New Messages Coming in March

Long awaited…!

We will be starting a new message series in March.

I have been commissioned to preach every Sunday in March at Boiling Springs Church of God in Decatur, IL. Stop by 10:45 if you’re available, or stay tuned to for audio and video of the messages.

May God bless you all!

Pastor Joe

Back in the Saddle Again

Life can be so crazy and overwhelming sometimes, we know the secret of contentment comes from God alone through His Son, Jesus the Messiah, the Christ, the Holy and Appointed One of God. Philippians 4:13 reveals that secret, “I”, Paul says, “can do all things through Him (Jesus) who gives me strength.”
I am praying for strength right now, going through the holidays, working both my full-time job, part-time substitute teaching, both volunteer ministry and occasional pulpit supply preaching plus of course, famil; in the meantime, neglecting to post and write.
I apologize once again for my negligence.
Getting back on the ball, so please like, share, follow, recommend on Facebook  and
God’s Word is Life and we can have peace and contentment through Him who gives us strength!

Chaos, confusion, control, conflict, and peace!

2020 has been a year unlike any other for those of us alive today. Seems like an understatement, right?

I have spoken to people in their 90s who say the same… The world is in chaos, economies are collapsing, businesses are closing, there are peaceful protests, armed conflicts, destructive riots, shootings, bombings, a global pandemic, and fear mongering.

Government officials at all levels are trying to exercise control over individuals in ways our forefathers revolted against…and just wait until the American people have to pay back, through higher taxes, all the money our government has borrowed in order to pay out all those stimulus packages.

Borders have been closed, travel has been halted, states and cities are quarantining people who travel to and from hot spots, even when their spot is hotter than the ones they are so worried about…hello, Chicago??? In the meantime, here in the good old U S of A, you’ll get COVID at church, at school, a small business, a fitness center, or a restuarant; but not at a protest rally, Walmart, Menards (where I work), or a political rally. Go figure!

It all makes us wonder…is God still alive? Does God even care? Can we have peace, when the world has gone crazy?

YES, YES, and YES!!! The answers are YES!

YES, God is still alive! YES, God does still care! YES, we can have peace!

Jesus may have died on the cross and remained in the grave for 3 days two thousand years ago, but He was resurrected and He is still alive today at the Right Hand of the Father. He is still intervening on our behalf moment by moment. The Father is still offering forgiveness for all our imperfections through our faith in His Perfect Son. His Son is still bestowing Holy Spirit upon us believers to be our Indwelling Comforter and Teacher. The Church is still on Earth and in heaven to act as Christ’s Body and Bride. However, we need unity now, more than ever!

Only God can heal this world, only Jesus can unify our divided spirit, only Holy Spirit will convict us and call us to turn from our selfish desires and grow the Fruit of the Spirit within us. Do you want love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control to abound in the world? Let His Fruit grow in you, plant His Fruit in others, nurture His Fruit and watch it grow around the world!

In spite of the insanity in our world today, we can have peace… So, may the peace of God rest upon you. May the blessings of God live in you. And, may the love of God abound all around you.

What It Means to Be the Church: Churches Filling Needs as Lock-Down Continues

This is what the body of Christ should be doing…

Not closing our doors for public safety, but engaging the sick, hurting, and afraid with the love of Christ and meeting needs, just as our Lord and his disciples have always done!

Pastor Agrees with Lt. Gov. Dan Forest: Planned Parenthood Wants to Exterminate Black People

A discerning person on any side of the abortion argument should truly look at this evil person’s true intentions. Hitler had very similar ideas regarding eugenics as the founder of Planned Parenthood. The idea to exterminate anyone they considered inferior!

The most likely individuals, historically, to have abortions, those inconvenient or unplanned pregnancies, were typically obtained by those type individuals these two hated the most, including African Americans, intellectually inferior, and the impoverished.

Now, it is an epidemic of global proportions to murder the unborn out of convenience, lack of self-control, lust, and self-will. The overall number done for the ‘reason’ of rape, incest, birth defects, or to prevent mother and fetus fatalities is a minuscule percentage of the vast majority. It is now nothing more than an attempt to avoid the consequences of lustful sexually immoral behavior.

There is, of course, salvation and forgiveness available to those who repent of both performing and obtaining abortions…

However, the Church, discerning leaders, and the general public need to wake up and take action against this horrific, evil practice and shut down organizations like Planned Parenthood and all other organizations that continue to support them.

