Monday, September 29, 2014

Mistaken Identity

About 15 years ago I sat at home on my lunch break from work while home on summer break from college. I called Appalachian State University (Go Mountaineers!) to find out what the problem was with my schedule for the upcoming fall. I had received a letter in the mail that notified me that I could not take a class I needed because of a conflict. While talking to a woman in the Registrar's office she told me "Mr. Wilson your coach has flagged your schedule because this class conflicts with your practice times." Realizing there was a mistake I told the lady that I wasn't on any teams and it was a mistake. I did ask her what team I had been placed on in the hopes it was the basketball team and I could see about fulfilling a dream to play college basketball. Unfortunately she informed me I had ended up on the football roster and I promptly informed her I was not built for college football. Evidently my student number, name, or social security number had been mistakenly entered into the football roster. One funny aspect of this story is that for the past 15 years I have continued to receive mailings as a "football alumni" and never put on a pair of cleats for ASU. I once received an invite to run onto the field during homecoming, but graciously declined. This past week I received another such letter. It got me thinking about the problem of mistaken identity that can so easily happen in life.

There are plenty of mistaken identities that go on every day when it comes to matters of faith. There are people around the world who claim the name of Christ as their Savior. But their identity with Christ ends right there. They allow Christ to be their fire insurance for hell but give Him no further allegiance or attention. They are mistakenly identified as Christians when they very well may be something else. Now I'm not the one to judge whether a person has given their heart to Christ but you can tell someone's spiritual condition by the fruit they produce. If someone walked an aisle and said a prayer as a kid and never again gave another thought to what God wanted for their life, then I would encourage them to check their own salvation. The premise of being a Christian is one who has allowed Christ to be their Lord and Savior. This means that Christ is in control of their life as much as He has been the one to save their spiritual life. That doesn't mean a Christian is perfect. It doesn't mean a Christian won't backslide or fall away from God. But what it does mean is that they pursue Christ out of a love for what He has done for them. It means they try to grow closer to God by conforming to the image of Christ.

My encouragement to you today is this. If you have fallen away from God take the first step back to Him today. It doesn't matter what you've done, He willingly accepts you back. All you have to do is ask Him for forgiveness and head in a new direction with Him. If you are one of those that walked an aisle and said a prayer but haven't thought twice about God since, I encourage you to contact me so we can talk. Email me at

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Monday, September 22, 2014

It's not the's the mileage.

As a kid of the 80's I grew to love watching the Indiana Jones movies. I don't usually watch movies more than once or twice at most but I could watch the Indiana Jones movies over and over. A few years ago, my wife bought me a card for my birthday. On the outside it has a picture of Indiana Jones and reads "When they ask you how old you are, take some advice from Dr. Jones..." On the inside it says "It's not the's the mileage. Here's to being well traveled!" I've kept the card on a shelf in my office as a reminder of many things. My wife's love, her sense of humor, and her desire to keep me in my place as the older of the two of us. But I've kept it also as a reminder of the perspective we should have as Christians when it comes to our walk with Christ.

Many people who profess their faith in Christ can tell you how old they were when they became a Christian. Some can even give you down to the date and time (which always impresses me because I can't remember info like that). But the problem is that the longer we are a Christian, the more we sometimes make it about our term of service and less about what's gone on during that time. I can tell you that I've been a Christian for 25 years and on some level that is important. It shows when God changed my life and how long I've had a relationship with the One who is "the way, the truth, and the life." But what does it matter if you've been a Christian for 25 years or 60 years if that time spent in relationship with the God of the Universe has done little to mold you into the image of Christ? The goal of every believer should be to be more like Christ today than they were yesterday. If you show little difference from the time you received Christ as your Lord and Savior to today, then you have made it all about the years and not about the mileage.

Here's my encouragement to you today. If you have been one of those that revel in the fact you've been a Christian for umpteen years but you've done little in those years to draw close to God, then start today. There is no time like the present when it comes to working on your relationship with God. Seek God's forgiveness for your lack of attention to your relationship with Him and move forward in a new direction with God. You won't regret it.

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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Why we cannot Coexist.

