Some words get thrown around like confetti in January— “Happy New Year! What’s your New Year’s resolution?”
But what about when it’s not happy? What about when you don’t know which way is up, and what if you can’t see any resolution for issues in your life, much less make a resolution? While some began the new year with fireworks and hope, others look out on the future through the fog of uncertainty. What then? Continue reading “Now (Guest Post on Southern Ohio Christian Voice)”
“Hi Pastor Obermeyer. Would you like to unwrap these statements of yours a bit, which you gave in answer to my questions? Here, Preacher; the floor, or rather, the pulpit is yours! If you wish to take it—go!”
“Okay, rolling up my sleeves, lol.”
Rachael: What most breaks your heart? What do you see as the biggest threat to the church today?
Pastor Kevin Obermeyer: The condition of the church these days, which gets so caught up with the world and then wonders why it isn’t being effective. Secular worldviews, worldly attitudes, Biblical illiteracy, and ignorance.
What I mean is that I see many worldly philosophies and practices actively being taught in the church by ignorant and immature Christians. Spiritual immaturity is rampant, as is Biblical illiteracy. I hear more people offering their logic and opinions than actual Scripture verses. I hear Christians talk about “centering,” themselves, not realizing they are really talking about centering their “chi,” or life energy, which is a complete Eastern thought about how our life energy vibrates out of balance and needs to be re-centered.
Even yoga is designed for this, each position centering and balancing a different part of the chi; and yet we find “Christian yoga,” which is kind of a contradiction in terms, being led in some churches. I hear Christians talk about karma—good and bad karma and how karma is going to, “get that person.” This is horrible. Karma is not the same thing as the Biblical teaching of reaping what you sow despite its popular use even among Christians. Karma is a cosmic force, energy, or presence generated by the sum of a person’s actions, good and bad, which affects the nature of a person’s existence and determines their destiny or fate through transmigration into their next incarnation. That’s a mouthful, but it’s even more than that. It’s also one of the three margas, or paths to Brahman or salvation taught in Hinduism, being the path through works.
All of this comes from paganism and mythology and is completely contrary to Scripture, which teaches against reincarnation and salvation by works. It also puts our trust for justice and vengeance in something besides a merciful God and bypasses mercy altogether. Sadly, so many people today think they get into Heaven by doing enough good things to outweigh the bad, which is why many people struggle with the security of their own salvation in Christ.
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that notof yourselves; it is the giftofGod, not of works, lest anyone should boast.Ephesians 2:8-9 (NKJV)
Karma completely undermines the finished work of Christ on the cross and the hope we have in Him. It puts all the responsibility on us and our own abilities to save ourselves, which is an impossible task. And it isn’t enough just to say you don’t use the word, karma, that way but mean something else, like good or bad luck, (also pagan). The Bible is clear that it is what it is regardless of how you use it (c.f 1 Corinthians 10:19-21). And if that isn’t clear enough, Paul specifically writes that we are to avoid even the appearance of evil (1 Thessalonians 5:22). The Bible is replete with passages, (Old and New Testament), telling God’s people not to be like the pagans and not to do what they do, especially in dance, worship, and lifestyle. We are to be different, set apart, holy. That’s something I think a lot of Christians overlook but really should investigate. Both Paul and Christ warn even further against causing others to stumble in their faith by one’s own misleading actions.
People offer their thoughts and positive energy along with their prayers; again Eastern thought. And they confuse Eastern and New Age meditation, (emptying your mind and thoughts), with Biblical meditation, (filling your mind and thoughts with Scripture and Godly reflection). Christ warns that an empty “house” is vulnerable to being filled with demons, (Matthew 12:44-45). We think if we call it, “mindfulness,” then it’s not the same thing as Hinduism, Buddhism, and New Age thought; whatever you want to call it, it isn’t Biblical.
I see churches and pastors getting distracted and becoming more concerned about looks and feels and making sure people are entertained rather than about teaching solid truth and deep faith. We sure get fired up about political and social issues, and we’ve got to look fly in front of people to keep up with the world, while the meat of God’s Word for daily living, spiritual growth, furthering of God’s Kingdom, and changing that world can just take a backseat—as if we don’t truly believe in it’s Power. I hear more motivational speaking than preaching, and those are not the same thing. Sadly, the church is sick and is presenting a shallow Gospel, and then we wonder why so many people, especially young people, question and abandon their faith. They’ve been given a different Gospel (2 Corinthians 11:3-4; Galatians 1:6-9) with no saving power. Their need isn’t satisfied. Their faith doesn’t take root because their faith hasn’t been placed in the true Solid Rock of Christ, but sinking sand.
