“Fish’n with Live Bait”

I love to fish. Put me on a lake with a line & hook and I’m good to go for hours. The thrill of catching a “big one” keeps me on alert even when the fish aren’t biting. I like fishing with minnow’s best, but crickets or worms will work too. Live bait is my preference over any artificial lure. The fish seem to respond more aggressively to something alive rather than to lifeless artificial bait. Sure the artificial bait has tricked many fish to bite, but nothing seems to entice the fish to hold on, more than live bait.

As a Christian, I’ve been called to be a fisher of men. Lately I’ve witnessed some very disturbing trends within the pond in which I’ve been called to fish. It seems the American church of today prefers to fish with artificial bait, rather than the live bait that God has provided in His Son Jesus. We dress up our facilities with fancy rock walls and waterfalls in an effort to get the fish to bite. We make our pond so warm and inviting, appearing to be, just the right spot to feast. We lure them in with artificial bait that has no spiritual value, yet proves to have a super sharp treble hook. The shininess of the lure traps them and deceives them into believing its real. Just as a fish that has been caught by artificial bait, so is a person that has been lured into a church by flashy impressive worldly things. Few are able to free themselves from the snare of sharpness, and the majority are captured and feasted upon.

Artificial bait is designed to trick and deceive while “looking” and “feeling” like the real thing. Once the bait is taken the fish are hooked. Snared by deception they fight with all their might to be released, but few are successful. On the other hand, live bait is the real thing. When it catches it satisfies and nourishes. It fills and strengthens. It sustains and comforts. The Word of God is the bait that fishers of men use. But what about the hook in live bait you say? The hook of truth delivers and rescues and is none other than Christ Himself. The Word of God is bait that is alive and will nourish, and never deceive. The artificial bait of flashy impressive worldly things will only lead to more hurt and discouragement, but the live bait of truth will set free, deliver, and change a fish into a fisher of men forever! For goodness sakes if you’re going to fish for men, use live bait!

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“The Value of Integrity”

Does the quality of work you produce depend on the amount of money you earn? Or does the quality of work you produce reveal the level of integrity you have?

I remember my first job; I was only fourteen years old when I was offered a position as dishwasher at a local hometown pizza parlor called Smak-itz Pizza in Villa Rica Georgia. I was determined to be the best dishwasher my boss had ever seen, and I was successful too. Little did I know how that determination and commitment would begin developing my character at such a young age. I was quickly promoted to “pizza chef” within three or four weeks. I worked hard; I twirled pizza dough in the air like nobody’s business. I operated a broom, a mop, and a 500 degree oven all at the same time! Looking back I worked with all my might as if I was working for the approval of a much higher power.

But did the quality of the work I produced come out of an obligation for what I was being paid, or did it come from a much deeper source within me? Truthfully, if my job performance had been reflective of the salary I was receiving I would have never been promoted. After working two weeks I finally received my first pay check, after Uncle Sam stole his portion, I ended up with somewhere around $60. But I was not discouraged, in fact I was thrilled! I remember spending almost all of my first paycheck on a single clothing purchase from a store named Belk. I know, I know, not exactly exciting, but it felt good none the less. It felt good to earn for myself money to buy the things I wanted.

Much has changed since those early days of employment, but one thing has always remained, and I pray it always does. I have never worked, or produced, according to what I was being paid. I’ve always strived to do my very best, and work my hardest no matter how much money I was earning. To me the work I perform is more important than the money I earn. Not only is my blood, sweat, and tears in the labor I produce, but my name is on all that I do. I know I’m not perfect, but I do strive to work diligently to win the approval of that much higher power I have now come to know personally. I thank Him for instilling in me the desire to work, and the integrity to do it with all my might.

Larger salaries seldom produce a better workforce, and more money doesn’t necessarily mean better results. If you have not been working with all your might give yourself a raise in integrity and begin working as if you are doing what you do for the Lord. Not only will you notice the difference, but so will those around you!

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Satan says, “I Will”

Warning! Satan has a scheme to distort God’s word and deceive you.

The purpose and intention of this article is to warn you and inform you of the battle plan Satan has in place. We must stop taking truth for granted and start seeking His word daily to discover real truth that is beyond the world’s ability to comprehend. When we stand before Him we will be without excuse. May the God of peace guide you into real truth, in Christ name, amen. 

