Walking by Faith
No April Fool's in 2020
No April Fool's in 2020

John Echols • April 01, 2020

What a year we had in March, and that's no joke! Each and every one of us has been affected by COVID-19. There's a new normal for the time being, and many may feel like they have lost control of life. Thankfully, we know that God is ultimately in control. During this time, here are some scriptures to encourage you and give you HOPE.

2 Timothy 1:7 says: For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

Psalm 4:8 says: In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, O Lord, will keep me safe.

I Peter 5:6-7 says: So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.

Philippians 4:6-7 says: Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

Isaiah 41:10 says: Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.

John 14:1 says: Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me.

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New Year ~ New You
New Year ~ New You

John Echols • January 24, 2020

Maybe you've heard this phrase or something similar in the first few weeks of 2020. Maybe you've joined a gym or started a new Bible reading plan. Maybe there are some other "resolutions" you've started. I hope those are going well for you!

I want to remind you that the things we do are just that, things we do. They shouldn't form the core of our identity, yet Satan deceives us into thinking that our success or failure in any of these areas is the main driver of our identity. Nothing could be further from the truth!

Jesus asks His disciples in Matthew 16:15-16, "Who do you say I am?" Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

Simon Peter answered correctly. Notice that he gave a very simple answer, one that was foundational to all the other things Jesus was doing. "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God."

In social settings, the easy question to ask is, "So, what do you do?" This invariably leads to a discussion about work and jobs and how much we like or dislike what we are currently doing.

In Genesis 3:9, right after the fall, the Bible says, "Then the Lord God called to the man, 'Where are you?'"

This wasn't a geography question, God knew exactly where Adam was. This was a spiritual question. Separation had occurred.

Thankfully, Jesus came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10).

As a believer, Jesus now asks this question, "Who are you?" How would you answer? Would you rattle off a list of items that included your family, job description, church service, or community activities? These are all well and good, and can bring glory to God, yet they miss the foundational aspect that Peter recognized about Jesus.

If you've been around Biblical Solutions for any length of time, you've probably heard this phrase, "I am a loved, saved, forgiven child of God." This is the foundational identity truth for each of us as believers.

Everything else flows from this. Everything else rests on this. Your family, job description, church service, and community service could all be taken away from you in an instant. If that happens, and your identity was built upon those, what would you have left? The answer is nothing.

In 2020, my encouragement is to build your foundation on the fact that you are, "A loved, saved, forgiven child of God" and allow everything else in your life to flow from that identity truth.

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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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