Monday, December 30, 2013

Make Commitments not New Year's Resolutions

During this time of the year we start to turn our attention toward the quickly arriving New Year. We think back over the last year and consider how we want to make this coming year better. We think about those places where we did not succeed with our plans and consider how we can be successful this year. We may even set those dreaded and often unsuccessful New Year's Resolutions.

Here are a few stats pulled from the internet, so you know they have to be true, about New Year's Resolutions. (

Stat #1: The number one resolution for 2014 is to lose weight.
Stat #2: Only 8% of people are successful at achieving their resolution.
Stat #3: 34% of the resolutions made are money related.
Stat #4: 75% of resolutions are maintained past the first week.  Only 46% are maintained after 6 months.

New Year's Resolutions aren't all bad.  It's good for us to have goals.  It's good for us to strive towards something that will improve our lives.  My suggestion for the coming year is to make a commitment, rather than a New Year's Resolution, to improve your spiritual life.  Growing closer to God in the coming year is a commitment that we should all strive toward.  When we make a commitment, rather than a New Year's Resolution, we will view it differently.  We'll see it as something that should last past the first week of January.  We'll see it as something that we need to stick to rather than waiting for January 1st to roll around again.  Here are a few helpful tips for sticking to your commitments to improve your spiritual life over the next year.

Write Your Commitment Down
If you'll write your commitment down there will be a reminder to help you remember your goal.  If you try to keep up with your commitment mentally, you may go days without remembering it.  So write down your commitment.

Post Your Commitment
Don't post it to Facebook or Twitter, unless you just want to, but post it somewhere you will see it every day and be reminded of it.  It may be your fridge, your bathroom mirror, or on your desk at work but post your commitment.

Share Your Commitment
God designed us to thrive in community.  One of the great aspects of community is accountability.  Share your spiritual commitment with a person who can help keep you accountable.  They may even want to set the same goal and the two of you can grow spiritually together. (As a side note on this one be sure you make your accountability partner someone of the same sex, man and man or woman and woman.  That is unless your accountability partner is your spouse.  This just helps keep lines from being blurred or crossed.)

Make Your Commitment Manageable
Don't make your commitment so difficult you can't accomplish it.  You have to find that fine line between a commitment that is so easy you don't grow but so difficult you give up.  If you want to pray 30 minutes each day and you don't currently pray with any real consistency, then start out slow.  Spend 5-10 minutes each day praying and plan to do that for a week.  By the end of the week you should see that 5-10 minutes isn't enough time to pray for everything you need to pray about so increase it to 10-15 minutes and so on.  Eventually you will get where you want to be.

Most Importantly...Don't Get Discouraged!
It's easy to throw our hands up and give up when things get difficult or we falter at our commitment.  If your goal is to grow spiritually then Satan will do everything he can to discourage you.  So if you falter for a day or two don't stress over it.  It happens to everyone!  Pick yourself up and get back at it.  If your lapse in commitment is due to sin in your life ask God to forgive you.  If you lapse causes you to sin, like not praying or not reading your Bible, again, repent and ask God to help you succeed at your commitment to Him.

I don't pretend to have it all figured out when it comes to commitments but these are some tips that will help you succeed at your commitment to grow spiritually.  

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Thursday, December 26, 2013

Rationalizing Miracles

About three years ago when Dru and I were reading his nightly Bible story we read about Jesus turning the water into wine.  I explained to him how a miracle was something only God could do and not something that he or I or anyone else could do.  After we finished reading the story he very promptly told me that he knew how Jesus turned the water into wine.  Wanting to know the secret to the miracle I asked him how Jesus did it.  He told me to take the water, put purple coloring in it and add some sugar.  Sounds like he had his directions for making Kool-Aid and changing water into wine a little mixed up.  But what he was doing at a very young age is what people will try to do with every miracle they find in the Bible.

When we, as believers in Christ, look at the miracles God did in the Bible do we try to explain them away?  I heard a pastor friend tell me how he was taught in seminary, the place he was supposed to receive biblical training, that Moses and the Israelites didn’t pass through the Red Sea on dry land.  The professor said the “correct” translation says they crossed the Sea of Reeds, a marshy swamp, and not the Red Sea.  How about more modern miracles?  Do we as believers in Christ, dismiss or rationalize the miracles we see everyday around us as coincidence?  At my home church one Sunday we had an elderly man suffering from the effects of a stroke who came forward for prayer and to be anointed with oil because of a sore that had developed on his leg.  The following Wednesday night at church he shared with the church that in the shower on Tuesday he looked and the sore was completely healed.

The entire purpose of a miracle is for God to work in a supernatural way to provide an outcome that only He can produce.  It does not matter what man says about God’s provision through miracles because that does not change the fact that God did perform the miracle.  The pastor friend of mine answered his seminary professor with a “Praise God!  That means He drowned the Egyptian Army in only a few inches of water!”  We must remember that God is the final authority on miracles and if His word says He did a miracle, then He did it!  For our modern and enlightened minds coincidence is an easy explanation for miracles but it’s been said that “Coincidence is when God chooses to remain anonymous.”  Was it a coincidence that the man’s leg was completely healed just two days after having a special prayer said and being anointed with oil?  I don’t think so.  I think it was God providing a particular outcome that only He could after the man asked in faith to have his church and deacons pray for him.  We must remember too that coincidence means we have left things to chance and would mean that God is taken out of the situation.  When God performs a miracle He may choose to remain anonymous, but He is very much present.

The Bible is faithful to teach us that God shows us His awesome power and His provision for us through the miracles He performs.  Psalm 77:14 tells us “You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples.”  Job 37:5 tells us “God's voice thunders in marvelous ways; He does great things beyond our understanding.”  As we think of God’s miracles we need to keep one thing in mind.  The greatest miracle that God performs on a daily basis is when a new believer is brought from spiritual death to eternal life.  If God has worked that miracle in our life then we can look with faith at the miracles He worked in the Bible and in our daily lives to see that He truly is a miracle working God.  

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Monday, December 23, 2013

Here Is Why You Should Not Tithe.

Yes, you read the title of today's post correctly.  Yes, a pastor is telling you not to tithe.  To some it comes as a surprise.  To others you already know where I'm going with this.  Notice I didn't say anything about not giving to God.  As followers of Christ our view of everything we own should be viewed through the perspective that God owns everything and he has asked us to manage his stuff.  This helps us frame our view of how we spend our money, how we use our possessions, and how we give to the church.

