Welcome to Blake's Take, a small space in God's world

I hope you find this insightful and challenging in your daily life. May you not leave the same way you came in.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Greater Impact of Honesty

A few weeks ago I was asked by a gentleman to speak to the Walker Vikings baseball team. The request was to speak with a character trait in mind using biblical principles. There are all types of character traits that can be pulled from the Bible some from individual persons in the Bible. In the week prior I spoke to my student at Farmstead about being honest with Christ about who they are, so I, in feeling like it was a great topic, continues the thought with the baseball team.

In 1 John 1:8-10, John writes to back to churches in Asia Minor. He is encouraging them to live lives evident of their salvation. I have appropriately entitled our study through the book, "Evidence." 1 John 2:8-10 reads:

8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 
9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 
10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us. 

First, if we say we have no sin, we directly contradict the Word of God where in Romans it states, "For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God." We are not honest with ourselves. We deceive ourselves as the scripture states. It is hard to be honest with ourselves about our own sin when we are the god of our lives. As god of my own life, I have no sin because the law by which I live is set by me. So I can deceive myself because my law is not firm but is changeable.

Second, if we confess our sins, we are being honest with ourselves about who we are and where we stand. When we confess our sins it shows that we recognize that someone else is greater than we are and that person can pardon our sins. God is the only one who can pardon sin. Scripture tells us in Hebrews, "Without the shedding of blood there is no remission (forgiveness) of sin." Jesus shed His blood to be the forgiveness of our sin. The two-fold purpose of confession removes us from our throne and places the correct person on our throne, Jesus.

Thirdly, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins. Who is He? That is Jesus Christ. He came to "seek and to save that which was lost." Jesus is faithful. For us, in our flesh, we are not faithful. Only through Christ can we be faithful. Apart from Christ our faithfulness is determined by our desires, time, and motives. Jesus is not fickle in his faithfulness and he is not slack as some count slackness. Jesus is always on time and always dependable. Jesus died to pay the ransom that we owed. Scripture tells us in Romans that "the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord." Not only does He forgive us our sins, He cleanses us from all righteousness. This is a complete washing, a new beginning. Just as 2 Corinthians 5:17 states, "if anyone is in Christ, He is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new." Everything about our lives becomes new. Our desire to be honest is new.

As Lord of our own lives we will tell ourselves anything to promote ourselves. We will determine what is good by what makes us happy. In the flesh, what makes us happy is relative to our situation but when we are new, what makes us happy is what is according to the will of God.

Our honesty about our sin and posture with God is very important. If we are honest about our sin then God is rightfully where he needs to be in our lives, Prophet, Priest, and King but if we are dishonest about our sin then we take God from his rightful place, and his character does not change nor does his position, to make him out to be a liar. God cannot be a liar and he is not a liar. Jesus stated that He is "the way, the TRUTH, and the life..." James 1:17 also tells us there is "no shadow of turning" in Christ. If we make God out to be a liar then the Word of God is not in us. Why? or How can that be? If you know scripture, then you know God keeps is promises. God is honest with his people whether it be for correction, approval, encouragement, or promise.

I encourage you, be honest with God, be honest with yourself. This will play out through all your relationships. "Honesty is the best policy" is what I have heard for years and it is still applicable for today. "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness..."

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Subtle Changes?

Every-so-often I am brought to a point in which something bothers me until I say or write something about it; I am at that point now.

In Sunday school we talked about purity vs sensuality this past week and I brought up how sin has distorted our use of certain things originally created for good.

There are many things such as the internet, phones, and money but more specifically I'm thinking about plastic surgery and make-up. Plastic surgery was created for severe injuries to help in the recovery of a normal life for military or civilians injured due to war directly or indirectly. Here is a link to a more precise account: http://www.aboardcertifiedplasticsurgeonresource.com/plastic_surgery/history.html.

But today, plastic surgery is to "fix" what naturally isn't right. This has bothered me for years. I have also noticed a commercial which is ridiculous to have on Christian radio that states, "we don't create beauty, we reveal it." Really?! Reveal beauty through surgery? Beauty isn't revealed by a scalpel and and a surgeon, it's revealed by God both inwardly and outwardly. Today's young ladies are being enticed to have this "work" done to "reveal" their beauty. I've heard it said that "beauty is in the eye of the beholder," and I would thoroughly agree with that! Look around at people married or in relationships. Some people do not look like they should go together but by God's great power, they see beauty in one another!

