About J.D. Clemente

I am an aspiring writer and blogger hoping to make a positive difference in people's lives through writing. Some of what I write may be controversial. However, it is simply to open the pours of the mind and stimulate ideas you may have never considered. My goal is to discuss and lead people to the Savior who died and rose for them. You may also contact me at jdcblogger@gmail.com

From Thanks to Amen


The other day, my wife shared with me a very interesting story.  My wife had a friend and her son over.  At some point during their time, my youngest son sits on the stairs and says, “Pray”.  He folds his hands, bows his head and says, “Thanks.  Amen”.  

Although we were able to have a giggle about this, there were some truths out of his short prayer.  Many times, we enter into prayer with “Lord, please supply our needs” or “Lord, please heal those we love.”  Many times in the Psalms, David pours his heart out to God and asks God to supply a need or desire.  Job cries out to God asking Him “Why is this happening to me?”  Paul even asks God to “remove this thorn”.  However, we rarely hear ourselves cry out to God in thanks.  

Many might say they thank God every day, but do we really thank God and what do we thank God for?  When Paul wrote to the Thessalonians he writes:

“In everything give thanks, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” – 1 Thess. 5:18

Do we really give thanks in everything.  Notice Paul never said, “For everything”.  Rather he said, “In everything.”  This proclamation for “in everything…” is one that is not commonly spoken of today.  We thank God for the positive things in life, our family, our jobs, our children.  However, do we also give thanks when we are sick, in the hospital or the loss of someone close to us?  Do we give thanks for those things that hurt us?  Do we give thanks for our tribulations and pain?  Even I would have to admit that most times, I do not thank God for the bad times.

Paul makes this distinction because when we thank God for everything, we tend to thank Him for individual items.  Our focus is not Him but rather the circumstance we are experiencing or the thing we desire.  When we change that distinction to “in everything”, we re-focus our thoughts toward God.  No longer is the circumstance or item or person the focus, but rather God is in focus.  

When we focus ourselves on the circumstance, our thankfilled attitude changes based on our feelings toward the circumstance.  When we focus ourselves on God, our thankfilled spirit will pour out and affect others in a positive way.  Focusing on God enables us to have that relationship with Him that He so desires for us.  Focusing on God allows us to realize that our will is meaningless without His guideance.  Focusing on God allows us to do His work, regardless of outcome.

However, the other portion of my son’s short prayer was even more interesting.  The word Amen means, “Truth or certainty”.  It is not just a word we say, but when we say this, we let God and others know that whatever they said, we are in full agreement of because it is truth and certain.  This means that if we say Amen when someone says, “Jesus is coming back”, we are pubilcly admitting we are in full agreement with this.  On the flip side, when we hear someone say, “Just name it and claim it” and say amen, we let everyone know that we are in full agreement with that, even if it is a misguided concept based on us rather than God.  

There is nothing mystical about the words “thanks” and “amen” but both are very important in our walk with God.  If we approach God without thanking Him in everything, we do our relationship with him a disservice.  If we say Amen without realizing why, we stunt our relationship with Him.  

God does not desire sacrifice but us.  God does not desire committment to the cause, but rather dedication and devotion to Him.  God does not desire robots who will obey without question or understanding, but rather desires for us to use the brains He provided to us.  In a nut shell, God desires US.  He desires a relationship with us.  He desires for us to call on Him and focus on Him and what He desires.

In Revelation, Jesus said that some will say, “Lord, Lord, I did this or that in your name” and He will say, “Depart from me you evildoer, I never knew you.”  It will be a very frightening moment for those who hear that.  They will have lived their lives, doing things for God rather than being with God.  We can do a whole lot and never have that relationship with God.  However, we cannot be in a relationship with God and not do something for Him.  It is the relationship first, then the act.  

If I did things for my wife, but never spent time with her, talking with her, listening to her, holding her hand, she would never know my love for her.  Those actions would be self fullfilling not others fulfilling.  God has made us to have a relationship with Him.  He has created us for relationships.  He has given us His Son to provide the only way into that relationship.  

My son may not have really understood what he said by saying, “Thanks. Amen: but I was taught a very valuable lesson.   My relationship with God needs to have thankfulness in all situations and my amens need to be carefully understood before I say it.  I am glad that God still teaches through the mouths of babes.

God bless and encourage someone today.

People Can Change


This past Sunday, I preached on the book of Philemon.  The book of Philemon is a single chapter book with only 25 verses.  However, the information contained in those verses is life changing.

The book begins by Paul encouraging Philemon, letting him know that he has heard all of the positive work Philemon is doing in Colosse.  Philemon was one of the leaders of Colosse.  In fact, it is safe to say that Philemon was well to do.  He had slaves that worked for him.  One of those slaves is named Onesimus.

According to the text, Onesimus was a slave who may have stolen from Philemon.  During that time, slaves who were thieves were not considered worthy of life.  We know this because Jesus was crucified between two thieves.  In this letter to Philemon, Paul says that whatever Onesimus stole, place on his account to be repaid. 

