me. I don’t want that demonic principality stomping all over me.”

I shrugged. “Well, sudden death also means sudden glory, right?” A gentle cliche sometimes (not always) helps in a disagreement with Honey.

“Yeah, sudden death sudden glory – right!” she said. “I’m just like the Church. I’m selfish and I only care about me.” She shook her head.

As you can see, my number one fan periodically disagrees with me.

Now, why didn’t the Lord hitch me up to a mate who would at the drop of my hat, jump on her faithful charger, pick up her lance and gallop off to joust with demonic principalities in far-off cities while shouting, “Hi Ho Silver” over her shoulder at family and friends?

Two words will suffice here: death and timing.

Death. The Lord gave me the vision about certain West Coast cities, not her. It is my responsibility to die daily for it.

Timing. Marital government, like the church, is not supposed to be based on democratic votes or dictatorial edicts, but rather, on consensus. And consensus only comes via agreement. ..and this takes time.

Thus, when we finally reach agreement on this issue, I will be a lot deader than I am right now and it will be the proper timing for us to move forward.

REMEMBER: It is the Lord’s responsibility to make a calling and vision come to pass and He is well able to change all parties involved in the plan.

Swimming Upstream appears at this blog site on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. It’s  a little of this and a little of that, all written  to encourage and exhort believers in their Christian journeys.

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Failure! Not Me! Not Ever!

“Go and serve God. Make all kinds of mistakes and learn wisdom from your errors,” I advised the young preacher.

“Failure!” the young preacher replied, her eyes connecting with mine. “Not me! Not ever!”

I smiled, hoping to lessen the chill in the air between us. “Nobody wants to make mistakes, but we do. It happens to all of us. It’s one of the ways that God teaches us wisdom,” I said.

“No, I don’t have to ever fail,” she said. “All I have to do is spend time in prayer, do some fasting and study the word. His Spirit will guide me.”

I shrugged. “Who knows, maybe you are the exception. At least, I hope so.”

This conversation actually took place in a students’ union at a large university about fourteen years ago. We were celebrating her nineteenth birthday by shooting pool.

Why are eighteen or nineteen-year old youths the best soldiers? They do not think they can lose. They believe their youth, their strength and their zest for life will be more than enough to defeat their enemies.

But of course, the first battlefield experience quickly shatters their naivete.  Machine gun fire ripping through a soldier standing next to them and bullets ricocheting near their heads open their eyes to reality. They are not immune to death after all. They could die!

What happens to soldiers after their first battlefield experience? If they survive, they are wiser, smarter and better soldiers;  and are labeled veterans. Then, each battle makes them even better.

Battlefield-trained young soldiers win wars. Period.

Now, let’s compare this to spiritual warfare, okay?

Who makes the best Christian soldiers? Young, hungry believers. By the word young, I am not referring to chronological age, but rather, to those Christians who consider themselves as young David’s waging battles with a present-day Goliath.

These hungry Christians – if they do not hang around worn-out, tired, defeated, fearful believers – will win spiritual wars if they never quit fighting. Period!!

I’m a sixty-three year old man who still considers himself to be a David. The Lord has delivered me from the paw of the lion and the bear, so bring on the Goliath’s (1 Sam. 17:36)

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Swimming Upstream: “Eternally Secure…Or Not?”

calvinism_large

A twenty-year old girl stood in front of me at Starbucks wearing the above slogans on a tee-shirt. “That’s funny,” I said to her.

Out of nowhere, a young man appeared in my face. “So, what are you?” he said. His chin readying for a battle.

“I’m probably more Calvinist than Arminian, especially on the grace and eternal security issues,” I said as an off the cuff answer.

“What about in Hebrew 6 where it states that if they fall away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance?” he asked, his face still inches away from my chin.

Honestly, I just wanted a small coffee and then head to work. You know, mind my own business and have a small caffeine high before chopping cotton in the back forty acres. Was that too much to ask?

I shrugged. “Okay, I can lay twenty or thirty scriptures on you for every one that you put up against eternal security,” I replied, “but think about this: in 2 Corinthians 5:17,  it states that we are a new creation when we are saved, right?”

He nodded, but his eyes betrayed his lack of trust in me.

“There’s a little more to losing your salvation than just saying,’Adios Jesus’,” I said. “You would have to destroy the new creation in you, reverse all the processes of the cross in your life and kill the treasure which lives in your earthen vessel. How do you do that?”

