Ministry Update – April 2021

Dear Friends,

I have started this letter several times.  Where do we start?  God is still good.  No matter the events of life, we are dependent upon the Lord to give wisdom and strength.  There are days when it is so obvious He is working.  Then there are times when we wonder what is happening.  It is during those times that we lay hold of the truth and not allow our emotions, concerns, and thoughts to direct our lives.  We are rejoicing with those who are rejoicing but we are also weeping with those who are weeping.  Through it all, the Lord is still giving comfort and grace.

We are certainly thankful this year is not in locked down like last year.  Life has changed but we are moving forward.  The Lord continues to keep us busy.  We have meetings scheduled.  We look forward to them along with the men’s backpacking camps.

Churches –

We are thankful that Calvary Baptist Church in Kingman AZ has called a pastor, Robert Kelley.  He and his wife plan to arrive in Kingman the last part of May.  We are praying for the transition to work smoothly.

Ron Sondergaard is the new pastor at Grace Baptist Church in Sonoma CA.  The church voted to call him in February.  We are excited for this work as there is a need for a good church in the area.  Please pray for God to work mightily in and through this church to reach their area.

Lincoln Park Baptist Church in Wenatchee WA is looking for a pastor.  I was able to spend time with them, preaching two Sundays and midweek too.  It was good to look over the situation there and talk with the people.  There is a need for the church to continue.  They have a good base for a revitalization work.  Please pray the Lord sends the right person to pastor this church.

Update on Pastor Jeff Estes –

Many of you know that Pastor Jeff is the pastor of Fellowship Baptist Church, our home church.  He was in a serious car accident the last Saturday in February.  He spent time in ICU, the hospital, and rehab with serious injuries.  After just over a month, he finally was able to go home.  He is healing but it will be a long road to full recovery.  This week he had some other issues show up from the accident.   He is still in a lot of pain.  Please continue to pray for him and his recovery.  He surprised everyone at church when he made an appearance at church on Resurrection Sunday.  It was a major undertaking which push him to the limits of his strength to be there for just a few minutes.  It was so good for the church family to see him.  We gave him a standing ovation as he transitioned from his wheel chair to stand with his walker.  After he was done speaking for a few minutes he sat back down in his wheelchair and was wheel out of the church to go back home.  What a joy it was to see him, if only for a few minutes. 

What are we up to? –

When we are home, I am helping at the church with the preaching and teaching.  With Pastor Jeff being unable, this has increased to some extent.  Jeneen and I head to AZ for ministry in Grand View Camp for their men’s retreat the 15th – 17th of April.  I look forward to the opportunity to speak at the retreat.  While in AZ we will see many pastors and friends.  I will be speaking at Calvary Baptist Church in Kingman.  The months ahead, we have some meetings, camps, and men’s backpacking camps scheduled. 

Please Pray –

Please pray for the churches and pastors who are faithfully serving the Lord.  These are trying times for many with all the issues of the day.  Many believers are focused on the issues and have lost sight of the big picture.  How easily we are turned from doing the will of God to carrying an agenda for societal concepts.  Covid-19 and the issues surrounding it brought much difficulty for many churches.  In some believers, spirituality is now defined by whether you wear a mask or not, get the vaccine or not.  Spirituality has and always will be by walking in the Spirit, controlled by the Spirit and the fruit of the Spirit evident in the lives of believers.  Please pray for Spirit controlled believers in the churches. Wherever we land on the issues of the day, be godly in your actions and reactions.  Our unity doesn’t come from where we stand on issues which are variable but on the truth of God’s Word and our life in Christ, who never changes.

We pray for the churches.  The attack on the church has always been from the outside but when it comes from within the body, it hurts even greater.  But God is still working.  People are still getting saved.  Discipleship is happening.  We hope and pray you are seeing God work mightily in you all and through you all as you walk with Him.  Thank you for praying for us.

Your friends in Christ,

Monte & Jeneen Leavell

Ministry Update – January 2021

God has been putting some amazing things together for people, ministry and churches.  The middle of January found me in California for a wedding.  It was a privilege to officiate the wedding for Ron Sondergaard and Sarah Bodaly.  Many amazing things happened to bring it together.  We have known both Ron and Sarah from different venues and were pleasantly surprised when the Lord brought them together.  The wedding was beautiful with nice weather as it was outside.  While there, I saw many friends and met some new ones.

