I Don’t Wanna! (ATP) 

Question: If someone were feeling like giving up on following God, what would your “go-to” scripture be for them?  When someone says they gave up on church, what do you think they are really saying?

This is such a common problem, and maybe one of the most frustrating as a pastor. This question opens the door to a bigger problem really. I’ll get into that in a minute but first, my go to scripture for giving up? Galatians 6:9 (NASB) says, “Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.”

Chances are, that scripture might not be any comfort to them. As with any issue, we need to get to the root of the problem if we want to fix it. There are a few common reasons people lose interest in the things of God. Firstly, many people are not getting the quick easy fix they were hoping for. This is maybe the number one issue. People have spent years, sometimes decades, doing bad things or wrapped up in them, and then expect to erase it all over night. I have literally seen this more times than I can count. People will come to a pastor or a strong Christian once they are in trial hoping that maybe their prayer will get through to God and erase consequences. This is a complete misunderstanding of how sin works. Sin is an attack on humanity. When humans embrace or partake of sin, they are inviting destruction on themselves. It’d be like keeping your front door open in the winter and being angry at the furnace installers because your house isn’t warm. It isn’t going to be until you close the door!

Secondly, it is up to us individually to run with God. 2 Timothy 1:6-7 (NASB) says, “For this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.” What’s interesting here is to understand that Paul wrote these letters to Timothy who was a pastor tempted to quit. It didn’t make Timothy bad, it just made him like every other Christian. Now notice what Paul said to him. “For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.” God has created in us a new spirit at our new birth and what is in it is power or ability to do what we need to do, the ability to love as God has told us to, and the ability to be disciplined in the things of God. Being disciplined may not be fun but it is necessary. If we say we can’t, we are either not His or we are lying. He made us able. 

Thirdly, they may not have ever been His to begin with. I’ve seen people who come to God as a curiosity, but never really embrace any of it at all. Maybe they like the social aspect of church or maybe they’re bored, but they never really had any intent on being a Christian or serving God. They may come to church “religiously” but they don’t read the Bible (or even believe it), they don’t seek the Lord for direction, and they never serve in really anything. Would you say a person like this was ever a “believer”? How could they be?

When people truly come to God there is change. This change will either be embraced by the believer or it will be rejected by them but either way they will not be able to just sit on the fence. The word repentance means change and without repentance a person cannot see Heaven. Jesus said in Luke 5:32 (NASB), “I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” Jesus is calling people to repentance.

Many people have a misunderstanding of what Jesus did and why He came. We were separated from God because of sin. Jesus came to cleanse us from that sin SO THAT He could open a doorway for us to the Father. Why would we think it’s logical that we could then stay “dirty” and still come in? What this Christian walk does to us is it works the old dirty man out and a new, clean, acceptable man in. What then if we reject what is made clean? If we insist on being dirty we cannot come in. Often times people like the dirty so much, they just won’t let it go.  

So if a person wants to give up, as a brother or sister in Christ it is up to us to figure out why and encourage them with the understanding that some simply do not want God. If they choose that, no amount of scripture or love will draw them back. The only thing you can do is pray for them. Perhaps in time, they will see their error.

Be Blessed,

Pastor Jeff 

What If You Feel Like A Sinner? (ATP)

 Question: If a homosexual (who doesn’t participate in sexual activity) goes to church & claims they love the Lord, would there really be any sincerity behind that love, despite knowing what the Word says about homosexuality? (1 Timothy 1:8-11)

1 Timothy 1:8-11 (NASB)

But we know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully, realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching, according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted.

This is a wonderful question thats answer will set some people free, so thank you for asking it! The start of the answer is in the title I gave it. Basically what is being asked is what if one feels inside like a sinner. In todays society, one might refer to it as their identity instead of their feeling and so that mindset unfortunately has found place in our understanding.

How a person identifies is kind of a big deal actually, both for good reasons and not so good. We have seen politicians encourage people along these lines because it benefits their cause. Doing so is nothing short of demonic inspiration meant to divide people. According to scripture there are few things we should allow to divide us and fewer still that we should identify with.

