Follow Your Dreams?

“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.” 1 John 2:15-17 NIV

When I look at society I feel sad for the billions who are misled. Only a few people alive are truly awake. It’s as if many are stuck in a dream they can’t wake up from. Only to one day awake and find out, “It’s too late!”

We are taught from childhood to follow our dreams, not to follow God. I had a dream once. I wanted to be a songwriter/producer in the music industry. I often dreamed of winning a grammy, making millions of dollars, living in a big house, etcetera. What also fueled my dream was wanting to do better for my family financially. I spent many hours and years in my home recording studio cranking out contemporary songs and beats. I even got to work with some big names (legends) in the music business. I was on my way it seemed. My skills as a songwriter, arranger, synthesizer/drum programmer, producer, and engineer were getting me noticed by some serious folks. Future gigs with other popular artist were lining up too. I was living the dream so it seemed. Then one day I woke up.

WHAT WOKE ME UP

One day I traveled‚Äč to my brother’s recording studio. He lived hundreds of miles  away. He also started a new record label and had all the right connections with famous folks in the industry. When I got to the studio there was the usual crew; other songwriters, arrangers, and producers. But this meeting went different. When I walked in no one said, ‘Hi,’ ‘What’s up?’ ‘How ya doin?’ nothing. They were all looking weird sitting in a circle. Then one of them called my name and said, “We need to mix your spirit with our spirit,” and invited me to join the circle. I responded, “I don’t mix spirits.” Then all hell broke loose in that room! There was a lot of screaming, yelling, and cursing at me. One of them the nephew of a very famous recording artist pulled out a book then opened it to a page filled with these demonic symbols and screamed, “I’m a priest in this!” then continued cursing me out. They tried to intimidate me to join them (spiritually that is) but I stood firm. One of those cursing me out was my brother (from the same mother). I don’t think I was able to leave the studio physically unharmed that day because he cared about me so much. I believe it was because I had some very important skills the others didn’t have that he needed to produce his records. And I believe he thought he could work his magic on me again and influence me to change my position. But ultimately I know it was God who set me free that day. My brother’s spell had been broken.

There’s something I left out: about a month before this meeting took place I repented. Yes, I had returned to God and Jesus Christ. God warned me and told me I would have to do something very sick involving the occult in order to make it big in the music business. I wasn’t willing to do that. It’s interesting how after I backslid and stopped serving the Lord all these opportunities started popping up for me in the music industry. I had been recording music with my brother’s crew for about a year and a half before they tried to initiate me into witchcraft. It’s also interesting that this didn’t happen until after I repented. None of them knew I had repented because I hadn’t told them yet. I hadn’t spoken to them in a while. But their evil spirits (demons) knew I had repented. What else is interesting is that God told me beforehand (before I met with them) that I would have to do something very sick dealing with the occult in order to make it big in the music business. And here are these guys trying to initiate me into the occult. It all matched perfectly with what God had said.

I snuck out of town that night to save my skin, me and my 5 year old son. He came with me on this trip. Yes, my brother and his crew was very upset I didn’t join them. And I knew he would be seeking‚Äč revenge. I actually got away in a nick of time. I learned later from another relative that he and his mob came looking for me, and wasn’t happy when he learned I went back home (hundreds of miles away) without letting him know.

I was actually done with the music business before I even visited these guys. Remember, I had repented about a month earlier and decided the music business wasn’t for me anymore. So why did I drive hundreds of miles to see my brother and the crew when I knew I was through? My whole intention for that visit was to let them know I was quitting, and to give them a witness for Jesus Christ. I did manage to speak to them very briefly about what the Bible says. They all just looked at me like they wanted to kill me. I know God was with me and rescued me and my son that day.

DO ALL THINGS TO GLORIFY GOD

Let me make one thing clear: I am not insinuating that a Christian or anyone else cannot have a career in the music industry. I said God let me know that the commercial music industry was NOT FOR ME. All who belong to Jesus Christ must obey God. That includes all his commands in the scriptures. So it doesn’t matter what we’re doing, as long as we follow the next text we’re good:

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.” Colossians 3:23 NIV

There is no way I can help produce sexually explicit music, songs that promote violence, and everything else that is against Almighty God, and be, ‘working for the Lord, and not human masters.’ Nobody can. The key is whatever we’re doing must glorify God; our Father. If it doesn’t we need to repent. If we refuse and keep chasing after these trinkets the world offers we will find ourselves living the dream alright. Only to one day wake up from our deep sleep and find out, “It’s too late!”