As I read this and prepared my sermon on this text, some things came to light that are worthy of sharing.  First, the overall idea of this text is “Do you love God more than anything or anyone?”  Although Paul doesn’t explicitly ask this question to Philemon, Paul does imply this by way of encouragement, reminding Philemon that he was transformed by salvation through Jesus Christ.  Then Paul says to accept Onesimus back not as a slave but as a brother.

Think about that for a moment.  Here we have a boss, who’s employee stole from him and the penalty for that, according to the law is death.  However, Paul encourages Philemon to forget what the law says and show grace and mercy to Onesimus.  If Philemon truly loves God more than anything or anyone, then Philemon would have to accept the fact that Onesimus was a new man in Christ.  Therefore, the law of man no longer was in play here but the law of grace and mercy was.  

Second, Onesimus was considered useless before but useful to Paul now.  In the Greek, Onesimus means profitable.  What Paul did here was to play on Onesimus’ name and let Philemon know that this man, whose name means profitable was originally useless to Philemon, but now that Onesimus is a brother in Christ he has become useful.  Paul explain this by using words like “formerly” and “once was” and “has become”.  All of these are words of transformation.  Paul expalins to Philemon, that just like him, Onesimus has been changed because of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Here is what I thought about when I read this.  Philemon is in Colosse when Paul preaches there.  Philemon converts to Christianity and becomes a leader in Colosse.  Philemon has a thieving slave who runs away, aware that his sin’s penalty means death.  Then this same slave runs into Paul, IN PRISON, and then becomes a convert as well.  Paul works with this slave and then returns him to Philemon.  The same man who brought the Gospel to Colosse is the same man who helped in saving Onesimus.  Which brings me to my third point.  Sometimes we need to be removed or those around us need to be removed for the sake of the Gospel.

It wasn’t a coindence that Onesimus ran away and ran into Paul.  In fact Paul let’s Philemon know that there is a very strong possibility that the reason why Onesimus ran away was because he needed to hear the Gospel from Paul.  There is another side to this as well.  Sometimes those who have wronged us need to be separated from us because we will get in the way.

If Onesimus stayed, Philemon would have probably had him killed because the law allowed it.  This would mean that Onesimus would have died and suffered in hell for all eternity because he had not heard the Gospel.  However, because of God’s providence, Onesimus was allowed to escape only to find Paul who led him to Christ.  Then after working with Onesimus, Paul sends him back to Philemon.

How many times do people in relationships run away?  How many times have we run away because we have wronged the one’s we love and care for?  As sinful human beings, we all have a tendency to run away from conflict.  However, what we need to do is the opposite.  We need not to run away, but listen for the voice of God and work out our problems with those we love.  

There will be times, where God will allow separation for a time, but only to point that person back to the cross.  Never is this separation supposed to be permanent.  At the same time, if we are separated from those we love, we may need ot consider that it is us who need to run to the cross and take time to learn who God is and what He has done for us.  

If we are the one’s who were hurt, have been separated from that relationship for a time, there will be a moment where we need to restore that relationship.  We need not look at their past but how God has transformed them into a new creation.

Paul had told Philemon to accept Onesimus back.  Paul told Philemon that Onesimus has been transformed by the same power of God that transformed him.  We need to take the same approach with others that have hurt us.  Was Philemon going to accept Onesimus based solely on Paul’s words?   Probably not.  But Paul encouraged Philemon to look at Onesimus with they eyes of transformation rather than his past.

When relationships fall apart and want to be restored, we have the right to be careful concerning the other party.  However, we need to stop for a moment and ask God to show us the transformation He made in that person’s life.  If God has truly transformed that person, the fruit of the Spirit will show.  However, we need to give them a chance.  No matter how long we have been hurt or how badly, we owe it, not to the other party, but to ourselves to allow God to show us how He can transform lives.

As we face hard times and harder relationships, let us consider that the other party or ourselves, needs to evaluate our own relationship with God and consider that God can and does change people for His glory.  People can change.  All we are asked to do is give them another chance like God has given to us.

God bless and encouage someone today.

Fiction Evidenced As Reality


What is your greatest fear?  How does it affect you?  Do you get a physical reaction or just a mental tornado upsetting the organization in your mind?  Is your greatest fear something you can control?  Is the lack of control your greatest fear?

Most times we fear because of the “unknown factors” which lie before us.  We look at our circumstances, calculate our steps and realize that there are factors which do not enter into the equation.  We begin to wonder what those factors are and how they will work out.  We then allow our minds to wander adding another unknown factor which exponentially increases our fears, until the point where we have no control, including control of our thoughts.

It was once said that we have nothing to fear but fear itself.  Although I understand the thought process behind this and the times in which it was said, I think that we need to go one step further with that statement.  I believe, there is nothing to fear.  This is not the same thing as being afraid.  There are times in our lives, when being afraid of something may save our lives.  When we are caught in a burning house, it is being afraid of dying that drives us to try and escape it.  When we are caught in the under tow, being sucked out into the middle of the ocean, it is being afraid that may keep us afloat.

