What’s in store for 2012?

Well, we’ve entered the year 2012.  Who would have thought we would see this year?  A lot is happening on a lot of fronts, around the world, in our local communities, and in many of our families. This year promises to be a year of anxiety and stress as we see and perhaps experience things we never thought we would. We’re seeing upheaval all around the world, an increase in major natural diseasters on a global scale, economic diseasters looming overhead here in America and in Europe, and policitical ‘wars’ that threaten an already fragile and unstable domestic life we currently have. All of this on top of a surging movement rising against Christianity, Christian values, and Christians in general.

Contrary to the belief of some, it is evident in scripture that things are only going to get worse as we see the Day of the Lord approaching. Some may say that we have many, many years ahead before that day comes, possibly not even in our lifetime, thinking that what we are experiencing is only part of a cycle that will come back around to better times. I disagree for two primary reasons. One is the fact that Israel became a nation in 1948, and Jesus told us that when that happens everything He says will happen in the last days will take place before the generation of people that saw the birth of Israel pass away.  Wow, that was a lot of words. The second reason is simply because we are seeing the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy regarding end-time events happen at a very accelerated rate of speed, and what was previously considered unthinkable is now taking place as the pieces come together to mirror what was prophesied thousands of years earlier.

What does this tell us? The world doesn’t have much to offer us except more pain, confusion and misery, especially as we pursue our selfish desires, goals and agendas. This also tells us that we as followers of Christ are about to see that blessed hope we’ve been clinging to about to come over the horizon, that blessed hope being the return of Christ for His bride, the church. So, while this is a year where tremendous uncertainity and stress is evident for the future of our country and world, this could also be the year of tremendous excitement as we watch for Jesus to split the sky to take His followers home.

Are you ready for His return?  If not then I encourage you to get yourself ready as time is running short.  If you are ready for His return, then I encourage you to reach out to others and encourage them to prepare and be ready.

May 2012 be the best year ever for you and your family.

Come visit,

Copyright 2012 – John Johansson

Should The Christmas Euphoria End With Christmas?

Well, Christmas is past and it’s time to get back to life as usual.  Or, should it?  I recently heard that the reason why people experiance such an euphoria during Christmas time is because they are remembering the good and pleasant memories of Christmas’ in the past.  Apparently, when people remember good and pleasant memories a chemical reaction is triggered that creates the euphoria so often times prevelant during this time of year.  Hmmm.  Have you ever heard it said that even large secular companies understand the benefit of charitable giving?  Isn’t that a principle that God instituted, give and it shall be given to you?  Sort’ve sounds like what has been commonly, but erronously, referred to as ‘seed faith’ giving.  Funny how that even non-Christian organizations understand the benefit of giving, a principle that God established.

Well, I think the same thing can be said about this Christmas euphoria that people so often times experience during this time of year.  We are told that the joy of the Lord is our strength, right?  What is the joy of the Lord?  Is it some cosmic thing that we wait to have dropped in our laps?  What is it?  Simply, the joy of the Lord could be summed up by saying it is in remembering and thinking about what the Lord has done in our lives, or even in the lives of others.  When we do this there is great strength to be gained.  We hear of King David reminding himself of the good things of God just to encourage himself, so why wouldn’t we do that.  It is amazing how that medical science is now verifying that on a medical level there is a benefit to remembering and thinking of the good things of the past.

So, why should the Christmas euphoria end with Christmas?  If our Christmas euphoria is correctly focused on Jesus, both His birth and His death and resurrection, then there is no reason for it to end.  In fact, the joy and strength we receive when we remember the things of the Lord should be year round and actually carry through the Christmas time of year.  Can you imagine how much more it would add to your Christmas if this was the case?

