Archive for the ‘Devotional’ Category

Responsibility-ahead-Blog-14

I don’t know about you, but I like to use those digital reminders that are available in online calendars so I don’t forget those critical dates and other important things. So in honor of this new and upcoming year of 2014, this last post of 2013 will fall under the category of “critical” due to its utmost importance for you and I as believers. This is my last friendly reminder to all of us for this year…and it is simply:

All of us who have ever lived or died on this earth…Not one of us will be left out of ultimate accountability with God.

So I will pause for a moment while I let that statement sink in…

The reason we find the accountability idea difficult is that no one wants to think about the future because it makes us uncomfortable…it “cramps our style” in our everyday life.

Being completely transparent, I can identify with the “uncomfortable with accountability” point of view. In fact, I have held that point of view before in my own lifetime.  Because the truth is, when life is going your way…I found little reason to be at church or for that matter, to focus on making the “right” decisions that might make God proud. And why should I?

The answer is simple; Because while the world is going on about its own business, you and I are trying to live out Christianity in the present…and at this very point in history…it is very hard not to get tangled up in ourselves.  Between what you see advertised as “right” and our natural tendency to fall in love with ourselves; Satan slowly and masterfully weaves his work until we have lost our focus…and our anchor. When we shift our gaze from God to man…It is NOT a good ending.

Guys, I am NOT telling you a new story. It is one that has been told many times throughout human history, it’s just a new generation that gets to learn it all over again. So here is the important point I wanted to remind you of today.

AN IRONMANSTRENGTH FRIENDLY REMINDER:

Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Hebrews 4:13

For those of you who are reading this verse for the very first time and are skeptical, look it up…I do not make this stuff up…it’s in the Bible for all of us to read and apply to our lives.

So here is my $1,000,000 question of the day:

When you read this verse, does it have the impact of getting smacked right in your face?

If it does, that is good…because that means the Holy Spirit is within you and telling you that you must change…you have to change…

Guys…I encourage all of you to look away from the mirror and up to Him…

Get focused back on God by getting on your knees and try humility.

God understands everything you are going through and I assure you, He wants you back…but YOU must take the first step towards Him…Prayerfully consider these words today.

They are not my words, but Gods.

Reminder: You, me, all of us, will ultimately be held accountable for everything we do, everything we think, and everything we say in this world…I hope you recognize this is something none of us can afford to ever forget…

 

Until next time guys…

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The-Magic-of-Christmas

This post is probably not going to be what you thought based upon the title but frankly…I think it fits…

Let’s start off with a question…Have you ever been to Disneyland? I’m sure you probably have. In fact I would say that 75% of Americas population has been to one of those parks and there is a reason for that…it is a GREAT place to go. In fact, it is the “happiest place on earth” right? Have you ever seen a television commercial for Disney? In 30-60 seconds, you are taken on a magical journey to a place where happiness abounds and dreams come true. Years ago, I saw my children gaze longingly towards the television for several minutes after one of these commercials ended and I have to say…I don’t blame them! Who wouldn’t want to go to place like that? Just for a little while to be taken away into a different world…filled with characters and music and nothing but fun. A place that can completely overwhelm ones expectations because you have to admit that just looking forward to a Disneyland trip might be the best part of the vacation…unless…

Have you ever been to Disneyland on a busy day?…thousands of people with small children…Long lines, long days, hot weather and rides that are closed. Is this really the happiest place on earth? Please don’t take me wrong…I am not complaining about Disney at all, I am focusing on an ideal that our world puts out there for us to swallow which is this promise of magic or an experience that will somehow take us someplace better that is more fulfilling? They want you to believe there is a place on earth that can actually provide you contentment or happiness…or maybe just temporary happiness? Does anyone really think that is possible?

Then we have Christmas. Christmas for children is truly amazing. Why? Because of their expectations. Expectations are what create the feeling of excitement inside all of them and causes them to look forward to that exciting day of waking up and opening presents. But that is the kid side of things…what about the adult side? Does anyone really feel the way we did when we were children at Christmas time? Probably a big NO right? Why is that? Why can’t we experience the joy we had as kids anymore? For me, over time, I began to believe that somehow if I could just get that one “thing” I wanted…somehow it could make me feel different but as was always the case, it never worked. I was always left with this strange, empty feeling inside…The overall anticipation of Christmas “stuff” was never able to satisfy me inside…deep…at my core…WHY?… Because loving other stuff could not bear the weight of my expectations. My expectations of what this world can provide have always fallen short of my deepest satisfactions. I can assure you, any feeling of elation I may have had at the time was only temporary.