Rachael: If you could tell the Church anything, what would it be? What’s on your heart?
This comes at the expense of a broken heart. —Pastor Pablo Catala
Physical and emotional stress; personal time and freedom; often any sense of security because things change so much in your life; and struggles with self-worth as you are constantly being evaluated, of which you mostly only hear about your shortcomings. —Pastor Kevin Obermeyer
As a missionary it has cost convenience, comfort, seeing family… but the promised reward of souls far outweigh the costs. —Anonymous Pastor, Kathmandu, Nepal
What is the hardest part of pastoring?
Seeing what people need to do and watching them not do it, no matter how I present it or how I word it, no matter how much time I spent with them and then having to hear the lament of,“Pastor, you were right,” which does not comfort me as I’m seeing the carnage of their bad decisions. —Anonymous Pastor Expecting to be loved, understood, maybe even appreciated? They have no idea how needy we are. —Anonymous Pastor’s Wife
Sometimes your own children reject everything you’ve lived for and still you must keep going. —Anonymous
Realizing how much you don’t know, and feeling like you never do enough, aren’t good enough, or that you might misspeak something heretical. —Pastor Kevin Obermeyer
What is your biggest challenge and most unexpected hardship in pastoring?
I guess my passion for the church gets me in trouble. —Janet Foley
I recently had the privilege of being on an outreach team to help Pastor Pablo and Nicole Catala’s pioneer church in Bridgeport CT. I was struck by how laid down, how wide open and vulnerable their hearts and lives were for God and the people of their city. I watched them love people with the love of God. I watched the ease with which they outreached, their children alongside them—truly a team, like a machine in sync. I took note of their home. Everywhere I turned there were photographs of their family and decor that shouted in unison about God and family. I learned their story later and asked them to share it. Here it is.
The Catala Story
Nicole Catala: One night my husband and I were fighting and basically done with our marriage. We both never had an example. We were only 6 months married and wanted to go for a divorce! That night my husband packed his clothes and left the house. The very next day I got a flyer from someone that there was going to be a healing crusade right across the street in Poe Park, put on by Victory Chapel in the Bronx, NY. As I was looking at the state of my life I knew I needed a miracle. I didn’t want my life to be just like the life of my family: Divorced, having multiple children from different men. I decided to go to the first night of the healing crusade. I was in a state of depression at only 18 years old and felt there was no hope for me and my eight month old son. Continue reading “From Dope Dealer to Hope Dealer”
I’m not one to put people on pedestals. Even as a teenager I never had posters of celebrities on my walls. I guess fame in of itself does not impress me and I see people as just people—flesh and blood. I see the polls online asking if you could meet or spend time with any of the people they list, who would you choose. Their lists are comprised of several Bible characters, great classic Christian authors, or other historic heroic leaders who have since died. It’s always a tough, if not impossible choice. But my heart says the one I most want to meet is not on their lists and we are blessed that God has graced us with still having my choice among us—Rev. Billy Graham.
It is one of my dreams to meet Billy Graham, but I fear I would be wasting his time as the only thing I’d probably be able to say is thank you. But maybe that’s appropriate when you are in the presence of greatness like his. Perhaps it not so much a time to talk, but a time to listen if he graced me with some of his wisdom—content to sit with him for a moment and just be—just enjoy being in the company of Billy and Jesus. When someone is as close to Jesus as Billy is, you can be sure when you are in his presence you are in Jesus’ presence too, and Jesus said, “Where two or three or gathered in my name there I am in their midst.”
Journal entry, February 21st, 2018
The day I’ve feared for so long has come and the world is a little darker for it. I cried today. I cried for me, I cried for you. I cried for the world for our great loss. But I did not cry for Billy. On this sad but jubilant day I’m sorry for myself and the world, but rejoicing for Billy as he is welcomed home by his Savior whom he so faithfully loved, served, and proclaimed.