I’ve been focusing a lot on remembering, but it is when we remember that we receive joy and strength.  I know that I need to focus more of my time and thoughts around remembering and thinking about the things He’s done in my life, which I am determined to do, and I challange you to do the same.  You can never remember and think about Him too much, especially since it is in Him that we even have life both here and in eternity.  In fact, there is such a joy that comes when sharing those very things with others.  Something that we are even told to do.  We can’t keep those memories to ourselves.  We need to share those memories with others because not only will it bless and encourage you, but it could be the very thing that helps and encourages them.  They, too, can experience the joy of the Lord just in hearing of how God has blessed and moved in your life.

Copyright 2012 – John Johansson

A Life Filled With Regrets …

I was thinking the other day about the regrets many people carry in life.  In fact, if we are all honest with ourselves, we all have some regrets. Maybe it is wishing we hadn’t bought that one item, or going on a date with that one classmate, or taking that one trip that seemed to be more of a diseaster than a good vacation?  It could be just about anything, but I’m sure we all have at least one.

So, what do we do with our regrets?  It’s one thing to have to deal with one or two regrets, but what if our life is filled with more regrets than we care to remember?  Makes it pretty tough to rise above them, doesn’t it?

Sometimes, one can experience so much regret that they think there is nothing good for them.  They think that they don’t deserve or are even worthy of anything good, and because of it many give up the hope of better times and a good life.  It can be a paralyzing thing, regret that is.  Is there hope for someone with regret?  Or even someone with a lot of regret?

Yes, there is.  It’s through Jesus.  He gives us the reason for the hope of life and the victory over regrets.  It is at the feet of Jesus that we are able to relinquish our regrets and give them to Him, and He in turn gives us freedom from them and a life we would not otherwise have.  His grace and mercy is so precious, and it is something never to take for granted.  That doesn’t mean that we will forget our past regrets, but it means that we no longer have to be in bondage to them.  And if we will remember to trust and leave those regrets with Him, giving our lives to serving Him each day, He promises to turn all those regrets into something good.

The results of our regrets may stare us in the face each day, but once we’ve given them to Jesus we can trust Him that He will take care of them.  People may want to remind us of past regrets, ensinuating that we won’t be able to change and rise above them, but don’t listen to them.  Listen to Jesus, the One who created all things including you, the same one that died to give you freedom from past regrets, and listen to HIm when He says you are a new creation once you became His follower.

As we remember Jesus in the manger during this time, let us also remember to leave our past regrets at the feet of the cross He hung on for us just 33 years after His birth.

Merry Christmas!

Copyright 2012 – John Johansson

Would Christmas be what it is today if ….

That’s right.  Would Christmas be what it is today if Jesus never died and rose again?  We talk of the birth of Jesus being God’s gift to the world, but the gift didn’t really become the gift until after He died and rose again.  It’s like a packet of seeds.  Has anyone ever given you a packet of seeds as a gift?  Was the seed the gift in and of itself, or was it only the gift when it died six inches in the ground and then grew into the plant or tree it was intended to grow into?  Jesus was God’s gift to the world, but that gift had to still grow to fulfill the purpose it was given.  If Jesus hadn’t died and rose again, then Christmas would not be remembered today.  Really.  Think about it.  If Jesus hadn’t died and rose again then there would truly be nothing to remember about Christmas.  So, when people try to remove Jesus from Christmas they really don’t understand what it is that they are doing.  It’s one thing to remember that Jesus is the ‘reason for the season’, but if we don’t remember what it is that He did for us some 33 years later, then we don’t truly comprehend the full magnitude and scope of God’s gift to us. 

Many people have no problem remembering the ‘babe in the manger’, and people go bonkers over Christmas remembering Him in the manger, but most people then ignore what it is that He did for us 33 years later.  As long as Jesus remains in the manger then it’s safe.  People don’t have to change the way they live or to have a reason to surrender their lives to Him.  People don’t want Jesus to interfer with their life.

