Walking by Faith
Sesame Street & The Letter R
Sesame Street & The Letter R

John Echols • February 11, 2019

I want to take you back to your days of watching Sesame Street when they would introduce a letter of the alphabet. Today we’re going to talk about the letter R.


Here at Biblical Solutions, the letter R plays an integral role in discipleship.


We talk about four R’s. They are: Repentance, Renewal, Rest, and Reconciliation.


Repentance is a change of mind and turning to faith in God.

Renewal is focusing on your identity in Christ. Who you are. You are a loved, saved, forgiven, child of God. Who I am. I am a loved, saved, forgiven, child of God.

Rest is a concentration on how Jesus loves you and me, a concentration on what Jesus has given us in his completed work. Remember that the turning point of history is when Jesus said, “It is finished!”

Reconciliation is about first receiving forgiveness from God, and then extending that forgiveness to others and seeking forgiveness from others.


The letter R: Repentance, Renewal, Rest, and Reconciliation. These form the basis for an abundant life in Christ.

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Two Mindsets
Two Mindsets

John Echols • February 11, 2019

The Bible describes two mindsets. You can either set your mind on what God wants, or you can set your mind on what the world wants, it's your choice, and you make that choice in your soul. Your soul is comprised of your mind, will, and emotions.


God’s will is for us to be transformed. Notice that Romans 12:2 says that we are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. Most people, however, seem to be transformed by the renewing of their emotions. If I just do this or do that, then I’ll feel better about this person or that situation. Trying to change others behavior or your own behavior by transforming your emotions just doesn’t work. It leads to a living death. Satan deceives us by our emotions.


Don’t hear me wrong. Emotions are good, but all they do is tell you where you are, not how to act. Too many of us in this world act on our emotions. Emotions and feelings are to be governed, employed rightly, expressed honestly, and most of all, submitted to God’s authority and sovereignty. Emotions serve us, we don’t serve them.


Finally, our will is where we make our choices, based upon our mind or emotions. So as we think about these two mindsets, focusing on what God wants or what the world wants, we need to be reminded of what is driving us, and make sure that we are being transformed by the renewing of our minds, allowing our will to make choices based on God’s truth, and letting our emotions follow that truth. That truth? You are a loved, saved, forgiven, child of God.

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Meet Your Thanksgiving Helper - PAM
Meet Your Thanksgiving Helper - PAM

John Echols • November 22, 2018

The holidays can be a stressful time of year. What I have found is that when you have stress in your life, it usually means you aren’t prepared.


I'd like to share three ways that you can prepare to speak the truth in love this Thanksgiving as well as the rest of the holiday season.


I’m not sure how Thanksgiving goes at your house, but for me, growing up, someone always got into an argument about something and no one wanted to deal with it. Everyone just wanted to have a peaceful time together, but things got sticky, tempers flared, words were exchanged, feelings were hurt, and we all left with the same thoughts of, “Maybe it will be better next year.”


When we don’t deal with conflict, the residual effect builds up until we become calloused and jaded. This leads to bitterness and strife. Our words aren’t sweet and our tone is less than loving.


I’d like to introduce you to a friend of mine named PAM. No, I’m not talking about the cooking spray! PAM is an acronym that helps me prepare for stress in my life.


The P in PAM stands for POSITION. I remember what God’s word says about me, that I am a loved, saved, forgiven, child of God. This helps me stay centered when I’m in the middle of a storm. Everything can be raging about me, yet I can remain calm, because I am a loved, saved, forgiven, child of God. That is my position, my identity, and it is not changed because of any remark that a family member makes.


The A in PAM stands for AIM. What is my aim in the conversation? What is my aim in spending time with family? 2 Corinthians 5:9 tells us what our aim is, it says, “So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please Him.” Whether at home or away, whether you’re hosting Thanksgiving or you’re going over the river and through the woods to your grandmother’s house, your AIM should be to please Him. Not your mother or your father, brothers or sisters, aunts, uncles, or cousins. Your AIM should be to please Him.


The M in PAM stands for MOTIVATION. What is your motivation this Thanksgiving? Is it to “get through” the day? Is it to root your team on to victory? Is it to enjoy a good nap? Is it to spend quality time with family? Is it to beat the crowds for the best Black Friday deal?


Motivation is about a need that requires satisfaction. All the items I just mentioned will satisfy you for a while, but they won’t bring lasting peace and joy to your life. Family will fail you, your quarterback will throw an interception to lose the game, turkeys will trip you up, and there will be a clearance sale in January.