Billy Graham was raised on his parent’s dairy farm in Charlotte, North Carolina during the Great Depression. He gave his life to Christ just shy of his sixteenth birthday. He preached on six continents in 84 countries. He prayed with and gave spiritual counsel to our presidents and leaders worldwide. Through his crusades, simulcasts and evangelistic rallies he preached to an estimated 215 million people in 185 countries and touched millions more lives via television, radio, film, internet, and through his books. Billy reached out to minister the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the least in society and God granted him audience before rulers. He was humble so God raised him to honor.
Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up. James 4:10 (NKJV
Billy Graham was greatness wrapped in humility, which is what real greatness looks like. Like Jesus.
The same man known for his graciousness and humility is also known for his righteous passion. Like Jesus toppling the tables in the temple, Billy wasn’t afraid to fly in the face of cultural norms and injustices such as communism, apartheid, and segregation. He ripped down the ropes segregating blacks from whites thus hosting the first truly integrated revival meetings, and was friend and co-laborer with Martin Luther King jr. .
The deepest problems of the human race are spiritual in nature…The problem is the human heart, which God alone can change. —Billy Graham
Had it not been for the ministry of my good friend Dr. Billy Graham, my work in the civil rights movement would not have been as successful as it has been. —Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Billy was a cup of comfort and a nod to can-do in a harsh and discouraging world.
A journalist once set out to investigate Billy, but found nothing to discredit him. The journalist’s conclusion about Billy Graham was, “He is a man without shadows.”
Nevertheless, judging by a few articles and social media posts I’ve read, some have formed opinions about Billy based on parts of stories about him rather than the whole, the beginning, rather than the conclusion of a matter. Billy wasn’t perfect, he made some mistakes, but he admitted his shortcomings and made amends. He kept himself accountable.
Christian means Christ follower. Those who make Jesus their Lord and are governed by His Word, the Bible, will sometimes find themselves on the opposite side of issues than secular culture. God sets boundaries because He loves us and for our good. He is the definer of morality. But know this, though our beliefs differ from some, that does not mean we disdain or wish ill on those who chose to use their free will to live otherwise. It distresses me that some don’t understand it’s possible to disagree with people and still love them. Because we love people, we cannot support behavior we believe harmful to them. Because we love God we strive to be faithful to His Word and will for our lives. Christians are just sinners saved by the Savior’s grace, trying to share Jesus, the author of and answer to life.
Billy hated sin and how it destroys lives, but he loved people. Jesus hates sin, but He loves the sinner. He gave His life for us.
“If you don’t remember anything else I say, remember this—God loves you. God loves you. God loves you.” —Billy Graham
Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commandments. Do you love Me? Feed My sheep.”
Jesus said, “Go into the world and preach the Gospel to every creature.”
Billy was faithful.
He was the salute to my Sunday mornings when I was a little girl.
I was raised in Jamaica by my grandparents until I was nine years old. On Sunday mornings I’d run into their room, jump onto their bed and curl up at the foot of it. Grandpa would reach for the knob on the old wooden radio that sat atop his dresser and with a twist and a click, it burst to life with— “This is Billy Graham coming to you live…” and George Beverly Shea singing, How Great Thou Art, and we’d listen to Billy preach before we went to church.
I vowed growing up that I wouldn’t fall into the same pit some of my loved ones fell into. I didn’t want to repeat their mistakes, but as hard as I tried to climb that mountain it was like a landslide under me. At 20 years old my life was in shambles and as I stood weeping I heard the words recorded in the Bible that Job’s wife had spoken to him, “Curse God and die!” It wasn’t the first time suicide had knocked on my door. I fell to my knees. “No!” I said. “God I’m not going to curse You. I still believe in You. Help me.”
Later, I found a Billy Graham Decision Magazine in my mailbox and I remembered Billy’s preaching when I was a little girl and how it comforted me. The address label indicated the magazine owner lived on the other side of the complex. “Hello,” I said. “I have your Billy Graham magazine. But I’d like to read it for a minute before I give it to you, if you don’t mind.” He chuckled and we arranged a time to meet by the pool which separated our buildings, but I never showed up. I was so caught up reading, his knock startled me. I opened the door to meet the gentle smile of Rev. George Horton, a Baptist minister.
Billy was a stepping stone on my road to salvation. He was someone sure in a shaky world because he stood on the Rock, the foundation of all eternity.
I just wanted to say thank you for showing us what grace looks like, what faithfulness, righteousness and humility looks like.
