Our Influence 

Ezekiel 23:37
“For they have committed adultery with their idols, and even sacrificed their sons whom they bore to Me, passing them through the fire, to devour them.”

Ezekiel points out that the sins of the parents resulted in the sacrifice of the children. When they stopped following the Lord, their decision impacted the next generation. I think it would do us good to keep in mind that we have a much greater influence on others than we might think. Jesus compared us to a city set on a hill that cannot be hidden (Matthew 5:14). Paul explained, the whole world is watching the Christian as though we were on display. When we decide to commit ourselves to the Lord, living to please to Him, that decision will impact others. People will take notice and decide to further their commitment  to Christ. On the other hand, if we wander from the Lord, we will have a domino effect upon others who may fall along with us.

Remember, after the death of Christ, when Peter decided to return to fishing? He was distraught over the events that had transpired, and he seems to have stepped backwards in his relationship with Christ. I find it interesting, he was not fishing alone, other men were drawn away with him. This always seems to be the case. The decisions we make, for or against the Lord, will always create a current, pulling others along with us.

Let’s make sure to keep pressing toward the Lord.

Pastor Jim



Jeremiah 44:7
“Now therefore, thus says the Lord, the God of hosts, the God of Israel:‘Why do you commit this great evil against yourselves…”

God warned the people not to flee to Egypt for help. He knew the Babylonians would soon defeat Egypt and any who were In allegiance with her. Despite these warnings, many of the people chose to depart from Jerusalem and Judah, making their way to Egypt. When questioned by Jeremiah as to why they chose to disobey the clear commands of God, they responded that life was easier when they worshipped the “queen of heaven.” The real reason they fled the commands of the Lord was they wanted to worship other things.

Often, an unbeliever or backslidden Christian will bring accusations against God and His Word. They will claim the Bible is difficult to understand or that there are many interpretations. While there are some Biblical texts that require careful study in order to rightly understand, most texts are plain, clear and simple. The real reason for abandoning them is not because we are not sure what they say, but because of what they clearly say.

God’s word is abundantly clear; worshipping other things is forbidden. His word is also clear that the lifestyles connected with these pagan worship practices are sinful and not pleasing to The Lord. The people did not worship false gods because they thought they were more believable than God, but because these false systems allowed them to behave in ways God had forbidden.

It is important that we do not follow the pattern set by those of Judah. These men and women chose to walk outside the parameters of Scripture, only to find they were sinning against their own souls. It would not be long before they found their sin had cost them their freedom, their lives, and their families.

Pastor Jim



1 Timothy 1:19-20
“. . . having faith and a good conscience, which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck, of whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I delivered to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.”

As Paul traveled the world to preach the Gospel, he had the great joy of seeing many come to Christ. Sadly, however, he also had the difficult experience of seeing some fall away from the Lord. Here he mentions two such individuals and describes their backsliding as being shipwrecked. They once had sails unfurled on course for the Kingdom, but had drifted off course and were no longer serving or following Christ. He mentions them as a warning to us of the dangers of falling away from Christ. A shipwreck is an appropriate analogy for the Christian because of the dangers we face on our journey towards what John Bunyan called “The Celestial City.” Unfortunately, shipwrecks, like backsliding, have a variety of causes.

A few years ago, Hollywood produced a movie called “The Perfect Storm” about a fishing vessel lost at sea due to extreme weather. There are times when the conditions we face are like a turbulent sea, tossing us to and fro. If we are not careful, we will find we have run aground and are no longer pursuing the Lord. These trying times can even leave us bitter and disenchanted regarding Christ. It is crucial that we learn to take refuge from life’s storms in the safe harbor of Christ and the promises of His Word.

Just a couple years ago, a large cruise ship ran aground in Europe. The news sites were filled with images of this mighty vessel being battered by the waves, and it was reported that many had lost their lives. The initial reports alluded to the captain being intoxicated, and as a result, had drifted off course and into the shallows. It is not uncommon to hear of Christians who have done the same thing. Not being careful to remove ungodly influences from their lives, they find themselves tripped up by the sins of their past. They are usually filled with shame and guilt because of the mess they have made of things. This guilt may keep them on the rocks, being beaten by the waves of life. If that describes you, allow me to encourage you. Whatever your sin may have been, there is forgiveness. David described the condition of the one who finally accept the forgiveness available to him, regardless of the severity of the sin committed:

Psalms 32:1 “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.”

