restoration

Enamored with Jesus

Can we as Christians celebrate Christmas with decorations, gifts, food, and fun while not compromising the true meaning of Christmas? In this short video, Frank encourages us to forget the guilt this Christmas and remember this unique and freeing perspective...

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Enamored with Jesus

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It's Christmas time and you know what that means: It means it's time to break out the Christmas tree and the lights, and it's time to bake cookies and go shopping and get real busy, and of course, it also means it's time for the preacher types to say, "Don't forget that Jesus is the reason for the season!"

I'm not going to do that.

I want instead for you to ponder the thought that when God made this planet, He made a playground for His kids to play in. I think it's absolutely fine for us to spend time with our loved ones, to go out and buy gifts for our families and shower our those around us with love. We just don't want to become enamored with the playground; we want to be enamored with the one who gave us the playground!

So do all the things you love to do for Christmas, have fun and give thanks. Maybe buy a gift for someone in need, maybe make a meal for someone who's sick. Do that in addition to the playground, but not instead of the playground.

We are the children of God, and we were made to have a playground. In the process, thank Him for the playground. Thank Him for our Jesus who restored our true perspective back to the One, who not only made the playground but who made us to enjoy Him supremely.

Have a great Christmas season my friend!


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Faith Doesn’t Change Anything - The Surprising Truth

In this short video, we get a quick peek into the lives of two men changed by their darkest days. May you find freedom as Frank reveals the truth about what having faith really accomplishes.

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Faith Doesn’t Change Anything - The Surprising Truth

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David said that because God was for him, those who sought to destroy his life were going to go into the depths of Sheol and they would be delivered over to the power of the sword and would become prey for jackals. He said the mouths of those who spoke lies would be stopped. And it all happened. Absalom fled from the army of Israel, his wild hair getting caught in a tree, and Joab came and delivered the death blow with his sword. We can’t read this casually; we can’t forget that this is a dad we’re talking about - David just lost his boy. And let me tell you, I'm a dad, and no matter how much that boy rebels, he will always be my boy, right? So David is going to grieve, and if we go back and read what the passage says, he grieved heavily, but he also rejoiced that the will of God ended the rebellion and restored the nation of Israel.

I've said this many times, and I’m going to say it again, believers are the only ones that can have tears of sorrow AND joyful hearts at the same time.  And when the world sees that, they don't know what to do with us! It’s one of the greatest times we have to testify for the faithfulness and truth of who God is. The world can't relate to a foolish plastic facade of the Prosperity Gospel, they don't relate to that! But they do relate to your tears, and they'll see your faith and that will give you a bridge to introduce them to who God really is.

In David, we see a man in the wilderness. Did you notice in this passage he didn't get delivered from the wilderness right away? The world is still the world and that's not going to change. We're not going to get restored to a playground until Jesus Christ comes back, this world is going to remain a wilderness. The key here is that not only does the wilderness never change, our God never changes! He will be all that He is, to all that we need, at the moment of faith and that will allow one thing to change, and that's us. We will be the ones who change.

Like David, Jeremiah too became a changed man. The book of Lamentations reveals to us Jeremiah's heartache; he was a man of affliction.

While sitting in the ashes of destruction, with murder babies and slaughtered people all around him; miserable, hopeless and dying, he recalled to his mind that he had a hope greater than the death around him. He had the mercies of God. He knew that it was only by God’s mercy that they weren't destroyed. He knew this was not the end of the story.

Nothing had changed; the ashes and the slaughter, the murdered babies, Jerusalem, nothing had changed. The wilderness had not changed but Jeremiah had. This might tempt you to say, “That is what faith will do.” But that would be a lie! Faith doesn't change anything; all faith does is connect you to to the One who brings the change. That's the key beloved, and when you have faith in Him, He will be all that He is, to all that we need, at the moment of faith.


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Who Are We?

