Thursday, August 29, 2013

How To Stay Sane In An Insane World, Part 4

As promised in my last blog, I am going to begin covering the four-part prescription that I mentioned previously. This four-part “medicinal remedy” should be administered three times daily until your thinking comes into alignment with God’s Word. When all of the elements begin working together, you can experience a level of healing that you may have never previously attained.

2 Corinthians 10:3-5 “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.”

We’re fairly familiar with these verses, but when it comes to the portion of Scripture that talks about the pulling down of strongholds, we may not be completely sure of what the Word is talking about there. We always want to spiritualize this passage and twist it to say, “tearing down the devil’s strongholds.” That is conjecture! Paul may or may not be talking about spiritual strongholds because there is no indication that he is referring to the devil or demons. He is talking about warfare, a battle, and a battlefield. He makes it very clear in the next verse when he says, “Casting down imaginations (KJV)."

Christians have some of the most vivid imaginations of any of the human beings on the earth. We imagine all sorts of things. We need to learn to cast down imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God. Where do we find the knowledge of God? It’s in the Word of God! So if anything is elevating itself above His Word, Paul tells us that we are to cast it down. Cast down whatever is setting itself higher than the Word of God in our lives.

Now, are there ever times in your life when there are things that seem to be more important than the Word of God? The Bible says to cast down arguments and every high thing and bring nearly every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. Isn’t that what it says? No! Or does it say, “Bringing a lot of thoughts into captivity”? No! It says to bring every thought! How many would that be? Every thought is just that: every thought! Just think, this is only step #1.   

It’s not as difficult as it sounds, although it is challenging. You might ask, “Well, how do I know that it is contrary to the Word of God?” Well, you need to find out what the Word says! What’s more important to you? What the world says, what you say, or what the Word of God says? Hello??!! How are my thoughts stacking up in light of the Word of God? Am I thinking in opposition to God’s Word? To the degree that you think contrary to the Word, you’re going to live a contradictory life. As a man thinketh, so is he; you become the fruit of your thoughts.

Now, for some of us, if we cast down every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, there isn’t going to be much left up there! We just might create a big vacuum, but God has not called us to be empty-headed or airheads.

So, just to recap, the first thing we need to do is take every imagination and every high thing that is taking place in our thought life, and we need to cast it down. You can do this deliberately, and I know that you can because I can. Don’t think this is impossible; it is very practical. When you are thinking contrary to the Word of God, take authority over those thoughts and stop making excuses. Excuses are not going to gain you the victory. “Well, God knows that we’re just weak.” Yes, that’s why He’s made you strong! We need to stop with our Christian excuses. They’re not valid, Scriptural, nor pleasing to God. He has given us everything we need to live an overcomer’s life. It is up to us to implement the plan and utilize the tools. The tools are of no effect in our lives if we refuse to use them. At the same time, to the degree that we do use them, we will bear much fruit!

We will cover the other parts throughout the next couple of weeks. For now, begin to apply 2 Corinthians 10:3-5. Every time you catch yourself thinking a thought that you know is contrary to the Word of God, dispel it immediately from your mind and replace it with something that is Christ-centered and lines up according to His Word.

Grace and Peace,

Thursday, August 22, 2013

How To Stay Sane In An Insane World, Part 3


It’s been obvious that this topic of “Staying Sane in an Insane World” has struck a chord with so many, as it’s certainly pertinent to all of our lives. So without further ado, we will continue . . .

The question is: What are we going to do to maintain a level of sanity in an insane environment? What will we do to make sure we don’t become schizophrenic Christians? You know what that means, don’t you? It means to have a mental disorder. Have you ever met any Christians whom you felt had a mental disorder? Well, you’re probably thinking of one right now!

We who love God are so capable of ungodly thoughts and behavior. Isn’t that the truth? Am I the only one? Somebody email me and say, “No, you’re not the only one, Pastor.”

We need not revert to a former mentality or fall back into a deranged mindset. We’re not to be schizophrenic, but we are to be of one heart and one mind just like the disciples were on the Day of Pentecost. Developing “one heart and one mind” will lead us to a place of being in one accord with the will of God.

I’m going to share something with you that I’ve doled out for over twenty-five years to people. Maybe I’ve even shared it with you before. You may say, “Oh man, why is he saying this again?” It’s because you need it! Trust me. Even if you’ve heard this portion before, you need to hear it again, or you wouldn’t be reading this! I’m going to share with you what I call a “spiritual prescription.”  I’m not a doctor, nor do I have a doctorate degree, okay? But this will help you more than Dr. Phil; I guarantee ya. The prescription I’m about to give you has the potential to change your life. Over the years, I’ve issued this prescription to hundreds of people, and I’m always amazed at how few will take the medicine.