The only true satisfaction in life comes from Christ living in you.Christ “In You” is the thing we should all be thankful for. That is what motivates us. His love for us, His love through us.


John 13:34-35 says, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” That’s a great motivation for you and me, to be known by all people as a disciple of Jesus.


PAM is a cooking spray that helps food not stick to the pan. PAM is also the acronym that allows hurt and pain to be transferred to the Cross, where all is healed.


This Thanksgiving, remember your POSITION as a loved, saved, forgiven, child of God. Remember your AIM is to please Him, and finally, remember your MOTIVATION is to love one another as Christ loves you.


Christ’s love In You, For You, To You. Spread this love to others, and by this all will know that you are His disciple, because of your love for one another.


From our family to yours, Happy Thanksgiving!


John & Carrie Echols

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It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!
It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!

John Echols • October 31, 2018

Some of my favorite cartoon characters are the gang from Peanuts!


Charlie Brown and company are staples of my holiday viewing. With today being Halloween, here are some thoughts about Linus, the Great Pumpkin, and the truth about who you are.


It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown originally aired on October 27, 1966 and focuses on Linus and Sally waiting all night for the Great Pumpkin to appear to give them presents (spoiler alert - he never does). Linus seems to have confused Santa Claus with the Great Pumpkin! Because of this, I believe Linus had an epiphany between Halloween and Christmas, because in A Charlie Brown Christmas, Linus' demeanor seems to have changed, and he quotes Scripture about the birth of Christ. Now, I know this is a stretch (especially since It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown was released a year after A Charlie Brown Christmas) and it's all just cartoons, but it helps bring me to my point.


If you're asked around this time of year, "What's it like to be a Christian?" You can use a pumpkin to illustrate. Being a Christian is like being a pumpkin; by faith, once you decide that God is who He says He is, and believe Christ died for all your sins (that's your past, present, and future ones) on the Cross, God picks you up from the patch of sin, with all its thorns and weeds, brings you in, and washes all the dirt off of you. Then He cuts off the top and scoops out all the yucky stuff. He removes the seeds of doubt, hate, and greed. Then He carves a new smiling face and puts His light inside of you to shine for all the world to see.


Now this analogy kind of breaks down here, but it allows the truth of God's love for us to be appreciated, because at the end of Halloween, after all the candy is gone, you blow out the candle, and after another day or so, the pumpkin you carved begins to rot and it must be thrown out. However, as a Christian, you are sealed with the Holy Spirit, so your pumpkin (your spirit) will never rot, your light will never fade, and you'll never be thrown out!


Allow this truth to ring forth in your soul today; as a loved, saved, forgiven, child of God, your spirit will never rot, your light will never fade, and you will never be thrown out. May this truth bring joy to your soul.

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First Reactor vs. First Responder
First Reactor vs. First Responder

John Echols • October 23, 2018

October 23, 2018 - My family lives near a nuclear weapons facility.


Pantex, located a few miles northeast of Amarillo, TX, is the primary facility for the final assembly, dismantlement and maintenance of nuclear weapons for the United States. Most days it operates in relative obscurity, much tamer than during the heyday of the Peace Farm protests during the Cold War. All that changed this morning at 11:59 AM when @PantexPlant tweeted: “The Pantex Plant is experiencing an operational emergency. The Emergency Response Organization has been activated.”


Wow! Not what you expect or want to hear on a normal day in the Texas Panhandle. As I read the news reports, I was struck by the comments on social media. Some were scared, many were worried, all wanted answers. I was especially intrigued by those who “demanded” to be told what was going on. In this age of instant news and communication, it seems we are conditioned to expect immediate answers, and when they aren’t immediately available, we get frustrated.


What I saw today on a small scale represents what I see as a larger problem in society as a whole, and this has infiltrated into the Body of Christ. Here’s the problem: Are you a First Reactor or a First Responder? Read on before you answer.


The tweet from @PantexPlant provided the appropriate information at the time. Here’s what they said: Something has happened and the appropriate people are responding. Notice they didn’t use the word REACT, they used the word RESPONSE. Many may believe that these words are the same, yet they are as different as oil and water. When you react, you don’t think, it’s usually a knee-jerk, emotional reaction without all the facts. When you respond, there’s reason and knowledge involved, and then you take action. Many today on social media were reacting out of emotion, and that’s natural; but emotions tell us where we are (scared, hurt, sad, confused, worried, etc.), not how to act (angry, impulsive, passive-aggressive, demanding, judgmental, etc.).