While in California, I had the honor of leading the memorial service for Pastor Timothy Brower.  He and his wife, Rachel have been in Sonoma at Grace Baptist Church.  He had suffered with health issues for several years.  I first met Tim at Bible college.  He and Rachel have been keeping Grace Baptist open these past years.  It was an honor to be there for the memorial service.  Please pray for Rachel and their daughter Rebekah as they seek God’s will for their future. 

Pastor Tim has been working with Ron Sondergaard at Grace Baptist Church.  Ron is seeking God’s will concerning taking the pastorate at Grace.  Please pray for the church and for Ron for the decisions needed to in the future.

The 24th, I start meetings in Delta Utah at Grace Baptist Church where Bob Oswald has been pastoring.  I am looking forward to being with the church family there.

In February, I will be in Wenatchee WA for a while at Lincoln Park Baptist Church.  They are without a pastor.  I look forward to seeing what God is doing and will do in the future there.

Jeneen and I had COVID in December.  We have recovered.  I am doing well but Jeneen has a lingering cough and lung irritation.  Jeneen’s mom had it too but has recovered.  She is at her place in the assisted living center.  She still has other health issues.  This is why Jeneen has been staying close to home.  Thanks for your prayers.

Christmas Letter 2020

Merry Christmas 2020

Dear Friends and Family,

            In this year’s Christmas letter, we first want to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.  All of us are dealing with the effects of COVID and the worldwide reaction to it.  As I write this letter, Jeneen’s mom is in the hospital with COVID.  This morning, I wrote a sympathy card for a wife who has lost her husband to COVID.  They are good friends.  We had the privilege of ministering together years ago.  These are not easy times for many dealing with COVID.

            Along with health in our world, we have the political and economic issues.  Some have lost jobs and are struggling to find hope in the future.  With the instability in the political realm, people are unable to plan, not knowing what will be.  These are times of uncertainty.

            So, how do you write a Merry Christmas letter?  I am reminded of Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 4.  Troubled but not distressed, perplexed but not in despair, persecuted but not forsaken, cast down but not destroyed.  It is true that we go through many emotions because of the issues we face.  But where do we find strength and hope.  It is in the blessed Savior whose birth we celebrate this month.  Without Christ, there is no hope but with Him, we have a blessed hope, both now and for eternity.  So with hope in Christ, I will write a Christmas letter.

            Jeneen and I are doing okay with all that has been going on.  We did have some meetings this fall and the Lord blessed greatly.  The two of us have been in pretty good health.  We have been busy in ministering to churches and in our home church.  We have things scheduled in January and throughout the spring.  I finished the next Bible study and it is with the publisher to be evaluated and published.  We continued doing what the Lord sets before us each day.

            Our family is doing okay in spite of circumstances.  We continue to pray for God’s protection and guidance in their lives.  It is a blessing to have family close and to be close to family, no matter where they are. 

            The greatest gift we have is our Lord.  He comforts, gives grace, encourages, strengthens, and is our refuge.  We know the truth of being absent from this body is to be present with Him because we have personally accepted the gift of Christ as our Savior.  Therein we find our peace, joy, and contentment, no matter the circumstances of life.  It is our wish that you may know and experience life in Christ even greater and to the fullest.  May you have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Leavell’s Update – October 2020

Dear Friends,

            The Lord has been working greatly.  We have several answers to recent prayers.  We know God is working even when we do not see things happening, but a renewed excitement comes when you see direct answers to prayer.

            First, I went to WY for meetings at Central Baptist Church where Scott Clem is pastor.  The church hosted the Northern Plains Fellowship meetings this fall.  I spoke at the church on Sunday and then for each evening of the meetings.  It was a joy to see old friends and make some new ones.  The next Sunday I went to Upton WY to be at First Baptist Church where Randy Fowler is pastor.

            Secondly, after a few years of work, I finally finished the next Bible study.  I sent it to the publisher this week.  Now we go through the process of getting it published.  It may take about six months.  We will let everyone know when it available.  I’m looking forward to hearing how the Lord uses the material.