I recently watched a series of videos and a movie called, Not A Fan.  In these the narrator defines the difference between a follow of Jesus and a fan of Jesus.  A fan of Jesus is one who follows Him only until He begins to interfer with their lives, at which time they no longer follow Him.  But, a follower of Jesus follows Him no matter the cost, and no matter how He ‘interfers’ with their lives and their goals and agendas for life.  So, having said that, a fan is one who gets excited about Jesus in the manger but have problems when He gets out.  And, a follower is one who celebrates Jesus coming in the manger, but their focus is on the only road to follow which leads to the cross, and the transforming change the empty tomb brings to them.

So, which one are you???  Are you keeping Jesus in the manger, or are you remembering that He didn’t really become the gift God intended Him to be until 33 years later.

Copyright 2012 – John Johansson

Is Jesus Really Your Best Friend?

Have you ever heard someone say that Jesus is their best friend?  I have, but one question that keeps coming to my mind when I hear it is whether or not they really treat and desire interaction with Jesus like they do their best friend here on earth.  Often times people I’ve heard say this actually treat Jesus as an acquaintance instead of as a best friend.  Before we say that Jesus is our best friend, we need to first ask ourselves if we treat Him just as well, if not better, than the person we call our best friend here on earth.  If we don’t treat Him the same or better than our other best friends then we have no business calling Him our best friend.

Along those same lines I’ve had another thought.  Over the years, I’ve known people that get real serious about the pursuit of their education, their career, or even about different aspects of health and business.  I’ve even known people who are very serious for or against different causes, causes such as abortion, marriage, or even gay rights.  I’m not going to say that any of these things are bad, or that they are even good, but one thought keeps going through my mind.  What would happen if people invested the same energy and resources they spend for these things into their relationship with Christ and living for Him.  If we are spending more time, energy or resources into anything or anyone else than we are in our relationship with Jesus and living for Him, then we are missing it and are involved in idolatry as those things are taking precedence over Jesus.  Many people talk about how they haven’t committed murder, adultry or even theft, referring to the Ten Commandments, but they forget about the first and most important commandment.  Both in the list of the commandments and the two that Jesus mentioned, the first one was that we are to love God with all our heart, mind, strength and body, so if that is not the case then we are missing it.  We can rationalize and justify why we may put more energy into these other things than we do our own relationship with Christ and living for Him, but when it is all said and done those excuses will not hold any water.  I even have to remember to keep myself in check because sometimes I can get caught up more with my tinkering with computers than I do with Him, and that is wrong.  The excessive tinkering with computers can have a negative effect in other areas that I need to be mindful of, but if I can make sure to maintain Him as first and foremost in my life then the other areas will end up getting worked out.  I mention that to say that this is something that we all need to be mindful of as it is so easy to get caught up and distracted with others and other things.  We need to remember to make a conscious effort to keep Him first and foremost in our lives.  Our eternity depends on it, believe it or not.

One simple question to ask yourselves in closing.  Is that which you are putting so much time, energy and resources into of greater importance than your relationship with Jesus and living for Him according to His will?

Copyright 2012 – John Johansson

Going to church with “expectation”

Have you ever heard people say that they don’t get anything out of church, or that while others receive something from God they don’t?  There are many different reasons why people go to church.  Some go because that is what they’ve always done, having been raised in church all their life.  Others go because they view it as a social gathering, a place where they can meet with friends and chat and have fun.  Others go because they are being dragged there, either by a spouse, a parent, a friend, a co-worker, or someone else.  And even then, there are some who go only out of a sense of duty and obligation.  Why do you go to church?  Or, are you going to church?

