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Why Knowing About God Isn’t Enough

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There are two Greek words in the Bible for knowing. First there is the Greek word oida. It means “to know in the mind;” it means “to know the facts.” But there’s a second word for knowing that we really need to understand and it’s gnosco. Gnosco means “to know by experience.”

Let’s explore the difference between these two words. I can’t come to you and say, “I know (gnosco) Abraham Lincoln,”  I don’t know him by experience. I have no relationship with him. The word I would use here would be oida. “I know Abraham Lincoln.” I’ve read the history books and I know the facts about his life. So which word do we find in the New Testament when it talks about us knowing God? It’s not oida—it’s gnosco. This is so very important because so many people live in oida. They know about God, they read the Bible, they know the facts, they study the history, and they know about God but they don’t know Him. Do you realize how sad that is?

Let me illustrate this again. I don’t want to know about a kiss. I don’t want to oida a kiss. Oida is the facts: two mouths coming together, exchanging tongues and saliva fluid. Yuck. I don’t want to know that. I want to experience it! Isn’t that strange, especially after that definition? But you want to experience it too, because that’s the first act of giving yourself to another human being and receiving another human being. And that’s gnosco, my friends, the Lord Jesus Christ came to live inside of us. Why? Well, so He could empower us, so we could experience Him so that we could know Him, not by mind only, but by experiencing His love.

I don’t want to know about love. I want to be loved, don’t you? And that’s why the Holy Spirit came inside of you. So you could experience the love, grace, mercy, faithfulness, kindness, and goodness of God and know Him (gnosco) by experience.

What a great God. Have a great day!

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Who Am I? - The Answer You’ve Been Looking For

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Let’s look at 2 Peter 1:1 where Peter introduces himself as “Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ.” So we can look at this casually but please, don’t ever read the Bible casually, dig into it! There are precious jewels here that you might miss if you’re just skimming through. Peter introduces himself not as Peter, but as Simon Peter. Simon was his birth name, the name given to his humanity; Peter was the name given to him by Jesus, his new covenant name, “the Rock” in Jesus Christ. Then he goes further just to make sure we get it. He says he is a bond servant, basically just a slave, and he is an apostle of Jesus Christ, basically a prince in the Kingdom of God. Do you see what Peter is doing in this little verse? He’s saying, I know who I am and I know who I was. I’m just a man, but I’m so much more than a man—I’m a child of God. I’m just a servant but I’m also a child of the king, which means I’m a prince and I rule and reign with Him.

Peter knew who he was. Do you know who you are?

I find that the church doesn’t understand this issue of identity. Here’s how it usually goes. We talk to the unbeliever and we say, “You’re a sinner in need of deliverance.” So they agree and say, “Yes, I put my faith in Jesus.” And we say, “Okay, now you’re a sinner saved by grace.” But don’t you see? In this way of thinking nothing has happened, nothing has changed! Well your sins have been forgiven and you’re going to heaven, but we’ve missed the whole thrust of the New Testament. The whole point is that we get made brand new! We are no longer sinners— that’s what we do—but it’s not who we are. Here’s a new way of saying it; a new way of thinking about it. I was a sinner. Now I am a saint who sins. Sometimes that’s the best definition.

I’m just a man. When you look at me, you look at Frank Friedmann. I’m just a man, but I’m so much more than a man. I’m a container of God. I’m a prince of the Kingdom of God. Just as you are. You are a saint. You’re not a sinner anymore. If you’re a Christian, a sinner is not who you are, it’s what you do sometimes, but it’s not who you are. You are a saint. You are a prince or a princess. And for this, we praise our God in Jesus’ name.

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When God Says “Wait”

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Wait. Did you hear that word? I really don’t like that word. To me it’s kind of a four letter word in the Bible. When my heart gets set on something I’m going to bring into my life or maybe there’s news of a bad thing coming “wait” is a very difficult word. And that’s not only true for us, it was a difficult word for Ruth in the Bible too. In Ruth 3:18 she has expressed her desire to marry Prince Boaz and he has affirmed his desire to marry her. Romance is in the air. There’s only one problem, as so often happens with fairy tale romances, there’s somebody in the way. With Cinderella it was the wicked stepsisters and in the Princess Bride it was that deceitful Prince Humperdinck. Well here there is a kinsman redeemer who’s closer to Ruth than Boaz is and he has the right in the law of God to redeem her first.

