Operation: Prove It!

I’m participating in a Christian singing competition with a format similar to American Idol.

The first week’s assignment is to:

So, before picking a song, I was looking to scripture and commentaries on this subject, and found a great article here: https://www.blueletterbible.org/faq/don_stewart/don_stewart_377.cfmhttps://www.blueletterbible.org/faq/don_stewart/don_stewart_377.cfm

And another good article here: https://www.reformedworship.org/article/june-2010/all-nature-singshttps://www.reformedworship.org/article/june-2010/all-nature-sings

And these portions of scripture are what I wanted to keep in mind while considering possible songs:

What may be known of God is manifest in them for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world his invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse (Romans 1:19,20).
When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established; what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them (Psalm 8:3,4).
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun, which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion, like a champion rejoicing to run his course. It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is hidden from its heat. (Psalm 19:1-6)
The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of humanity who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that humans are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened (Romans 1:18-21).

So I’m considering a few songs and researching to choose, but this one jumped out at me immediately because I’ve been singing it recently:

“So Will I (100 billion x)” – Hillsong United

Also this song:

“Multiplied” – Need to Breath

Also this song:

“God of Wonders” – Chris Tomlin

Another:

“How Great Thou Art” – Carrie Underwood & Vince Gill

However, after thinking it through, since our intended audience is supposed to be non- believers, deceived, and hostile to the truth, I decided against picking either a traditional hymn or a contemporary praise song — and decided instead to go with a country song by George Strait.

You can listen here:

https://www.smule.com/p/796834962_2402646485

https://www.smule.com/p/796834962_2402646485

Prayer

It isn’t the length of your prayers…
It isn’t the foolishly prideful vows and promises made in your prayers…
It isn’t your many eloquent words…
It isn’t your repeating His Word back to Him…
It isn’t your worn out knees…
It isn’t your sacrificed time…
It isn’t your puddle of tears…

It isn’t your joining together…

It’s…

Will you hear when He speaks?
Will you move when He says move?
Will you stay when He says stay?

Don’t miss the guidance, the direction, and the call — for sake of the activity.

Also…

Do you know your appointed territory and authority within the Kingdom of God, within the spiritual warfare of the Army of the Lord? Have you asked Him?

Are you operating within those areas of assignment, or are you shirking your own territory while dabbling in the way of someone else’s appointments?

“How could you know such things?” you ask me — but have you asked Him for the answers?

There is too much trade being made in our prayer lives to accept friendly fire wielded towards and upon others — instead of holy spirit convicting and redefining fire falling on the one praying.

There is too much practiced religious tradition, performance for show, and self exaltation hoping to “be a mighty man of God” — instead of humble awe, and trembling at His word, and amazement that He could use “even me”.

Are you hindering your own prayers by:

– Selfish Motives (James 4:3)

– Not Meditating Upon Scripture (Proverbs 28:9)

– Unforgiveness (Mark 11:25)

– Family Discord (1 Peter 3:7)

– Unconfessed Sin (Psalm 66:18)

– Doubt (James 1:5-7)

– Eloquent but Empty Words (Matthew 6:7)

– Empty Promises to God (Ecclesiastes 5:2-7)

Alabaster Box

We all have an “alabaster box”, something valuable to us that we usually use for ourselves.

When there is truly a shift, a touch, a renewal — there should come with it a realization of just how much the Lord has done for us — and we will want even that “treasure” to be poured out to honor God and not ourselves.

If the outward evidence of our willingness to pour out our own personal “alabaster box” for the glory of God doesn’t exist, if it isn’t visible, if we are still clinging to it instead of God — shouldn’t we plead with God to take it from us and give us more of Him, shouldn’t we ask Him to give us the strength to pour it out, shouldn’t we ask Him to remind us of just how much He has blessed us every breath of our lives and how much He sacrificed for us on the cross?

Do we remember?
Do we believe?

CALL TO ACTION

Then let us pour out gratefully, tearfully, joyfully broken.

PRAISE

CALL TO STUDY

For those of you who love studying the Word of God, I pose this question:

“Concerning the alabaster box, is Luke telling of a different event than Matthew, Mark and John, or is Simon the pharisee also Simon the leper?”

