Wednesday, February 26, 2014

What does your sign say?

Last night I looked out our front door and something caught my attention. As I looked at our church sign, I noticed that there wasn't anything on it. Since our last activity we just haven't put anything on it. As I looked at that sign I wondered what people driving by think about when they see that blank sign. Do they think nothing is going on here? Do they think someone forgot to put up a message? Do they think we have nothing to share? In the dark the lights shined very brightly on that blank sign last night.

When we wake up each morning we have a day full of potential. We never know what the day may bring. It could be a great day by our standards or a challenging one. During that day we do plenty of advertising. We advertise to the world about who we are and what is important to us. Our days are spent as a walking billboard about what matters most to us. People watch how we react to situations. Even more so if you're a Christian. It's the NASCAR effect. They want to see the crash, not the years of successful living. People watch us and often buy into what we are selling as we live our lives in front of them.

So what does your sign say? Your sign will ultimately advertise for one of two things. Either yourself or God. If we are busy advertising for ourselves then in the end that advertising is for nothing. It won't last. It's only temporary. But if we advertise for God, our work will last for eternity. A NIV Study Bible says “Everyone is a ‘boaster,’ either in Christ or in themselves." So who do you boast in? Who do you advertise for? What does your sign say?

Monday, February 24, 2014

How much stuff can one person have?

This past weekend involved a major move for our family. We moved from our house, of 6 years, in downtown Dry Ponds to the parsonage at the church we serve in the metropolis of Baton. Friday and Saturday included many hours of carrying stuff, lifting heavy things and loading trailers. As the day wore on I kept wondering who's stuff this was and where it all came from. It surely couldn't have been ours! My main thought was, how much stuff can one person have, anyway?

When it comes to our spiritual life we have plenty of stuff that we carry around with us. We don't pack that stuff up once in a while and make a major move. No, we carry that stuff around with us every day. We usually become accustomed to the weight and don't think that there is any way to be free of the burdens we carry.

Some of the stuff we carry around are things for which we need to seek God's forgiveness. We need to man up, so to speak, and confess our sin to God and ask for His forgiveness. We then need to remember that with forgiveness comes freedom from guilt. Regardless of how hard the Devil tries to keep us trapped with guilty feelings, we know God has set us free from it.

Some of the stuff we carry around are things we shouldn't be carrying anyway. It may be doubt, fear, anxiety, worry, or a host of other burdens. If they have caused us to sin, we should first and foremost ask God for forgiveness. Then we need to give it all over to Him. We need to set it at the foot of the cross and let God deal with carrying the load. When we give our problems over to Him we must leave it with Him. We have a tendency to pick our problems back up and mettle with them. Once we hand the problem over, we need to leave it with Him and ask Him to give us the strength to rely on Him to handle it for us.

Whatever the stuff is you are burdened down with today, know that God wants to alleviate you of the weight. He's happy to do it either through forgiveness or by carrying the load for you. In the end it's up to you as to who is going to carry all of your stuff. Will it be you or will you let God take the burden off of you?

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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Occult...Are You Participating?

In recent years, I've noticed an affinity for the occult in our society. Whether it's movies that promote demonic or evil spiritual occurrences or TV shows where mediums are involved, our culture seems to have allowed the occult to permeate our lives without many people knowing it. The problem with our society's acceptance of things like this is that it goes against the teachings of the Bible.

When we mention the occult certain images come to mind. It could be something demonic or even something like voodoo. We don't generally think about things that take place in our daily life as being a practice of the occult. So how do we know if we are unknowingly practicing something that would be identified with the occult? The Billy Graham Training Center Bible gives an extensive, but incomplete, list of things considered to be of the occult.

  • "There is a wide range of mystical phenomena and religious practices generally identified with the occult, including: fortunetelling; extrasensory perception (ESP); telepathy; clairvoyance; automatic writing; Ouija boards; and other games with magical or demonic spiritual orientation; astrology (horoscopes); tea-leaf reading; tarot cards; palmistry; mind control; yoga; transcendental meditation; sorcery or witchcraft; telekinesis; levitation; astral projection; spiritism or spiritualism; seances; Satanism; animal and human sacrifices; animisim; and more."
Its easy for us to look at some of the things on this list and say we would never do it because that is obviously a practice of the occult. Satanism, sacrifices, and animism are a few of them. But what we have to be careful about are the things on this list that we want to defend as harmless. Those are the things that Satan has us desensitized to so that we think its just harmless fun. How many of us have read a horoscope or have it delivered to our Facebook page? How many people do yoga? How many watch medium shows or ghost hunter shows? How many have watched movies like Paranormal Activity and similar movies?