And who are we?  Well, we were so fantastically created and intended for such incredible purpose, that it takes multiple descriptions to fully define ourselves.

And who are we? Well, we were so fantastically created and intended for such incredible purpose, that it takes multiple descriptions to fully define ourselves.

It has become quite popular with the internet age to research one's genealogy. In doing so, we learn who we are in terms of our race and culture. This is an absolutely essential thing to do when it comes to understanding our spiritual genealogy. If we do not know our source, our beginnings in God, then we will be lost when it comes to truly understanding who we are. God created us and designed us to function in intimate relationship with Him. Because of the finished work of Christ which enables us to be restored to God, we now have the opportunity to be restored to who we truly are.

And who are we? Well, we were so fantastically created and intended for such incredible purpose, that it takes multiple descriptions to fully define ourselves. The New Testament tells us that we are:

Saints - holy ones of God. 
Soldiers - those involved in a great conflict between God and evil.
Farmers - who sow seed and reap the harvest of life as we lead others into relationship with Jesus.
Fellow workers - an amazing thought to be sure, that God has considered us worthy of participating in His kingdom work.
Joint heirs with Christ - a mind-blowing statement that we share in the inheritance of God's own precious son.

We could go on and on with declaring our multi-faceted identity that we have been restored to through faith in Christ, but I want to stress what I believe to be the supreme aspect of who we are. In the New Testament, we are told that we are now a child of God. Why do I say that is the supreme statement of our identity? Because it is the only aspect of our identity that comes with "THE RIGHT" to say it is so. John 1 says, "when we receive Jesus, we have the "RIGHT" to be called a child of God!"  Ponder the glory of that --- by faith, I am a child of the Sovereign Mighty God of the universe! He calls me son... and I get to call Him "papa". This is my RIGHT because He said it is so.

WOW!

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There is No One So Broken...

There is no one so broken that He cannot redeem them.

There is no one so broken that He cannot redeem them.

Absolutely awesome is our Father’s Love letter to us. I am pondering today Isaiah 42. “A bruised reed, He will not break. A dimly burning wick, He will not extinguish.” Do you hear the language of man here?

When a man is making a flute from a reed, he must take great care in not bruising the reed, for if it is bruised in any way, it will not play the beautiful music for which he is creating it. There is nothing left to do but throw it away and start again with another reed.

When a man seeks to light his room in the dark of night, if he finds a dimly burning wick, a wick that has burned down and lost its capacity for flame, there is nothing left to do but snuff it out with his fingers and find another new and better wick.

So it is with man and this fallen world we live in. When a man or a woman has fallen on hard times and their soul is crushed and their hopes are dashed, the world finds very little time and certainly very little use for such people. Nothing much left to do but cast them off and find another with greater potential. Sadly, such is the language of man.

I hope you hear here in this passage though, the language of God! He does not break and cast off the broken reed, and He does not extinguish the wick that is burning so very dimly. Oh no!

There is no one so broken that He cannot redeem them.

LISTEN! I do not care who you are! I do not care what you have done! I do not care how many times you have done it! I do not care who you did it with! I do not care if you are doing “IT” right now! Hear the words of the God Who longs to be a Father to you if you would only let Him. Come to Him! He will NOT cast you out! In fact, He will transform your life with His own LIFE in you so fully and completely that your light will once again shine brightly and your life will play a beautiful song of His love, grace and mercy.

Remember John 1:11: He who believes in Jesus has the AUTHORITY to be called a child of God! Do you realize what that is saying?

If you are a male child of God, that makes you a son of God… a son of the King! What do you call the son of a King? You call him a prince! 
If you are a female child of God, that makes you a daughter of God… a daughter of the King! What do you call the daughter of a King? You call her a princess!

Now that is some kind of Redemption! That is our Redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ, Who is worthy of our praise!

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Those Who Are Crushed In Spirit He Makes Whole

Though others may not be able to come to our aid, God is able and promises to do so.