Being afraid of something and fearing are very different.  Being afraid keeps us alive.  Having fear kills us slowly.  When we fear, we create an environment where our minds are no longer in control of our thoughts and many times a physical reaction occurs.  Yesterday was one of those days.

I woke up yesterday and felt very stressed out.  Over the last three weeks, my schedule has been, what some would call…INSANE!  Working a full time job, where we have been short staffed with more work coming in, helping a friend’s church stay afloat, spending time with my wife and kids and trying to spend more time with God has created an atomic explosion in my mind.  Yesterday was the fall out.

In previous blogs, I shared with you my struggle with Generalized Anxiety Disorder.  However, even though I suffer with this, there are days, like yesterday, where even medication won’t help.  Part of my therapy to combat this “fallout” is to spend time in prayer, read Scripture and write.  If any one of those components is missing, the fallout wins and depression begins to set itself into place.

Here is where fear takes root.  Depression is just one way that fear solidifies itself and it is very difficult to get rid of it.  Have you ever tried to take out a weed that was in the ground for a long time?  The weed spreads out its roots over a vast area.  This way, when the gardener comes, he/she struggles to pull it out of the ground.  Sometimes the week breaks at ground level and cannot be pulled any further.  The gardener then has two choices.  Choice #1 is to wait it out and then try to pull it out again with brut force.  However with this choice, the weed must grow again.  With fear, we may do things to pull it out by brut force but many times, the root of the issue is still there.  When we choose this method, we allow the fear to reinstate itself and take further root in our lives.  There is another choice.

Choice #2 is a bit more drastic but effective.  If the gardener chooses the wise choice, he/she will get a digging tool and begin the process of ensuring that all of the weed plant, with its roots, is permanently removed.  With this method, the gardener will disturb the entire area in an effort to find out the “root cause”.  The gardener will dig up as much as they can in order to ensure that the weed does not return.  When we deal with fear properly, we must disturb other areas of our lives.  The digging up of past issues, past hurts or past relationships causes us to shuffle ideas and question our motivations.  It forces us to rethink ideals and theologies we have learned.  It upsets all that we believe, the question is can we recover from that disturbance?

Just like the ground, healing takes time.  In the Old Testament, God tells Israel to plant and sow for 6 years.  On the 7th year, let the ground rest from its work.  There are many theologies concerning this but from a practical level, it gave the ground one year to heal.

Sometimes, we need to do the same thing.  There are times we need to step away from the busyness of life and allow ourselves to heal.  Maybe, we need to let go of horrible past relationships or forgive someone who has hurt us.  In some cases, it may be us that needs to ask for forgiveness from someone we hurt.  Whatever it is, don’t let fear dismantle the healing process.

Fear is nothing more than Fiction Evidenced As Reality.  It doesn’t exist.  It is a false representation of the reality of a hurting soul.  Fear is the tool Satan uses to keep us where we are so that we do not cry out to the loving Good Shepherd, who is ready to rescue us.  Fear is just as bad as quotes that people say is in Scripture.

Have you ever heard, “Time heals all wounds”?  It’s in the Bible, right?  There is nothing further from the truth.  This saying is a way for us, as human beings, to pull out the weed of fear and leave its roots in place.  Time does not heal, it just passes.

Many have tried to say it is a Psalm or Proverb.  It isn’t.  What the Scripture does say is in Psalm 147:

2The LORD builds up Jerusalem; He gathers the outcasts of Israel. 3He heals the brokenhearted And binds up their wounds. 4He counts the number of the stars; He gives names to all of them.…

New American Standard Bible

It is the Lord who heals the brokenhearted.  It is the Lord who heals their wounds.  It is the Lord who counts the stars and names them all.  It is the Lord who can get rid of whatever is keeping you back from coming to Him.

If you are hurting, He knows.  If you are questioning, He has answers.  If you are crying, he is crying with you.  Two of the greatest words ever written were when Jesus approaches the grave of Lazarus.

John 11:35 says, “Jesus wept.”  It was an incredible proclamation.  Jesus knew Lazarus was going to die.  Jesus knew He was going to raise him from the dead.  So why did Jesus weep?  Simply to show he was 100% human.  Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead to show He was 100% God.  Isn’t that an encouragement for us today?  Think about that for a moment.  Jesus felt what we feel.  He understood what it was like to lose someone.  He understands what it is like to hurt.  And in all of that experience, He never allowed fear to persuade him.  He never allowed the fiction that Satan feeds our minds to take root in His own.

If you are hurting, if you are living in fear, there is someone who understands.  Jesus Christ knows what you are going through, yet desires for you and I to tell Him.  It is Jesus Christ who can heal you.  He can remove the roots of the weed that so easily entangles you.  Only Jesus Christ can take all of our fear, all of our anxiety and use it for His glory and His purposes.

