Beware of a Hardened Heart

2020 will go down in history as a year of chaos, disorder, and disappointment.  Covid-19, elections, sports seasons a strew, some businesses shut down some not, money dwindling, national debt skyrockets, political unrest, worry about everything, corruption everywhere, riots; it is difficult to not grow weary and depressed in these trying times across the globe.  Even for the strongest of positive thinkers and faith-based believers, hope is diminishing.  Despite it all, we must fight the biggest individual danger – Beware of a Hardened Heart! 

On the night of this year’s November 3rd election, a classmate of mine posted on our high school Facebook page a profanity-laced reaction to the current President Trump’s seemingly winning the election.   I thought to myself, I hope I never become a bitter old man that is so filled with hate that I publicly lose it in front of the people I grew up with in my hometown.  The next day when suddenly the votes miraculously turned the other way, the other side of the fence voters joined in on the tirade with their dismay.  I wanted to do the same but knew better but realized, good God, I have reached too close to the old-bitter-dude side!   With the nails that have been driven into our skin and bones this year, I fear it has hardened too many of our souls and our hearts as well.

This picture I found with the nails pricked into the armor of a heart-shaped figure is a perfect depiction of how bitterness, and ultimately a hardened heart is developed.  It is typically not one catastrophic event but a number of negative hits and events that happen over time.  Each time we gloss it over with a stamp of anger, skepticism, and un-forgiveness, the heart grows a bit harder.  As a result, it becomes harder to penetrate with the much-needed love, joy, peace, and happiness, our body, soul, and spirit craves.


Here’s a scary thought, we are no longer in Covid-19; it has become Covid21!  What we all had hoped would be a short health crisis has not only NOT ended, but the latest stats and rumors indicate it may have gotten worse and may be mutating, meaning we’ll have to deal with additional strains.  If you watched the lack of New Year’s Eve celebrations, the Governors have further created a doghouse mentality with lock-down requirements.

Honestly,  I thought either I/my household had already had ‘it,’ or hey, we’re good people, so we should be immune, and we’ll never get it.   Then our little world of cloud-reality changed on December 1st, bam! 

If you ever look at my social media page, you’d know 15 months ago, I  un-retired and took a role managing a men’s/couples program at a non-profit organization.  We never shut down a day as we are considered essential in helping families in dire need.  Other men volunteers and I would spend time with the baby daddies that would come with their girlfriend to the center for help.   The facility sees around 1500 women visitors per year, many of whom return for classes, baby items of all types, and one-on-one help.  Roughly 140 men passed thru the doors for counseling, life advice, and classes on life skills.  In 9 months of daily face-to-face frontline encounters, somehow not a single staff member (11 of us) and only a few volunteers we know of (out of 71) contracted covid.  We closely followed the distancing protocols; we had babies to protect.

But on the 1st, I set up a visit from a Pastor friend who needed someone to talk to about a ‘personal problem.’  I had a very uneasy feeling as our short meeting turned into two hours. That inner spiritual feeling told me that the details of his very personal situation were not the only part I needed to have washed out of my own spirit.  I found out later that he and his church discovered that most of its members had either covid or the flu.  I woke up 2 1/2 days later in the middle of the night in a sweat-soaked bed with a 103.1 fever. 

Amazingly I was able to see my doctor at 10 a.m. for rapid-testing.  They said I had type-A flu, negative on the covid test.  But man, this was no ordinary flu.  For the next seven days, I moaned through A-flu with an up and down fever, chills vs. sweat, no appetite, and tired as could be crawling from room to room when nature called.  7 days of just laying around sleeping off the flu.  On the 7th day, I knew I needed to go for a 2nd test.  What I knew already was validated when test 2 showed a positive covid test. 