            Thirdly, Jeneen has been having trouble with her eyes and back.  She is doing better.  Also, she has been taking her mom to doctor appointments but she has not been able to go into the assisted living to help her due to Covid19.  She really wanted to be able to go in and spend time with her mom.  Well, the Lord answered prayer as she received permission to go in this week.  We are glad that the Lord has worked it out for Jeneen to help her mom.  Please pray for her mom as she has been physically struggling lately.

            Fourthly, I will be traveling to the Kansas City area for meetings starting November 1st at Olivet Baptist Church where Bruce Anderson is pastor.  It will be a busy week as they are the home of Shawnee Mission Christian School.  I am thankful to have the privilege of speaking in some of the chapels for school too.  I will be stopping by some friends on the way to and from Kansas.  I have Sunday, the 8th open for Iowa or Nebraska.

            As you can see, we have much to thank the Lord for answered prayer.  Thank you for your prayer support.  God is working.  Jeneen and I look forward to what the Lord has for us in the coming months.  January looks busy already.  The Lord will guide us into 2021.  As we all hope and pray, may it not turn out like 2020 has so far.

            Thank you all.  May God continue to work greatly in and through all of us for His glory.

Summer Update – 2020

Dear Friends,

We have faith in our God and His promises; faith for salvation and faith for life in Christ.  Faith makes the things hoped for substantial or solidly real, even though there is no visible proof.  Yes, I have been studying and teaching on faith.  Faith is hope based on the promises of God.  Without faith, it is impossible to please God.

During these times with Covid-19, BLM, Antifa, and all the personal issues we each are facing, faith in the promises of God must be our steadfast hope.  He will never leave us or forsake us.  His provision for daily living is ours.  His grace will always be sufficient.  He is our all in all.

These have been difficult times in the ministry of missionary evangelism just as they have been difficult times for the churches all around the world.  God is still working His plan but it certainly means changes for all of us.  I am glad for technology that has allowed us to continue ministering.  We certainly hope to be traveling to the churches soon.  We are glad for the various types of things God has done through us over the years.  It means even when we are not traveling, we are busy every day.

Ministry –

While we have been in quarantine, we have been busy with ministry.  It has involved studying, writing, counseling, teaching, preaching, working with churches, talking with pastors, and doing whatever God puts in front of us daily.

When we are not busy in other churches, we are busy in our home church.  Several of you have mentioned that you heard me in the livestream and on Zoom.  I am thankful for the opportunities that God gives us.  In June, we were able to minister in First Baptist Church in Notus, ID.  It was good to be with these folks again.  The camps we were to be in this summer were all canceled.  We were able to do the Men’s Backpacking Camp in July.  Our home church has a camp in August that we will be able to attend.

We had 11 men in our backpacking camp in July.  The Lord was really working in the hearts of those present.  We studied the mindset of the mature believer from the book of Philippians.  It is a great study.  We did catch some fish, hike over some ridges, and checked out several lakes.  It was a good time of soul refreshing in God’s creation.

Writing Ministry –

I am still working on the Bible Study.  There is a little more to finish.  It has been encouraging to see that some of the articles I have recently written have been read by many people.  One was viewed in 20 different countries by close to 1500 people.  I want to write more articles in the coming days.

While backpacking, several of the men involved in the computer and software field challenged me to consider doing podcasts and maybe a YouTube channel with teaching and articles.  Some of them even offered to help me get started.  This could be another way of reaching people with the gospel and encouraging believers.  Please pray as we consider adding this avenue of ministry.

What’s Ahead?  –

We look forward to getting back on the road as soon as the Lord allows.  We would love to get back to a normal schedule and ministry in the churches.  As of now, we do not have much scheduled.  If we can, we hope to start traveling in September.  Only the Lord knows.  We have definitely been seeking His direction for the days ahead.  We must continue to live by faith in His promises.  While we are still here on the earth, He has ministry for us.  We want to be faithful in what God has for us.

Thank you all for your continued encouragement and support of the ministry God puts before us.

May God continue to work in our churches for His glory.  May He be glorified as He works in and through each of us.

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Cutting off Ears

Peter was in the garden with Jesus when the chief priest and Pharisees came to take Jesus.  Peter drew his sword, and cut off the ear of Malchus, a servant of the high priest.  He was reacting to the challenge of the moment.  He was defending Jesus against those who would take him prisoner.  He was trying to be a help in the ministry of Jesus.  Peter had good intentions and motives, but he reacted to the situation contrary to the direction Jesus was going.