So if the stuff of this world can’t fulfill what we need…the question is, how do we fill that empty void we get at this time of year? Hopefully, my reasons pointed you towards an understanding that neither Disneyland, nor presents under a tree, nor anything else this world can offer can fill your void completely. The void WILL still exist once the “new” wears off…

Did you know you were created in his image and therefore are wired for heavenly things? As you have probably already experienced…you cannot fill that void yourself. No matter how many times you go to Disneyland…you will still feel the same afterwards…temporary satisfaction….For anyone to truly experience the magic and the essence of Christmas, you must accept the greatest gift of all…the gift of Salvation. Christ provides it to all of us who will simply receive it…It is absolutely free but with a condition. Christ requires that you believe in Him…that’s it…Acts 16:31 says:

“…Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved…”

I challenge all of you this Christmas…don’t fall victim to this world’s illusive pursuit of contentment and joy because you WILL NOT find it…no matter where you look…anything you find can, and WILL only be a temporary feeling…I challenge you this year to delight yourself in Christ (Psalms 37:4) and not in a quest to fill your emptiness…we already know how that story ends…

Until next time guys…

From all of us here at @Ironmanstrength

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year…

I am Not a theologian and never will be and for that reason I get frustrated when I don’t know answers to certain questions raised about God. The title of this blog post is, ”Why would a good God send people to hell’? I have heard that question brought up to me many times before and for years it has frustrated me to no end. I mean really? How could God allow that to happen? Good people in hell makes no sense. But then as time has passed, I have begun to understand more about who our God is, which in turn has clarified some answers.

When you ask questions using the word “why” you need to go back to the original source and determine what you don’t understand…How could God allow good people to go to hell? To me, we need to begin with God and who HE is to try to answer this question. There must be reasons why He acts and behaves as He does rather than just what I see here on Earth. What I’ve discovered is there are reasons which cause God to be who He is…I’ve just never investigated them before…

Let’s start with Holy. I never really understood this word but yet when applied to God, our creator, all the reasons are completely clarified. Here is what I mean; God is completely Holy and good and it is His character that decides what is right and wrong. That perfect character He puts forth is what dictates our world and how we are to behave. In other words, that is how inherently we know that killing is bad and helping our neighbor is good. It is in our DNA. Yet why is there so much killing in this world? The answer is simple… Satan is alive and well and he seeks to devour all that he can:

Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8

Satan is working just as hard to distract you as God is trying to get your attention.

Moreover…God is a very Holy being and He is bound by that holiness to react in a certain manner…that means He HATES sin… He hates to see it, smell it or even be around it (read Mark 9:42-47). But yet you and I reek with it? We are born into it and without the saving salvation of Jesus Christ, stink to the outskirts of heaven of it…Have I made my point?

Lets summarize quickly at this point:

1. We learned God is Holy

2. Holy means God must behave according to His perfect character.

3. Holy means God can’t be around sin.

Now, for those of you who did not know, God did solve the problem of sin for us by sending His blameless son Jesus, to take our place as a sacrifice for our sin committed.

So try to understand things this way, because God is holy, He MUST judge everyone according to His perfect character and because He is perfect, His judgements are fair and right.

Lets keep going. As mentioned previously, Jesus came to this earth to solve the sin sacrifice issue but He is also the most loving person who ever lived, but yet it is He who teaches us the most about the reality of hell. Why? because Jesus knows hell is a very real thing and He doesn’t want us to suffer the inevitable consequences of our rebellion against God. What is that rebellion you ask? Rebellion is having sin in your life and NOT doing anything about it…living in sin is rebellion against God…why? Because God is holy…

Are you beginning to see a pattern here?

Heaven and hell are actually defined by a relationship. Heaven is enjoying the amazing gifts of a Father and more importantly, being with Him. Hell is the absence of His blessings; love, communion, presence, beauty etc.