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Watch Out For Wolves Part 2

Watch Out For Wolves Part 2

“Be merciful to those who doubt; save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.” Jude 1:22-23 NIV

If you read the article, Watch Out For Wolves, that was published down below this piece you heard the story of a guy who told me he repented. This man is someone I’ve known for years. He had the reputation of getting into Bible fights with people and violently cursing folks out when he didn’t get his way. But people can change right? Of course they can which is why the day he told me he repented I listened to him. I congratulated him and told him how he can now be an effective witness for Christ and I remembered‚Äč how different he was in the past. He then quickly cut me off and said, “I was the same, I was the same.” I looked at him puzzled. Then he quickly said, “What? What? I’m not ashamed of my past. What?” Our conversation ended shortly after that but I was disturbed by what the man said.

You see, when a person truly repents or is born again, they are not the same person now that they were in the past. This man said he was the same then as he is now. Also, when a person truly repents they are very ashamed of their past sins. But this man said he wasn’t ashamed of his. There were other things too the man said that didn’t add up to what someone would say who repented. So I knew I needed to be careful with this guy. And that he was still deceived.

I prayed to God about this and asked him what to do. He showed me to follow Jude 1:22-23, the title verse above in this article. While hating the man’s hypocrisy the Holy Spirit directed me to still try to help him, but to do so very carefully. We swapped phone numbers that day we spoke so I called him. He didn’t answer so I left a message. The next morning he called me. I answered the phone half asleep listening to this guy rattle on how we’re gonna do this and that together. I was too tired to respond properly to what he was saying. But after the call I woke up and was deeply disturbed again. Why? Because I knew everything I had just been told was as phony as a four dollar bill. He reminded me of one of those guys I’ve met in the past who was obsessed with starting their own church and was looking for someone (me) to help them do it. They too had not truly repented or been born again. I prayed to God about this and came to the conclusion that me and this dude needed to talk sooner than later. So the next morning I called him and this is how it went.

THE CALL

When I called he answered with this long religious bless you brother greeting. After he finished blessing me he started rattling words again but I wasn’t having it this time. So I calmly said, “The other day when you and I were talking there was something you said that concerned me. I wanted to talk to you about it.” He said, “Ok.” I said, “After we spoke about how you had repented and changed your life, towards the end of our conversation I congratulated you and said how you can now be a good witness for God because I remember how you was in the past. You then quickly said, ‘I was the same, I was the same.’ I looked at you strange when you said that then you said, ‘What? What? I’m not ashamed of my past. What?’ Do you see why those two statements; ‘I was the same,’ and ‘I’m not ashamed of my past,’ would concern me?” The man said, “No.” Then he quickly told me he had to do something and would call me right back. Hmmmm.

Anyways the man called back in a few minutes and said, “Brother I apologize if what I said offended you. I didn’t mean to offend you in any way.” I said, “No, it’s not that you offended me, I’m concerned about you. When a person repents or is born again they are not the same person they were in the past. You said that you were the same. That came from your mouth. And the scriptures show that when a person truly repents they are very ashamed of their past sins. You said that you’re not ashamed of your past. I do applaud you for admitting you did say these things and not say, ‘I didn’t say that,’ like so many folks do.” He then said in a smug tone, “Well I’m not like most people.” I then asked him to explain to me what he meant by the statements, ‘I was the same then as I am now,’ and, “I’m not ashamed of my past.” He then went on this long rant of how God took him out of sin like the apostle Paul, how he doesn’t do the same things he did before, and is now a changed man. I asked, “But how does that mean, ‘I was the same then as I am now?’ He then started answering me in the exact same way again, sidestepping the question, and proclaiming his righteousness. I said, “Ok, let’s forget about that. The basics of God’s word teaches us that when a person repents they are very ashamed of their past sins. But you said you’re not ashamed of yours. Please explain? The man angrily said, “I said I was in sin!” I said, “No, you said that you were the same then as you are now, and that you weren’t ashamed of your past sins. And you just admitted to saying that minutes ago.” He said, “Look, you’re trying to put words into my mouth. I didn’t say. ‘I was the same,’ I said, ‘I was in sin!’ I stopped doing the things I used to do, I turned from sin and turned to God like Paul said. That’s what being a Christian is to me!” He’s now taking back what he just admitted to saying minutes earlier. My how the spirit of deception is a liar! Did you notice that every time he defends himself he rants on about how he doesn’t do the same things he use to do anymore; he’s been delivered from sin, and proclaims his own righteousness? It is clear that he is tying to prove that he is a changed, saved man, based on his works. Something the Bible says is impossible.