As you transfer a situation like this (an unexpected event) into your life as a Christian, should we react or respond? I believe that we should be responding with truth, rather than reacting with emotion. I believe that Satan deceives us into thinking that we have to react and fix the problem right away vs. responding with the truth of God’s love. This gets us into trouble and creates sin in our lives because we relied on our limited understanding of the unexpected event.


"The Emergency Response Organization at Pantex is a highly-trained group of employees with detailed knowledge of plant operations and emergency response procedures. These employees represent plant functions such as security, logistics, safety, medical response, radiological assessment, firefighting, operations and public information." This phrase didn’t make it into the tweet but was part of the official media release from @PantexPlant this morning when the security event started. These ERO folks have been trained, they have been tested, they have been given the seal of approval to triage, contain, control, and bring to closure an unexpected event like this. They are First Responders, approaching an unexpected event with the necessary training and materials. Everyone had a role to play, and they stayed in their lane. 48 minutes after the initial tweet, @PantexPlant sent this: “The security event at Pantex has ended without incident.”


Integration time. Are you one who REACTS or RESPONDS? Do you have the training, have you been tested, do you have the seal of approval? If you are a Christian, the answer is yes, even if you don’t think so. It’s a simple as telling your story and trusting God to lead you, walking by Faith through the expected and unexpected events in your life. Satan wants us to think that God doesn’t provide all the answers for every situation. That’s a lie. 2 Peter 1:3 says that, “His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence.” ESV


Look at your life – every situation. Are you a First Reactor or a First Responder?

First Reactors lead with their emotions. First Responders lead with their minds.

Choices based on reactions lead to sin.

Choices based on renewing your mind leads to righteousness.

Sin Reacts - Faith Responds.

The choice is yours.

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An open, humble, & transparent heart.
An open, humble, & transparent heart.

John Echols • September 16, 2018

As I sat in front of him 13 months later, he was a changed man, not because of anything he had done, but because of what God’s Spirit working through him had accomplished. Jesus’ new command of loving others as He loves you is now his everyday life. His coworkers are even noticing, “Dude, you’re different.” His countenance is one of peace and contentment, rather than the war and disillusionment that had ravaged his mind. He still has his moments, because that’s the nature of his flesh; but the nature of his Spirit is new, and he knows that and walks by faith in the truth of that fact. He’s still working on reading to his sister in Christ, who also happens to be his wife, every day. It’s difficult when he’s working nights and she’s working days, yet there’s no condemnation from me as it’s not a standard that’s set but rather a freedom and joy to wash his wife with the words of Scripture (Ephesians 5:25-27).


His open, humble, and transparent heart allows him to see the truth of Scripture. He’s been transformed by the renewing of his mind into a human being, rather than striving after the human doing that was destroying his wife and his life. God’s Word is Truth. God’s Word is Love. God is Truth. God is Love. #BiblicalSolutions

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New Year's Resolutions
New Year's Resolutions

John Echols • September 16, 2018

Happy New Year!


It’s that time of year, time to recommit to the things you de-committed to about 51 weeks ago!


Resolutions at the first of the year are a tradition going back between 2,000 and 4,000 years ago, from the Romans to the Babylonians. Most are built around health and habits. Here are some of the most popular New Year’s Resolutions:

• Lose Weight

• Get Organized

• Spend Less/Save More

• Live Life to the Fullest

• Staying Fit and Healthy

• Quit Smoking

• Help Others in Their Dreams

• Fall in Love

• Spend More Time with Family


Do you ever notice how most, if not all these resolutions revolve around you and I doing something? The problem with that? We’re human beings, not human doings!


The beginning of Shakespeare’s famous soliloquy from Act III, Scene I of Hamlet allows us to move New Year’s resolutions from a state of doing to a state of being. “To be, or not to be, that is the question.” I imagine that if he had written, “To do, or not to do,” it would not have the same impact.


Doing is relatively easy. It’s either yes or no, do or don’t. You lose weight or you don’t. You meet the deadline or you don’t. You win the race or you don’t. Doing brings victory or defeat. It’s an outside process.


Being, however, is an inside process. Being allows you to experience victory and defeat, and then choose how you want to respond. It’s a shift in your soul, a turnaround in your thinking.


Doing causes a reaction. Being creates a response.


From a spiritual perspective, the shift, from doing to being, frees you from checklists that chain you to consequences (doing) and allows your identity in Christ (being) to define the response you give to any situation. Being allows you to be fed from the Spirit rather than feeding the flesh.


Ephesians 4:20-32 shows the struggle of human doing vs. human being.


