Category Archives: Christianity

Views on the church, religion, and my beliefs

Prayer from Nehemiah

When I do bible studies or hear a sermon I am always intrigued by the  prayers of the person in the study or sermon.  I believe prayer will and does change the world, especially in the first chapter of Nehemiah as he finds out about the  sorry state of affairs in Jerusalem.

Nehemiah 1 (KJV)

The words of Nehemiah the son of Hachaliah. And it came to pass in the month Chisleu, in the twentieth year, as I was in Shushan the palace,

That Hanani, one of my brethren, came, he and certain men of Judah; and I asked them concerning the Jews that had escaped, which were left of the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem.

And they said unto me, The remnant that are left of the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and reproach: the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire.

And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven,

And said, I beseech thee, O Lord God of heaven, the great and terrible God, that keepeth covenant and mercy for them that love him and observe his commandments:

Let thine ear now be attentive, and thine eyes open, that thou mayest hear the prayer of thy servant, which I pray before thee now, day and night, for the children of Israel thy servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel, which we have sinned against thee: both I and my father’s house have sinned.

We have dealt very corruptly against thee, and have not kept the commandments, nor the statutes, nor the judgments, which thou commandedst thy servant Moses.

Remember, I beseech thee, the word that thou commandedst thy servant Moses, saying, If ye transgress, I will scatter you abroad among the nations:

But if ye turn unto me, and keep my commandments, and do them; though there were of you cast out unto the uttermost part of the heaven, yet will I gather them from thence, and will bring them unto the place that I have chosen to set my name there.

10 Now these are thy servants and thy people, whom thou hast redeemed by thy great power, and by thy strong hand.

11 O Lord, I beseech thee, let now thine ear be attentive to the prayer of thy servant, and to the prayer of thy servants, who desire to fear thy name: and prosper, I pray thee, thy servant this day, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man. For I was the king’s cupbearer.

Verse 4 gives us the five step progression that Nehemiah took because of the horrific circumstances of Jerusalem:

Nehemiah 1:4  And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven,

1) sat
2) wept
3) mourned
4) fasted
5) prayed

For “certain days” he continued to do this, until he had response from God as to what he should do. Nehemiah, a faithful follower, knew that whatever the circumstance nothing could be accomplished without first petitioning God.

Nehemiah knew this prayer needed to “change the world” because of the state of Jerusalem. It needed to be a powerful prayer that he was sure would be heard and answered.

Because of grief, he mournfully prays (Nehemiah 1:4)
Because of hope, he worshipfully asks (Nehemiah 1:5)
Because of sin, he humbly confesses (Nehemiah 1:6-7)
Because of belief, he persistently intercedes (Nehemiah 1:8-11)

Nehemiah cleared any obstacles to God’s ears in verse’s 4-7, building up to verse 11 “beseeching” God to open His ears and here the prayer of His servant.

My Virtual Bible Study this month is in the book of James, discussing trials and temptations. This prayer pattern from Nehemiah is a perfect fit to properly prepare oneself and God’s ears for answered prayer.

 

Why no answer

man_praying_before_the_crossI have heard many times from others and even asked a few times why God does not seem to answer my prayers. Our belief is that God answers ALL prayers, we just may not be getting the answer we want or in the way we want. God will answer all prayers submitted properly with a humble heart. This I truly believe, but I did learn today that there are six barriers which could prevent God from hearing, or at least answering our prayers.

Selfishness: Are we asking for things purely for self interest? James 4:3 (NASB)  You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.

Ignoring the Law of God: Are we asking for something that is contradictory to the law of God? Are you truly trying to live your life within God’s law forsaking earthly desires? Proverbs 28:9 (NASB) He who turns away his ear from listening to the law,
Even his prayer is an abomination.

Unforgiving Heart: Is there something or someone in our heart that we have not truly forgiven?  Mark 11:25 (NASB)25 Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions.

Discord with family: Are we treating our wife/husband (family) with the kindness and honor they deserve? Have we done or said something that may still be weighing heavy on our or their mind? 1 Peter 3:7-9 (NASB) You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing.