For reference on “Alabaster Box”:

https://www.gotquestions.org/alabaster-box.html

https://bible.com/bible/116/mat.26.6-13.NLT

https://bible.com/bible/116/mrk.14.3-9.NLT

https://bible.com/bible/116/jhn.12.1-8.NLT

https://bible.com/bible/116/luk.7.36-50.NLT

I appreciate your thoughts and comments below…

Direction

If you think of “better” as pointing perfectly and directly north, and “worse” as pointing in all the other varying degrees on the compass — where will your “same” direction be taking you today?

While “temptation” will keep enticing you to give up “better” for “worse”…

“Correction” will get you headed back towards “better” if you are willing to receive it and “believe” it.

And the word “believe” isn’t just a mental grasp of a concept to BE-LEIVE is to BE-“LIVE”, to BE LIVING, to BE a LIVING example.

If you have a mental grasp of the concept but refuse to change, refuse correction, you’re actually worse off than the ignorant fool who hasn’t even received any directions and is headed in a random direction. The fool would still have a chance of “accidentally” heading north.

But if you intentionally resist correction, and refuse to turn back, what hope is there?

Remain teachable.

These false teachers are like unthinking animals, creatures of instinct, born to be caught and destroyed. They scoff at things they do not understand, and like animals, they will be destroyed. Their destruction is their reward for the harm they have done. They love to indulge in evil pleasures in broad daylight. They are a disgrace and a stain among you. They delight in deception even as they eat with you in your fellowship meals. They commit adultery with their eyes, and their desire for sin is never satisfied. They lure unstable people into sin, and they are well trained in greed. They live under God’s curse. They have wandered off the right road and followed the footsteps of Balaam son of Beor, who loved to earn money by doing wrong. But Balaam was stopped from his mad course when his donkey rebuked him with a human voice. These people are as useless as dried-up springs or as mist blown away by the wind. They are doomed to blackest darkness. They brag about themselves with empty, foolish boasting. With an appeal to twisted sexual desires, they lure back into sin those who have barely escaped from a lifestyle of deception. They promise freedom, but they themselves are slaves of sin and corruption. For you are a slave to whatever controls you. And when people escape from the wickedness of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and then get tangled up and enslaved by sin again, they are worse off than before. It would be better if they had never known the way to righteousness than to know it and then reject the command they were given to live a holy life. They prove the truth of this proverb: “A dog returns to its vomit.” And another says, “A washed pig returns to the mud.”
2 Peter 2:12‭-‬22 NLT
https://bible.com/bible/116/2pe.2.12-22.NLT

So Jesus told them this story: “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders. When he arrives, he will call together his friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’ In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away! “Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Won’t she light a lamp and sweep the entire house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she will call in her friends and neighbors and say, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost coin.’ In the same way, there is joy in the presence of God’s angels when even one sinner repents.” To illustrate the point further, Jesus told them this story: “A man had two sons. The younger son told his father, ‘I want my share of your estate now before you die.’ So his father agreed to divide his wealth between his sons. “A few days later this younger son packed all his belongings and moved to a distant land, and there he wasted all his money in wild living. About the time his money ran out, a great famine swept over the land, and he began to starve. He persuaded a local farmer to hire him, and the man sent him into his fields to feed the pigs. The young man became so hungry that even the pods he was feeding the pigs looked good to him. But no one gave him anything. “When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, ‘At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger! I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.”’ “So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. ’ “But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began. “Meanwhile, the older son was in the fields working. When he returned home, he heard music and dancing in the house, and he asked one of the servants what was going on. ‘Your brother is back,’ he was told, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf. We are celebrating because of his safe return.’ “The older brother was angry and wouldn’t go in. His father came out and begged him, but he replied, ‘All these years I’ve slaved for you and never once refused to do a single thing you told me to. And in all that time you never gave me even one young goat for a feast with my friends. Yet when this son of yours comes back after squandering your money on prostitutes, you celebrate by killing the fattened calf!’ “His father said to him, ‘Look, dear son, you have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours. We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found!’”
Luke 15:3‭-‬32 NLT
https://bible.com/bible/116/luk.15.3-32.NLT

Overwhelmed

If our day is to be overwhelming —

May it be overwhelmed with the realization that we need so much that is beyond ourselves,
May it be overwhelmed with the peace that comforts our mourning,
May it be overwhelmed with the humility of knowing how blessed we truly are,
May it be overwhelmed with a hunger and thirst for justice,
May it be overwhelmed with mercy towards others in their times of need,
May it be overwhelmed with a pureness of heart and motives,
May it be overwhelmed with work towards peace and understanding,
May it be overwhelmed with persecution for doing what is right.