Let me tell you what creates a more bothersome feeling within me. When a young man or young woman has had, let's say, a nose-job, breast implants, tummy tuck, botox or other physical altering procedure done, how will they have any idea what their child is going to look like? I know their love should not be based on the child's looks. I get that, but how will he/she know if the other had not been cheating on the other? These changes that men and women are getting are not truthful. How can people say their love is whole if the people themselves are not?

On top of that issue, is the issue of makeup. My daughter has become interested in putting on some makeup and it gets on my nerves. My daughter is beautiful without any enhancements, if you will. I see so many young ladies putting on, some to the extent of caking on, makeup to impress other young men. Is this necessary? No. One thing that I love about my wife and actually made her more attractive was the fact she did not have to wear makeup to be beautiful.

Another problem with extreme makeup, along with extreme tanning, is the aging that looks to take place. I have seen young ladies who are 13 look as if they are 18 to 20 because of the extreme use of makeup. My soul is wrenched by the fact that these young ladies desire to look older to get older guys to like them. The problem is, they older guys don't like them, they lust them. So dangerous are these young ladies to themselves, their futures and their future spouses.

Dads, we have got to get a hold on this now. This is not the responsibility of Mom. Mom is not a guy, or should not be! Dads, we know the mind of men. We must defend our daughters in our homes and teach them who they are in Christ, not who they are in makeup. I'm sorry but when I see a young lady all caked up in makeup you will not hear me say, "How beautiful."

I'll say how beautiful when they are baptized, dress with modesty and have self-respect, pray in the midst of their peers, surrender to ministry and when they are dressed in white for their godly husband. That's beautiful.

So to conclude this thought, subtle changes may not be so subtle later in life. I encourage all young ladies to think about who you are in Christ before becoming who you think you should be in makeup. Don't get physical changes because God has created you the way he intended. God loves you how he created you and if it is God's will for you to marry, men also, God has set apart a person for you. Pray and pray more so you may know the will and plans of God.

In Christ,
Blake Prater

Monday, January 9, 2012

Junior Journey

Junior Journey January 15, 2012 Lift Student Ministry

As you begin your journey into your senior year, you will be making decisions that will impact your coming future; looking into what God desires of you is vital to who you are and what you are to become.

Many times decisions on the future depends heavily on aspirations of greatness accomplished or realized through salary, material things or praise but your future must depend on Christ’s calling upon your life. A calling is not always a vocational ministry position; we are all called by Christ unto salvation but some are set apart to the service of the Lord.

My desire for this Junior Journey is to investigate God’s will for your lives. To prompt you to tap into Jesus’ thoughts and plans for you and see where you are in your journey.

We will work together over the next several months to prepare and challenge one another as you progress forward to your senior year. Just as birthdays do not equate to maturity neither does years after conversion mean growth in Christ and this Journey is to spark, reinvigorate or strengthen your walk with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!

Let’s read Luke 24:13-35: The Road to Emmaus

Now let’s break this down in terms of how to take the next step into leadership!

1. vv. 13-14 – Leaders talk about Jesus and his life with one another.

a. I want you to get with one person in the room to talk with about Jesus over this time of Journey.

2. v. 15 – Jesus draws near to leaders who know him and he has a plan for.

a. I want you to thoroughly read through the gospels; taking notes on each chapter.

3. v. 16 – Leaders, at different times, must listen to Christ without seeing him.

a. Take 15 minutes daily to be in your room with no electronics or music and talk to and listen for God.

4. v. 17 – Leaders will be held accountable about their knowledge of the King!

a. Be prepared for questions through text from me about what you are reading! I want responses!

5. vv. 18-24 – Leaders must believe even when everything seems unbelievable!

a. Thoroughly pray over your future. (Senior year, Sharing opportunities, college, marriage)

6. vv. 25-27 – Leaders listen to Jesus and learn.

a. Commit to attending events that challenge and build your walk with Christ. (Mission trips, weekend trips, D-Now, etc.)

7. vv. 28-29 – Leaders will desire to know more about Christ and to spend more time with Christ.

a. Commit to add at least 5 minutes monthly to your Bible study time.

8. vv. 30-31 – Leaders must understand that faith shouldn’t have to have physical revelation to believe.

a. Commit to intentionally seeking God’s unseen power and pray to recognize it!

9. vv. 32-35 – Leaders will share that Christ has been with them and has opened their eyes!!

a. Commit to share the gospel with at least 1 person per month while you are on this Journey.

I hope you found this helpful and please, if you did, implement it into your student ministry! God has been good to give to me, the least I can do is share it!! Isn't that what we are suppose to do with our Testimony and Jesus?!

