Decision? … or Commitment?? November 2, 2014Posted by stevekerp in Discipleship, spiritual wealth.
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Kyle Idleman is an author and also the teaching pastor of Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, Kentucky. In Not A Fan, he asks the question: “Have you ‘made a decision’ for Jesus? or have you committed to Jesus?”
There is a difference. There shouldn’t be. But there is a difference. Many have made a decision to believe in Jesus without making a commitment to follow Jesus. The gospel allows for no such distinction. Biblical belief is more than mental assent or verbal acknowledgment. Many fans have repeated a prayer or raised their hand or walked forward at the end of a sermon and made a decision to believe, but there was never a commitment to follow. Jesus never offered such an option. He is looking for more than words of belief; he’s looking to see how those words are lived out in your life. When we decide to believe in Jesus without making a commitment to follow him, we become nothing more than fans.
Biblical belief is more than just an intellectual acceptance or a heartfelt acknowledgment; it is a commitment to follow. Following by definition requires more than mental assent, it calls for movement. One of the reasons our churches can become fan factories is that we have separated the message of “believe” from the message “follow.” After separating the two messages, they get out of balance.
I’m not saying that following is more important than believing. What I am saying is that the two are firmly connected. They are the heart and lungs of faith. One can’t live without the other. Following is part of believing. To truly believe is to follow.”
Not surprisingly, Kyle has come under fire for teaching the “heretical doctrine of Lordship salvation.” I did not come away from his book with the idea that he believes we earn our salvation by doing works or any other such thing. I don’t believe, and I don’t read that Kyle believes, that we are saved because we decide to be saved, or that we either get saved or stay saved by our own efforts or merits.
Jesus asks the question in Luke 6:46 -
But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?”
How does one answer that question? “Well, I didn’t really want to obey you. I just didn’t want to go to hell.” I suppose the real question is, “Do you love Jesus enough to obey Him?” Because, if one does not love Jesus Christ, nothing else really matters (see 1 Corinthians 16:22).
Kyle did not have to make the case for obedience. In fact, he’s not coming up with anything new; he’s just reminding us of what James says about the uselessness of a purported “faith” that produces no works (See James 2:17-22).
But a passage sometimes overlooked in the discussion is in Hebrews 11:6 -
But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”
The word translated “rewarder” (μισθαποδότης – misthapodotēs) only appears here in the New Testament. It isn’t in the context of getting saved or “staying saved” (a problematic concept, to be sure). Let’s face it, no matter how tepid one’s faith, there is no doubt some work that has proceeded from it. So if one argues that saving faith always produces a change in one’s life, it’s really hard to find disagreement. I argue (and I believe Kyle is arguing) that to live a life that pleases God, one must live a life of obedient pursuit of Christ; vigorous, consistent and joyful submission to His discipline. I would add that Jesus DESERVES to be loved, and DESERVES to be obeyed.
That’s where the joy is, and THAT’S WHERE THE REWARDS ARE! I suspect that many of us are given a taste of earthly poverty so we will know what it feels like, and we will be motivated to lay up treasure in heaven. If you don’t like being poor here, you sure won’t enjoy it for eternity.
This is not a salvation issue. If anything, it’s a maturity issue. The lie (remember: these are the days of deception) is that Jesus did it ALL – that all He expects of us is to crank back in our Lay-Z-Boy recliners, trust Him to take care of us, and wait for the rapture – and that perhaps doing good works is legalism against which Paul preached, and which is at its core an affront to the grace of God. The truth is that Jesus did for us only those things that we could not and cannot do for ourselves … and He will even help us with the rest.
“Obedience” is not a spiritual gift, my dear friends. Satan’s effort is to give Jesus an eternal daycare center full of immature, bottle-sucking Christianettes. Jesus calls us to maturity: to GROW UP in all things in Christ (Ephesians 4:13-15). THAT, I believe, is the core of Not A Fan and that is the core of the podcast going forward. I want to be outrageously wealthy when I get to Heaven, and I want you to join me.
‘Burma Shave’ Evangelism October 30, 2014Posted by stevekerp in Discipleship, End Times, Uncategorized.
