Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Seasons of Discontent: Sneaky Snakes


I have known for some time that God has desired His Church to rest from the business and pressures of this season, not to stop working, but to strengthen and stockpile instead of expand. The devil is well aware of this season and as we have said for years:

If the devil can’t make you bad, he’ll do his best to make you busy.

The past few years have been a strain on many individuals, families, businesses, schools, hospitals, governments and especially Churches and missionaries. And, we are not in recovery yet. It is reasonable to consider that the next few years might present some continuing difficulties for many. Of course, these times are predicted throughout the Bible and we are admonished to take care so that they do not come upon us unaware.

When the Apostle Paul prophetically discerned that troubled times lay ahead, he and the prophets of his day warned the Churches and Believers everywhere. Sure enough, he was right and things got worse and worse all the way up to and including the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD and the resulting persecution of both Jews and Christians in the following years.

However, during these troubled times the Church of the Living God continued to get stronger and spread more rapidly throughout the world. This has been a pattern which agrees with God’s overriding plan. It also happened to the Children of Israel even in Moses’ day. I refer to:

Exodus 1:12 The more they were afflicted, the more they multiplied and grew.

Times of rest always follow one season of work and proceed the next season of work. The times between jobs as it were, can present their own sets of problems. By nature, people don’t like to wait! Usually because we imagine it is not productive.  However God instructs us all to rest, at least one full day out of each week. Resting and refreshing are vital parts of God’s plan and man’s need. Waiting is often the most Godly thing we do.

Waiting however, especially when it seems that we are waiting on others, can give rise to some discontent. Throughout the Word we are encouraged by the stories of Abraham and the journeys of the Children of Israel to not allow ourselves to become discontent. Decisions which are made in discontentment usually lead to disaster. That’s the history of the matter.

In the Apostle Paul’s day, sensing the coming trouble, he spoke to Timothy, his son in the faith concerning contentment.

1 Timothy 6
6  Now godliness with contentment is great gain.
7  For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.
8  And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.
(Note: Then the Apostle identifies the #1 cause of discontentment)
9  But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition.
10  For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
11  But you, O man of God, flee these things …
13  I urge you in the sight of God …
14  that you keep this commandment without spot, blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ’s appearing,

This past summer has been a difficult season for many. I have held conversations and counseled people both in our Church and in Churches and communities literally all around the world. I have not ministered to such unbridled discontent in decades.  No wonder God wants the Church to stand still for a moment and refresh and strengthen ourselves.

Why is there so much discontent in lives all over the world? It is because of the approaching season of the Spirit and the devil’s desire to dislodge people from their marriages, ministries, jobs, schools, national and political affiliations and their professional pursuits … dislodging them from those very things that have so blessed them and in which God has set them. God did not call you to work your life’s purpose only in the good times.  He has set you in your place for just such a time as this …

The aim of these sneaky devils of discontentment is to create divisions in the one thing God holds most dear – Relationships – Hoping to ultimately divide and destroy … Relationships are the strength and power of God. The Bible says to mark those who cause division among you and have no fellowship with them. (Romans 16:17)

We see this ploy of spreading discontentment used by the devil first in:

Genesis 3 KJV
1 Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?

New King James Version – Serpent was more cunning …
English Standard Version – Serpent was more crafty …
Message – Serpent was more clever …
Amplified – Serpent was more subtle and crafty …
Contemporary English Version – The snake was sneakier …

2  And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:
3  But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.
4  And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:
5  For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.

That’s where the devil left the woman to herself … He is a sneaky snake … and although he never officially “asked” Eve to eat of that forbidden fruit – his cunning craftiness led her and left her to breed her own discontentment with God’s Word, God’s Will and where she was in life. She made herself unhappy and finally made a stupid decision and then … all hell broke loose. She caused a whole lot more trouble than she could fix. In fact, for some people it will never be fixed … Eve’s decision caused them to go to hell.

Cunning craftiness … that has a sneaky, clever, kind of subtle ring to it … where have we heard this before?

Ephesians 4:14  that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting

We must grow up and not continue to act like little children expecting everything to go our way when we want and if not, we won’t wait but just take our ball and go elsewhere. Go will not make the kingdom all about you! Haste and flight are not God’s way – Isaiah 52:12. If it’s now, it’s no!

While we are in this season of waiting on God and resting in His will for the Church, let us use this time to check our contentment, discover where discontents can come from and perhaps cover or recover ourselves from this trap. Let’s turn in the New Testament, to the book of James 1.