First, Jesus healed the ear of the servant then gave Peter words of instruction, rebuke, question, remembrance, and challenge.  Jesus told Peter to put away his sword.  Don’t fight.  It was God’s will that Jesus be taken and crucified.  The events of the moment were a part of God’s plan to bring salvation to mankind through Jesus Christ.  Peter’s immediate response to defend Jesus was not according to God’s plan.  There were bigger things happening.

Am I in danger of cutting off ears?  We are so bombarded by the events of today.  Life changes and challenges confront us.  When dealing with them, it is easy to strike out in quick response.  Sometimes we are right in our understanding and assessment.  But sometimes, we are like Peter, quick to respond, not fully understanding the situation, or comprehending the will or plan of God with the result of cutting off an ear here and there.

In our current situations, I wonder if we are missing what God is doing.  What if God’s will is contrary to our American culture?  Do I react to things I don’t like?  Do I strike out when it is just the ear of the servant of those God is using to work His plan?  It challenges my commitment to the will of God, whatever His plan would be.

This has led to a list of “what ifs” and my responses to them.  “What if…”  Maybe you are wrestling with these issues too.  These are simply questions to ponder.  The conclusions are thoughts at this time about the situations.  My thinking can change as we see future events and God reveals more of His plan and workings.  As I talk with other believers, I find many struggling with the same issues.  May God direct us in our actions and reactions to what is happening in the world today.  May we always be godly in our responses.

What if…

                God is preparing the world for the tribulation?

According to a literal interpretation of Daniel and Revelation, the seventieth week of Daniel is a time of judgment and tribulation.  A pretribulation view of the rapture says that the born again people alive at that time will be caught up with the Lord in the air before this judgment is meted upon the earth.  There is hope for the believer in this promise of God.

Because the judgment will be dispensed, the world must be prepared for the seven years of tribulation.  Why would believers be shocked by bad things happening as preparations are made?  Would we not expect changes in thought and values, evil getting worse, and people standing in easily observed defiance of the living God?

Yes, God is preparing the earth for the next phase of His revealed plan.

What if…

                God intends for the American culture to diminish in the coming years?

Many wrestle with whether or not the United States will be a part of God’s plan in the tribulation period.  Some say it is.  Others say it is not; therefore U.S. will be gone by the time of the rapture.  Since the Bible is not clear on the fate of the U.S., we cannot dogmatically confirm either position.  It makes no difference which position a person may take, American culture will decline along with the rest of the world in preparation for the tribulation.

Here is the struggle.  Do we fight against this decline that God is allowing?  Is it an ear we are attempting to cut off or is it standing up for God?  Of course, we do our part as citizens within this country and stand as believers for righteousness.  But is trying to keep the American culture the primary focus of the believer?  I have traveled to several foreign countries, spent time with Christians who live under various forms of government, and observed their manner of life.  I sometimes wonder if believers in the United States have substituted patriotism, American culture, and loyalty to country for true Biblical Christianity.  Do we stand for America more than we stand in the Lord?  Do we equate the two? Just asking the question will make me un-American in some people’s minds.

I love the United States.  I love living here, the freedoms we have, the righteous aspects of our culture, and the structure of our government.  Our founding fathers built this nation on Judeo-Christian values.  As we leave that value system, we see the decline of our culture.  Do we fight against leaving the values or do we stand for personal accountability before a holy God?  What has the primary focus of our hearts and minds?  Is it keeping the American dream alive or being Christ-centered, gospel-centered followers of the Lord?  If we lived in another country, under a different political structure, struggling for our life and livelihood, could we be godly?  I have seen believers living in such conditions and love their devotion, compassion, and service for the Lord, even to the point of laying their life on the line.

Is my life characterized by walking with my God or standing for the American way of life?  Am I willing to let the United States become whatever God would want it to be as the earth is prepared for the tribulation?  These are questions which should cause us deep thought, a fervent seeking of our God and His will.  If the Lord wants you to be involved in politics and issues, praise the Lord.  If you are, as we all should be concerned and active as the Lord directs, remember, we are Christians first, our citizenship is with the Lord, we are His ambassadors, and our primary battle is a spiritual one, not flesh and blood.