Blake Prater

Student Minister of Farmstead Baptist Church

Lift Student Ministry

Monday, November 21, 2011

About this worrying thing...

I heard a gentleman speak this morning about worry and how it is a sin because of how it takes the sovereignty of God out of the equation. He had some great illustrations, points, and stories but as I was reading along in my Bible something profound stood out to me. The way the bible is broken into chapter and verse must be realized as not the inspired Word of God. The Word is inspired and 100% accurate but sometimes the numbering seems a little off. Let me explain.

If you notice Philippians 4:5 it states, "Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand." By reading this alone, one can come to the conclusion that because the Lord is at hand, you need to make your gentleness be known but I believe the numbering system throws this scripture out of context. If verse 6 were to begin with the latter part of verse 5, see how things would make more sense, "The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything..." You see, this puts the issue of anxiety to rest because the Lord is at hand. Also, because He is at hand, you can make your requests known because He is so close.

We must remember that as children of God we have a relationship with God that is so close. We must remove anything that hinders the closeness of the relationship. When we pray and supplicate with thanksgiving, in the presence of God, how awesome is it to know that the peace of God will guard our hearts and minds.

His guarding is not from a distance or with corruptible things but with Jesus Christ the eternal, living Bread of Life. That peace of God that comes through praying and being near to God really cannot be fathomed. It's beyond explanation. The speaker from this morning did a great job expounding on this point. It's not that we haven't experienced it; it's that the experience is unexplainable.

Maybe this is the context to which Paul was writing in that through our prayers and being near to God reveals a gentleness do to peace. People who are anxious or worry tend to be very uptight creating tension, the opposite of gentleness.

By knowing the Lord is at hand, praying to Him with thanksgiving and knowing your hearts are guarded by Jesus Christ; your gentleness will be known to all men. Then may your works, done out of peace and love not guilt or worry, be seen by man and they glorify your Father in heaven.

The Lord is at Hand.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Sharing your faith or leading people to Jesus?

As of late I have come to realize that these two statements, "Sharing your faith" and "Leading people to Jesus" are similar but not the same.

Sharing your faith is sharing what Christ has done in you to create faith. What Christ has done in you should be what is commonly known as a "testimony." This is a giving of the experience in which Jesus Christ was brought into your life by preaching, teaching or testimony of another then God through the work of the Holy Spirit convicted you of sin and you confessed that sin, repented (turned away from) that sin, and surrendered your heart to Jesus for Him to be Lord. Your testimony is the account of where you were, how you were and where you were going - to - where you are, how you are and where you are going. Coupled that with scripture of who Christ is and what He has done and THAT is sharing your faith.

Leading people to Jesus may very well have the previous encapsulated within it but I would say leading people to Jesus, is primarily focusing on their opportunity to confess, repent and surrender. This takes place through clear and precise combing through the Bible to use its power to persuade men to come to Christ. Paul says, "knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences." Paul is to talking to the church at Corinth in the 2 letter chapter 5 verse 11. Paul is referring to the work we are called to do. We are called to persuade men because of their frail, fragile and hell bound lives. Throughout the first 4 verses of the chapter Paul is speaking of the body, "the tabernacle." In the next 4 verses Paul is speaking of the Spirit in spite of the body and in verses 9 and 10 Paul is speaking of the "labor" we must do for the Lord regardless of the physical or spiritual.

To me, this clearly points to Paul encouraging us to get off our pride, self-centered, lazy and depressed states and serve or labor for the Lord. The Terror of the Lord should cause us to persuade men.

There is a two-fold reason for leading people to Jesus: 1. The Terror of the Lord on the soul that rejects salvation and 2. The Terror of the Lord on the soul who, although saved, does not labor for the Lord. Our love for God should compel our love for people. Our love for God should compel our attitude toward telling. In no situation does the Christian have any excuse for not laboring to lead people to Jesus.

The rest of 2 Corinthians 5 speaks very clearly to this very thought. I encourage you to take up the sword of Truth and read for yourself the plans and purposes of God for this world, you and His kingdom.

Grace and Peace,
Blake Prater

Monday, April 18, 2011

A Guide to Correct Citizenship: Philippians 3:20-4:1

20 For our citizenship is in heaven (Break 1), from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, (Break 2) 21 who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, (Break 3) according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself. (Break 4) 4:1 Therefore, my beloved and longed-for brethren, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, beloved. (Break 5)

Students give one thing they are proud of as a US citizen.

Show video clip.