So Naomi tells Ruth, “Wait, my daughter, until you know how the matter turns out; for the man will not rest until he has settled it today” (Ruth 3:18). But here’s the other thing I want you to notice. She tells Ruth to wait because another is working to bring about an appointed end. Boaz, as you remember, was a mighty man of valor, a mighty man of influence. My friends, do you see where we’re going with this? I don’t know what you’re having to wait for—maybe it’s a job, maybe it’s a decision to move, maybe you’re single and you’re waiting for a spouse, or you’ve got a sick child and you’re waiting for a diagnosis. Waiting can be very, very difficult. But remember, there is One who is greater than we are who is not going to rest. He is going to settle this matter and as Jeremiah says, “bring us to an expected end” (Jeremiah 29:11). While you wait, my friends, rest in the knowledge that there’s a greater One who is working on your behalf.

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What to do When You Fall Short

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Today I want to share with you one of my favorite verses from the Old Testament, Proverbs 24:16. This is what it says: “The righteous man falls seven times and gets up again.” Did you hear that? It does NOT say the righteous never fall. That’s the mind of religion. That’s a lie! In that way of thinking the focus is on my behavior and the lie that I don’t sin. 1 John 1:8 says “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” Romans 2:10 says, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” So it’s very important to understand that a righteous person is not somebody who is righteous by behavior because everyone’s behavior falls short. Isn’t that glorious? The righteous person is one who lives by faith and gets back up again.

There’s another part of this verse that I want you to notice. We don’t want to miss this. “The righteous man falls seven times.” Why didn’t God say four times or five times or twenty times? He said seven because seven is the number of biblical perfection. So what does this mean? It means that a righteous person is a perfect failure—a perfect failure who keeps getting back up. Now that’s a God I can follow! That’s a God I can serve!  In His eyes the issue is not that I fall, but that I keep getting back up and I keep choosing to believe in Him. My identity and my worth and my value and my salvation are not dependent on my behavior, but on the behavior of the Son of God who gave Himself for me on the cross. Isn’t that glorious?

Go tackle the world today with this as your motto; “You can knock me down, but you’ll never knock me out—I’m getting back up again.” Have a victorious day to day in Jesus’ name!

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Want Others To See God In Your Life? Here’s What Not To Do

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In 1 Thessalonians 5:19 there’s a very curious verse. It says, “Do not quench the spirit.” That’s puzzling because “quench” can be used so often in a very positive way, especially when we’re talking about thirst. When I’m thirsty, what do I want to do? I’m going to quench that thirst. When I have a desire, what do I want to do? I want to quench that desire by fulfilling it. But here it’s being used in a very negative fashion. “Don’t quench the spirit.” What does that mean? I think the key to understanding this verse is to realize that throughout both Old and New Testaments, the Holy Spirit is viewed and represented as fire. Fire is a very powerful commodity. Fire purifies everything that it touches. That’s the important part. The Holy Spirit has come into our life as a fire to empower us so He can purify us in our walk. Wonderful! Do not quench that!

Let’s think about this clearly. Fire has one real enemy and that’s water. Water can put out the fire. The Bible talks about water—living water—and so we want to draw a real life from God as living water but by implication there are other kinds of water. There are other things that can temporarily satisfy our soul, never satisfy our spirit, but certainly satisfy our soul. When we take satisfaction from those things, we are quenching the power of the Spirit to completely satisfy all of my needs. So we’ve got to be very careful here, my friends. The Holy Spirit is a gentleman. He will never overpower your life. He will never overtake you, never control you. And also, He will never leave you. He will never forsake you. He will always be available to you. But in the moment when you quench the spirit, you’re looking to other things than God as a life source, and you’re not allowing His power to transform you into the image of Christ.

Don’t quench the spirit, let Him energize your life in a way that transforms it so that the world will be able to look at you and see you as a letter of God and say, “There goes a man or a woman who knows God. I can see it in the way they live.”

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The Only Thing To Do When You’re Feeling Overwhelmed

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Adversity. I don’t like that word, nor any of its synonyms—distress, hardship, struggle, conflict. All those kinds of things can loom very large in our lives. Let’s be honest, when they do, it’s so easy for you and I to fix our eyes on them and not see God. Then God becomes very small in our lives. Sometimes I feel like the disciples when Jesus said to them “Oh you of little faith!” I’m not sharing with you something that I don’t struggle with. Those looming things that pop into our lives can seem so big. What can we do?