If you don’t know who Jesus Christ is, He is the One who left heaven to come to earth as a baby.  He lived a human life, while displaying His God nature.  He allowed Himself to be beaten and tortured.  He allowed Himself to be put on public display, naked and gave His life in the most horrific way of His time, by being crucified.  But it didn’t end there.  After He cried out in a voice, “It is finished”, he was buried and on the 3rd day, rose from the dead.  HE IS ALIVE!  He is calling out to you, desiring for you to let Him rescue you.

No matter your hurt.  No matter your pain.  Jesus Christ can take it from you.  Just cry out to Him and ask Him to rescue you.  He will.  Let Him into your life and give you the life He always wanted for you.  Believe in Him, cry out to Him and be healed by Him.  Don’t let fear stop you from meeting the only One who can save you, Jesus Christ.

God bless and encourage someone today.

Time


I am struggling today.  This isn’t a physical battle.  It is however a battle for my mind.

Recently, a friend of mine decided it was time to move out of New York.  He made that decision after watching the financial and mental burden the New York City and Long Island area have placed on its residents.  He decided to make his family life better; leaving this area would be the best decision.  So far, he has been right.

For years, I have dreamed of leaving New York and going to other places that have not only been more affordable but less stressful, a place where I can raise my kids without the pressures of having to work infinite hours and spend more time with them.  I have dreamt of being able to sit outside at night and see the stars thinking about the wonders God has created in the heavens.  Being able to go outside in the early morning hours and sit and spend time with God in the quietness of the outdoors.  Listening to the calm breeze while pondering the greatness of the God I serve.

Unfortunately, this has not been my lot.  I live in an area where busyness is just a way of life.  Wake up, get dressed, get stuck in traffic, go to work for 9 to 10 hours per day, come home, help with the family, study then sleep and do it all over again the next day.  The non-stop pressure builds and builds only for my body and mind to stop properly functioning causing me to sit back for a day to wonder why I don’t feel so well.  This busyness causes less time with my family and more time going from one thing to the next.  So you would think that it is a no-brainer for me to pick up my family, quit my job and leave, right?

Getting up and leaving suddenly is not as easy or logical as you may be thinking.  Currently, I work at a job that I love.  My coworkers and supervisors are great and are like family.  What I do is interesting and never the same.  Each day is a new adventure.  It is a place that I have spent the last 15 years learning not just to love the work, but the people as well.  Regularly I remember them in my prayers and hope that all of them one day come into the saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, repent of their sins and live for Him.

In addition to that, I have a church family that I love as well.  For most of my life, they have encouraged me, taught me, and disciplined me with love and care.  They have prayed for my family, shown me their love through actions and have allowed me the pleasure and opportunity to try out my skills as one who preaches the Word of God.  I have even had the pleasure to have a taste of heaven when my father and I served on the same Elder board at the same time.  The first and last time that had ever happened in the history of our church.  It has been a place that I can call not just home, but family.

More recently, I have begun to learn how to be a pastor at a local church on Long Island.  Their pastor has been sick for some time and they have graciously allowed me to teach them, council them and learn what and how a church works, from the pastoral viewpoint.  Over the past 7 months or so, they too have become an extended family for me.

So you may be asking, if your life is as good as you say it is, then what is the struggle?  Why not just go on with life doing what you are doing and forget about those things which you do not have?  These are great questions, but the complexity of life and the things of this life are not what I struggle with.  Whether the house I live in is large or small or new or old, makes no difference for me.  What matters to me is something that you and I lose every day…..time.

As I grow older and my kids become adults, I notice that time is fast-forwarding at light speed.  My once little boy who made believe he read the Bible, is now learning to survive as an adult.  The other little boy who wanted to help his daddy with everything, is now in a high school where he can try subjects out to discover what he loves and wants to do.  In just a few short years both of them will be mainly on their own, living the lives they chisel out of their own masterpiece from their portion of life’s marble.

I have been watching friends of mine retire and begin living their lives as “free men” allowing them to do things with their family that previously, they could not do.  They have gained time for their families, they have slowed down the clock a bit in order to focus on helping their children become adults.

Time is something we lose every second.  Even as you have been reading this, time has slipped away into the eternal void of past lives.  No more will those seconds or minutes be gained, but will become mostly forgotten and largely lost to the busyness of what this world has to offer.  As quickly as time enters is as swiftly as it leaves.

My struggle with time has been for some time.  How to make the best decisions with the limited time I have on this earth.  During my mind’s battle for time, I have also learned that I long for something that I am not promised either.  I contemplate and plan for a time not yet discovered, a time not promised nor experienced yet.  We make plans for retirement (which I cannot do any time soon), we plan vacations, we even our meals, but are we sure that our next breath, the next second are promised?

Even with all of that, I hold onto the promise of the Good Shepherd who walks in the ways of His Father.  My focus is not on what this life has to offer or the limited time I am here, but on the work that He has called me to.  A life to help others and teach them to rely on Him.  No matter if I work in the secular world, or inside a church, the gift of being able to teach others and help others learn about the love and completion of Jesus Christ is my calling.  He gives me the strength, wisdom and patience to deal with those things, most don’t understand or care about.  He allows me the ability to do time management and still allows me quality of time my family needs from me.