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Some of you may recall the old ‘Burma Shave’ highway signs. For the rest, the basic idea was a series of five or more signs spaced evenly along a highway, each but the last with a line from a bit of verse, and the final sign saying ‘Burma Shave’.
Here’s one example, from memory:
keep pushing up those
Cute, obviously memorable, and distinctive.
In a recent discussion with a friend, we considered the idea of composing similar verse along evangelical lines, making up similar signs, and then standing with friends along the side of the road with the signs. If you have any ideas on possible sign composition, I’d love to hear from you. If you don’t quite “get it” just do a google search on “Burma Shave Signs” and it should become clear.
As I mentioned last time, I’ve been doing some reading in Genesis. While there may be some relevant prophetic patterns in the life of Joseph, I was looking more at the human-interest side. Many Christians I know feel oppressed. Life is generally difficult, with illnesses, economic hardship at various levels, key personal relationships that are not good, and a daily fresh load of reasons why the downward spiral can be expected to continue.
Jacob and his family had similar issues from the time Joseph went to Egypt until the time his family joined him there about 23 years later. One of the interesting take-aways from my study was in Genesis 42:36 when Jacob, bemoaning his perceived hardships, said, “…all these things are against me.” Of course, quite the opposite was true. Things were not as they appeared, and all the things he thought were against him were, in fact, weighing very much in his favor.
Might that also apply to us? Could God have placed “treasure in our sacks” and we are complaining about the weight instead of rejoicing in the value?
I will most probably unpack this a bit in the next program.
Administrivia: I asked for “votes” through Paypal and, admittedly, there probably weren’t too many folks who heard the appeal. One couple did and sent a significant gift which I used to set up an account with SoundCloud. This will make the program available through iTunes (and maybe other distribution points as well), and that means access on smartphones, etc. At this point, I’m inclined to keep using the “Anakypto” label since it’s distinctive and sort-of established. I’ve pencilled in next Monday for “going live” but no promises. In the meantime, I would greatly appreciate hearing from you, even if you cannot or do not wish to participate financially.
link: http://www.soundcloud.com/anakypto (and that’s not a picture of me)
Preliminary Thoughts – Preparing for the Bema Seat October 29, 2014Posted by stevekerp in Uncategorized.
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Here’s a link to today’s “program”: Preparing For the Bema Seat
Administrivia: One of today’s discussion points concerns my response to the many emails I have received encouraging me to resume a daily podcast.
If I go back to Blog Talk Radio, that will cost money.
If I arrange for direct links and streaming from WordPress, that will also cost money.
If I develop this into a full-time, daily podcast, that will also cost money.
Overview of the Ebola Hoax by Jon Rappoport: Ebola: how to stage a fake epidemic
No guarantee that I will do this again tomorrow; no promise that I won’t.
Any Time Now …. October 28, 2014Posted by stevekerp in Discipleship.
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I’m not going back to BlogTalkRadio quite yet, but will put audio files here for the short term.
Maybe tomorrow … no promises.
There’s a lot going on in the world and the pace of mischief seems to be accelerating. How soon we “hit the wall” (or “go over the edge”) is, of course, anybody’s guess. But the Shmittah Time-clock strongly suggests (and I am NOT setting a date, Rexella!) that this may be our last lap. I’m just sayin’ ….
I don’t want the audio programs in the future to be as eschatological as in the past, for a few reasons. But I still have an “inner eschatologist” and, let’s face it: if there is anyone out there who claims to be a Christian and claims to have a Biblical world view and is NOT excited about the very real possibility that these are the “last days” that Jesus and the prophets told us about, then I would strongly suggest those “claims” are not grounded in reality.
My hope, and I’ve said this many times (“Amen” from the long-time listeners) is that I don’t want to be just another contributor to the over-informationizing of the American Christian subculture. Folks, we KNOW this stuff. We know what a disciple is and how a disciple is supposed to live. We know our God is awesome! He’s not some dinky little deity wannabe who needs to be placated by King James-style prayers and weekly liturgical ceremonies. He is WORTHY (not yelling, just passionate!) and He deserves our praise and our worship. In fact, He deserves a level of praise and worship that we are unable to provide. I don’t want my efforts to simply be another flavor of Christian entertainment or background noise.