Satan says “I will” 

13 “But you said in your heart, I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, and I will sit on the mount of assembly in the recesses of the north.
14 ‘I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’
(Isaiah 14: 13-14 NASB)

        Satan has always had a desire to be like God. It was this desire that caused him to fall from heaven in the first place. His goal has always been, overthrow God’s authority and rule in His kingdom. In order to achieve this ambition, Satan must first destroy knowledge of the true God and exalt himself before men. His plan of attack to accomplish this task is to distort the truth of God’s Word and cause people to serve him while believing they serve God. The success of Satan’s plan depends upon people continuing to be lazy in studying the scriptures. It’s a brilliant plan of attack to be honest. He keeps us so busy and concerned with earthly matters; most of us will never take the time to seek God in His word. We trust what the preacher says and count it as truth, never searching the scriptures to verify or confirm it for ourselves.

        Satan has infiltrated our country, our government, our churches, our schools, and every other place where we might learn about God’s truth. He has replaced real truth with his own twisted doctrine of lies. Over time people, who have little or no true knowledge of God’s word, have accepted and promoted these twisted theologies. Naturally, such people keep others from learning the truth by being so compelling with what they proclaim to be the truth. They make a great effort to assure people of their doctrine; all the while they are preventing people from becoming true followers of Christ. Many people are serving Satan in doing this, and don’t even know it.

        A true follower of Christ is submissive, and obedient, to His teachings and commands even when they go against what feels right. Most modern Christians are submissive to Christ only when it’s convenient and beneficial for them. Obedience is an attribute of the wedding vow that has been omitted by the modern day bride of Christ. This type of conduct is not the image of a true Christian at all, it’s merely the fruit produced from a true counterfeit.

        Satan has once again deceived and caused many to embrace a false understanding of truth using a cleverly disguised counterfeit. By mixing just a bit of falsehood with mostly truth Satan has turned our focus away from trusting God’s word, and has deceived us into believing his lies. Our neglect in studying the scriptures has made it easy for Satan to turn us away from God and toward him without us ever even realizing it. This method of attack has been like a cancer that spreads throughout the entire population without mercy or regard. The deterioration of our values and moral standards as a nation is evidence his plan is working.

        The greatest infiltration of Satan and the place where we would least expect to find deceit is in our Churches. Not all of them, but many have allowed Satan to do his work through their teachings. There are many doctrines taught in churches today that the bible clearly reveals as false, if only we would take the time to search the scriptures for this truth to be revealed.

        What makes this battle really difficult to fight, is the fact that most people read and interpret the bible based on what they already have their mind made up to believe. It’s very difficult to hear the Word of God speak when you are dictating what it means before the Holy Spirit has an opportunity to be manifested. When false doctrine is embedded in a person from a young age or for long periods of time, it becomes harder and harder to bring them to a clear understanding. One of the hardest things a person could possibly face is coming to the understanding that what they’ve been taught all of their life, and believed, turns out to be nothing more than a distorted version of what the bible really says. When mom and dad, and grandma and grandpa are involved it’s even more difficult. I can’t count the number of people I’ve talked to in the church that have their faith based on what grandpa said, rather than what God’s word says. Don’t get me wrong, I love grandmas and grandpas and I’m thankful for the dedication and faithfulness of all the saints of old. But if grandpa is a true follower of Christ he will be the first to tell you, he will pass away, but God’s word will never pass away.

        In most churches I’ve visited and the majority of sermons I’ve listened to online, seldom is there any mention of personal responsibility or of the cost associated with accepting Christ. Preachers of today are more politically correct than the most liberal politicians in Washington. The gospel message of repentance has been replaced by the sermon of acceptance. The proclamations coming from behind the pulpits today sound more like a salesman explaining the features and benefits of his product, rather than a message of holy conviction that leads a person to repentance and ultimately to Christ. We have our sales pitch down to a tee and we scratch the customers itch in just the right spot.

        The disciples were not tortured, beaten, stoned and burned alive for preaching a message of acceptance. They were not martyred for being politically correct and more concerned about feelings than souls. Their vision was not focused on the offering plate and there is no mention in the new testament of any mega-church buildings the disciples constructed or funded. They were violently murdered for preaching a gospel message of repentance to a rebellious and stiff-necked people just like us. They proclaimed the message of the gospel in the streets, at the market place, in the court yards and in the house of God as well. Wherever they were, the gospel was being proclaimed. Their message didn’t change based on who was in attendance or how much money they had or needed. God was their provision and they depended and trusted Him completely. I dare to say if we began preaching the gospel like the disciples did we would indeed be imprisoned and murdered just the same.