Giving to the offering at church is difficult for some.  For others they have no problem giving.  I don't think that the ease or difficulty of giving resides so much in the amount they have to live on after they give but more on the development of their faith in God to provide.  In the past my wife and I have been in the place where we felt like if we gave like we should to the church then we wouldn't be able to make ends meet.  The problem was we didn't put enough faith in God to provide for us and we didn't use godly wisdom to reorder our spending.  In the end we were being disobedient to God because we weren't giving.  Once we committed to be obedient and worked to change our spending, that is when we saw our faith increase as God provided for us in ways we never would have imagined.  God has never allowed us to go without the things we've needed but we have gone without things we've wanted.  I say all of that to say this, I understand the fear that comes along with giving.  But like all fear, it can be overcome by God working in our lives.  So my encouragement to you is that if you aren't giving to your local church like you should commit now that you will be obedient to God's command to give.  Then start now to reorder your finances so you can start giving like you should as soon as possible.

Here's why you should not tithe.  You should not should give sacrificially.  Tithe basically means to give 10% of your income to God.  Tithing was taught in the Old Testament in various places but no verse speaks as strongly to the issue of tithing as Malachi 3:10.  It says "Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the Lord Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it" (NIV).  Here is God's command to tithe.  But many will argue that tithing is not taught in the New Testament and they are correct.  Tithing isn't taught in the New Testament but sacrificial giving is the essence of what the New Testament teaches.  Sacrificial giving means to give until you've sacrificed something or until it hurts.  In Mark 12:41-44 Jesus tells how a widow out gave many rich men because she gave sacrificially.  In 2 Corinthians 8:1-5 we see Paul giving a great example of sacrificial giving from the Macedonian churches.  There are other places that teach that we as Christians should not tithe just 10% but that we should give sacrificially.  

Here's where we'll end today.  God wants us to give back some of what He has given to us as part of our worship of Him and our acknowledgment that He owns everything.  Here's my encouragement to you about giving to God.  If you are giving sacrificially then keep up the good job.  If you aren't giving make a commitment right now to be obedient to Him in this area.  If you need to reorder your finances so you can give then do it.  If that means selling a car or dropping channels from your TV then do it.  Then here is the tough part, use 10% as a starting point and not as your goal.  Following these tips will help you give sacrificially. 

*Remember that giving to God is a much bigger topic than can be thoroughly addressed in one blog post.  What I've done here is tried to hit the important parts of giving.

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Friday, December 20, 2013

The Intolerant Duck Commander & The Unchanging Word

If you haven't heard about the uproar over Phil Robertson of "Duck Dynasty" fame then you must literally live under a rock.  Phil, in an interview with GQ magazine, was asked his opinion on some of his beliefs.  Phil answered from his personal beliefs, which are rooted in the Christian faith, and was subsequently removed from the "Duck Dynasty" show for an undetermined "hiatus."  Phil's comments surrounded a paraphrase of 1 Corinthians 6:9-10.  It says "Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God." 

What has happened is that a man who agrees with God's Word spoke very plainly and was unapologetic about what the Bible says.  But in the name of modern day tolerance he was condemned for it.  People who claim to be enlightened and tolerant can condemn him for his views all day long.  I have a feeling it doesn't really bother him.  Because in the end they aren't condemning him or disagreeing with him.  They are condemning and disagreeing with God and His Word.  We as humans can try to justify sin, rationalize it and make it socially acceptable but in the end that means nothing when it comes to the unwavering standard God has given us in His Word.

Call Phil Robertson what you want.  Martyr for the First Amendment.  Hate-monger.  Soldier for Christ. Bigot. Man of Faith. Intolerant.  In the end it does not matter the label we give him because in the end he was simply relaying the truths of God's Word.

I'll end with this.  I find it funny how those that are ready to chastise Phil Robertson for his views have never sat down with the man to hear his beliefs.  Because if they did I'm sure Phil would share with them verse 11 that comes right after the verses he paraphrased from 1 Corinthians 6.  It says "And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God" (NIV).  Phil is a man who has been justified by his relationship with Christ and needs to make no apology for what the Bible says.  I think the uproar over Phil's comments are proof we are in the days that Paul foretold would occur in 2 Timothy 4:3-5 "For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 5 But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry" (NIV).  Sounds like Phil has taken verse 5 to heart and is living it out!

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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

God, Bigfoot, and an Optical Illusion

During a recent message preparation God showed me something that I want to share with you today.  Now I realize that as it says in Ecclesiastes 1:9 "there is nothing new under the sun," but to me this was new.  The question that came through my mind was "How big is your God?"  I thought for a moment and thought about all the usual "Sunday School Answers."  He spoke and created everything, He parted the Red Sea, He raised Jesus from the dead and so on.  I found my self to have a fairly big God.  But the question nagged me.  I couldn't help but wonder what God was trying to tell me.  As I considered the question I had one of those "Aha!" moments where the truth of God hits you like a lightning bolt.  The answer to the question is all about the optical illusion of perspective.

Dru, Cooper and I, yes I'll admit it, like to watch a show called Finding Bigfoot.  These people go to areas where there have been reported Bigfoot sightings and try to track one down.  One of the things they regularly do is try to get an eyewitness to give them some type of size comparison of what they saw.  Sometimes they reference a tree branch or fence post.  Other times they have one of the Bigfoot researchers to stand in as a comparison.  One thing you notice is that the closer they were to whatever they saw the bigger and better the comparison is.  But if they were far off from it then their comparison isn't as accurate.  This same effect happens to us when we consider the size of our God.

If we are really far away from God spiritually then we have distanced ourselves from God.  We see Him as small and incapable of working in our life.  Our perspective is distorted all because of our distance from Him.  But if we are close to God spiritually and daily drawing close to Him then all we have in our view is this big God we serve.  When we are close to Him and He is all that is in our view we can easily see Him working in our lives.  Our perspective of Him is perfect.  It's like standing in front of a wall with your nose almost touching it.  All you can see is the wall.  Everything else is out of your view.  This puts new meaning to James 4:8 where it tells us "Come near to God and he will come near to you" (NIV).  When we draw near to God, He is the only thing in our view and that is the way it should be.

I encourage you today to check your perspective of God.  If you have a small view of God then chances are you aren't where you need to be spiritually.  Don't go another minute without making your relationship with Him what it needs to be.  If God is all you can see then stay as close to Him as you possibly can.

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Monday, December 16, 2013

God is With Us...even when kids get spanked.