Well, I’m always looking for stories of how other people have trusted God. I think of Asaph in Psalm 73. He went horizontal in life and life seemed so harsh. He went vertical and he saw the true reality of life. He saw the world through heaven’s eyes.

Recently I came across the story of the Boxer Rebellion in China. Hudson Taylor was the founder of the China Inland Mission during the Boxer Rebellion and the saints were suffering very badly at this time. So Hudson Taylor, who was now in his late seventies, gathered them together and this is what he said,I cannot see. I cannot think, I cannot even pray.” Have you ever been there? When life seems so overwhelming, you can’t think straight. You can’t see the light in the midst of the darkness and you’re so overwhelmed that you cannot pray. But Hudson Taylor wasn’t done. Listen to all of what he said. “I cannot see. I cannot think, I cannot even pray, but I can trust.” My heart was warmed by those words.

You see, God doesn’t call us to understand why things are happening. God doesn’t call us to muster up our strength and tread through the darkness. He calls us to trust Him that He will be our strength and He will be our guide and He will lead us through the path of darkness into the light of His glorious grace and love.

I hope that encourages your day and bless you in Jesus’ name.


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He Is Faithful, Even When We Wander

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I want to share another one of my favorite verses with you today. It’s found in 1 Thessalonians 5:24  It says, “Faithful is He who calls you.” Stop right there. A lot of times we’ll read this as “Faithful is He who has called you. That’s not what it says! That would imply that God reached out and He called you to Himself, and now He’s not doing anything else. The Greek word is not in the past tense, it’s in the present tense. Let’s translate it correctly and let’s read the Bible carefully. “Faithful is He who calls you.” The present tense means there is an element of continuousness in the action. So God is calling you and calling you and calling you and calling you. Why is that so important? Because like the old hymn writer said, “I’m prone to wander.”

There’s this thing in me called the flesh that is not me. There’s this thing in me called the power of sin that is not me. It’s like having a splinter. I have a piece of wood in my body, but it’s not me. And the flesh and the power of sin that are in me are attracted to the things of the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, the pride of life (1 John 2:16). As Psalm 23 puts it there’s a lot of different paths out there, and sometimes I can be called to those paths. But God is so faithful. He calls me again and again and again and again. “Don’t go down that path. Don’t go down that path.” And sometimes I do it anyway and He continues to call me to Himself. Remember what God said? “I will never leave you or forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6).

We serve a God who calls us to Himself perpetually. That’s how faithful He is. Isn’t that glorious? And for that, we praise you, Father, in Jesus’ name, have a great day my friends, bless you.

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Don’t Believe Everything You Hear

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I’m going to highlight for you what I believe is one of the most important verses in the New Testament. In the book of Acts 17 the apostle Paul went to Berea and there he taught them the word of God. But here’s what’s so special. After they listened to him the Bereans went home to search the scriptures to see if what he said was really true (Acts 17:11). I hope you understand what a desperate need there is for you to do that and for me to do that today.

You know, years ago when I first began to teach the grace of God, you didn’t need more than your fingers and toes to count the people who were teaching the grace of God. But we’re in a wave of momentum and so many people are jumping on the bandwagon. I’ve read some of the new books that are out, and I’ve listened to some of the new speakers, and I’m greatly concerned that they do not necessarily know the grace they’re talking about. We’ve got to remember, my friends, that there are two fathers in this world. There’s the Father of light, our great God, and there’s the father of lies. And the father of lies is very active in this world. What he does as a strategy is he takes truth and speaks truth and puts just a little bit of lie in it. It’s enough truth to sound good, but there’s enough lie to knock us off course. Remember, Adam and Eve and the serpent? “God said, you shall not touch that tree.” God never said don’t touch the tree. He said, “Don’t eat of the tree.” There was enough truth in what the serpent said to get her to listen to him, but there was enough lie to cause her to stumble in a very bad way.

No matter who you’re listening to, even me, I want you to search the scriptures and see if what that teacher is saying is true. If it’s true, follow them, listen to them, and keep searching and making sure they continue to speak truth. If it’s not true, run as fast as you can. Lies are nothing to play with. Be alert in this world, it’s a dangerous place. Walk close with God.