I’m not going to get into why Christians need to go to church, much less why they need to be faithful and plugged into a local church, but I really want to focus on our attitude about going.  Like I said, there are many who go for all the wrong reasons, and no wonder why they don’t receive from God what He has for them.  What’s worse is that the respect and reverence for the house of God just is not there anymore, for the most part that is.  Yes, I do know that our bodies are the temple of God for those of us who are in relationship with His son, Jesus, but I’m talking about those places that have been set aside as a place where His followers come together corporately.  The house of God has become a location for social gatherings and connection, not that there is anything necessarily wrong with that, but all to often it is at the expense of God, Himself.  While it can be argued we’ve lost the respect and reverence for these places that we should have, and I will agree with that, what is more disheartening is that we’ve lost respect and reverence for God.  It’s a shame that more often than not, people, especially the younger generations, have more respect for their employers, their teachers, their friends and family, and even their hobbies and recreation, than they do the Creator of the ends of the universe, God almighty.  We can sit and pay attention to a teacher giving us a lecture or instructions on something, an employer conducting some training, a politician or some hollywood celebrity, or even a ‘respected’ athlete, but we can’t give even the same respect for God who created everything and everyone.  It isn’t an issue of having respect and reverence for the house of God, it’s more an issue of showing our respect and reverence to the God of all creation.  The way we respect and reverence the house of God is a reflection of our respect and reverence towards God.

Why am I talking about respect and reverence for the house of God when I’m supposed to be talking about going to church with expectation?  Well, it’s simple.  If I went to your house and did not show it respect, odds are I’m not going to receive anything from you even if I expect it.  If I went to the White House but did not show respect towards it, then I would be amiss to expect anything from the President.  However, if I were to show great respect for the White House, the acting President would interpret that as respect for him in the role of President, and it would be his good pleasure to do whatever he can for me.  So, how can I really expect to receive something from God when I don’t even respect His house?

Another thing, if I don’t show respect towards those who represent God then I’m showing disrespect for Him.  The other day we had interviews where I work and an interesting thing took place.  One of the people interviewed had been showing an arrogant attitude and there was some concern if he was hired.  Well, as he was leaving he made a comment to another employee which showed disrespect towards current management.  The owner of the company heard this person make the comment and that was “all she wrote” as this guy torpedoed any chance of getting hired.  Just the same way, when God sees and hears our disrespect towards His servants, He has the final word.

If we want to receive from God when we go to church, the first place to begin with is to make sure we have a respect for Him, and that we show Him that respect by our respect towards His servants and His house.  The next thing we need to do is go with expectation.  I’ve been in churches where people go, knowing that God could show up and touch them, but if He doesn’t then there is always next time.  These churches don’t see God do much, though He may move in their midst in a limited capacity at times.  There are other churches I have attended that people would attend with great expectation to receive something from God through music, word, and His servants, and these churches see God moving often.  Usually the people in these churches generally have a strong passion for Him, and that just creates an atmosphere that literally invite Him to show up.  I don’t know about you, but I want Him to feel both invited and welcomed to come and ‘visit’.  I want to go with an expectation that no matter what is said or done, or how good or bad things are, He is going to show up and meet me there.  Oh, that could happen at home or somewhere hidden in nature, but there is something about being with others of like mind in a corporate setting that rolls out the ‘red carpet’ for God, and I want to be there when He comes walking down the runway.  How about you?

So, if you don’t already do so, start going to church with expectancy and see what happens.  Your life may never be the same when you begin to see God respond to your expectancy of His attendance and what He has for you.  You can’t expect God to give you something you’re not expecting to get, especially if you don’t show Him the respect and reverence due Him.

Copyright 2012 – John Johansson

Being Thankful Isn’t Just A Thanksgiving Thing

This is the time of year that people try to be thankful.  Some people try to be thankful for just one thing, and others try to have an attitude of thanksgiving in general.  Saddly, many forget to be thankful after Thanksgiving, especially with the shift towards Christmas.

Being thankful, though, shouldn’t be just a once a year thing, but instead should be a way of life throughout the year.  Why should that be the case?  Well, for one thing it makes life more enjoyable.  I’ve seen many persons who have an attitude of thanksgiving, and one of the things I’ve noticed about them is that excess stress and depression seems to be absent.  When we focus on being thankful, especially for the things that God has done in our lives, then that leaves less room for worry which can cause stress and depression.