Quick Update

First, an apology, I have not been posting much for the last couple months nor writing much, for those who are following God’s Word Is Life, I’m sorry. Just really busy with work and family.
Second, I promise to get back on the ball sharing encouragement, perspective, and biblical truth regarding life and recovery.
Third, a request. Please like, share, follow, and recommend both the Facebook page and the website
Let’s get the message of renewal, hope, joy, and contentment to the world through the mercy and grace offered to us ALL through a relationship with our Creator Father through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus the Christ, and the indwelling Holy Spirit.
Thank you all for your support!

Purpose in Pain

One of the great questions we, as humans, always have in regards to God, is this…

If there is a loving God, why is there some much pain and suffering in the world?

One answer is obvious, free will and sin. We are free to make any choice we want and our choices affect others in good ways and bad ways.

There is another answer we don’t talk about a lot… growth.

As human beings, we usually hate change. For better or worse, we are happy not to have to change. We will not change unless our current circumstance becomes unbearable. It is said, pain is the great motivator to change.

Pain, suffering, trials, tribulations, sickness, death, and temptation; all these spur us to change. God’s great purpose is to change us to be conformed to the image of his son, Jesus.

Sometimes, the negative situations we go through are motivation for us to change. Sometimes, it is our responses to these situations that are examples to others of how great our God is, to bring us through the change and to work all things for good.

God, in his sovereignty, allows us to go through all kinds of pain to bring us, and those around us, closer to him.

See also, Romans 8:28-30 and Romans 5:3.

Read also,

C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain

John Piper, Suffering and the Sovereignty of God

H.O.W. It Works

I have said for many years, if someone, anyone, truly works the 12 steps they will come into a right understanding of a relationship with God and come to accept Jesus Christ as Savior. It doesn’t matter if they be atheist (as I once w claimed to be), agnostic, disillusioned, unchurched, oppressed, even other faiths, or worldviews. If we are totally honest, open-minded, and willing, to look at all the facts regarding creation, life, death, separation from God and its causes, our shortcomings, our relationships with others, and the claims that the Bible makes; we will become disciples of Jesus.

The keys to recovery, whether it be alcoholism, addiction of some sort, or anything the Scriptures frankly call sin, are Honesty, Open-mindedness, and Willingness. The three points of the AA triangle within the circle represent these three ideals.

If we seek recovery and a relationship with God living out these three principles to their fullest, we will invariably come to the same conclusions. If we short ourselves on any one of them, we will end up hitting a wall. This wall may not cause us to relapse in recovery, but it will stunt our growth spiritually regardless. Let’s take a closer look at these three principles and see how they affect our lives and how they can guide us into all truth objectively.

First, honesty. Looking at ourselves, no matter how well put together an individual seems to be, if we are honest, we are all muffed up in many ways. We all have our shortcomings, our defects of character, the places we injure ourselves or others, the things we cover up, justify, or outright lie about, the places we miss the mark of whatever objective or subjective mark of perfection set for us by ourselves, our society, or our belief system. For some, these may be extreme and outwardly obvious. For others, they may be more subtle. If we look at our various cultures, communities, countries, and our world; we can really see just how muffed up we can get.

If we honestly take stock, the Bible has one word that describes all of this, sin. There are many lists throughout Scripture, but there are two that really sum up all the rest… whether you agree with specific items or not, I ask you to simply consider them.

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! The sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, passive homosexual partners, practicing homosexuals, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, the verbally abusive, and swindlers will not inherit the kingdom of God.

1 Corinthians 6:9‭-‬10 NET‬

Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity, depravity, idolatry, sorcery (getting high on drugs), hostilities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish rivalries, dissensions, factions, envying, murder, drunkenness, carousing, and similar things. I am warning you, as I had warned you before: Those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God!

Galatians 5:19‭-‬21 NET‬

These two lists sum up very well everything that causes any and every kind of harm we can cause to ourselves and others. The Scriptures are clear in both respects, these things separate us from God both now and have eternal consequences.

You may ask, why should I believe anything the Bible has to say? Other than looking at the truth of just these previous couple paragraphs, if you are willing and open-minded enough to give the Bible a fair shake, See also the attached article by Charlie Campbell, 10 Evidences for the Bible.

