Monday, August 28, 2017

Prescription for Life

This past weekend was a bit odd. Nothing out of the ordinary happened except one question came up nearly 10 times with people I know. The question I was asked over and over this weekend was about how much weight I had lost. I jokingly told Misty, I did not know which was worse, that people could tell I had lost so much weight or the fact I needed to lose weight and no one said anything about it.

Last October a pastor's study group I'm in worked through a book called Prescription for Life by Dr. Richard Furman. To say this book changed my life is a gross understatement. When I cracked open the book, I initially did so with the hopes of losing some weight. As I read the book my focus changed from weight loss to long-term care of my body. Dr. Furman lays out in his book three simple strategies that will help you take care of your body and live younger longer. One of the benefits of following Dr. Furman's prescription for a healthier life is weight loss. I can attest that the program works having shed 50 pounds in 7 months and having maintained the same weight for almost 4 months now. The strategies in the book work, but as Dr. Furman puts it in the book you have to go from deciding to do something (your thoughts of what you want to do) to committing to do it (putting action to your decisions).

One of the things that caught my attention and has been more of a driving force for me behind changing my lifestyle is the fact that a simple change of lifestyle now can help me avoid common health problems later in life. Those problems are ones that everyone thinks is "just a part of life," such as heart issues, strokes, & dementia. This new lifestyle helps to protect your arteries against vascular problems. Both of my grandfathers were affected by dementia. I have joked for years with Misty that I knew it was coming for me and when it did, just put me in a home because I wouldn't know where I was anyways. But by changing my lifestyle now, I could do my part to avoid much of the vascular problems that plague so many. Avoiding dementia 30-40 years from now was enough incentive for me to be committed to this change of lifestyle.

Over nearly 11 months God has worked on me about this change. I was selfish about it at first, wanting to lose weight and avoid dementia or heart issues like my grandfathers. The reason I say I was selfish was because it was all about me and what I would get out of changing my lifestyle. As God has worked on me, I've realized a greater benefit than avoiding those health problems or losing weight. The greater benefit is that I'm being a better steward of the greatest resource God has given me, a healthy body, and I can make a bigger impact for His Kingdom for a longer time, just by taking care of my health. I now want to be that old guy at 85-90 years old that is still outworking 65 year old men. But more importantly, I want to be that old guy who is still able to serve God faithfully up to the last breath because I made a change in my life at 36 years old. I want to serve my God alongside my grandchildren and great-grandchildren so I can leave a greater legacy of faith than I could if I don't remember my name or I'm worried about overtaxing my heart.

I usually end my blog posts by trying to encourage my readers to put into action whatever biblical truths I've discussed. Today's encouragement is simple and can be life changing if you do it. I encourage you to pick up a copy of Dr. Furman's book here and start to make a change in your life that will reap temporal as well as eternal benefits. Trust me, you won't be disappointed if you do.

If you have questions that I can answer, feel free to email me at You can also check out Dr. Furman's website here.

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Monday, August 21, 2017

It's the End of the World

Monday's solar eclipse is definitely the talk of the town in our part of the country. Many people are making their way to parts of South Carolina where the total eclipse will be at 100%. In our area it is predicted to be at around 97% which will still be a cool sight, as long as you use the hard to find eclipse glasses. From ancient times, solar eclipses and other unusual scientific phenomena have caught the attention of people. Its even been recorded that a solar eclipse caused a battle between the Medes and Lydians to end with both sides putting their weapons down and declaring peace. There is no doubt that these people, and many others before and after this time, believed that the "gods" were giving them a sign. Some cultures today probably still consider a solar eclipse as an omen or sign from a deity and possibly a sign that signals the end of the world.

We do not need a solar eclipse to signal the end of the world. The reason being we have already been given a signal through God's Word. Now I'm not one of those preachers who gives a day and time when the world is going to end because we do not know when it will be (Matthew 24:36; Mark 13:32). I am also not one of those preachers that points to every last thing that is an anomaly in the natural world and says it is judgment from God and assigns a spiritual significance to it. But I am a preacher who believes what the Bible tells us about the end of the world as described in the Book of Revelation and other parts of scripture. 