To begin with we should really understand an important scripture. 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NASB) says, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” Short but sweet and right to the point, Paul cleaned up a lot of potential messes with this verse. But what does it mean to be new, and that old things have passed away? Well, this could not possibly mean that you just completely feel different. When I got born again, it felt good. I was excited about my new life and I was convinced that I would never look back. As far serving God goes, I’ve never wanted to, either. However, when the honeymoon wore off and I had to deal with life again, I saw something I didn’t like. My old sins haunted me, calling me continually to come back.

Romans 7:18-19 (NASB) is very helpful in this understanding. “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want.” For space sake I didn’t share all the scriptures in this section but it wouldn’t be bad for you to read all these in context, you’d see the battle of this type of thinking. Also, to be clear, these verses are not giving us justification to sin. They are simply explaining what happens. The spirit of man is made new at rebirth, not our flesh or mind. If a person got saved as a homosexual, or any other type of sinner, they are still that in the flesh and probably the mind.

This is why, the scriptures tell us we need to crucify the flesh (Galatians 5:24) and to renew the mind (Romans 12:2). Neither of these things are a one time deal, we will have to contend with them until we are in Heaven. Now, crucifying the flesh is easy to understand. Essentially it is forcing the flesh to not do what it wants when what it wants violates scripture. With the mind however, this can be a bit more tricky. In renewing the mind, we must identify thoughts that are not Godly thoughts and change them to be so. The trick here is understanding what thoughts are right.

Sinful thinking is not a thought that enters the mind or one that troubles an individual. A sinful thought is only one that’s embraced. When we embrace a thought good or bad, it typically results in action. Now, the fine line here can be if a wrong thought enters your mind, and knowing it’s wrong you purpose to dwell on it, enjoying the thought in your mind. Jesus dealt with this when He said if you lust after a woman you’ve already committed adultery. He wasn’t saying if you simply have a wrong thought. He was talking about meditation on these thoughts.

I say all this to get our thinking renewed. There is one thing that a Christian should identify with and that’s the Body of Christ. Galatians 3:28 (NASB) says, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” We shouldn’t even identify as sinners any more really, to do so justifies the mindset of one. We know we have a tendency in our nature to sin, but we should not embrace this. So, in reference to the question (though this would apply to any sin), firstly a Christian should not identify as a homosexual. They could be a Christian who fights these tendencies or struggles with these thoughts. God is not mad at people because of their struggle.

In the scriptures that you referenced in 1 Timothy as well as any other place in scripture when the Bible refers to a certain set of actions (I.e. being an idolator, fornicator, homosexual) it is referring not to the one who struggles with thoughts but the one who makes a practice of embracing actions. The end of Galatians 5:21 (NASB) shows us this, “…that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

If we were condemned by a slip up or a thought, no one would ever be in Heaven. So to answer the original question let’s look at it slightly differently. If a person who has struggled or struggles with homosexual thoughts goes to church & claims they love the Lord, would there really be any sincerity behind that love? My answer is absolutely yes, they can be and are probably very sincere. Knowing what the Word says, those who refuse to partake of sin are fulfilling the law of God to “keep My commandments.” Only the devil will tell people that they are unacceptable to God. Jesus came for the worse to make them better. We should never embrace sin, but also not be condemned because it’s around us. God has made a way, despite how we are tempted to feel. Only in identifying with Christ will we ever be able to overcome the flesh.

Luke 5:30-32 (NASB)

The Pharisees and their scribes began grumbling at His disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with the tax collectors and sinners?” And Jesus answered and said to them, “It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”

Be Blessed,

Pastor Jeff 

Faith Fix: Together Or Alone (ATP)   

Recently was my first experience with prayer as a group. What if one cannot sincerely pray in that type of setting? For me, it was difficult to connect because I am one to pray when I’m in a quiet environment. 