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Connecting the Dots: How to Trust God in This Dark World

Are you struggling? Becoming overwhelmed? Connect the dots in your own life of how God has been faithful to you. Connect the dots and let your heart be encouraged, let your faith be strengthened. Let your walk be dramatically empowered as you look at His faithfulness. This is what Habakkuk did. 

Habakkuk looked upon the nation of Israel, and Israel was in trouble. He cried out to God and God said, “I see, and I'm going to wipe them out.” Habakkuk was thinking more along the lines of revival but God said no. He was going to wipe them out and use the wicked Chaldeans to do it. 

Habakkuk continued to ask God questions, but there was silence. He decided to go up into his prayer tower, and he told God that he wouldn’t come down until He answered him. Two weeks went by and God said, “Trust Me.” That's it, that was all Habakkuk got. The just shall live by faith. 

So, he comes down from his prayer tower and he begins connecting the dots: God, you parted the Red Sea, you made the sun stand still, you knocked down the walls of Jericho—Bring on the Chaldeans. Though the fig tree doesn't blossom, though there's not going to be any fruit on the vine, yet I will trust you. 

Father, Your Word is great, because it's the truth about You and all that You want to be to us. May every one of us put our faith in You, may our hearts be encouraged today, our faith strengthened, and our walk transformed, because of who You are. In the midst of this very dark world, we cling to you Father because we know You're going to cling back to us. In Jesus name. Amen.

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Finding Shelter in God

The book of Psalms tells us that we will “dwell in the house of the Lord forever”(23:6). We will live with Him, in Him. He's going to be our address, our home. 

How many of you saw the movie The Lone Survivor with Mark Wahlberg? In that movie, Marcus Luttrel is hurt, and a Pakistani Muslim takes him into his own home and then defends him with his own life. They call this custom the Pashtunwali Code and the idea is when I'm your host I'm willing to lay down my life for you. 

There is amazing archeological evidence, which you can Google yourself, which shows that some of the tribes of Israel went into Afghanistan and that the Pashtunwali Code may have originated from Hebrew custom and culture. But regardless of where the code comes from this is exactly what God does for us. He invites us into Himself, to dwell in Him, and then he defends us with His Life.  Let's think about that. God says, “I will be your host, and I will protect you so much and I am so much for you that I will lay down my life for you.” Amazing!


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The Most Important Thing God Wants You to Know About Death

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Remember that passage in 2 Thessalonians where Paul says, Beloved ones, I want you to be in the know concerning the return of Jesus, and concerning those people who have died before Christ has come back? Wait now! Is that what he said, “Those who have died?” Let’s look at the verse: “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do those who have no hope” (2 Thessalonians 4:13-14). Does verse 13 say, “They have died?” No, it does not! It says they have “fallen asleep.” 

When it comes to a believer dying, we no longer die, we go to sleep. Think about that! The word sleep isn’t used in the New Testament to refer to the soul or spirit of a person, it's used to refer to the body. So, our soul or spirit ejects out of that body and goes to be with the Lord Jesus Christ. It's the body that's left behind and it doesn't really die, at least not from a Christian perspective. It's called sleep. Look at these verses: 2 Corinthians 5:8 says, “Absent from the body, present with the Lord.” And Philippians 1:23 says, “having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is much better.”

And so in the early church, the teaching from the spirit of God was, it's no longer death, it's just sleep. Fascinating! So let’s dive into that a little further and circle the word sleep in your Bible. It’s the word koimaomai, and it means to sleep. And as I studied that word, it led to another word, called koimeterion, which means a dormitory, or a sleeping place, and from that word we get our word “cemetery”. 

The whole world uses the word cemetery today, but Christians started to use it for the place we bury those who have gone to sleep. A cemetery is a place where you put people whose bodies have gone to sleep and the word was later used to refer to a hotel. Isn't that cool? 

How many of you have ever checked into a hotel thinking you're going to stay there forever?! No way baby! You're checking in, because you're checking out, and that's what the Holy Spirit of God says to a believer who has died. They're checking into that cemetery, but they're checking out very, very soon. Isn't that cool? I love that. For the believer, the grave is not the end of the story.

Take your pen now, and circle that other little phrase “having fallen asleep.” That's an incorrect translation. It's actually a passive tense, an action that has been done upon them. It should have been translated “having been put to sleep.” Think about that, who “puts people to sleep?” Parents! And who do we as parents put to sleep? Our little children. Do you get the word picture, friends? The Holy Spirit's trying to communicate Father's perspective, and that is that He took that child and put them to bed. Now here's the key, as a parent have you ever put your child to sleep thinking they were going to sleep forever? No, you knew they were getting up soon and we're getting up out of that grave real, real soon! 

