Outer man must die

I was thinking about a song we used to sing in a church that I attended. It went like this, “He’s given me life for my soul, oh how sweet it is! Love peace and joy are the fruit it gives. Though the outer man must die this is my earnest cry, give me life, life, life for my soul!” It’s a rather silly little ditty, but it is a very catchy tune!

The first line, “He’s given me life for my soul…” Now we have been talking about that abundant life that Christ gives us. In John 10:10 Jesus says that, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full (NKJV).” So he gives that full life here on earth, but also He gives us eternal life! Victory on earth and eternal life all wrapped up in one! What a deal! Eternal life starts as soon as we confess our sins to Christ and ask Him for forgiveness and to come into our lives and stay. It’s as simple as that. Then, “Love, peace and joy are the fruit it gives.” As we grow in our new life in Christ, we start producing fruit. I believe we talked about them last week. Our lives begin to change and we then start producing the “Big Nine,” and Love, Peace and Joy are three of the big nine (Galatians 5:22-23). So we come to Christ, He gives us an abundant life here on earth and eternal life when we die. Then we start producing fruit because we’re plugged into Him as the Vine and we are His branches (John 15).

Then the song says, “Though the outer man must die…” That sounds strange doesn’t it? But what the song is talking about is the same thing Paul meant when he wrote to the church in Ephesus. In Ephesians 4:22 Paul writes, You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires;” To put off your old self! Like an old garment, take it off and lay it down. In other words, taking off the outer man and all of its flesh and corrupt stuff that we had before we knew Christ, and put on the new man, or, “to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (Verse 23 & 24)” The attitude of our minds! How many times have we talked about taking hold of our stinkin’ thinkin’? The attitude of our minds! Remember, our attitude is the only thing that we can control. We cannot control other people. We can’t even control our spouse! Control the attitude of your mind. Make it Godly. Take control of it. See what He does!

Please let me know if you need anything.  Naomi and I love you all.  -Pastor Steve 

You hold me!

Read what Asaph writes in Psalms 73:21 & 22 that “When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before You.” Asaph here was saying that he was acting no better than an animal in front of God! Something grieved Asaph and made him mad. He was embittered. One definition of being embittered is, “very angry about unfair things that have happened to you:” Some people would say you have a right to be mad about unfair things that have happened to you, although Jesus wasn’t. And aren’t we striving to be more like Jesus?

I find it interesting that he says, “I was a brute beast before You.” If you think about it, we are always in front of God. He sees everything we do, knows everything we do and hears everything we say. So when we lose our temper with our spouse or children. When we lust after something. When we get mad because we don’t get our way or something embitters us (i.e. treated unfairly), we are acting like brute beasts. In other words we are acting “Animalistic.” No better than a water-buffalo.

But then Asaph goes on to say in verses 23-28 this;-“Yet I am always with You; You hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward You will take me into glory. Whom have I in heaven but You? And earth has nothing I desire besides You. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Those who are far from You will perish; You destroy all who are unfaithful to You. But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign LORD my refuge; I will tell of all Your deeds.”

What a beautiful word picture! God holding us by our right hand as we go through life and our daily struggles. Guiding us, telling us what to do by giving us His counsel. Then we die and go to glory. What a deal! He does all the work, we just have to hold on to His hand, listen to what He tells us then go to heaven. It really is that easy but I end up kicking and screaming to be let go and don’t listen to His counsel. But you know what? Because of the blood of Jesus, I still make it into Heaven! So if someone has caused you to be “embittered” and your inner water-buffalo is rising up in side you, just remember that God is watching. Eph. 4:32 says, “Be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving one another. Even as god for Christ sake has forgiven you.” Please let me know if you need anything.  Naomi and I love you all.  -Pastor Steve 

Be strong and courageous!

This is what the Lord told the Israelites through Moses right before they went into the Promised Land: Deuteronomy 31:6-“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Now you have to remember that there was a lot of opposition for them when they finally got there. There was walled city’s, there were actual giants, and there were established nations that would protect their homeland no matter what the cost. The Israelites had all the reason in the world to be fearful! Did you catch that? They had all the reason in the world to be fearful. From a fleshly point of view it seemed impossible, but the Israelites had a secret weapon! They had the creator of the universe on their side! And He had already done so much for the Israelites parents that they understood that their Heavenly Father could do anything they needed Him to do! They simply had to trust Him. They had to, “Walk by faith, not by sight (II Corinthians 5:7)!”