What I DO want is to help any who need encouragement to keep their joy and their perspective. It could get a little bumpy for the next few months, and we need to remind each other that this is temporary, and that we can lay up for ourselves treasures in heaven, as Jesus directed us to do. I believe one source of His joy will be to lavishly — lavishly — reward those who are taking discipleship seriously. By “discipleship” I mean simply living under the discipline of Christ in order to be conformed to Him (for clarity, review Romans 8:29 and Ephesians 4:15). Again, nothing new here; we all KNOW this stuff.
America is post-Christian. The moral consensus of the culture is no longer Biblical. Voting won’t make a difference. But Jesus Christ, the ONLY One ever found worthy, can be glorified in YOU.
I’m rambling so I will stop for now. Suffice to say, God is not bemoaning the collapse of America; rather, He is rejoicing that He is bringing sons and daughters to maturity. Jesus will have the bride He deserves. His bride will be beautiful, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, and I believe He’s more excited about that than we are.
Let’s help each other get ready!
Cheerfulness October 21, 2014Posted by stevekerp in doctrine of distribution, Non-accumulation.
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So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.” - 2 Corinthians 9:7
2 Corinthians 9:7 is probably among the verses that come to mind when someone is considering the doctrine of distribution. It certainly appears, at first blush, that if we are COMMANDED to give, that our giving would be “of necessity.” This, it would seem, would be a trap door out of the obvious requirements of Luke 12:33.
Before I get too far ahead of myself, perhaps a brief consideration of Luke 12:33 would be in order here:
Sell what you have and give alms; provide yourselves money bags which do not grow old, a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches nor moth destroys.” - Luke 12:33
This is presented as a “category 2″ command – something Jesus said to His disciples in a teaching context. Jesus was giving His disciples – and us – specific direction regarding accumulated possessions. The most literal understanding of this command is that we are to sell off our accumulated possessions and give the money to those who need it. It does not restrict the amount of money we earn, nor does it require us to sell things we need.
I know this is a “hard saying.” But what else can we conclude? If Jesus doesn’t really mean “don’t accumulate,” then what exactly does He mean by this command? What is He telling us to do? And similarly, if Jesus would have wanted to forbid the accumulation of earthly wealth, how else could He have said it?
As I pointed out yesterday, this is not because Jesus wants us to live lives of deprivation and hardship. He said He came to bring us abundant life (John 10:10). The presumption is that those following Jesus are interested in eternal things: eternal life, citizenship in an eternal kingdom, and eternal wealth.
It is toward those objectives that Jesus taught His disciples some basic Kingdom truths with which we are all familiar (though sometimes we struggle with the implications) – that this life is temporary, and that the way to Life often runs counter to the “wisdom of this age.” It also runs counter to the desires of the flesh.
Having said that, let’s consider those purposes in our hearts.
But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?” - 1 John 3:17
A relevant rhetorical question – obviously, the Apostle John sees this as prima facie evidence that the love of God does NOT abide in such a one. It appears that this refusal to extend charity springs from a heart that is “shut up.”
This is, at its core, a love issue. Do we love our “stuff” or do we love our fellow men? With the visible increase on our streets of people with cardboard signs, can we honestly say we are unaware of these desperate needs? With our attics and garages full of clutter, most of which we will never use, can we honestly say we don’t have the resources?
Today’s Action Step: Review the action step from What Is A Doctrine? and identify an item or two that you would not have replaced. Look on eBay or Craig’s List for a similar item and determine its dollar value.
Imagine one hundred times that amount being deposited in your “heavenly bank account” and then answer this question: If you were to actually sell the item and give the money away with the knowledge that you were pleasing the Lord, living in obedience, helping someone who truly needed help, and laying up treasure in Heaven, could you do so CHEERFULLY?
“Yea, hath God said …?” October 20, 2014Posted by stevekerp in Discipleship, doctrine of distribution, Non-accumulation.
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Before Jesus departed, He gave His disciples some specific instructions. One is recorded in Matthew 28:19-20 where He said that, based on the fact that all authority in Heaven and on earth had been given to Him, we are to:
… make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you…”
This two-step procedure is well-known among disciples, though the average church-goer tends to defer both tasks to the clerical “experts” in the church. (By the way, if you are a disciple and you have not been baptized, what are you waiting for?)