About 4 years ago on a Wednesday night my two boys ended up getting in trouble as we left church.  I put them in the car and scolded them as we left and told them when we arrived home they would each receive a spanking for misbehaving at church.  Once we arrived home, Dru promptly received his spanking and went to get ready for bed.  Cooper came into our bedroom, I explained to him again why he was receiving a spanking and then told him to bend over and touch his toes.  Once he bent over, he turned his head around and looked at me and very sadly said through a cracking voice, “God is with me.”  I have never had a more difficult time disciplining one of my sons than this time.  Cooper had learned this truth that night in Mission Friends (and I guess he thought that it was as good a time as any to put it to use).  Unfortunately for Cooper I still had to spank him, even though he had uttered this profoundly important theological truth.  

In Isaiah 7:14 and Matthew 1:23 we are told that the Savior of the world would be the Son born to a virgin and they would call Him Immanuel.  As we know the Bible tells us that Immanuel, referring to Jesus, means “God with us”.  These Scriptures are referring to the time when Jesus was physically present with man while here on earth.  As we also know from the Scriptures once Jesus ascended into heaven, we received another part of the Trinity to be our Helper and Counselor, to be “God with us” in the absence of the physical body of Christ.  As believers we take God with us in everything that we do.  This is a rather sobering thought when we really concentrate on it.  But we can see the benefit for us as believers for God to be constantly with us.

Our constant companion.
In Deuteronomy 31:6 we are told “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.”  This is a great thing about our relationship with God.  We have a constant companion who we can turn to at anytime and in any circumstance and regardless of how faithful we’ve been to Him.  There is something comforting about having someone there who is more capable and more knowledgeable than us to help lead us through the difficult times that we may face.  He loves us so much that not only does He not leave us but He as the psalmist says in Psalm 121:3 “He who watches over you will not slumber”.  Our God is constantly with us and constantly aware of all that is happening in our lives and He is actively involved in helping us in our daily lives.

On the flip side of that coin is the fact that God is also present with us when we are unfaithful to Him and falling into sin.  As a father there have been times when my sons have disappointed me or let me down because they did something that I had tried to warn them would not be good for them, may harm them, or may get them into trouble.  Our Father is the same way in that there are plenty of times we have disappointed Him or let Him down because we did something that He had tried to warn us would not be good for us, may harm us, or may get us into trouble.  With God being our constant companion we should be ever more mindful of those temptations that will draw us away from Him and try to hinder our relationship with Him.

As always we can be reminded that God is with us and be thankful for our Constant Companion and the benefits that we receive from His constant attention.

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Friday, December 13, 2013

Tragedy: What To Pray When You Don't Know What To Pray.

Last night as I laid in bed my body was in Sawmills, NC but my heart and my mind were 9,900 miles away in Pontianak, Indonesia.  A godly husband/father/brother/son/friend was being laid to rest in a funeral service after his sudden passing on Tuesday.  As I've tried to work through my own grief and yet continue to pray and encourage others to pray for the family it has been a struggle to know what to pray.  The pain in our hearts often confuses the mind as to what would be best to pray.  One good aspect of a relationship with God is that we are told in the Bible that when we do not know what to pray that the Holy Spirit helps us out in making our petitions to God.  It says in Romans 8:26, "In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express " (NIV).  God in His infinite grace provides what we need, when we need it.

Often times when there is a death or some other type of tragedy we want to swoop in like a superhero and save the day.  We want to have just the right words or do just the right things to help alleviate the pain our friends or family are going through.  Rather than saying something when silence would be better (trust me I've been there!), the best thing we can do is just be present.  Just be with those that are hurting.  Whether we say anything or not our presence speaks volumes more than our words.  It's been said that when all is said and done after a death or tragedy that what is remembered aren't the words spoken but your presence.

But what if we can't be present?  What if we can't jump on a plane and fly to Indonesia, New York, California or some other destination that is beyond our reach.  What then?  We pray.  We pray with earnest.  We pray like we've never prayed before.  Whether we know what to pray or not, we pray.  God can do immeasurably more good through His presence in the life of our loved ones than we could ever do.  God's comfort, peace, grace and love will minister to the heart of the individual in much deeper ways than we could imagine.  When you can't be there and you don't know what to pray, just ask God to be there.  Ask Him to love on them for you.  Ask Him to give them His peace that goes beyond our understanding (Philippians 4:7).  Just ask Him to be there.

A Special Thanks:
I want to thank all those who have been praying for the Poarch family.  We received word this morning (Friday) that the funeral for James was amazing.  I am confident that this was because of the prayers of thousands of people around the world praying for this family.  We ask that you continue to keep Nicky, Emily, Luke & Samantha in your prayers as they move forward.  They will be returning to the US at some point in the near future.  If you are interested in giving financially towards the family and the unexpected costs of returning to the US you can do so by visiting the link below.  Flights from Indonesia are very expensive and every dollar helps.  Visit to give. 

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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Loss of a Dear Friend

Nearly 20 years ago I was sitting in the back of a tan Ford Bronco that was flying out of my parent's dirt driveway towards the main paved road.  In the front seat were two of my closest friends.  They were MKs (missionaries kids) who were home from college for a while.  We were headed to play basketball somewhere and as we were headed out the driveway the one driving wasn't slowing down.  In the US you slow down so you can stop when approaching roads like that.  In foreign countries, like the one they grew up in, it isn't always the case.  As we were going fast through this intersection I am yelling at them that we have to stop and they look at me rather puzzled asking "Why?  There isn't a stop sign."  This is one of the many memorable times I shared over the years with these two men who I consider unofficial brothers, but brothers nonetheless.

Yesterday, for a reason known only to our Sovereign God, one of those men passed away at the age of 36.  He had just finished talking to his twin brother when God called him home.  This dear friend was a missionary working to spread the gospel to a tribe, the Da'an people, in the jungles of Indonesia.  His wife and three young kids are now left to pick up the pieces.

Tragic events like this cause us to ask questions.  We question why bad things happen to good people.  We question why God would allow something like this to happen.  We try to rationalize it.  We try to make sense of it.  We want answers.

Most of the time we aren't given the luxury of answers.  As hard as we try we aren't always able to make sense of why things happen the way they do.  In the end we are left to seek reassurance from something greater than ourselves.  At times like this our faith in God is what can either support us or we can abandon it. We are the ones who will ultimately decide whether we draw closer to God during times like this so He can  show us His love or we can shut our self off from Him.  

The Bible tells us many things.  Two things that the Bible is abundantly clear on is that God loves us (John 3:16) and He will never abandon us (Deut. 1:9).  During the difficult times of life we must rely on these two truths rather than running from the God who loves us and is there to support us.

Next time you face a time when you're hurting, broken, or grieving remember these truths. Even if we don't get the answers we seek.  Even if we don't make sense of it.  Remember God loves you and that He is there with you in the midst of your storm.