A 911 call the next day brought on an ambulance visit as my wife showed a caring and fearful concern that made me feel more loved than I ever have in my life. God, thank you for giving me a great wife!!  I guess she took my blacking out and incoherent speech as either a seizure or a heart attack.  I did not want to go to the hospital!  Fearful thoughts filled my mind as I had just received a text that the Pastor I had met with also had both the flu/covid.  He had to go to the ER and was in the hospital, I prayed for and fought for not going to a darn hospital.  The ambulance guys found my vitals had calmed down, and the Tylenol I had taken shortly before blacking out kicked in and knocked the fever down to a livable level. I should have NOT ‘let the fever do its job.’  We agreed it was probably a combo of not enough food and not enough liquids.   I sent the ambulance and fire truck out the door. 

My wife broke down after they left; she seldom cries. I think that provided more motivation to me than anything else.  I get this occasional attitude of well, I’ll be better off dead anyway as I’ll be in heaven with Jesus.  Living on earth is not for our self; it is for other people.  We need to live so those who need our help can live a better life.

The fear and reality of the matter hit home, and I began forcing myself to eat.  It worked, and the fever finally broke, bringing my appetite back.   Adding ginger ale and Pedia-lite against my wife and the doctor’s orders (The doc said covid thrives on sugar but left out the fact our body needs electrolytes and some sugars) helped as well.

But after getting over the bed-ridden-flu, the covid symptoms became more prevalent as the coughing set in. This was my biggest concern and fear!  I have had lung issues since my Army days 40 years ago where I was exposed to agent orange, which thins the lining of the lungs. 

But one night at 3 a.m. I awoke gasping for air.  I teach classes on how to manage panic and anxiety attacks.  Using the techniques on yourself when you are fighting for air was way different from walking anxiety laced teenagers through how to overcome an anxiety attack.  FEAR can be a powerful weapon against us if we allow it to be. 

It turned out my biggest issue was not the lungs but my brain freaking out over the shortness of breath.  All those warnings one reads of ‘you’re going to need to be put on a ventilator and you WILL die like all those other people, it’s over;’ raced through my head. I darn near grabbed the phone to dial 911 myself.  Instead, I took a few slow deep breaths, as I tell people to do.  Fortunately, air passed in and out and the panic settled down.   I awoke my wife and asked her to get me some warm water and to set up that breathing thing.  With her help, I calmly stood up (which helped a bunch by itself as the laying down floods the windpipe and lungs) and made it to the table to the nebulizer, a breathing apparatus generally used for Asthma.  Fear was my biggest issue!  I got over the anxiety, and the next couple of weeks became a keep the lungs clear battle. Thank God all is 99% well now! 

As a note of encouragement regarding the fear of catching Covid – should you or a loved one become infected by this disease that we should just change to name of it to Covid21, a little advice:   In addition to pulling oneself together in a panic situation, a key component is being ready for “IT”.  My doctor had suggested a nebulizer (a common breathing tool asthma sufferer’s use along with a prescription of  Budesonide), Mucinex, humidifiers, and a few other mucous lung breaker-upper tools.  Once the diagnosis for covid was determined we grabbed every weapon, anti-oxidant, and med allowed just in case it got worse.  Fear is a good thing if it is accompanied with wisdom to be ready for difficulties.  It is not paranoia or anti-faith to be prepared.  We had already, in our household, been on a get healthy lungs and anti-oxidant prevention plan since March.  Daily walks, practicing deep breathing, and being up-to-date on knowledge.  What no one mentioned before was a Vitamin D3 deficiency that is gaining acceptance as a tool to defeat the disease.  Here is our defense kit, some of which is good to have on hand as a preventative measure as well.

I also battled the ‘Why me?‘ syndrome.  I had done the mask thing, exercised daily, and was eating right.  Instead of living a retired life of daily golf, I find it more rewarding to help people that are in trouble and broke.  Isn’t that what God asks us to do?    Why then did I get hit so hard on this?  Then again, why did I not fall in that percentage of people that are high risk and succumb to the disease?   Without a doubt, our hearts go out to those who have lost friends, relatives, and family members to this unwanted covid disease, and we all hope it just goes away.  I sit at the moment, being grateful the worse did not happen to one of us, almost feeling guilty that it has happened to others.   Both results are out of our control. I pray for those who are in the grief category that they gain Grace and avoid a needle in the heart hardening syndrome.