Clearly, if Jesus has ALL authority in Heaven and on earth, then He can command anyone, anywhere to do anything and they can properly be held accountable if they do not obey. For our purposes, if He is LORD and we are His disciples, then He can command us and we will be held accountable for our performance.
We need to always bear in mind, however, that Jesus does not exercise His authority because He wants to “throw His weight around” or make our lives difficult. On the contrary, His intent is to shepherd us in the way of blessing, to make our lives joyful (even in persecution or difficult circumstances), and to be glorified in our lives by displaying His character through us.
We are to observe (this means OBEY, not “memorize” or “watch others when they obey”) all things that Christ commanded, AND we are to teach others to do likewise. How can we know what Christ has commanded?
The commands of Christ can be divided into three categories. First are commands that He gave to specific people in specific circumstances. For instance, when He raised the 12-year-old girl in Luke chapter 8, He then commanded that she be given something to eat (verse 55). No one seriously construes this as a general command to feed 12-year-old girls, and accordingly, commands in this category are not binding on us.
The second category consists of those commands given by Christ to His disciples, usually in a teaching context. An example of this is in John 13:34 where Jesus commanded His disciples to love one another. No one seriously argues that this command was just for those disciples who were present when the command was given. Without question, this command and other commands in this category are binding on us today.
The last category might be called “indirect commands” where we get an authoritative command from the scriptures that was not a direct utterance of Christ, but can nonetheless be received as a command from God to Christian disciples. One example of this is in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 -
…in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
Paul wrote this under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and, while the letter was addressed to the Christians in Thessalonica who lived about 2,000 years ago, we understand that this is a command for all Christians in all places at all times.
At this point, I would like to re-state the doctrine of distribution (“nonaccumulation”):
Jesus forbids His people to accumulate wealth on this earth, but rather commands them to distribute those possessions they do not currently need for the needs of others and for spreading the gospel.”
IF this is a true, Biblical doctrine, then 1) it must be explicitly supported and commanded by either category 2 or category 3 commands of Christ, AND 2) it must not be refuted or contradicted by any commands or scriptures. THOSE ARE THE CRITERIA! How it makes you feel, what your church or pastor always taught, what your friends or financial counselors assert, what “common sense” may dictate … all irrelevant. The only important thing is what Christ has said about it.
And what has He said? What scriptures support the doctrine of distribution? Are there scriptures that refute the doctrine?
Today’s Action Step: Read the story of the “Rich Young Ruler” in Luke 18:18-23. (This is an example of a category 1 command so no one need feel defensive.) Imagine you are standing beside the Rich Young Ruler when Jesus spoke to him, and that the young man turned to you for counsel.
What do you think he might have asked you?
How do you think you would have responded?
Send an email to yourself with your answers.
“Follow” this blog and you’ll get an email notification when the next posting is available. Comments (below) always appreciated.
What Is A Doctrine? October 18, 2014Posted by stevekerp in Discipleship, Non-accumulation.
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Before we can intelligently discuss whether or any doctrine is true, we need to agree on the definition of “doctrine.” We’ll go from there to a clear statement of the doctrine of nonaccumulation, and then we will be in a position to compare the doctrine with the scriptures to determine whether it is true or false.
NOTE: I’ve been using the term “doctrine of nonaccumulation” because I’m relying heavily on Roger Hertzler’s work and that is the term he uses. I don’t like it. I prefer “doctrine of distribution” because the Biblical injunction is to distribute to those who have need. In other words, if one Christian “accumulates” two coats and his brother has none, a “non-accumulation” requirement could be met if he simply burned one coat. The purpose of the commandment is not to deprive, but to supply (Luke 3:11). Also, while the word “nonaccumulation” does not appear in the scriptures, “distribute” does, in a passage we will consider as we proceed.
Some dictionary definitions of “doctrine” include:
1. a belief or set of beliefs held and taught by a church, political party, or other group.