Am I willing to let America decline if that is the plan of God?  If America falls, does it mean we have failed as Christians?  Remember why the tribulation has not started yet.  The Bible says in Second Peter, chapter three that the longsuffering of our Lord means salvation, not the preservation of a culture.  What is my primary focus as a believer and ambassador of the Lord?  Praise the Lord, people are still being saved.

What if…

                Mockers and scoffers laugh at and ridicule God and His followers?

Second Peter in chapter three says this is going to happen.  What will be my response?  Why would we be surprised?  Should we seek their acceptance and approval or should we simply stand in truth, speaking it in love?  Are we more concerned about what people think or about what God thinks?  These are hard questions in tough times.

What if…

                Evil people get worse?

Much is written in First and Second Timothy about the last days.  2 Timothy 3:12-14 shows that people are going to get much worse.  Deception will increase.  Believers are to continue in truth, walking with the Lord.  Knowing the plan of God from His word and knowing His promises, we live by faith, looking for His appearing while walking in His will, whatever it may be for each of us.  Don’t be surprised by people getting worse.

What if …

                Terrible times come with perversion and evil manifested in shocking ways?

God has told us this is going to happen.  First and Second Timothy speak of it along with many other passages.  Why would this surprise us?  Do we focus on their actions or do we grieve for their lost souls, seeking opportunity to share the gospel in love?

What if…

                God allows pestilence, famine, catastrophic disasters, and environmental change?

God has told us this will happen.  As He prepares the earth for the coming tribulation, we should expect increasing troubles.  As time gets closer, these things will increase.  In the face of disaster, people can be more concerned about death and are tender to hear the message of God, the good news, the gospel, which speaks of God’s provision for mankind to be saved from eternal destruction and punishment for sin.  It gives us opportunity to share the love of God.

What if…

                God’s revealed wrath against unrighteousness and ungodliness is easily seen?

Romans, chapter one speaks of the wrath of God is revealed against ungodliness and unrighteousness.  Sometimes God’s workings are easily seen.  Other times we wonder how long before His judgment will come?  Death and destruction of ungodly people should break our hearts.  People are dying without hope.  Do we sit back and watch with satisfaction that they are finally getting their just rewards or do we grieve as Jesus did over Jerusalem?  What is my response?

What if…

                Christians do not desire or listen to sound doctrine?

In Second Timothy, Paul warns Timothy that there will come times where Christians will not want sound doctrine.  Why would this surprise us when God has warned us it would happen?  Those who do not study will find themselves lacking and ashamed.  This is why good people who love the Lord follow causes and take stands contrary to the Word of God.  They are lacking in spiritual depth and maturity.  Just by me stating this would offend some.

Sound doctrine is necessary for a sound mind.  The stability God intends for the believer will increase the more we know His promises.  According to First Corinthians chapter two, the spiritual, mature believer will take the truths of God’s Word and make sound judgments based upon them.  To do that, we must know His Word.  Praise the Lord, the Holy Spirit will help us in our understanding as we study.

Being warned of God that people will not endure sound doctrine, we can each make sure we do not become one of those people.  We can be students of the Word, rightly dividing it with the Holy Spirit guiding us into all truth.

What if…

                Believers get caught up in the issues of the day and lose sight of God’s purposes and work?

As Peter in the garden, I wonder how many ears I have cut off, thinking that what I was standing for or contending about was so important.  I hope with age, that I have increased in my ability to know which battles are important and which are not.  I certainly do not want to stand against God’s plan or cut off ears while God is doing something else.

It is easy to get caught up in the issue of the day because it is foremost in people’s minds.  We must seek God’s perspective on the issues and act accordingly with the fruit of the Spirit evidenced in our demeanor.  A question I ask myself is; will this matter in 50 years?  It has often been said; we can win a battle but lose the war.  We can get people to conform to right action while losing their hearts.  What is my focus, right action or right hearts?  Who is my focus?  What is the purpose of my life and the work of my day?

As a believer we are to walk in the Spirit, committed to God’s will.  He will lead us correctly as we walk with Him.

What if…

                Spiritual maturity is determined by wearing a mask or not wearing a mask?

