Fanning the Flames of Passion for God

The previous article in this series on Neglecting our Mission Field talked about how we are ignoring our mission field and focusing on entertaining ourselves and living a life of comfort due to the fact that we do not have an understanding of how much God loves us and we do not love Him as we should in return.

Colored campfire
Colored campfire (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We have another problem as humans.  We are like camp fires.  If a camp fire is left alone it will eventually burn itself out to where it is nothing but smoldering ashes.  We need constant attention and constant fuel to keep the fire strong.

This is why reading the Bible on a daily basis is crucial to our walk.  As well as praying, going to church to fellowship with other Christians, listening to sermons, and even reading articles that encourage us online.

I have fallen into this cycle many, many times with God, as well as with my wife.  I notice there are times when I just feel so much love for my wife that I want to do absolutely anything for her. I want to please her and make her happy, and I want to give her everything she deserves.  Then there are other times where I start to focus on myself more.

I have found that it is really difficult to focus on yourself and on anybody else at the same time. When I am focused on what I want I start to put my own desires over those of my wife’s.  It is not that I am mean or abusive to her or anything like that, I just don’t treat her with the love and attention she deserves.  I forget to go open the door for her or I get frustrated when asked to do something that gets in the way of what I want to do.  The more selfish I get during that time the less I focus on her, or on God.

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.  For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. – Galatians 5:16-17

Then I just have to stop and think, to remind myself how much she loves me.  To remind myself about the commitment that I made to her, that when I married her I made her holy to me and set her apart from anybody else, including myself! She is the one that I will adore and give all of myself to.  I need to find those things that fan the flames of passion and love for my wife or for God, and commit to do them.

And it is the same way for a Christian’s relationship with Christ.  We sin and stumble so we do not always have a perfect relationship with Him despite the fact that He is perfect to us.  But then we remember how much He loves us and that we committed to make Him holy and set apart in our lives, to make Him our Lord and master.  And it is that love that drives us to not care about ourselves, to not care about our wants but to follow and worship Jesus and to love what He loves, which includes His mission.

When we have that love, we can’t help but love others more than ourselves.

When we realize that love, we can’t help but want to give away our stuff to help others and to spend our money helping others rather than spending it on ourselves.

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil. – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-22

But how do we fan the flames of our relationship with God?  The absolute biggest way is to spend time with Him.  Read the Bible, pray, focus your thoughts and attention on Him.

Want a crazy thought to show us how much Jesus loves us?  Ask yourself this, how much does God love Jesus?  Do you think it is a lot?  A whole lot?

Of course it is a lot!  But then Jesus says

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you – John 15:9

That is crazy! Jesus, the one who is perfect and Holy and who knows me and every wicked, sinful, evil thing I ever did or ever will do, He  loves you as much as God loves Him?

Do you believe that?

If you do, that is awesome.

If you don’t, if you are like me and struggle with believing the fact that God loves you completely and fully this very moment, then do not fear.  Pray that the Holy Spirit will show you this love that “surpasses all knowledge” (Ephesians 3:19).

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen – Ephesians 3:20-21

Removing Distractions does not make more time for God

Last week I took up a challenge to go 40 days without TV or xbox in order to remove distractions from my life and to draw closer to God.

I am currently on day 5 and I have already learned something.

Getting rid of a distraction does not mean you have more time for God. Removing a distraction from your life is like removing a cup of water from a bucket. As soon as you remove that water, more water floods the space you just freed up and in a split second you cannot even tell you removed any water in the first placce.

Removing a distraction from your life just gives you more time for other distractions. Sure I spent more time this week playing with my son Malikai, relaxing with some music with Danae, and reading a lot of books, getting the house ready for company, which we can all agree are much better than watching tv. But my main purpose of doing this challenge was to draw closer to God.

Your flesh, and Satan, have a lot of proven ways to keep you distracted from God. If you want to take a challenge to go without something in order to spend more time with God, you must not only remove the distraction, but commit yourself to actually spending more time with God.

There is a war going on, your flesh wants to keep you focused on the flesh and the things of the world, and Satan wants to keep you focused on anything but God and the Bible. Declaring to fight by removing something from your life isn’t as easy as you may think.

It takes some dedication and discipline to spend that extra time with God above and beyond what you already spend every day. So if you want to take on this challenge, go into it prepared with a battle plan.

I saw a Facebook status…

The other day I saw a Facebook status…

When you carry the Bible, Satan gets a headache. When you open it, he collapses. When he sees you reading it, he faints. When he sees you living it, he flees. And just when you’re about to re-post this, he’ll try to discourage you. I JUST DEFEATED HIM! Copy and re-post if you can. Any takers?