I just heard someone talk about the importance of being thankful.  They referred to the time that Jesus healed 10 lepers, but only one came back to thank Him.  The one that came back to thank Jesus received something more than just a healing, he became whole.  The other nine lepers didn’t receive this because they didn’t express thankfulness for the healing Jesus gave them.  How many times do we fall short of receiving all that God has for us because we don’t maintain an attitude of thankfulness for what He’s already done for us?  For example, when God heals us do we remember to give Him thanks, and to maintain that level of thankfulness for what He’s done, no matter how little or seemingly insignificant it may seem, or do we start exhibiting doubt or an ungrateful attitude?  The person I heard yesterday mentioned how that she focused on being thankful for each and every little sign of improvement she saw with her back, instead of paying attention and focusing on the pain and discomfort she was still getting from it, and as a result she received healing for her back and hasn’t experienced any problems ever since for over several years.  Sometimes we think that healing should be immediate, but many times it takes place over a period of time.  If this person didn’t focus on the improvement she was seeing, no matter how small it was, how many of you think that she would probably still be suffering with a bad back to this day?  I think she would be, and I wonder how many times we fall short of receiving all that God has for us because we focus more on what we don’t have, or what circumstances and others say, or even what our bodies are telling us, instead of what God says, and more importantly, being thankful for every thing He’s doing on our behalf.

So, remember to be thankful not just during this time of year, but throughout the year.  Develope an attitude of thankfulness, especially for what God has and is doing in your life.  If you struggle with being critical, judgmental, or even being skeptical and pessimistic towards situations and events, all of which blocks what God is wanting to do in our lives, then developing an attitude of thankfulness as a way of life will go a long way to overcome tendencies of being critical, judmental or even being skeptical.  Try it, you may find that you like the life you have as a result of this over the one that you’re currently experiencing.

God bless, and remember to be thankful for all the blessings He’s done in your life, starting with the salvation He provides for us through His only son, Jesus, and Him alone.

Copyright 2012 – John Johansson

Legalism and Compromise; Kissing Cousins

Did you know that ‘legalism’ and ‘compromise’ are kissing cousins?  It may seem hard to believe, but they are.  Legalism focuses on a list of do’s and don’ts by which one lives by, and compromise goes the extra mile to avoid any list of do’s and don’ts because they believe God’s love and grace will cover them.  So, what do they have in common?  They both lack the needed relationship with Jesus.  Legalism’s driving force is based on pleasing God and gaining acceptance into Heaven by works, and compromise’s driving force is based on the belief that God will accept them now and into heaven no matter what they say or do simply because they’ve said a prayer.

Relationship with Jesus is the ‘missing link’.  There is nothing wrong with a list of do’s and don’ts as long as it is a result of our relationship with Jesus, not the basis of it by which we seek to claim his acceptance and approval.  There is nothing wrong with not living by a list of do’s and don’ts provided our life is based on an active relationship with Jesus and living to please Him in all our ways.

What about you?  Are you living your life by a list of do’s and don’ts?  Or, are you living on the basis that the way you live has no bearing on your eternity?  Or, are you living your life based on an intimate relationship with Jesus?  Pursue first and foremost a relationship with Jesus, a vibrant and passionate relationship with Him, and then share it with others so they can have one as well.  Eternity hinges on it.

Copyright 2012 – John Johansson

Thanksgiving, Here It Comes

Well, in three weeks it will be Thanksgiving.  Boy, how time flies.  In a society that caters to self, and what is in it for us, we more often than not forget to be thankful.  We take so many things for granted, and we forget how blessed we truly are.  Yet, we try to make the few hours we have on Thanksgiving with family and/or friends as a time that we can set aside to be thankful.  Thankful for what?  For many that thankfulness is self-centered and selfish, and for others it is a genuine, self-less time of rememberance.  Usually, people focus their thankfulness on that pertaining to this life here on earth, but we need to remember to be thankful not only for that which pertains to this life, but especially for what Christ has done in our lives, and the life He offers us on the other side of the grave.