I have concluded that no one is immune to anything. Just because you are ‘good’ may provide benefits of protection from devils. It does not necessarily mean those who are ‘evil’ will be smitten with disease and nothing but a bad life.  Whichever side you stand on, how we deal with difficulties when they arrive will determine the state of our heart.  Is it filled with love, forgiveness, and hope for a higher good even for those you may despise?  Or is it filled with contempt and hate, which leads to an internal hardened and bitter heart?

No one is immune to the daily events that take place in the world.  Jesus is quoted saying, ‘God makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.’  Suppose any one of us is foolish enough to think we have immunity to the fates of life, or worse yet, wishes death and judgment upon those we despise. In that case, the hardness of heart will ultimately lead us to despise everyone and everything – including God.

Many Americans are comfortable with the thought that I don’t really care as long as it doesn’t affect me.  ‘What happens in other countries is their problem, not mine.’  2020 re-introduced or, for some, showed a discovery of what it is like to face violence, destruction, death, human atrocities, and utter hate in our own cities and protected backyards.  The immunity has been removed, hasn’t it?    The positives that we’ve heard, such as ‘2020 will be the best year ever’ have come and been somewhat proven wrong from the predictors and positive-ness pushers, of which I like to be a part of that club. 

But in today’s gloom and doom environment, many point fingers at the ‘other side’ as the cause of the problems, thereby justifying their anger and screams for justice.   Mask haters vs. mask believers, conspiracy members of the dark state vs. conspiracy under every rock believers, flag haters vs. staunch loyal flag supporters –  The list in 2020 arguments is a mile long. Who is right, and who is wrong is not the only question; the better question to ask ourselves is how have I allowed it to affect me personally?

I re-iterate the title of this expose,   Beware of a Hardened Heart! 

For some, this may be all you care to dwell on; your mind is already made up.  But for the spiritually minded, I have a challenge for you to evaluate regarding immunity and what we think should happen versus what God is doing to make things right and bring to light.  You may not like how YOU are not immune, and there is great danger in not understanding that could lead to hardened hearts for even the strongest believers.  Read on if you dare, or maybe I should say if you care about your own heart ……

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Statistically, Covid21 has taken a great toll on the American church.  The Pastor who came to visit me is one of many that I seem to have become a sounding board within the ministry I am involved with. I guess I am a safe haven for honest conversations.  Out of dozens I have spoken to, many have been hit with their own churches’ sad state. The distancing shut down or move to Zoom church has caused 40-70% of many churches’ regulars to disappear.  Stats from barna back up these numbers in this article.    Many have lost interest and, in some cases, let their faith slip away into the madness of the world.  They have this disease that is hard to self-evaluate and notice. It is called a hardened heart

In the large quote earlier where I mention it rains on everyone, the context of that verse is in relationship to our hearts towards ALL people.  The political wars have caused too many Christians to harden their hearts towards people, but deep down it is towards The Holy God and His high standard.  The full context of the verse is from Matthew 5:43-38 (NLT) “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy.  But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike.   If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.”

Personally, I am a strong advocate of keeping an eye on politics and being actively involved.  Where the line must be drawn starts first in our NOT publicly joining in on the hate that is being spewed upon those whom we disagree with.  More importantly, is guarding our hearts against hating people, we consider enemies.  While we consider those who practice evil and advocate clearly un-Biblical practices as enemies of God, we need to heed Jesus advice of ‘loving our enemies and praying for those who persecute us.’  Or, in today’s world of social media try to love those who argue and mock us for our stances and beliefs. 

Everyone knows John 3:16 but, should not stop reading the one verse, instead, view the words in the full context.  John 3:17-21 (NLT) describes why our job is to love people and not judge them.  

“God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.  There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in Him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son.  And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil.  All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed.  But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.”