10 evidences

There is a Creator. Sin has separated us from him. The Scriptures say this,

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of people who suppress the truth by their unrighteousness, because what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world his invisible attributes – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, because they are understood through what has been made. So people are without excuse.

Romans 1:18‭-‬20 NET‬

If we can honestly accept there is really a problem here. Guess what… God has also provided a solution to the problem. Jesus.

Are you open-minded enough to hear about him? Are you open-minded enough to hear about a loving Creator Father that wants a relationship with us? Are you open-minded enough to read a book that through the inspiration of God’s Holy Spirit was given to us to explain how glorious he really is and what he has done to have a relationship with us? Open-minded enough to hear how he has been working since creation to bring us, sinful, rebellious, imperfect human beings into a relationship with a perfect and holy God?
The Bible tells us…

For this is the way God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world should be saved through him. The one who believes in him is not condemned. The one who does not believe has been condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the one and only Son of God. Now this is the basis for judging: that the light has come into the world and people loved the darkness rather than the light, because their deeds were evil.

John 3:16‭-‬19 NET‬

You should have the same attitude toward one another that Christ Jesus had, who though he existed in the form of God did not regard equality with God as something to be grasped, but emptied himself by taking on the form of a slave, by looking like other men, and by sharing in human nature. He humbled himself, by becoming obedient to the point of death – even death on a cross! As a result God exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow – in heaven and on earth and under the earth – and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.

Philippians 2:5‭-‬11 NET‬

because if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and thus has righteousness and with the mouth one confesses and thus has salvation.

Romans 10:9‭-‬10 NET‬

If we say we do not bear the guilt of sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous, forgiving us our sins and cleansing us from all unrighteousness.

1 John 1:8‭-‬9 NET‬

If we are willing enough, we can break down all the barriers between us and God. If we are willing enough, we can bridge the gap. If we are willing enough, we can help others to do the same. We need to be willing to be open-minded. We need to be willing to honestly evaluate the facts and face the truth. We need to be willing to let go of ourselves and accept God on his terms, rather than making up our own.

Because of our sin, God sent his Son, Jesus, to live a perfect human life as God in the flesh. He died on the cross, convicted of crimes he did not commit as a holy sacrifice to make us right with God the Father, bridging the separation sin has caused. He rose from the dead, as both a symbol of his divinity and to raise all those who are willing to follow him into an eternal relationship with the Father and give us his Holy Spirit to live in and with us, so we can live in his image and show his sacrificial love to all the world.

Can you be honest enough to accept this truth about yourself and God? Are you open-minded enough to give all this information consideration or further your own search for the truth? Are you willing enough to do the hard work and soul searching to restore your relationship with God and follow Jesus?

Have faith, do good, show love, and do the next right thing!

May God bless you!