Though others may not be able to come to our aid, God is able and promises to do so.

Psalm 34:18 is one of my favorite verses in all the Bible, for obvious reasons. I personally believe that every believer ought to have this verse as one of their favorites.

It says, “The Lord is near to the broken-hearted,
and saves (makes whole) those who are crushed in spirit.”

I trust you now know why I say it is one of my favorites “for obvious reasons.” We all live in a world that we were never designed to live in. We were designed to live in a garden paradise called Eden, and if you had not noticed it yet --- “THIS IS NOT IT!” The result is that we all experience things that we were never designed to experience like sorrow, and rejection, and betrayal, and loneliness, and pain. These things can literally crush our spirit. They can leave us in desperate need of someone to “come near” to us and begin the “WORK” of making us whole again.

One of the problems in finding such a one though is that the others who might be able and desirous of coming to our aid are also dealing with their own struggles from living in this fallen world. Very often they are unable to do so because of all that this fallen world has placed on their own plate. This can leave us “feeling” terribly alone and promote a serious spirit of hopelessness deep in our soul. That is the great glory of this verse from Psalm 34:18.

Though others may not be able to come to our aid, God is able and promises to do so.

I am reminded of the words of Asaph in Psalm 73, when he realized this great truth about God he declared, “Who do I have in heaven but you oh God? And who do I have on earth, but you oh God.”

Though we may “feel” alone and desperate and think that nobody cares, that is not the truth. God is near! And not only is He near, He is actively working to unleash all that He is to all that we need in the moment of faith as we trust Him.

If you are broken-hearted today and crushed in Spirit, I pray that you will cry out to Him Who is near to you, and that your experience will be as David’s was in Psalm 23, that He will restore your soul!

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A Good Heart

Because of the finished work of Christ, it is no longer true that a believer, a child of God, has a desperately wicked and deceitful heart.

Because of the finished work of Christ, it is no longer true that a believer, a child of God, has a desperately wicked and deceitful heart.

As I grew up in the church, I was often told by many various people that the human heart is desperately wicked and deceitful beyond all things. This, as you know, is a statement from Jeremiah 17:11. When this truth was proclaimed to me, about me, it came with the full authority that every other verse in the Scriptures has. After all, Paul has loudly and affirmatively proclaimed that “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”

Therefore, I must have a desperately wicked and deceitful
heart, right? After all, the Bible says I do!

Wrong! DEAD WRONG!

Those dear souls who communicated that “truth” to me, about me, failed to interpret that verse in light of there being two covenants, and therefore two economies in which we live. Jeremiah 17:11 was written under an old covenant economy, where man, even the believing man, lived in a state of separation from God, his sins not yet having been removed by the cross of Christ!

In Ezekiel 36:25-26 however, God stated that He was going to establish a New Covenant, in which he would cleanse us from our sin, take away the stony heart of our flesh, and give us a new heart. Did you see that? Because of the finished work of Christ, it is no longer true that a believer, a child of God, has a desperately wicked and deceitful heart.

That old ugly heart has been taken away, and we not only
have a new heart, a good heart, a heart that wants to love and serve God.

Oh, my friends, you have a good heart. I am reminded of that incredible movie "Braveheart" where William Wallace has a vision of his recently martyred father telling him, "William, your heart is good! Have the courage to follow it!" 

That is my word to you today, "Dear friend in Christ, your heart is good, have the courage to follow it, and watch the world stand in awe of the God they see in you and the work He has done on your behalf!"

Safe Harbor

That all of us who name the name of Jesus would offer to others a “safe-place.”

That all of us who name the name of Jesus would offer to others a “safe-place.”

If I had to pick my favorite attribute of the Lord Jesus, it would be that he was “SAFE"! Think about it! No one was ever afraid to come into His presence. The sick approached him readily, and even His enemies who often got slammed by His words, did not hesitate to approach Him. And what about “the sinners,” those wayward ones who had committed such horrible acts of sin? Well, they too knew that they were able to approach Him.  And I believe it is noteworthy, that when He approached them, though they might be uncomfortable – they did not run or shrink back from Him.