The old saying that "If you give the devil an inch and he'll take a mile" is what we see happening here. If we view things as harmless when the Bible says they are wrong then we are opening ourselves up to demonic influences in our lives. Those influences ultimately lead to us not being fully surrendered to God. My encouragement to you today is to really examine your life and see what areas you need to change because they are influenced by the occult.

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* As a side note, The Billy Graham Training Center Bible was used as a resource for this post. For more on "The Occult" check out what the BGTC Bible has to say. The points made and texts referenced in the BGTC Bible on "The Occult" include: It is "Condemned by God," Deuteronomy 18:10-12. It is "Punished by God," 1 Chronicles 10:13,14. There is "Deliverance by God" from it, Psalm 91:14.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Talking with God

One Friday evening after I picked my oldest son Dru up from school we had a discussion that led to him receiving Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior.  On the following Sunday morning that 5 year old boy walked, without mom or dad, up to the front of the church to make his profession of faith public.  On Sunday evening I sat him down to talk with him about the things he was supposed to do now that he was a Christian.  I asked him what two things, prayer & reading the Bible, he thought he should do now that he was a Christian.  In his childish innocence he didn't miss a beat by telling me that he thought a Christian should exercise and eat meat.  Although he missed the mark with his answers I did explain that a Christian is supposed to pray and read their Bible every day.  I asked him if he would want to start doing his prayer time with me first thing in the mornings.  He said he would and I was skeptical as to whether he would follow through in the morning because of his love of sleep.  Although he was very tired on Monday morning he promptly stood up and went to do his prayer time with his Father and me.

There is a lot we can learn from the scriptures and this young child’s example of why prayer is such an important part of our walk as Christians.  Prayer is important because…

1. It opens up communication with God.
On this side of eternity we will never fully understand how prayer works.  How do I verbally say a prayer or mentally say a prayer and God will hear either one?  How does it all work?  We don’t know but what it does is it opens up the lines of communication with God.  He wants us to spend time talking with Him.  By spending that time in prayer we are able to tell God anything and everything we have on our mind or what is weighing on our heart.  We are also able to listen to God speak to us through answering our prayers and through that still small voice.

2. It helps us to grow in our faith.
Hebrews 11:1 tells us “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”  Faith is all about relying on something or putting our complete trust, our complete dependence on something that we cannot see.  That’s why we call it faith.  As we spend time in prayer and see God regularly answer our prayers and direct our lives our faith is strengthened.  We are reassured that God is who God says He is.  Here’s an example that God answers prayers so that we can grow in our faith.  On that Friday morning when I was writing in my prayer journal I wrote out a prayer I prayed regularly for the five years prior.  Praying for my sons Dru & Cooper this is what it said “I pray they would each come to know Christ as their Lord.”  How was I to know that twelve hours later God would answer that prayer in a profound way?  My faith in God was strengthened by His answering of my prayers.

3. It was modeled by Christ.
The Gospels are filled with stories of how Jesus took time, very often, to go and pray to God the Father.  Jesus even taught His disciples how to pray.  As Christians we understand that Jesus is our supreme example and that we should follow that example.  Just like forgiveness, mercy, grace & love were all modeled by Christ while here on Earth we should not only follow those examples but we should also follow His lead in regularly praying to God the Father.

These are just a few reasons as to why prayer is important to our faith as Christians.  If we will regularly give ourselves to prayer God will use that time to speak to us and to help us grow in our faith.  If you don’t regularly spend time with God in prayer I encourage you to start making it a habit today and you will be so glad that you did!

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Friday, February 14, 2014

The Day After

Days when we experience a great snow, like we did yesterday, are great days of fun and fellowship with family and friends. Sledding and snowball fights are sure to occur. Through it all we have a great time. The day after those snow days are the days most of us dread. Regardless of the amount of ibuprofen that we use, there is still soreness. Regardless of how much fun the sledding was the roads are usually still hard to gain traction on due to the ice. Snow is wonderful in so many ways but there are difficulties that come along with it that makes us wonder if its worth it.