Jesus makes the outlandish statement to love those who mess us over, cheat, and advocate killing babies, amongst other things we stand against.  Judging has already taken place; it was done at the Cross on Calvary.  Our job is to be a light so those who are already judged will change their minds, see what they are doing is against God, and turn to Him for salvation.   We all know that – but, how many of us actually live it?  If we have a hardened heart, both those non-believers, and guess what WE, also can miss the full knowledge of the truth if we’re not careful.

Later on in John, Jesus described what happens to the overly religious and the overly political that become so distracted by politics that they don’t see that God is taking action, they/we can become ‘most of the people’:  “But despite all the miraculous signs Jesus had done, most of the people still did not believe in him. This is exactly what Isaiah the prophet had predicted: “ Lord, who has believed our message? To whom has the Lord revealed his powerful arm?” But the people couldn’t believe, for as Isaiah also said, “The Lord has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts— so that their eyes cannot see, and their hearts cannot understand, and they cannot turn to me and have me heal them.” Isaiah was referring to Jesus when he said this, because he saw the future and spoke of the Messiah’s glory. Many people did believe in him, however, including some of the Jewish leaders. But they wouldn’t admit it for fear that the Pharisees would expel them from the synagogue. For they loved human praise more than the praise of God.

I have come as a light to shine in this dark world, so that all who put their trust in me will no longer remain in the dark. I will not judge those who hear me but don’t obey me, for I have come to save the world and not to judge it. But all who reject me and my message will be judged on the day of judgment by the truth I have spoken.”   John 12:37-43, 46-48 NLT

I believe God is taking action to correct an overly powerful and pious government, and those who follow the warped belief system ‘they’ advocate.  What many have missed is the corruption is on both sides, and few recognize it.   MEANWHILE, God is taking action by also revealing hearts.  Some people misinterpret the words ‘The Lord has … hardened their hearts’ as if God has cast some spell on people.  No, when hearts are hardened, it is because God has begun to take action when all else has failed to cause people to turn from their ways, to reveal that He has the ultimate power.   People who have had a habit of acting as if God does not exist their whole lives do not need a spell cast on them to give them a hard heart; it just happens as time, even short amounts, blows past the memory of what God has already done.  If Christians are not careful, they can be part of the collateral damage and create within – their own hardened heart.   Say what?

Let’s take a look at the story of  Pharaoh and Moses, the ultimate hardened heart example. The plagues that God sent upon the leader of Egypt who was abusing and using as slaves the Israelites, God’s people, started off with one needle in his heart armor at a time.

Most of us who read our Bibles are well aware of Pharaoh and his hard heart.  Here are the instances surrounding the 10 plagues of his stubbornness:

Exodus 4:21   “The Lord said to Moses, “When you return to Egypt, see that you perform before Pharaoh all the wonders (miracles) which I have put in your hand, but I will harden his heart and make him stubborn so that he will not let the people go.”

Exodus 7:3  “And I will make Pharaoh’s heart hard, and multiply My signs and My wonders (miracles) in the land of Egypt.”

Exodus 7:13  “Yet Pharaoh’s heart was hardened and he would not listen to them, just as the Lord had said.

Exodus 7:14  “[ Water Is Turned to Blood ] Then the Lord said to Moses, “Pharaoh’s heart is hard; he refuses to let the people go.”

Exodus 7:22  “But the magicians of Egypt did the same by their secret arts and enchantments; so Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he did not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the Lord had said.”

Exodus 8:15  “But when Pharaoh saw that there was [temporary] relief, he hardened his heart and would not listen or pay attention to them, just as the Lord had said.”

Exodus 8:19  “Then the magicians said to Pharaoh, “This is the [supernatural] finger of God.” But Pharaoh’s heart was hardened and he would not listen to them, just as the Lord had said.”

Exodus 8:32  “But Pharaoh hardened his heart this time also, and he did not let the people go.”