I can look at folks and say, “You know, if I were Doc Parker back home at Cliffdale, and you came to see me, I might write you a prescription that you couldn’t even read. I may even sign it in a way that you couldn’t read it, but you’d still go to that drugstore. You’d pay good money for those drugs. I bet you’d set your clock in order to take those pills at the designated time. Even if you had to get up at 2:00 AM because the script said, “take every four hours,” you would get yourself up to take that pill; that’s how much you believe in the prescribed medicine.

How much do you believe in the Word of God? Are you willing to take this pill? It won’t cost a dime; it won’t taste bitter, and it will not have any negative side effects. “Caution must be taken; this medicine may cause lung disease, tuberculosis, and in some cases death.” None of that!!! No ill side effects!

I am convinced that this is the number one issue in most believers’ lives: WE NEED TO GET OUR MINDS RENEWED!!! The number one problem facing Christians today is the unrenewed, unregenerate mind! We are still thinking, in many cases, the way we used to think, which causes us to act the way we used to act and live the way we used to live.

Obviously, we need the Holy Spirit, and we also need the Word of God to come alive in us. The writer of Hebrews said that the Word of God is alive, powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, even to the dividing asunder of bone from marrow, spirit from soul, and a discerner of thoughts and intents of the heart. Only the Word of God is sharp enough, alive enough, and powerful enough to cause our minds to be renewed and regenerated.

In the next blog, I will be giving you a basic four-step plan/prescription that I’ve been using and issuing for twenty-five years. It’s a step-by-step program, and anybody can do it!

I pray you have a great week and that God’s blessings overtake you!  Be on the look-out for your prescription!

Grace and Peace,

Thursday, August 15, 2013

How To Stay Sane In An Insane World, Part 2

Greetings! Last week we talked about Christ sending us out as lambs amongst wolves. In it we learned that we must be mindful to remain vigilant, on guard. It is important to keep our eyes open, be aware, and be in tune with what’s going on. Peter said, “Your adversary, the devil, is roaming about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour.” Resist him steadfast in the faith! In that same passage Peter said, “Be sober, be vigilant.”

We need to be on guard concerning the things of the world. The world acts like a magnet that seeks to draw us back to a former life, a former mentality. The world would have us to think the way we used to before we had the mind of Christ; it’s one of the ploys of the enemy. We are not called to think with a worldly mentality. We’re not called to live in a worldly type of lifestyle. The blood of Jesus has drawn the line in our lives so that now we have been made separate from the world. This means we need to remain vigilant, my friends, because the world is constantly trying to pull us back, and how does it do it? It will accomplish this by getting us to think the way we used to think.

We’re still trying to figure things out the way that we used to before we ever had Jesus in our lives. The Bible says we have the mind of Christ, but I’m still so often amazed and appalled at myself because I’m thinking that if I had the mind of Christ, there’s no way in heaven or hell that Jesus would be thinking what I’m thinking right now. There just ain’t no way!

The enemy seeks to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). How is it that the enemy is capable of doing that in the life of the believer? One way he does it is by getting us to revert back to our former lifestyle. As you know, the Proverb writer says, “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” In other words, you become the product of the way you think in your inner man. Now I’m going even beyond the conscious level, into the subconsciousness of man, the spirit man.

We are the fruit of our deepest thoughts. You’re producing the fruit of the way you think. So if you don’t like things in your life, then I would suggest you change the way you think about them. If you will change the way that you think, you’ll change the way you live, and if you change the way you live, then you can have the life that Christ destined for you to have.

I think about men like Peter, so bold and passionate, yet he was also prone to falling back into his old lifestyle and habits. I can show you evidence of it. Not long after Jesus had been raised from the dead, He appeared to Thomas the Doubter and Peter. Peter saw the resurrected Savior, and after having touched Him, talked with Him, and been with Him, he says, “Well, I go a’fishin’. Boys, I don’t know what else I’m supposed to do, so I’m going to revert back to what I know how to do.” James and John said, “Hey, we’re going, too.” You can read it in John 21.

So here we have the original disciples who had walked and talked with Jesus, in fact, they’ve already been commissioned by Him to go into all the world, preach the Gospel, and make disciples of the nations. Shortly thereafter, Peter stands up in a group setting and says, “Well (I prefer the old King James here), I go a’fishin’.” That’s Southern for, “I’m going to go fishing.” The others said, “We might as well go, too!”