I ask this question to show how easy it is for issues of the day to control our thinking and attitudes.  What if we are required to wear a mask, would we or why wouldn’t we?  I remember when I was a motorcycle rider.  A law requiring us to wear helmets was passed in our state.  The reaction was similar to the mask mandate.  Some already wore helmets while others said they never would.  I didn’t even own a helmet at the time but soon bought one.

With masks, I have seen people use the issue as a way to determine people’s spirituality.  How silly can we be?

What if…

                Christians are confronted with performance based mindsets?

Does our performance determine our spirituality or does our spirituality determine our performance?  It should be that walking in the Spirit; we live godly and righteously in this present world with the Holy Spirit leading us into the good work God sets before us.  Godliness does not come from doing the right things.  Godliness comes from walking in the Spirit and God producing righteousness through us.  This goes to our focus.  Do we focus on doing the right thing or on walking with our Lord, giving Him control of everything in our lives?

What if…

                Christians are required to have a personal, intimate, and consistent relationship with Christ?

Here is the practical conclusion of the matter.  We are to walk humbly with our God.  We are to have a personal, intimate, and consistent relationship with the Lord, committed to His will, His plans, and His purposes whatever they would be and however He would lead.  This is why Paul’s prayer in Colossians 1:9-12 is so important and is my prayer for you.  I hope and pray that I will never be cutting off any more ears.  Keep looking up for our redemption draws close.  “Even so, come Lord Jesus.”

The Mark of the Beast

In my lifetime, I have heard from many sources, read articles and books, and watched movies and videos, about references to the mark of the beast. People try to identify the mark, label it, create doctrine about it, and try to build systems of economy, policy, and conspiracy with the technology of the day. During my lifetime, I can share many theories espoused as truth or defined as a definite probability concerning the identity of the mark. I want to address the issue with some logical thoughts from my years of observation and study.

First, I am not the final authority, God is the authority and He has given us His Word. The things I will say will be open to debate and further study, I am not God. What He says is not open to debate, for He has given us the truth. We study His truth and apply it to our lives, situations, and the world around us. Problems come when we try to make our conclusions equal with His truth or debate them on the same level.

Prophecy is one area where speculation and application has been stated as fact. People take the events at the moment and try to interpret them, creating scenarios with current events, which are nothing more than possibilities. Many have proven to be erroneous with the passing of time. Unfortunately this has created in people skepticism with anything to do with prophecy; some even giving up the study of God’s revealed truth concerning the future.

The mark of the beast is a recent topic with the current events of chipping, Bill Gates, and vaccines possibly embedded with microscopic chips. People are drawing conclusions. Some say they will never allow themselves to be microchipped. The debate literally rages on social media.

Can I say that the world is heading toward the end times described in the Bible? Yes, definitely. God is preparing things for the end times. But let’s not neglect truth. Can we have the mark of the beast without the beast? No, no matter what is done: chip, credit card, social security number, or anything else. Some even try to identify the beast, thus giving legitimacy to their conclusions about the mark. The beast will not be revealed until the earth is in the tribulation period. My question remains. How can we have a mark of the beast without the beast?

This is just one area of concern with the current discussions. Another problem I have is with the fear and conclusions that have been drawn from the world events. God does not give us the spirit of fear. Some people are obsessed with identifying something we cannot identify or will we even see if the pretribulation rapture is correct. So whatever marks, chips, social security number, or whatever new technology comes, it is not and will not be used as the mark of the beast until the tribulation.

Conclusions –
1. The first conclusion is that I don’t need to worry about accidently getting the mark. It will be on purpose with the beast and purpose being identified. People will know.
2. I cannot lose my salvation from a mark, chip or any other thing. Salvation is secure in Christ.
3. The pretribulation rapture position teaches I will not be in the tribulation. So why spend time worrying about the mark?
4. If the rapture is mid-tribulation or prewrath, then the beast will be known. It will not be a guessing game for those taking the mark. They will know exactly what they are doing. Again, can Christians lose their salvation?
5. If you are amillennial in your position of future events, then that part of Revelation is allegory. Therefore the mark is not literal and there is no reason to be concerned about it.