As I work this all out in my mind, I am praying for clarity and direction.  I have learned from Jonah, that running away from this calling will only lead me to times of extreme trials and tribulations.  I have learned from Peter and Paul that what we have here is only a fleeting memory and unimportant in the scheme of eternity.  I have learned from Ruth that spending time with family is extremely important, so long as our focus is on God.  I have learned from Job that all that I have here, including my children, are only things that are borrowed and can be taken away in the blinking of an eye.  I have learned from David that crying out to God in my moments of struggle is where He wants me to be.   I have learned from Jesus Christ that what I want is not what is best, but the direction of God is best even if the rest of the world thinks you’re crazy.

So pray for me and my family.  Pray that we will make decisions, not based on desires, time or logic, but will make decisions based on what God is telling us.  For those who know me and are reading this, I have not made any decisions and will not for some time, so don’t worry, I ain’t going anywhere.  But one day, I will have to make some hard decisions, so I ask that when that time comes, whether it comes quickly or slowly, that we make the decisions based on His will for His Kingdom and not what we want because of our earthly sinful desires.

We thank you in advance for traveling with us and allowing me to express my struggles with you.  God bless and encourage someone today.

A Letter to My Children


My dearest child,

I love you.  That is the first thing I want you to know.  I love you.

My love for you cannot be expressed in words or pictures.  It cannot be explained by the philosopher.  It cannot be understood by the educated.  I can only be realized by actions.

The actions I have taken at times have been extreme and misunderstood.  I have been falsely accused of things that no person could ever imagine.  My accusers have painted my actions with the dirtiest of brushes and made me appear as vile and evil.  No matter how hard I have tried to explain my actions, they do not want to hear.

Although my enemies have attacked me, my love for you never wanes.  You are my child, my offspring.  The fact that you exist brings joy to my heart and peace to my mind.  Nothing can change that.  You are my child and always will be.

In recent days, I have been watching the news.  I have seen the hypocrisy and confusion of this past election.  I have watched as many have marched in protest against the results.  I have read the evil and disgusting posts on social media.  Hopefully, you have not succumb to the rhetoric now being spread by those who want to do you harm because of my actions.  Please stay away from being sucked into stating what you think your rights are and remember you are my child and always will be.

Many of your siblings have forgotten what I have done and my love for them.  They have allowed the promises of this world to cloud their judgment and have forgotten about my love for them.  One of your brothers and sisters were on the news.  It wasn’t good.  They began to stand for issues, I never intended for them to stand for.  During their interview, they questioned my love for them and asked for me to not contact them again.  They have forgotten, they are my children and always will be.

Don’t ever forget how I saved you when you were drowning.  Don’t ever forget the time when you cried out for me to carry you because you scrapped your leg. I came running to comfort you.  Don’t ever forget the time when I carried you into the operating room and watched over you as the doctors did their work.  Don’t ever forget the time when you cried because someone hurt you and I told you, “You are my child and always will be.”

Do you remember the time, when you were young and you went out all night with your friends, even though I gave you a curfew?  Did you forget the time you screamed, “I hate you” and stormed to your room?  How did I react?  Did I not explain the necessary discipline with tears in my eyes?  Did I not hug you deeply and held you until you fell asleep?  Did I not continue to watch over you and ensure your safety?  You are my child and always will be.

I have tried to remind your siblings of this very same thing.  My expression of love has been overwhelming, even though many have forgotten what I did for them.  They have forsaken my love to satisfy their own desires.  They have argued over needless topics and have twisted my guidance.  They believe things I never taught and claim I teach them.  They have even turned my own words against me in order to have their own following.  I am upset with them and will deal with them soon as a loving father.  They are my children and always will be.

Others have claimed to be my children even though I do not know who they are.  They have claimed to be knowledgeable about my business but deny what I am doing.  Many times, they have called and I have answered only to hear nothing but static and noise.  They do not visit me for dinner.  They do not come over for the holidays.  They only call when they need something but I cannot understand their language.  They are not my children and never will be.

Yet in spite of this, you have spent time with me.  You know who I am and I know who you are.  We have enjoyed each other’s company and holidays have been a blast.  The time we have spent together has been my most joyous times even in times of trials.  I have watched as you have grown from my little baby to my adult child.  You are my child and always will be.

Unfortunately, your siblings have forgotten that I commanded them to be of one mind and purpose.  They have forsaken my will and sought after what they want.  They call me only when they need something and when I try to talk, they either interrupt me or hang up.  I try to call them back but they do not pick up the phone.  I have spent countless hours crying over them, desiring that they come back to me and listen to my words.  In spite of their disobedience, they are my children and always will be.

They have forgotten the time when I rescued them from the fire.  They have forgotten the times I cried in front of them, yet they spit in my face.  Now they are attacking you because of me.  In their own desperation to explain the evil in the world, they deny what I have done and curse me to my face.  They march in the streets, spread hate over social media and push the agendas of my enemies.  No more do I recognize them, no longer can I stand and wait.  No longer can this disobedience continue.  They may be my children and always will be, but discipline to my house is coming!