The young man backed away, shaking his head. “I don’t know.” Then, he walked away and joined his group.

Now, I was worked up. I wanted to continue, but  the discussion was over. So, I headed out the door with my coffee.

Too bad, I thought to myself, my next question was going to be: How do you purchase yourself back from God? Do you offer Him gold or silver? How do you negotiate the deal? After all, in 1 Corinthians 6: 19-20, it states that we believers are not our own, we have been bought and paid for by Jesus. He owns us!

So, why is this important, right?

Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble. (2 Peter 1:10)

Swimming Upstream appears
at this blog site on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. It’s  a little of
this and a little of that, all written  to encourage and exhort
believers in their Christian journeys.

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Swimming Upstream: “The Cross”

cross

Do you like to read? Do you want to be inspired?

Then, I felt the Lord speak, Arthur, you’ve been praying about wanting to carry the cross behind the Iron Curtain and the Berlin Wall. There are no walls! The walls, the iron curtains, are in your mind. I don’t have an iron curtain. (The Cross, pp. 183)

For me, this single quote on page 183 was well-worth the price of the book. It blew away every obstacle I had about San Francisco or Oakland or Compton or wherever.

There are no walls for God and His Son, Jesus!

And Arthur Blessitt’s 38,102-mile  journey over thirty-eight years proves these words are true.

He has carried his wooden cross through Palestine, Israel, Russia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudia Arabia, Iran, North Korea and about three hundred other nations. He has prayed with  Yasser Arafat and President George Bush. He stood before a firing squad. He walked through the Darien Gap…and lived.

Since that Louisiana summer many, many years ago, I have been consumed with asking Jesus what He wants me to do with my life. I have repeatedly asked Him these two questions: Where do You want me to go? What do you want me to do? (The Cross,  pp. 21-22)

Then, there is the story about Blessitt running for U.S. president and carrying the cross throughout his 1976 campaign:

I didn’t want to tell them I was running for president. I would pray: Lord, let me witness to them about You. I don’t mind sharing about the cross, but if I tell them I’m running for president, they’ll think I’m crazy! Why do You humiliate me? You know what they’ll think. No one will vote for a wet, poor, cross-carrying hitchhiker anyway. Why do You make me do this?  (The Cross, pp. 160-161)

Will Rogers stated, “We can’t all be heroes. Some of us have to sit on the curb and applaud as they walk by.”

You know, we curb sitters love heroes; and Arthur Blessitt is one of them. His book absolutely blessed me.

Maybe, it will do the same for you.

The Cross by Arthur Blessitt, published by Authentic Publishing.

221 pages, trade paper back, $17.99. ($12.23 from Amazon)

Swimming Upstream appears at this blog site on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. It’s  a little of this and a little of that, all written  to encourage and exhort believers in their Christian journeys.

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Swimming Upstream: “My Most Unforgettable Christian Character”

Mention a well known Christian preacher and what do you picture? Probably, a dark suit, white shirt, conservative tie and aloofness, right? This is the cookie-cutter mold for most Christian luminaries who are podium-stars on the Christian church circuits.

Then, there’s Arthur Blessitt. A most unconventional evangelist. He has carried the cross around the world and walked a Guinness World Record 38,102 miles through 315 nations.

Honey and I met Blessitt in Fort Smith, Arkansas, when he was speaking at a junior college. What’s funny is that I had to drag Honey to the small auditorium. She had never heard of him and did not want to attend.

Blessitt appeared in his normal attire: faded jeans and blue chambray work shirt. His short talk consisted of telling about his mission and a few anecdotes from his travels. He ended the meeting with a short prayer.

Afterward, I wanted to shake his hand and thank him for his commitment in obeying Jesus.

As we approached, he pointed at Honey and said, “You really encouraged me today. I looked at your face while I was speaking and just felt encouraged to carry on. Thanks.”

I could have died right there on the spot. Every part of me wanted to scream aloud, “Arthur, she didn’t want to even come here. It was my idea. Me. Me. Me. I’m the Blessitt fan in this family, not Honey.”

Thanks to the Holy Spirit who shushed me, I kept quiet and smiled while he shook Honey’s hand.

Do I remember Blessitt’s speech? No.  Or his prayer? No.

But what I do remember was this: his humility.

The fear of the Lord is the instruction for wisdom, and before honor comes humility. (Proverbs 15:33)

Swimming Upstream appears at this blog site on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. It’s  a little of this and a little of that, all written  to encourage and exhort believers in their Christian journeys.

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