Please be in prayer for the Poarch family as they are dealing with the sudden loss of their husband/father/brother/son.  I thank you for your prayers on behalf of this wonderful family.

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Monday, December 9, 2013

What do you reach for first?

What do you reach for first thing in the morning?  For many, myself included, it is a pair of glasses.  But I mean what do you start your day off with?  Thanks to a dear friend I used to work with, many mornings I will reach for a cup of coffee to get my day started off right.  This morning I couldn't help but notice, as I sat in my recliner reading the Bible, that in both hands I had things that seem to be a necessity for my day to to start off well.  In one hand I have this cup of fuel for my body that will wake me up and prepare me for the day.  In the other hand I have this fuel for my spirit that will wake me up to what God is sharing with me and prepare me for the day ahead.

Psalm 119:105 says "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path" (NIV).  We live in a dark world where we need the light of God's Word to help us navigate and avoid falling in the darkness.  I hope you are daily reading the Bible so God can speak to you and so you can grow in your faith.  If you aren't today is the day to start.  At this time of year many people will put off starting a new routine until January 1st to make a fresh start in the new year.  My suggestion would be to start reading the Bible now so that when January 1st rolls around its an established habit and won't be added to the dreaded New Year's Resolution Failures list.

My hope is that you will build in time in your day where you can consistently sit down and read the Bible.  For people like me who relish the early morning hours, that is a great time to do it. For others, like an older pastor friend of mine, the late night hours is what works best.  It may be on your lunch break or while you sit in the car rider line at school, but God's children need to hear from their Father daily.  But one of the biggest deterrents to Bible reading is a lack of consistency.  People feel like because they missed a day or two that they can't do it so they just give up.  Don't get discouraged if life happens and you aren't able to get into the Word on a particular day.  There are times when pastors even fell to get in the Word for personal Bible study from time to time because, here's a shocker, we are human too!  The important thing is to build in that time where you regularly read the Word and if it doesn't happen to work one day you can always pick back up the next day.  So if you don't already have a set time during the day for reading the Bible set a time up today to start.

Let's make this thing interactive again.  Leave a comment below letting others know when your time in the Word is each day.  You never know, your answer may help others figure out what works best for them.  And if you don't already have a set time let us know what time of day you plan to make your time for the Word.

If you aren't sure where to start reading or would like some help with putting together a Bible reading plan I will be glad to help you.  Just email me at and I will be glad to help you out.

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Friday, December 6, 2013

Farming Words to Live By (Part 2)

On Wednesday I started a two part post about an email I received that had a long list of "Farming Words to Live By."  If you missed the Part 1 of the blog I'd encourage you to go back and check it out.  The idea here is that certain aspects of farming wisdom easily translate to our spiritual life.  Here are the final two phrases for this two part post.

3.  “Don’t corner anything meaner than you”
I remember about nine years ago when our 1,800 pound bull used my dad as a door knob to get out of the barn.  The bull wanted out through the gate and used dad to open it.  Fortunately dad was okay.  We need to realize that when we mess with sin which is something bigger, stronger and meaner than we are then we are asking for trouble.  We have no way of overpowering sin on our own.  Sin can walk right over us and leave us in a mess.  The beautiful thing about sin is that we do not have to face it alone and God is bigger than any sin we face.  God wants us to reach out to Him before the sin gets to us so that He can help strengthen us against the temptation and help us face it.  God hates sin as much as sin hates us!

4.  “Always drink upstream from the herd”
This one needs no explanation!  The easiest way for us to apply this to our spiritual life is with one word, Sanctification.  We, as God’s people, are called to be set apart, different, and holy.  The Bible even tells us that it is God’s will that we be sanctified.  We must be living a life that day in and day out points others to Christ.  We cannot leave Christ in the car when we go to work, or to school, or to play.  As Christians everything we do needs to make others look at us and see that we are not like everyone else, that there is something different, that we are set apart.  God tells us in 1 Thessalonians 4:3 that His will for our lives is our sanctification.  So we have to take this continual process of becoming like Christ very seriously.

I hope you can take these words of wisdom and apply them to your spiritual life to help you grow.

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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Farming Words to Live By (Part 1)

As most of you know I help my dad run a small family-owned beef cattle farm in Sawmills.  Once I received an email from one of my uncles who in the past has helped us farm.  The email was titled “Farming Words of Wisdom to Live By.”  As I read the email I found in it several phrases that when looked at from the perspective of a farmer they make complete sense.  But as I read the email I could not help but look at these phrases in a spiritual light and see several spiritual truths.  So today I want to pass along to you a few of these words of wisdom so that we can all apply them to our spiritual lives and draw closer to God.

1. “A bumblebee is considerably faster than a John Deere tractor” 
When riding a tractor you are at the mercy of the elements around you.  Whether it’s rain, mud, birds, dust, or bees you are at their mercy because of the slow pace of a tractor.  Tractors are slow and steady but get the job done.  In our spiritual life we need to see ourselves as tractors.  We are exposed to everything around us but we cannot allow that to deter us from our goal.  

With Satan being around for thousands of years he knows every trick in the book and wants to throw those distractions at us to pull us away from God.  Sometimes his tricks could be as simple as a speck of dust or as contrary as a persistent bee.  Whatever his method we cannot allow the things of this world to be a distraction from our focus on God and His kingdom’s work.  Like it says in Colossians 3:2, "Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things" (NIV).

2.  “Meanness don’t just happen overnight”
We all know people in our life that no matter what the circumstances are they will be unhappy about it and let everyone know about it.  When you dwell on the negative, day in and day out, year after year then guess what?  You guessed it, you are going to be a negative person.  I’m not saying bad things do not happen but God has given us hope.  I dare say that it’s impossible for a true Christian to be a negative person all the time.  God gave us a reason to rejoice, a reason to be joyful in the fact that He allowed His Son to die on the cross for us.  We have the hope of glory, the love of the Father, and the peace of eternity.  So what is there to be negative about?  Paul tells us in Philippians 4:4 that we should "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!" (NIV).

I hope today's post has encouraged you to keep your eyes on God and rejoice rather than complain.  Friday I will share two more phrases of "Farming Words to Live By."

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Monday, December 2, 2013

Are You Listening?