While it seems cute, and all good, it caught my attention.  This, to me, is a prime example of American Christianity.  While it is cutesy, it is NOT Biblical.  One thing American Christianity embraces is cuteness, while it ignores the Word.  We are in a war, and we need to know the truth.  The truth is, Satan uses the Bible against us, he even used it against Jesus:

Matthew 4 “5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple 6 and said to him, If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, He will command his angels concerning you, and On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.” -ESV

This verse shows us not only can Satan use the Bible against us, but that he knows it.  When you sit there, with your Bible open and reading, most likely he is trying everything he can to ever so slighty twist the scripture into something that will benefit him.  Be AWARE! Satan is not just trying to get you to sin, or get people to do bad things, he is trying to destroy the church, without even knowing he is.

Some lines from a song that are interesting (Destroy the Runner – I, Lucifer):

…I’ll preach what I practice,
and I will practice on you…

…I speak of angels,
but host demons instead…

…I will sell them the scriptures,
and I will pocket your fame…

…I am feasting on bread and your wine.

We need to be in the Spirit always to know when something is from God or from Satan.

I encourage you not to just take the word of others on spiritual matters, but to back EVERYTHING up with scripture.  Do not be like so many who are complacent in their lives, who prefer to enjoy the “cuteness” and ignorance American Christianity.  The Word gives us the truth, and everything we post about our beliefs from Facebook statuses to blogs, should be fully founded in the Word.  The Word is not a joke, and needs to be taken very seriously!  THIS IS A WAR!

Living a Lukewarm Life

Every other Monday we have an online Bible study in Ventrillo with a Christian World of Warcraft guild called Carriers of the Cross.  This week we studied about the dangers of living a lukewarm life.  God does not want us to be lukewarm Christians, He wants all or nothing.

Lots of ways to get involved

ETM has been a great hit so far, thanks to you, our readers. But some of you are not satisfied with just being a reader, you want to do more. For that reason I wanted to take a few minutes to explain some of the ways that you could get plugged into ETM, as well as some of the changes we have made recently.

New Look

As you have probably noticed the website and forums have had a complete makeover. We feel that these changes make the website easier to navigate and read and improves the overall experience of our users. We have future plans to make navigation even easier for mobile users. You can expect those changes to roll out sometime over the next month.

Podcast

ETM now has a podcast! We find great sermons all over the web and we podcast the best of the best.  The sermons include great teachers such as Francis Chan and Leonard Ravenhill, as well as other great speakers. We hope that these sermons help encourage you in your faith to become a closer disciple of Christ and encourage you to live like Jesus lived. The podcast has a different feed URL than the normal blog, meaning if you subscribe to our RSS feed or get the articles delivered via email then you will need to subscribe to this separately or else you will miss them. Most audio programs can handle podcast subscriptions easily, such as Windows Media Player or iTunes.  All of the information you need, as well as a list of podcast speakers, is available on our podcast page.

Business Cards

The primary means of advertising that we use at ETM is word of mouth. One of the best ways to do that in-person is with business cards. ETM is currently in the process of finalizing a design for business cards. Once I have them ordered I will sell them in packs of 25 or 50 to anybody who wants some. (The price will be at cost, we are not going to make a profit from this.)

Share our Articles

If one of our articles speaks to you please consider leaving a comment to tell us how it spoke to you and share the article with your friends. There are several buttons on the bottom of each article to allow you to share in any way you like to. Email, Facebook, Twitter, and Stumble Upon, as well as other services, are all one click away from you sharing the article with your friends. As I mentioned earlier, our best form of advertising is word of mouth, and that is easily accomplished by each of you who clicks a share link under the article. We do greatly appreciate it.

Online Bible Study

Every other Monday we have an online Bible Study with members of Carriers of the Cross, our sister ministry which is a Christian World of Warcraft guild. You are welcome to join us, just visit our Bible Study page to find all of the information you need to connect.  We also add most of these studies to the ETM Podcast mentioned above.

Online Prayer Meeting

Prayer is to a ministry as water is to life. We recognize that without prayer all we are doing here is waisting our time doing the work of man with man’s power. Our goal in this ministry is to be servants of God. This is His ministry, not our own. It only makes since then that we seek the Lord’s will in everything we do. The ETM staff has a semi-monthly prayer meeting, which we have opened up to anybody who would like to join us. All of the information needed can be found on the Prayer Meeting page.

Once again we thank you for taking the time to read our weekly articles and we pray that God has used them to bless your spiritual walk in some way.  Please continue reading and consider getting involved in one of the ways mentioned above or remember us in prayer each week.