Do you realize that we serve the same God today that the Children of Israel served back then? Maybe we can’t see our giants or our walled city’s, but they are still there! They come to us as health issues, relationship issues, financial issues and maybe even addictions. Paul tells the Church at Corinth, “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds (II Corinthians 10:4).” In other words our weapons are spiritual weapons. Still the same God fighting for us, but we aren’t using swords and spears, we are using our God given resistance and prayer. Read how the NLT wrote this verse out: “We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments.” God’s mighty weapons it says! What are God’s mighty weapons? It all starts with a saving knowledge of our Lord Jesus and His blood that He shed on the cross. Then those weapons become stronger the more we’re into the Word of God and strengthen ourselves knowing Him. Psalms 119:11 states, “I have hidden Your word in my heart that I might not sin against You (NIV).” Simply put, if we know His word it’s much easier to overcome the enemy of our souls! The Holy Spirit is filling you and dwelling in you if you know Jesus as your personal Savior. You and Him can knock down spiritual walls. Try it.

Please let me know if you need anything.  Naomi and I love you all.  -Pastor Steve 

New Heart, New Spirit

This was the verse that started my devotional one day this week: “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.  And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws (Ezekiel 36:26-27).” Those words, “I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh,” seemed too jumped off the page to me! So often in my life it seems like I have to perform and do this or that to gain God’s blessing. It’s like I need to strive to be good enough to have my Heavenly Father’s approval. But I can NEVER be good enough! So all I need to do is put my trust in Jesus and allow Him to do all the rest. Like our Scripture says (And it’s God who is speaking.), “I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” And when He does that, according to our Scripture reading, He puts His Holy Spirit in us and He moves us to follow what He says and do what He desires us to do. It is nothing that we do. It’s all Him! All we have to do is be willing to allow Him to work. We must be willing to put down our flesh when it raises its ugly head and take captive our thoughts. God gives us a new heart, we just have to make it function!

Paul puts it this way in Ephesians 4:22-24: “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” Paul is telling the church at Ephesus to change your stinkin’ thinkin’! It’s as simple as that! “Put off your old self which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires;” Have you ever been deceived? The definition of deceit is, “The action or practice of deceiving someone by concealing or misrepresenting the truth.” And Paul says here that we can deceive ourselves! Have you ever told yourself, “Oh, just one will be okay?” Have you ever done something you knew that you shouldn’t do but you did it anyway and faced the consequences down the road? Do you realize that we can conceal or misrepresent the truth even in our own thoughts? That’s why Paul says here that we need to put off our old self and be made new in the attitude of our mind! So Paul here says take control and change it! We’re the only one we can control! We can’t control anyone else. So, check your attitude at the door!

Please let me know if you need anything.  Naomi and I love you all.  -Pastor Steve 

Go!

First thing I want to say is “Happy Birthday” to my amazing wife Naomi! She has hung in there with me for almost 38 years and I would not be who I am without her love and support. She is an amazing women, vibrant Christian, wonderful wife, mother, grandmother, and friend to all. I love you Naomi with all of my heart!

What a wonderful time we all had at the Total Church Life training that Pastor Ron Rich led this past weekend! I think that all who attended would agree that it was well worth the effort for each of us. It was a time for self-examination and it made me look inside my heart and ask the tough question, “Am I doing all I can to spread the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ?”

Jesus tells us in Matthew 28:19 to “Go and make disciples of all nations…” He didn’t tell us to go to our different churches and Bible study groups and study what it means to go, He simply said go! “Go where,” may be your question. Well, where do you go? Most people go to work, go to the store or any of a myriad of other places that we just “go.” He wants us to tell our story wherever we are to whoever we can and watch as He works through you in the lives of those you share with. We don’t have to go to a foreign land or across the sea or a border, we may just need to go across the road and talk to a neighbor. We can live our faith out at a family reunion or in the branding pen with our peers. Just go!

“What do I say.” may be your next question. Just tell your story of His love and forgiveness. If we don’t start we will never get anywhere! Just go!

