"Spiritual Breathing" from Bill Bright

Posted by Randy | Labels: , , , , , | Posted On Sunday, November 10, 2013 at 6:48 AM

In my message on Sunday, November 10, I talked about the importance of the Holy Spirit in helping us grow as disciples. In fact, we cannot grow with the Holy Spirit - He brings the growth.

2 Corinthians 3:18 (NLT): “…the Lord—who is the Spiritmakes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.” (emphasis added)

The Holy Spirit works with us as train ourselves spiritually through spiritual disciplines, but the Holy Spirit takes it one step further, acting as our personal spiritual trainer all throughout our day, helping us turn everything we do and experience into an opportunity for Him to guide us and empower us.

Bill Bright, who founded Campus Crusade, wrote of a spiritual exercise that offers us one way to do this throughout our day. He called it "Spiritual Breathing," and below is an excerpt from Campus 
Crusade's website about Spiritual Breathing:

by Bill Bright

By faith you can continue to experience God's love and forgiveness.

If you become aware of an area of your life (an attitude or an action) that is displeasing to the Lord, even though you are walking with Him and sincerely desiring to serve Him, simply thank God that He has forgiven your sins - past, present and future - on the basis of Christ's death on the cross. Claim His love and forgiveness by faith and continue to have fellowship with Him.

If you retake the throne of your life through sin – a definite act of disobedience – breathe spiritually.

Spiritual breathing (exhaling the impure and inhaling the pure) is an exercise in faith that enables you to continue to experience God's love and forgiveness.

  1. Exhale – confess your sin – agree with God concerning your sin and thank Him for His forgiveness of it, according to 1 John 1:9 and Hebrews 10:1-25. Confession involves repentance – a change in attitude and action.
  2. Inhale – surrender the control of your life to Christ, and appropriate (receive) the fullness of the Holy Spirit by faith. Trust that He now directs and empowers you; according to the command of Ephesians 5:18, and the promise of 1 John 5:14, 15.

(Adapted from Have You Made the Wonderful Discovery of the Spirit-Filled Life? by Dr. Bill Bright, co-founder of Campus Crusade for Christ. © Campus Crusade for Christ. All rights reserved. http://www.cru.org/training-and-growth/classics/the-spirit-filled-life/)

Give it a try and see if the Holy Spirit doesn't work with you all through your day!

"Adultery & Lust" Message: Some Stats on Pornography

Posted by Randy | Labels: , , , , , , | Posted On Saturday, April 13, 2013 at 8:48 PM

In my April 14, 2013 message entitled, "Adultery & Lust" (as part of our series "Turning the World Upside Down"), we looked at what Jesus had to say on these subjects.

Jesus: “‘You have heard the commandment that says, “You must not commit adultery.” But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.’” (Matthew 5:27-28 NLT2)
We may think this kind of stuff is no big deal, but our feelings can fool us, as Proverbs reminds us.

“There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death.” (Proverbs 14:12 NLT2)

To help us walk God's path instead of the dangerous one of adultery and lust, I shared some steps for dealing with lust in our lives. Here are the five steps I included:

  • Ruthlessly cut out anything in our lives that moves us toward lust.
  • Avoid putting ourselves into compromising or tempting situations.
  • Turn to Jesus Christ and focus on him.
  • Find an accountability partner.
  • If you are married, work on your marriage.

There are certainly other steps, and many folks much better educated in these matters than me have written books and set up websites. However, this offers you a starting point.

In my message I quoted some stats. Below are some of those stats, as well as additional ones, plus a couple of infographics. I've also listed the web addresses for these.

Internet Pornography Statistics
Pornographic websites
4.2 million (12% of total websites)
Pornographic pages
420 million
Daily pornographic search engine requests
68 million (25% of total search engine requests)
Daily pornographic emails
2.5 billion (8% of total emails)
Internet users who view porn
Received unwanted exposure to sexual material
Average daily pornographic emails/user
4.5 per Internet user
Monthly Pornographic downloads (Peer-to-peer)
1.5 billion (35% of all downloads)
Daily Gnutella "child pornography" requests
Websites offering illegal child pornography
Sexual solicitations of youth made in chat rooms
Youths who received sexual solicitation
1 in 7 (down from 2003 stat of 1 in 3)
Worldwide visitors to pornographic web sites
72 million visitors to pornography: Monthly
Internet Pornography Sales
$4.9 billion

Children Internet Pornography Statistics
Average age of first Internet exposure to pornography
11 years old
Largest consumer of Internet pornography
35 - 49 age group
15-17 year olds having multiple hard-core exposures
8-16 year olds having viewed porn online
90% (most while doing homework)
7-17 year olds who would freely give out home address
7-17 year olds who would freely give out email address
Children's character names linked to thousands of porn links
26 (Including Pokemon and Action Man)

Adult Internet Pornography Statistics
Men admitting to accessing pornography at work
US adults who regularly visit Internet pornography websites
40 million
Promise Keeper men who viewed pornography in last week
Christians who said pornography is a major problem in the home
Adults admitting to Internet sexual addiction
Breakdown of male/female visitors to pornography sites
72% male - 28% female

Women and Pornography
Women keeping their cyber activities secret
Women struggling with pornography addiction
Ratio of women to men favoring chat rooms
Percentage of visitors to adult websites who are women
1 in 3 visitors
Women accessing adult websites each month
9.4 million
Women admitting to accessing pornography at work

If you'd like to download additional statistical information, click Covenant Eyes for this stats package.