2. a particular principle, position, or policy taught or advocated, as of a religion or government
3. something that is taught; teachings collectively: religious doctrine
4. a body or system of teachings relating to a particular subject
You get the idea. My working definition is that, for our purposes anyway, a doctrine is a statement that is presented as a Biblical truth, and that has moral implications. For example, the Bible says “thou shalt not steal.” The Bible also says that the angel of the LORD went out, and killed in the camp of the Assyrians one hundred and eighty-five thousand (see Isaiah 37:36). Both are Biblical truths, but the first has a moral imperative and the second does not. That a Christian should not steal is a doctrinal position. There are consequences involved for those who believe this is true, AND for those who don’t.
If a doctrine has been defined well, the decision to accept or reject it becomes a simple”yes or no” question. The answer should be either yes, we accept it as a true doctrine, or no, we reject it as a false doctrine. There shouldn’t be much room for saying, “Well, I accept part of it,” or “Well, there’s some truth to it, but there needs to be some balance.” These statements may be appropriate when it comes to the practical applications of the doctrine. But they are not valid responses to the question of whether we accept the doctrine itself as a true doctrine.
The preceding statement by Roger Hertzler speaks for itself. In subsequent posts, we will look at the doctrine of distribution as stated in my last post. We will see exactly what it is, what it demands and what it forbids, and then we will compare this doctrine with the scriptures and come to a settled conclusion on the question, “is this doctrine true or false?”
One final thought before today’s action step:
Whatever it is that Jesus means by His command in Luke 12:33, He does not intend for it to bring us into bondage, but rather to set us free. If we will but submit ourselves to this command, it becomes a doorway into some of the most wonderful opportunities we could possibly imagine.
Today’s Action Step: Go through your home and take an eyeball inventory of all your things. (Don’t do this in your imagination – you need to actually do this.) Next, imagine that your home burned to the ground and all your things were destroyed.
Answer this question: If the insurance settlement would cover 100% of the loss, how much of the stuff you lost would you actually want to replace? See if you can come up with a percentage (if you’re married, both of you can do this and then see if your numbers agree).
Post comments below. We’ll continue this discussion on Monday.
The End At The Beginning October 17, 2014Posted by stevekerp in Uncategorized.
My conclusion is that we, as disciples of Christ, are commanded by Christ to lay up treasure in Heaven (yes, He wants us to be rich, but ETERNALLY rich!), and the way to do that is by living frugally, giving lavishly, and NOT accumulating. I want to state this up front so you blog-readers will know in advance where this is going. I believe Roger Hertzler is correct: if you are going to live as a disciple, you cannot accumulate wealth or property.
In Through the Eye of a Needle, Hertzler wrote:
The doctrine of nonaccumulation is not new; it is as old as Christianity itself. However, it is a doctrine that has been lost to most of today’s Christians. The doctrine, simply stated, is this: Jesus forbids His people to accumulate wealth on this earth, but rather commands them to distribute those possessions they do not currently need for the needs of others and for spreading the gospel. In short, Jesus commands us to distribute rather than accumulate earthly wealth.
You cannot “save for a rainy day” that may happen to you tomorrow, when your brother or sister is experiencing that “rainy day” NOW.
“He who gives to the poor lends to the Lord” (Proverbs 19:17) is LITERALLY TRUE. My bottom line is that Christ has commanded us to lay up treasure in Heaven, that He has told us how, and that obedience to His clear command is not a burden; rather, it will bring blessing.
In addition to Bible study and encouragement, I’m adding a few “action steps” that will be both fun and easy.
A word about reward: Jesus told us to lay up treasure in Heaven. The “rate of return” or ROI (“return on investment”) in the kingdom appears to be a “hundredfold.” Most commentators seem to think it’s 100% but I crunched a few numbers and it looks like 500% may be closer. The late C.S. Lovett suggested that one hundred fold is actually more like ten thousand percent.
I don’t know, but we’re dealing with God, and God is lavish. Whatever His rate of return is, it will be more than adequate and it will be ETERNAL.
Today’s action step: Take an amount of money you can give away painlessly; a sum you will never miss. Might be money you forgot you had – turn over those sofa cushions or look under your car seats. Carry it with you and look for a homeless person or other obviously needy person. When you find such a person, connect with him or her as a person, speak to them, and give them the money. Engage in appropriate conversation. Then return to this blog and post a comment on your experience.