Hard questions for “traditional” congregations

As I have been studying church life and death, and observing different congregations, and pondering the future of the Church in a post-Christian culture; some thoughts and questions come to mind.
Let’s make one thing clear. The mission of the church has never changed nor should the message of the church change; but our presentation and strategies for accomplishing the mission and delivering the message needs to be polymorphic and adaptive! Don’t get me wrong, small congregations are not bad and large congregations are not good and vice versa… but, every congregation should be a vibrant reflection of our living God equipped and able to fulfill his mission and purpose. If church culture, big or small is holding back Kingdom growth, if a congregation is withering and dying because it is not tapped in to the True Vine and not producing fruit, that is a HUGE problem.
Most of these are not new or original, but I think every congregation needs to assess them.
1. If your pastor had a very limited skillset, would you prefer someone skilled in funerals or baptisms?
2. If you have a multigenerational church, does the primary financial support come from those 65 years and older, or younger?
3. If you have a multigenerational church where the older generation is the primary source of support…if the matriarch or patriarch dies, do you think their scions will stay, if nothing changes?
4. If the older generation passes away, how long will the church survive financially, especially if those younger generations leave because the church refuses to adapt to the 21st century?
5. For the older saints, if you could look down from heaven, would you prefer to watch the younger generation stay engaged in your congregation after you are gone, or would you prefer to not see your traditions change? Whether it be music style, order of service, the tradition, fill in the blank…
6. If you are in the older generation, would you rather be intentional about making changes to impact younger generations, or would you prefer to drive them away for the sake of maintaining the tradition? (Of course, they should stay and respect the time honored tradition because holding on to our tradition is more important than keeping people engaged in the church…)
7. If you are in one of these churches and struggling to find a pastor… are you looking for a caretaker to maintain the estate, then wrap up it’s affairs once it has passed away, or do you want someone to guide and lead you into the future (even if change is painful)?
8. If you keep records or can call to mind, how many visitors have come to your church in the last 2 years? How many came back a second time? How many are still there? If you could ask why they didn’t come back, what do you think the answers would be?
a. Not enough youth? Is it because all the young people and young families are going to a more contemporary church down the road?
b. Not enough programs? Is it because there are so few people left attending your church?
c. Music? I spoke to an older friend recently who had been church shopping for a while… in succession, he went to several churches that had not changed to contemporary praise styles. His comment, “my parents made me go to a church like this when I was a kid (60+ years ago), it was tiring then, it needs to just die already.” He said, “I loved the message, and the preaching was good, but I won’t go back.” This is a man who constantly says he should have been born a century ago, hates and doesn’t understand technology, doesn’t have a smartphone or computer, wishes phones still had live operators and party lines, and has a hard time with tv remotes…
9. If you keep records, how many baptisms has your church had in the past 5 years? How many were young adult/adult new believers? How many were children of existing families? If your church is only baptizing it’s own children, is it really fulling the Great Commission to make disciples of all nations? How many of the lost, irreligious, unchurched, disillusioned, spiritual, agnostic, or atheist people out there has your congregation made disciples of in the last 10 years?

To contrast two churches: both were founded in the 1800s. Both had attendance around 100-150 in the late 80s early 90s. Both have strong foundations in biblical truth. Both hold tight to biblical ideals, sin, salvation, and expectations of godliness. Both are multigenerational churches with ages birth through 90s+… two very different situations in 2019.
a. Determined after a period of decline 25 years ago, it would make adaptive changes the expectation and norm. Determined to be on the forward edge of worship, programs, outreach, teaching and technology. Average weekend attendance now is nearly over 1,000 plus viewers streaming online and listening/watching podcasts. Has a dynamic website, their own smartphone app, several worship teams, hundreds of volunteers, the list goes on… With a budget of millions per year going to Kingdom work around the world and impact in their community able to support many full-time staff. Easter weekend saw 5 services in two auditoriums plus a satellite congregation all packed, all with the same message of hope, and around a dozen baptisms.
b. Has held on to traditional worship with hymns and a piano. Has a rudimentary website. Has average weekend attendance around 50 with a budget well below $10k per month and can’t support one full-time pastor. Average attendance on Easter and no baptisms.
While I have never been a fan of the “dog and pony show” overshadowing strong biblical teaching and exceptional pastoral care, if not adapting to the trends in praise and worship, not adapting to changes in technology and delivery of the message, has crippled your congregation to the point of minimal impact and even death…
A pastor friend of mine sat next to a senior saint during a contemporary worship service. He asked her, do you like this music? She answered, “It’s okay. I loved the old hymns, but I really love watching my grandson praise God up there on the drums!”

Unfortunately, there are congregations and even entire denominations, that will refuse to hear this message. They will blame everyone and everything for the death of the portion of Christ’s Body they are stewards over… Christ said, the gates of hell will not overcome his Church, but we allow our insistence on not adapting to kill our congregations while the faithful are left to find somewhere else to attend a worship service…

The deepest sadness is these congregations are full of friendly, loving, devout believers in Jesus Christ. However, the only way one congregation grows, is when another congregation dies, and those who want to hold on to tradition consolidate… these people need dedicated pastors and staff to equip them for ministry, but as the congregations dwindle and funds dry up, only bi-vocational pastors, who inherently have their attention split (serving two masters), or pastors who have an independent source of income, usually retirees (who have already put their time in and are looking for someone to take the mantle of leadership) are able to serve in these congregations because of simple economic demands on their families.

Unfortunately, time and again, once the older generation who resisted adapting for so long pass away, the church is in critical condition and on life support, and it is too late to breath new life in; leaving both the pastoral team and members with no way to keep the doors open, even if the mortgage was paid off 50 years ago…

The facts and statistics do not lie. This is the sad reality facing churches that do not adapt.