Jon

YouVersion.com…a great website for Bible stuff!

For the longest time I used biblegateway.com for my computer Bible stuff. But I hated how much it was lacking, and it’s horrid interface. Recently I have discovered youversion.com. It is one of the best Bible “stuff” doing thingy websites that I have seen…why? Let us take a look!

The first thing I noticed was the rather simple and straight forward interface. You simply type in the verse you need, and there it is! Not only that, but on the right there is a built in audio player for listening to the chapter you are on.

Anyways, time to stop boring you and get on the features, and what makes this such a nice site.

First off, you can make an account, which saves all your settings, bookmarks, notes, and a whole lot of other useful things, such as setting up your own Bible reading plan. There is also a built in social networking thingy, but I have not and am not going to look into that, so you are on your own on that one.

Lets look at some of the “My” features (the stuff worth mentioning anyways).

Bookmarks: This one is kinda self explanatory, it let’s you set a bookmark at a certain place, you can have as many as you want, across multiple translations.

Notes (my favorite feature): The ability to write a note about a certain verse(s) or chapter(s). This is very useful when trying to remember something you read, or something you want to share with someone (if you choose not to use the sharing options).

Reading Plans: This lets you set a reading plan. They have many reading plans with options for customization and support to help you stay on track.

youversion.com also gives you the ability to share a verse or verses via Facebook, Twitter, Email, or just grab a direct “short” link.

Their features are also available mobile via iPad, iPhone, iPod, Blackberry, Android, and webOS.

Well, that is all I am covering on the site. They offer a lot more than I mentioned here, but hopefully I got you interested enough to check out this awesome website for your Bible stuff.

The Humanity of Christ

It is well known that Jesus came in the form of man, and He experienced life on earth, going through all of the problems we go through, all of the hurt we go through, and experienced pain, suffering, and loss just like the rest of us.  We all know this, but in the back of our minds is a thought that since Jesus is God made flesh, He really did not, or could not have gone through as much pain and suffering as we go through.

Great Loss

When thinking of how Jesus went through loss of personal relationships, two people come to mind.  First is Joseph, his father.  We do not know for sure what happened to Joseph, but we do know that Joseph was there when Jesus was twelve in the temple (Luke 2:28), then we never see him again in scripture. When Jesus was dying on the cross he tells John to take care of his mom, something Jesus would not have to do if his father was still alive (John 19:26-27).  This also shows that Jesus cared about his mom, he wanted her to be well taken care of, something any of us would want.

Another powerful passage in the Bible is when Jesus’ close friend, Lazarus, died.  Jesus got word that Lazarus was not feeling well and then after he died Jesus made his way to visit.  Seeing the women weeping over Lazarus and then seeing the grave himself was too much for Jesus, and “Jesus wept” (John 11:35).  This simple verse showing that Jesus had compassion, felt pain, even though he knew Lazarus would not be dead for much longer, it was still painful to him.

Isaiah 53:3 He was despised and rejected by mankind,
a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.

Great Suffering

I think it is downright impossible for us to understand the sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross.  All to often I hear others, or even think in the back of my own mind, that what Jesus went through was bad but at least he knew the end result so it was not that bad.  How wrong can we get? Not only did Jesus get tortured and executed, but his status with God was, for the first time in all existance, severed from the Father (Mark 15:34).  Can you imagine what this would have been like? Do you think Jesus was anxious at all, or wished that he could avoid what was ahead?

Jesus did not want to go through with what was ahead and prayed for God to remove this trial from his only begotten son (John 22:42).  Jesus, “being in agony, prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” (John 22:44)

Yes, Jesus was human, he had compassion, felt the pain of loss felt great anxiety. Jesus went through the pain that we went through, even more so.

So why did He do it?  Jesus prayed “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me: nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” (John 22:42).  Do you not think that the loving father would take such trials from His only begotten son? But he did not, why?  Because it was the only way.

Isaiah 53:4-5 Surely He has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten by God, and afflicted.
But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.

“He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever.” (Hebrews 10:12)  Jesus died, do you really understand that? Jesus, our creator, was beaten, tortured, betrayed, and executed for you!

Acts 3:19
Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord,

2 Corinthians 7:10
Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.

John Piper, in Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ writes

Therefore, this man of indestructible joy was “a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3). “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me” (Matthew 26:38). This “great high priest” is not unable to sympathize with us in our weakness, becasue he was tested in every way as a man like us (Hebrews 4:14-15). He wept with those who wept (John 11:35) and rejoiced with those who rejoiced (Luke 10:27, 21). He was hungry (Matthew 4:2), he was weary (John 4:6), he was forsaken (Matthew 26:56), betrayed (Matthew 26:45), whipped (Matthew 27:26), mocked (Matthew 27:31), and crucified (Matthew 27:35).