Prayer is an interesting thing. One thing I can say for sure about it is how necessary it is. One thing I have noticed in my going is that it seems to be something emphasized by the Spirit over and over. Minister after minister seems inspired to encourage people to it. As I have read books, some going back hundreds of years, many times they are emphasizing prayer. Throughout scripture, also, there is an emphasis on prayer.

I say all that to establish right off the bat, that there is need and it is God’s will to pray. With that said, I am surprised at how little in scripture is mentioned about HOW to pray. Sure it’s important and sure we’re given different types of praying, but when you get down to it, the specifics are very few. Probably the most specific is what Jesus said about it in the Lord’s Prayer found in Matthew 6:9-13, Luke 11:2-4. Yet even those scriptures give a basic outline. What you seem to see otherwise are snippets here and there.

I believe when you see this type of thing in scripture it is done quite purposefully. Prayer was never meant to be some burdensome law that we must follow to a “t”. It was always and still is about building a relationship with our Heavenly Father. Prayer connects us to God in a deeply personal level. I have had people try to “teach” me to pray over the years and only walked away more frustrated than I began. See, you can teach people principles to something, but having a relationship is only something that can be learned by walking it out. 

So what about your question. Let’s look at some scripture. Firstly, Jesus said in Matthew 6:6 (NASB), “But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.” None to contrast this look at Acts 2:42 (NASB). “They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” The scriptures in Matthew are clearly showing prayer in secret and in Acts the context is together. The truth is, we need both.

The reason you probably have a hard time with it is because you have not had the opportunity to do it enough. Whenever something is new there is a tendency for it to be hard. We should not let hard stand in our way. In fact, I’m going to help you with a little correction. You said the words, “What if one cannot…” Be very careful at letting those words be part of your vocabulary. I am not saying something cannot seem near impossible, in fact it can seem totally impossible. But faith tells us it’s not. If we resign ourselves to can’t, then we never will and that is because the focus is on us.

I have yet to date had much that the Lord has required of me be something that I can do. In fact, mostly, what He requires of me is in the realm of can’t for me. When I face can’t, it is a clear indication to me to refocus. Yes, put my eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of my faith. Remember His words as recorded in Mark 9:23 (NASB). And Jesus said to him, “ ‘If You can?’ All things are possible to him who believes.” The possible is only accomplished by belief in what He can do, not focus on what you can’t.

Prayer is like study of the Word. There are times when it should be private, but times when it should be public. If we cannot pray together publicly, how would we ever pray with someone on the street?  What I would encourage you on is this, when something seems too difficult for you, refocus. Go to the Lord and say, “Father, I know I need this but it’s too much for me. However I trust You to help me to do it.” Realize, it may not grow easy overnight, but if you persist in time you will be a pro!

All things we do, we must do from a place of faith in God, wholly dependent on Him. He will bring us to the hard places to grow us and establish us. He will bring us to the impossible to show us how to overcome. Then when the impossible shows up, it will be nothing to us. Trust God in all things, overcoming is only found in Him!


Pastor Jeff 

Entering the Ministry (ATP)  

Question: What is the work of the ministry described in Ephesians 4:11+12? In NASB it is called the work of service. What does that entail? How do we begin to get into that work?

Ephesians 4:11-13

And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.

The answer to the question is in the scripture. The work of the ministry is literally building up the body of Christ. This concept is two-fold. Firstly, we are called to help edify (literally build up) our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ as seen in Hebrews 10:24-25. We do this by assembling together and joining in prayer, worship and growing together in knowledge of the word and then reminding and stirring each other up in these things.  Let’s look here in Hebrews 10:24-25, “…let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.”  Now that word forsake is really interesting and it’s something many Christians do often. Firstly forsake means to abandon. We can abandon our posts and our brothers and sisters in Christ when we don’t show up or when we don’t show up properly. Our hearts should be for the local church and for the people we are called to serve together with. Many Christians never even arrive at this place. 