The scriptures teach that God won’t save anyone who thinks they are so good they don’t have any regrets or remorse for their sins. (Luke 18:9-14) This is what the man initially said; “I’m not ashamed of my past.” And when he was telling me that day we initially spoke that he was the same person now as he was in the past, he was really saying that he was just as spiritual now as he was back then. He was trying to look good. But not understanding the basics of Christ’s teaching on what it means to repent (because he’d never done so), he found himself caught in an uncomfortable lie during our phone conversation. And instead of repenting right then and there he just kept on lying; contradicting himself, in a desperate move to prove his own righteousness. Sadly there is a certain irony in what the man said: ‘He is the same now as he was in the past.’ He hasn’t changed. Except I believe now he’s even worse.

“But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.” 2 Timothy 3:13 KJV

Not once during our conversations did the guy mention JESUS and WHAT HE DID as the source of his salvation. Because Jesus is not his source. He just kept tooting his horn about his changed life and his works. But the scriptures say:

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV

Scripture also says:

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are JUSTIFIED FREELY BY HIS GRACE through the redemption that came BY CHRIST JESUS.” Romans 3:23-24 NIV

Scripture says too:

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 NIV

It’s all about God’s grace, his kindness expressed‚Äč through Jesus Christ and WHAT HE DID that saves us. His death on the cross for our sins is it, plain and simple. So many brag that their good deeds is what saves them. But Jesus himself said:

‚ÄúNot everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. MANY WILL SAY TO ME ON THAT DAY, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ ” Matthew 7:21-23 NIV

Wow! For Jesus to, “Tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me you evildoers!’ ” means this thing is way more serious than many think. And remember, these are religious people that Jesus is talking to: people who prophesy, drive out demons (or think they do) and do miracles, “in your [Jesus] name.”

For those of us with ears to hear may we never make the gross error of thinking that our good works will earn us a place in heaven, or that works alone mean we are saved and have repented. We are saved by God’s grace through faith. FIRST BY GOD’S GRACIOUS KINDNESS, then BY FAITH; by believing in the message about his son Jesus Christ. We are NOT SAVED BY WORKS, so no one can boast.

Back to my phone call with the man. I started trying to explain to him that there are people who stopped doing all sorts of bad things who even go to church and still are not Christians because they have not been born again. He basically said that’s them not him and that I was judging him and other people. I encouraged him to pray to God to give him a new heart and repent for real and God would forgive him. As I was saying this the man hung up on me.

I shared‚Äč this experience with you not because it was something so epic or unusual. I’ve had many similar experiences with false brothers. I can’t‚Äč even count them. I shared this with you because I know many of you are going through the same things. Some false believer out there is trying desperately to latch themselves on to you. They want you to think they’re just like you. They’re wolves in sheep’s covering. They were sent to you by Satan to lead you astray. Jesus told us to beware of wolves. Yet the scriptures teach us to show mercy TO SOME mixed with a healthy fear. (Jude 1:22-23) Fear of what? Fear that just as the serpent seduced Eve, we too might not be deceived by evil spirits that come through the mouths of hypocritical liars.

“The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.” 1 Timothy 4:1-2 NIV

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Watch Out For Wolves

Watch Out For Wolves

‚ÄúI am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” Matthew 10:16 NIV

The routes wolves take to harm sheep are sometimes amazing. But it really is nothing to wonder at:

“And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.” 2 Corinthians 11:14-15 NIV

Sometimes it’s hard for sheep to fathom how a person can be so evil; even to the point of pretending‚Äč to be a servant of God to hurt people. But the scripture above tells us that Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light (a good spirit), so it is no surprise that his servants masquerade as good servants of righteousness. Both will get what they deserve in the end.

The wolf in sheep’s covering can quote the Bible like you, sometimes even better than you. Some of these actors are better than others. So how can one tell when he/she is dealing with a wolf in sheep’s clothing? They will always deny the truth.

“Having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.”  2 Timothy 3:5 NIV

The wolf in sheep’s covering is very proud. They think they are so good at tricking people that no one can see through them. Why is that? Because they have snared so many in the past. To them you and I are just another sucker. But this is where things can go differently‚Äč for us. Because you are so rooted in God’s word you know the truth. And you know that no lie comes from the truth.

“But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth. I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth.” 1 John 2:20-21 NIV

“I am writing these things to you about THOSE WHO ARE TRYING TO LEAD YOU ASTRAY. As for you, the anointing [Holy Spirit] you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him.” 1 John 2:26-27 NIV

The wolf in sheep’s covering cannot convince the person rooted in God’s word that sexual immorality in it’s various forms, and other wrongdoing is ok. That believer knows the truth and knows it well. (1 Corinthians 6:9-20)  The wolf in sheep’s clothing cannot convince the student of God’s word that mixing occult practices with the teachings of God is ok. (Deuteronomy 18:9-13) The wolf in sheep’s covering can’t‚Äč persuade someone rooted in God’s word of anything that results in their demise. But they can and do get those who profess to be Christians and don’t take their profession seriously. The key is staying rooted in God’s word; staying filled with the Holy Spirit. Knowing‚Äč and loving the truth sets you free from the snares of wolves. (John 8:32)

