The following piece is an excerpt from my book Walking the Walk by Faith. Enjoy and be blessed.

by Mike Ratliff

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (Romans 12:1-2 NKJV)

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:18)

I’m not a huge movie buff, but I really like movies or stories where the main character starts out really messed up or not very nice, but as the story progresses he or she changes for the better. I don’t know why that gets my interest, but it does. Continue reading

On Faith and Coming to Christ, and the True Bread of Heaven

A sermon by Martin Luther

JOHN 6:44-55: No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me. Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he which is of God, he hath seen the Father. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life. I am that bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat? Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. Continue reading

The Sovereignty of God in the Suffering of His People part 17 – Sometimes it’s better to suffer than die and go to Heaven

By Mike Ratliff

For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again. (Philippians 1:21-26)

There are times when I see no logical reason for God to keep me alive. It is during these periods when I long to be in Heaven with Him. This existence in this evil place seems pointless at times. I see myself as so small and insignificant that it should not matter if I go missing one day. “Come on Lord, take me home!“, is my cry. Of course, I have a family which I love. My wife is not well most of the time and she needs me. So, it is after these things come to the fore of my mind that I am ashamed. I see then that my wish to depart is self-centered and selfish. Continue reading

Idolatry of the Heart

The following piece is an excerpt from my book Walking the Walk by Faith. I decided to post the chapter titled “Idolatry of the Heart” today because of some very uncomfortable blogosphere discussions I have been involved in over the last few weeks. There seems to be a great deal of confusion rooted in pride in many well-intentioned Christians who are passionately doing battle to defend their “beliefs” who end up after a many skirmishes feeling somewhat ashamed of themselves. They end up asking for forgiveness from the very people they have been battling. Of course that “shame” is coming from the conviction of the Holy Spirit into their consciences. When I wrote this chapter over a year and a half ago I was trying to explain the greatest obstacle Christians have in becoming Spirit-led. That obstacle is pride which builds idols in our hearts with the biggest most grand idol being Idolatry of the Heart. Continue reading

Stones in the Sand

by Mike Ratliff

I have come the conclusion that most believers walk through their days on planet Earth in a complete fog about the enormity of their salvation. As we have seen in the last few posts here, the price God paid for our salvation is beyond our understanding. They also are mostly oblivious concerning the depth of their sin. The very short passage of John 8:1-11 is a window for us to look through to see God’s willingness to forgive the sins of those who humble themselves in repentance before Jesus Christ their saviour. My friend, Jessica Taylor of Whispers in the Garden, has written a poem about this passage called Stones in the Sand. After you read it and thank God for forgiving you of your sins, stop by Whispers in the Garden and let Jessica know how her poem has blessed you.

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Grace and Discipleship

by Mike Ratliff

Right at the beginning of my “revival” or “restoration” or whatever it was in 2004, I discovered an author and preacher named John Piper. I was teaching an adult Sunday School class at the time and, for Christmas, our director gave me Piper’s book titled “Don’t Waste Your Life.” It took me a while to get into it, however, once I got comfortable with his style I discovered that he had something important to say and God was making that clear to my heart. In that book he talked about his own spiritual journey. When he was in college a popular book among his friends was “The Cost of Discipleship” by Dietreich Bonhoeffer. A few months later, I was preparing for a trip to Seattle for some training. I wanted a book to read at the airport and while flying so part of my preparation was to buy Bonhoeffer’s book. I already knew, from Piper, that its theology was not exactly “pristine,” but I was eager to dig into one particular chapter, also recommended by Piper, titled “Grace and Discipleship.” In this chapter Bonhoeffer presented a contrast between something he called Cheap Grace with something else he called Costly Grace. Continue reading

The Sovereignty of God in the Suffering of His People part 16 – God’s Discipline has left Job Worn Out

by Mike Ratliff

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? (Hebrews 12:1-7)

Why does God discipline us? Is there a specific reason that rises to the top as the root cause of all of the other reasons we need God’s disciplining hand upon us? I read a piece by Martin Luther earlier today that stated that if God showed us how wicked we really are, we would die. We don’t like to hear that because we have another problem that is tied directly to our inner wickedness. It is pride. Our pride is what makes us resemble our enemy. His original sin was pride. He rebelled against God as he attempted to usurp God’s throne. Continue reading

Chinese Missionaries to Islam

The Great Commission is still in effect. The Church’s mandate from our Lord Jesus Christ to make disciples from all nations has never been rescinded. While western Churches have been the primary source of missionaries for the last 200+ years, the greatest barrier to it has been Islamic countries. The Islamic countries see Western Christianity as just another part of corrupt Western countries. However, God is above all of that. This post from Reformation Theology was a joy for me to read. Please pray that God will use the Chinese Church to complete the Great Commission in our lifetime.

In Christ

Mike Ratliff

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Man a nothing


I am a shell full of dust,

    but animated with an invisible rational soul

    and made anew by an unseen power of grace;

Yet I am no rare object of valuable price,

    but one that has nothing and is nothing,

    although chosen of thee from eternity,

        given to Christ, and born again;

I am deeply convinced of the evil and misery of a sinful state,

    of the vanity of creatures,

    but also of the sufficiency of Christ.