Now, another side of this concept of doing the work of the ministry and building up the body of Christ is fulfilling the great commission. Matthew 28:19-20, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you…”  The work of the ministry is sharing the gospel and teaching others how to live the way God commanded. 

So many times Christians are looking for a title or a position. They want a pulpit and only want to share their faith when it’s all set up and arranged for them. The only time they speak the gospel is around other Christians. The only thing they can think to do is get the sheep of the church together and recycle Christianity. This is why many churches experience church splits because often someone gets the idea that they want to lead people and they start with those in another pastor’s sheepfold. That’s not the work of the ministry, but rather counterproductive. The work of building up the body of Christ won’t be fulfilled without getting out into the community and those within your circle of influence. 

So what is someone who loves the Lord and wants to do His will supposed to do? Start by getting connected  to a local church who feeds you the Word of God without compromise. Next, find a place to offer your service within the church. If there’s a need, find it and offer help. If you’re asked to serve, do it. If you haven’t been asked to serve, truly make yourself available, not just in word or thought, but in deed and action.  This seems to be a struggle for many people as service becomes common, routine or seemingly mundane. But routine is part of discipline and part of standing one’s post. God needs those in His body who won’t consider His work boring or mundane. God doesn’t need grass is greener on the other side Christians so try not to be one. 

Besides this, let the Lord lead your daily life and allow Him to speak through you to bring the gospel to those within arms reach. Your job is your ministry. Your neighbors are your ministry. When you go throughout life, the people you encounter are “the nations” so to speak. 

Stop making scripture confusing. Stop needing labels. Stop having to have some sort of goal for God. These are the world’s way. Your heart should be I don’t need to “enter ministry” but rather I live as a servant of the Lord and my life IS the ministry. Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”

Be Blessed,

Pastor Renée 

Didn’t I Already Ask? (ATP) 

Question: Matthew 7:7 in the Amplified version says, “Ask and keep on asking and it will be given to you; seek and keep on seeking and you will find; knock and keep on knocking and the door will be opened to you.” When comparing with other versions of the Bible you don’t see the keep on asking part. What does it mean to keep asking? I thought we only needed to pray about something once and have faith that it is done. Adding “keep on asking” at least to me changes that verse a lot. 

Matthew 7:7-11 (NASB)

Prayer and the Golden Rule

7 “ Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? 11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!

What we really need to understand here, is what is the heart behind this scripture? Is God up in Heaven thinking, “If they had only asked one more time, I could have answered.”? No, the truth is this scripture isn’t as much about coming to God a certain amount as it is having a habit of coming to Him.

If we understand the truth, we know that He has already provided for us. Jesus as the answer because Jesus opened the door way between us and the Father. In John 10:9 (NASB) Jesus says, “I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.”  But what does it mean go in and out? It means that as much as we come we have access. 

The heart of the New Testament was to bring mankind back to the presence of the Father. We know that in that presence, all that we could ever need exists. Coming to Father often is more about accessing what has already been given than it is about getting some answer. Knock, seek and knock repeatedly is about that continual approach to Him. 

Another thing we need to remember is who and what Jesus was addressing. These people were well aware of their separation from God. This freedom of coming to the Father was not known to these people. Jesus was declaring that now this is possible, and as such we should continually come to Him. Sometimes because we have been spoiled by having the Holy Ghost and the right through His blood, we forget just how good we have it!

In our times when we are low, we need to remember this truth, that we have a place with the Father that was bought and paid for. This is a place of rest and hope that so many just didn’t and don’t know. Knock, seek, and ask and then keep on doing it! Jesus made a way for and this we should have confidence in. Not because of who we are but because of who He is. 

You said it right, we need to come in faith. Faith can only be built and established on His character. The very act of continually coming to Him, in need, or otherwise, shows our faith. When we have surety in something we don’t even question it. In fact, people many times have more faith in things that are questionable than they do in God. What a shame when He has continually proven Himself!

So I encourage you brothers and sisters, keep coming to God! Keep seeking Him and keep asking Him! He will answer you and if you’re really after Him, He will show Himself to you. Not because you earned it, but because you wanted it!