So, there is nothing about the mark of the beast for the believer to be concerned or worry about now. Technology will continue to grow. Can we see things getting ready for end times? Yes. Is a chip embedded in your hand the mark of the beast? No. Not till the tribulation will the mark be given that is of the beast. A Christian who receives a chip now is not going to lose their salvation. It is impossible for that to happen. For me personal, looking into the things happening in our world, the chip thing and others, is sometimes interesting. But I refuse to let my perception of or anyone else’s interpretation of world events become the determining factor for how I live. We must take the Word of God and apply it to the situations of life, a biblical world view. Right doctrine takes away panic, fear, and worry. Wrong doctrine or application of doctrine will create panic, fear, and worry. So…

You and me, God, let’s go!

Study

Trust Your Horse

Many lessons can be learned from working with horses. Growing up in Wyoming with “Horses, Hitches, and Rocky Trails,” and the riding of horses has taught me many things. Some old-time horse people will understand the reference to the book. One lesson impacting my life was to trust your horse.

Riding a horse on the trail through the mountains is a wonderful experience; with the creak of the saddle, the scent and beauty of the forest, the water tumbling over rocks in the creek bed, and the blue sky stretching upward from the ridges and mountain peaks. As you sit on top of a horse many feet above the ground, fear of falling is a concern. Fears of the horse running away with you, bucking you off, or making wrong steps as you go near a cliff must be dealt with in order to enjoy the ride. If you do not trust the horse, a ride through the mountains can be filled with anxiety. You have to learn to trust your horse.

We used to ride at night to get deep within the mountains or we would come out of the mountains late in the evening riding in the dark to the trailhead. Riding at night gave us the opportunity to enjoy daylight deep within the wilderness, far from roads and people. You have to trust your horse if you are riding in the dark. The horse can see at night. It will stay on the trail as you go through the mountains. A good horse does not need you to direct it in order to stay on course. They will follow the trail. Just sit in the saddle, loosely holding the reins. The horse will take you home.

My trust of the horse became so deep that I would tie the reins into a knot over the neck of the horse, letting go of them because there was no need to take control of the horse. I had trust in my horse. I can remember riding under the beautiful night sky so relaxed that I would be half asleep, sometimes even nodding totally asleep. I have heard many stories of cowboys sleeping in the saddle. It is not hard to do when you trust your horse.

God has set a path before each of us. When we trust Him completely and give him the reins or control, He will take us where He wants us. It’s like trusting my horse. If I didn’t trust him, I would try and control each movement. But as I learned to trust my horse, I could simply rest, knowing it would take me down the trail. In the same way, I can give God control of every area of my life with the knowledge that He will keep me on the path, carrying me along the way, enabling me to continue in faith, peace, and grace, and giving me the experience a full life in the journey. We miss out when we don’t trust the Lord enough to give Him control. We need to learn and grow in our trust of Him.

Yes. Learning to trust a horse was very instrumental in teaching me what trusting my God will look like in my life experience. Trust the Lord. He is worthy of our trust. Give Him the reins of your life and enjoy the journey.

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My Dad riding one of our favorite horses.

Frustration!

Frustrated! This one word describes the condition of many people looking at the events of today. Who do we believe? What do we believe? This morning, with a short perusal of Facebook, I saw numerous articles espousing either the pros or the cons of wearing facemasks. I opened my email to an announcement from the public information officer of our community that they have restocked their supply of masks and the masks are now available for distribution. If you wear a mask, you can safely pick up a mask from the city.

Reactions to masks vary. If you wear a mask, you are characterized as someone who is foolish, overreacting, and not trusting the Lord. If you don’t wear a mask, you are characterized as a person who is foolish, callous, and uncaring. Frustrating! This is just the mask issue. Then there is the medical side of all that is happening. Is the virus as bad as some are saying? Is it no worse than the normal flu? Is it going to spike in death rates as we start opening up society? Who knows? Frustrating! We have not even started looking into the conspiracies and slants of statistics, media, and biases. That’s even more frustrating.

A phrase from my growing up years in Wyoming comes to mind. This is not my first rodeo. In other words, it is not the first time I have felt frustration. In dealing with it, my first tendency is to simply get away from it. One humorous, outdoors writer would say that the answer to life’s problems and difficult situations is, “Let’s go fishing.” The trouble with that is; the problems we are facing will still be there when we get back from our fishing trip. We may even have problems when fishing. The fish might be wearing facemasks; at least they must have something covering their mouths, because they are not biting. Frustrating!