"God thunders marvelously with His voice; He does great things which we cannot comprehend" Job 37:5 (NKJV).  Those are the words I read a little more than 11 years ago as I sat in a hotel room in Myrtle Beach, SC.  Misty and I had gone for a short trip to the beach to get just a short break from helping my family care for my dying grandmother.  Being a follower of Christ I knew that God speaks to His children in many ways and one of those is through His Word.  I picked up the Gideon Bible and walked out on the balcony to see what God might possibly be able to tell me about this difficult time I was facing.  As I sat down to read I noticed that the Bible had probably been wet at one point and laid out to dry.  The Bible naturally opened to Job 36-37 because of the way it had dried and I started to read.  Now I have to preface this some with the fact that I'm not a big fan of just picking up the Bible, randomly finding a page and pointing to a verse and thinking that God is going to reveal some deeply profound truth in that way.  Not to say He couldn't but I don't think that is the way God generally works.  As I read I was looking for any bit of truth from my God that I could hold on to.  I read a few verses then I read over Job 37:5 and stopped.  I read it again and knew that the God of the Universe was speaking to me in that very moment.  I remember going into our room where Misty was at to show her what God had shown me.  In the chaos and turmoil of slowly losing a very dear lady in my life God was telling me that I didn't have to understand why He was doing it because He does things that doesn't make sense to us.  It was a little reminiscent of what God tells us in Isaiah 55:9 when He says "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts" (NIV).

God wants a relationship with everybody.  Some choose to have a relationship with Him and others do not.  If we have a relationship with Him, through Christ's death on the cross, then part of that relationship is the fact that God wants to speak to us.  But the question we have to answer is "Are You Listening?"  Too many times God's people wait for God to speak in big ways, with the clouds parting, with a beam from heaven shining down on them with a loud thundering voice speaking directly to them.  The problem is, last time I checked, God doesn't work that way.  God is speaking to us in our everyday life.  Through our daily Bible reading.  Through our prayer time.  And throughout the course of our daily life.  But if we aren't listening we'll never hear Him.  That means we have to be in the Bible to hear from Him.  We must set aside a daily time to pray.  We have to make sure we have our spiritual ears open throughout the day to hear God speaking to us.

God speaks to His children.  I am certain of that.  But the real question is whether His children are listening.  So "Are You Listening?"

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Friday, November 29, 2013

Black Friday

Today is that love it or hate it day in America.  The day where we say good-bye to a season of thankfulness by getting in line at 2am to fight Hunger Games style for the latest Tickle Me Elmo.  Or we stay at home grateful we aren't out in the hustle and bustle that comes along with Black Friday.  With so many of the stores opening up in the middle of Thanksgiving dinners on Thursday night I guess Black Friday really started on Thursday night.  

We celebrated Black Thursday/Friday on Thursday night too.  After finishing our annual Thanksgiving dinner with family, my sons wanted to take their telescope outside to look at the stars.  We drove to my parent's farm where there is minimal ambient light and enjoyed an hour of stargazing at planets and stars.  As we looked at the stars I thought about the vast darkness of space and I remembered an image I saw on Facebook.  The image was of Jesus hanging on the cross and the caption read "Only one Black Friday offered eternal savings."

How do these all relate?  Well while we were celebrating Black Thursday/Friday in our own way by stargazing I couldn't help but look at the stars and be reminded of God's love for us and how we are supposed to share that love.  When you look at the stars you see more black space than you do stars.  Those little stars give off what seems like very little light but if we were closer to them we would see they shine as brightly as our sun.  That is what we as followers of Christ are called to do, to shine the light of God's love as brightly as possible in the dark world around us.  Sometimes the darkness seems so overwhelming and our light looks like a twinkling star by comparison.  Other times the radiance of God shines through and His love is on display like the noonday sun.  Our responsibility is to make sure that we are doing everything necessary for that light to shine through us regardless of how dark it is around us.

Today as you celebrate Black Friday by working, staying home or shopping, be sure that all you say and do causes the light of God's love to shine in this dark and truly black world.

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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

You Need to Stop Going to Church

A few years ago I saw on Facebook that a church planter I know up north had led his church in a day they called "Don't Go To Church" Sunday.  The idea behind it was not to go to a church building on that Sunday but to go be the church.  They went out into the large city their church resided in and gave out water and food.  They also shared living water and bread from heaven.  The concept of "not going to church" wasn't lost on me.  I've heard Bible teachers and preachers over the years make the same kind of comment with a different perspective than the church planter mentioned above.  But there is plenty of truth in the statement... you need to stop going to church.

You should stop going to church and start going to worship.  Now that sounds a little picky in the language used but it's the truth.  Too often believers see the hour between 11:00-12:00 on Sunday, or whatever hour the service may be, as their required church time to stay in God's good graces.  God doesn't want you to go to church, He wants you to join other believers and worship Him.  Our worship of God is all about Him and nothing about us.  It's not about what I like. It's not about what I hope to get out of the service.  It's about my heartfelt devotion to God being poured out as a sacrifice on the altar before a holy and righteous God who is worthy of my worship.  So Sunday, stop going to church and start going to worship.

You should stop going to church for the preacher and start going for the message.  It's a sad but true fact that when there is a change in church leadership some people stop attending church.  It's also sad but true that when the pastor is gone on vacation or preaching at another church that some people don't attend church.  It is impossible to separate our worship experience from the pastor God has placed in leadership over our church.  But when we find ourselves not attending church because the pastor is not there, we find ourselves falling into the trap of idolatry.  We are starting to worship the one who leads worship rather than the only One worthy of our worship.  Recently our church had missionaries share during the message time on a Sunday morning.  I advertised this with our congregation for a few weeks and was concerned that our attendance may drop because the pastor wasn't the one who would be preaching.  To my surprise we tied our highest attendance to date and had several who were out sick.  That is the mentality we have to have, that regardless of who is sharing the message we are coming to hear God's message.  So Sunday, stop going to church for the preacher and start going for the message.

You should stop going to church for the style of music and start going for the praise of God.  I've heard it said "I can't worship unless it's _____ kind of music" or "I can't worship God unless it's ______ type of a service."  To those who would say that I would tell you that "Worship is not about you or what you like, it's about God."  Yes, we should have our preferences in how we worship God and hear from Him.  But when we limit our worship because we limit our mode of worship then we limit God and how He can speak to us.  Music is only one small part of the worship experience.  Worship involves prayer, preaching, testimonies, giving and so much more.  If you are only attending a church because of the style of music, I encourage you to stop going to church for the style of music and start going for the praise of God.

My intentions with today's post is not to ruffle feathers.  My intentions are that we all really examine our motives for why we attend the church we attend.  What we as believers should do is find a local body of believers where our family is ministered to and the truth of the Bible is taught.  We should throw ourselves into the life of the church so we can truly worship God there.  That way regardless of who is behind the pulpit or the song being sung we are connected in spirit with God, pouring our heartfelt devotion out to Him.  So Sunday, you need to stop going to church!