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Who God Really Wants to Be to You

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The book of Psalm shares this amazing promise with us: “He will cover us with His feathers and under His wings, we will find refuge” (Psalm 91:4). 

Of course, we instantly think of Jesus in Matthew 23:37 where He’s on the hill overlooking the city of Jerusalem and He's crying, He's weeping, “Oh, Jerusalem! How often would I have gathered you under my wings like a hen gathers her chicks?” What's He saying? That He wanted to protect them and shepherd them but they wouldn't let Him. They wouldn't come to Him, they followed that false theologian Frank Sinatra and said, “I’ll do it my way!” 

When we come to Him, “His faithfulness will be our shield and our bulwark.” (Psalm 91:4). Meaning that He literally puts a fortress around us. And it’s important to remember that, He doesn't just put a shield up around us, He IS the shield around us! 

At this point in the verses the Psalmist almost cries out, I almost picture him grabbing the person he's talking to and going, “Do you hear me?! Do you see what I'm trying to tell you that God is offering to be to you?”

Loved one, when you come to know Him and experience Him, you will not fear!


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Knowing This Habit of God Will Change Your Life

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It says in the verses of Psalms that there are snares out there; there are traps. Let’s look at one of those verses: “For it is He who delivers you from the snare of the trapper and from the deadly pestilence” (Psalm 91:3).There’s a feeling of very real danger here of capture and binding and the verses say that there's deadly pestilence, but did you notice that he didn't define it? He left it open. There are lots of pestilences on any given day of our lives. Do you realize that one little germ, one little virus can rob us of our health and even kill us? Do we really understand what James said, “You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away”(James 4:14)? 

What's the instantaneous promise though that we are given? “He delivers you!” And we need to park there for a minute and really look at what this means. This does not mean that those who trust God are never going to succumb to the enemy or die by disease. We must interpret these verses in light of the rest of the Bible. Hebrews 11 gives us a list of lots of people who put their faith in God but didn't get delivered from their struggle but instead were delivered to God personally in heaven. That was faith too: “And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, because God had provided something better for us” (Hebrews 11:39).

So what is the psalmist saying? I think what he's saying is this, if you will look at God in His recorded history, if you will look at God over the history of your own personal walk with Him, you will find that God is in the habit of delivering His kids. He does it all the time! 

We could go to 2 Corinthians 11:26 and look at Paul's personal testimony. He tells us that he endured shipwreck, and robbers, and disease, and famine—and through it all, God preserved him. We could go to Philippians 4:13, and the promise for us is, “I can do all things through Christ.” I can have a lot, I can have a little, I can be healthy, I can be sick, but no matter what the circumstance I have found that He is sufficient. 

Psalm 23:4, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for You are with me.” He doesn't say, “He'll get me out of the valley,” he says “He will walk with me through it. 

I think the message is clear, and one writer (George Whitefield) put it this way, that we who abide in Him are immortal until our work is done. Let that one sink in for a little bit! Until God is finished with you laboring on His behalf in this world, nothing can take you home until He says it’s time.

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How to Avoid the Greatest Danger of Trials

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Take a look at these verses from Psalms: “The proud have hid a snare for me, and cords; They have spread a net by the wayside” (Psalm 140:5). “The wicked have laid a snare for me; Yet have I not gone astray from thy precepts” (Psalm 119:110). “Keep me from the jaws of the trap which they have set for me, And from the snares of those who do iniquity” (Psalm 141:9). “For it is He who delivers you from the snare of the trapper and from the deadly pestilence” (Psalm 91:3).The psalmist presents danger in every verse. He presents the danger, but then instantaneously, he presents the Deliverer! I don't know about you, but I need to be reminded of the One who delivers. I’ve experienced, in my own judgment, more than my fair share of struggle and trial, and it is so important for me to be reminded of my Deliverer.

When those trials come it is very easy, and it is, in fact, the great danger of trial, for our eyes to become fixed on the trial. If we stay focused on the horizontal it allows the trials to grow even bigger than they really are, and it robs us of our joy, peace and faith. What the Psalmist does is every time he presents the danger, he tells us not to only look horizontal but to go vertical! He tells us to get our eyes off the trial. Oh, the trial and travail remain there, but it's not the end of the story—here is One who can deliver us from the trial!