These are the blessings that Jesus spoke about on the mount in Matthew 5, and if we are to be overwhelmed with anything, let it be these. God bless!

One day as he saw the crowds gathering, Jesus went up on the mountainside and sat down. His disciples gathered around him, and he began to teach them. “God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs. God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted. God blesses those who are humble, for they will inherit the whole earth. God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be satisfied. God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy. God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God. God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God. God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs. “God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way. “You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless. “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father. “Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God’s law will disappear until its purpose is achieved. So if you ignore the least commandment and teach others to do the same, you will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But anyone who obeys God’s laws and teaches them will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven. “But I warn you—unless your righteousness is better than the righteousness of the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven! “You have heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.’ But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell. “So if you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God. “When you are on the way to court with your adversary, settle your differences quickly. Otherwise, your accuser may hand you over to the judge, who will hand you over to an officer, and you will be thrown into prison. And if that happens, you surely won’t be free again until you have paid the last penny. “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. So if your eye—even your good eye —causes you to lust, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your hand—even your stronger hand —causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. “You have heard the law that says, ‘A man can divorce his wife by merely giving her a written notice of divorce.’ But I say that a man who divorces his wife, unless she has been unfaithful, causes her to commit adultery. And anyone who marries a divorced woman also commits adultery. “You have also heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not break your vows; you must carry out the vows you make to the Lord .’ But I say, do not make any vows! Do not say, ‘By heaven!’ because heaven is God’s throne. And do not say, ‘By the earth!’ because the earth is his footstool. And do not say, ‘By Jerusalem!’ for Jerusalem is the city of the great King. Do not even say, ‘By my head!’ for you can’t turn one hair white or black. Just say a simple, ‘Yes, I will,’ or ‘No, I won’t.’ Anything beyond this is from the evil one. “You have heard the law that says the punishment must match the injury: ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say, do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also. If you are sued in court and your shirt is taken from you, give your coat, too. If a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a mile, carry it two miles. Give to those who ask, and don’t turn away from those who want to borrow. “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.
Matthew 5:1‭-‬48 NLT
https://bible.com/bible/116/mat.5.1-48.NLT

My Smule Setups

I discovered Smule in 2016, but it was just a passing interest. I had never really sang much other than in the car, in the shower, and maybe if we were at a bar that had a karaoke machine. But I loved to sing.

In 2017, I got my Samsung Note 8, which came with AKG tuned headphones. This was my first real improvement in recording quality, and it is also when I got interested in singing on Smule:

Smule Summer 2017 AKG Headphones

Samsung SM-N950UZVAXAA Galaxy Note8 (US Version) Factory Unlocked Phone – 6.3″ Screen – 64GB – Orchid Gray (U.S. Warranty) https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07539DSV3/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_6IJABb52AD264

I got a chance in 2017 to sing in the choir and church and started to put my first effort into putting together an actual “setup” for Smule recording. I had never really sang with a microphone, etc. so this was all pretty new to me. Since I already had some camera and video recording gear, I found that my biggest challenge was that I needed to be able to hear BOTH the music AND my own voice WITH NO DELAYS!

So I came up with something that worked for me for a short while:

Smule Fall 2017 Setup

Sennheiser HD280PRO Headphone (new model) https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IT0IHOY/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_tKJABb5F1BB84

Zoom H5 Four-Track Portable Recorder https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00KCXMBES/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_fLJABbDF831C4

AmazonBasics 3.5mm to 2-Male RCA Adapter Cable – 4 Feet https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01D5H8JW0/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_qPJABb6CE9294

3.5mm to RCA Stereo Audio Cable Adapter – 3.5mm Female to Stereo RCA Male Bi-Directional AUX Auxiliary Male Headphone Jack Plug Y Splitter to Left / Right 2RCA Male Connector Plug Wire Cord https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01JEBLEIC/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_8PJABb8B96544