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Monday, November 25, 2013

Don't have one? You need to get one!

This morning I sat at a local hospital as a very precious lady in our church had surgery.  The surgery was set to last about an hour and a half.  The surgeon came out and shared with the family that the surgery went well and that she had been taken to recovery.  I shared with her and her husband prior to the surgery how we had many people in our church who were praying for her.  I told them how I had many in our church reminding me over the past few days that she was having surgery and that we needed to be praying for her.  As I sat at the hospital talking with the family waiting for the surgery to finish I couldn't help but think that this is how a church body is supposed to operate.

I realize that I have been spoiled in my life in a lot of ways.  God has blessed me with great parents and an extended family who helped raise me right.  He gave me a wife that keeps me straight and loves me deeply.  I haven't had to struggle in life for things like some do.  I grew up in a church that operated like the body of Christ should, concerned about each other and loving each other.  I also realize that there are plenty of people in this world who haven't had the same opportunities I've had.  People whose parents are divorced or no longer living.  People whose marriages didn't work out even though they tried their hardest to make things work.  People who have struggled with substance abuse, physical abuse or even struggled to keep steady work.  And people who had bad experiences in church or never even been to church.

Regardless of our situation, whether its been good or bad by our standards, people need a good church family.  I understand with the spiritual condition of our world today many people don't go to church and some don't want anything to do with church because they've been burnt before.  But if we've had our lives transformed by Christ then God wants us to be in a church so we can flourish as believers.  God didn't design man to thrive in solitude.  God designed man to thrive in community.  The best community that a believer can thrive in is a church body that loves each other and cares for each other.  Most churches, notice I said most, have this type of community.  They are involved in the lives of each other.  If one hurts, they all hurt.  If one rejoices, they all rejoice.  This is the way God intended it to be.  Sometimes though a church body will not operate as they should and people can feel ostracized, lonely or unwanted.  Those who have been hurt by a church are afraid that another church will do the same thing again and so some give up on church all together.  But many will find a loving and caring church that takes them in and ministers to their family.

If you don't have one already I encourage you to find a church with a church family that loves and cares for each other.  With a church family like that you can't go wrong and you will be glad you found them!  I grew up in a church like that and I'm thankful for what I experienced growing up.  I serve in a church that has quickly shown my family this same type of love and care for their members.  If you are looking for a church and haven't found one yet I encourage you to stop by our church at North Catawba Baptist Church and see what I'm talking about.

So let's hear from the readers today.  Share with others what church you attend and what you like about the church family there.  I look forward to hearing about what you think is great about your church family.

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Friday, November 22, 2013

KJV Only! Right?

A couple of years ago I got into the habit of reading a different translation of the Bible each year as I have gone through my personal Bible reading.  I started out with what I was most familiar and really what I grew up on which was the New King James Version (NKJV).  Then I went to what I now deem my favorite translation, the New International Version (NIV).  Currently I am days away from completing my latest translation which is the New American Standard Bible (NASB).  My next translation will be one that I am interested in starting because of things I’ve heard and the little I’ve used it and it will be the New Living Translation (NLT).

Don’t misunderstand what I just shared with you.  This isn’t about getting attention for having read through the Bible a few times or the number of translations I’ve read.  This is about getting into a subject that is very personal to followers of Christ.  That subject is translations of the Bible.  Is there only one correct one to use?  Which is best?  Is it wrong to only use one translation?

There are some followers of Christ out there that will tell you that if you do not use a particular translation of the Bible then you aren’t using “the” Bible.  I actually heard this from a pastor not too long ago.  The translation that is usually most adamantly defended as being “the one and only Bible” is the King James Version (KJV).  Now before anyone gets upset with me, my first Bible was a KJV and I still have it on the shelf in my office, along with two other copies.  But the problem is with the narrow view that the KJV is the only version that should be used, not the version itself.  Many times those that argue so strongly for the KJV forget to mention that the Biblical texts were originally written in Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic, not in 17th Century English.  Again don’t hear me bashing the KJV or any other specific translation.  Do hear me say this; it’s not right to put down believers who do not prefer your preferred translation.

In my nearly 10 years of ministry I’ve used KJV, NKJV, NIV, NASB and NLT from the pulpit.  The first time I ever preached from the KJV was under mango trees in Honduras, just 5 months ago.  The first time I preached from the NLT was just two weeks ago.  I have primarily used the other translations throughout the years.  If you can’t tell by now I am a big proponent of using varied translations to help us get a better picture of what God is revealing to us through the text.  Like my chairman of Deacons said when I mentioned my apprehension of preaching from the NLT, he reminded me that different translations bring a different perspective. He was right.  If you enjoy the language of the KJV and don’t want to use another translation, I understand.  If you prefer a translation in modern English like the NIV, NLT, or others (such as the CEV or ESV) then by all means use them.  I encourage you to get out of your comfort zone and try a different translation and see how God will speak to you in a new way.  If you do try a different translation, don’t give up on it quickly or easily.  Variety is said to be the spice of life but the important thing is to be in the Word regardless of what translation you use!

Take a moment to leave a comment as to the translation you prefer and why.  I am interested to see what translation most of my readers prefer.  (As always, make sure your comments are encouraging and glorifying to Him.)

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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Are you a fan of BHAGs?

In his book, Courageous Leadership, Pastor Bill Hybels refers to what he calls BHAGs for short.  These are Big Hairy Audacious Goals.  These are goals that when you set them you realize that the only way to accomplish these goals is with divine intervention from God.  So that poses the question, are you a fan of Big Hairy Audacious Goals?

Most of the time, if we are really honest with ourselves, we don't feel comfortable with setting goals that big.  We like to be comfortable.  We don't like to be stretched.  We want to remain with the status quo.  We want our goals to be just enough of a challenge to make us feel like we've accomplished something.  But that's the problem, if our goals are things we can accomplish on our own then what need do we have for God in our situation.  If our goals are ones we can accomplish then who is getting the glory for the successful completion of the goal.  Certainly not God.

When we look to set BHAGs we must keep something in mind and that is common sense.  Jesus reminds us in Luke 14:28 the need to count the cost before taking on a difficult-to-accomplish goal.  In our seeking of God's BHAGs for our life we must be sure to mix our decision-making process with prayer, wisdom, common sense, and spiritual discernment.  This will help us make sure we are attempting God's goals and not ridiculous self-promoting goals.   

