True Religion (Nehemiah 5)

Now there arose a great outcry of the people and of their wives against their Jewish brothers.” Nehemiah 5:1

As the old saying goes, “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.” This was the strategy that the enemy employed to get at Nehemiah. Threats of war could not stop the work on the wall. In fact, it brought the people of God together! However, it wasn’t long before  internal strife reared its ugly head.

This is systematic for a lot of congregations in our Christian religious experience. Although there are times where outside influences can knock a church down, for the most part it’s the internal strife, disunity, and struggles that cause the most damage. When the enemy can get members to fight against members, church leaders to rebel against pastoral authority or a multitude of similar situations, the church cannot fulfill the call of God. Where disunity is present in a church, the enemy is glorified. As Mark 3:25 states, “And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.”

There were three results of this outcry that we can interpretively apply in a spiritual context:


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A Family Affair (Nehemiah 4)

And I looked and arose and said to the nobles and to the officials and to the rest of the people, “Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes.” Nehemiah 4:14

Marriage changed my life completely. I never knew what real love was until I met my wife and we began our life together. As with any couple, we’ve had our storms and struggles, yet I would not change her for anyone else in this world.

My wife confirmed Proverbs 31:10: “An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels.”

Phil&Daysi

(Daysi, I love you!!!)

My life changed even more radically when we started to have kids together. My oldest, Junior, is 7 and he is an active, rambunctious kid with a mind of his own who is destined to do great things in his life. My youngest son, Ezekiel, is 4 and he’s a smooth operator. He’s already trying to date some 18 year olds. I’m expecting him to leverage some of that charm into success in life. And my daughter, Abigail, is age 2. She’s my princess and my love. I tell my wife that Abigail can start dating at 13, but I won’t be allowing her to brush her teeth, comb her hair, or wear deodorant until she goes to college. And any guy who wants to marry my daughter will have to love her equally as me, because no one will be able to love her more.

VargasKidsMy family is my treasure. They are my life. I would give anything for them because I love them more than my own life.

That’s why I want to make sure they are going to heaven…


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Builders of the Wall (Nehemiah 3)

“And I told them of the hand of my God that had been upon me for good, and also of the words that the king had spoken to me. And they said, “Let us rise up and build.” So they strengthened their hands for the good work.” Nehemiah 2:18

Nehemiah quickly found out that no matter what good intentions you might have, there will always be opposition, whether that comes in the form of people, circumstance, or both!

In this case, Nehemiah found a city in ruins and an active group of men who were determined to impede his progress. They scoffed, scorned, and ridiculed. They plotted in secret against him. They were adamant in their perspective and firm in their resolve to stop the man of God.

Isn’t it funny that Nehemiah would see his mission fulfilled in only 52 days? It tells me that your opposition is greatest right before your breakthrough. When you see a bad situation compounded with people plotting against you, it’s because God is about to do something great in your life! Our job, as Nehemiah demonstrates, is to keep on building. We need to continue onward in the face of adversity!


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Be the solution!

“O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant, and to the prayer of your servants who delight to fear your name, and give success to your servant today, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.” Nehemiah 1:11

I love that Nehemiah wasn’t a victim. He saw a need and then went about to become the solution. So few people take advantage of the “God moments” in their lives in order to wallow in the misery of “what-if?,” suffering in malaise of their own inaction.

Consider that God created everything perfect (Genesis 1-2). Everything had a perfect place in creation. The sun was created in perfect proportion and distance to the earth. Animals were created and placed in their perfect habitats. Even mankind was designed by God and placed in their perfect environments.

Yet, the lack to properly use free will caused the expulsion from perfection (Genesis 3). Adam and Eve’s decision to eat from the fruit caused them to forfeit the perfection which God had intended to give them throughout their lifetime. How many times have we done things that have ruined the perfect intentions of God in our own lives?


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My 6 month blogging experiment

“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” – Colossians 3:17

I started my blogging experiment about six months ago with the goal of finding my voice through the written word. In the past 10 years as a pastor, I’ve preached hundreds of messages but had never really attempted to put those thoughts into words. As I’m finding out now, it’s a much more difficult endeavor than I had first imagined!

Here are some quick thoughts that I’ve discovered from my experience:


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