Be Blessed,

Pastor Jeff 

Press One If You Would Like To Speak To… (ATP)

Question: Matthew 7:21-23 talks about Jesus saying, “depart from Me I never knew you.” And John 14:16 says no body gets to the father except through me (Jesus). Now I know there’s a good chance I’m over thinking this but how do we know we know and have a relationship with Jesus if we’re always praying to God? We often connect with others mainly through conversation and time spent with them but if we are to pray to God then how do we spend time with Jesus? 

It is very important when understanding scripture that we don’t isolate scripture from its context and sometimes that means the whole Bible. When reading scriptures, especially ones that tend to trip people up more than others, we need to look at the Word first as a whole, then as the audience being taught, then apply it individually within those parameters. Paul said in Acts 20:27 (NASB), “For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose (some versions read counsel) of God. We need it all, sometimes to even understand a little.

How do you know which are “troublesome” passages? Understand, if something in scripture catches or troubles you it most like did and does to many others. Often times these scriptures of woe often are the place people get into erroneous understandings. Trigger words like slave, sin, submission, and the like tend to trip people up, getting them mixed up into weird ideas of the Truth. In this realm belongs all those who claim, “It’s how you interpret it.”

Understanding prayer is an important part of a believer’s walk and yet so many just don’t get it. They “try” prayer based on their understanding of communication but never come to know really what God gave to us through prayers ability. Before we get into this, let me clear some things up about what we commonly call the Trinity first. 

God is one, Father, Son, Holy Spirit. Jesus said in John 14:9 (NASB), “…He who has seen Me has seen the Father.” Also in John 10:30 (NASB), “I and the Father are one.” The Bible teaches that God is one God manifested in three persons. A basic way of understanding this is like water. Water never changes what it is but it’s form does from liquid, to solid, to gas. All very different but all completely the same. 

When you pray to God the Father, you are praying to the others… in essence. The Jews always prayed to their Heavenly Father and we do as well. Jesus did this for example while He was here. The problem is, people who did not have covenant with God (which included all of us non-Jewish people) had no right to come to God. That is what He was speaking about in John 14:16. He was telling of how He was the only true access to the Father. When Jesus was here, His disciples depended on and asked Him for things. Jesus stated in John 16:23-24 (NASB), “In that day you will not question Me about anything. Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask the Father for anything in My name, He will give it to you. Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be made full.” This was quite a transition and an important key to our prayers.

Saying that we would pray to the Father in His (Jesus) name was not about what we say, but about the authority (another trip up word) in which we say it. Because of Jesus, now we have assured access to the Father which is not just Him but representative of all that God represents and otherwise employs. The “relationship” we often talk about is not as much something we build as it is something we obtain. We obtain it through faith in what Christ already did for us! How magnificent!

Let me state this more plainly. You can do nothing to have a relationship with God, Jesus, or the Holy Spirit except receive what Jesus has done for you, by faith, and believe that it is something for you to walk in continually. No amount of works or prayer or reading the Bible will bring you any closer to God. Those things only do one thing, they change YOUR understanding of it and that helps you.

When Jesus said, “I will say depart from Me,” He was not referring to some believer who misses it in various places of their life. He’s talking about people whose motives were wrong, like the man who wanted to purchase the power of the Holy Spirit from the disciples. Or like people who try and use the faith to make themselves rich, or for power and prestige. This was not written for the humble believer who tries to live godly and finds themselves failing. If that were the case, we’d all need another savior.

So to sum this all up, all who desire to have a relationship with God can freely receive it by embracing what His Son, Jesus Christ did for us all. You can’t earn it but you can receive it. Then, as that person reads the Bible, prays to God, goes to church, and fellowships with believers they will grow in their understanding of that relationship. Race doesn’t matter, gender doesn’t matter, societal status does not matter, God will show Himself equally to any one who desires Him!

Be Blessed,

Pastor Jeff