But goals are a tricky business.  A difficult goal for you may be simple for me or vice versa.  We need to prayerfully seek God's plans for us and discern the BHAGs He has in mind for us.  Chances are if we aren't seeking God's BHAGs for our life, then we probably aren't being molded into the image of Christ near as much as God would like.

I encourage you to seek out God's BHAGs for your life.  He may be asking you to give sacrificially to the offering at church.  He may be asking you to take on responsibilities you don't feel adequately prepared for.  He may want you to adopt a child at an age where you thought you were done raising kids.  He may want you to do something that absolutely scares you to death.  But the great thing about it is, if you allow Him to be the one helping you set the goal, then He will make sure you accomplish the goal.  I encourage you to prayerfully seek His will and then dive in head first into the BHAGs God wants to accomplish in your life.  

If God has recently shown you a BHAG that He wants you to accomplish then I encourage you to comment below and let others know how God is working in your life.

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Monday, November 18, 2013

God Wants You To Be Rich!

On Friday Misty found an interesting show on TV for us to watch.  The sad thing is she left to run an errand and I ended up turning the show off because it nearly made me physically sick.  This reality show follows the life of a financially wealthy minister who pushes a prosperity gospel.  This pastor claims that God wants you to be rich and you can be rich because God made him rich.  This pastor was shopping for a jet in this episode and shared about his mansion that seemed like a small cabin when all his kids were at home.

It's "ministers," and I use that term very loosely here, like this that are misleading millions of people around the world.  Whether its everybody's favorite king of the prosperity TV preachers who smiles at them as he leads millions astray or his female rival that has her own "ministry" that provided her with her solid gold toilet, there are plenty of preachers out there tickling the ears of people (2 Timothy 4:3).  The sad part of all this are the lives left in ruins when God doesn't make them millionaires.

God does want you to be rich, but not financially.  God wants you to be spiritually rich.  I'm not saying that wealth or riches are a bad thing.  Financial wealth is one of the ways God is able to accomplish His kingdom's work here on earth.  Wealth like anything else can be corrupted, perverted and misused when we do not view it as God views it.  I have known some very wealthy people who have used their wealth wisely for God's kingdom.  I've also known wealthy people who allowed their wealth to give them a sense of entitlement and arrogance.  God isn't going to make anyone financially rich just because they ask for it.  The reason being if He did then we would be more focused on what we have here and not on working for Him to build His kingdom.

I think the "theology" of prosperity preachers is rooted in a comment I heard on the show we watched last Friday.  One of the minister's daughters said that if she had to take a vow of poverty she would have never been saved.  Wow!  I am no person's judge but this comment makes me wonder if she has put more faith in her riches than in the blood of Christ.  The greatest riches we could ever hope to have are the ones that are given to us through a relationship with Christ.  So the next time you hear a prosperity preacher claim that God wants you to be rich, remember that He does want you to be rich...spiritually!

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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Smack Me One More Time

I have some friends whose father was a missionary to Indonesia.  This very godly man passed away more than a decade ago but one of the lessons I learned from him is something I try to remember daily.  This man of God understood the need for God's children to pay attention to the voice of God each and every day.  "What has God taught you today?" was one of the questions he liked to ask.  I try to remember this question as I go through my daily routine.  There is that old saying about "learning something new every day."  Well if we are open to truly listening to God, He'll do that for us.  He'll teach us something new about Him, about our self, or even about our faith if, and only if, we listen for Him to speak.

It's not even 8:30 today and I can already tell you what God has tried to teach me today.  Not because I've been overly spiritual today and followed the command from scripture to "Be still and know that I am God" (Psalm 46:10).  I think that God has shouted at me today a couple times to get through my thick head what He's wanting me to pick up on today.  I think it's more in line with smacking me upside the head rather than shouting.  Through things I've read either in the Bible or in my devotions or through my prayer time, God is pointing something out to me today.  For me today it's about devotion to Him.  He's showing me that I need to be more devoted to Him and His plan for my life.  But that's His message for me today.  He speaks to us all differently and for different reasons so what He's sharing with you will most likely be different.

Here's a challenge for you, or maybe more of a question that would make my missionary friend happy.  "What has God taught you today?"  When you finish reading today's post I encourage you to share in the comments section below in one word what God has taught you today.  You never know, you may be the encouragement God uses to minister to someone else today by simply answering this question.

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Monday, November 11, 2013

365. Once For Each Day.

Dru, Cooper and I were riding down the road on Saturday and Dru tells me that he doesn't feel safe in his bedroom.  So I asked why and he said that he saw on a news report where there was a killer on the loose and police hadn't been able to find him yet.  Dru was worried that the killer would break in his window and kill him.  I reassured him that the police had most likely caught him since he saw the news on Wednesday.  I also reassured him that the news was talking about Charlotte and not Sawmills so the person wasn't anywhere near where we lived.  I also told him that if his mom and I felt like we were in an unsafe area then we would move to a safer place but that wasn't the case.  I also reassured him that our security system would keep him safe.  The final remark I made that I hoped would instill confidence in this fearful 8 year old was something I heard a Bible teacher share once.  In the Bible God tells us 365 times some variation of "Do not be afraid."  He may have said "Do not fear," "Do not be terrified" or "Fear not" but in the Bible God tells us 365 times not to be afraid.  As I put it to Dru, God tells us this 365 times so that is like Him telling us not to be afraid every day.  It's as if God is doing the same thing that I was doing with Dru, reassuring His child with words of comfort and reasons why they should not be fearful.  When I pulled out the higher power than dad and reassured him that God didn't want Him to be scared and God was watching over him, his fear seemed to melt away.

It's been said that fear is the absence of faith and there is plenty of truth in that statement.  Our fear, like Dru's, is out of a lack of faith in provision or protection.  We may be fearful about many things in this life.  We can easily be fearful about doctor's reports, losing our job, being alone, or the things our children are mixed up in.  What we must do is not allow these fears to control us but rely on our faith in the One who controls all things.  God didn't tell us "Do not be afraid" that many times just to be talking.  He shares it with us for a reason.  That reason is because He wants our faith in Him to rule over the fear that Satan tries to instill in us.  So let your faith rule over your fear and take comfort in the words of Joshua 1:9.  It says, "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." (NKJV)

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Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Stuck in a Loop?

I think an app on my phone has lost it's mind.  I have a Bible app on my phone that places a new verse from the Bible on my home screen each day.  The reason I think my app has lost its mind is because for the past two days it has shown the same verse.  Normally I wouldn't think anything of it but as I've thought about why it is stuck in a loop, so to speak, I've come to the conclusion that God is probably trying to show me something.  Isaiah 55:11 reminds us that God's Word accomplishes the task for which it goes out and does not return empty or void.  So I'm under the impression that the verse I've seen for the past two days is something I need to pay attention to.