WHEN THINGS JUST DON’T ADD UP

The other day I was approached by a guy I’ve seen off and on for about 8 years. My memories of him is someone who always wanted to argue about the Bible. And he would violently curse people out whenever he didn’t get his way. I said that to say the other day when I seen him he told me that he had repented. He said he just finished reading the book of John and was quoting passages from it. He talked about how he was a changed man so on and so forth. I congratulated him and told him he can be a good witness for God now and how I remembered‚Äč when he was a different dude in the past. He quickly cut me off and said, “No, I was the same. I was the same.” I looked at him baffled by what he just said. Then he quickly said, “What? What? I’m not ashamed of my past, what?” Did you hear what this man just said? “I was the same?” And, “I’m not ashamed of my past?” If you have repented of your sins and you’re now a new changed person in Christ how can you be the same person you were in the past? And the very basics of God’s teachings teaches us that a truly repented person IS ASHAMED of their past sins. But this man said he wasn’t ashamed of his. Both of his statements totally contradict what it means to repent. He was not telling the truth about his repentance and it came out. Jesus said out of the mouth the overflow of the heart speaks. (Luke 6:45) This man had not had a true encounter with Jesus Christ. He was not changed.

Why do I believe this person must be treated with caution? Because I saw him pretend to be a believer in the past, only to draw people in and have Bible fights with them. There’s other things too the man said the last time we spoke that are quite disturbing and go contrary to the truth. Fortunately God tells us how to deal with such situations:

“Be merciful to those who doubt; save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.” Jude 1:22-23 NIV

I do plan to speak with the man again and hopefully share what the Bible says about true repentance and accepting Jesus Christ. I plan to do this in a very gentle and mild spirit. I really do hope he listens to the scriptures. But if he doesn’t and instead does what I’ve seen him do in the past I will have to obey the scriptures and take the same position I took with him before:

“I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. KEEP AWAY FROM THEM. For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people.” Romans 16:17-18 NIV

Jesus told us exactly what type of people we would be dealing with: wolves. So be on guard.

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God Wants You

God Wants You

‚ÄúAsk and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” Matthew 7:7-8 NIV

When it comes to finding God there are many formulas out there. Some say you have to do this others say do that. A person can easily get confused. But Jesus made it simple. Listen to what He says one has to do to find God, and how He contrasted a very religious person you would think had God from a known scoundrel you would think could never have God, yet found Him:

“Then Jesus told this story to some who had great confidence in their own righteousness and scorned everyone else: “Two men went to the Temple to pray. One was a Pharisee, and the other was a despised tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer: ‘I thank you, God, that I am not like other people-cheaters, sinners, adulterers. I’m certainly not like that tax collector! I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income.’ “But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.’ I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Luke 18:9-14 NLT

Wow, the despised tax collector the sinner found God. Not the Pharisee who boasted how good he was. The tax collector prayed the right prayer, the Pharisee didn’t. He simply asked God to have mercy on him, and admitted he’d done some bad things in life by calling himself a sinner. I know people who prayed the same kind of prayer this tax collector did and they found God too. They were at their wits end. They felt deep sorrow over how their lives were going and really wanted help to change things. They didn’t know what to do or how to change anything. So they cried out to God begging for help. And He let them know for sure that he heard them. They didn’t boast to God about all the great things they did in life like the over-religious Pharisee. On the contrary they felt deep regret over their failures and simply asked God for help. These types of prayers move God. And the folks who pray them lives have never been the same since. According to Jesus ANYONE CAN ASK GOD FOR HELP. If we come to him humbly like the tax collector did he will hear us, we will find Him.

There is this great misconception that you have to be this super good person who has it all together in order to find God. That’s not the truth. And by the way, there is no such person. There are many who think they are, but really:

“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” Romans 3:23-24 NIV

Everyone has sinned or done what is wrong in life. Everyone falls short or messes up when it comes to living up to God’s good standard. So when someone like the self-righteous Pharisee (and there are many) brags about how good they are they’re really delusional. Don’t let people like that turn you off from finding and getting to know God. They’re‚Äč just fake. That doesn’t mean you have to be. You can truly find God no matter what you’ve done or been through in this life. If you come to Him humbly he will accept you, and forgive you, just that easy. You will now be on the road to a better life and eternal life, yes.

“For this is how 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. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.” John 3:16-17 NLT

Don’t worry about what’s‚Äč the next step after this. God will show you what to do, trust Him. Take the first step: Pray to Him like the tax collector did.

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