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It’s Not You, It’s Him

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If myself and another person were going to enter into a contract in the Old Testament days, we would take an animal, we'd cut the animal in half and put it on two separate sides. Then I would walk through those animals and the other person would walk through those animals. 

What's the point we'd be trying to make? 

If either one of us breaks this covenant, then let this happen to us. You see, people's word meant something in those days. 

Here's the key that I want you to see—God made a covenant with Abraham. They cut the animals in two, God walked through the animals, and then what did God do? He put Abraham to sleep and God walked through a second time. 

Do you get it? This glorious New Covenant that we have with God is not about you and how much you hold onto God; it's about God and how much He holds onto you. And if you know anything about this world we live in, it's awfully hard to hold onto Him when the storms of life come our way, but it’s not hard at all for Him to hold on to us. 

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The Heart of God and How It Changes Our Lives

When you're a little kid, and you’re living in a very dangerous world and your heart gets filled with fear, what do you do? I had four kids, and I can tell you what they do; they put a death grip around your neck! And what does a parent do when a child puts a death grip around their neck because they're afraid? Oh, we throw them down and say, “Grow up!” Right? Is that what we do? That's not what I did. I’ll tell you what I did, I put a death grip right back on them, and I’d say, "It’s ok baby, your daddy's got you. Your daddy's got you and because your daddy's got you, it's okay, and that's the only reason it's okay.” 

The book of Psalms tells us that He will rescue us. It says, “I will protect you because you know my name” (Psalm 91:14). I think that's a reference to all the names He’s given us for Himself: Yahweh, El Shaddai, Elyon, all references to His character. I'll be the strong one. I'll be the exalted one. I'll be your protector. I'll be your provider. I think it's supremely the name that Jesus revealed to us in John 17: Father.

And Psalms doesn’t say, “When we call on Him,” that's the wrong word! When you're in trouble as a little kid, do you call for your mom or dad? “Excuse me, Mother? Father?” That's not what a little kid does! They cry, and they say, “Will you help me? I'm hurting!” And what does God say? “I will hear him?” No! He says, “I will answer him!” You see, loved one, He doesn’t just hear us, He answers us. 

And even more than that, He tells us that He will be with us in the trouble. This is so important for us to know—God does not always deliver us from trouble. In fact, I have found that in my own experience, rarely does He deliver us from trouble. Being delivered from the trouble, that's Plan A, that's what we all want, but it's not what we get. We usually get Plan B, He'll walk with us in the trouble until we’re out of the trouble.


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Did Paul Really Tell us Not to Grieve?

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In 1 Corinthians 15:55 Paul says “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” and in 1 Thessalonians 4:13 he writes, “so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope.” Please hear this beloved, it’s so very important. Paul is not saying, do not grieve. The Christian community has taken this passage and twisted it many, many times to do something ridiculously wrong, and imply that we're not supposed to grieve. 

When I was pastoring in Delaware, there was a sweet young woman who was thirty-four years old with four babies. She was in the ICU and was dying, and did die. We held a round the clock vigil for that young lady, and people were there with her praying the whole two weeks she was there. I showed up one day just in time to see one of our dear ladies come out of that ICU with tears streaming down her cheeks, and the next lady ready to go in stuck her finger in that woman’s face and said, “Stop crying! That doesn't manifest victory.” If ever I wanted to slap somebody in Jesus' name! You know what, maybe it didn't manifest victory, but it manifested compassion, which is, in my understanding of the New Testament, what Jesus Christ is all about!

We grieve. Paul said in Romans 12:15 through the spirit, “Weep with those who weep.” Jesus himself wept at the death of Lazarus. And this is so important, it doesn't say He cried a few tears, it says He wept. Weeping is full-fledged, heartfelt crying. That's an important distinction. If Jesus felt the freedom to openly grieve the loss of a loved one, even though it's temporary, we should feel the same freedom. 

What Paul is speaking to us in these verses, is that he wants us to grieve with hope, to grieve with confidence that ours is never a permanent goodbye. I challenge every one of you, because until the Lord returns there will be death in your family and friends, when you're at that graveside, don't say goodbye, say until we meet again. Until we meet again.

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4 Powerful Things That Will Change the Way You See God

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Let’s take a look at these beginning lines from Psalm 91:

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High

Will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.