I am thinking of the hated tax collector Zaccheus, and how Jesus had dinner in his home. I am thinking of the sinful Samaritan, whom He engaged in a theological discussion, using that as a platform to cut through the “theology” to her most deeply felt needs, which He in turn offered to meet. And what about the adulterous woman, you know, the one that the “religious community” was ready to stone for her adultery? Well, He stood as a buffer between them, humiliating them for their hypocrisy and offering her forgiveness and restoration! 
I love Him for extending the “safe harbor” that He offered to people who were experiencing the storms of life inwhich a sin cursed world hurled at them. It did not matter who they were, where they were from, what they had done, how many times they had done it, nor who they had done it with… the only issue for them was that now they were standing, kneeling, or face down in the presence of His safety that He was offering. Their only failure now, would be if they rejected the safety He offered, and yet, even then, He would continue to present Himself to them if only they would take advantage of His offer to receive them.

Oh, if only the church could function in such a way as to offer such a safe harbor for the people of this world. Oh, if the church could only be that place where it mattered not where men and women had been, so much as where they are now – resting in Him! My prayer, is that it would start with me. But I hope it doesn’t end there. My prayer is that it would continue with you, as well. That all of us who name the name of Jesus would offer to others a “safe-place.”

How are you doing in this pursuit? I would challenge you to go to those around you and ask them? “Do you feel safe around me? Can you let your hair down and be yourself around me? Or do you feel like you have to be on your best game when you are around me? Do you feel like you have to guard your words and actions around me?” The answers to those questions are going to reveal the bottom line – whether or not you just preach grace or also practice it as well! I never want to be a teacher of grace, without also being one who practices grace. I want to offer to all who need it, a safe place in a world that can be and feel so unsafe. I want people who experience my presence, when they leave my presence, to know that they were and are loved! That simple…

Go. Be an apostle.

If ever there was a man who LOVED to herald his role in life, it was the Apostle Paul. Dare we say that he "boasted" in doing so? I am comfortable with that because I believe he also proclaimed just as loudly why he boasted so in his role.

Allow me to explain.

In I Timothy, even to a letter that was NOT written to the church, but to a close friend, he stated loudly that He was an apostle of Jesus Christ. Hmmmm.... Strange! I would have expected him to so identify himself as Timothy's friend...

But if you read on, we learn why he was so amazed to be an apostle. After what he had done in life, persecuted the church, sought out and murdered Christians, he found that God could so deal with his sin, remove it so far from him, transform him, crucify, bury, and resurrect him so brand new, that even this kind of man could be put into the service of God. When Paul boasted that he was an apostle, he was really boasting in how great the grace of God was.

Oh my friend, have you committed "that sin" that the enemy has you thinking that you could never, ever again be used of God? Please know, that the grace of God is bigger than your sin. Though you and I can never be an Apostle, we can be an apostle. 
What?

The technical form of the word 'apostle' means one of the original followers of Jesus, a man who was personally trained and commissioned by Jesus Himself. Paul is included in this of course, because of His Damascus road calling and training from the Holy Spirit during his three year hiatus from public life.

So, we can never be an APOSTLE, but we can however, be an apostle. The basic root of the word meaning one sent to equip. I believe every one of us should boast in that calling. Just like Paul, we may have sinned horribly, but even if we sinned horribly after becoming a Christian, there is not a man nor a woman that has ever sinned bigger than the grace of God! God can take you and make you so brand new that He will consider you worthy to be used in His service. Why? To tell others of His marvelous grace! I found this poem I would like to share with you:

"Life can never be dull again... 
When once we've thrown our windows open wide...
And seen the mighty world that lies outside,
And whispered to ourselves this wondrous thing,
We are wanted, for the business of the King!