When thou wouldst guide me I control myself,

When thou wouldst be sovereign I rule myself.

When thou wouldst take care of me I suffice myself.

When I should depend on thy providings I supply myself,

When I should submit to thy providence I follow my will,

When I should study, love, honour, trust thee, I serve myself;

I fault and correct thy laws to suit myself,

Instead of thee I look to man’s approbation,

    and am by nature an idolater.

Lord, it is my chief design to bring my heart back to thee.

Convince me that I cannot be my own god, or make myself happy,

    nor my own Christ to restore my joy,

    nor my own Spirit to teach, guide, rule me.

Help me to see that grace does this by providential affliction,

    for when my credit is god thou dost cast me lower,

    when riches are my idol thou dost wing them away,

    when pleasure is my all thou dost turn it into bitterness.

Take away my roving eye, curious ear, greedy appetite, lustful heart;

Show me that none of these things

    can heal a wounded conscience,

    or support a tottering frame,

    or uphold a departing spirit.

Then take me to the cross and leave me there.

From The Valley of Vision – A collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions

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Our Counselor

by Martin Luther

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever. (John 14:16)

It’s correct to say that the Holy Spirit is our Counselor, because that’s what he does and is supposed to do. Right now, I don’t want to debate about his divine being or substance. Christ indicates here that the Spirit is a distinct person–the Holy Spirit is neither the Father nor the Son. But in John 15, we also see that the Spirit is God–the Holy Spirit is one in essence with the Father and the Son. For now, it’s enough to learn that he is called a counselor for us. Continue reading

The Sovereignty of God in the Suffering of His People Part 15 – The False Humility of Humanism

by Mike Ratliff

Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He answered, “And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and it is he who is speaking to you.” He said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him. Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.” Some of the Pharisees near him heard these things, and said to him, “Are we also blind?” Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains. (John 9:35-41)

Humanism is the corrupt root of the Evangelical Church in America. As in all of Satan’s counterfeits, it contains much that is right, but it is polluted with just enough falsity that it dishonors God and elevates Man. Most evangelicals would deny that Humanism has any part of their beliefs, doctrines, or how they “do church.” In fact, they are convinced that they are “the only ones” who are doing church correctly. There is an aura of pride in their self-concept even though they would flatly deny that that is the case. The problem is, of course, that all who are not Spirit-led are spiritually blind to some degree. On top of that, Satan is hard at work deceiving them that the opposite is true. Continue reading

The Sovereignty of God in the Suffering of His People Part 14 – My God, My God why have You Forsaken me?

by Mike Ratliff

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest. (Psalm 22:1-2)

When we are in the fires of tribulation, time seems to stop. The agony seems endless. We want the pain to end. We want God to step in and either end it all and take us home or stop the pain and restore us to a condition that we prefer. This is how we are if we are self-absorbed. When we are self-focused or self-absorbed we see all things temporally with us in the center. This is the way we are when we are Soul-led. Our minds, wills and emotions are in control. Our Souls are predominate over our Spirits. God seems a million miles away. Joy is gone. Continue reading

Spiritual Pedophiles

The Compromised Church became that way because of a decided lack of spiritual discernment on the part of Church leaders coupled with the resultant lack of spiritual maturity within the body. God is waking up those with ears to hear and eyes to see to the tragedy happening right before our eyes in the American Church. Apostasy is becoming rampant. Mega-Churches are sucking members from the smaller churches. The victimized church leaders attempt to change how they “do church” to keep from fading away. They adopt a pragmatic approach to “doing church.” That means they look at the “growing” churches and copy what they are doing. In most cases they, these “growing” churches have adopted the Purpose Driven Church model and/or become part of the Willow Creek Association of Churches. Both approaches are products of the Church Growth Movement. It employs methods to attract people to church by becoming “sensational.” That means they become flesh oriented. Instead of appealing to spiritual truths, they put on big shows. Instead of proper worship, they entertain. Instead of preaching the Biblical Gospel, they tell people how to have their best life now.

Rick Frueh of Following Judah’s Lion has written a very fine post on this problem in an anaologous form. Please click here to read it.

In Christ

Mike Ratliff

The Sovereignty of God in the Suffering of His People part 13 – I Know whom I have Believed

by Mike Ratliff

Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, for which I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher, which is why I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me. (2 Timothy 1:8-12)

I don’t know about you, but the passage I placed at the top of this post strikes a deep response of joy and recommitment in my heart. Paul knows all about suffering for the Gospel. He knows why he suffers and he rejoices in it. How could anyone do this? His commitment to his savior and the mission given to him is made up of a devotion to God that takes precedence over anything he could or would want for himself. Paul is strong in grace and empowered by joy. He sees the suffering that comes upon him as one of the primary elements of the effectiveness of his ministry. God is glorified in him and in that he is content. I believe God’s goal for each of His children is for them to reach this level of faith. Continue reading