I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,

My God, in whom I trust!”

For it is He who delivers you from the snare of the trapper

And from the deadly pestilence.

He will cover you with His pinions,

And under His wings you may seek refuge;

His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark.”

You're going to find that the Psalmist, in his exuberance, gives us four different metaphors to describe who God is to him through his proven experience. 

  1. “He is my shelter.” If anybody knows about needing shelter, it’s us in South Louisiana! When the storms come rolling in, baby you go looking for shelter!

  2. “He is my shadow.” When you live in a desert, it will beat you down and zap every little bit of your life and strength out of you. You need a shadow to cool you off. 

  3. “He is my refuge.” He's the one place where I can run to. He's my fortress. I love that. 

  4. “He is my protection.” He's the one place of safety I have in this life.

If I could have my own translation of the Bible, this is how I'd summarize these verses, “If anyone is going to try and get to me, they’re going to have to go through my Father first!” 

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How to Live Free in the Midst of Hardship

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In John 7:37, Jesus made a remarkable statement. He said, “If anyone is thirsty let [them] come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me…from [their] innermost being shall flow rivers of living water.” He tells us, I will satisfy that thirst, and I will satisfy it so fully that rivers of living water will flow out of you.”

“If anyone,” let’s stop there. It doesn't matter who you are, where you’ve been, where you find yourself any person anywhere, anytime, this is for you—Do you thirst? And then what does He say? Amazingly, He leaves it blank! He doesn’t say, “If you thirst after righteousness.” That's what we would have expected to see, right? He just says, “If you thirst.” In other words, “Whatever thirst you have, you can come to Me.” 

You see, we might think we're thirsting for something, but that's really not what we're thirsting for; we're actually thirsting for Him, we just don't always recognize it. You might be thirsting for money; but you're not really thirsting for money, you’re thirsting for security. And where can you get security from? From the One who owns the cattle on a thousand hills, darling! 

You might think you're thirsting for fame; you long to be recognized. What are you really thirsting for? Significance—and you can't get any more significant than being the child of the King of Kings of this universe!

You might think you're thirsting for sex. What are you really thirsting for? Sex! No, I'm just kidding. You’re thirsting for intimacy and you can get that from God. He's the One who knows your thoughts, not even your spouse knows your thoughts. He knows your thoughts and says, “I love you unconditionally.”

Are you thirsting for deliverance? No. What you're really thirsting for, is His freedom and did you know that you can be free even in the middle of a conflict? Oh yes, you can be free in the middle of a desert, you can be free even in a prison.  You can be free!


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The Freeing Truth that Can Radically Change Your New Year

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Listen to what Jesus said, “I came that they may have Life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). He doesn’t make it hard, He said, “Whoever believes in [Me], shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16). He said, “I am the way, the truth, THE Life” (John 14:6). And I love 1 John 5:12, “Whoever has the son, has the Life.” That’s a definite article, THE Life.

That's why Paul says in 2 Corinthians 3:5, “Not that are adequate in ourselves.” We're not! We're not right in ourselves and if we're going to have adequacy, if we're going to be made right, it's from God, who when we look at the tense of the verb, has made us adequate. He made us right; not from the Old Covenant, not from the law, not from performing, not from resolutions to do right and not do wrong. Throw all that out! It’s by the One who made us right by the Spirit who gave us Life. 

Paul tells us in Philippians 3:7-8, that whatever things were gain to him—the fact that he was a Pharisee, the fact that he was zealous in trying to keep the law, and the fact that he made resolutions ad infinitum and kept them—none of it brought him Life. That's why he continues and says, “I now count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith.” So it’s not from performing, or from resolutions. No, no, no! It’s through faith! 

Listen beloved, did you hear what he said? The moment you say yes to Jesus, God says, “You are now right.” And you are right. Oh my goodness. Is it any wonder that it's called good news?! 

Paul continues, saying, “This is my one thing: I forget what lies behind and I press on for the prize of God in Jesus Christ.” In the moment we place our faith in Jesus, we are removed from the economy of performing to achieve. We are delivered from resolutions, and placed instead into an economy of the saving Life directly from God, and now, having found Life, we enter into true revelry. The definition of that word revelry, is noisy partying and merrymaking and that's what the Church of Jesus Christ should be known by!

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Each week, Pastor Frank sends several short, encouraging videos to his circle of friends.
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