Go! Be one "sent to the world', share your story of how the grace of God has touched your life so that others can be equipped to face this world with His grace too!"

Only Good and Mercy

Psalm 23 is a favorite of so many people. It is most often read at funerals, but the psalm is really for the living... for those who are journeying through a dark and sometimes lonely world. The glory of the psalm is that we do not walk through this "valley of the shadow of death" alone, for HE, the living and all powerful God of the universe is with us.

Because He is with us, v. 5-6 tell us that there is a banquet spread for us before those foes that sought to vanquish us. Ours is the final victory. In that "spread" that is laid out before us, we are told that "surely goodness and mercy shall follow us all the days of our lives..."

The word I want to home in on is "surely"... it is the Hebrew word ak, and can be translated surely, truly, or nevertheless. The translation I prefer is "only".... In other words this is the Rom 8:28 of the Old Testament. There are things that really look and feel bad in this journey through the valley of the shadow of death, but in that day, when we sit at the feast with our Lord Jesus and celebrate His and our victory, we will look back at all those bad and fearful things that we experienced and see ONLY the GOOD that our Father was working into our lives... and they will be bad and fearful to us no more....

But for God... this would not be true.

Why sin grieves God's heart

When Adam ate from the tree, he sinned. No buts about it, he sinned. He "missed the mark" and this has been the proclamation of the church ever since. HE SINNED!

Though that is true, I do not believe that is the supreme issue when it comes to our Father's heart! May I illustrate.

I also play the role of father, a role given to me from God Himself. When my children sin, when they miss the mark, that bothers me as a father. Of course it does! They sinned. They missed the mark.

But hear me please, that thought is not what dominates my heart. My heart is consumed with a much greater thought --- and that is not so much that they did wrong, but that they are going to have to suffer some ominous consequences because they did wrong. That is what grieves me... I NEVER want my children to experience what they were never designed to experience. Does that make sense?

Let's run with this then. When Adam sinned, of course that grieved the heart of God. But what grieved the heart of God even more is what man would have to experience because he did wrong. Now man is going to experience death. Now man is going to experience loss. Now he is going to experience fear, grief, sorrow, anxiety, guilt, shame, isolation, independence, and on an on we could go. All of these are going to occur because man was now divorced from God and now married to the law. A system of performing right and avoiding wrong in an effort to make himself "like God"... in an attempt to be "right" independent of God. Now man is going to experience guilt and shame when he does wrong, and he is going to experience pride when he does right.

This is what grieves God's heart. You do know that man was NEVER supposed to be concerned with doing right or now doing wrong. That mindset, that economy, only came in to the experience of man because Adam sinned by eating from that tree of right and wrong. Before this event, (this sin) man had no idea of right and wrong, good and evil was. All he knew was God, and that was enough. Sadly, ever since that fateful day, this has been the struggle of man. Not trusting that God is enough. Always laboring instead to do right and not do wrong in a feeble attempt to make himself "ok" independent of God.

Do you see why the sin of Adam (and any sin of man) grieves the heart of God so? It is not just that man has chosen wrong that sorrows God, but the fact that man is going to now experience the consequence of other than God. As a Father He wants so much for us as His children. He does not want us pursuing the "doing" of right and the "avoiding" of wrong. That economy is an economy that only came into our experience as a consequence of Adam's sin.... He wants us to experience Him as the only One Who can make us right, and express right, through us as we trust Him by faith. That is why throughout the New Testament He heralds loudly how He rescued us from the law through the Person and Work of Christ, so that we could once again be married to God!

What a Father we have. His great concern is not just that we have sinned, but that we have to experience consequences from that sin. And know this, His concern is so great that it led Him to send His Son, not only so that He could remove our sin, but also remove the consequences of sin. He delivered us from the code of ethics, the system of right and wrong, THE LAW, so that we could be restored to Him... WOW INDEED!