Jesus said that He gives us peace. Not peace that would come from the world or situations, but His peace. Paul encouraged Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:14 to carry on in what he knew for sure. This is great advice in a time of intense frustration. What do I know for sure? There are so many varied reports on masks, the virus, whether quarantine works or is useless, political ploys or conspiracies, attempts at worldwide control in the guise of protecting people, and whether this is a manufactured or natural virus. I have opinions on each of those subjects, but then again, so do you, and I’m sure we agree on every aspect of them. Not!

What do I know for sure? God is still God. He still loves me and nothing will separate me from His love, even death itself. God is not surprised by what is happening in the world today. He is still working His plan. He has purpose in what He is doing and what He is allowing man to do. I am secure in Him. No one can change that. I know there is much more going on than any one person would ever know. I know God’s Word is still powerful. I know there are still people coming to Christ, accepting Him as their Savior.

So what does God want me to do through this? He wants me to continue to trust Him, follow Him, let Him work in me and through me, and to be faithful. He wants me to focus on truth, His truth. I wonder how many hours are spent researching the virus issues with the varying opinions. If we would spend even half that time studying what we know for sure, our thinking would be much clearer on the frustrating issues around us. Some things, we would even refuse to think about because they are just opinions, ideas, and many, even in the best thinking, are just guesstimates. I am simply going to do the next thing God puts before me to do, while trusting Him to work in and through all that is going on around me. Do I stick my head in the sand? No. I simply acknowledge the difference between those things that I know for sure and the things I do not. I don’t let the things I am unsure of be the controlling factors in my life. I act and react as the Lord leads. God is still God and He is still working His plan. I’m sure! He still loves me. I’m sure!

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These are Exciting Times – Really?

These are exciting times. Routines have changed, jobs have been lost, and families have been forced to stay within their homes with minimal interaction with others. Characterizing these times as exciting will make some wonder if I have lost my mind due to this isolation. No, my faith is increasing.

Looking at the world events, who would have put this scenario together? Maybe a science fiction author would write about it; some have. But we are living in incredible times. Changes are happening rapidly to the world economy, societal structure, political systems, and international thought.

Stepping back from my daily life and looking around, I am excited. We have the privilege of being a part of God’s plan. Just ask the questions. Why now? Why is the world of mankind reacting in such a way to this virus? Why such a shutdown of the world economy and social structures? Why such a call for world leadership to combat the virus? Can we not see that God is working His plan and things are getting closer to the prophecies put forth in His Word? We are watching and experiencing God working His plan.

Just let God work and be faithful with what He puts before you.

Some have said of this virus, “It’s the judgement of God!” I point to Romans 1:18 and ask, “When did God stop revealing His wrath against ungodliness?” Sometimes it is more obvious than other times but we still live in a world filled with evil. God’s condemnation against sin has not changed. We are thankful for His provision of salvation through Jesus Christ. But while we live, we will see death, disease, famine, evil, and corruption in the world. God’s wrath against ungodliness is clearly seen when we look.

So, taking off my mask, I entered the house. After being at the store getting a few necessary items to keep us through the next few weeks, I washed my hands. Even though I had used hand sanitizer after getting into the car before heading home, I still needed to wash to be sure. Then I took a shower after putting all my clothes in the washing machine, ready to be washed. Maybe I overreact. Maybe I don’t. I’m sure everyone has an opinion on that subject. But I must do what the Lord sets in front of me.

My wife has bronchial issues, my mom has severe respiratory problems, my mother in law has excessively damaged lungs, and of course, I don’t want to get Covid-19. My dad said after one of his strokes that during it he could not breathe for a bit. He said it was the worst pain ever and he would rather die than go through it again. My dad dealt with pain all his life and to hear him say that affected me. It is not death we fear but the process of dying. I hate seeing others go through pain.

I’m thankful for God’s salvation that there are better days ahead for the believer. While we are still here, we live in a world where the wrath of God is revealed against sin but not like it will be in the future. For the believer to die is better, going to a better country, having mortality swallowed up with the life that comes from God, corruption putting on incorruption, being with the Lord, experiencing His goodness forever and new heavens and a new earth where righteousness dwells, no more evil. What a day that will be! If you are not sure how to know you will be there, please contact me. I can share how God provided the way for us to not experience His wrath forever but to have forgiveness of our sin through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord.