Pennant Races?

How long have you been a Christian?  Has it been just a short while, or many, many years?  From time-to-time I’ll hear young folks comparing the amount of time they’ve been “saved,” almost like it’s a contest or something…  It’s as if they’re saying, “Well, I’ve been saved two years longer than you, so I win the theological pennant!”  The problems with this type of thinking are too numerous to consider in this writing, but I would like you to consider just one question.  What’s more important–to have known the Lord longer, or to know the Lord better?  

“We have much to say about this [Jesus being the “high priest”], but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn.  In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again.  You need milk, not solid food!”  Hebrews 5:11-12  

If you’ve won any of these, what I’ll call “church lobby pennants” and you’re not as far along as you should be in learning to know and love the Lord, then your “pennant” may actually be witnessing against you to the God who saved your soul.  My advice:  Get into the Word today… and pray that God will help you make up for lost time.  You’ve got a mission from God that you’re ill prepared to take on!  There are no “tenured” Christians!

In Christ,

PastorJimKilby @Kilbin8er
[email protected]

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Smooth Sailing?

Think back for a moment.  When was the time you grew the most in your walk with the Lord?  Was it during a time when everything was going just fine, or was it at a tough time in your life?  As for me, it’s always been the tough times.  I once heard a pastor say, “It hurts when God stretches us, but that’s the only way we grow!”  I guess that’s right too.  If I had things MY way, I’d just cruise on day-to-day with things going perfectly.  God thinks otherwise, however!  Just today I was engrossed in my Bible, turning page after page of Scripture that I completely agreed with and that I felt 100% comfortable with in my life.  Just then, a paragraph or two hit me like a brick!  “I don’t do well here,” I thought… and then I thanked God for the slap!  Now that’s something I never thought I’d do!

“In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.  But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.”  2 Timothy 3:12-15

In Christ,

PastorJimKilby @Kilbin8er
[email protected]

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Real Self-Esteem

If I asked you to list all of your good qualities on a piece of paper right now, what would you write?  Think about it for a minute or two–grab a piece of paper and give it a shot!  Now, what would happen if I asked you to write down your short-comings (actual or perceived)?  For as much “talking” as many of us do about our accomplishments, achievements, etc., surprisingly enough, my experience is that the list of short comings most people come up with doubles or triples the list of positive qualities they’ll write down.  Does that mean much of the “talk” about accomplishments is really just a weakly-veiled attempt to gain approval of others?  Is it really low self-esteem or an inferiority complex that drives people to act that way?  Often I think this is the case–myself being my #1 research guinea pig!  If only we could see our potential with the eyes of the Lord… if only we could gaze down from His vantage point and see what He sees in us.  But wait… isn’t His Word chock-full of examples of what He sees in us?  Is there not enough evidence of our self worth in what Jesus did for us on the cross?  Maybe the problem is that we don’t spend enough time reading that Word.. or pondering what He has done.  It’s Satan who wins when he convinces us to walk down ever-tempting roads that eventually leave us doubting ourselves, and especially our worth to God.  Go ahead now… make that list of your good qualities.  Once your finished, thumb your nose at the devil and get busy for the Kingdom!

“But now, this is what the Lords says–he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel:  ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.'”  Isaiah 43:1

In Christ,

PastorJimKilby @Kilbin8er
[email protected]

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Work, Work, Work!

As a minister, I sometimes get so busy working for the Lord, I can forget all about what the Lord would have me doing!  Maybe you, too, can empathize with what I’m saying.  It’s almost as if I’m working and crying out to God, “Hey Buddy, can’t you see how busy I am?  How about some help!”  The problem is a simple one, and one often repeated by well-intentioned saints.  God should be deciding what goes on my agenda, not the other way around.  Sometimes it’s that very work we’re doing for the Lord that Satan uses to blind us to what God is really trying to say to us.  It can do us good to remember that without God, anything we do is worthless!  God doesn’t even need us!  It’s a gift that He even lets us be a part of what He’s doing!

“…all our righteous acts are like filthy rags [exact translation… “menstrual cloths”]; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.”  Isaiah 64:6

Without God, even our best deeds are repugnant to the Lord! 

In Christ,

PastorJimKilby @Kilbin8er
[email protected]

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Holiness

“He could bring about no change of mind, though he sought the blessing with tears.”  Hebrews 12:17b

Humans are an interesting breed indeed.  I was listening to a man talk about God the other day and I honestly was amazed at his stupidity.  He claimed he knew God, but, based on clear Scriptural guidance, he was also planning to go against what God would have him do.  What’s worse, He was angry at God for not treating him better–you know, giving him more “stuff.”  But get this, at the same time he was living like there was no God!  When I asked him why he was knowingly going against his Maker, he basically said “because I want to.  God will forgive me anyway!”  Yep, we are an interesting breed, indeed.  This young man had no idea what God would or would not do–he was just making it up as he went along.  I’m sure God was less than impressed.  Why does God not hear our cries?  Because we have sin in our lives and we don’t care.  Basically, we say we love Him but we don’t!  Have you been wondering why His blessings seem few and far between?

“Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; WITHOUT HOLINESS NO ONE WILL SEE THE LORD.”  Hebrews 12:14 (Emphasis mine) 

In Christ,

PastorJimKilby @Kilbin8er
[email protected]

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Backsliders Beware!

“Yea, Yea, I know all about being a Christian.  I became a Christian years ago, but now I just want to do things my own way for a while.”  