We are told about the next event in the events leading up to the end of the world in 1 Timothy 4:1 (NIV) where it says, "The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons." You can look around the world today and see that this is taking place. Talking with pastors who have ministered as long as I've been alive, they are quick to say they believe we are in this time of apostasy as it is called. How long does this last? We are not told. But after this we can expect the next prophetic event from scripture which is the Rapture. 

If you view Revelation as a prophecy of the end times as many do, then the words of Revelation 4:1-2 point to the time when Jesus will call His church out of this world and into heaven. Following the Rapture will be seven years of literally hell on earth where things go from bad to worse to you can't believe how bad it gets! All of those events in the Seven-Year Tribulation are found in Revelation 6:1-18:24. The real end of the world will happen after those events when Jesus returns in the Glorious Appearing, sometimes referred to as the second coming of Christ (Revelation 19:11-21). Borrowing from the lyrics of a R.E.M song, this will be "the end of the world as we know it." Christ will begin his thousand year reign, defeating the antichrist and Satan. All this leads to a judgment from God as described in Revelation 20:11-15, where He will judge mankind for their sins. Revelation 20:15 is very clear that those who do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ will be "thrown into the lake of fire." For those who do not have a relationship with Christ and are either alive when He returns or die before that time, they will be judged and found guilty of their own sins, only to pay the punishment themselves by being separated for eternity from God in hell.

The good news is that God has given us a way to avoid that punishment. All you have to do is put your faith in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. To do this you must believe in your heart that Jesus lived a perfect and sinless life, died on the cross to pay the penalty for your sins, was raised to life by the power of God, and confessing you want Jesus to be the master of your life and to forgive you of your sins. It is that simple. Why not allow your punishment for your sins to be taken away by Jesus' sacrifice? If you do then you will really be prepared for the end of the world.

* If you want to put your faith in Jesus and need someone to talk with, feel free to email me at or go to

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Monday, August 14, 2017

Lessons from the Road

As a kid I was captivated by stories of missionaries serving God in foreign lands. Some of my closest friends have been missionaries serving God in the far reaches of the globe, in places like Asia and Indonesia. As I grew up our church never really did short term mission trips that gave people the opportunity to serve, although we did give to missions and served our local community. When I was 28 I finally had the opportunity to go on a mission trip and I have been hooked ever since. In the next four weeks I will have the opportunity to lead my 9th and 10th short term mission trips since 2008. In those first eight mission trips to Canada, Philadelphia, Vermont (twice), Wyoming, Honduras, and West Virginia (twice), I have covered a little over 16,000 miles and led 119 different people to serve God through missions. In all of those travels, adventures, and misadventures, I have gleaned just a little bit of experience and wisdom. As I reflected this morning on lessons learned and experience gained, I could not help but see how the wisdom of those lessons from the road can impact our spiritual life. So here are a few of those lessons from the road.

Lesson 1: Things will not always go as planned.
No matter how much planning you do and preparations you make, not everything on a mission trip will go as you had planned. Whether it is an extra bathroom break for the teenager who bought the jumbo sized drink at the last stop, a traffic delay because of a DEA drug check point in northern Maine, or unexpected hospital visits, things will not always go smoothly, much less according to your plans.

We often times have plans of how we hope things will work out in the future in regards to our relationship with God. We hope this time next year to be closer to Him because we're committed to reading our Bible more and praying more. But things happen and a year later we are in the same place spiritually that we were a year ago. The lesson is to not let those unplanned mishaps derail us altogether. We have to be flexible and allow the momentary problems that creep up to be exactly that, momentary. Don't allow a minor slip up to become a rut that keeps you bogged down for years on end. Get back on the spiritual road you need to be on and keep working around those problems that creep up.

Lesson 2: Traveling with friends is much more exciting.
Some of my closest friends over my years of ministry have been able to join me on short term mission trips. We've had some real adventures and witnessed many awesome sights. Whether it was an outrageous BBQ joint in Kansas City, Missouri, playing outdoor laser tag on a dairy farm in Vermont, or watching the changing of the guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers in Washington, I've had some great experiences and memorable times with my friends on these trips.