Our development as Christians is much like the snow and the day that follows. As we grow in our faith we enjoy the great aspects of our relationship with God. We enjoy the fellowship with Christian friends and family. We enjoy those activities, like service and missions, that help us develop our faith. But as we grow we inevitably run into those times where we allow other areas of life to take priority. We set aside our relationship with God and foolishly chase after the things that have no eternal significance, only temporal pleasure. During those times we feel guilty for neglecting our spiritual life. We feel sore, so to speak, and can't seem to work the soreness out. We can't seem to get traction, no matter what we do, to get back into the tracks of our once flourishing faith.

In the end we need to be like the mail truck yesterday. The mail truck servicing our road lost traction in front of my house. He slid sideways and was within a foot of being in a deep ditch beside my driveway when he finally stopped. A friend and I got behind the truck and pushed him up the hill. As we did, we were able to straighten the truck out and help him get traction as he found the right tracks. When we start to falter in our walk with Christ we need to stop before we find ourselves in a ditch unable to be helped by those around us. We need to ask for help and allow others to help us find the traction needed to get headed in the right direction. Sometimes that means hearing what we don't want to hear from those godly men and women we trust. Sometimes it means making difficult choices that will benefit us in the long run. Regardless of what it means for us, our walk with Christ should be the most important thing in our life. In the end, we should do what ever is necessary to make sure we stay on the right road.

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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

You Can Sleep When You're Dead!

This has been a tough week for me to get some sleep. Monday morning, one of my sons decided to set his alarm for 6:30 am, which isn't a problem. The problem is he somehow moved his clock ahead 2 hours. So when his alarm went off at 4:30 am I was the only one in the house that heard it and was tasked with the responsibility of turning it off. Fast forward to this morning. Since our dog freed himself from his dog-run at 4:00 am, he decided that the trees in our neighbor's yard need to be incessantly barked at...from right outside my bedroom window. Again no one in my house heard anything and I was left to go wrangle the dog and hook him back up. Needless to say if you've seen me this week I've probably looked like one of the zombies mentioned in Monday's blog post. The reason being I am not one who can wake up for stuff like this and then magically lay down and fall right back to sleep. When my brain is awakened then it goes from 0-60 mph in the time it takes me to put my feet on the floor and it doesn't slow down until about 9:00 pm. Weeks like this seem to wear a person out quicker but I am also reminded of the old saying "You can sleep when you're dead!"

One great thing about our walk with Christ is that when we are tired, we are promised the strength to continue on. Whether we are run down physically, emotionally, spiritually or psychologically we still have a promise from God that He will strengthen us. There are two great verses in the Bible that speak to the strength God promises to provide us with. 

From the Old Testament we read Isaiah 40:29-31 where it says "He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint" (NIV). This is a great picture of how God promises to strengthen us when we are weak. This image of a majestic eagle flying is a refreshing and invigorating thought for those who may be running on fumes. The promise that God will renew our strength is key. The reason is because of where the strength comes from. Every self-help book and motivational speaker will have you think you can renew your strength if you just believe in your self. The truth is that your strength to endure this life will only come from God.

From the New Testament we read Philippians 4:13 where it says "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (NKJV). Again this reminds us that we can do everything we need to in this life. We can endure the loss of a job or the loss of a loved one. We can endure the heartache that comes along with our children falling from the path they know they should follow. We can "do all things" because of the strength we receive from God through Christ. When we have a relationship with Christ we are strengthened by Him for each day we face. We have to rely on that strength when the difficult times come but the promise is that it will be there.

God doesn't want you to give up under the stresses and burdens of this life. He doesn't want you to allow this world to beat you down and wear you out. What He does want is for you to rely on Him and for you to allow Him to strengthen you. So yes, you can sleep when you're dead but if you rely on God now, you won't need as much sleep as you thought!