Giving credit to personal sin: Are we living in sin yet making excuses for it creating a ideology that the sin is ok, or it is not that bad. Sin is sin in God’s eyes. Psalm 66:18 (NASB) 18 If I regard wickedness in my heart, The Lord will not hear;

Doubting or lack of Faith: Be confident in our petition that God is God and has all ability to grant that which we seek. James 1:6-7 (NASB)But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord,

Many times when you are having a conversation with a brother or sister in Christ, specifically about prayer, Mark 11:24 will inevitably be cited.

Mark 11:24 (NASB) 24 Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you.

I, of course, would never disagree with it, but as with any biblical instruction, one must look for the corroborating scripture and ensure that all instruction is followed, not just a verse out of context. Mark 11:24 seems to allow for any prayer to be answered as we want it, but does not take into account the petitioners motive, law of God, unforgiving heart, discord, personal sin, or doubt. Without taking care of these 6 barriers before prayer, how can one be sure that God will even hear?

Eliminating these 6 barriers and petitioning with pure humility before God will better insure that ones prayers will be heard. God’s answer to prayer is another entire post, as yes I believe He answers EVERY prayer, maybe just not to our earthly satisfaction, but at least with better prayer we can insure that our prayers will be heard.

 

The Foul Weather Christian

As football season comes to a close, many teams, although not moving into good playoff position still have an ardent base of fans. These fans will never bet against their team, even when having a poor performance year. Others may say they are fans, but truly are only fans when the team is having a great year. These are traditionally called the fair-weather fans-true followers in the beginning, but feign true loyalty if the season turns south. Christianity has these fans as well, but they are called foul weather Christians.

What is a foul weather Christian? This is the believer who during great times, times of god-calms-childsuccess, times of lesser strife revel in their own accomplishment. Yet, as the tables turn and strife rises, failures multiply, and life turns bitter, these people turn to, or back to, God as their redeemer from hard times.

The newly born-again Christian has a great feeling of redemption. They know the feeling of forgiveness and understand the teaching from 1 Thessalonians 5:18 ” Give thanks in every circumstance, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Unfortunately, too many new converts think that one time of salvation will absolutely and permanently affix them to their daily, everlasting walk with Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.

As they move back into the world, their world of family, friends, work, and recreation, slowly they are pulled back into their secular life. They make excuses to themselves about not making it to church this Sunday or missing Bible study this week because they were too tired from the day. Whatever the excuse, without constant replenishment of the soul, they will find it easier to make excuses, further distancing themselves from their daily walk.

Maybe because of piling bills from this paycheck to weekend lifestyle (Yes, a lot of people can no longer say paycheck to paycheck, but only make enough to get through the pay weekend) they choose to work a lot of overtime. Maybe all that extra overtime allowed for a new car, or they were recognized for their extra work and promoted to a higher position with a huge salary increase. This salary increase gave them the opportunity to buy a new house, better toys for the kids, a big diamond for the wife, a new boat: life is good, they have achieved a great level of success in their own eyes.

They take credit for their hard work and perseverance which allowed them to achieve this new standard of lifestyle. They are excited with the changes and happy for the new life and what is to come next. By this time, they have forgotten about their commitment of their soul. They have thanked Him less and less each day for the great blessings, maybe not even acknowledging He had anything to do with their great fortune.

A new position and increased pay also come with an increase in responsibility. Maybe the new expectation will be a 50-60 hour week on salary versus the 40 hours of hourly pay. This new position could have them responsible for not only personal production but that of their employees or team members. The larger the charge, the many more challenges which will need to be addressed.

The challenges seem overwhelming as they move forward, mistakes are made and attitudes change. Some who may have once been friends turn away because somehow they were treated unfairly. Struggles cause friction, causing lower production, which ends this newly promoted person in the manager’s office having a discussion of poor work performance. They really cannot explain what happened, they did not see it coming, but probation with an improvement plan seems to be the best option.