The bottom line is that when we live our lives trusting in Jesus Christ, it may seem totally weird to the world around us. But it's my contention that Jesus knows us better than we know ourselves and loves us so much that he would do anything to help us - to save us, including death on a cross. But the Good News is that when we follow him, when we believe him and trust him and follow him and pattern our lives after him, we find ourselves much better prepared to live our lives successfully, no matter what storms come our way.

Jesus: “‘Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.’” (Matthew 7:24-27 NLT2)

If Jesus is the WAY, what about those who've never heard of him?

Posted by Randy | Labels: , , , , , , , , , | Posted On Sunday, January 27, 2013 at 9:30 AM

My sermon message on January 27, 2012, is entitled, "Jesus Is The Way." In it, I try to show that all religions are not essentially the same. In fact, it's not only unfair to say that about Christianity, but it's unfair to say that about other religions, too.

I have reached the conclusion, as I share in my message, that Jesus really is the only way to God, as Jesus himself claimed in John 14:6. I know for some folks this sounds narrow-minded and arrogant, but I don't say this with arrogance but, instead, great humility. If you're interested in hearing my message and how I reached this conclusion (based, in part, on some material by author Less Strobel), click on the message title above to hear a podcast of the message from Gateway's website. 

I did raise one issue in my message that I didn't have the time to address in the sermon - What about those who live in isolated places, who have never had a chance to hear about Jesus? What's going to happen to them? Is the door to heaven closed to them? 

This is a challenging issue to face, and it certainly drives Christianity's focus on world missions and translating God's Word, the Bible, into every known language. My question becomes a non-issue if a person has had an opportunity to hear about Jesus Christ because Christ followers have intentionally sought every tribe and culture and people out. But even as I write this, there are still some on our planet who have not had that privilege. So, how do we face this?

Frankly, God hasn’t told us all we’d like to know about this. Yet, we do know a few things.

1. The Bible tells us that everybody has a moral standard written on their hearts by God, and that everybody is guilty of violating that standard.
Romans 1:19 (NLT): “For the truth about God is known to them instinctively. God has put this knowledge in their hearts.”

That’s why virtually every culture in every time and place has had many similar laws and rules—killing another person is always wrong. That’s why our conscience bothers us when we do something wrong.

2. The Bible tells us that everybody has enough information from observing the world to discern that God exists, but people have suppressed that and rejected God anyway — for which we rightfully deserve eternal separation from Him.
Romans 1:20 (NLT2): “For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.”

If you’ve ever been in the mountains or some other beautiful spot on earth, or watched an incredible sunset, you’ve probably said what millions of others have said—there must be a God!

3. We also know that those who sincerely seek God will find Him.
Jesus: “…seek and you will find…” (Matthew 7:7 NIV)

In fact, the Bible says that the Holy Spirit is seeking us first, making it possible for us to seek God. And this says to me that people around the world who respond to the understanding that they have and who earnestly seek after the one true God, revealed to them through God's creation, will find an opportunity, in some way, to receive the eternal life that God has graciously provided through Jesus Christ.

4. There’s something else that’s reassuring, too: God is completely fair and just.
Genesis 18:25 (NIV) asks, “…Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?”

It’s comforting for me to know that each person will be judged uniquely and justly, according to what they know and what they do with that. After being judged by a righteous God who deeply loves every person on this planet and always desires the best for them, no one will be able to walk away claiming that he or she had been treated unjustly.

We know that apart from the payment that Jesus made on the cross, nobody has a chance of getting off Death Row. But exactly how much detailed knowledge a person has to know about Jesus or precisely where the lines are drawn for those who have never heard of him, only God knows.
1 Corinthians 4:5 (TEV): “So you should not pass judgment on anyone before the right time comes. Final judgment must wait until the Lord comes; he will bring to light the dark secrets and expose the hidden purposes of people’s minds. And then all will receive from God the praise they deserve.”

5. And, finally, nobody will be excluded from heaven solely because he or she has lacked some information.

The reason people will be denied admittance is because they have told God that they can live just fine without Him, whether by intentionally admitting this or choosing to remain ignorant of Him. On Judgment Day, God will say, “Based on your own decision to live apart from Me, you will now spend eternity apart from Me.”

God won’t violate our free will—He won’t force us to follow Him. But, the Good News is that through Jesus Christ, God has offered to each one of us the gift of love and forgiveness. 

Ephesians 2:8-10 (NLT2): "God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. "

Let God in, and let Him work through you to transform our world and help every single individual on our planet know Jesus Christ!