Maeline 3.5mm Female to 2 Male Gold Plated Headphone Mic Audio Y Splitter Flat Cable https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00PYZ2BT4/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_0RJABbD7C4A94

Headphone Mic and Audio 2 in 1 Adapter Cable, iXCC 1 Feet 3.5mm Male to 2 Female Premium Gold-Plated Corrosion-Resistant Y Splitter Cable for Headphone, Headset https://www.amazon.com/dp/B073RXXS4N/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_nRJABbCE45884

Movo WST-R30 Fitted Nylon Windscreen with Acoustic Foam Technology for Zoom H4n, H5, H6, Tascam DR-100 MKII and Sony PCM-D50 Portable Digital Recorders https://www.amazon.com/dp/B012Y85YME/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_ZMJABbDEE97A4

However, I quickly grew tired of not being able to listen and review the songs in stereo without having to change cabling around, mess with levels, etc. I also found that my best time for singing was late at night, and I didn’t want to keep my family awake with my late night singing.

So I worked on a DIY studio / vocal booth setup in my basement underneath our stairs:

Smule Summer 2018 Studio v1

IK Multimedia iRig Pre microphone preamp for smartphones and tablets https://www.amazon.com/dp/B007534LFK/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_DSJABbCD2F724

Rode NT1A Anniversary Vocal Condenser Microphone Package https://www.amazon.com/dp/B002QAUOKS/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_yTJABb6DFCE04

Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 9.7-Inch, 32GB Tablet (Silver, SM-T820NZSAXAR) https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01MRDL916/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_5UJABb750EA64

Harbinger L1202FX 12-Channel Mixer with Effects https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00PV6GZG6/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_5WJABb9016444

Shure SE425-CL Sound Isolating Earphones with Dual High Definition MicroDrivers https://www.amazon.com/dp/B003NSBKSC/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_ZYJABbC36A454

Sterling MX8 Studio Monitor

https://www.guitarcenter.com/Sterling-Audio/MX8-8-Powered-Studio-Monitor.gc

Neewer Universal Smartphone & Tablet Stand (Sturdy Metal Arm, Padded Holder, Adjustable Mounting Clamp) for iPhone 6 Plus, GALAXY Note 5, iPad Air/iPad Air 2, Samsung Galaxy Tab and More–Black https://www.amazon.com/dp/B016F5HXBC/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_61JABbF447514

Microphone stand

https://www.guitarcenter.com/Musicians-Gear/MG100B-Tripod-Boom-Microphone-Stand.gc

Recently, I decided that I would really like to have a similar level of quality for monitoring while singing, but I would like to be able to take it with me to perform recordings in different locations.

So I have come up with this setup that I am currently implementing along-side my studio setup:

Smule Fall 2018 Portable

I’m also working on plans for a Studio v2.0 to include a nice scissor boom for my mic, acoustic treatment for the room, and possibly a large TV screen that I screen mirror the tablet to for easier viewing and while in the studio. Stay tuned for more improvements.

If you have any questions about my gear or setup, leave a comment below!

Harold “Hop” Ballinger aka “SparkleCityHop”

Unwavering

But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.
James 1:6‭-‬8 NLT

Faith in God alone.

What gets you through the day?

What would you not be willing to “put down” or “do without”?

If you think over your day and the answer to those questions is some type of entertainment, hobby, drug, activity, etc. — if it is not your dedicated time and relationship and trust in God, it is time to repent and surrender fully to God.

Do you want stability?

Seek what you can lay down today.

Seek how you can draw closer to the Lord intentionally and purposefully.

What will your mind meditate on?

Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.
Joshua 1:8 NLT

Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the Lord , meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do. But not the wicked! They are like worthless chaff, scattered by the wind. They will be condemned at the time of judgment. Sinners will have no place among the godly. For the Lord watches over the path of the godly, but the path of the wicked leads to destruction.
Psalms 1:1‭-‬6 NLT

Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory. So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world. Because of these sins, the anger of God is coming. You used to do these things when your life was still part of this world. But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language. Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds. Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him. In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us. Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.
Colossians 3:1‭-‬17 NLT

Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God’s laws, and it never will. That’s why those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please God. But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to him at all.) And Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life because you have been made right with God. The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you. Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do. For if you live by its dictates, you will die. But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.”
Romans 8:5‭-‬15 NLT