I am still in charge.  I have never left my place of authority.  It was given to me by my father because of my love for him and you even if you don’t want to believe it.  In the coming days, I will discipline my children because of their disobedience.  They will come back to me whether in this life or the life to come, because they are my children and always will be.

I have never changed and never will, even if my children forsake me.  My words will always stand.  My rules have never waned.  No one can change what I have spoken for they have been written down for you.  I have ensured all of my letters have been gathered to one place for your convenience.  You have everything I want you to know in those letters.  Each letter was written with a specific purpose in mind, to ensure you never forget that I am your father.  You are my child and always will be.

The day is coming and almost here when I will come back for you.  I will return when I am allowed in the time my father commanded me.  When I arrive, you will know.  You will see me and I will bring you home.  Your suffering is almost over.  Your trials have just begun.  My children will be reminded of my love through my discipline.  I will not spare my rod and my discipline will hurt, but always remember, you are my child and always will be.

My child, forsake those who speak without thinking.  Leave alone those who would yell and shout over me rather than listen to my words.  Read my letters.  Call me just to say hello.  Do not allow yourself to go in the way of your siblings.  My children should not be divided.  If my children are divided, then my enemy will seek to destroy them.  They are my children and always will be.

The words I have spoken are true and right.  Did I not destroy those in Laodicea as I told to them so long ago?  Have my words ever fallen upon the deaf and not healed them?  Has not my touch restored eyesight to the blind?  Have I not already broken the chains of slavery and freed you from them?  Have I not already said, “IT IS FINISHED?”

Now I have instructions for you to do.  They are not new instructions but reminders of what I have already commanded.  Restore your brothers and sisters by showing them the love I have shown you.  Refrain from speaking what you want but give them the silence they deserve.  Was I not silent before my accusers?  In the same way, you should be silent and your silence will bring them to repentance.  No longer march in the street but share my message of hope and love with everyone.  Listen to my commands and do what I have asked.  You are my child and always will be.

Never forget my love for you.  Never forget I died and rose again for you.  Remember that my love for you is unexplainable, unimaginable and unforgettable.  I love you with my inmost being.  All I ask is for you to return that love by spending time with me.  Read my words and call on my name.  I will answer, even if my enemies try to hinder me.  Do not listen to the countless voices in your head but listen for my voice.  My sheep know my voice and follow me.  You are my child and always will be.

I love you and will return shortly.  Do not fret or be dismayed because my return will happen, even if others deny it.  When I come, I will bring you home and we will spend eternity laughing, working, walking and talking.  There will be no more pain or suffering.  I am building a place for your, if it weren’t so, I would have told you.  Let your focus be on me and not the circumstances surrounding you.  This is a temporary dwelling, a temporary home.  Your ultimate home is with me.

I love you and desire only good things for you.  As you obey the small things I commanded, then larger responsibilities will come.  Until that time, remember, you are my child and always will be.

In love,

Jesus Christ (The Risen Savior)

The Seed That Requires Action (Part 1)


I have a question for you….

What is the responsibility of Christians in its simplest form?

My reason for asking is this question has been a re-occurring theme in conversations I have had, thoughts overflowing my mind, in my personal devotion and when I am preparing my next sermon.  No matter how many hours pass in the day, the question of our responsibility as Christians in its simplest form comes and floods my mind of situations, people and circumstances, analyzing my words and actions to see if they are glorifying my Savior.  So what is your answer to this question?

What if I told you that our basic actions are few but can be effective?  Our actions are important; in fact they are critical in spreading the Gospel.  However, spreading the Gospel is only one part of what we are supposed to do.  The actions we have surrounding the Gospel is just as critical in effectively sharing what Christ has done in our lives.  You may even say that our actions are the pre-cursor to giving us the opportunity to share the Gospel.  But how is this expressed in Scripture?  There is a lot here and how can we simplify it to allow for easier understanding?  The answer is in farming.

The beginning of Matthew 13 is a story that Jesus told his disciples concerning the Gospel….

Then He spoke many things to them in parables, saying: “Behold, a sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them. Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth. But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them. But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” – Matthew 13:3-9 (NASB)

The first thing to notice here is there is a “sower”.  In the most simplest of terms, a sower plants seeds.  This is the person who walks in the field that has been tilled and prepared for planting.  They usually have a large satchel with thousands of seeds.  As they walk up and down the tilled field, they grab a handful of seeds and scatter the seeds all over the ground.  All they do is ensure that all of the seed they are given is distributed evenly across the field.  Did the sower till the field?  Nope.  Did the sower prepare the field for planting?  Nope.  All the sower is responsible for is planting.  Planting the Gospel is our responsibility.  Our action is to share what God did through Jesus Christ on the cross.  We are told to throw the Gospel out into the field that God has prepared.  It is only God who can make someone ready to hear the Gospel.  It is only God who can till the hearts and minds of people.  Our part is to plant the Gospel seed.