Each of us that knows Jesus as Lord has a story.  Pray that the Holy Spirit will fill your mouth with His words when you speak. You’ll never know how if you never do it. And remember, He is always faithful and always gives us wisdom. We just need to be available.

A study conducted by LifeWay Research found 80 percent of those who attend church one or more times a month, believe they have a personal responsibility to share their faith, but 61 percent have not told another person about how to become a Christian in the previous six months. Can you imagine the revival that could happen if we simply did what Jesus commanded us to do? Go and Tell?

But for sure, revival starts with us individually. I pray that the Lord shows me where I need to change, where I need revival. I pray that I can be like king David and ask Him to “Search me oh God and know my heart. Test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting (Psalms 139:23&24).”

Pray for me and I’ll pray for you!  Naomi and I love you all.

Baptisms

Today is the day that we are going to baptize quite a few believers! I’m excited about it folks! I know that God is working in the lives and hearts of these people and their desire is to show the world that they have changed! That’s what baptism represents really. Paul writes to us in Romans 6:3 & 4, “Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were therefore buried with Him through into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we to may have a new life.” What this is telling us is that baptism symbolizes our death, burial and resurrection just like Christ’s. And then we need to live a life that reflects that we are saved and striving to live as He wants us to live!

Some people think that baptism is a necessity for salvation. And while it is a commandment from Christ, it is not necessary for us to be baptized to get into Heaven. All that is necessary to make Heaven our home is the Blood of Jesus Christ. He shed His blood and died that we may have eternal life and as Paul writes in Romans 10:9, “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in you heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” So that all it takes, confessing and believing. Paul never says anything in this passage about baptism and if it were necessary to be baptized for salvation Paul would have told us about it.

Did you notice that Paul says we are buried like Him in baptism and we rise again to a new life? So that means we are laid down in the water and raised again in new life! So after we are baptized we then strive to live a new life. We will still trip and stumble but we know we have the forgiveness of sin that Jesus promised us. How wonderful is that? Jesus died for us so we can be saved, He rose again for us so we can have newness of life and He forgives us when we don’t walk as we should love. He has done all of the work and we just reap the blessings! How fantastic is that?

So if you know Christ as your personal Savior but have never followed Him in baptism, it’s not too late! Just let me know and we can get it done! It would be such a blessing to me to do that!

It is such a privilege to serve here at Canelo Cowboy Church! I thank my God daily for the call He placed on me and all the wonderful folks in our lives! Pray for me and I’ll pray for you!  Naomi and I love you all.

Doers of the Word

‘Words from the Pastor’

Very often I ask myself if I am really putting my best effort forward in my walk with Christ. Let’s take a look at a passage in the Book of James that speaks to my heart every time I read it. 

James 1:22 says, “Do not merely listen to the Word and so deceive yourselves, do what it says (NIV).” King James Version puts it this way, “Be doers of the word and not hearers only deceiving your own selves.” Pretty plain and simple isn’t it? If we do not put into practice what God tells us then we are deceiving ourselves. It’s interesting that it says that we deceive ourselves. No one else is deceived, just us! 

A few weeks ago Naomi and I had the privilege of going to dinner with 6 of our children, their spouses and 10 of our grandchildren! All of the grandchildren had their own table and boy did they have a great time, as you can imagine! On our way home after dinner I mentioned to Naomi how well behaved our grandchildren were. Then I started remembering some of the shenanigans those little people were pulling! But it didn’t matter to grandma and me because we had on our “Rose Colored Glasses.” They’re our grandchildren! How could they ever do anything wrong? But grandma and I weren’t the ones that had to clean up the mess after we left. The wait staff may not have had the same impression that grandma and I had! 

Do you think we do that as Christians in our own lives? I know I do. There are things that I need to change and work on to become a better follower of Christ, but I don’t. I know I need to share my faith more with those that don’t know Him, but I don’t. I know I need to try and live more of the Big 9 (Fruit of the Spirit, Galatians 5:22-23) and show Christ in my life, but anger still creeps in not love. I lack joy so often. Peace should be the sign of a Christian but I loose mine so easily. Lack of patience still takes over. Not to mention how poor of an example I am when it comes to kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. And then Paul pours salt in the wound in the 24th verse and says, “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” Well Paul, I’m working on it. Praise the Lord that my salvation is through the Blood of Jesus and has nothing to do with my works! Faith in Jesus is all it takes. But I do strive, hope and pray that I will do better.