So prepare your minds for action and exercise self-control. Put all your hope in the gracious salvation that will come to you when Jesus Christ is revealed to the world. So you must live as God’s obedient children. Don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn’t know any better then. But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.” And remember that the heavenly Father to whom you pray has no favorites. He will judge or reward you according to what you do. So you must live in reverent fear of him during your time here as “temporary residents.” For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And it was not paid with mere gold or silver, which lose their value. It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God. God chose him as your ransom long before the world began, but now in these last days he has been revealed for your sake. Through Christ you have come to trust in God. And you have placed your faith and hope in God because he raised Christ from the dead and gave him great glory. You were cleansed from your sins when you obeyed the truth, so now you must show sincere love to each other as brothers and sisters. Love each other deeply with all your heart. For you have been born again, but not to a life that will quickly end. Your new life will last forever because it comes from the eternal, living word of God. As the Scriptures say, “People are like grass; their beauty is like a flower in the field. The grass withers and the flower fades. But the word of the Lord remains forever.” And that word is the Good News that was preached to you.
1 Peter 1:13‭-‬25 NLT

Exclusivity

Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.
John 14:6 NLT

In today’s world, the concept of there being One Truth, one singular, exclusive way — goes against the social norms of letting everyone decide for themselves what is right or wrong, etc.

But we hear Jesus making such an “exclusive” statement such as this — and even though it is no different than any other singular truths — like the truth that light in a certain frequency range is the color green — like the truth that people with certain DNA and body parts are male/female — like the truth that people who refuse to believe the truth and make up their own opinions don’t “change the truth” but are delusional and deceived — like the truth that some of the people who consider themselves to be more spiritual and discerning than you and I are quick to forward and share things on Facebook that are clearly lies and deceit that could have been uncovered by a quick check on the source of the message they are passing along.

This week, I saw people who consider themselves in spiritual leadership forwarding messages about “free money” from a clearly and obviously fake Tyler Perry profile. The love of money and the spreading of that message of lies instead of spreading the Word of God not only wastes opportunity, but it is damaging to their testimony even while it clearly reveals something that “isn’t quite right”. If they can’t see the obvious lies, what lies are they passing along as “prophecies” to an unwitting people because they can’t tell the voice of their father from the voice of The Father!

I’m saying this, because there is One Truth, and those serving up attractive and comfortable and worldly lies aren’t serving the Lord.

Don’t look at the Word of God, at the One Truth, then decide for yourself another truth and then tell me that you are in an active relationship and powerful ministry for the Lord. The light has nothing part with darkness. Repent, you who are deceived, and have your garments cleaned by the blood of the lamb, and stand firm to the end. If you aren’t sure that something is true, hold your tongue, wait before clicking that forward button, do not continue being tricked and deceived into spreading lies. Stop chasing after attention, likes, followers, passionate responses from others, etc. Seek the will of God, and do it.

So someone, rightly so is going to say to this, “You’re good at seeing specks, but where is your log, brother?” And I will answer you as honestly and truthfully as I am able. My log is that I have listened too closely to those who are very educated in the scriptures and who speak and recite the written Word eloquently, and I have not listened closely enough to those who are actually living out lives of sacrificial love towards their brothers and sisters, towards the lost, and even towards their enemies. I have longed at times to be a religious teacher instead of a suffering servant discipline of Christ. I have set my eyes upon the religious pyramid and sought to stand up front and speak from my loud mouth more than from the quiet but steady example of my life.

There is only one way. No one comes to the Father but through Christ Jesus — not by building up a great reputation, not by building great religious legacies around us, not by joining a church, not by saying a certain prayer, not by water touching our bodies in a certain ceremony, not by being a certain tribe or nationality or community of people.

Exclusivity. Only by Christ.

If you believe, then you know your place, you know what lies ahead, and you know your purpose for today.

If you don’t, if you can’t, if you won’t — do you know what is hindering you, what is keeping you away?

Is it worth your being eternally wrong?

Will you not sell ot the truth for yourself — not through some guy talking on TV or up front, but on your own, in the Word of God, in learning how to truly pray “with God” not “at God”?

We can do this together, friend. He is THE WAY. His name is JESUS!