There are many things about traffic that drive me nuts. Quite possibly the greatest irritant to me when driving isn't being cut off or sitting in traffic, but a bumper sticker that has the word "coexist" on it. The letters of the word are religious and secular symbols used to spell out the word "coexist" (as seen at the right). Every time I see this bumper sticker on the back of a car I can't help but start shaking my head in disbelief that someone else has bought into the lies. 

There are three reasons why man cannot coexist while practicing different religions and worldviews. 

The first reason is based on the definition of the word "coexist." Webster's Dictionary defines coexist as "to live in peace with one another."  Most religions in the world seek some sort of peace so as to worship one's god or live their lives in their own way.Here is an easy example of how this is not possible that has made the news in recent years. Members of ISIS, the extremist Islamic group, are taking to heart the words of the Prophet Mohammad concerning jihad and are murdering those who are not Muslims. I know there is a lot more to the Islamic faith than this one teaching but nevertheless when a religion has murdering non-believers (Quran, Sura 4:89) as a part of their faith there is no hope to coexist. Some will always become fanatics over it and use it for their own personal gains.

The second reason is every religion believes their religion is the only true religion. Ask a Buddhist and he will tell you there is only one way to enlightenment. Ask a Jew who has the correct path to heaven and he will say that he does. Ask any member of any religion or particular worldview if there are other ways to live or worship that are identical to what they do and believe and they will tell you no. Some religions will take an universal view of things and say that there are many paths to god or enlightenment but most stick to their guns and claim their way is the only way.

The third reason is because Jesus does not share His throne with any others. In John 14:6 Jesus tells us that He is the only way to God. Paul even reminds us, with one of the earliest church hymns, with the reason coexistence cannot happen. He writes in Philippians 2:10-11 "that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (NIV). Other religions cannot coexist when they all must kneel in the presence of Christ. Dr. Walter Martin says it best when he wrote "The second person of the Trinity does not share His throne with Krishna, Buddha, Mohammed, Zoroaster, or any of the endless assortment of gurus and gods.  As the Savior of the world, He bore our sins in His own body upon the cross."

And that my friends is why we cannot coexist.

*I know that this post can come across a bit aggressive but it is not intended to be that way. With so many in this world calling for tolerance and coexistence between religions, there has become a blurring of the lines when it comes to the truth. Believers in Christ must stand on the truth of Scripture when it comes to Jesus and the salvation He offers while living out Paul's command to "as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone" (Romans 12:18, NIV).

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Monday, September 8, 2014

Worship is not about you.

“I just want to encourage every one of us to realize when we obey God, we’re not doing it for God—I mean, that’s one way to look at it — we’re doing it for ourselves, because God takes pleasure when we’re happy. That’s the thing that gives Him the greatest joy.
“So, I want you to know this morning: Just do good for your own self. Do good because God wants you to be happy. When you come to church, when you worship Him, you’re not doing it for God really. You’re doing it for yourself, because that’s what makes God happy. Amen?”
The comments above were made recently by Victoria Osteen, Joel Osteen's wife, as the two of them addressed the congregation of their mega-church in Houston. The sad thing is comments like these, and the Osteens aren't the only ones who make them, mislead people in their walk with God. Worshiping God so you'll be happy is nothing short of worshiping the idol of happiness.
Sorry to put it so bluntly but...Worship is not about you. Regardless of what you personally think or regardless of what a prosperity preacher may tell you, worship is not about you. It's not about making you happy. It's not about making you feel good. It's not about the type of music you prefer. It's not about what you get out of it. Our worship of God is about us recognizing His holiness in comparison to our sinfulness. It's about showing our love and devotion to Him for what He has done by providing us with salvation through Christ. Our worship of God should look to glorify Him (Psalm 29:2), not give us a warm, fuzzy feeling.
Don't misunderstand me to be saying that we shouldn't have our preferences of ways to worship God. Variety is the spice of life and worship. I'm also not saying that worship should be dull and boring, full of routine for routine's sake. Psalm 100:2 says "Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs" (NIV). Worship is to be a celebration of what God has done in our lives through the salvation He's provided to us. But when we start to worship God because of what we get out of it, then we start to tread on spiritual thin ice.
Psalm 99:5 wraps up the idea of worship for us. It says "Exalt the Lord our God and worship at his footstool; he is holy" (NIV). We are to exalt or lift up God in our worship. We are to humble ourselves before Him as if bowing at His footstool. And finally, we do all of this because He is holy...not to make us happy.
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