Another area that we get caught up in is our responsibility to ensure the Gospel is told at the right time.  We concern ourselves with the quality of sharing, the purpose of sharing and the reasons for sharing the Gospel.  Many times, we worry over lives that we have no control over.  We concern ourselves with where the seed was planted and try to make it grow.  Unfortunately, we sin by worrying about these things.  Instead look at what happens next in the story.  The seed fell on four places:

  1. Seed that fell by the wayside.
  2. Seed that fell by the stony places.
  3. Seed that fell among thorns.
  4. Seed that fell on good ground.

Did you see that?  Most of the seed didn’t fall on good ground.  Most of the seed fell on ground that was not suited for growing plants.  The sower didn’t concern himself with where, how and why.  He simply did as his Master commanded, he planted the seeds.  I know this is a matter of opinion, but I think Jesus shared this parable this way to show us how we need not be concerned about who, what, where, why and how.  We only need to concern ourselves with planting of seeds.  We do not know what land (person) God has prepared.  We do not know what God is doing in their life or how He is working.  We only are told to plant the seed of the Gospel.

As Christians, we need to stop getting caught up in the minute details of how to share the Gospel.  There have been many methods planned by good theologians that have worked in the lives of people.  You and I can read into infinitum on how to deliver the Gospel message.  However, we have to understand fully, it is only God who prepares their hearts.  We do not.  The Gospel is the seed we plant.  Our actions are to plant, not to grow or force growth.

The last, and very important thought, I want to share is, the quality of the plant.  Notice I didn’t say the quality of the seed.  The seed (the Gospel) is already at the highest quality.  The plant, however, has different variations of quality.  Some of the plants yielded a hundredfold.  Some yielded sixtyfold and some yielded only thirtyfold.  Why would Jesus share this information with his disciples?  Why not stop and just say that the plant yielded fruit?  Why such detail?

I believe that when Jesus shared every parable or story, he did it with the details in mind.  He purposely went out of His way to give us what we need to hear.  I believe that this detail is essential in understanding our role with planting the seed of the Gospel.

Notice the varied amounts of yield.  Some yielded an incredible crop, some a medium crop and some a small crop.  All yielded a crop, just not all yield the same amount.  Sometimes, when we see our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, we judge their crop.  We assume they are being ineffective if they don’t bear the crop like we do.  We forget that it is the Gospel that bears fruit.  It is the Gospel that grows.

“…the gospel which has come to you, just as [h]in all the world also it is constantly bearing fruit and [i]increasing, even as it has been doing in you also since the day you heard of it and [j]understood the grace of God in truth…” – Colossians 1:6 (NASB)

Just as we cannot force growth in the ground of our tomato plants, we cannot force growth in the lives of our brothers and sisters.  We have to freely allow the Gospel to grow.  We have to freely allow the Gospel to produce the fruit necessary in their lives.  Not any one of us is identically alike in this world, so we shouldn’t think we are all alike in the next.  Our lives are individually precious to God.  He has created us with purpose and meaning.  All we need to do is sow the seed of the Gospel  on the ground that God has tilled and made ready.

However, this is only our first action.  There are two more actions we need to take.  Unfortunately, that will have to wait until next time……

God bless and encourage someone today.

The State of our Union


Every year, in the United States, our President offers the citizens an overview of the current state of our country.  It is called, “The State of the Union Address”.  During the President’s press conference, he offers information on our economic, educational and moral status with future action plans for our country.  The President offers up his confirmation about where we are and where we are going.  His positive or negative expressions and phrases give us a glimpse into the changes which he feels are necessary to progress into our positive future.  Typically, his message is one of hope and calls out the dismay of those who oppose us.  Despite the pomp and circumstance, the state of our union is far from where it was at our founding and light years away from where it needs to be.  We all know this, but do we know why?

When we look at our current state, we notice a few things:

  1. Actions and lifestyles once not acceptable in society are now publicly acceptable.
  2. Hypersensitivity to one’s feelings has increased exponentially.
  3. Opinions and thought processes are only correct if you agree with the opposing views.
  4. Facts have become farce and farce has become fact.
  5. A person’s worth is only valued by their social media status rather than by their intellect.

This list is not conclusive, it is just the obvious.  We can see the fruit of our choices in these areas.  We can see that the harvest of our thoughts and actions have produced, in us, an innate sense of insecurity and confusion.  Our society has gone from an educated euphoria to an uneducated disaster.  We value education, only when it agrees with our point of views.  Our compass of morality has been unhinged and is circling aimlessly to almost every theology and belief we hear.  We have become the adherer of wind, and go in the direction of dust, floating in our world with the hope that one day the breath of one person will direct and guide us to a life of success.  Our lives have become nothing more than a moment in time without an ultimate goal or standard.  We measure our lives by our success on social media rather than our accomplishments with our children.  This can be proven by our choices for the next President of the United States.