Specifically, verse 23 says that you should, “let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes.” (NLT). The Amplified Version says that you should, “discard…your previous manner of life…and be constantly renewed in the spirit of your mind.” Notice that there’s no command to “do” in the flesh, but rather, to “let” and “be.” This sounds like the opposite of the striving to be Christlike mentality that we’ve all been taught!


Being in Christ brings freedom. You are in Christ. God never intended to make your life (the flesh) Christlike. He intended for His son to manifest His life in you and through you. (Galatians 2:20-21, NLT)


Freedom in Christ is not a life long struggle. Galatians 5:1 says, “So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law.” (NLT)


So, in the simplest of terms: Doing = Law; Being = Freedom.


As you look at your resolution list this first week of the year, may you resolve to be in Christ, and as Christ is in you, the Spirit will guide you to the things that will glorify Him.


Picture courtesy of ThinkWells Thoughts

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Silent Night
Silent Night

John Echols • September 16, 2018

December 16, 2:45 AM… The bedroom door opens and my daughter is now standing at the foot of the bed. “Dad, someone’s on the front porch and I just heard them outside my window.” My daughter’s bedroom is at the front of the house and our bedroom is at the back. I asked her if she was sure and she said, “Yes, it sounded like they were rummaging around and I heard footsteps outside my window.”


It was a calm, still night, so I dismissed the idea that it might be the fallen leaves being blown about by the wind. I grabbed my phone and went to the living room where I could peek out the front window and get a good look at the front porch. Nothing seemed amiss, but my daughter isn’t one to exaggerate, and given our proximity to a major road, I just didn’t want to take any chances.


So, at 2:47 AM, I placed the 911 call. Cool, calm, and collected came the female voice when the call connected. “What’s the address of your emergency?” she asked. I give her the location and then she asked what was going on. I relayed to her what my daughter had experienced. “We’ll send a car over now. Do you want the officer to contact you?” “Only if they find someone,” I said. And with that, the conversation was over.


Heading back into the bedroom, I found my side of the bed occupied. My daughter is brave and strong, but this had her rattled. I let her and my wife know that the police were on their way and to try and relax. I went back into the living room, peeking out again. A few minutes went by and the darkness was broken by the spotlight from the patrol car. Relief. Peace. A slow drive by and away they went into the night, to protect and to serve.


Back in the bedroom I asked my daughter and wife if they had seen the spotlight. “Yes!” Came the reply. My daughter scooted over and I climbed in (thank you king size bed!). I expected her to be with us all night, but a few minutes later, she’s crawling out and headed back to her room. “Are you okay to go back?” I asked. “I’m good,” she uttered, her voice not as shaky as it was when she woke me up.


As I was coming down from the adrenaline rush of the events and wondering if sleep was going to elude me the rest of the night, the last line of the Christmas standard, “Silent Night” came to mind, “Sleep in Heavenly Peace.” I thought about that and who that line is meant for. Mary and Joseph? The shepherds? No! It’s meant for you and me. The message of the angels? “Fear not! Christ the Lord is born this day!” Peace entered the world at that moment, but it wasn’t fully brought to bear until three words were uttered, “It is finished!”


For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in His own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us. Ephesians 2:14 (NLT)


True peace. Lasting peace. Peace that comes only from Christ. Peace for you and me. I drifted off to sleep, safe and secure in the knowledge that my family is at peace because of what Christ brought to the earth, no matter what is happening on our front porch.


Sleep in Heavenly Peace.

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Everybody Wants to Rule the World
Everybody Wants to Rule the World

John Echols • September 16, 2018

Dateline: June 8, 1985Everybody Wants to Rule the World, by British rock group Tears for Fears, reached number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. I was 14 and a child of the 80’s. The Reagan era was in full swing and this was one of the anthems of the time. This popped up on the SiriusXM 80’s on 8 channel (yes, I listen!) last week.


One of the subtleties of getting older is that you tend to listen to the words of the songs you grew up with. The second verse of this song struck me. Here are the lyrics:


It’s my own desire. It’s my own remorse. Help me to decide. Help me make the most of freedom and of pleasure, nothing ever lasts forever. Everybody wants to rule the world.


Wow! The truth that is expressed here is the base desire every human has: CONTROL. None of us likes or wants to NOT be in control. We want to be in control and in charge, able to handle the situation! Sometimes in a cool, calm, and collected way. Yet more often than not, with our hair on fire, trying to contain the mess we’ve made.


This is where Satan deceives me (and you). The problem with me (and you)? We want to be like God. We play God and act independently of God. Disagree? Go pick some fruit with Adam & Eve. They were deceived into believing they could be like God. They both acted independent of God and it cost them and all humanity dearly. What if Adam & Eve would have taken the small step of talking to God before indulging their senses?