Billy Graham was a light in the dark, a night light of sorts. A steady reference, a clarion call in the midst of an unsteady world of shifting sands. He was faithful to God and faithful to his call to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ and now he has received his reward. The dawn of a new morning has broken on Heaven’s horizon for Billy Graham.
Our life is a vapor—shorter for some than others. I have a question for you. When you step out of this world and into eternity will you find yourself at Heaven’s or Hell’s gates? Is there eternal life or eternal night waiting on the other side for you? The choice is yours. God longs for you.
They say you should use scripture sparingly when you write. But the Word of God is alive and powerful and able to accomplish way more than any words I could ever write.
“I have found that when I present the simple message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, with authority, quoting the very Word of God—He takes that message and drives it supernaturally into the human heart.” —Billy Graham
All your goodness won’t get you to Heaven. Jesus said our our righteousness is as filthy rags.
“You ask, ‘What is repentance?’ Repentance means that you say to God, ‘I am a sinner, I’m sorry for my sins, I’m willing to turn from my sins. But Lord, You have to help me to turn. I’ve tried so many times to give up things I know that are wrong, and I just can’t do it.’
Then, by faith, receive Jesus, who died on the cross for you. Open your heart and say, “Yes, lord Jesus, Come in. I’m ready to follow you.'” —Billy Graham
that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:9 (NKJV)
“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life. John 5:24 (NKJV)
“Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe You died for my sins and rose from the dead. I turn from my sins and invite you to come into my heart and life. I want to trust and follow You as my Lord and Savior. In your name. Amen.” — BillyGraham.org/Commitment
If you are committing your life to Christ, the Billy Graham Evangelical Association would like to know, and so would I. You may send me an email via the Contact by Email box or leave a reply in the Comment box at the end of this post.
“Someday you will read or hear that Billy Graham is dead. Don’t believe a word of it. I shall be more alive than I am now. I will just have changed my address. I will have gone into the presence of God.” -Billy Graham
Yes, Billy. This world is not my home. It’s just the road to where I’m going. Heaven is my home, and Jesus is my prize.
An Invitation from The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association
“God has used the life and ministry of Billy Graham to impact the lives of millions around the world. Perhaps you have a testimony about Mr. Graham’s ministry. What did Mr. Graham mean to you?” To share your stories and condolences on the Billy Graham Evangelical Association’s site click HERE
An Invitation from The Billy graham Evangelistic Association:
“God has used the life and ministry of Billy Graham to impact the lives of millions around the world. Perhaps you have a testimony about Mr. Graham’s ministry. What did Mr. Graham mean to you?” To share your stories and condolences on the Billy Graham Evangelical Association’s site click HERE.
Today marks the day of the ultimate love story, the day when Jesus, God incarnate, bore our sin, shame and the penalty for our sin and gave His life on the cross so we could gain forgiveness and eternal life, so we could know Him and have hope. For this reason, we call it Good Friday.
I am reminded that at what seemed to be the darkest day, at the greatest human injustice, is when God was most in control. —Dr. Sean McDowell
Please forgive me for being absent from my blog for so long. My miserable excuse is I’m undergoing treatment for an impinged nerve and two numb fingers. That makes for painfully slow typing and a somewhat distracted foggy mind. (No, it’s not carpal tunnel and the cause is not typing.) Prayers appreciated.
I am almost finished with my Billy Graham Post, and hope to have it up this weekend. But until then, here are some suggestions for your Easter weekend and beyond as well as excerpts and links to my posts from last Easter.
May you know the depths and heights of Jesus’ love for you and delight in Him and the great plan He has for your life.
Christ Revealed documentary film series featuring 25 world renowned experts
Join Franklin Graham and his family in this video as they explore the rich history of Israel, and study the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ in the land of the Bible.
Below are excerpts from and links to my posts from last Easter
I tried to quell the yearning for a greater something, a purpose bigger than the here and now and myself.
I chased all manner of both good and evil earthly pursuits, but nothing fulfilled. Not even religion. It was all vain distraction.
But then, He found me.
I met mercy and forgiveness on the road to grace…
How often I miss the splendor of God’s glory passing by, what He is doing and calling me to, because it isn’t wrapped in the earthly trappings I expect or want. Of the people who did recognize Jesus as Messiah and greeted Him with palms and called Him King of Kings, I wonder how many had the revelation that the road led to the cross? Death before resurrection…
Hey heart, do you turn aside when the road goes uphill, or against your will to the place of self death and sacrifice? Do you hold out when you are called to be poured out and lift others up to Christ?