Simply put; Heaven is being with our holy God and Hell is being apart from Him.

Think about that for a moment. The closest thing to Heaven on earth is to have a relationship with Him and to feel the His presence in our lives.

Hell on earth is simply the opposite of everything GOD.

So now that we understand a little more about the God we serve I must make this statement to you and ask this question;

If we truly understood how absolutely holy God is, we shouldn’t be asking the question why would a good God send people to hell…the real question should be…

How can God allow anyone into Heaven?

Bottom line…going to heaven or hell is a choice WE get to make while here upon this earth. God doesn’t send good people to hell…they get to make that decision for themselves…

Until next time guys…

Guys, I have been writing to you on this Iron Man Strength blog now for almost two years and during that time, I have worked to encourage and provide support to you as you walk down the path of being a Dad and a Husband. As we all know, this path is not an easy one but through Gods amazing grace, we all have access to power through Christ Jesus…all you have to do…is believe.

But I have a sense of urgency now that I need to begin to share in this blog that some of you may or may not appreciate but I must press on. This blog will never be political, but only encouragement about our lives and our relationship to our God, but I tell you now that we are living in an extraordinarily turbulent time now in America and there are powers at work that you and I cannot control but through prayerful persistence. We are told in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 to pray without ceasing and my friends, now more than any time in your life, I pray that you heed my words.

We learn back in the Old Testament in the book of Daniel, that there are powers and principalities that are unseen that you and I must consider as Christians. I am not trying to scare you or blow your mind with crazy talk but yet the truth is the truth and I ask you to listen. There is an unseen battle going on right now in America and the unrest and nervousness that you and your neighbors are feeling is because of that battle. It is not just simply we are struggling to make ends meet or the economy is bad, look at what is happening around you…people are reacting by killing one another all over the world. I find myself afraid not for me, but for my children. What does the future hold for them in this world? How will they live and support themselves? You and I…well…we can only pray and pray and pray and while you are praying, please consider this…

In Daniel chapter 10, we learn that Daniel had been fasting and praying for 21 days and had not received any word from the Lord. At the end of that time, we learn from an Angel who came and met with him that during the time he was praying, there was a battle like I am referring to above, going on which prevented Daniel’s answer from getting to him. Only when the Archangel Michael, a really large and powerful stud Angel squashes the Prince of Persia, does the answer reach Daniel.

So what does this story mean to you and me? Believe it or not…Satan was able to hold up that answer to Daniel’s request for 21 days and he can do the very same thing with our prayers. Read 2 Corinthians 2:11 where Paul tells us:

In order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are NOT aware of his schemes.

Guys, he seeks to devour and thwart our efforts when we are seeking a relationship with Christ and if you are an, on-again off-again, inconsistent, I’ll get around to it eventually kind of guy, you may not realize that your prayers maybe held up or slowed before they reach Him. Jesus tells us in His own words in Luke 18:1-8 about persistence in prayer…He says in verse 7, “and will not God bring about justice for His chosen ones, who cry out to Him day and night?

My advice to all of you is very simple…If your relationship with God is good or not so good…I urge you to continuously and persistently seek God each day and pray to Him for both yourself and your family. Gods desire is to have a relationship with you that is eternal but the only way that will happen is through YOUR efforts while here on earth…so right now, while things here are more turbulent that ever before, seek God with all your heart because I assure you…

When you seek Him, He will find you…and that my friend will have very Heavenly implications…

Until next time guys…I leave you with this…

What is this concept of grace anyway? I have heard that word all my life but what does it really mean? Or maybe I should say, what should it mean to me? I can remember saying “grace” before each meal or hearing my mother telling me to be gracious when someone did something nice for me. I always gave, and still do give gratuity when someones service pleases me like a waiter at a restaurant. Credit card companies will extend “grace periods” to their customers and the list goes on. The acclaimed author Philip Yancey calls the word grace, “the last best word”, because he believes that grace is “still one grand theological word that has not been spoiled”…by a society that tends to weaken the meaning of words. I agree with Yancey because when you hear the word “grace” even now, the core of its meaning hasn’t been spoiled or diluted. In other words, the true meaning is still intact. Grace shouts “I know you’re in trouble and I’m going to help you” something this world needs to hear desperately. Yancey goes on to ask the question, “where can the world go to find grace?” and that is the cornerstone of this post because I believe that this starvation for grace exists inside every one of us but yet satisfying that hunger without Christ, is impossible.