Oath of Citizenship in America - I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.[1]

Ephesians 2:19 Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone, 21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

Hebrews 11:8-10; 13-16 - 8 By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. 9 By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; 10 for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God… 13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. 14 For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. 15 And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.

Define Citizenship – the act of becoming a member of a nation by birth or naturalization.

Break 1

What is your response to your citizenship being in heaven?

How do you become a citizen of Heaven? John 1:12-13 – but as many as received him, to them he gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in his name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

Listen to Hebrews 11:8-10; 13-16

How would you describe the United States?

How would you describe Heaven?

Revelation 3:3-6 – The throne room - 3 And He who sat there was like a jasper and a sardius stone in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, in appearance like an emerald. 4 Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and on the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white robes; and they had crowns of gold on their heads. 5 And from the throne proceeded lightnings, thunderings, and voices. Seven lamps of fire were burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God. 6 Before the throne there was a sea of glass, like crystal. And in the midst of the throne, and around the throne, were four living creatures full of eyes in front and in back.

Break 2

Paul speaks of where Savior comes from and that is heaven.

It is much like how when a president goes and visits the American embassy in another country. The Ambassadors are there awaiting the visit and accomplishing the tasks to which they were commissioned to do by the president and the country. Paul says in Ephesians 6:20 that he is an ambassador in chains. We are commissioned by God, you know, Matthew 28 the great commission, to accomplish the task in another country much like in 1 Peter 2:11-12 - 11 Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. 12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.

Our citizenship is given by no other than Jesus Christ. Acts 4:12 – there is no salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.

Break 3

With his coming everything will change.

Break 4

How will that change take place, by his workings. Do you know what those workings were, his life, death and resurrection? Are you living like citizens of Heaven? Are you a citizen of Heaven

A Guide to Correct Gain: Philippians 3:12-19

Philippians 3:12 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. (Break 1)

13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Break 2)

15 Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you. 16 Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind. (Break 3)

17 Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern. 18 For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: 19 whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame— who set their mind on earthly things. (Break 4)

Break 1

Have a race outside. The runners are racing toward one person holding prizes. Along the race path are words that are sins everyone struggles with.

Q. Before the race did you: check out the path before you? Check out what was in your way while in the race? Check out what was in your way after the race?

Q. When do we truly want to see what is in our path? – After the race, especially if we lose. If we win, it doesn’t matter what was in the way because we have won and the prize has been attained and our eyes are focused on the end prize.

Listen to this quote: “You and I live in an age when only a rare minority of individuals desire to spend their lives in pursuit of objectives which are bigger than they are. In our age, for most people, when they die, it will be as though they never lived.” – Rusty Rustenbach

“Press on” carries both a hunting and athletic sense. Like, stalking prey with an unrelentlessness or to run as to gain a victory; out to win.

Break 2

Paul refers back to the elders, deacons and Saints at Philippi as brethren. This is a loving endearment.

Paul recognizes his shortcomings at this point.

Paul recognizes his past but refuses to live in it.

Paul recognizes his future and reaches for it.

Because of Paul’s recognition, he presses toward the goal…

The goal of the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Break 3

Therefore is a conjunction. Because of what was just said, this is the outcome.

Therefore…let us have this mind…nevertheless…let us walk by the same rule and let us be of the same mind.

So, what’s in the middle?

As many as are mature…and if in anything think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you.

Andrew Harris: What does a mature runner look like?

Andrew Harris: What is the contrast of an immature and a mature runner?

When Paul wrote to the Brethren he wanted them to recognize the true runners and the walkers.

Paul said that God would reveal it to them about who were walkers among them.

Paul’s statement of “nevertheless” reveals a desire that even if you do know who may or may not be running a true race, you are to run yours by walking in the same rule and thinking by the same mind.

Break 4

Again, Paul refers to them as brethren but calls for people to join him.

Paul knew he was not perfect, that he had not attained yet called people to follow him; will you do the same? Do you have a group of fellow believers who you could tell people, “join in following us for a pattern” of how to run for Christ?

Paul refers to those who walk and in this sense means, “having no eye or vision for the future or God’s will.”

Earlier Paul referred to “walking by the same rule.” That did not mean a slow pace, it meant there a pattern or following.

Those who walk are labeled by Paul as enemies of the cross of Christ. Think on your life today, at school, with your parents; in the car or on the van ride here, is your “walk” giving “friendly fire” to Christ?

Paul says those that are enemies of the cross of Christ set their mind on earthly things. Colossians 3:1-17

Are you running the race for the prize of the upward call of Christ or are you walking the road to destruction keeping your eyes on earthly things?