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Monday, February 10, 2014

The Walking Dead

There is an awesome show on TV called "The Walking Dead." Here's the rundown on the show. A zombie apocalypse happens and everyone has to run for their lives from the zombies. People seek shelter where ever they can but if you are bitten by a zombie or die you will turn into a zombie. It's a rather intriguing show. A dear friend I worked with got me hooked on it a few years ago and since then I haven't missed an episode.

The "walkers," as the zombies are known, are in a continual state of lifeless existence. They have no consciousness of who they are or what is going on in the world around them. Also there are many more walkers than there are living humans. As I've watched this show, I've always noticed the correlation between the real world and the world of The Walking Dead.  No we don't have zombies walking around but we do have people walking around that are dead and don't even know it.

The Bible tells us that there are two kinds of people in this world. Those who are spiritually alive and those that are spiritually dead. Let's first consider the ones who are spiritually dead, those spiritual walkers. God tells us in the Bible that when every person is born we are separated spiritually from God due to sin (Romans 3:23). That separation makes us spiritually dead. If we go through this life remaining spiritually dead, then when we physically die we will remain separated from God for eternity because of our sin. But it doesn't have to be that way. God also tells us in His Word that we can be spiritual survivors, those who are alive spiritually (John 3:16, Romans 10:13). When we become spiritually alive we have God living inside of us, the Holy Spirit, as we go through this life. He is our constant companion and source of strength in this life. When we die, our physical body may die but we have the gift of eternal life.  That means we live for eternity in the presence of God, praising and serving Him (2 Corinthians 5:8).

The choice is up to each one of us.  We have the freewill to choose whether we will be a spiritual survivor or a spiritual walker.  Once we step into eternity there will be no more opportunities to choose, we will have made our choice.  Which have you chosen?

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Friday, February 7, 2014

One BIG Body.

"So in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others."
Romans 12:5 (NIV)

Recently I've witnessed the truth of Romans 12:5 being lived out in the lives of people I know. There are three examples I want to share to encourage you that, if you are a follower of Christ, you are not alone.

Example #1
I received a text earlier this week from a woman who used to attend our church. She has a friend that lives close to our church that lost her mother. The church that the grieving woman attends had not provided any bereavement care years ago when her daughter tragically died and she didn't have high hopes of any now. The grieving woman's friend asked if I would contact her since she lived close to our church. I did and I also provided our church with the woman's address so they could shower her with cards and show her she is loved by God and her community. One member took it a step further and even called her. They will be meeting up for coffee before long to just sit and talk.

Example #2
Misty and I made plans recently to sell our house so we could build a house. We decided to move into our church parsonage for a couple of years during the process. From the moment we mentioned our plans to those in leadership, our church has jumped into action to get the parsonage ready. When I say jumped I mean jumped! In two weeks the men of the church have painted the entire interior of the house and basically finished with installing the flooring. Not much is left to do other than for us to pack our stuff up and move in.

Example #3
I have a pastor friend who's health is not good. Doctor's didn't give him much time a few years ago and the Great Physician has continued to give him more time here on earth. I saw a Facebook post by him today about a doctor's appointment today and some other comments that glorified God. I commented on his post about the encouragement he's been to me and that we were praying for him. Since I commented earlier this morning my phone has chimed several times with people leaving similar messages for this faithful minister of the gospel.

The reason I shared those three examples from this past week is that it is a great reminder of what the Body of Christ is all about. There are many parts, people, in the Body of Christ.  Each part has its own role in the life of the body. But just like a hand covering a wound on the leg or feet stepping over a painful obstacle, the Body cares for its own. We mourn with the grieving, we rally together to accomplish great feats, and we care for others through words of comfort and prayer. It's amazing to watch the Body of Christ work. If you've never started a relationship with Jesus Christ then I would encourage you to do so today. Once you do you have one BIG Body to love you, minister to you and pray for you.

If you have questions about starting a relationship with Christ call/text me at (828) 234-6886 or email me at

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Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Origins of Life

Last night  there was a great debate about the origins of life.  Online at you could, and still can, watch a debate between the famed scientist, Bill Nye the Science Guy and creationist scientist, Ken Ham.  The basic question being debated was whether the Creation accounts in Genesis, as modeled by Ham's Answers in Genesis ministry, were a viable option for the origins of life.  Simply put, is the account of creation in Genesis the way that life began.