 Think about it. Naomi and I love y’all.

Sawmill fire

What a week it’s been! With all the fires and displaced people and animals, some lives have been turned upside down. Then between doctor’s visits, financial difficulties and relationship issues it’s a wonder we are able to survive at all. But if you stop and think, it’s this thing we call life. Every human from the beginning of time has had these same types of issues and, if you can believe it, even those that don’t know Jesus as their personal Savior somehow find a way to survive! In reality I do not know how anyone could make it through life without knowing my Jesus.
The Sunday school workbooks for this quarter are titled, “The Rescue Begins.” The last few quarters we have been learning about the coming Messiah and how every book in the Bible points to the world that they need a Savior. And now, the rescue begins! Jesus is on the scene and only through Him we have the promise of eternal life! He will rescue us from sin and give us a place in the Kingdom of Heaven! That is what He has promised to all that have called on His Name.
But you know one thing He didn’t promise? He didn’t promise smooth sailing through life. Quite the opposite. He said that, “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you WILL have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world (John 16:33 NIV).” We’re going to have troubles, problems and even death all around us, but we can overcome and have peace in these things if we know Jesus and trust in Him that He has it all under control!
In Matthew 7 as Jesus was finishing up His “Sermon on the Mount,” in verses 24-27, He tells us a very interesting story. He talks about two distinctively different types of people. Although they had everything in common and everything that they went through was the exact same, they had two very different outcomes. And the only difference in the two men was one was wise. He put into practice everything that he heard Jesus say. The other one didn’t put it into practice and Jesus calls him foolish. In this story both men built houses (Or were living life). Both men had the rain come down and the streams rising (Signifying the problems of living life). But the one that listen to Jesus’ Words, well, his house stood firm. The one that didn’t listen, his house fell with a mighty crash. Both living life but very different outcomes. Which one are you? Think about it. Naomi and I love y’all.

Facing Giants

Deuteronomy 31:6 tells us to, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Moses was speaking these things to the Children of Israel right before they crossed the Jordan in to the Promise Land. Now you’ve got to remember that there were giants in the land at that time! We’re talking real live giants! And the giants’ main focus in life was to kill people! I’m thinking that they probably didn’t even like to share the same air as anyone that were different from them. And truth be known, they probably didn’t even like the other giants that were just like them. They were mean and an evil bunch. But God said, “Don’t be afraid or terrified because of them.”

I guess we all have giants in our lives. Big ugly giants that are mean and evil. We may not be able to see them but we know they’re there just the same. Might be a giant in the form of cancer. Maybe a giant in the form of a relationship with a spouse or a friend or relative. Maybe it’s one of our kids living a life that we know is self-destructive. How about a giant in the form of, “To much month at the end of the money?” This Scripture speaks the same to us as it did the day that Moses said it, “Be strong and courageous!” We can face these giants, just like the Children of Israel did when they crossed the Jordan River into the Promised Land. And the great thing about God speaking these words to us is that we can realize that God knows what’s in store for us. He knows what we’re going to go through before we even go through it and He says to us, “Be strong and courageous!”

I John 4:18 tells us that there is no fear in love. God says He’s our Father and that He loves us. Which one of us as earthly fathers would do anything that would jeopardize our children? How many of us would knowingly put our children in harm’s way? Our desire is to protect them from things that will hurt them in anyway. But we can’t shelter them from every evil that’s out there. Our Father doesn’t want to hurt us either, but He understands that we need to go through some things to make us mature.

II Corinthians 4:17 tells us, “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving in us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all!” It’s doing in us just what Romans 8:28 tells us it’s going to do. It is working together for our good! We need to experience these “giants” here on earth before we experience the glory that He has for us in eternity. That’s why the author of the wonderful hymn, “It Is Well With My Soul” could pen those beautiful words. “When peace like a river, attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll. Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say It is well, it is well, with my soul.” Horatio Spafford knew the peace that transcends understanding. Remember, the bigger the giant the easier it is to hit! David didn’t see a giant, he saw a great big target! Think about it.

Please pray for me and I’ll be praying for you! We serve a great God! Naomi and I love y’all.