The spiritual journey you find yourself on as you pursue a relationship with God, is not meant to be a solitary existence. God created us to thrive in community and our spiritual lives thrive best when we are in fellowship with other believers. This is why worship and fellowship with a church family is so vitally important. As you travel down your spiritual road, there will be times where you need help to get out of the ditch. There will be other times where you are in a position to help someone else who may be stuck in the same ditch you once found yourself in. The point is we need each other. This is how God designed us and how we can best flourish in our relationship with Him.

Lesson 3: Get dirty!
There hasn't been a mission trip I've led where I, and everyone with me, did not end up dirty or sweaty at some point. In Honduras we sweated until every stitch of clothing we wore was drenched with sweat. In Canada, Vermont, & Wyoming, we dragged branches and cut trees until we were covered in sawdust and pine resin (and not necessarily in that order). All of the dirt, sweat, and grime we found ourselves covered in was to minister in some way to someone else.

Life is messy. Life is dirty. Life is hard. If Christians are to be the light of the world, that we are told we are by our Lord, then we have to get into places outside of the church pew and get dirty alongside those who we need to minister to. This doesn't mean giving in to the sins others may be struggling with, but it does mean digging in with both hands to help them as you minister to them. Think about it from this perspective, can you wear a white suit and help someone out of a muddy pit without getting a little dirty? No you can't. So as you travel down your spiritual road and develop your relationship with God, get your hands dirty as you help others on to the road they need to be traveling spiritually.

I hope a few of the lessons I've learned over the years can help you in your walk with Christ.

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Monday, August 7, 2017

What do people see?

Yesterday at our church, we had baptism for a lady who recently accepted Christ as her Lord and Savior. We do baptism at the beginning of our services and this means I go change before joining the church for worship. When I came in to the sanctuary our church was in the middle of a song, so I took a spot on the front row and joined in the singing. After the service a parent of a 2 year old told me her daughter noticed me coming in the service. What was interesting about this is the timing of the song and what the little girl said. The lyric in the song being sung as I walked in was "Jesus." The little girl noticed the tall guy with a beard that talks from the stage and naturally assumed that I was Jesus and pointed it out to her parents. When this funny story was shared with me after the service, I couldn't help but be challenged by it.

This small child made an observation that we can find humorous. But to be completely honest with you, my first response in my mind was "No. No. No. Don't compare me to Him. I don't stack up to Him." There is a little bit of truth in my initial thoughts, but there is also much spiritual immaturity as well. I don't stack up well to Christ. Honestly, none of us do. He is perfect, holy, omnipotent, sinless, limitless, eternal, omniscient, and so much more. I don't stack up as a sinful, broken, fallible, and finite human being.

Since I carry the name of Christian, I can't be so spiritually immature as to tell someone not to compare me to Christ. When I took the label of Christian to describe my affiliation with Christ, I automatically gave people the right to compare me to Christ. The word Christian was originally used as a derogatory term that meant "little Christ." So I have to ask myself, when people look at me, what do they see? Do they see a "little Christ"? Do they see someone doing their best to live up to the example Christ set before them? Do they see a person modeling their life after the perfect and sinless Son of God? Or do they see someone who wears the label of a Christian but has no more affiliation with Christ than a person wearing a sports jersey does to that team? What do people see when they look at you? Can they more honestly and candidly than the 2 year old did yesterday, look at you and say they see Jesus when they look at you?

If they can, then keep up the good work. It is hard to live out a consistent Christian witness in the world we live in. If people see you day in and day out living a life surrendered to Christ, then you are on the right path.

If they can't look at you and say they see Jesus when they look at you, then what needs to change in your life so they can? Speech? Attitude? The way you treat people? Your commitment to worship God on Sundays? Your commitment to serve Him in His church? Whatever needs to change so people will see Jesus in you, that needs to be your top spiritual priority. Otherwise they will continue to see something other than the label you claim.

I hope today's post has challenged you. I know I was challenged spiritually by a 2 year old that mistook me for Jesus. The take away for all of is the same. When they look at you, what do people see?

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