Have you ever heard such words spoken?  Have you ever spoken such words?  There’s a lot of focus these days on remembering that God grants us “grace” and through that free gift, we can be forgiven of all our sins, through the blood of Jesus Christ.  Hey, even I focus much of my writings on just that topic.  I don’t want to water that down, but I do want to cast some light on the opposite side of the coin for a moment.  You see, God is a just God; meaning that He treats those who follow Him justly, as well as those who choose to go their own way.  What we ask for we receive…  If we ask for salvation through His Son, then we are saved.  If we choose to go it on our own, we get that, too.  What we often don’t understand is that we get what we ask for eternally!  Now, let’s muddy the water even more.  What happens when a person says they accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, but then choose at a later time to recant it–going their own way?  The Bible says if we truly accept Jesus Christ as both Savior, and as Lord, then we will automatically receive the Holy Spirit and begin to change from the inside out.  It actually becomes more and more difficult for us to sin as we seek His face.  Our consciences are returned to an earlier state where they “warned” us of our transgressions.  My understanding of what happens to a person who chooses to leave the Christian path and goes something like this:  

1)  They truly meant their prayer of salvation, but are temporarily led astray by the devil.  God will bring enough destruction into their lives to bring them back–all because of His love.  They either return easily, or He keeps turning up the heat until they do.  

2)  Their profession of faith meant nothing; everything that appeared to be a Christian walk was an act.  This being the case, they’re still destined for an eternity in the lake of fire.

“Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you stood your ground in a great contest in the face of suffering.  Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated.  You sympathized with those in prison [for the gospel] and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you know that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions.  So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.  You need to PERSEVERE so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.  For in just a very little while, ‘He who is coming will come and will not delay.  But my righteous one will live by faith.  And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him.’   But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.”  Hebrews 10:32-39

In Christ,

PastorJimKilby @Kilbin8er
[email protected]

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Look At Me!

Any person who truly starts their walk as a Christian has the best intentions to finish strong.  That being the case, why do so many of us wind up crashing on the rocks of life?  Although there are probably a million things that can lead to pride, I believe pride is probably the #1 problem when you boil it all down.  We start out strong, but we forget where our power really comes from.  Before long we’re thinking that it’s US who are in charge of our destinies.  Even the accomplishments the Lord helps us to achieve become stumbling stones for many as they fail to give Him the credit for His work.  A loving God simply will not let one of His Children rest when they’ve gone that far astray.  Trouble will be on the horizon soon!  I believe the answer is never to think too highly of ourselves.  Of course, that can most effectively be done when we look at ourselves in the Light of Christ.  Let’s face it, even the best of us looks terrible when matched against perfection.  

“You may say to yourself, ‘My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.’  but remember the Lord your god, for it is he who give you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your forefathers, as it is today.”  Deuteronomy 8:17-18 

In Christ,

PastorJimKilby @Kilbin8er
[email protected]

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All Dressed Up!

“All dressed up and no where to go!”  

 I’ve heard that saying a few hundred times, and I’m not even sure what it means.  As I was reading through the Scriptures today it crossed my mind when I read Jesus’ words to the religious aristocracy of His day.  He was quite concerned about their “robes” and “royalty” approach to their duties.  Sure, they looked good and everyone thought they were religious… still, Jesus had some stern words to say about the condition of their hearts:

“In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.”  Jesus of Nazareth (Matthew 23:28)

It reminded me that we continue to look at the outside of people, how they look, how they dress, etc., and many of us even strive to look like “church-goers.”  While I don’t think there’s anything wrong with dressing respectfully for a church service, I also know that Jesus is much more concerned with the heart than He is with the clothes.  How’s your heart looking these days anyway?  All the dressing, combing and primping in the world isn’t going to hide your heart from the Lord.  Oh… and where is it that the religious folks were “dressed up” for and weren’t going?  Heaven!

“You snakes!  You brood of vipers!  How will you escape being condemned to hell?”  Jesus of Nazareth (Matthew 23:33)

In Christ,

PastorJimKilby @Kilbin8er
[email protected]

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“I Swear It!”

When I hear someone “swear” something is true, I wonder if I’m the only one who begins to wonder if it REALLY IS TRUE!  For some people, it’s almost as if swearing to something becomes necessary because people inherently don’t believe them.  In Jesus day, people had the same human nature as we still have today, and they made a habit of swearing to bigger and better things to make their oath seem stronger.  Jesus wasn’t impressed and He said as much when he exhorted them (and us) not to swear to anything (a mandatory courtroom appearance might be a necessary exception) but to simply let our character speak for itself.  It goes without saying if your character doesn’t speak to the truthfulness of what you say, then you’ve got a larger problem indeed.

“Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to the Lord.’  But I tell you, Do not swear at all:  either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; or by earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King.  And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black.  simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.”  Jesus of Nazareth (Matthew 5:33-37

In Christ,

PastorJimKilby @Kilbin8er
[email protected]

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Personification!

When describing abstract ideas, qualities, etc., it’s often easiest to give them meaning through “personification.”  Basically, you impose their qualities on a person.  For example, if you were trying to describe “evil,” you might use the “person” of Hitler to present them.  Throughout the Old Testament, we see God describing His character and his qualities for man.  His plan from the beginning was to not only describe them, but to have them “personified” in the form of a man–His Son, Jesus, the Christ.  In the ultimate personification of God’s love, He then allowed us to crucify the very One who came to save us.  Today, for those who are willing to lose everything, God will actually begin to personify Himself in them through His Holy Spirit.  It’s through that personification of love that you and I are called to forget ourselves and serve others as we could only dream of being served.

“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”  John 1:14

In Christ,

PastorJimKilby @Kilbin8er
[email protected]

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