Meanwhile at home, the family has settled in well to the new lifestyle. The new house, the new cars, the vacation home, all the newest, highest rated hi-tech kids games, phones, and computers. There are plans for a family vacation to Hawaii this year, what an awesome life!

Coming home from a disastrous day, only to sit at the desk looking over the bills and check book, once again, they need to find a way to stretch the paycheck beyond the weekend. It is this still time, sitting alone in front of the bills that they realize, “I have strayed from God, and this is my penance for falling away from my walk with Him”. So times have gotten tough, they need to survive the foul weather; gather the family back to church, back to Bible study, and daily prayer. He will see us this this storm. Foul weather Christians many times will repeat this cycle, never seeing the irony of their ways.

I guess one could equate this to the college student who only calls home when in trouble or needs more money. Parents want to hear from their student when things are going right too. They love to hear about the accomplishment. How many parents have the opportunity to hear a sincere “Thank you”.

Our Father wants to be in every part of our life-The great times and the strife. The only thing I can say is since I thank and praise Him daily, when the turmoil starts in my life, it is so much easier to deal with. It actually seems that the turmoil passes more quickly and the great times return more abundantly.

1 Thessalonians 5:17-18 ”17 Pray without ceasing  18 Give thanks in every circumstance, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

The Lord is my Shepherd
The Pastor my sheepdog
The Shepherd chose me for His herd
And charged the sheepdog tend with ”The Word” 

Being imperfect, straying no guarantee
Going astray will mean a hobbling for me.
Hobbled in love at the Shepherd’s hand,
The sheepdog will care for and restore to the band.

 Learning through strife
Means growing this life
With the guidance of the sheepdog
Ever closer to the Shepherd. 

Copyright 2016

Stephen D Luckett

 

 

2016-Time to end!

I have not written anything in several weeks and I truly have missed being able to sit down even a few minutes and put together some of the happenings of our little suburban homestead. But I must say, I cannot wait for 2016 to be over. This has been an atrocious year from small hurdles to jump to major life tragedies.

The first 7 months of the year went by far to quickly with many small events that seem to creep up and throw off anyone’s calendar. Everything that happened which annoyed and commanded time from me through July pale in comparison to the way August of 2016 started out.

August 1st brought a new dawn into how we will live our family life. 10:30 pm; answering the phone to a call that every parent fears, but few have to realize: our 30 year old son had been involved in an accident at home. Doesn’t seem that bad, he was at home, not in a car, not working on the tractor, just home cleaning the bathroom.

One would expect that a fall in the bathroom would produce a head wound, or at worse a concussion. But being home alone during a fall, which caused unconsciousness and a brain hemorrhage proved to be fatal. The Medical personal on the scene could not revive him and he was pronounced dead.

Thirty years old with a wife, and 3 children, the youngest just celebrating her 1st birthday a little more than a month earlier. The trauma and pain to the family has been horrendous.

Getting all the brothers and sisters to town turned out to be an event in itself, but it was really good to see the entire family together, which has not occurred in several years. An event such as this truly changes the dynamic of the family and helps to reset priorities, as we have viewed them in the past.

The rest of August has been spending time with family and helping our daughter-in-law ready the house to be put on the market, which did finally happen today. Making all the small repairs, painting the entire house, cleaning up the lawn and garden beds, took far longer than I had hoped but I do not move as fast as I once did.

I might mention that coming home from the funeral as I pulled up in front of my house the transmission went out of my truck. Not that it even compares, but it just shows how I can’t get a breath between circumstances happening. I did put in the new transmission, but now I have to replace both catalytic converters.

Through it all I have kept peace within myself, knowing that my son was saved and a part of the body of Christ. He will live on through glory and we will re-unite in His Kingdom.

Romans 8:28 (NIV)  And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who  have been called according to his purpose.

For myself:

Joshua 1:9 (NIV) Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”               

Matthew 5:4 (NIV) Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

Although I find comfort in my Faith and the loving arms of my Savior, I am very ready for this year to be done!