What’s happening here? They were reverting back to their old mindset, the previous pattern, the former lifestyle.  That’s not the first and only time we see it in Peter’s life, and yet they had sat with Jesus for three years! Jesus Himself had mentored them and been with them. They’ve already seen the Word, walked with the Word, and been with the Word. Yet as soon as Jesus departs, they revert back to their old lifestyle. What’s happening there? One thing is for sure, they needed the Holy Ghost!

Peter’s life, as did the lives of the others, changed radically when he got filled with the Holy Spirit. However, I would remind you, that even after being filled with the Holy Ghost in Acts 2 (reference Acts 10), Peter is still thinking with the old mindset as evidenced in the vision of the animals and the sheet wherein God was calling him to go to Cornelius’ house. Do you remember that? Peter is still thinking with the old mindset. Come on, somebody! We’re talking about Peter, so that means there’s hope for you and me! Don’t let this discourage you. I’m just telling you that if Peter went through this stuff, think it not strange that you and I encounter some of the very same challenges when we revert back to the old mentality, the old prejudices, and the old thought patterns. Just as Peter encountered it, you can bet that you and I will, too.

We’ll continue with this subject of staying sane in an insane world next week. In the meantime, Vickie and I pray that you have a victorious week ahead and that you live out His purpose with every step that you take!

Grace and peace,

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

How To Stay Sane In An Insane World

Greetings! Since Vickie and I have lived in the Dominican Republic for an extended time now, we have noticed that we’ve become a bit detached from some of the “going-on’s” in the world. Some people move to areas such as this for that express purpose. I flip on the news——yes, I still enjoy FOX News——and so often I wonder, “Why am I even watching this stuff?” The news has become like a soap opera!

Some of you are probably too young to even know what that is. My Italian grandmother used to watch Ivory Soap soap operas for over thirty years. The thing we know about those dramatic shows is that you could miss watching them for five years, turn the TV on, and you can pick right up where you left off. It’s all the same drama! I have to be honest with you that after living in the DR for a little over a year, that the news now reminds me of a soap opera. It’s the same old stuff.

How many of you know that the world is just filled with insanity? Can somebody agree with me? We read of terrorists, government corruption, and all of this filth going on in the world. My wife and I have two chairs in the living room and sit there like old folks, and sometimes we will just shake our heads. I’ll find myself turning to Vickie and saying, “Honey, the whole world is crazy except me and you, and I’ve got my doubts about you.”

So I felt like the Lord dropped a word in my heart the other day, and it is this. We as Christians are not immune to the insanity of the world unless we set ourselves apart from it. The circle of insanity works like a magnet in our lives, and the world is constantly trying to suck us back into it!

The temptation is always there. I know, because as I watch the news, I begin to have all the same old emotional responses. I realize that I’m still struggling because there are times when I shout at the TV, “You idiots! Look at those idiots! Don’t they know that they’re acting foolish and how insane all of this sounds?” Then I remind myself that insane people do what insane people are supposed to do. Sinners are just sinners, that’s what they do. We ought not get angry with them for being what they are.

We can feel protected from it because we live in a more isolated environment. We, as many others in the Church, think that we’re immune to the insanity per virtue of our lifestyles, but I would submit to you that maybe we’re just subjected to a different form of insanity. If we’re not careful, we can become schizophrenic as Christians.

In the midst of the chaos and clamor, oftentimes I’ll hear the Lord’s Words come back to my remembrance. Jesus said in Luke 10, “The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” When is the last time you prayed that prayer? He doesn’t say to pray FOR the laborers, He said to pray for the Lord of the Harvest to send them out (not that we shouldn’t pray for them as well).

In verse three Jesus says, “Go your way; behold, I send you out as lambs among wolves” (Luke 10:3). Then He tells them exactly what to do. Jesus commissioned them to go and do the job by healing the sick, going house-to-house, and sharing the Kingdom. Then He adds to His instructions by stating, “Let them know that if they receive you, that the Kingdom of God has come near to them.”

The point I want to make today is that Jesus has sent you and I as lambs into the midst of wolves. Out in the wild, wolves are blood-crazed animals. They’re flesh eating, carnivorous, and very powerful. Maybe you’ve seen movies that depict them with drool and spit hanging down, growling, and looking as mean and evil as can be. This is the mess into which Jesus has sent you and I!

So how is it that we’re expected to maintain our sanity and not go schizophrenic, when Christ Himself has said that He’s sending us out like lambs in the midst of wolves? I believe the Lord has very brief, specific instructions for us in this regard, and we’ll look at them next week. Until then, be encouraged in the fact that even though you’re surrounded by craziness, Christ has given you the means to live a Spirit-led, power-filled life and to have a positive effect on those around you.

Grace and peace,