Life is lived in the small things.


Asking for help and guidance when you don’t know what to do is vital to survival. Or more importantly, when you think you know what to do, that’s maybe a better time to ask for help and guidance (see Genesis 3). We’ve all been there. “Oh, I should have asked!” or “Oh, you should have known!” Both are common refrains we utter after a mistake or failure.


As Christians, we tend to give the big items that we can’t control to God, yet retain control of the small things we think we can handle on our own, without any divine guidance; or we give it to God and then take it back, give and take, give and take, over and over and over. This is a double standard that you and I engage within our Soul. We’ve basically hired ourselves to be God’s personal assistant for our own lives (when He’s given us His Holy Spirit)!The problem with this standard is our confinement within time and space, specifically with our inability to see the future and adequately deal with the past. We spend our time in the present either relying on, remembering, or rehashing our memories (and those are always accurate, right?), or we fret for a future we can’t control (although we try!). We’re unable to see the whole picture from start to finish, and that frustrates our plans, especially when those plans don’t go the way we think they should be going and then get angry or question God about it! So if we are controlling a little part of our world because we think we can handle it, we feel like and believe we are in control. Yet what we are saying to God is that we don’t trust His sovereignty in our lives.


Here’s the truth – life is lived in the small things. Yet when we control the small things and keep God out of them, why are we surprised when the big things blow our world apart? There’s a difference between living in the small things and controlling the small things.


There’s a Room Where the Light Won’t Find You, Holding Hands While the Walls Come Tumbling Down


To gain means to obtain or secure (something desired, favorable, or profitable). When you gain something, no matter how small or large, you have control over it, and if you have control over it, then you’re in charge. We’re all familiar with Mark 8:36, “and what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?” As Christians, you and I would say that we live by this and that we don’t have some grand plan or scheme to, “gain the whole world.” Yet too often it seems that we apply this verse only to the big things in life, like material possessions, and not the small things in life, like nurturing a relationship (yes, that’s a small thing that needs daily attention). When a couple relies solely on each other for intimacy and joy, they will be, as the song says, holding hands while the walls come tumbling down, because their control of the situation and each other won’t allow the True Light to find them, which will guide them to sustainable intimacy and joy, allowing them to weather the storm they are facing.


Turn Your Back on Mother Nature


It boils down to a question of whether your Soul is looking to your Spirit or your Body (also known as your Flesh) for its sustenance. Your Soul (mind, will, and emotions) is the driving force of your life. Are you allowing your Spirit to guide you or are you being led by your Flesh? Are you going to live by the natural or tap into the One who controls the winds and the waves? (Psalm 89:9 & Matthew 8:27)


What’s the answer? Like most things, the answer is simple, but not easy. Humbling your heart before God, confessing, repenting, and releasing your control over even the tiniest item, then renewing your identity, and resting in His love for you. Yes, it’s that simple. Is it easy? Not in the least! This is the struggle in your Soul between the Spirit and the Body.


My prayer for you as a Loved, Saved, Forgiven, Child of God – is that you live your life from approval in the Spirit, not for approval in the Flesh. These are not side by side choices, they are as far as the East is from the West.


Directional Choice


Extend your arms straight out from your body to the right and left, just like Jesus on the Cross. Your Spirit is on the left, and your Body (Flesh) is on the right. Your Soul is in the middle. You’ll see that you aren’t able to look at the Spirit and the Flesh at the same time, it’s impossible. Your Soul (mind, will, and emotions) must choose which side to draw strength from to guide your life. Spirit = from approval. Flesh = for approval. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. Left or right. Which direction will you choose?


Here are the lyrics and a link to the video.


Tears for Fears


Everybody Wants to Rule the World


Welcome to your life

There’s no turning back

Even while we sleep

We will find You acting on your best behavior

Turn your back on mother nature

Everybody wants to rule the world

 

It’s my own desire

It’s my own remorse

Help me to decide

Help me make the most

Of freedom and of pleasure

Nothing ever lasts forever

Everybody wants to rule the world

 

There’s a room where the light won’t find you

Holding hands while the walls come tumbling down

When they do, I’ll be right behind you

So glad we’ve almost made it

So sad they had to fade it

Everybody wants to rule the world

 

I can’t stand this indecision

Married with a lack of vision

Everybody wants to rule the world

 

Say that you’ll never, never, never, need it!

One headline, why believe it?

One headline, why believe it?

Everybody wants to rule the world

 

All for freedom and for pleasure

Nothing ever lasts forever

Everybody wants to rule the world


Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

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