Another common cause of shipwreck is being ill-prepared for the conditions we face. Not long ago, I watched as a boat attempted to navigate its way through one of Florida’s more challenging inlets. Standing there, unable to do anything but watch, myself and a few other onlookers, stared in dismay as the vessel was tossed into the rocks. His failure was not for lack of trying, but because he was simply a novice and did not have the proper training for such difficult conditions. All too often, Christians fail for the same reason. Not taking advantage of the present calm to develop deep foundations in the Christian walk, they find themselves unable to withstand the trial and temptation that is just ahead. Don’t let that happen to you. If life is somewhat calm at the moment, use that to your advantage to become a disciple of Christ. Don’t wait until you are being battered against the rocks before you begin to invest in the Word, fellowship and prayer.

Pastor Jim


Beware of Dogs 

Philippians 3:2
Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the mutilation!”

Warning signs are all around us, cautioning us to beware of potential hazards. These signs warn the floor is slippery, the curve, sharp, the beam is low, or the dog is mean. As I sit here writing, my teacup reads, “Careful, the beverage you are about to enjoy is extremely hot.” Which seems obvious to me, since I did not order an iced drink. On the beaches in our community, there are signs warning of what to do in case of a tsunami; although we have never been hit by a tsunami, and experts tell us that the likelihood of such an event happening is almost zero. Because these warnings are so commonplace, we can become desensitized to them, and miss the ones that really matter.

Paul’s warnings are not to be taken lightly, as he tells us to be on guard against dogs, evil workers and the mutilation. He is using a common writing technique, where repetition is used for emphasis. He is not saying there are dogs, evil people, and mutilators to be aware of, but describing a certain group of people, using all three terms. He warned the Philippians to beware of those who would cause them to take their attention off of Jesus, and focus on works, as the measurement of their relationship with Jesus. Writing to the Corinthians, he put it like this,

2 Corinthians 11:3
“But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.”

When you came to Christ, you began a relationship with Him based upon His infinite love for you. You responded to that love by crying out to Him as Savior and Lord, and you began to follow Him. By reading your Bible, you learned of Him and were blessed by Him. You loved to be around others who loved Him like you did. Worship was amazing, as you expressed, in song, your gratitude and praise. People asked, “What happened to you? Why you were so different? Why you were not doing the things you used to do? Why you seemed so happy, even though circumstances might be quite difficult?” You were in love with Jesus, and enjoying the simplicity of Christ. But then, ever so subtly, you began to be lured away from the joy of salvation and simplicity of following Christ. Your relationship with Him began to be treated like a series of responsibilities; devotions, church attendance, service. Even sharing your faith, began to be treated like duty, rather than an expression of relationship.

If that has happened to you, allow me to use the words of Christ to the church in Ephesus, as a means of encouragement,

Revelation 2:5
“Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works

It is time to go back to those first works; that time when you simply loved Jesus and wanted to please Him. When you read the Bible, not to check off the reading card, but because you wanted to hear Him speak to your heart, and guide your life. When you told others about Jesus, and bragged about how He spoke to you every time you attend church. How He wants to do in others, what He is doing in you.

Be careful not to be drawn away from simply being in love with Jesus, and enjoying the relationship you have because of the Cross.

Pastor Jim


Mr. Fix It

Job 34:16
“If you have understanding, hear this; listen to the sound of my words.”

Elihu was a young man considering the discussion between Job and his three friends. He listened meticulously to the arguments, and seemed to accurately sum up the problem. Job, while not the man his friends were painting him to be, was guilty of charging God with iniquity. Elihu points out, God is not guilty of unrighteousness for the way He treats man. God’s goal is to awaken men to their need of a Savior. If a temporal affliction will awaken us to our eternal needs, God is certainly justified in His actions. Much of what Elihu shares is both Biblical and true, the problem is, it lacks any semblance of compassion.

Ephesians 4:15 “. . .but, speaking the truth in love. . . ”

Colossians 4:6 “Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.”

It is common to be judgmental over another’s failures, then to elevate ourselves above them. When this happens, we tend to lose compassion. This is particularly true when someone struggles with a sin that doesn’t trouble us, or which we have had victory over. Looking down on others causes us to be unsympathetic. The first words a wounded soldier hears should not be an accounting of what he did wrong, but rather, you are there to help him up. Once his wounds are attended to, we can instruct him on the way to avoid getting shot again. Paul gives us direction on how to minister to those who are struggling,

Galatians 6:1 “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.”

Step one: be spiritual. If we are going to offer any aid to others, we must be sure we are abiding in Christ. In Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, the best thing Christian did for his family was to go hard after the Lord.