“Then stop making excuses. Whatever you lack, whatever your need, I Am enough. Come to me.”
You don’t have to be a victim of your failures, shortcomings, or circumstances. Every obstacle, every failure, every defect, every unmet need is a chance for Jesus to move on your behalf, to prove Himself in your life, and bring Him glory. Your defeat is Jesus’ opportunity to bring victory if you give yourself to Him. He is the God of the turn around, the God of a new beginning…. Click here to continue to, Am I Enough?
Copyright 2017, 2018 Rachael M Colby Tattoo It On Your Heart
In all your giving and getting don’t forget The Gift.Sometimes it feels like I’m just running ahead to the next thing without ever being really present in the present, and the urgent and the flashy, crowds out the important that’s right in front of me.
Away in a manger, no crib for a bed, the little Lord Jesus laid down His sweet head. They sought shelter but there was no room in the inn. Jesus wants to shelter in your heart. Is there room within?
Are you too busy to be blessed this Christmas? You can be lonely or lost in a crowd. Maybe that something you’re looking for is Someone—the Someone called Jesus and the gift of Himself, His comfort, His peace.
The name “Jesus” means salvation.There is power in His name.
And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21 (NKJV)
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6 (KJV)
He is also called: Lord of Lords, Mighty God, Emmanuel, The Word, Lamb of God, Light of the World, Savior, Son of God, Son of Man, Alpha and Omega, Author and Finisher of our faith, the Resurrection and the Life… His names state His purpose, His plan, and who He is. Savior is the name that redeems us.
I think my favorite name of Jesus is the one that meets me where I am at the time.
Emmanuel means God with us, because Jesus is God incarnate—God in the flesh. He is with us when we become born again. He said he would never leave us or forsake us.
God donned human flesh and subjected himself to the human experience. He was born to die so we could live. He endured temptation without sin and defeated sin and death to offer us salvation.
The incarnation proves God’s love for us is such that He walked among us to win us to Himself.
Holy left Heaven and inhabited humanity.
He was willing to go to the extreme to redeem.
It is impossible to save ourselves. If it were possible, Christ wouldn’t have needed to die for us. The only payment for the penalty of sin is a sinless sacrifice. We all fall short. Only Jesus is sinless and therefore able to save. His mercies are new every morning when we stumble.
He is the Way and the way maker.
For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. II Corinthians 5:21 (NKJV)
You see, when God steps in, the impossible becomes possible. Jesus in us overcomes sin and births new life— new life in Christ. The Holy Spirit who conceived Christ and raised Him from the dead, resides in us—that same power. Amazing.
Most kings stay in their comfortable palaces and have little to do with the lowly. Kings are usually served, not servants. Jesus, the King of kings, traded his crown for the cross. He stepped out of Heaven and into humanity to serve and offer salvation to all—from mighty rulers to the humblest of citizens
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though Hewas rich, yet for your sakes Hebecame poor, that you through His poverty might become rich. II Corinthians 8:9
God chooses the humble for He is Humble. Those who have little, and are not distracted by the fool’s gold of affluence and self-sufficiency are often more aware of their need and open to God.
He gives grace to the humble.
But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty I Corinthians 1:27 (NKJV)
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9 (KJV)
God goes where others hesitate or refuse to go.
Jesus is the Good Shepherd and The Lamb of God. His birth was first announced to shepherds
I have no gift to bring, Pa-rup-a-pum-pum. Do you know, the only things we can actually give Jesus are bad and broken things? We can give Him our anger, our hurt, our bitterness, our broken hearts, broken promises, broken lives and dreams, our sin.
Any good things, any abilities I have to offer are gifts from God. The only good in me, is Jesus working in and through me.
All I am really offering when I do anything of value, is giving back to God what is already His which He graced me with.
The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God. Psalms 51:17 (NLT)
I want you God. And You want me. Miracle.
Here I am, Lord; send me. Here’s my heart, Lord; use me.
Give me words to praise You. Words to lead others into Your presence.
Help me to minister to others as You will me to, Lord, and trust You to meet my needs.
I will cast my cares at the foot of the cross, in the hands of my Creator. You can too.