Exodus 9:7  “Then Pharaoh sent [men to investigate], and not even one of the livestock of the Israelites had died. But the heart of Pharaoh was hardened [and his mind was firmly set], and he did not let the people go.”

Exodus 9:12  “But the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh, and he did not listen or pay attention to them, just as the Lord had told Moses.”

Exodus 9:34  “But when Pharaoh saw that the rain and the hail and the thunder had ceased, he sinned again and hardened his heart, both he and his servants.”

Exodus 9:35  “Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he did not let the Israelites go, just as the Lord had said through Moses.”

Exodus 10:1  “[ The Plague of Locusts ] Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the heart of his servants [making them determined and unresponsive], so that I may exhibit My signs [of divine power] among them,”

Exodus 10:20  “But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart [so that it was even more resolved and obstinate], and he did not let the Israelites go.”

Exodus 10:27  “But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he was not willing to let them go.”

Exodus 11:10  “Moses and Aaron did all these wonders (miracles) before Pharaoh; yet the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he did not let the Israelites go out of his land.”

Exodus 14:4  “I will harden (make stubborn, defiant) Pharaoh’s heart, so that he will pursue them; and I will be glorified and honored through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians shall know [without any doubt] and acknowledge that I am the Lord.” And they did so.

Exodus 14:8  “The Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and he pursued the Israelites, as they were leaving confidently and defiantly.”

Exodus 14:17  “As for Me, hear this: I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians, and they will go in [the sea] after them; and I will be glorified and honored through Pharaoh and all his army, and his war-chariots and his horsemen.”

Meanwhile, the Israelites, who already mistrusted Moses because of his past, were people with hardened hearts also. I would assume because of the 430 years of slavery, they suffered for many years.  Some of them actually became dependent upon the food, water, and shelter they were given and had gotten used to it.  You can look it up that when they arrived at the Red Sea and feared the Egyptians would kill them (before God did the miracle of parting the sea), some said ‘let’s go back to Egypt.’ When they seemingly ran out of water in the desert, some said, ‘let’s go back to Egypt.’

The result was devastating for the entire generation (except for Joshua and Caleb) as their hardness of heart caused them to wander in the desert 40 years and miss entering the promised land. 

Psalm 95 8-12 recaps the sad case of their hard hearts:

“Do not harden your hearts and become spiritually dull as at Meribah [the place of strife],
And as at Massah [the place of testing] in the wilderness,
“When your fathers tested Me,
They tried Me, even though they had seen My work [of miracles]. 
“For forty years I was grieved and disgusted with that generation,
And I said, ‘They are a people who err in their heart,
And they do not acknowledge or regard My ways.’
“Therefore I swore [an oath] in My wrath,
‘They absolutely shall not enter My rest [the land of promise].”

For us readers of this historical time, it is very hard to understand how, after God showed His amazing powers and patience in proving to Pharaoh that He was The God who created the heavens and earth, that the Israelites could develop hardened hearts.

Perhaps amid the plagues, and we see in the 1st two that the Israelites had to endure 2 of the plagues themselves which were duplicated by Pharaoh’s sorcerers, the collateral damage they endured added nails to their slave-life hard-heart-armor.   Imagine seeing the water turned to blood, killing everything in the water, and leaving no drinking water for several days.  Imagine the smell.

It would be like, hey God, if you were going to send a plague that turns the water into blood to punish the bad people, why do we good people also have to go thirsty and smell the dead fish.  On plague 2, hey God, these dead frogs smell horrible, and we have to clean up not only the ones in our land of Goshen, but darn Pharaoh also made us clean up the ones in Egypt too.   Btw, thanks for not stopping him from making us mold bricks without hay.

Perhaps in this modern-day, imagine that perhaps God has sent this disease of Covid21 on the bad people on this earth.  Perhaps the financial strains of the people are a wake-up call to tell them to straighten up.    You know, the ones that have fought for abortions and lgbtq rights, only they should be getting sick, not us.   It would be like, hey God, if you were going to send a sickness like covid to punish the bad people, why are we good people also getting it?