A couple of days ago, we witnessed history.  The number of viewers to the first Presidential debate exceeded any past debate ever watched by the public, almost matching the Super Bowl.  However, this debate shows us one very important fact…who our next President is, is a direct result of our moral inclination.  On one side, we have someone who has acknowledged mishap handling of secure documents (a crime for most of us) and known for changing her story over and over again.  On the other side, we have an egomaniac who has duped Americans with a cry for change, without any regard for professionalism or filtration.  Both candidates have also expressed their Christianity but have exhibited disregard for the very Person who they say they believe in.  In both cases, integrity is at an all-time low, division is at an all-time high and hatred is growing steadily toward people groups that believe and know (from historical documentation by our founders) that our inalienable rights are from an eternal, living God who requires us to live according to His moral standards.

I recently saw an advertisement for a person running for a government office representing New Jersey.  The ad stated that this individual was a racist because of his views on marriage.  As this person did not believe main stream media, he was labeled as someone who hates those who oppose traditional marriage between one man and one woman.  This very assumption caused my blood pressure to rise due to the frustration of what a racist is compared to one who believes a theology.

Now before you place judgment on what I am about to say, know this about me.  Once a month, I assist a pre-dominantly African-American church by preaching the Gospel.  We do not look at the color of our skin, but rather at our stance with God.  To be a racist, you have to proclaim that your “race”, aka skin color or culture, is superior to another.  You have to think and act that who you are is superior to everyone else.  This was the predominate proclamation of Adolf Hitler.  According to Adolf Hitler, only blonde hair and blue eye people, who were German, were the only ones worth anything.  He stated this while having brown hair.  His hypocrisy was outweighed by his ignorance and stupidity.

Today, we have individuals who have overthrown the work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  They have enacted a proclamation that divides rather than unites.  From both sides we see the hatred growing causing division in our ranks.  We see riots and looting rather than peaceful demonstration.  We observe young men showing stupidity by taking pictures of their illegal weapons and posting them on the eternal database of social media.  Our culture has become so divided and so obsessed with getting our own way, that we have forgotten the proclamation of Jesus Christ:

“Go therefore, into all the world, making disciples from all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded them.”

I have watched Christians resolve themselves to their right of speech over their command from their Savior.  They have proclaimed hatred toward the establishment rather than shout out the Gospel in love.  We are not “living the life” intended by God as represented in Ephesians and Colossians but are killing our souls for the single purpose of getting our way.  We have forgotten that our actions as individuals which fuel the fire of hatred also creates inappropriate views of the entire church.  We need to remember that we are one body, by one Christ for one purpose, to lead others to the Savior, who loves them, even though they sin.

The only way our country will ever be saved, is by the blood of Jesus Christ washing over us.  We cannot and will not proceed with life, until we turn our hearts to Him in repentance.  However, this will not happen unless the Church turns from its wicked ways and repents of their sin, putting their earthly American rights over the responsibility of what God commanded us to do.

Recently, I have been reading through 1 Kings and 2 Kings.  As I read this history of Israel and Judah, I noticed one main idea, when Israel and Judah forsook all the God commanded turmoil, division and hatred grew between them.  When they walked with God, peace and prosperity was at their doorstep.

At the same time, I also recognize the words of my Savior when he stated to His disciples, “They will hate you because of me.”  We, the Church, should not be hated because of our stance in the political world or in the actions of a sinful group, but instead, we need to be hated because of our love for people and sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  When we embrace God and what He has commanded us to do, we will see peace and prosperity in our churches.  We will see others wanting to know more about Christ.  At the same time, as we minister to the hurting, the rest of the world will see this and become jealous of us, therefore hating us because of Christ.  Nowhere in Scripture does it read, “They will hate you because you stand up for a particular view on marriage or theology.”  It clearly reads, “They will hate you because of Me.”

We are to be one body, working toward a single goal given to us the Head, Jesus Christ.  If Jesus Christ is the Head, then it is He who thinks, He who see, He who hears, He who speaks.  We are simply part of His body.  Our opinions don’t count.  Our anger is irrelevant.  Our actions should speak His words and represent His thoughts, not our own.  When we put our American rights over our spiritual responsibility, it is called idolatry.  We have succumb to the same as Israel and Judah, idolizing our rights over our responsibility.  We need to wake up and repent and go back to God in humble tears asking Him to heal us.

“If my people call on My name and repent, I will heal them.”  This was a promise to Israel.  This is also a promise to us, the Church.  To save our country, we as one body, must repent and make God the only priority in our lives.  He is first.  All others come after.  We must never forget that Christ came to seek and save those that are lost.  He didn’t come to view His opinion.  He came to die.  He came to allow Himself to be sacrificed for us.  It is only because of Him that we are saved.

If we want our country to be saved and hold off judgment, we must, I plead with everyone, must repent.  Then and only then can we begin the process of healing to move forward in “living a life worthy of our calling” through Jesus Christ.  Only when we repent, as a Church, will we see the state of our union go toward morality and unity.  Until we repent, only confusion, division and hatred will increase.  Let’s not let this happen.  Let’s all repent and move toward the cross where our salvation first began.

God bless and encourage someone today.