James was the pastor of the first Church in Jerusalem during its heyday and during its persecution. These troubles Paul and others spoke of resulted in financial problems and ultimately in the decline of the Church’s mission effectiveness. If anyone understands the need for strength, refreshing and unity in the Church – it is Pastor James.

James 1
12  Blessed is the man that endures temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.
13  Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempts He any man:
14  But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.
15  Then when lust has conceived, it brings forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, brings forth death.
16  Do not err, my beloved brethren.

Expound: - We are to endure enticements which will come to us like sneaky snakes in cunning craftiness and deceitful plotting. These come in our weakest moments and weakest areas of life to breed discontent.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Find Yourself


Lately we have been capitalizing on being in God’s rest for this season of self inspection, discipleship and the strengthening of the Church. As I have been reporting for the past couple of months, we do not know what we as a nation or as Church may be called upon to face in the coming year but at the present time the Spirit of the Lord is testifying in every place where His voice is heard that this is a time to rest and allow ourselves to be strengthened for the work ahead. This is not a time to launch out, overstress the Church, our finances or our families. God is trimming the sails and stocking the ship, making ready for the season yet ahead.

The last three years have been strenuous times for so many and the cloud of God’s presence, protection and provision has now given the Churches a place to pitch their tents. The time will come for us to march but for now the Body of Christ has been given rest so that they may “strengthen those things which remain”.

In order to facilitate this current season we will be offering various other opportunities to worship which may better fit your schedule, demographic and/or your family’s convenience. We will be doing this by way of a “Third Service” opportunity here at our Church and also a more convenient approach to taking advantage of Adult Sunday School and regular Church as well. You’ll hear more about these things soon. They have been in the works for a long while now in anticipation of these days of God’s rest and refreshing. But for now, let’s continue examining and strengthening ourselves in light of God’s Word so that while we are in this season of refreshing we can continue to be prepared for the day of God’s choosing. We don’t know how soon that day might come.

We’ll begin today with a familiar historical quote: “Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it.”

The heart of this quote, and its 15 or so variations, is originally attributed to the 18th Century British statesman and philosopher, Edmund Burke who, is generally viewed as the philosophical founder of modern political conservatism. Burke was educated at a Quaker Boarding School and then attended Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, before deciding to abandon his studies of law in favor of pursuing his literary work.

There is no doubt that his philosophies of life were formed and confirmed by his early and continued exposure to the Scriptures. Although rooted in the philosophies of Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, and the like, it is reasonable to assume Burke’s quote concerning history repeating itself was principally founded on the verses he discovered as a young boy which are written in the book of:

Ecclesiastes 1
9  That which has been is what will be, That which is done is what will be done, And there is nothing new under the sun.
10  Is there anything of which it may be said, "See, this is new"? It has already been in ancient times before us.
11  There is no remembrance of former things, Nor will there be any remembrance of things that are to come By those who will come after.

Mankind is destined to repeat history and destined to forget it. Only by God’s Word can we be saved from our own destruction. And then, only if we know it.

People often fail to stop and consider that their lives are but instant replays of days gone by which are already written in scripture by one Great God. Depending on the path we choose, our lives unfold thereon in very predictable patterns leading us to the same conclusions as it did our predecessors.  However, those who ignore history have no idea what they are bound for. And sad to say, many never look up.

In ancient times, as well as the distant future and even in this present moment, truth prevails. And the truth of God’s Word in every age says:

·        Things which are wrong can never become right simply by the passage of time.
·        God is more concerned with your future than your past, however your present will determine that future.
·        You can always find where you are in life - It is reflected in a story already written in the Bible.

Someone’s history is your future! And for the most part, you get to decide who you want to be.

Who are you … not who do you wish you were – but who are you today? What Bible story applies to your life? What will happen on your road? It’s really not that hard to find out … in fact, if you simply ask God, He will certainly guide you to the right place.

And remember: Those who don’t know or those who choose to ignore history are doomed to repeat it. We can know our future by finding ourselves.

God has a Word for everybody and everything – not just a wishful imagination or a delusion of grandeur, but an actual account of scriptures which parallels His truths and your life on planet earth. Remember, you have to fit in God’s story – you can’t make Him fit into yours. Blended stories make for hypocritical lives. For example, you cannot be both Rahab and Mary or Paul and Judas at the same time. God is not a multiple personality God and your life can portray only one character at a time. Whoever you choose to be today is who you are, and potentially who you will be forever.

Who you are today is the only you that exists at this time.

Who are you like in the Bible? Where are you in the Old Testament and where are you in the New? What is the story of your life? Find yourself.

