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So Just What is the Good News?

Is the Good News, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, telling people that they are sinners and are going to hell?  Is that really the Good News?  Or is the Good News telling people that God loves them, in spite of what they have done, and that Christ has forgiven all of their sins?  What message did Paul preach under the New Covenant?

I find myself always swimming upstream!  I've often wondered why this is my lot in life!  I am certain that being a pastor of a typical charismatic church, with good worship, a good message and good programs would advance my church much faster that it is currently advancing.  If you know me at all, you also understand that I never seem to be able to travel those roads.  Oh, I've been there!  I was taught all of those things, but the more I understand God the more I just can't go there anymore! 

I used to be able to preach a good hell-fire sermon just like the others that I patterned my ministry after.  However, in the past few years I have found God in such a personal way that I can only share my new insight with people I minister to.  I can no longer preach hell; I can only preach God's love!

I remember a day, many years ago, when I was spending some time in prayer in the church sanctuary where I had been pastor for several years.  If I remember correctly, our church had been going through a difficult time and I, personally, was going through a lot of internal battle as a result.  I was walking around, praying as I paced, asking God to move for me and our church.  I will never forget that as I prayed I felt that I almost heard an audible voice, one of a few times in my life when I've heard God so clearly).  The voice said, "No longer preach against sin, I'll take care of that!"  I was astonished at not only hearing that voice but hearing the message of the voice!  The voice continued, "Your job is to only lift up Jesus!"  The thought that immediately followed was, "When I am lifted up I'll draw all men unto myself."  (John 12:32)  Those words were very hard hitting as I was a preacher who prided himself on preaching against sin. I can only begin to imagine the multitudes of people that I drove out of my church and away from God by just preaching against smoking cigarettes!

You see, I thought that I was preaching the Good News, but I wasn't!  My message wasn't Good News at all!  And Alas..I fear that much of the message of the modern Church isn't really the Good News either!  You see, it's time to once again to begin preaching the true Gospel of Jesus Christ.  After all, Paul never asked even one person to pray a "sinner's prayer."  He never preached a message of repentance, at least as we understand it today.  Instead, Paul's message of repentance was simply, "Change your mind about what you think about God!"  It's that simple...."If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead you shall be saved."  It doesn't get any easier that that!

Come on Church....It's time we forget all of the spiritual warfare, all of the sin stuff and preach that God so loved the world! 

That's my take on things and I'll stick to it!

Grace and peace!


Salt and Light

I have a busy morning scheduled for today.  I'll be working on my new book, When God Doesn't Heal: Avoiding Fear, Shame and Condemnation. I'm really excited about this book as it chronicles my journey through cancer and major surgery, but shows the compassion of God through Christ in providing a new covenant to all of mankind. 

One of the results for me personally in writing this book is the awesome times of reflections that have been afforded me.  I'm seeing more and more insights into the wonderful life of grace.  To be honest, I just cannot understand why every Believer in Christ alive today doesn't flood the doors of any church where the message of grace is consistently preached.  Yet, in reality, this just doesn't happen!  It saddens me that it doesn't.  Grace is so freeing, so wonderful and it is the true Gospel, Good News, of Jesus Christ.  However, to those of us who embrace grace we have a message to get out.  After all we are salt and light to a pretty mixed up world.  Jesus said in Matthew 5:13-14, "You are the salt of the earth.  But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again?  It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless.  You are the light of the world-like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden.  No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket.  Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father."

We recently moved into a small subdivision.  We have an association with a club house, etc.  This Saturday the association is sponsoring a cook out for the community.  Everyone can bring a dish to pass and partake of some hot dogs and hamburgs.  In the neighborhood there is a Christian couple who faithfully attend a local church.  I asked them the other day if they were going to the cook out.  The answer I got back was, "No, there will be drinking there and we won't attend events like that!"  Now don't get me wrong, this couple are pretty awesome people, but I find that their response is just too "Churchy!"  Granted there will be an Happy Hour from 3:00 - 4:00 P.M. but I really doubt that the event will turn into a drunken brawl.  I'm not going to attend the event to drink alcohol. Most likely Corinne and I will bring along a couple of bottles of soda and mingle with those drinking beer.  I'm not even going to attend the event to eat the hotdogs and burgs.  I'm going to be there, but I'll be on a mission. My goal will be to meet my new neighbors and to display to them  that this Christian (pastor) doesn't bite! Yes,  I will treat the cook out as a mission field.  Who knows what may happen, and as I form some new relationships with some new people I just may have an opportunity to tell them about my Jesus one day! 

But....It this  is for certain, if I stay home because someone will be drinking a bottle of beer in my presence I'll never be able to tell them about the wonders of God.  That's for sure!

It's time that the Church once again pushes religion aside and becomes salt and light to a very mixed up world! 

Grace and peace!


Just Musing on His Rest!

Today is the day after Easter, 2017.  Yesterday was pretty awesome!  We had such a wonderful day at church!  It was such a day of rest!  Maybe I'm getting old or something, but I couldn't help but to observe other area churches, with their Sunrise Services, Egg rolls and multiple programs designed to attract their typical Easter Sunday visitor, you know the family that attends church one time per year!  As I saw some of the ads in the paper and in social media I almost passed out from exhaustion and these things were not even happening in my church!  Whew! 

I don't know, maybe its just me, but I can't seem to get into all of that stuff anymore!  I know what you might say, "But Brother Larry, we are doing all of that to draw people to Jesus!"  Or, "We plan on leading several people to the Lord through all of this!" My answer to this is, GREAT!  DO WHAT EVER IS IN YOUR HEART AND I HOPE THAT MULTITUDES COME INTO FAITH AS A RESULT! GO FOR IT!  However, that's not what God has called me to and I'm thrilled! 

I can remember Easter's gone by; of the 6:30 A.M. Sunrise Services, The 10:00 A.M. Easter Worship Service and we can't forget the 6:00 P.M. Evening Service.  Of course our family had to participate in all three!  I also can recall trying to recover the entire next week!  Our poor children!  We made them attend everything as well!

So, yesterday was a wonderful time of intimacy with God!  We had a nice time of worship, sang some traditional Easter songs, plus some wonderful newer songs filled with grace.  We partook of communion.  We actually had a love fest!  The highlight of my morning was that Corinne and I felt to hug everyone there and share our love for them as they came through the communion line.  We had a time of some great preaching plus a time of wonderful fellowship at dinner after the service.  Corinne and I came home, I took a short nap, we watched some TV and went to bed!  It was a wonderful day for me!

Our church is small and only a few years old.  Our youth pastor often talks about the fact that we can't provide a "Chucky Cheese" type thing for our young people.  In other words, we just are not equipped to put on all of the programs, etc.  just in order to compete with the large church down the road so that parents will bring their children to our dynamic youth program!  People who are looking for that will not stay in our church!  However, we can teach their children about God's love and teach them to rest in the wonderful new covenant that God gave us through Jesus Christ!  That's the same for adults!  I think many of us experienced that same thing yesterday!  I guess I will just have to be content on allowing the Holy Spirit draw people to our church!  Hummm....I'm thinking that is probably the best way!  What thinkest you?

Grace and Peace~!