                     

My thoughts and the LGBT Community Orlando

I have laid awake these last few nights thinking of the horrors that occurred over this past weekend in Orlando. Normally, I would never post on any subject that is so in the current media, but I have felt a strong compelling to write down my thoughts.

I don’t believe I could ever say anything that would subside the sadness, fear, and anger that accompanies such a horrific event. For those who survived, they will forever be plagued with the sights that can never be unseen and the memories of their personal struggle to survive. My fervent prayers are with them, that they may, in time, be able to find some peace and turn those memories into something more positive for humanity.

As a Christian, I may not agree with the chosen lifestyle, but as a follower of Christ’ teachings, I will not judge those that choose not to believe as I. I firmly believe in Matthew 7: 1-5:

 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

It is not my job to judge, but to love.

I Corinthians 13:13

13 “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. “

In love, I am committed to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.

1 Thessalonians 2:8

so we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.

Although I may not know anyone personally involved in the event, I pray for them a silent prayer for strength and courage to move forward and do good. I pray that they may turn to Christ as their lighthouse in this incredulous turmoil.

I Corinthians 15:1-4

Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand,

2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.

3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,

4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,

Acts 16:31

And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you shall be saved, you and your household.”

My prayers are with all those who were involved, along with family members, friends,  and locals who may have witnessed.

Camp Opportunity 2015

Most people look forward to a few weeks of annual vacation. But working from home I am afforded opportunities to pick and choose when and where I want to take time off. The highlight of my year, although many may call it a vacation, is volunteering a week at camp for neglected, abused, and wayward children. Camp Opportunity 2015, not unlike the last 30 years, takes children, at no cost to the family on the recommendation of county and state mental health professionals. Unfortunately, there are far more recommended for the program that we can handle or afford to take, but for the 30-40 children we do take and the many volunteer counselors it is an unforgettable week. My neighbor, my brother-in-law, and I take a small group of children each day to the lake on the camp property and teach them to fish. Most of the campers along with many of the counselors, which number one to one with campers, have never fished. I was surprised at the opportunity to also teach many of the campers where some of their food actually comes from.

Campers at lunch in the mess hall
Campers at lunch in the mess hall

Spending the week in the woods is for many campers the only time they are out of the urban atmosphere. Seeing the smiles and answering questions from inquisitive minds, if only for a week, gives me hope: hope that these children can grow to change the urban environment. I thoroughly enjoy my week helping in any way I can, but there is a need to expand the program to include more children or even add another week for more campers. Needless to say this takes a lot of money and a lot of volunteers. Please watch the video from fishing at camp this year, then follow the link after to see how much more these children learn while at camp. While there maybe you could even donate a few dollars or volunteer for our next Camp Opportunity.

Camp Opportunity 2015 from Stephen Luckett on Vimeo.

Please visit the link below to see how much this camp helps our children. If you can spare just a few dollars or want to volunteer, you can do that right on the site.

www.CampOpportunity.org

How do you look?

Many things have caught my eyes and ears this last few weeks. It started when I had a conversation with my dermatologist a few weeks ago. He is a good doctor and works primarily with lower income families, choosing not the route of botox and cosmetic surgery. How one looks in today’s world has overwhelmed many from the millennial to the baby boomer.

When you look in the mirror, what stands out? Losing hair, lips too thin, backside to wide, muffin-top, whatever it is staring back at you molds your perception of not just you, but the world around you.

Are you clamoring for the face lift? lipo-suction? Bigger more supple lips? Boob-job? Has this generation of human beings become so self-involved that looks are the top priority? Are those that are so concerned about their looks, the same ones that want to hide themselves from the world by hiding in a bottle or a needle or a bunch of pills?

Maybe there are no flaws in your eyes. This is the generation of “selfies”. So self-absorbed that you have to shared with the world. Surely everyone wants to see the selfie in the mirror because you just look so good to yourself.

I don’t take selfies. I don’t drink or do drugs. I am not a perfect specimen of a human being, nor do I profess to be. I am flawed as an individual physically. I am flawed in my thoughts. I am flawed in how I treat people sometimes. But when I look in the mirror, I see perfection.