God’s Word is always likening one thing in the Bible or in a person’s life to something else which already exists or has already happened so He can better explain to us what we are facing and what we should do about it. God even uses the word “like”  more than 1000 times in the Bible most often to draw comparisons between us and something else to which we are familiar so that we can better understand the situation. He does these comparisons and parables for our benefit so that we might see ourselves, others and the situations of life from His perspective.

Only that which has been will be – it has already been done before – you may not be familiar with it but that won’t stop it following the same course … there is nothing new – you are reliving history by the choices you make. What road are you traveling? What course are you choosing? What character are you playing? Where are you? Who are you? Find yourself!

Most often God begins preparing me to preach and teach a specific Word from Him long before it is needed.

Matthew 13:33  He told them another parable. “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened.”

By this I mean that the Word is like yeast hidden in 3 measures of flour, He works His Word in me until it works thoroughly throughout me, spirit, soul and body, before it works out of me. The result is that the world gets to hear the “Worked Out Word” in its time. It is in respect to this process that I dedicate the 20 to 30 hours of study each week to the Word of God and what He is saying to the Church. This world needs a proven Word and not a quick fix gospel.

While some may only be searching for a life changing Word, today there are many who are searching for a world changing Word. We, along with many other Churches in every community continue to receive those world changing Words from heaven’s hand . For us in particular it means water wells, Bible School graduates, orphans, Churches, medical clinics, saved inmates, missionary support and help for the homeless and hopeless. We help when and where we cannot be helped back. The whole Body of Christ at large has a history of helping. Where would the world be without the Church? And where would the Church be without you?

Although there is nothing new … yet man forgets and needs to hear a true Word from God again and again. Without the continuing Word man cannot find himself or recover himself in times of need.

Presently my life is paralleling a passage from 2 Samuel 15, give or take a couple of chapters. After some extra prayer and fasting this week, I slept like a baby Friday night only to be awakened in the early dawn by a dream from the Lord. I am given to spiritual dreams and this one confirmed and explained so much. I now have a true picture from God. I found myself.

Have you ever found yourself in the Word of God?

The Word God gave me shows me who I want to be and how I want to behave. Once again His Word has become my strength and the direction of my life. Our one goal should be to find ourselves in God’s Word so we can know what to believe and what to do in order to please God.

There is only One God and He is telling only one story, His Story …

Where would you find your life in the Bible today? What character would you be in God’s story? Is that the character you want to be? You see –

Life may set the stage but you decide your character.

My encouragement for you today is to find yourself. Find yourself in God’s Word and if it is not the place you should be … change!

If you ignore history, (His story), you will be doomed to repeat it for there is nothing new under the sun … that which has already been, will be again.

The road you are on will take you straight to the same place it led the last traveler.

You can read all about it in the Bible.

But … Good news!!! If you don’t want to go there, you can make an exit … only make it today!

Pray with me that you find yourself in God’s Word and then that you find a way to please the Lord in the history you are making.

Saturday, August 18, 2012


The Parting Counsel Of A Dying Man Deserves The Full Weight Of His Life

My father’s parting counsel …

Ecclesiastes 12
9  The Preacher was wise, he continued teaching the people knowledge; yes, he pondered and sought out and set in order many proverbs.
10  The Preacher sought to find acceptable words; and what was written was upright — words of truth.
11  The words of the wise are like goads, and the words of scholars are like well-driven nails, given by one Shepherd.
12  And further, my son, be admonished by these. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is wearisome to the flesh.
13  Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is man’s all.
14  For God will bring every work into judgment, Including every secret thing, Whether good or evil.

From Genesis to the book of Revelation, we find all encompassing statements aimed at bringing conclusion to the great matters of life.

There are many other conclusions in the Bible which encourage us render the true principles of life in ways that can easily be remembered. Some of these conclusions include:

Micah 6:8  He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?

Hebrews 13:16  But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.

James 5:12  But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath. But let your "Yes," be "Yes," and your "No," "No," lest you fall into judgment.

Through the years I have taken my opportunities to solicit and catalog the wisdom of God found in the lives of men. I have asked many of my peers what they consider to be the secrets to life as God intended. I have also taken the time to counsel with several men of God who began serving the Lord well before I was born as to the conclusions they have drawn and have asked them to pass them on to me before they pass on to heaven.

Those of you who know me well will attest that the lists of these seasoned convictions have become my disciplines of life. Not only do I review, rehearse and repeat them often, but I also use them to guide me in, or at times back into, the blessed pathway of life.