Here is my challenge to each of you, that you won’t wait till Thanksgiving to be thankful, and that you will take time each day to think of something different to be thankful for.  As you do, think about Christ’s role in what you are thankful for, and thank Him for it.  After all, we know that everything good comes from God, so it is only reasonable and right to give Him the thanks and gratitude He deserves.

If you were to do this each day, you will find that it will become not only a habit but an attitude and a lifestyle.  If you battle with depression and anxiety, you may find it diminishing the more you think about and give Jesus thanks for what He’s done for you, and for what He is going to do for you.  Your life will never be the same.

So, what are you thankful for???????     

Copyright 2012 – John Johansson

To Halloween or Not

As we enter this day known as halloween, the question often asked over the years by Christians during this time is, “should Christians participate in halloween?”  I’ve heard many an argument over the years, some arguing that there is nothing wrong with Christians participating in it, and yet others who argue that a Christian should not be a part of it.  In the midst of these arguments for or against we have some who have found a place of compromise that allows them in some way to be a part of the festivities.  So, what should be our stand on the issue of halloween, or is it something that shouldn’t be an issue one way or another?  The choice is up to you on what stand, if any, you will make regarding halloween, but for me not to share my thoughts on the subject would be wrong.

One of the arguments I hear tries to throw into the mix of this argument past pagan traditions and activities, making the accepting or unaccepting of Santa Clause, christmas trees, Easter bunnies, and other things, equal to that of participating in halloween.  They mention things about being extreme and legalistic, and if that is their take then that is up to them.  I have no objections about Santa Clause, the use of a christmas tree as a holiday decoration, or even Easter bunnies, but I do have an issue of halloween.  Let me explain.

I was talking with someone yesterday about this subject and a word-picture came to my mind that many of us can identify with.  We in America have had the privilage of enjoying a freedom and peace that most countries in the world do not have, and we have been willing to sacrifice the lives of our soldiers to protect and defend those privilages we do not take for granted.  Being a country that enjoy these privilages, there are countries and groups out there that are bent on destroying our nation and any trace of the freedom and peace we enjoy.  They want nothing less than to wipe us off the face of the earth.  One of these groups, among many out there, are Islamic extremists and terrorists.  If you knew someone, or some group, was bent on your destruction and annialation, what would you do?  Most Americans would keep them at an arms distance away, being both wary and protective in their dealings with them.  However, and I’m not being political but instead showing a parallel, our current administration has in their decisions, choices and behavior, have pushed the envelope with us in some of their dealings with these groups.  They have in some ways embraced and flirted with these groups trying to be their friend, all the while ignoring the fact that our demise is their only objective.  This is how we treat halloween.  Everything about halloween is diametrically opposed to everything God is and stands for.  Unlike other holidays and special festivities, there is absolutely no redeeming attribute in halloween, and it flies in the face of our Christian faith, opposing anything that is good, right, true and loving.  Yet, we find a way, like our current administration, to push the envelope and flirt with something that is ‘hell-bent’ on the demise of the Christian faith and those who follow it.

So, what should our stand as Christians be toward this day that the enemy of our souls has used to magnify himself and bring death and darkness to our world?  Are we not told to have nothing to do with ‘darkness’?  Yes, Jesus interacted with all people everywhere in His day here on earth, but would he give place to idolatry and participate in that which promoted or represented the different forms of idolatry and worship of other gods?  I think not.

Some would argue that we need to use the day as an opportunity to give kids an alternative or to even reach out to the lost.  For the most part I’m not opposed to such, but does it in any way resemble in appearance or practice to that of Halloween?  If so, then I am opposed to it.  Scripture is very clear to not even have the appearance of evil or have any part in it, so to sugar coat or water down the day in different ways while still maintaining some of it’s appearances and practices would be wrong.

The decision is up to you, what you will do with this day known as halloween.  Regardless, this is the day that the Lord has made, and we need to honor Him in it first and foremost, not the one who is completely at war with Him.

Copyright 2012 – John Johansson

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