The verse is one that many people are familiar with because of a Casting Crowns song titled, Praise You In This Storm.  The verse that the band uses for the line in their song comes from Psalm 121:1-2 and it says "I lift up my eyes to the hills — where does my help come from? 2 My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth" (NIV).  This verse sticks with me because of an explanation I heard of this verse years ago.  The Bible teacher explained it as the psalmist, probably King David, is in the middle of a very trying time.  He said that the verses give the image of a man surrounded by his enemy with no means of escape.  He also said that many times people will read this with the idea of the Calvary coming down from the hills to rescue the writer, hence his looking to the hills.  Instead, he suggested, the reader should view it as the writer is looking from his position to the hills and seeing there is no hope for him.  He is surrounded by enemies on the high ground and there is no hope of rescue.  But the writer asks an important question "where does my help come from?"  As verse 2 explains, his help comes from the Lord.  His help comes from the One who spoke and creation came into being.  The writer sees his help as coming from the only source of true deliverance.  It reminds me of a verse I tried committing to memory years ago, Psalm 20:7 where it says "Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God" (NIV).  Our only hope for deliverance from whatever is plaguing us is God and He is the one we must trust in during our trials.  Otherwise we look to the hills and truly have no hope.

So why did my app get stuck in a loop?  I don't know.  I don't pretend to know the mind of God because I've found, as my Facebook post mentioned yesterday, that the more I think I have figured God out, the more I realize I know very little.  Could I be headed for a very difficult time in life?  Possibly, but aren't we all?  Could I need to minister to someone who will go through their darkest hours?  Maybe.  Whatever the future holds and for whatever reason God has doubly reminded me of this verse I will remember to look beyond the hills full of problems to the One who is my help, the One who is "the Maker of heaven and earth."

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Billy is Right

Billy Graham is quoted as saying "I am just a spectator watching what God is doing." That's how I feel this morning as I sit in my office.  I feel like a spectator watching God do amazing things.  Yesterday morning during our morning service I think we experienced a re-positioning of our missional compass here at North Catawba. I don't think the compass was off but by a degree or two but one or two degrees can cause big problems down the road. See the problem with that degree or two is that for the first little bit of the journey the difference doesn't really affect much. But when you try to travel a long distance and your compass is off a little you can end up nowhere near where you intended to be.  Our time around the altar praying for our church's missional effort yesterday was the icing on the cake of what we needed to do as a church to set our missional effort on the right course.

The other amazing way we watched God work was through our evening message on forgiveness.  We talked about the parable of the unmerciful servant who received forgiveness but was unwilling to extend forgiveness to a fellow servant.  The servants represented Christians and the parable addressed our forgiveness of our fellow Christians. As we gathered at the altar last night to pray for the strength to forgive those who we harbored unforgiveness towards, you could feel a movement from God that lightened the load of many in the room.

God is doing amazing things in our church.  God is doing amazing things in our lives every day.  All we have to do is open our spiritual eyes and allow God to reveal to us a sight of Him at work.  When we do, we will be amazed.  When we do, we'll understand what Billy meant.

Previous Blogs

Made to Love
Wednesday 10.30.13

On our way home from the dentist this afternoon the song Made to Love by TobyMac came on the radio.  The line in the song "Anything, I would give up for you, Everything, I'd give it all away" played and Dru made an interesting comment.  He jokingly said, "Ok, give up your life Cooper."  Not wanting to miss a chance to teach them spiritual matters, I asked the boys "Would you give up your life if God asked you to?"  Their answers were the same answers that we as adults give to that question.  If God asked you or I to give up everything we have to Him and let Him have total control, would we?  Do we answer immediately and excitedly like Cooper and say "Yes!" or do we answer like Dru and consider it before we reluctantly say "Yes."  I am proud of my boys for both being willing to answer "Yes," just as much as God is proud of His children for answering "Yes" to His requests.  We need to have that child-like faith that makes us quickly answer "Yes" to whatever request God makes of us.  The end result is a proud Father who is excited about the spiritual growth He sees in His child.

Thank You!
Monday 10.28.13

Last night I found my self speechless.  For those of you who have known me for any amount of time you know that this does not happen often.  You're more likely to see Bigfoot than you are to find me speechless.  After church last night I sat in my recliner at home and opened card after card after card from our church family at North Catawba.  The cards and gifts were given for Pastor Appreciation.   I would open a card read it and then pass it to Misty to read.  We were overwhelmed (that is putting it mildly) at the outpouring of love and appreciation that our new church has for us.  The gifts, cards, handshakes, hugs, comments and reception were all far above and beyond what a pastor deserves having only served for a few weeks in this church.  The words "Thank You" do not adequately reflect the feelings that we have towards our church family for all they have done.  The only option we have is to say "Thank You" and then show you how we are truly grateful.

You can tell that God is doing a wonderful thing at North Catawba.  Not because we have a new young pastor or for any other reason than to bring Him glory.  As our church moves forward in faith and following God's direction, I, like so many in our number, am excited to see what God does next at North Catawba.  There is a contagious excitement in the air.  If you do not currently attend a church in the area I want to invite you to come worship God with us.  As one who has been a part of this church less than a month I can tell you that you will not feel like an outsider for long.  You will quickly feel like part of a family.  You will feel like you are at home.  We hope to see you soon at North Catawba Baptist Church. 

Take Away the Blessings!
Wednesday 10.23.13

I keep on my desk a journal given to me by a godly couple that I met years ago.  The journal is actually the great spiritual book My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers.  This book has the daily writings of Chambers and an area on the outer margin for you to write notes, as if anything I could write would ever compare to his writings.  I've tried over the years to make it a habit of reading the entry for the day first thing when I arrive in the office of a morning.  It is usually always very challenging and I look forward to reflecting on some part of the entry that really jumps out at me.  Today's entry had a line in it that really has stuck with me.  It says "Have we come to the place where God can withdraw His blessings and it does not affect our trust in Him?"  I thought "Wow! Do I have that kind of faith in God?"  Could He make me like Job and it would not affect my trust in Him?  Could He take away everything blessing and I would still want to sing praises?  Could He withhold blessings for the rest of my life and I would still faithfully worship Him?  That is a tough question to answer.  On this side of a situation like that it would be easy to naively say "Yes."  But if that were to be the will of God for my life, I pray that my faith in God would be strong enough to be unshaken, regardless of my lot in life.  I pray that I would be able to say with full confidence "The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord." - Job 1:21 (NASB)