Like the writers of these passages we have already read this morning, allow me to give you three simple, yet profoundly true disciplines of life which I have drawn from God’s Word. From the heart of this seasoned servant of God, here are my conclusions for living a pleasing and productive life. (providing you are already born again that is …)

        1.  Let your word be your bond
        2.  Pay your just and honest debts
        3.  Treat others the way you want to be treated

We live in a world today that has removed expectancy that a person’s word means anything. No longer do we trust our neighbor to be neighborly or consider a clear and understandable conversation or even a handshake anything that can be depended upon.

More personal than a contract, less passionate perhaps than a covenant, is our word. It is simple and basic, and it should be both powerful and dependable. When all else fails, stick to the agreement without having to be threatened or attempting to make others feel you’re being mistreated. Let your word be your bond. In the end, we are only as good as our word.

When God wanted to reveal Himself --- He sent His Word …

John 1:14  And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

When Jesus reported back to the Father as to what He had been doing since being sent to earth, Jesus simply said:

John 17:14  I have given them Your word …

God’s Word is all we have on which to depend. Let me ask, how can we be sure we are saved?  Only because we have God’s Word in which to trust … As well, the name of Jesus is synonymous with the Word -

Revelation 19:13  He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God.

Psalms 138:2  God magnified His Word above all His Name.

If we want to be more like Jesus, we should:
        1.  Say What We Mean
                *  Be honest
                *  Speak the truth without deception
        2.  Do What We Say
                *  Learn the value of commitment
                *  Make quality decisions

The second conclusion I gave this morning deals with paying our just and honest debts.

Debts don’t just deal with money which is owed
        *  The story of Elgin Taylor, the man I owed.
        *  Romans 13:7  Render honor to whom honor is due.
        *  1976 to 1999 - 23 years later God told me to pay the debt I owed

When it comes to bills, taxes, love, tithes, appreciation, gratitude, honor or respect … just pay your debt … God expects no more, but no less than what is owed … and if you are anything like me, you owe others a lot!

Pay your just and honest debts

Finally this morning I want to address our testimony …

You know, we are writing the story that others will one day tell about us. With each decision and every act we are building the testimony that will be used as evidence during eternity’s trial. If our comfort is at all important, then we must get to work building a testimony worthy of heaven.

We cannot afford to live life like it is all about us and ours. If we are only concerned about us then I am concerned that we will miss the whole point of life. The Bible gives us clear instructions:

Philippians 2:4  Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.

Matthew 7:12   Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

Simply put - Treat others the way you want to be treated. Put yourself in their shoes:

Romans 12:15  Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.

One day your life will be concluded, what will that conclusion be?

Joke about 3 Cajuns discussing what they want people to say about them at their funeral.  (3rd one: oh!, look!, he’s still breathing)

Providing you are born again by the sacrificial blood of Jesus the Messiah, I conclude that we should all determine to: Let our word be our bond; Pay our just and honest debts; and Treat others the way we want to be treated.

However, if you have not been born again …

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Let Downs


Have you ever been let down by someone? Most everyone has been let down by someone in life and perhaps you have let someone down yourself.

The Bible clearly shows us that:
·        A spouse can let you down
·        People you don’t even know can let you down
·        Friends can let you down
·        Even co-workers & close associates can let you down

God has a heart for those who have been let down … and … God also has a heart for those who have let others down.

Today we are going to look at 4 Major “Let Downs” in the Bible ~

1.  David was let down by his wife, Michal
1 Samuel 19
11  Saul also sent messengers to David’s house to watch him and to kill him in the morning. And Michal, David’s wife, told him, saying, "If you do not save your life tonight, tomorrow you will be killed."
12  So Michal let David down through a window. And he went and fled and escaped.
13  And Michal took an image and laid it in the bed, put a cover of goats’ hair for his head, and covered it with clothes.

2.  Joshua’s spies were let down by a prostitute in Jericho
Joshua 2
15  Then Rahab let them down by a rope through the window, for her house was on the city wall; she dwelt on the wall.
16  And she said to them, "Get to the mountain, lest the pursuers meet you. Hide there three days, until the pursuers have returned. Afterward you may go your way."

3.  A sick man was let down by 4 of his friends
Luke 5
18  Then behold, men brought on a bed a man who was paralyzed, whom they sought to bring in and lay before Jesus.
19  And when they could not find how they might bring him in, because of the crowd, they went up on the housetop and let him down with his bed through the tiling into the midst before Jesus.

4.  Paul was let down by some disciples in Damascus
Acts 9
23  Now after many days were past, the Jews plotted to kill him.
24  But their plot became known to Saul. And they watched the gates day and night, to kill him.
25  Then the disciples took him by night and let him down through the wall in a large basket.