Or hey God, you promised us prosperity and a full blessed life if we followed you?  Why didn’t you just mess up the economy of the bad guys?  Why didn’t you just take their money and give it to us Christian business owners and us families that are raising our home-schooled kids to be like You? 

God, we should be immune to this stuff, shouldn’t we?

Alright, so the chart shows God heard the Israelites cries and changed it up a bit.  If you look at the column to the right in the chart, plagues 3-9 did not touch the Israelites in Goshen.  They were immune and protected.   But I wonder, though, in the slave world we see in movies, many non-field working slaves live with the slave owners.  I wonder how many Israelites lived in the well-off Egyptian homes as maids, cooks, gardeners, overseers, choice nannies. Thus they did not make the trek out of Egypt to Goshen?  The Bible does not touch on such details, but perhaps it explains the attitudes that many of the grumblers in the desert carried?   Perhaps these more elite servants and leaders were touched by the attacks of the gnats, the boils,  and tasted the suffering of the devastation of the vegetation and animals intended for the Egyptians.  Perhaps they had the option to go back to Goshen thinking they were immune, yet were harmed in the collateral damage?

Finally, stage 10, the final judgment of Pharaoh’s hardened heart, the death of all the first-borns.  Can you imagine hearing the screams of mothers as this judgment took place?  The nanny’s and maids and live-in ‘slaves’ certainly had their hearts wrenched in this devastation.  Btw, we recently watched a must-see older film called The Help   which describes the bonds that are developed between a child and their maid/nanny.   Perhaps some thought God went too far in proving a point?  

Perhaps they were still mad God made them wait 40 years to send back their rescuer and did not like Moses and God’s method of rescue?   This excerpt in Acts from Stephen seems to reveal the reasons the Israelites  as an entire group of a million or so (we do not know all the exact details 600,000 ‘men’ are mentioned; thus we have to speculate on some things in the Bible) had stubborn and hardened hearts:

““One day when Moses was forty years old, he decided to visit his relatives, the people of Israel. He saw an Egyptian mistreating an Israelite. So Moses came to the man’s defense and avenged him, killing the Egyptian. Moses assumed his fellow Israelites would realize that God had sent him to rescue them, but they didn’t. “The next day he visited them again and saw two men of Israel fighting. He tried to be a peacemaker. ‘Men,’ he said, ‘you are brothers. Why are you fighting each other?’ “But the man in the wrong pushed Moses aside. ‘Who made you a ruler and judge over us?’ he asked. ‘Are you going to kill me as you killed that Egyptian yesterday?’

 I have certainly seen the oppression of my people in Egypt. I have heard their groans and have come down to rescue them. Now go, for I am sending you back to Egypt.’ “So God sent back the same man his people had previously rejected when they demanded, ‘Who made you a ruler and judge over us?’ Through the angel who appeared to him in the burning bush, God sent Moses to be their ruler and savior. And by means of many wonders and miraculous signs, he led them out of Egypt, through the Red Sea, and through the wilderness for forty years. 

“But our ancestors refused to listen to Moses. They rejected him and wanted to return to Egypt.

 “You stubborn people! You are heathen at heart and deaf to the truth. Must you forever resist the Holy Spirit? That’s what your ancestors did, and so do you!

 Then they put their hands over their ears and began shouting. They rushed at him.   As they stoned him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” He fell to his knees, shouting, “Lord, don’t charge them with this sin!” And with that, he died.”                                      Acts of the Apostles 7:23-28, 34-36, 39, 51, 57, 59-60 NLT

As 2020 has come to an end, some think that telling the year good riddance or the flip of a calendar now changes everything.  I firmly believe we as a world are being called upon to examine our own hearts.  I wrote about the absolute need to close in on a close and personal relationship with God and to learn what it means to have a solo relationship in His Presence.   All of 50 people read the post and about the same on the other teaching ones How to worship from home.      But, I will not let who reads my stuff and who does not put a nail in my heart.