Step two: we need to recognize the need in others. This requires that we keep our eyes open, come along side the wounded Christian, and help get him back on track.

Step three: we need to be compassionate. Paul uses the word gentle. We need to be gentle with things that are fragile. When Christians have stumbled, they are delicate. It is possible they may return to effectively walking with the Lord. We want to do all we can to help them get up, and keep on going.

Step four: consider yourself. There are some areas of sin to which we are personally prone. We cannot allow ourselves to be drawn down that path. If going after another will put you in a situation which guarantees personal failure, you need to protect yourself. Perhaps a good solution is to follow the pattern of Jesus, who sent His disciples out in pairs. Before going after the fallen, grab a Christian friend, pray, and head out in gentleness.

Pastor Jim


More Or Less 

Job 11:6
“…Know therefore that God exacts from you less than your iniquity deserves.”

Scattered throughout the book of Job are some of the most amazing truths about God and His treatment of man. Here, Zophar reveals something about the way God deals with sin in the life of the believer. We know, because of the great love God has for us, He will chasten us when we misbehave. The chastening is not only punitive, but is designed to bring us out of sin, before it destroys us. We see in the story of the Prodigal, God will allow everything we trust in to fall apart, in order to bring us to our senses, so we might return to Him. That being said, notice what Zophar declares,

“Know therefore that God exacts from you less than your iniquity deserves.”

In His infinite mercy, God does not give us, His children, what we deserve. He holds back His wrath and only gives what will awaken us from our spiritual slumber, and bring us back to Himself. There is however, an inherent danger with mercy. That is, we begin to think His kindness means He approves of our bad behavior. If you are practicing something the Word of God forbids, do not allow yourself to think the patience of God implies His approval of your actions. Remember, His kindness is designed to bring you to repentance. The very fact He does not give what we deserve, is the reason we should let go of sinful behaviors and follow after the Lord.

Pastor Jim


Go Back

Genesis 35:1, 2
“Then God said to Jacob, ‘Arise, go up to Bethel and dwell there; and make an altar there to God, who appeared to you when you fled from the face of Esau your brother.’ And Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, ‘Put away the foreign gods that are among you, purify yourselves, and change your garments.'”

2015/01/img_1346.jpgJacob again hears the voice of God. This time he is being called to return to a place called Bethel, meaning “House of God.” This was the site of Jacob’s first encounter with the Lord. There, he had been the recipient of the great and precious promises that revealed the plans and purposes God had for his life. Decades have since passed, and Jacob has grown from a lonely bachelor, to a large and prosperous family. Jacob returns to the place where he had made a commitment to the Lord.

Jesus gave a similar call to the church when he wrote,

“Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works…” Revelation 2:5

Jacob’s action, in returning to Bethel, serves as a model of returning to the Lord. First, he had to put away the false gods that had crept into his life. Living in a pagan culture, it would be easy to pick up the practices of the people around him. In the same way, we often, unknowingly, develop the practices of the world we live in. Returning to the Lord involves doing inventory, and removing ungodly practices that have become a part of our lives. Jacob had his family bury the false gods under a tree. I suggest a more permanent solution. Don’t leave sin at an arms length, but remove it completely.

Second, after removing the idols, Jacob and his family began the long journey to Bethel. Sons, daughters, wives, children, grandchildren and supplies would make this a slow and difficult trip. In addition, the route they had to take was a dangerous one. There were many reasons not to make the journey to Bethel, but for Jacob, the desire to return to the Lord was greater. Whenever we choose to move forward in the Lord, there is always opposition. We face the difficulty of overcoming our past and our present, as well as the fear that we will not be able to change. It is encouraging that, in Jacob’s case, the Lord stepped in and held back the would-be attackers of their caravan. In the same way, once we begin to pursue the Lord, He will aid us along the way, making our return to Bethel successful.

Third, upon arriving at their destination, Jacob built an altar and poured a drink offering upon it. The drink offering is symbolic of a life poured out to the Lord. Paul used the phrase to describe his commitment to the Lord. Once we determine to go back to the Lord, we must decide to surrender all to Him.

Finally, it was at Bethel that the Lord unveiled his plan for Jacob. After he chose to leave the idols behind, do the work required to return, and pour himself out to the Lord, he received the promises of God. There is no doubt, God has a plan for each of us, but that plan is wrapped up in a life of surrender to Him. Let’s return to Bethel where we can experience the life God intends for each of us.

Pastor Jim