This exercise is more for you than for the person you meet. Yes, they need money, but more than that they need to be affirmed as still having value. As you may know, homeless people have become an “issue” or sometimes an ignorable part of the landscape. They are neither: they are men and women made in the image of God. Like the rest of us, some will be saved and most will not. But ALL need love and acceptance … and a little help. We are called to be Christ-like toward them.
If you gave away five bucks in this exercise, imagine having $500 in a heavenly account that can never be lost or stolen. (Note: I don’t believe it’s money – heavenly wealth is a whole lot nicer, as I intend to explore in a future post.)
If you were unwilling to do this simple exercise, you should ask yourself “why?” Perhaps you’re not really convinced that Jesus wants us to sell our stuff and give the money away. Maybe you think it’s “legalism” or that because you give to your church and they have a ministry to the homeless, that you’re covered (“I gave at the office.”). Maybe you think it would be imprudent because the homeless person might spend the money on drugs or alcohol. Maybe you think the doctrine of nonaccumulation is not Biblical, but is a false doctrine??
I appreciate your honesty. Tune in tomorrow.
P.S. “Follow” this blog and you will get an email each time I post.
The Ultimate Prepper October 16, 2014Posted by stevekerp in Church, End Times, Uncategorized.
(Note: Many, many thanks to those of you who have been praying for me and writing to encourage me. I realize how much my podcasting effort meant to many of you and I am profoundly grateful to God for His blessing on my efforts. I hope to get back to podcasting in the near future, so please stay tuned and keep praying.
There is no “sand in the hourglass” as far as I can see. I believe we can be snatched literally at any time, so while attempting to calculate a “likely” date for the rapture is fun, it is now a distraction. The Biblical FACT is that we are on the threshold of our transition, and there will be no makeup classes. What we are when His trumpet sounds – mature or immature, spiritually rich or poor, virtuous or otherwise – is what we will be FOREVER. I don’t anticipate a broad-based spiritual revival, but I do believe each of us can be powerfully revived if we choose to be.)
Belle Ringer of the “Salvation And Survival” blog posted an item entitled Rethinking My Prepper Mindset that leads nicely into the topic I broached in my note above. Arguably, the biggest problem in the visible church today is the idolatry of materialism. We get comfortable with our “stuff” and convince ourselves that having lots of nice things and, more importantly, having funds and resources for the future, is responsible Christian stewardship and in no way in conflict with discipleship.
Apparently, the Laodiceans felt so, too. “I am rich and increased with goods and have need of nothing …” and we know how that story goes. According to a story in the telegraph on October 14th, “If you have $3,650, you’re among the wealthiest half of people in the world, according to Credit Suisse’s new report on global wealth.”
Scripture does not say there is anything wrong with being wealthy. However, scripture does say that we, as disciples, are to be distributors of wealth, NOT accumulators. I have discussed this previously in the context of Roger Hertzler’s book, Through the Eye of a Needle and that is the direction I will be going in forthcoming blog postings, and also (by God’s grace) on future podcasts.
We need to get this right. Hertzler asserts that a return to a rigorous and radical non-accumulation lifestyle on the part of Christ’s disciples has historically triggered revival, and that a return to a compromise with materialism has always ended it.
I WANT REVIVAL. I want to be totally, radically transformed and I want to be outrageously rich in heaven. Let’s make this transition together.
Hiatus? August 12, 2014Posted by stevekerp in Uncategorized.
Sorta looks like it.
“Medical leave of absence” might be more accurate, however. For those of you who have been following the BlogTalkRadio program, you already know I’ve had some challenges. Lately, they have gotten worse, to the point that I simply don’t have the physical energy or mental focus to continue. So I’m taking a break to, hopefully, get back up to speed.
However, as our friend Jack told his wife Rexella: “I’m not setting a date.” Nor can I suggest with any confidence that the Lord wants me to continue. So His will and my ability will shape my future and the futures of the program and the web site.
Please keep me in your prayers. And subscribe to this blog so you will get an email notification if/when things resume.