Never before has our nation been in such a state of disruption.   I don’t have the answers to the problems. I’m not about to make predictions like some ‘prophets and prophetesses’ do every year saying ‘blessings will flow this coming year, revival is on the way,’ and btw buy my book and sign up for my $199 course and $299 conference. 

I believe correction is also being doled out to church leaders and guides who have appointed themselves as prophets.  I personally believe in modern prophets, but just because you put the title on your social media caption or make an appearance at a conference does not make you one.   The job of a prophet is not to build a brand and a following; it is to deliver God’s words, which at times is to also send warnings.  I am no prophet.  It is our job as Christians though to keep fellow believers in check.  Personally I in my own personal times alone with God have heard the same message for all of 2020.   The message has been to:

  1. Guard my own heart and do not allow the outside world to harden my heart
  2. Work on my personal relationship with Jesus, Know His voice and Hear His voice. (That takes daily time with Him)
  3. Make Disciples

Maybe those three priorities might apply to you the reader.  

I think that never before has the American church been in such disarray.   We know of the issues of the swamp in politics and business.  Yet here we are, with God taking action to straighten out a mess, and we find the mess is also in His church.  National leaders saying abortion is ok in the sight of God, and even if I don’t think killing babies is ok, that other party with their rude leader circumvented its importance.  Sadly, some hearts were not guarded well as some large-church Pastors have had to walk from their positions, having been caught doing the very things they preach against.  Many are having their secrets revealed and the need to humble oneself under God’s authority has had its light shown upon hypocrisy in the church, not just in politics and the media.   As stated in the beginning, many members have walked away from their home churches altogether.  Much prayer is needed for the leaders of the church.

Perhaps it comes down to those two simple words Make Disciples.  The very last words Jesus said before He flew up to heaven, maybe we’ve forgotten our purpose?

For many, Dad’s and Mom’s have been forced to be at home with their children.  Instead of rejoicing at the opportunity, the divorce rate and domestic abuse has risen.   The excuse of I don’t have time to work on my relationship with my wife, my kids, or with God has been eliminated.  Instead of closeness and the opportunity to bring our children closer to God, the alcoholism, drug abuse, child abuse, and suicide rates have climbed for both parents and their children.

It’s not the job of the Pastors and leaders to make disciples alone.  It is every Christians’ call, one person at a time, and for a vast majority, it starts in the home.  The job of Pastors is not to run a church like a business and make your congregation larger and larger; it is to duplicate your God-given skills so that more leaders like yourself are created.  That’s advanced Discipleship making.  Preaching on TV or Zoom by yourself as you did from the church pulpit alone, how is that working on making any disciples, let alone Leader disciples?  Does anyone in your congregation know how to hear from God if it is not coming out of your mouth?

I end with Proverbs 22:4 “The reward of humility [that is, having a realistic view of one’s importance] and the [reverent, worshipful] fear of the Lord Is riches, honor, and life.”  (I love the AMP version’s expansion of common words like ‘humility’)

If we’re to be a part of God’s cleansing actions in our world, it must be done by giving Him the steering wheel and doing the main job Jesus assigned us to do.  If we focus on making disciples, which starts with 1st – Being one humbly under God’s authority.  God will know He has His remnant back on track and the awakening plagues will stop.  I think we’re still far from it.    2nd is doing it in our own rooms or home starting with oneself and loving each other more in our homes.  3rd, if we are in ministry or someday plan on being in ministry, putting our heads down and working with people one-on-one needs to be revived.  The Help Center I am involved with is trying to do it slowly but surely. Perhaps get out of the church support group and go to where people who don’t know God at all are looking for help.  Use the Grace Christian skills you have been gifted with to help those who need it.  Jesus took three years to disciple His followers, why do we think it should take any less time with each person God has brought to us to teach them about Him?

Anything else apart from the primary command will cause us to miss that we are being rescued – especially while the rain is pouring. 

We must take heed and listen to what God is telling us amid this correction and — Beware of a Hardened Heart! 

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