Like I said earlier -The Bible clearly shows us that:
·        A spouse can let you down
·        Someone you just met can let you down
·        Friends can let you down
·        Even Disciples can let you down

Whoever it is in your life that let you down was a God send …

God bless the rope holders in this life … those who stay behind to face the music, do the cleanup work and pay a price. Those who continue to do what they are called to do so that others can do what they are called to do. Someone has to hold the rope and pay the price for anyone to be let down.

Each one of these examples stood to pay a heavy price for holding the rope and standing the ground and each one let down went on to do their work. David; the Spies; the Healed Paralytic; and Paul …

Perhaps you don’t need to be let down, moved on, set free, let go by others … maybe you are right where you want to be and right where you need to be … perhaps you are the person whom God is calling to hold the rope for others … maybe you are the one called to pay the price, hold the rope, stand the ground and make a way for someone else to pursue their calling. Whichever we are in any moment … it all pays the same!

Our church is filled with rope holders … we are those whom God has called to let others down … to stay by the stuff … pay the price … stand the ground and make a way! God told me that He wants to encourage you! My Church is a rope holding Church we will let people down.

You see, each time you have contributed your life’s energy or money to this church you were holding a rope and paying the price for others to do the work which they were called to but could not do unless someone let them down. And every such person and work we begin and support is critical to God’s overall Kingdom plan. Works like:
·        Church On The Rock Food Pantry in Port Arthur
·        Agua Resources International & Agua Canada
·        Church On The Rock North – Beaumont
·        Church On The Rock South – Groves
·        New Life Church On The Rock in Vidor
·        Church On The Rock in Bridge City
·        Cowboy Church On The Rock
·        Rock Church Southeast – Port Arthur
·        Church Online – Worldwide
·        Church On The Rock – Sour Lake
·        God’s House Church On The Rock – Beaumont
·        Turning Point Church On The Rock – Cleburne
·        Real Life Family Church On The Rock – Conroe
·        Yoshkar-Ola Christian Center, Russia
·        SARA COTR Children’s Home, Nepal
·        Prakhonchai Church of God’s Favor, Thailand
·        Charismata Revivals  & their 300+ Churches, Kenya
·        KE Resources International Church Management & Consulting Group
·        RU 100% SURE? Evangelism Training
·        Mike & Jude Kelly Ministries, Philippines
·        Ralph & Annie Dryden Ministries, Thailand
·        Church On The Rock Bible School, Katmandu
·        Kazan Christian Center, Russia
·        Postcards From The Bible Television Ministry
·        Johanis Ciandy Ministries, Indonesia
·        Church On The Rock Health Services
·        Church On The Rock Jail Ministries

Each one of these found their beginning or covering and continues to function as a part of this little local church in which you are sitting – GTCOTR … and that’s not all - Together we have let these people down!!!

These do not count the numbers of ministries resident in our Church, those which we have made possible along with those which we support in some vital way. Ministries such as:
·        Pastor Lynne Parker at Faith Harbor Assembly of God, Port Arthur
·        Terrell Park Stables, operated by Cowboy COTR
·        Mexico Ministries - Mission Support
·        Faik Serhan – Minister to the Druze communities in Israel
·        Jerusalem Institute of Justice – Jerusalem
·        Church On The Rock, Port Au Prince, Haiti – Earthquake Relief
·        Support for Schools, Orphanages, Medical Clinics & Feeding Centers Around the Whole Wide World On a Daily Basis.
·        One Life Family, Pastor & Discipleship Conferences  - US & Abroad
·        Leadership Mentoring Programs
· – and Online Christian Family Broadcasting Network
·        Printing & Distribution of Daily Devotions in several languages
·        GTCOTR Apps & Web Sites from to

All of these things are managed by our staff on a Monday through Friday basis before we have Church … and on top of everything else we do from feeding the hungry to visiting the sick --- we still have great Church!!!

Let me be the first to tell you – You guys and gals, members and supporters of GTCOTR, we are master rope holders who can be proud of every one we have let down over these past few years – but … we ain’t seen nothin yet! Time fails me to tell you of the vision we have to take the Gospel of Jesus deeper into our communities here in Southeast Texas and into communities like ours all over the globe.

What do we need to do from here? First – Be thankful to God for including us in His plan. Next, I’m asking you to keep your hands on the rope with me while we "Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch." (Luke 5:4) … the greatest harvest of souls this generation has ever seen is yet ahead. Let’s keep ourselves and our Church strong so we can continue to let other people down.