Both Nye and Ham presented as much as they reasonably could in the short amount of time they had for sharing.  They both made logical cases for why their view of the origins of life was correct.  In the end, as with any debate, there is no clear winner per say.  It's not like a sporting event where there is a clear cut winner and loser.  In the end, neither Nye or Ham were willing to waver from their fundamental beliefs.  But that is no shocker either.

Being a bit of a science nerd I enjoyed the information being shared.  I knew some of what Ham shared and some of what Nye shared.  But when all was said and done, I was like Nye and Ham, I wasn't swayed from my convictions on the origins of life.

Like Ham, I am a believer in Christ.  I have put my faith in Christ and trust God to lead and direct my life because of the faith I've put in my relationship with Christ.  Because I am a Christian that means I have given up my right to view every part of life from a humanistic point of view.  It means that every aspect of my life is to be viewed through a lens of faith or from God's perspective.  Do I accomplish that in every moment of every day?  No.  But do I attempt to live my life with a perspective of how God views my life?  Yes.  That being said, I can't take certain parts of life, science and the origins of life, and say that I can view them from a way contrary to what God has revealed to us.  When it comes to the Bible, if I believe what it says in the New Testament about God's love and redemption of mankind, then I must believe what it says in Genesis about the creation of the universe.  Something that I've taught plenty of times before and will continue to teach is that the Bible does not tell us everything we want to know, only what we need to know.  God doesn't tell us how Noah fit all the animals on the ark, or how many animals were on the ark or if creation occurred in six 24 hour periods.  It's because those are things that we don't need to know.  Yes we want to know but that information is not a necessity for us to understand what God wants from us, a relationship, and what He wants to share with us, His grace.

Until Christ returns or we all go into eternity, we will never know the answers to all of our questions.  When we do have all the answers given to us in eternity, then they won't matter to us anyway.  Yes, we should continue to seek out evidence that proves the truth of the creation accounts.  But in the end the Bible, God's Word, is not a science text book but more of a love letter to mankind.

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Monday, February 3, 2014

Jack Bauer is...

Quite possibly my favorite show of all time is the show 24.  It follows the life of a counter-terrorist agent named Jack Bauer.  The premise of the show is that each episode follows the days events in real time.  The episode you watch takes place in a "real world" hour on the show.  In 24 hours Jack saves the president, the nation or the world.  Jack does the seemingly impossible to accomplish his goal of saving the day.  He'll torture the worst bad guy for an answer, he'll hunt down every lead no matter the cost, and he'll protect people.  In the end Jack is a good guy who does extraordinary things.  Jack is a true action hero.  I really enjoyed 24 when it was on television.  I have never missed an episode of the show.  Seriously.

So when I was at a youth conference several years ago and heard the preacher bring up 24, I knew it was going to be a great message.  The great preacher and author, David Nasser, was speaking to a crowd of 500 youth and leaders and casually brings up 24 and Jack Bauer.  This was in the height of the show's popularity so he had the attention of many in the crowd, myself included.  He talked about how great Jack was at doing his job.  He talked about how awesome Jack was because he always saved the day.  After he worked the crowd up about how great Jack Bauer was and had them fully engaged, he made a comment that has stuck with me.  He said "Jack Bauer is a pansy compared to my Jesus."  Talk about making a point!

Nasser was contrasting the difference between these two men.  One receives the world's accolades, so to speak, because of what he did to save people.  The Other humbly received nothing and actually did save people, the entire world as a matter of fact.  One is seen as the one who will do anything to accomplish his goal.  The Other actually did everything needed to accomplish His goal.  One is seen as a hero by the world.  The Other actually is a hero.

Many times our view of Jesus is this meek and lowly man who was beaten down by the world and never retaliated.  He turned the other cheek and would not fight back.  Meekness in the Bible is far more than a lowly person who is quite and takes what the world throws at them.  Meekness in the Bible is defined as "power under control."  That's why Jesus is greater than every action hero, sports star, actor, or hero.  That's why they all pale in comparison to Christ.  Because in the end, He is greater because He not only is God, but He humbled Himself and submitted His power to the will of the Father.  Compared to the accomplishments of Christ, the greatest fictional or real-life heroes will look like average, ordinary people.  Christ is greater than all others because of His meekness, humility, and obedience.

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