Mathew 5:48  You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Ephesians 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works,

1 John 3:2 Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.

I choose to see Him as my light and life, instead of focusing my thoughts on how I look. If I am created in His image, who am I to doubt His work. I am as he wants to be, so that I may do His work on earth, giving Him glory for the perfection He has created.

When I am down, troubled, or wounded I will hide myself within Him, through His word. There is no better sanctuary, nor is there any other way to be lifted from the distress that I feel.

Lead rock

I would have to say that those that look in the mirror and are not happy with the way they look:

Don’t change the way you look, Change the way you see!

 

 

Stressful Weeks

Eph320

It has been over three weeks since I have posted! I cannot believe how quickly this time has flown. I have had a long list of “to-do’s” daily: preparing, planting, cleaning,  repairing.

Ten days of transplanting starts from our greenhouse and aquaponics to their summer home in the raised garden beds outside. This went pretty smoothly, especially since my wife and son did most of it, while I cleaned the yard and garden beds from the winter buildup.

The rest of my time has been spent preparing my presentation and mind for the 1/2 day aquaponics seminar. Also getting the greenhouse cleaned and organized to accommodate the class.  I am surprised how stressed I have been trying to prepare for this. I will write a separate post about the class later.

Of course the stress, subconsciously probably, had more to do with the upcoming visit to the surgeon. I have been fighting this cancer for the last 6 years, but seems to have grown worse in the last year.

This few weeks has been filled with a lot of extra prayer. Maybe my Faith is being tested and although I have faltered on many occasions, my eyes always still look upward before looking inward.

A few days ago, I had coffee with a dear brother in Christ, who opened my eyes to the fact that it may not be a test but a preparation for what is to come. Getting my mind focused on Him, so that I can be ready for some change which is about to occur in my life to His glory.

My brother in Christ sent me a post he received after our meeting and it amazingly summed up my feelings and our conversation:

“There will be greater clarity and insight on gifting’s, callings and operations of callings being released and greater UNITY of gifting’s and callings in the body of Christ. You are being invited to a table to drink in the glorious richness and sweetness of deeper revelation.”

I am always open to being used by the spirit in any way He sees fit and although most times I never know what is coming, I build with anticipation, almost excitement, about what great things He has planned for me.

The change may be tough and I may struggle to achieve His desired goal.  I am always happy in the end and give God the Glory for seeing the possibility in me. I thank Him for giving me the gifts that He did to achieve His wonderful expectations of me.

Ephesians 3:20,21

20 Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, 21 to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

 

Stewardship through homesteading

God created man in His image and gave him dominion over the earth, charging us to be good stewards of his gift. Stewardship of His gifts is one of the original commands given to Adam & Eve.
Genesis 1:26-28 “Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
Genesis 2:15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.
How have we done to keep care of His gift?

The earth dries up and withers, the world languished and

withers, the exalted of the earth languish. The earth lies under its inhabitants;for they have transgressed the laws, violated the statutes, and broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore a curse consumes the earth; its people must bear their guilt. Isaiah 24:4-6.

As for you, my flock… Is it not enough for you to feed on
good pasture? Must you also trample the rest of your pasture with your feet? Is it not enough for you to drink clear water? Must you also muddy the rest with your feet? Ezekiel 34:17-18
My involvement in organic gardening, aquaponics, beekeeping, etc is more than just a bunch of  hobbies for an old man. It is God’s directive to concern myself with utilizing His gifts properly: Both taking care of the planet and aiding those in need; giving the glory and honor to God that I am able to do so.
Proverbs 3:9 Honor the Lord with thy substance and with the firstfruits of all thine increase:
Homesteading, to many, is only a way to be more self-sufficient or save money in a tough economy. To me, although those reasons may be why I started, it is so much more now.
Whether I am working the land, doing my part to save the environment, or helping those in need I hope that I am fulfilling God’s directive to me to show honor to Him by being a good steward of His gift’s.