Jesus can and did relate to us, he felt pain suffering and loss.  Why did he go through all of this pain and suffering?  Because only through Jesus can we be reconciled with God.  Jesus went through all of that, only for you, what do you do for him?

Happy New Year, 2011 is here!

Welcome to 2011! As the calendar turns to another year it gives many a feeling of being able to start over, a fresh chance to change what we have failed to change in the past year.   We at Eternal Truth Ministry are taking advantage of this chance to start on a fresh page.  ETM is officially being brought online, although this time with a different purpose.

In the past we have mostly been about a community, with forums and chat rooms being the primary focus of our ministry.  Today we are going to start on a new focus, writing articles that share the uncompromised word of God.  We are not going to get rid of the community aspect of the ministry, just chaning our primary focus.

Time is short.  There is not much time left for the world and the Christian church, God’s primary and only tool to reach the world is asleep.   We see a deep need in the church to wake up and get to the job Jesus set us to do, and we are commited to doing everything we can do to fulfill that purpose. 

We invite you to join us as we start this wild roller coaster ride, dedicating ourselves to denying ourselves fully and serving God.

How can you get involved?

Join the email list

The quickest way to keep up with the articles we write at ETM is to join our mailling list.  (It is safe, we promise not to sell your information or send you spam.)  Every article we write will be emailed to you, about 2 or 3 emails a week. To join all you have to do is enter your email address in the subscription box at the top right of our home page.

Follow us on Twitter

Are you a member of Twitter? Follow @EternalTruthMin on twitter to receive notifications of each article published, and new topics on the forum.  We also tweet a random article from the past every few days.

Join the prayer team

The easiest and absolute best way to get involved is to join our prayer team. The prayer team is dedicated to pray for ETM every day, since without the Lord leading us we would not be doing anything except by the power of man, which is useless.  The prayer team also prays for prayer requests that people send in. 

To join the prayer team all you have to do is Follow the directions on the prayer team page. Instructions on sending a message to the prayer team will be added to that page soon.

Join the forum

The ETM forum community has always been a great way to have Christian fellowship online.  Feel free to join our forum community and get involved in the conversations we have there.

Join our Facebook group

ETM has a Facebook group where we share prayer requests and share words of encouragement to the members of the group.

Have a happy New Year!

As you ring in the new year, take tonight to dedicate your life to Jesus, shed off all forms of sin and selfishness, and focus on God.  Make it a commitment to read the Bible every day and to spend time in prayer. If you can take a couple of hours to watch a football game, or play video games, can’t you take the time to spend with your savior?!?

Living in an HD world….

Everywhere I turn in the stores today I see “HD TV” and “HD DVD” and everything else that can be considered “High Definition.”

I confess, I want an HD LCD TV, XBOX 360, and Blu-Ray DVD Player. When I think of how I can’t afford them I get upset, even mad sometimes, because I can’t have the cool toys that I want to have.

Tonight I was reminded of how selfish I am. How blessed I have been by God in so many ways and I get upset because I don’t have the latest technology? Where has this world gotten to? Where have I gotten to?

I may only have a 19 inch CRT TV, but how many people in this world, even in this nation, wish they could have that much? Not to mention the iMac and Macbook Pro that my wife and I have. It is sad that I look in my pantry of food, or in the refrigerator and see all the food and think “Man, there is nothing to eat” so I go order a pizza! How many people don’t have the wonderful blessing of pizza? That may sound like a joke, but I’m serious. So many people have little to no food. So many have to live off of rice, and I have all this food and decide I don’t want anything that I have so I order something else.

Then think about Bibles… I have in my home about 5 or 6 Bibles. Different versions, differnt sizes, and most of them go unread. The others are not read nearly enough. Then I remember that in China, where Bibles are illegal people risk their life to get Bibles and deliver them to others.

I’m not saying we need to go get rid of all of our stuff, but it makes us think when we are desiring more and more stuff and get upset or bummed that we don’t have the latest and greatest.

As the Christmas season comes, take some time to reflect on what it really means. Find things that you are thankful for and praise God for the blessings that we have. Greatest of all, thank God that we have been forgiven freely of all of our sin. Every time you sin and start to feel bad for it, Jesus already payed the price. So repent and go joyfully to the arms of your Heavenly Father who accepts us as we are!

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