        The United States of America has produced a whole generation of people that believe they have a right to all things. Hard work and dedication are virtues that most young people know nothing of. This generation demands their rights with arrogance and boldness. Camping out in city parks to protest the profits earned by people who work 12 to 14 hours a day has become the ambition of this generation. They want the government to take from the wealthy that work and give to the lazy that refuse to. The church is no exception. We have produced a generation with this same mentality spiritually. People enter into the house of God and disrespect it more than they would a cheap motel room. The fear of God has been cast so far from the depths of our heart, that we desecrate His temple openly and unashamedly. God is demanded to bless and provide for a people that pick and choose what they will or will not do because they have a right to His blessings. His word has been reduced to nothing more than suggestions rather than commands and requirements. America has lost its godly vision and her people are perishing right before her eyes.

        The only hope we have as a country, a nation, a people, or a church is repentance. We must not continue to go barreling down this road of self destruction we are on. Today is the day of salvation and we must recognize the signs of the times Jesus warned us of. The pains of conviction and repentance are not even comparable to the consequences of rejection and rebellion. The truth demands action. Either you will choose to embrace it and submit to it, or you will choose to reject it and cast it aside. Whatever your choice you must choose this day whom you will serve. Will it be God and His purpose, or will it be Satan and his scheme? Only you can decide, and only you can act. Don’t delay.

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“Rock Walls & Waterfalls”

There can be no salvation without repentance. Repentance is not manifested without conviction. Conviction is not discovered in the comforts and confines of a warm, inviting, comfortable place. Yet, this seems to be the trend in American churches today. We have decorated our facilities with rock walls and waterfalls in an effort to draw people to our churches. We spend millions (in the name of the Lord) making our churches warm and inviting. Coffee shops and book stores are in the atrium for our convenience and comfort (of course, all the proceeds go to fund ministry). Thousands flock to our assemblies with tired arms and sore muscles. Not from worshipping the Lord but from patting ourselves on the back for the awesome facility we have built for the “community”. When did the vision of the church go astray? How did this become our vision of hope? Where did we gain, or attain this wisdom by which we build?

In earlier years in America saw dust covered dirt floors and open aired pavilions were the places God performed some of His finest work. People came to church with their eyes focused on Jesus and a heart filled with a desire to worship. Whether or not the church had heat, air conditioning or even indoor plumbing was of no matter, or value. The purpose of church was worship, not power and prestige in the community. Souls were saved and lives were transformed by the pure power of a holy God. But somehow the evidence of these things were forgotten and forsaken. We argue and complain about God being taken out of government schools and court houses, yet He was evicted, by us, from His own house first! No longer is the powerful presence and manifestation of His Spirit enough to satisfy our lust. We must build multi-million dollar facilities to draw the crowd, because God’s power no longer impresses them. I say, God is the one not impressed.

The facts stated above cannot be denied or refuted. For history tells the story of years past and the evidence of today is on practically every corner. As I write this I’m deeply moved with compassion toward God and desire to worship Him for who He is. I wish I knew of a place I could gather with other believers and worship. Worship God for who He is without hearing about the pancake breakfast needed to raise money for what God has not provided. I wish I knew of a place where I could publicly worship God with other believers, where He was still welcome, and still the main focus. I long to worship God with other believers in a place where what His word says matters more than what the board of directors say. In America we need revival. Yet, even the word revival is considered old fashion and outdated. Even in the midst of our rebellion the gospel message of repentance still proves to be what we all really need. Today, I urge you to find a place where conviction can be manifested, repentance can be sought, and forgiveness can be obtained. Today, I urge you to worship God for who He is, rather than what He has given and what you can get.

 

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“Do You Remember?”

It’s the tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks of 9/11/2001. My heart goes out to all of those that lost loved ones, family members, and friends on that day. Surely this is a difficult day of remembrance for them. I believe many were catapulted to hero status that day for obvious reasons. From the heroic people on each flight, to the police and firemen that lost their lives trying to save others, a great deal of gratitude and respect is commanded for the lives that were taken that day. But will we allow their lives to be taken in vain?

I hear people say things like “we will never forget” or “that day will forever be remembered”, but why do we remember it? What is it about that day that causes us to refuse to forget? We boast that we will never forget but I think in many ways we already have. I remember the days following the attacks how people, as a nation, were praying and seeking God like never before. I remember churches being packed on Sunday mornings after the attacks. I remember hearing people make vows to God, and each other, to live a better life. I remember people claiming that this day changed their life forever and they’d never be the same. But what happened to that desire to change? When our fears subsided did we run back to the safety of our own abilities? Did we forget the God we cried out to for help in our time of great desperation? It seems so.

I urge you today to remember 9/11/2001 and each life that was taken on that dreadful day. But more than anything else I plead with you to not let the lives that were taken on 9/11/2001 be in vain. Remember the vows that you made to God and others and pay them, less a worse calamity come upon us. If we forget the vows we made to God and others during that time of great despair how can we truly claim to remember?

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