Grace is a very simple word and simple in meaning. I looked it up in the dictionary and it said, “unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification”…which means, something God gives to us that is completely undeserved. But you can also experience grace at the hands of a friend or even a stranger simply showing love or acceptance. Have you ever experienced an undeserved gift or maybe accepted by strangers you did not know? Maybe the grace gift that was provided gave you much-needed relief yet was completely unexpected…coming from nowhere….that is grace at the core…

I have been struck by this word grace recently and what it means because of so much ungrace or the opposite of grace that I see around me. As I mentioned before, the world is starving for grace and is there anyone left to provide it? Christ provided the greatest example of grace for all of us but yet at the same time, showing grace does not come naturally. Face it, we tend to be selfish because selfishness is the example we see everyday.

So what are we to do with this information I am sharing with you? How does one go from ungrace to grace? I can tell you from my own personal experience that it starts with forgiveness…something also very difficult. When you can truly forgive a friend or family member that has wronged you in some way, you are extending grace to that person. Obviously, that means some work on your part (and mine) with God because we tend to keep score on wrongs committed against us…If we think we have been wronged, the other person needs to make the first move…right?. WRONG…Grace means you take the first step by forgiving and then where the relationship goes from that point? Grace is acceptance, Grace is, I am there for you no matter what…

Let me put it to you another way. Do you realize that the road to heaven is absolutely…IMPOSSIBLE…without the grace extended to us by Jesus Christ? You, me nor any other famous person ever to live, can get to heaven without it.

One more time…we cannot get to heaven on our own despite what the world says…

God invented salvation and the grace we need to get to heaven so that he could have a relationship with you and me. He wants you to rely on Him…not on you…you need His grace to make it through the day and ultimately, on to heaven itself. But it does start with a daily dose of grace you receive but more importantly…given away to someone else.

Remember the words of Christ in Matthew 6:14:

For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.

Grace freely given and grace freely received…

Where can the world go to find grace?


Look in the mirror because it starts with you and me…

Until next time guys…

The alarm just went off…time to get up…time to start your day…

When we actively seek God FIRST, each day, the Bible tells us in Matthew 6:33 that “all these things will be given to you as well.” What are “these things” Jesus is referring to in this verse? I believe they are the many different “nuggets of knowledge” that God chooses to give us as we move through the journey of life. Another word for these nuggets might be just plain old experience.

To clarify from personal experience, I have learned a better understanding of the humility necessary to seek God. In James 4:10 we are told to “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up”. When we are truly humble before God, we have as I call it, a “condition of the heart” necessary to seek Him. We cannot approach God all puffed up or arrogant. It wont work, I know, I have tried it…Just about the time we think we are so very good, God knocks us down a few notches and reminds us who He is…He will lift us up but that requires true humility, something that we are taught in today’s society really isn’t necessary. Take a look at Proverbs 22:4 where it says “Humility and the fear of the Lord bring wealth and honor and life”…kind of sums things up right?

A consequence of that “condition of the heart” I referred to earlier is recognizing the necessity of fearing God. Not the sheer horror frightening type of fear they show us at a haunted house during Halloween, but rather a glimpse of how incredibly amazing the creator of our universe is…That is the kind of reverent fear God requires of us. We are told in Proverbs 14:27 “The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, turning a man from the snares of death.” This may seem like a contradiction but the fear of God I spoke about earlier is the key to this verse. By keeping our eyes focused on Him…First, we receive a Fountain of Life, which can be interpreted in many positive ways for a Christian man and secondly, the fear of God turns a man away from the snares of death because true Holy Fear…frankly…keeps us from sinning. Take a look at Exodus 20:20 where Moses said to the children of Israel, “Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning”…

Guys, this was not meant to be complex at all, it’s God’s word, simply meant to encourage you by reminding us that God requires humility from us everyday and with humility comes the Fear of God which will keep us from sinning…That, my friends, is your ticket to heaven…